Thursday, July 28, 2011

Time To Talk About A Jobs Agenda

With the debt crisis continuing to spiral its way through the theater of the absurd, most people aren’t focused on much else right now. But there is an issue waiting on the horizon and I think the Republicans better start talking about it. . . jobs.

The jobs picture is bleak. Official unemployment sits above 9%. Real unemployment remains around 16%. May and June produced only 43,000 jobs, most of which were offset by 30,000 layoffs announced last week. Millions of Americans are out of work, many of them more than 99 weeks now.

Up to now, the Republicans have been happy to let the jobs picture remain bleak. With Obama and 21 Democratic Senators up for re-election, the current bad economy presents a nightmare scenario for the Democrats. Indeed, the Democrats have struggled mightily in recent weeks to come up with a jobs plan. But their ideology has limited them to (1) more stimulus, (2) job training, and (3) minor tax cuts for hiring. None of that will help.

But I think the Republicans need to establish an agenda. I think they need to show that they care about getting people back to work, rather than just cutting government spending. The need to insulate themselves from the charge of do-nothing-ism, and of indifference. They also need to cut off the inevitable Democratic claim that the spending cuts they get in the debt deal caused the current economic situation.

To that end, I propose the following plan for Congressional Republicans:
1. The biggest problems with our economy right now are (1) lack of certainty created by Obama’s constant threats of new taxes and regulations and (2) the drag caused by the red tape Obama and the Democrats have created. The Republicans should form a team to go through the US code/Federal Register (CFR) and identify specific laws/regulations the Republicans want to repeal.

Start announcing this list one agency every couple weeks. This will give business confidence of the change in the business environment to come and will highlight how much regulation the Democrats have piled onto business. One caveat though, don’t talk about repealing anything that is either popular or can be spun into “they want to kill orphans”. . . do those quietly.

2. Propose the elimination of Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes for teen workers (under 18) and seniors (older than 65). This makes it cheaper to employee these people. This makes the skills the seniors possess more useful and teaches the teens good habits.

3. Propose tax cuts across the board combined with a “revenue-neutral” elimination of deductions/subsidies. This would provide a powerful incentive for people to work, and could not be attacked as helping the rich or as increasing the deficit. What’s more, the Republicans should be pointing out each week the most egregious deductions they will eliminate. This could be a big step toward a flat tax and will go a long to way to breaking the stereotype that Republicans are the tools of big business.

4. Eliminate the corporate tax and the capital gains on the sale of tangible assets (e.g. machinery). This will bring corporations flocking to the US and get them trading in their old equipment.

5. Tort reform. Eliminate class action suits entirely. Make plaintiffs file individual suits and let them be consolidated as multi-district litigation instead. This wipes out the incentive for lawyers to go plaintiff shopping . . . like the guys on TV. Eliminate punitive damages and cap pain and suffering at one million dollars.

6. Free trade deals. There are a series of free trade deals sitting there unratified. These include South Korea and Columbia. These would cause a farming boom in the US and would offset the loss of ethanol subsidies. I would also propose a free trade deal with England and Japan to tie us closer to our friends.
This would seem to be a pretty good start and should show the American public that Republicans are very serious about making the US a much more business friendly environment and getting people back to work. It also insulates the Republicans against the standard Democratic attacks.

In terms of the timing, I will be a bit cynical and suggest that the Republicans start talking now but delay passing these bills until mid-2012, so that the positive effects don't start kicking in until right about the time Obama is loading up the moving van for Chicago and not sooner.

There are other reforms we could talk about too. For example, doctors should be allowed to practice in any state. The teaching profession should be opened too, by federalizing the licensing requirement and then eliminating the requirement for an education degree. But I would suggest the big push should come on the jobs front.

So what would you add to/subtract from the list? What else do you want to see on a Republican Agenda?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So Obama Must Be A Racist Then, Right?

Obama must be a racist. How do I know? Well, that’s what the MSM usually tells us about Republican Presidents when they find some indication that minorities didn’t do as well as whites while that President was in office. . . like now. Indeed, financially, blacks are getting killed under Obama. Hence, the MSM will soon declare Obama a racist, right?

Here’s what I’m talking about. According to recent economic analysis, the “wealth gap,” i.e. the difference between the net worth of whites and the net worth of blacks has expanded greatly under Obama. It now stands at a difference of 20 times, meaning that whites are on average worth 20 times more than blacks. Under the evil Ronald Reagan, this was only 12-1, yet he was declared racist because of it.

What’s more, 35% of blacks have zero net worth, compared to 15% of whites. And black poverty has reached 14.3%, the highest number since the 1960s when LBJ began his Great (Destruction Of) Society program.

There are several reasons for this economic disparity, all having to do with the choices blacks make. For example, blacks are much more likely to work for the government. When this recession began, it was mainly white males who were laid off because they work in the kinds of fields that were hurt the quickest by the recession, e.g. trucking. But as the economy recovered, many of those white males found work again. But just as the honkeys were finding jobs, the budget crises experienced by the states caused them to start laying off government workers. These are predominantly women and blacks. Thus, what the MSM snickered at as the “mancession” has turned into something the MSM now considers horrible as women and blacks have (net) lost many more jobs than white males. . . over a million net.

Secondly, while blacks get more degrees per capita than any other race, they do it in fields that don’t lead to employment. They specifically avoid things like science and engineering degrees. Thus, they limit their economic potential.

Third, and most importantly in this case, blacks tend to invest all their savings in buying a home, whereas whites are more likely to invest in 401ks and other stock portfolios in addition to buying a home. Thus, while everyone was hit when the bottom fell out of the housing market, blacks were much more severely affected because that’s where all their assets were. By comparison, whites suffered when the stock market collapsed, but the market has returned to pre-crash levels. Homes continue to fall in value.

That’s really what’s going on here, not racism. But that never stopped the MSM from tarring Republican Presidents with the label.

And admittedly, Obama is not without blame. It’s Obama’s horrid job killing policies that have led to 16.2% unemployment among blacks. Black teenagers face an unemployment rate of 49.4%.

We also should not forget that blacks have stopped gaining on whites in schools under Obama. The achievement gap is about 28 points out of 500, and half of blacks still drop out before finishing high school. Of course, there are many causes for this too. According to some education nonprofit groups who have studied the issue, one of the big causes is that: “African-American students are less likely than their white counterparts to be taught by teachers who know their subject matter.” Still, that can hardly be blamed on Obama and his teachers unions friends, can it?

Nope, none of this is Obama’s fault.

Still, can you image what the papers would look like if Obama had been a Republican and these numbers were released?

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's the Debt Dealio?

No doubt, some of you will be surprised to hear that Obama spoke to the nation last night. . . at least the part of the nation that still listens to him. No doubt, the MSM is full of articles (all written a couple days ago) that extol the brilliance of Obama’s speech and proclaim that the speech made the public cry tears of joy. . . it was joy, right? Also no doubt, many of you are totally confused about what is going with the debt ceiling negotiations. Here’s where we stand.

1. Why Obama Spoke: Obama went on television because he is losing the public relations war, despite media claims and fake polls to the contrary. Rasmussen reports that the public trusts Republicans over Democrats 45% to 35% on economic issues. Indeed, Republicans win 9 of 10 top issues -- education being the one Democratic “stronghold” (42%-38%). So Obama had no choice but to try to win the public over.

2. Obama’s Speech: Obama’s main line of attack was (1) failure to raise the debt ceiling until after the 2012 election will destroy our economy, (2) the Republicans are trying to cause a default because they are evil, and (3) why can’t we all just get along on my terms? His most effective line was: “If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills -- bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.”

3. Boehner’s Response: Boehner’s main line of attack was (1) I gave it my all, but Obama wanted a blank check and has never negotiated fairly, and (2) he wants tax hikes that will destroy jobs. His best line was: “The president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed.”

