Monday, January 31, 2011

Riot Like An Egyptian

Egypt is dominating the news these days, for good reason. Egypt lies at a strategically key location, with much of the world’s trade still passing through the Suez Canal. It shares a border with Israel. It remains a key battlefront in the war between secularists and fundamentalist Islam. And whether we like it or not, we are deeply involved in what is going on in Egypt. Here’s your primer on Egypt.

1. A Brief History. The current problems with Egypt began when General Muhammad Naguib overthrew British puppet King Farouk and declared a Republic in 1953. At that point, many Egyptians were hoping for democratic rule, but the army had other plans. Naguib was forced to resign the following year by Gamal Abdel Nasser, who tossed out the British and allied Egypt with the Soviet Union, introducing socialism. His replacement, Anwar Sadat expelled the Soviets in 1972 and allied Egypt with the United States, but he also imposed a policy of violently repressing all opposition. Sadat was assassinated in 1981, after entering into a peace treaty with Israel. His vice president, General Hosni Mubarak, took over and remains in charge until now.

In the last few years, Mubarak began losing popular support. Although a rich country, Egypt’s wealth is held by a few well-connected allies of Mubarak, with most of the population being unemployed and living in abject poverty. Political opponents are routinely jailed, and Mubarak has held numerous fake elections, often running unopposed after declaring opposing political parties illegal. He is the classic Middle Eastern strongman, relying on the military and the secret police to maintain his rule.

On January 14th of this year, the people of Tunisia rose up and overthrew their own strongman, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The surprising success of this revolution (caveat “success” in that no new government has yet been established), triggered the imaginations of the Arab world. When Egyptians heard of this, they took to the streets. Look for Jordan to be next.

2. Why Egypt Matters. Egypt matters to the United States for several reasons. First, the Suez Canal sits in Egypt. Much of the world’s trade travels through it. Secondly, Egypt borders on Israel, and has been an important player in trying to keep arms out of the hands of the Palestinians. Third, Egypt is the home of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that basically spawned modern Islamic terrorism. This last point is particularly important. If Egypt becomes like Taliban-Afghanistan, war between Egypt and Israel will be inevitable, and we will be drawn in. Moreover, the 20% of the population who are Coptic Christians may find themselves in the middle of a genocide, just as the Christians in Sudan found themselves.

3. What Are The Alternatives. Right now, the alternatives are the problem.
1. Mubarak could stay, though I think that’s impossible, and would just put off the inevitable. He just appointed a successor after refusing to do so for years, in the hopes of staving off the protestors. The successor, Omar Suleiman, runs the intelligence service. Prior to this, Mubarak was believed to have been planning to appoint his son, who has now fled the country. But this has not satisfied the protestors and it’s unlikely anyone Mubarak chooses will be allowed to stay in power.

2. The West is hoping the government voluntarily hands over power to Mohammed Elbaradei, who they stupidly believe to be a Western-style democrat waiting to happen. You might remember Elbaradei as the head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, where he routinely claimed that Iran was not building nuclear weapons. He also lobbied against sanctions and demanded that if Iran could not have nuclear weapons, then Israel should be forced to give theirs up as well.

3. Elbaradei is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, who seek to convert Egypt into an Islamic regime; although he’s not a member, Elbaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood have apparently cut some sort of deal. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is now active in 80 countries around the world, is the root of Islamic terrorism today. Their creed is: “God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

Unfortunately, they have been very good at lobbying and many Western patsies, including Bush Administration and Obama Administration people, have fallen for the line that the Muslim Brotherhood is a peaceful group. They have even claimed that somehow their “moderation” has made them the enemies of “extremists” like al Qaeda. The line pushed most often by their patsies is “they aren’t dangerous.” Expect to hear a lot of that until this issue is over.