4. The Reid/Obama “Plan”: Let’s start with the basics. First, Obama has finally given up on getting tax hikes.

Secondly, this proposal is a crock:
● They are calling it a $2.7 trillion debt “reduction,” but that’s a total lie. First, $1 trillion of that is from “winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” This is essentially an accounting trick, like claiming you will buy a million dollar house next week and then saying you cut your budget by a million dollars by promising not to buy it after all. Even Joe Lieberman has said “I don’t think it’s a real cut. It’s like a bookkeeping cut.”

● The proposal then includes $400 billion in “interest savings,” which appear to be more accounting gimmicks. These are like the magic “everyone will be healthier” savings in ObamaCare.

● Next, it includes $100 billion which have already been negotiated. Those are the only legitimate cuts.

● Finally, the last $1.2 trillion come from a promise that a committee of 12 politicians will agree to find more cuts in the future. That and $18 gets you a Double Sugarmoccacrappe at Starbucks.
So what we have is $100 billion in cuts over ten years (i.e. $10 billion a year.... 0.0003% of the budget), some false accounting and a promise to find more cuts. In exchange for this, Obama gets an immediate $2.4 trillion hike in the debt ceiling.

5. The Latest House Plan: Boehner’s latest plan calls for a two-stage approach. Stage one involves $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years combined with an immediate debt ceiling hike of $900 billion. This would be followed by larger cuts to be agreed upon later. The Democrats object to this plan because it would likely result in the need for an additional debt ceiling hike before the next election.

6. Boehner’s Problem: There are 178 House Republicans who seem to be taking the position that they won’t vote for anything, and apparently oppose the new House plan. This is actually fairly stupid. The point where everyone is desperate to get a deal is the time to lay out your demands and get some good cuts. By simply refusing to vote for any plan, these Republicans make themselves irrelevant and will eventually force Boehner to seek Democratic support.

7. Reid’s Problem: Believe it or not, Reid has lost the left because of potential cuts to entitlements and a failure to tax the rich. Thus, he will need a lot of Republican support. . . support he doesn’t have. His ace in the hole is the 178 House Republicans who will force Boehner and McConnell to deal to find Democratic support. That will give him a chance to buy back his left flank.

8. Something You Should Know: Believe it or not, raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with new spending. We need to raise the debt ceiling to cover amounts we already spent. Getting the public to see this as “new spending” has been a Republican PR triumph.

9. Who Loves You Baby?: A couple weeks ago, Boehner said that negotiating with Obama “was like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.” According to certain leftist reporters, Democrats privately say “much worse” about Obama off the record (and no, the reporters haven't shared what has been said).

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Atlanta Public Schools: Cheaters Do Prosper

Cheaters aren’t supposed to prosper, but for over a decade they did in Atlanta Public Schools. Indeed, for a decade, school children at 44 of 56 Atlanta elementary and middle schools cheated like mad. But here’s the catch, the teachers were the ones doing the cheating. This story is just unbelievably shameful. Let’s discuss.

When the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, standardized testing became much more important. Schools where students failed these tests were flagged as failing schools. If these schools did not show yearly improvement, students would be allowed to leave them to find better schools and the failing schools would eventually be closed.

In a too-good-to-be-true moment, Atlanta Public Schools suddenly started making dramatic progress after the passage of this law. A decade later, we know why. According to a report by state investigators, extensive cheating took place at 44 of 56 elementary and middle schools. Specifically, teachers helped students cheat or cheated for them to improve their scores. So far, 178 teachers (including 38 principals) have been implicated by name. Far more were involved, but the allegations against them "could not be established sufficiently to identify [them] by name.”

This cheating was discovered by an analysis of the actual tests taken by the children of these schools. The investigators looked at how often these children would erase wrong answers and change those to correct answers. Apparently, this happened at 20-50 times the state norm. Upon further investigation it was discovered that students were given test answers by teachers, some teachers filled in the answers for the students, some teachers let slower kids sit next to smarter kids and encouraged them to cheat, and some teachers even had “test changing parties” over weekends.

At this point, only 7 of the teachers have resigned. The rest were asked to resign by haven’t. The current superintendent says they won’t be allowed to teach again, but it’s unlikely they will be fired. Instead, they will go on administrative leave. The prior superintendent in charge during this whole period, Beverly L. Hall (pictured), has left the job for a position in Texas. She claims she knew nothing about this, though it seems unlikely that such a vast scandal could have taken place without her knowledge.

So let me ask some questions.

First, how in the world can a collection of people supposedly dedicated to the education of children act so callously to these children’s futures? These kids needed help and rather than educate them, these teachers simply covered up the students’ inadequacies. What’s more, by lying to protect the schools (and their jobs), they deprived these kids of a chance to find better schools and real teachers who might actually care about these kids. That’s criminal.

Secondly, why did this take ten years to be discovered? Why didn’t someone blow the whistle? Surely some students must have told their parents, some teachers must have objected to this, and some administrators must have known. Yet no one said anything? Letting this go on for ten years is so utterly shameful that I am literally disgusted at these people.

Third, where are the teachers unions? It is inconceivable to me that no one from the teachers unions learned of this. Did they turn a blind eye for political reasons or have they too set up a culture where individuals are afraid to come forward? At how many other schools is this happening across the country with the unions remaining silent? This needs to be investigated. Further, if the teachers unions want to protect the reputations of legitimate teachers, then they better get in there and expose these faux-teachers.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lessons From Oslo. . .

As is often the case, a tragedy provides us with various lessons to consider. Some good, some bad, some obvious, some not. Sadly, for political reasons, many of these lessons will be ignored and others will be wrongly interpreted. But we aren’t afraid of the truth. So let’s talk about the Norway killings and see what lessons we should draw from this tragedy.

Lesson No. 1: Guns Control Does Not Work

Gun ownership in Norway is heavily regulated, though you will hear the contrary from the MSM. Automatic weapons are completely banned as are most large caliber pistols. To acquire a gun, you must have a clean police record and you must demonstrate a use for it. This can include hunting or sport shooting. However, you may only own one gun in each caliber in which you compete. To own a handgun, you must be 21. To own a shotgun, you must be 18. The police may inspect your guns in your home at any time and the amount of ammunition you may own is limited.

None of this stopped the Oslo killer because laws do not stop people who intend to break them.

Lesson No. 2: Guns Save Lives

It took the police 90 minutes to respond from the moment the shooting began. In that time, the Oslo killer methodically killed 85 people (19 more were wounded). He shot them with an MSM-described "machine gun" (banned in Norway if true) and then walked around shooting the fallen in the head with a shotgun. Clearly, he had to reload many times and knew he was in no danger the entire time.

If anyone at this camp had been armed, they could have stopped him almost immediately -- especially seeing as how he surrendered the moment police arrived. The fact the public was disarmed by its government put them at his mercy and needlessly cost 70+ people their lives.

Lesson No. 3: Guns Do Not Cause Crime

The possession of a gun did not motivate this killer, nor did it cause his crime. His beliefs about the collapse of society motivated this crime. And if he hadn't used a gun, he would have used something else -- like the explosives he used on the government buildings.

There are 250 million guns in the United States. Think about it. If guns “caused” crimes, then there would 250 million murders a year. Even if only one in ten people fell under the evil spell of these guns, we would still be dealing with 25 million murders a year. Even one percent means 2.5 million. But less than 10,000 people are killed annually in the United States by guns. That works out to less than 0.004% of guns being used to kill someone. . . 40 out of every million. Guns do not cause crime.

Lesson No. 4: Leftists Are Biased

It is fascinating that the first instinct of leftists when there is a terrorist attack is to tell everyone not to assume the terrorism was the result of Islamic terror groups. “Stay calm, don’t jump to conclusions,” we are told, even after we learn the perpetrators are Muslims. Yet, this time, once we heard the killer was white, the MSM immediately assumed he was a right-winger.... just as they did with the left-winger who shot up the Holocaust museum and the left-winger who shot Giffords. This time they were apparently right, every other time they’ve been wrong.

Moreover, the difference in treatment is stunning. With the left wingers, the media (1) assumes they are right wingers, and (2) dismisses evidence to the contrary, before (3) reluctantly reporting the “alleged evidence” they are leftists after much soul searching about evil right wingers, (4) immediately before switching to the “crazy loner, not really ideologically driven” talking points. They also keep referring to them as “alleged” long after it's clear they're guilty.

This time, the media jumped on the idea that he is a right winger the moment they heard he wasn't a Muslim. They immediately launched into trying to find every website he's ever visited to toss blame their way (some leftist have even blamed Palin). They've also made no pretense of calling him "alleged", nor have they suggested he's a crazed loner.

What’s more, compare his treatment to Muslim killer Maj. Nidal Hasan? LONG after all the evidence came in that Hasan attacked and killed American soldiers in the name of Islam, the administration and their MSM buddies kept saying “alleged killer” and claimed they had no idea what motivated him. Yet this Oslo killer isn’t even in handcuffs and the same people are declaring his motives solved?

Lesson No. 5: The Wrong Lessons Will Be Draw

Naturally, the wrong lessons will be drawn.

Crazy people are crazy. By definition, they do crazy things. You cannot stop them because they are unpredictable. Restricting the rights and freedoms of hundreds of millions of innocent people in an impossible effort to stop the next nutjob is an obscenity. It also will only encourage the next nutjob to seek their own moment of fame. Any attempt to pass laws "to prevent this from happening again" is sheer, cynical political opportunism.

What’s more, it is a mistake to draw a comparison between Islamic terrorists and this idiot. This guy was crazy. He had one arrow to fire and he's done that. His day is done. But Islamic terrorists like al Qaeda are not crazy. They may be goat-molesting retards, but they are not crazy. They are at war. Their goal is a very rational one: to damage and destabilize the West so that it withdraws from territories they have claimed and that it becomes unwilling to fight back when they try to spread Islam across the world. To dismiss them as akin to this idiot would be like dismissing the first wave of German soldiers in Poland in 1939 as nothing more than rowdy tourists.

Lesson No. 6: Our Media Culture Is Corrupt

Finally, our media culture is corrupt. No sooner were huge photos of this shooter spread across the newspapers of the world and radio and television started spouting his name than crackhead Amy Winehouse died. Suddenly, a woman who was dead for years but just hadn't stopped moving until yesterday became the world's most important story.

Our media is sick.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

2012 Contender: Ron Paul

As we turn into the home stretch of our 2012 Contender series, we come upon Ron Paul. We owe Ron Paul a huge debt for giving fiscal conservatives a voice within the Republican Party. In many ways, he is the “intellectual godfather” of the Tea Party movement. Unfortunately, while much of what Paul advocates would be very good for the country, some of it would be disastrous, and none of it has a chance of passing.

1. Economics: Paul has no chance of passing his economic policy. Thus, it’s little more than a pipe dream and it gives us nothing to use to judge what kind of President he would make. That said, however, his record of voting against almost everything tells us to expect a record number of vetoes, a death struggle with Congress, and a continuing four-year budget crisis. Here are his views:
● Paul wants to shrink the government by eliminating everything that isn’t a “constitutionally authorized function.” This means he would eliminate the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, as well as FEMA, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the IRS. He would also reduce the CIA to just an information gathering role. This is a nonstarter.

● He wants to eliminate the income tax and repeal the 16th Amendment. This is a nonstarter.

● He advocates elimination of the Federal Reserve. This would give the power to regulate the money supply to either Congress or the Treasury. Can you say “disaster”?

● He advocates allowing individual states to issue gold and silver backed currency to compete with the dollar. This would result in chaos and would give the dollar the same weaknesses the Euro is experiencing because of Greece. It would also bankrupt the country because of our trade imbalance.

● Paul opposes taxation and regulation of the internet, including net neutrality.
2. Foreign Policy: Paul’s foreign policy positions are a particular area of concern.
● He believes in non-intervention and would not intervene militarily, financially or covertly unless there is a direct territorial threat to the United States. He says he would withdraw American troops from Europe, Korea and Japan. This would likely start a war in Korea, a war between China and Vietnam, a war between China and Taiwan, get Japan, Korea and Taiwan to go nuclear, and cede Asia to Chinese influence.

● He does not support Israel: “is it really in the interest of the United States to guarantee the survival of any foreign country?” This would probably cause a series of wars in the Middle East.

● He advocates withdrawing from the UN, NATO, and various treaties, including the International Criminal Courts and the Law of the Sea Treaty. Some of these are good ideas.

● He claims to support free trade, but has opposed all free-trade agreements on the basis they are “really managed trade and serve the interests of big business,” and he wants to withdraw from the World Trade Organization, which has been breaking down trade barriers everywhere.
3. Social Conservatism: Paul mostly holds social conservative views personally, but believes the federal government has no place in dealing with these issues.
Gays: He opposes all efforts by the federal government to define marriage. He does favor DOMA as it allows states to define marriage. He opposes gay adoption. He would reformulate “don’t ask, don’t tell” to only kick out gays if they are being disruptive.

Abortion: Paul opposes abortion but says this is a state law issue and has introduced legislation to prevent federal courts from hearing any issue related to abortion.
4. Environmentalism: Paul does not consider climate change a serious threat. He does consider himself a free-market environmentalist, who believes that polluters should be held legally accountable under property-rights theories. This is actually a truly conservative position and is something the GOP should consider. He has voted against all subsidies for things like nuclear, ethanol, and oil and gas exploration.

5. Guns: Paul believes in a right to bear arms, including fully automatic weapons, and to carry concealed.

6. Civil Liberties: Paul opposes the Patriot Act, the creation of a federal identification card, conscription, and eminent domain by which the government seizes private property. He also opposes affirmative action. He favors drug legalization.

7. Immigration: Paul differs from doctrinaire libertarians on immigration. He thinks the borders should be sealed and voted for the fence. He opposes amnesty as he believes it undermines rule of law. He believes that federal law should no longer mandate that hospitals treat illegals. He wants to amend the 14th Amendment to end birthright citizenship.
Paul is a complex figure. There's no doubt he has a brilliant and principled mind or that his views on the Constitution are very close to original intent. Indeed, much of what he believes should be a model for modern conservatives. . . but not all of it. But the real problem with Paul is that the public just won't accept the leap he wants to make. And in trying to push too hard too fast, he will alienate the public and destroy the Republican Party.

I respect Ron Paul and I like a lot of what he believes, but if he were elected President, I think we would be looking at a disastrous four years of warfare between Paul and Congress -- which is often how power gets consolidated, i.e. through a crisis -- the breaking of the dollar, hyperinflation, and a series of foreign wars that would eventually drag the US in. Not to mention that nuclear weapons would spread like wildfire. You may see it differently, feel free to disagree, but that's my fear.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dancing On The (Debt) Ceiling

I MAY owe Mitch McConnell an apology. I’m not sure yet. I’ve been looking into this whole debt ceiling thing and I’m actually starting to see the cleverness in his plan, especially compared to the alternatives. Wanna talk about the debt ceiling? You know you do. Don’t worry, I’ll make this as painless as possible.

Ok, here are some basics.

1. The debt ceiling was first put in place by statute in 1939 by the Public Debt Act, which set the maximum amount the government could borrow. This number has been raised many times and currently stands at $14.294 trillion. . . roughly 4 trillion Big Macs.

2. The government will break through this ceiling on August 2 like a clown bursting out of a cake. . . hmmm, cake.

3. Everyone has a plan for dealing with this.
● the Do Nothing Plan: Do nothing. Kind of self-explanatory. Of course, this means that 80 million people won’t be getting their checks, and our cost of borrowing will go up, and a bunch of investment stuff with explode like a Congressman in a microwave.