4. A competing group is called the Kifaya movement, which is supposed to be a group of intellectuals who are demanding “liberal, democracy.” That sounds good, except this group is anti-Semitic and anti-American. They were formed as a protest movement against Israel’s handling of the Palestinians, and they have since protested both Israel and America’s involvement in the Middle East. In 2006, they campaigned to get a million Egyptians to sign a petition demanding that Egypt renounce its peace treaty with Israel.
Ultimately, however, I think none of these groups matter. The army will decide who runs the country. The problem with the Army is their increasingly horrible relations with the US. Because of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the United States has been providing billions of dollars in aid each year to Egypt and the Egyptian military. As a matter of official policy, the American and Egyptian militaries are very friendly and work together on most issues. However, as was revealed in diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, the reality is quite different. Neither military trusts the other and the Egyptians have refused American entreaties to reform, clean up corruption, and refocus on fighting terrorism. Instead, the Egyptian military continues to consider Israel its primary enemy, and joint operations and contacts between the Egyptians and the Americans have all but stopped.

4. Why Think The Army Will Win?. Right now we are seeing all kinds of signs the Army is planning to replace Mubarak. First, when the protests began, the Army let the police be overwhelmed. They did not step in to stop the looting or killing initially. This, smartly, turned the public against both the protestors (who even looted museums) and the police, and shook Mubarak’s regime. When Mubarak called out the secret police, and they began shooting at protestors, the Army sent tanks to stand between the two groups, which again makes them public heroes. When the violence finally died down, the Army came out in force, but has refused to suppress the crowds or enforce a curfew. This puts the Army firmly in the position of being the only institution that appears to have remained neutral, pro-public and nonviolent. That gives the Army credibility, which carries with it the ability to play kingmaker, especially since the Army holds all the levers of power in the country.

If I’m reading this correctly, look for the Army to replace Mubarak sometime this week, probably with a national government of reconciliation, which is likely to be little more than a puppet government. I think the model being pursued here is that of the Turkish governments of the 1950s - 1980s. If I’m right, this may actually turn out to be a good thing, provided they (1) gain sufficient popular support to keep their legitimacy, (2) they manage to keep the Islamic fundamentalists from gaining influence, and (3) they work to reform the country to make it more stable and democratic.

5. American Involvement. Finally, here’s our involvement. When this first happened, there didn’t appear to be an American link, except that we’ve been pouring money into Egypt since the 1970s. However, the other day a handful of diplomatic cables were released by Wikileaks which show the US State Department discussing a plan with dissidents in 2008 to throw out the Mubarak government in 2011. There is no evidence yet that the US took any steps in that regard, except lobbying Mubarak to release dissidents from prison. But if more comes to light, this could put us very deeply into this.

And if this is true, it’s highly stupid to start a revolution without a plan to put something better in place, which we clearly don’t have.

Obama’s role in all of this is somewhat suspect. When the crisis hit, Obama tried to walk the line between supporting both sides. But as it became clearer the protestors are likely to win, Obama’s people started putting out word that Obama was instrumental in causing this -- something for which there is no evidence. Hillary Clinton has now all but called for the removal of Mubarak, long after it’s clear he will be leaving -- though the "all but" part has angered Elbaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood. Unfortunately, Obama's actions seems like front-running now and may be too little too late, no matter who ultimately prevails.

Also, politically, Obama stands to gain nothing but grief no matter how this turns out -- so don't expect him to show a lot of nerve. Americans care little for overseas events and care even less for this part of the world. Thus, even if Egypt turns out rainbows and unicorns, this is unlikely to impress American voters. But if things turn ugly, people will remember Obama’s newest claims of all-but causing this revolution.


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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where Did All The Jobs Go?

Obama spoke the other night about the need to create jobs. I’ve got bad news for him: something has gone wrong with the US economy -- 15 million jobs are “missing,” and nothing he’s proposing will help bring those back. There is an answer, but it's not one people are talking about.

For some time now, economists have been trying to figure out why the US economy isn’t producing jobs. If you look at US job growth by decade, there isn’t a single decade since records began in the 1930s where the number of jobs in the US didn’t grow by at least 20%. . . . with one glaring exception: the 2000s. That decade saw a paltry 5% growth (actually 0% after the 2009 recession). And if you subtract the number of jobs created from the number of jobs that should have been created, you will find that at least 15 million jobs are missing from our economy.