● the Dumb~ss Plan: S&P and Moodys want Congress to eliminate the debt ceiling, which would be like parking your armored car at a thieves convention.

● the Double Dumb~ss Plan: Bill Clinton thinks Obama should just declare himself king and say that he has the power to raise the debt ceiling. Clinton also thinks yer kinda sexy.

● The Tom Coburn Plan: Tom Coburn is ready to do some serious cutting. He proposes $9 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. This would include a trillion from the Pentagon budget, modernizing military health care, significant reforms of Social Security and Medicare, and the elimination of “corporate welfare” through the elimination of subsidies (e.g. ethanol and targeted tax credits) and many deductions. Grover Norquist (which I swear is the name of a Muppet) says: “it is now clear Sen. Coburn’s plan all along was a trillion dollar tax hike. . . [I have you now Coburn, there's no escaping the Grovernator]!”

● The Gang of Six: This group of reprobates are proposing a $3.4 trillion plan that isn't a real plan. It goes a little something like this.
(1) Find $500 billion in cuts now, mainly by reducing the cost of living increase for Social Security. Impose spending caps until 2015, freeze congressional pay and sell unused federal property. . . like Hawaii.

(2) Within 6 months come up with a plan to find more cuts.

They also suggest guidelines like simplifying the tax code by making three brackets (8-12%, 14-22%, 23-29%), setting the corporate tax at 23-29%, and eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax (which sucks when it hits you. . . “what do you mean my deductions don’t count?! Alternative what?! Did I step into an alternative reality? If that’s true, then where’s my beard Mr. IRS ‘you owe us’ letter?! Where's my beard?!”).

Beyond that, this is just a plan to work on things... kind of like the Underwear Gnomes on South Park.
● the Tea Party Plan: The House just passed a really cool bill (Cut, Cap and Balance Bill) that does a lot of cutting ($5.8 trillion), would require a balanced budget amendment, and doesn’t raise taxes and it’s really cool and I like it a lot and stuff. . . but it’s D.O.A. at the Senate. Move along, nothing to see here.

● the McConnell Plan: Finally, we come to the McConnell Plan.
When I first heard the McConnell Plan, it sounded downright stooopid. As filtered by the press, McConnell was proposing to give Obama the power to raise the debt ceiling. If Congress wanted to stop him, they would need to pass a law stopping him. Since he could veto it, that meant Congress needed 2/3 support to stop him. . . and that ain't gonna happen.

The purpose of this plan seemed to be to let Obama get his debt ceiling increase, while claiming the Republicans tried to stop him, without actually stopping him. I was not pleased. And seeing Nancy Pelosi clapping her hands over this like one of those monkey toys with the symbols made me even more suspicious. If Pelosi likes it, it can’t be good.

Then I heard more details of exactly what McConnell is proposing. Apparently, to raise the debt ceiling, Obama also would need to recommend $1 of spending cuts for every dollar he wants to raise the debt ceiling. Now that is a horse of a different shade of green. That would mean for Obama to get a $1 trillion extension to the national credit line, he would need to propose $1 trillion in cuts. Wow! Me likely!

Not only would this mean Obama would be the one responsible for raising the debt limit (as he could avoid it by offering cuts instead), but he would also be forced to make cuts. Cuts which his peeps will absolutely hate! What’s more, the Republicans can vote against those cuts (claiming they would have made different cuts) because Obama has more than enough Democrats to let his veto survive!

Now, there are some caveats here. First, I think the Republicans need to send a series of budget cuts to him and have him veto those first -- as a showing to the public that they tried to get cuts. Secondly, they need to be very careful in how they write this. It better not include any chance of him raising taxes or this will go over like a lead balloon with the public (although... it might be a good way to let him do some of the dirty work of tax simplification to keep the Grover Norquists off Republican backs).

At this point, we don’t know exactly what the deal entails, but this may actually be a smart plan. Hence Obama and the monkey with the clap (Pelosi) are now rooting for the gang of six proposal instead (Reid doesn’t like it).

Stay tuned.

There... that wasn’t so bad was it? If you have any complaints, please leave them below.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

There Are Lies, Damned Lies, and CBS

My article is up at Big Hollywood! Go take a look: (Link)! I’ll wait right here for ya. :-)

Did you know the American people back Barack Obama on the current debt negotiations? It’s true. . . if you believe CBS. And why shouldn’t you believe CBS? I’ll tell you why.

According to the CBS poll 43% of the public approves of Obama’s handing of the debt ceiling crisis (48% don’t), but only 21% of the public approves of the Republicans (58% disapprove). Hence, Obama is winning the PR war.

But there's a catch. As is CBS’s history, the sample CBS uses is heavily skewed to the left. Indeed, CBS includes 11 percentage points more Democrats than Republicans in its final results (35% Democrats to 24% Republicans). If we back that out, Obama’s approval falls to 32%. That’s hardly resounding.

But there’s more. The poll doesn’t actually give us enough information to determine how valid their independents are. Specifically, there are no baseline questions that let us determine if these people lean left or right. All we know is they have self-identified as independents. And, frankly, we have no reason to think that CBS's collection methods were any less skewed for independents than they were for Democrats and Republicans. Thus, we have no reason to think the independents aren’t equally skewed 11% to the left because CBS's methods were clearly left-biased. And looking at the responses given by the independents, they mimic the Democratic responses far too closely for any set of genuine independents I’ve seen in a poll in the last three years.

Nevertheless, even if we accept them at face value, only 37% of independents approve of Obama’s handling of the debt ceiling crisis (52% disapprove). Those aren’t numbers that win you re-election. In fact, they are damning.

What's more, CBS is billing this as “just 21 percent backing the Republican resistance to raising taxes.” But that’s not the question that was actually asked in the survey. The survey asks whether people approve or disapprove of the Republicans’ “handling” of the negotiations. It never asks if they support raising taxes or not. Indeed, the “handling” question is meaningless as it will capture both those who want a stronger stance and those who want a weaker stance. That’s why you need to ask more (or different) questions to get useful results. Of course, CBS didn't do that. Can you guess why?

Now in truth, the Republicans don’t fare well with any group in this poll. So that is a concern. But there are two problems with drawing any conclusions from that. First, the poll never asked why people are upset at the Republicans. According to the poll 51% of Republican respondents disapprove of the Republicans, but does anyone really think that’s because average Republicans want tax hikes? Or is it more likely a response to a leadership that keeps undercutting each other and doesn’t seem to have a game plan? We can't say from this poll. But I can tell you that Rasmussen reports that 55% of the public (Democrats, Republicans and Independent combined) oppose tax hikes as part of the debt ceiling deal (only 34% disagree). Republican opposition is in the 80% range. So it’s more likely people are upset about Republican weakness than their opposition to taxes.

Also, none of the other polls out there support CBS's results. The Republicans lead the generic Congressional poll 44% to 38%. Obama’s approval ratings are a horrible 45% approval to 54% disapproval, with only 38% approving of his handling of the economy. Even in a Presidential race, TOTUS loses 48% to 43% to a generic Republican. That's really bad. And none of that is consistent with CBS’s findings.

So why were we supposed to trust CBS again?

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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Death Of Fox News??

Never let a crisis go to waste, especially somebody else’s crisis. That seems to be the motto of this administration. The latest example involves the implosion of News Corp.’s News of the World. Indeed, the Democrats are pulling out all the stops to use this to remove Rupert Murdoch from the helm of News Corp. and thereby, they hope, get FOX News under liberal control. Here’s what you need to know.

The scandal began when it was revealed that reporters at the 168 year old British tabloid News of the World had been hacking into phone accounts of famous celebrities and politicians to find dirt. This violates multiple British laws.

Things recently hit fever pitch when it was learned that the News of the World had bribed police for information AND had hacked into the phones of 9/11 victims and into the phone of a murdered British teenager (Milly Dowler). The outrage that followed forced the paper to close and led to the resignation of the latest editor, Rebekah Brooks, and of Les Hinton, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, who was an editor of the News of the World during part of the period in question -- there is no evidence of wrongdoing at the Journal. This weekend, Brooks was arrested and London's police chief resigned.

The scandal reaches Rupert Murdoch because Murdoch acquired the News of the World in 1969 and made it part of his News Corp. empire. That empire includes the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, among others. These are largely conservative organizations and, thus, the Democrats hate them with the passion of a 1,000 low-carbon suns. And with this scandal, the Democrats see a chance to attack their favorite bogeymen. Indeed, they are hoping to parlay the News of the World scandal into an attack on Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Murdoch himself, who they hope to dislodge from the ownership of these organizations.

To that end, Eric Holder has announced that the Obama-controlled Department of Justice intends to investigate whether the Wall Street Journal or the New York Post were engaged in similar hacking. Can you say... fishing expedition? He also claims he will investigate whether 9/11 victims’ phones were hacked. Keep in mind, by the way, this is the same Justice Department that routinely turns a blind eye to any and all crimes committed by leftist groups or this administration.

Other Democrats are jumping in as well. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has launched an online petition to demand that “Murdoch come clear.” A group of leftist “journalists” has launched a similar effort. John Podesta, the president of the Centre for American Progress, a leftist crackhouse, claims: “This is not one rogue editor. This is an empire that was built on a set of journalistic ethics that’s beginning to explode and unravel. They were routinely bribing public officials.” Of course, he has no evidence. But then, if anyone should know about bribery and a lack of ethics it would be Podesta, who helped Obama transition to the White House.

This is standard liberal crappola, and mainly it’s just liberals playing with themselves. But there is reason for concern.

The SEC (also under Obama’s control) could attack News Corp. for its subsidiary engaging in bribery of the British police, which would violate foreign bribery laws, specifically the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. A violation of the FCPA might require Murdoch to resign or even give up his ownership.

Also, under federal law, holders of television and radio licenses have to undergo character tests to show that they are fit to be media owners. If the SEC (or the Justice Department) finds a violation of the FCPA, the FCC (also under Obama’s control) could deny Murdoch his television and radio licenses, which would again result in him surrendering control.

At this point there is no evidence that Murdoch did anything wrong and he is doing all the right things. They closed the paper that had clearly spun out of control. The editors directly responsible, whether they had knowledge or not, have resigned. And his papers have issued a public apology. The committee that monitors The Wall Street Journal has already said they have no evidence of wrongdoing at the Journal or at Dow Jones, the Journal’s parent company (which is owned by News Corp.). And it’s unlikely Fox was involved because, frankly, they’ve never reported anything that didn’t come over the wire.

But doing the right thing does not insulate you from an aggressively partisan government. So expect Team Obama to pull out all the stops to use the power of government to shut down the one part of the MSM that isn’t in the tank for them.

This could get interesting.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Businesses Flee California!!

In the 1990s, Colorado found itself awash in Californians. It was like a flood and it did as much damage. In fact, we still haven’t recovered. What sent these people East was the horrible business climate California had created, which drove businesses from the state. Well, things have only gotten worse and now some of the hardest-core hard-core liberal companies are fleeing. . . tech companies.

California has been ranked by Chief Executive magazine as the worst place to do business for seven years running. High taxes, insane regulations, aggressive regulators, and a failed “government” which couldn’t run a hot dog stand have contributed to what Chief Executive magazine describes thusly: “California, once a business friendly state, continues to conduct a war on its own economy.”

Says one relocation expert: “There is a feeling that the state is not stable. Sacramento can't get its act together and that includes the governor, legislators and regulatory agencies that are running wild.” So California gangs invented “wilding” and California regulators brought it into government.

As a result, companies are fleeing California at a rate five times greater than just two years ago. According to relocation specialists, the top states California companies choose are Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and North Carolina. Utah, which actively sends representatives to poach California companies, touts stable government, balanced budgets, a AAA debt rating, lower taxes, lower real estate costs, lower utility costs, lower living expenses and all around better quality of life. Arizona’s Commerce Authority is pushing its lower workers compensation and unemployment taxes and offers incentive packages to relocate.

Even those who aren’t leaving the state entirely are choosing to establish new division or facilities elsewhere rather than expand in California. PayPal just opened a new 2,000-job facility in Arizona. eBay sent 1,000 jobs to Texas and is expanding in Utah. Electronic Arts and Adobe are both expanding in Utah. Feel Golf, owner of Pro Line Sports, is moving entirely to Florida.

Said one CEO about California: “The whole state is a bureaucratic Santa Claus.”

BUT wait. . . . California isn’t going down without a fight. No, no, no. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome is developing a plan. First, he intends to sit down with executives to hear their complaints. . . because he really has NO IDEA what could possibly be upsetting them. Then he’s going to study “the best practices of other states” to see how they taxed and regulated themselves to prosperity. He’s already visited Texas. Then he’s going to focus on the state’s “premier industries,” which he identifies as biotechnology, agriculture and digital media -- the rest of you can pound sand. Finally, he will “highlight the state’s strengths in innovation and research.”

Allow me to translate. Gavin Newsom doesn’t have a clue how business works but he needs to look like he cares. Forming a fact finding commission is a great way to waste time while appearing diligent. So he will meet with top contributors and fly to other states on junkets disguised as “fact finding missions,” where he will hear what he wants to hear. . . which is that the Democratic "tax, regulate and spend like the criminally insane" policy is the only way to bring prosperity. Then he will lecture the evil business community about how great California is and demand they swear allegiance to California. Finally, he’ll get some more money for “innovation” in the budget. Problem solved. California will bloom!

Yes, good things are coming to California. . . just you wait.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Elves Discover TSA

By the Boiler Room Elves

Greetings! Undoubtedly you’ve noticed the marked decrease in quality around Commentarama in the past few months as we Elves left the Bossmen to their own devices. Lured away by visions of the jet-setting life, whisking in and out of towns, staying in posh business hotels, getting status on airlines and flying 1st class, we abandoned the Boiler Room to take a 100% travel job. Sadly, we found travel for work by commercial plane was not quite the same as jetting off by personal sleigh for vacation. Thankfully, we came to our senses and returned to our beloved Boiler Room before everything fell apart around here. . .

What’s wrong with commerical travel, you ask? Well, how about this little organization called the TSA?! (Toiletry Search Agency? Thousands Standing Around? This Sucks A --- ahem...) Have you seen what they’ve been up to lately?
Patting down 6 year olds! Never mind that TSA Director John Pistole said in November: “We’ve heard the concerns that have been expressed and agree that children under 12 should not receive that pat-down.”

Stun gun left on airplane after a flight! No one seems quite to know how that one got on board the JetBlue flight, but don’t worry, we’re assured that it appears no one wanted to use it in an attack. Whew.

○ How about the Nigerian man who was found on a plane with 10 expired boarding passes that got him through “security” and on board? Think a 95-year-old grandma could have gotten away with this? What if she hid her boarding passes in her Depends?

○ No worries, though, at least you’re not going to get cancer and die from the “Nude-O-Scopes!” Oh wait... TSA employees are already showing increased cancer rates. Hmmm....

○ All of this, of course, is when the Smurfs, excuse us, TSA agents aren't busy stealing things out of your carry-on while their compatriots harass you.
But is any of this worth it? The TSA says they are doing this to protect us. But if that's true, then why would they exempt kids from the search? Logically, that means they’re creating a massive security hole. Wouldn’t any reputable terrorist just hide their weapons on kids knowing they won't be searched?