So where did they go? Let me dispel the usual suspects first:

1. Taxes: Could it be that our taxes are so high that they caused the 15 million jobs to vanish? That’s unlikely. While taxes were higher in this decade than in the 1990s, they were much lower than they were in the 1950s - 1980s. I’m not saying taxes didn’t hurt, but they don’t explain anything of this magnitude.

2. Over-Regulation: The 2000s saw the full force of ridiculous regulations. The Americans With Disabilities Act caused confusion everywhere, the Family Medical Leave Act made employees much more expensive, and the EPA got to the point that common household spills now needed superfund clean ups. There is no doubt this cost large numbers of jobs. But these regulations are not nearly as intrusive as the creation of OSHA, Affirmative Action, and the EPA, and other similar regulatory burdens of the 1960s and 1970s -- not to mention that most of the economy was denationalized in the 1980s. So again, this doesn’t explain the missing jobs.

3. Inflation: The government claims there is no inflation, but anyone who buys food or gas knows that’s wrong. But today’s inflation is nothing compared to the hyperinflation of the 1970s and early 1980s.

4. Education: Liberals complain that American students aren’t prepared for the modern economy. But that's wrong. Vastly more people go to college today than at any time before, and American colleges dominate the list of the best in the world. Moreover, Americans are learning excellent skills, as shown by our high productivity numbers.

5. War: Some suggest this decade was particularly harsh because of 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that doesn’t make sense either. The number of Americans called up for World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and to face down the Soviets in the 1980s were much larger than anything done during the 2000s, as was military spending.

So what is the cause? I think the answer is our trade policy.

Experience has shown that Adam Smith's theory was right: free trade leads to huge benefits for all concerned. By providing only the products and services for which you have a comparative economic advantage, and then trading, all sides benefit. But what happens when trade is not free? What happens when the comparative economic advantage is distorted? What happens when one side engages in free trade and the other uses trade as an economic weapon? Consider these factors:
1. Distorted Currencies: For decades now, China and others have exaggerated (or created) their comparative advantages by keeping the value of their currency artificially low. This is like subsidizing Chinese goods and offering a subsidy to American companies to ship their factories to China. Thus, many jobs that should have stayed in America under free trade ended up being shipped to China because China’s artificially cheap currency made it artificially cheaper to export to the US from China.

2. Tax Law Distortions: American businesses can actually deduct the cost of moving jobs overseas. Moreover, once overseas, they can play games with inventory values to reduce their tax burdens. Thus, our government is encouraging them to ship jobs overseas.

3. Blind Eye To Corporate Espionage: Our government and “our” multinational companies have turned a blind eye to corporate espionage. Where did China get the skills to make advanced factories? Western companies shipped those factories to China, knowing the Chinese would pirate the entire process. China (and others) also engaged heavily in computer hacking and other assaults on Western data, which they used to improve their own businesses. It’s hard to hold a comparative advantage in a “knowledge-based” economy when foreign governments steal your data and give it to your competitors.

4. Unfair Competition: Many of the companies that compete with US companies are owned directly or indirectly by the Chinese government or Chinese military. These companies have an unlimited ability to obtain funding on favorable terms, to lie on their balance sheets, and to get regulations put into place that stop their competitors in their tracks. And through these governmental-corporations, the Chinese have managed to wipe out numerous American and European companies, leaving the Chinese to dominate the field.
All of this has caused a cascade failure. First, we lost factory jobs we shouldn’t have because overseas factories were unfairly subsidized. But don’t worry, we were told, we would still have the high-tech jobs. . . the jobs foreigners could not do, like making computers. But as they stole American secrets, they started getting these jobs too. Don’t worry, we were told again, we’ll hire them to make cell phones, but Americans will always design the cell phones. Only now Apple and others are hiring Indian engineers to design their newest products. Tech support, accounting, legal, etc. -- all things we were told could never be done overseas -- are all following. In effect, American companies are emigrating.

By allowing foreign countries to subsidize their companies, to steal and use our data, and by actually making it cheaper for American companies to shift their operations overseas, we have allowed foreign countries to systematically gut the American economy to the tune of 15 million jobs that should have been created here.

So how do we fix this? For one thing, it’s time to demand that anyone who wants to deal with America let their currency float fully, and we need to impose severe tariffs on the products of government-owned firms. Secondly, it’s time to eliminate deductions for overseas expenses; why should we subsidize the shipping of jobs overseas. Third, it’s time that we bar products made with stolen American technology or data. And fourth, we need to get our own regulatory and tax schemes under control. I say eliminate the corporate income tax entirely, switch to a sales tax or an equivalent import tariff, and let’s see what Issa comes up with on cutting regulations.

Free trade is great, but playing the sucker is stupid. So long as we let foreign governments distort the market to make their firms more competitive, and so long as we provide incentives for American companies to flee the country, we will never get those 15 million jobs back, and we're going to lose another 15 million and another and another.

If we don’t fix this, we really are in danger of breaking our economy. And no amount of stimulus spending is going to change that.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Obama's The SOTU Speech Stunk

Last night, Obama showed why he is one of the worst speechmakers we’ve ever had as President. Liberals used to claim his speeches were inspiring, but that was the Kool-Aid talking. As proof, I offer a simple challenge: tell me anything he’s ever said in a speech that anyone remembers? Last night was no different, except this speech was notably horrid rather than just dull. Even liberal talking heads found little they could use to praise him. Here’s why:

● The style was awful. It was like Obama hired a team of writers to come up with a collection of trite platitudes: give it your best, be better than you can be, give 110%, be prepared, work smarter not harder, be excellent to each other. . . and then he spent the night reading randomly from the list rather reading a real speech.

● His speech bounced around between topics and doubled-back so often that it seemed almost stream of consciousness. I honestly kept waiting for him to say, “oh, wait, I already talked about that.” Indeed, he lapped himself several times.

● His tone failed him too. He was trying to achieve the tone of a black preacher speaking in soaring tones about his vision for the future, but Obama seemed afraid to use the necessary words like “faith” and “hope” and “vision” and instead he sounded like someone channeling a grocery list. . . “We can have cabbage, and America needs cookies too.” His pathetic speechwriters would have turned “I have a dream. . .” into “I thought about some things while I was sleeping. . .” And worst of all, he seemed to get angry at times for no apparent reason.

● His jokes were so bad people didn’t even know they were jokes, as evidenced by the smattered applause uncomfortably long after he stopped to wait for the nonlaughter to die down.

● Although he spoke largely in bipartisan terms, it was hard not to notice that much of what he said was hardly bipartisan: (1) Don’t you dare try to undo what the Democrats did, (2) if you have ideas, tell me about them because so far I haven’t heard anything from you, and (3) we need to work together to put in place the ideas of Democrats. . . pause. . . pause. . . and Republicans.

● There were no specifics. Indeed, what exactly does he want except a return to the 1950s and high-speed rail so firemen can get porn over the net? He wants to cut some taxes, make some spending cuts, jack up some “investment” (i.e. spending) and increase taxes on the f*&^#ing rich. . . not to punish the bastards mind you, but because they’ve been sucking the blood of the poor. He plans to reorganize government in ways he can’t tell us about yet and he’s going to cut some regulations he can’t name yet.

Oh, that’s right, he did propose a “freeze” in federal spending for five years, which he claims would save $400 billion over ten years -- that’s $40 billion a year, which is all of 0.01% of the budget, or 1 penny for every hundred dollars. Moreover, he didn’t say what he meant by freeze. He doesn’t actually mean “freeze” as you and I understand it, because that would have resulted in bigger savings. He means not adding more to budgets he’s already laid out, which already include healthy increases in each of the next five years. And how does a five year freeze give you ten year savings in any event?

● His speech was full of contradictions. Wasn’t it great when everyone had jobs? Well, those days are gone, be happy! We need more high-speed rails, which evilly knock down homes and must be stopped. China is our friend, fear China! Everything is fine overseas, because it’s a dangerous world. The economy is growing great, but we desperately need to make it grow.