Is this policy really about safety if they are willing to create such a security hole or is it just for show? If it’s not just for show, why do they keep talking about creating some sort of privileged person pass that lets you pay a fee (i.e. tax) to skip right through security? Do they really think terrorists are just too cheap to pay the fee?

Heck, does this strip search policy even work in the first place? Check out this video from a German TV show. As a demonstration, a man goes through one of the modern, cutting-edge Nude-O-Scopes -- with a screener who knows he is carrying items to be confiscated. He gets a few things removed from his person. . . and still has enough items concealed on himself for some nice pyrotechnics.

In the immortal words of Honorary Elf Ben Franklin -- “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” What would Ben say about those who give up essential liberty to be given the appearance of temporary safety?

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Should Colleges Pay "Student" Athletes?

College football is a mess. USC has been stripped of its national titles and Reggie Bush lost his Heisman Trophy. Ohio State’s coach just resigned in disgrace and the school gave back its Sugar Bowl win. Oregon was caught paying a middle man to circumvent NCAA recruiting rules, including helping a student change his guardian to a more Oregon-friendly relative. And those are just the tip of the iceberg. Some suggest paying athletes will fix this. I see that as treating a symptom.

Here’s the thing: college football is pretending to be something it’s not. To make the game sound like it’s not a business. . . to make it sound “innocent”. . . the NCAA pretends that college football is played by genuine STUDENT athletes. According to NCAA marketing, these are kids who might not have gotten a chance to go to college, but have been able to leverage their athletic ability to get some financial help toward getting their education. And we’re supposed to believe football or basketball or whatever is secondary to these kids’ desires for an education. Give me a break.

In truth, the vast majority of athletes are functionally illiterate. Most won’t graduate and those that do are getting an education in name only. The NCAA has lowered admission standards to the point that it’s almost impossible not to meet the requirements. They allow athletes to take puff classes and even then turn a blind eye as athletes are given answers to tests in advance, have others take tests for them, and are passed no matter what they do. Probably not one in ten can read at a first grade level -- even of the graduates -- and not one in five has ever seen the insider of a classroom.

This is a disgrace. The NCAA is hiding behind the idea that it’s providing quality education to these players so that it doesn’t need to pay them. But it’s not really providing any sort of education. What it’s really offering is the chance to get noticed by the NFL. But only something like 1 in 1600 college football players will make it to the NFL. Thus, the other 1599 will get nothing for their time except whatever equipment they can steal and whatever boosters illegally pay them.

At the same time, college football (and basketball) is a multi-billion dollar business. Teams that win titles and garner nation exposure can rake in $30-40 million a year. Even lesser teams are making millions. These are big businesses, who act like big businesses, pay their management as well as the Fortune 500, have bigger facilities than some state governments, and who’ve found a wonderful way to keep their labor costs down. . . actually free.

It’s this inequity that causes many to suggest it’s time schools paid athletes. But that misses the real point that the whole system is a corrupting fraud. The NCAA is sending all the wrong signals: (1) Exploiting athletes is fine. (2) There is nothing wrong with providing a fake education so long as the athlete has value on the field. (3) A college degree is just a piece of paper with no real worth except as public relations. (4) The idea of student athletics is a fraud and is not intended for genuine students, but it's ok to pretend because pretending enriches the school. (5) And cheating is acceptable. In fact, getting a whole community of coaches and boosters involved in cheating is fine. . . as long as you aren’t caught.

Paying athletes won’t fix this because it only addresses the first part and it leaves in place the NCAA’s false marketing. The real solution must come from making the NCAA either live up to its promises or stop making them. It’s time the NCAA actually requires athletes to be genuine students with real classes earning real degrees, or it should drop the pretense of an education entirely and allow programs to hire athletes just as if it were the NFL’s minor league, without forcing those athletes to pretend to be students.

Either be a school or be a business, but stop being a business hiding behind being a school. Anything short of one of these two solutions will just keep the NCAA limping along in the unethical land in which it currently resides.


(P.S. Think about the irony that schools run by leftists are exploiting the labor of poor black kids to enrich themselves to the tune of millions of dollars a year. And they call corporate America "capitalist exploiters"?)

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Not All "Tax Hikes" Are Bad

“What Boehner’s trying to accomplish will literally change the fiscal trajectory of the country.”

-- Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)

Until he changed his mind yesterday, Speaker John Boehner was headed for trouble with the talk radio set: "He's a socialist! He wants to raise taxes by $1 trillion!!! He’s betraying us!" Unfortunately, that reaction is both wrong and highly destructive to conservatism. Let’s discuss.

Here’s what happened. With the government bumping up against the debt ceiling, Obama and the Republicans are busy negotiating a debt reduction deal. On the table were two possible deals. One deal involves $2 trillion in cuts over the next ten years. The other deal involves $4 trillion in cuts, including structural changes to Medicare and Social Security. But the $4 trillion deal would have include $1 trillion in tax hikes. Specifically, this would have involved an across-the-board reduction in tax rates, including corporate tax rates, offset by the elimination of tax “loopholes,” i.e. deductions.

Until last night, Boehner was working on the $4 trillion deal and most conservatives in Congress were waiting patiently to see what was on the table before commenting. But in the idiotsphere, talk radio went on the attack without having a clue what they were talking about. They heard that this would involve “tax hikes” because the elimination of deductions will result in an increase in taxes. Increased taxes are bad. Hence: “Boehner is a socialist! Get your pitchforks!” But this is stupid. . . there is no kinder way to put this.

For decades, most people on the right have advocated reform of the tax code -- usually a flattening of rates and a simplification of the code. Remember all the talk about doing your taxes “on a post card”? Even the current Presidential candidates (except Santorum) are advocating some form of “tax reform” to “simplify the tax code.” But you can’t simplify the tax code without eliminating parts of it. And if you eliminate parts of it, then you are by definition raising taxes on the people who can no longer use the deductions you eliminate. Thus, if we accept the argument of these self-proclaimed conservative purists on the radio, then basically all tax reform will result in tax increases and should be opposed. Who knew so many talk radio guys thought the IRS code was inviolate?

We should reject this stupidity and instead look at what is cut to decide whether a particular reform is a good one. Indeed, some deductions should be cut. For example, we should eliminate any deduction that is not a generalized deduction that any taxpayer can claim. In other words, if a deduction is industry specific (or company specific), then we shouldn’t be too troubled by this “tax hike.” These are deductions that were put into the code by well-connected lobbyists to benefit individual industries or companies and they are a distortion of the free market and an abuse of power. Eliminating them is a good thing and should not be attacked as a tax hike. Examples of this include ethanol-related deductions (though Norquist disagrees), or deductions which make it cheaper to shift jobs overseas, which let companies use pre-tax money to lobby, or which allow credit card companies to deduct faked bad debts from their profits.

A classic example of such deductions are the deductions put into the code by Charlie Rangel, who gave $2.8 billion in tax breaks to British alcohol giant Diageo and who created a deduction that only four companies in the USA can qualify for. . . all contributors naturally. (see Rangel, No. 9).

We also shouldn’t be troubled by the elimination of deductions that exist for social engineering purposes, such as the deduction for the purchase of electric cars or going solar. Indeed, the government should not be using the tax code to tell us how to live and should not be subsidizing products which the free market has rejected. Again, we should not be attacking the elimination of these deductions as “tax hikes.”

The problem here, as increasingly is becoming the case, is that people who don’t know what they are talking about react to the characterization of these reforms as “tax hikes” and throw a hissyfit. If we are to remake the government along conservative lines, we’re going to have to shut these idiots up or get people to stop listening. When conservatives like Rush Limbaugh can with a straight face claim that wiping out Charlie Rangel’s friends’ dirty tax break is an intolerable “tax hike,” conservatism has lost its way and all Rush is doing is doing the bidding of the Democrats and K-Street by leaving in place a corrupt and complex tax code that is packed with handouts for the well-connected.

This is very frustrating.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

2012 Contender: Thaddeus McCotter

Today we look at Thaddeus McCotter, who just jumped into the race. McCotter is an early booster of Big Hollywood and appears regularly on Fox, though he’s not well known by the public yet. I knew little about his views before my research for this article and what I’ve found is. . . well, you be the judge.

1. Background: McCotter has a solid political background. He got his start on the Wayne County Commission in 1992 (think Detroit). In that position, he helped change the county charter to require a 2/3 approval of the commission and the approval of 60% of the voters to increase taxes. Between 1998 and 2002, he was a Michigan State Senator, where he was elected to become Assistant Majority Floor Leader. In 1999, he led the Senate Law Revision Task Force, which repealed scores of unneeded Michigan laws.

In 2002, he entered Congress. By 2006, he was elected Chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee, a position he held until 2010.

As an aside, McCotter is Catholic and is married to a first generation Mexican American, something which in these cynical days of identity politics will play very well.

2. Economics: I’ve criticized several of the other candidates for not having any economic plans (Bachmann, Santorum) or having just platitudes (Newt) or being Democrat-lite (Romney, Huntsman). McCotter has a plan:
● “Dismantling destructive concentrations of power -- in banking, in government and in education.” Oh, that makes me happy! On banks, he mentions (1) requiring banks to recapitalize, (2) applying anti-trust laws to limit bank size, and (3) ending taxpayer support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. All good.

● Shrinking government spending by (1) passing a balanced budget amendment, (2) giving the President a line item veto, (3) capping growth of federal spending at the level of household income growth, and (4) ending ineffective federal programs through sunset reviews. One and four are gimmicky, but two and three are good.

● Reforming the tax code to (1) make personal taxes flatter, (2) cut corporate tax rates, and (3) eliminate tax loopholes. He doesn’t say what he considers loopholes, but this is all pointed in the right direction.

● “Ending the Social Security Ponzi Scheme,” by allowing workers to choose personal savings and investment accounts. Another good idea, though he doesn't mention how to fund the system for those already in it if this is done.

● “Ending Chinese mercantilist trade policy,” to encourage American manufacturing. Again no details, but this makes sense.
This plan is like the good parts of Ron Paul without the crazy. And McCotter’s record is generally consistent with his plan, though he has made some missteps. McCotter earned Tea Party “cred” in September 2008, when he became the first Republican to oppose the TARP, calling it “American socialism.” He also opposed the first stimulus ($825 billion). BUT he did vote for the second ($192 billion) stimulus and he voted for the GM bailout. In 2003, he also voted to create the Medicare prescription drug benefit and to oppose importation of cheaper prescription drugs. Those are bad.

But he also voted to regulate the subprime industry in 2007, opposed Obama’s mortgage foreclosure plan, and tried to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment in 2009. He has voted to restrict lawsuits against gun makers and food providers, voted to limit attorneys fees in class action lawsuits, voted to cap damages in medical malpractice cases, and voted to restrict frivolous lawsuits. He opposes Congressional pay raises and voted to require Congress to cite Constitutional authority for all laws they pass. These are good.

3. Social Conservatism: McCotter is definitely a social conservative.
Abortion: McCotter has a 100% pro-life record and has voted to criminalize the interstate transportation of a minor to get an abortion, the harming of a fetus, and partial-birth abortions. He also favors granting fetuses legal rights under the 14th Amendment -- which would be a royal mess.

Stem Cells/Cloning: He opposes stem cell research and human cloning.

Gays: McCotter voted against including homosexuality in hate-crime laws and he favors a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage, but he did vote to prohibit discrimination against gays in employment.
4. Foreign Policy: McCotter talks about winning the war against terror and expanding liberty at home and abroad. He seems intent on staying in Afghanistan and says we must support “grassroots movements that seek to give birth to liberty and freedom” around the world. He names China, North Korea and Iran as our enemies and wants “constructive containment” against China.

5. ObamaCare: McCotter opposed ObamaCare. He advocates the generic Republican plan of increased individual savings accounts, a national insurance market and litigation reform. But he breaks from the standard Republican plan by favoring a safety net for those who cannot afford a basic level of catastrophic coverage and he wants pre-existing conditions covered. He also wants to give doctors incentives to work at federal clinics, wants to prevent any decrease in Medicare benefits for anyone over 55, and wants to give veterans control of their health care benefits.

6. Immigration: On immigration, McCotter takes the Commentarama line! He does not want to “stigmatize illegal immigrants, the vast majority of whom are honest, industrious people,” but he says he (1) will not support amnesty, (2) wants no taxpayer money spent on illegals, (3) wants to secure the borders, and (4) wants to punish business that hire illegals, unions that won’t report them, and local/state governments that establish sanctuary cities. He also proposes ending “birthright citizenship” for anchor babies and wants English declared the official language. And he says something I am thrilled to hear a Republican say: “Big government, business and others have combined to entice illegal immigrants to come to America and then exploit them.”

7. Energy Policy/Global Warming: McCotter contends that global warming is a myth and opposes cap and trade as a violation of property rights! He proposes an energy policy “based on making all domestic options available.” He has opposed tax incentives for renewable energy production and conservation, but has voted to maintain oil and gas exploration subsidies. BUT, he voted against ethanol! He also voted to allow offshore drilling and to authorize new refineries.
As I say above, McCotter is like Ron Paul without the crazy. What's more, he has a deep and nuanced understanding of the world. For example, he gets that big business does not equate to capitalism. He gets that it's counterproductive to verbally attack illegal aliens, when there are better methods for dealing with the problem. His thinking on encouraging grassroots democracy overseas is the real key to winning the war on terror and long term stability. And his opposition to cap and trade as a violation of property rights, rather than just because he disagrees with global warming, demonstrates solid principles. Would he make a good President? Absolutely. Would he make a good conservative President? Without a doubt.

Now the catch. He has no name recognition. I don't see this as a problem vis-à-vis Obama because our nominee will get name recognition automatically. But it will hurt his chances of winning the nomination. Also, sadly, with many conservatives (especially in the media) looking for venom rather than substance, he may not be angry enough to get noticed. But he should be noticed.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2012 Contender: Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum believes in families, which is a real change of pace from those other candidates, who advocate the forcible separation of families. Rick believes in “freedom” too, only his definition and yours probably aren’t the same. Beyond that, it gets kind of hazy. One thing is clear though, Rick loves to paint himself as the victim. This isn’t going to be pretty.

1. Compassionate Conservatism: In 2005, Rick called himself a believer in “compassionate conservatism,” which should send up huge red flags for conservatives everywhere. His website sends up more red flags.

According to Rick’s website, Rick believes in “healthy families,” in the American experience, in compassion and in freedom, and that's about as specific as it gets. But here’s the interesting thing. Rick is well known to be obsessed with gays and abortion. Yet, his website barely mentions either. He never uses the words “gay” or “homosexual,” and he only mentions gay marriage by saying that he tried to protect “traditional marriage” from “activist judges” back whenever that happened. And he only uses the word “abortion” once, when he says he opposed “partial-birth abortion” and he voted for a couple pro-life bills. That's it. He doesn’t even say what he believes in these areas or if he has any plans with regard to these issues. This is a serious red flag. Any candidate who hides their agenda, no matter what that agenda is, should not be trusted.

Besides hiding what he believes, Rick also tries to paint himself as the victim, claiming he had to stand up to his own party, to “the liberal elite,” and to a media that ridiculed him and called him a “bigot” for sticking to his beliefs. . . whatever they may be. You will see this becomes a common theme.

Rick also recently gave an interview to Rush which is worth noting. While he kept talking about “freedom,” his definition of freedom was “not economic” and “does not mean doing whatever you want.” Instead, he defined “freedom” as “living life according to a Christian code.” This is the “freedom” he “intends to fight for and protect” as President. Naturally, he never said how he intends to impose his religion through government policy, but two parts of his record give us clues as to how he would use government force in this manner:
● He tried to include an amendment in the No Child Left Behind Act that would have required public schools to teach Intelligent Design as science. His amendment was not approved.