● His view of America’s past was truly skewed as well. Who outside of a handful of union thugs sitting unemployed in Detroit for the past twenty years ever thought they had a job for life? When was that the norm in America? Americans have always been mobile, moving between cities, states and jobs. Americans have always expected to change jobs over and over in their lives. And what’s this garbage about NASA being created in response to Sputnik?

● Demonstrated knowledge of the US Constitution: N/A.

● Then it was time to knock out some minor foreign policy stuff you won’t care about. We won Iran, we made friends with North Korea and China is our closest ally. Forget what you heard about North Korean shelling South Korea, or Iran still building a bomb, or the fact Obama spent 30 minutes blaming China for our problems. . . Obama apparently has. Iraq is now a paradise where no American troops are fighting anymore. . . they just die periodically in explosions while on “policing missions,” along with hundreds of locals. Maybe someday we can bring the troops home. . . wait, didn't Obama already achieved that. . . twice?

● His very brief discussion of Afghanistan was a fraud. Wars have consequences. We won, the Taleeebaaaahn are beaten, and unicorns will now populate the Earth. Oh, and we beat Pakeeestaaaahn too for good measure. Thank you, come again.

● Ok, now the crux of our foreign policy achievements. . . the part Obama focused on because he knew you would care deeply!!! Did you know that Squeegy Umbaruta once saw his village in Sudan as a war zone? Today, the killing has stopped (temporarily) because of the combined efforts of the Eritrean military and the African National Union. What a crowning achievement for Obama! Oh, and go Tunisia! Never mind that we did nothing to bring about that revolution or that we have no idea what kind of government will emerge.

● And while we’re on foreign policy, Muslims are great Americans, dammit.

● Oh, and we need to continue to be the moral example for the world, which is a little confusing since Obama has continued all of the supposedly immoral policies of the Bush years.

● His false compassion moments fell flat too. The people he brought for the old gimmick of pointing to someone in the crowd didn’t seem too excited to be there and nothing he quoted them as saying sounded like anything they would have said. And why the heck did he keep harping on “Alan Brothers Roofing”? Does he have a sponsorship agreement?

● His mention of Gaby Giffords seemed wrong too, on many levels. He has already given “the speech” about her. So why start with that again? Did the first “the speech” not take? Or was he using this to try to gain sympathy at the beginning of this speech? It seemed like he was using her as a sympathy mascot: “I know people who’ve suffered. . . be kind when you grade my speech.”

● Finally, what’s the take away from this speech? “Ask not what you can do. . .”, “A new day in America. . .”, “Read my lips. . . new world order. . .”, “The era of big government is over. . .”, “A date that shall live in infamy. . .”???? Nope. “Do big things.” Are you kidding? Who wrote this speech? Bill and Ted? There was nothing in this speech that stuck with you. You could see where they tried to jam a bunch of those on-liners into the speech (e.g. “our Sputnik moment”), but they all fell flat. Even the Democrats didn’t applaud when he dropped those lines.

This was easily Obama’s worst speech and that’s quite an achievement. I don’t know who wrote this turkey for him, but he needs to fire whoever it was. When this speech was over, you were left wondering if Obama understood America, understood Americans and understood his job.

Compare that with Paul Ryan. Ryan came across as thoughtful, sincere and honest. Obama came across as a man trying to fake his way through a flat speech and getting increasingly upset as people weren’t clapping. . . a real narcissist. And unlike Obama’s grocery list of pointlessness, Ryan gave a tour de force in ten minutes, tying together his belief in limited government, restrained government, faith in capitalism to solve our problems, laying out our problems and offering solutions, and making it clear that the new Republicans feel indebted to the American public and see themselves as our servants, not our masters.

In ten minutes, Ryan showed a much deeper, fundamental understanding of both the country and the Presidency than the understanding shown by the man who’s been sitting in the chair for two years. . . when he hasn’t been playing golf.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bankruptcy for States?

People who file bankruptcy are irresponsible. They spent too much, took advantage of the rest of us, and are just trying to get out of paying the consequences. Only liberals love bankruptcy. Right? Well, not really. And, interestingly, more and more conservatives (e.g. Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Mark Kirk) are suggesting that bankruptcy might be the best course for some of our states?

Let’s start with some background. By law, state governments are required to balance their budgets. Some of these, most notably California and New York, have gotten around this by using pure fantasy numbers and accounting gimmicks to hide the real state of their budgets. But years of lying have caught up to these states and they can't hide the truth anymore. So naturally, they want Washington to bail them out. But the Republicans (even the RINOs) are steadfastly refusing because there’s no justification for the responsible states being forced to pay the debts incurred by the irresponsible states, especially as irresponsible states like California don’t seem willing to make any necessary changes.

This has raised the issue of bankruptcy. Right now, the states are prohibited from filing bankruptcy by federal law. But Congress could change that. Should they?

Bankruptcy is not as evil as many people believe. The concept behind bankruptcy is that sometimes, people need a fresh start. For whatever reason, they’ve overextended themselves and nothing they do will ever be able to dig them out of the hole they’re in. Rather than leaving them as permanent paupers, bankruptcy offers a chance for them to start over from scratch, to turn their lives around and to become useful members of society. The theory on this makes a lot of sense. The problem, of course, is abuse.

But bankruptcy of governments poses a bigger problem. For one thing, we expect governments to be responsible, and it’s troubling that a government would default on its obligations; this is unsettling to people who rely on the government to provide essential services and pensions. Secondly, whereas some people honestly cannot pay their debts, governments can always raise taxes and cut spending; thus, they are not legitimate candidates for bankruptcy. Third, this sets a horrible precedent because it encourages governments to be irresponsible because they can rob their own treasuries and then escape their irresponsibility when it becomes unsustainable -- something politicians would happily do. Moreover, there is something un-democratic about having a bankruptcy judge decide which government obligations will continue to be met.

But there are good reasons to allow bankruptcy too.

For one thing, the current system is not doing any better at getting states to act responsibly. Look at California, for example, which is well past the point of bankruptcy. Rather than fixing its budget, Californians voted for Democrats who will turn up the spending spigots to full, all in the hopes of getting as much as they can before the federal government turns off the spigots and bails them out.

But even more importantly, bankruptcy may be the best way to ensure that the cost of fixing the problem is borne mostly be the people who caused the problem. This is what explains why some conservatives are starting to suggest bankruptcy.

In the event a state goes bankrupt, it’s likely that essential services and benefits will continue. It’s also likely that pension benefits currently being paid will continue untouched. What would most likely be cut are state employee salaries and future benefits, non-essential programs, and obligations to bondholders, and taxes would be raised. Let’s think about each group.

Group 1: State employees. State employee unions have been breaking the back of state governments for years. Indeed, it’s amazing how expensive state employees really are compared to what it would cost to hire private firms to take over those services. A bankruptcy judge can break the union contracts and impose a new pay scale, revise benefits, and change workplace rules. Would this be fair? You tell me. For years now, these employees have benefited from being vastly overpaid and underworked because their unions have been able to bully politicians.

Group 2: Non-essential programs. This is called pork. There is no doubt that a judge would keep services like police and fire going, and would continue payments made to people who depended on them (welfare and pensions). But they would look to cut unnecessary projects and lavish expenses, i.e. the things lobbyists obtain for their clients that run contrary to the public interest.

Group 3: Bondholders. Bondholders will get burned. But bondholders know default is always a possibility, which is why they charge different rates to different borrowers. And as the borrowing costs of the states do reflect the possibility of default, bondholders have no room to complain.

Group 4: Taxpayers. There is little doubt a court would order an increase in taxes. This may seem unfair to people who never asked for the out of control spending, but consider this. At some point, these states would need to raise taxes anyway, thus this is nothing that wouldn’t happen otherwise. And a bankruptcy judge, whose job is to determine equitable solutions, is much more likely than a proven-irresponsible legislature to spread the tax hike out in a manner that requires everyone to share the pain, and is less likely to try to single out an unpopular group or protect a popular one.

Thus, allowing states to file bankruptcy may result in (1) breaking public sector unions, (2) the elimination of pork, and (3) a more equitable sharing of the tax burden. This could be why liberals (and unions in particular) are furious at the idea. And let's not forget, if liberals like Jerry Brown don't like it, they can always figure out other ways to pay their debts. . .