● Under the guise of religious freedom, he authored the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which forces employers to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs. Fortunately, this bill did not pass.
2. Economics: N/A. He does not mention a single economic policy he seeks to implement.

FYI, here are the economic achievements he trumpets on his website:
● Rick supported a Balanced Budget Amendment and Line Item Veto in 1994.

● Rick supported the 1996 Welfare Reform law.

● Rick supported the Bush tax cuts.

● In 2005, Rick argued that we should fix social security. . . somehow.
These aren't horrible, but there's a catch. In each instance, Rick describes himself as a leader on the issue and describes how he "spearheaded" it. He also makes constant references to sticking his neck out or putting his political career at risk in supporting these bills. But none of that is true. He was never more than a co-sponsor, if even, and in each instance these bills had overwhelming bipartisan support.

Rick also suggests that he's a Tea Party person, though he endorsed Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey, he voted to expand Medicare to cover prescription drugs, and he was a noted porker. He says he opposes crony capitalism, but he actually tried to use federal legislation to shut down a competitor to a local contributor (Accuweather). And he works for a large K-street law firm.

3. Foreign Policy: Rick believes in American exceptionalism, which he thinks has something to do with 9/11, and he won’t “back down from those who wish to destroy America.” (No word on whether he would back down from those who only wish to maim us or take our stuff.) To protect us, Rick wants to change the name of the “War on Terror” to the “War on Radical Islam.” I'm not kidding. That's his plan. . . because going from WOT to WORI should make all the difference.

He claims that in 2003, he authored the Syria Accountability Act, which imposes some sanctions on Syria. But the bill was actually written by a House Democrat and came to the Senate after passing the House. It passed the Senate 89-4 and was signed by Bush.

He then adds that in 2005, he authored the Iran Freedom and Support Act (to give money to pro-democracy protesters), in the face of intense Democratic and Bush Administration opposition. And Rick paints himself as the victim of a media smear campaign for his unwavering insistence that Ahmadinejad poses a threat. But that's not true. There was no opposition. The bill passed the House by voice vote and the Senate by unanimous consent and was signed by Bush, who praised this as an example of bipartisanship at work. And there's no evidence of the media smearing him for this.

He also claims that in 2005 he became “one of the nation’s first leaders to understand the threat posed by Iran.” Never mind that the problems with Iran started in 1979 and the nuclear issue first became known well before 2005.
Santorum has a demonstrated record of self-aggrandizement and falsely wrapping himself in the victim flag. These are not conservative traits. What’s more, he’s being deceptive about his goals and he has no economic policy. . . none. In fact, he hasn't announced a single goal or policy he hopes to implement in any area. Is it any wonder Rick managed to set a record for the largest loss ever by an incumbent Republican Senator in Pennsylvania. Would he make a good President? I can’t see how.

P.S. Tune in tomorrow night for Thaddeus McCotter. You might be surprised.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wisconsin: Union Collapse = Education Reforms

There was an interesting article the other day about what is happening in Wisconsin now that the teachers’ unions have lost their iron grip on schools. This article was made all the more interesting by a laughable article in The Economist which tried to explain why any cuts in education would be catastrophic.

The Economist is one of those liberals rags which hides behind claims of sanity, but somehow never quite comes through. For example, they claim to favor cuts in union benefits, but they just can’t find a single cut they ever approve of. This time, they're worried that "cuts" in state budgets could destroy American education. But these aren't really cuts, The Economist is using standard liberal sleight of hand to call decreases in projected increases "cuts." In other words, many of these “cuts” don’t actually result in less money being spent, they just eliminate planned increases. Nevertheless, The Economist claims these “cuts” will result in a parade of horribles. But check out this list:
1. “Baseball may be cut to keep football going.”

2. "Latin will be even rarer -- and forget about adding Mandarin this year.”

3. “Some school are now charging fees for certain classes or activities, a startling trend that violates some basic ideas about what public schools are supposed to do. . . Elementary-school teachers ask their pupils to buy school supplies; high-school students sell cupcakes and wash cars to raise money for the prom. Parents may supplement a child’s education with extra services—a tutor, a week at lacrosse camp, a second-hand car, a new silver trumpet rather than the borrowed cornet, glottal with generations of spit.”
Oh.... my.... God!!! How will the public ever survive? Ok, let’s start with some of the most obvious responses. First, Title IX has caused most sports to be abandoned, not budget cuts, but The Economist thinks Title IX is a good thing. Secondly, kids have always paid for their own supplies. That's the American public school system. Sometimes, they even had to pay for their own books. Students have always paid for their own proms. Tutors and something as bizarre as “lacrosse camp” have never been provided by public schools. And no school on the planet has ever provided students with new cars. Also, dear Economist musical instruments are cleaned before they are sold, i.e. they don’t come with generations of spit in them.

How retarded does someone need to be to make these arguments?

Well, a lot. See The Economist even acknowledges in its article that recent studies (even by leftists) have shown that more money simply does not equate to improved achievement, yet The Economist still illogically argues that these "cuts" will hurt students. How does that make sense? That’s like conceding water does not cause cancer, but then arguing that letting people drink water will lead to more cancer! What's more, The Economist actually suggests that "cutting" this funding will undermine democracy. How? The only "evidence" they cite is that Noah Webster advocated public education. That's nonsense.

Next, The Economist argues that these cuts are upsetting kindergarteners in Michigan, who are sending “emotional letters” to evil Republicans. So what? Never mind that these kindergartners can’t have any idea what they are talking about and that it’s shameless for liberal teachers to use them as political props, but the mere fact that people are upset tells us nothing about whether a law is good or not. Even a law banning serial killing will upset someone.

Finally, The Economist assures us that “classes will be more crowded, school-bus rides longer.” That sounds believable right?

Well, that’s where Wisconsin comes into this. With the union contracts broken Wisconsin schools are suddenly finding they have freedom to arrange their schools in ways that are best for the students. When the Wisconsin bill was signed, the Democrats and their fellow travelers in the media predicted catastrophe. . . just like The Economist. But not only did that not happen, things are looking up dramatically.

Consider the Kaukauna School District. This district has 4,200 students and 400 employees. They have a $400,000 deficit to fill. To fix this, they made the following changes, which turned that $400,000 deficit into a $1.2 million surplus:
1. Teachers will now be required to pay 12.6% of the cost of their medical coverage instead of 10%. And they will need to contribute 5.8% of their salary to their pensions. Other than this, teacher’s salaries will remain the same, with a current top of $85,000 a year plus $35,000 in benefits for 184 days worked.

2. What’s more, something interesting has happened. Under the union contract, schools were required to obtain health insurance for teachers from a company owned by the teacher’s union. That company, the WEA Trust, had just notified Kaukauna that it would face significant premium hikes this year. Now that Kaukauna suddenly has the right to shop around for other providers, the WEA Trust has magically reversed its position and is offering to match the lowest bid Kaukauna can find rather than raising rates. Imagine that! (Frankly, if they can match the lowest bid, then the attempt to impose a premium hike should be looked at as a violation of Wisconsin’s False Claims Act.)

3. They also eliminated the rule that allowed teachers to work only 37.5 hours a week -- they will now work 40. And teachers will be required to work 6 of 7 periods a day instead of 5 of 7. This will result in more classes being offered, more one-on-one time for troubled students, and class sizes will fall from 31 to 26 in high school and 26 to 23 in elementary school.
So much for everything The Economist claimed.

In any event, it’s clear the world did not end and education did not perish. Wisconsin schools are about to improve and will do so for less money because the unions were broken. And the fact The Economist is left arguing that students will be forced to buy unwashable used trumpets tells us how intellectually hollow the arguments of the left have become.

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