What do you think? Good idea?

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Republicans Propose Significant Cuts

The Republicans keep impressing. This time, the influential Republican Study Committee issued a list of cuts they want to make in the budget. The headline number is less than inspiring at only $2.5 trillion over ten years. But what does impress me is the long term effect these changes would have on our country.

As I said, the $2.5 trillion in cuts don’t thrill me. This represents only a 7% cut in the budget, which is not very impressive. But when you start looking at some of the things they are proposing, you see some radical thinking which will go a long way toward stopping the government from using tax dollars to prop up leftists. Consider the following:

1. Repeal of the Davis Bacon Act: The Davis Bacon Act requires government contractors to pay their employees the “prevailing wage rates” determined by the Department of Labor. Why does this matter? Because this makes non-union labor as expensive as union labor. In effect, Davis Bacon is intended to eliminate the handicap unions have given themselves so that unions can remain competitive. Repealing this law will deal a serious blow to private sector unions throughout the United States. Annual savings: $1 billion.

2. Eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy: For decades, a horde of leftists has dominated public television and public radio. They’ve survived in a taxpayer-funded bubble that let them completely ignore the views and sensibilities of the American public. This proposal will end that support and force them to start satisfying the market place, i.e. the taxpaying public, or go out of business. Annual savings: $445 million.

3. Eliminate the Legal Services Corporation: You’ve heard of public defenders? This is the same thing for civil cases. Here’s why this is wrong. A public defender protects a person who has been accused by the government of a crime. They make sure the government can’t run people over. That’s good. But the LSC does the opposite, it uses government funding to run people over. The LSC uses federal money to sue private individuals on behalf of “poor people," who are often acting as fronts for leftist public policy institutes. Typical targets include corporations, small businesses, landlords, and even government agencies. In other words, the government is giving your tax money to leftist groups so they can sue you to push through leftist policy. Annual savings: $420 million.

4. National Endowment for the Arts/Nation Endowment for the Humanities: For decades, the government has used taxpayer funds to promote “art” and “theater” that promotes leftist, anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-religious ideas. Under these programs, the federal government has paid for everything from crucifixes dipped in urine to homosexual and sadomasochistic photography to pro-Obama plays. Essentially, the government has propped up a cabal of leftist “artists” on your dime. Annual savings $335 million.

5. Amtrak Subsidies: Amtrak is a failure. It’s also regional robbery. Indeed, poor and middle class taxpayers all over the country have been paying so that rich, liberal Northeasterners could ride heavily-subsidized trains. Now they even want to build a trillion dollar high speed rail system in selected liberal states. . . that's called a "hidden economic stimulus." If you want it, you pay for it. Annual savings $1.565 billion. Vastly underestimated annual saving from canceling high speed rail: $2.5 billion.

6. US Agency for International Development (USAID): These are the people who take money from steelworkers in Ohio and send that money to China to help them build steel mills that take away steel jobs in Ohio, all in the name of developing markets to which US companies can sell their products. . . which are now made overseas. Annual savings: $1.39 billion.

7. Eliminate subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: These are the people who issue false reports and fraudulent data all in the name of destroying the American economy to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. . . climate change. Annual savings: $12.5 million.

8. Federal Employees: Elimination of automatic pay increases for civilian federal workers for five years and a 15% reduction in the federal work force through attrition by hiring only one new worker for every two that leave. This is a good start, though I would like more. But this achieves two things. First, it starts to bring federal pay back in line with the pay earned by the people paying their salaries. Secondly, it potentially reduces the strength of federal unions by 15% or 150,000.

As you can see, none of these changes will result in huge dollar savings in the budget, but the effects are significant. If these changes are made, the Republicans will eliminate most of the nests of leftist that have survived by clinging to taxpayer support. Everything from leftist “journalists” to “artists” to unions to legal “public interest” groups will lose their funding and will need to fend for themselves. Moreover, we will stop supporting foreign companies that take away American jobs, and this will eliminate a huge hidden subsidy paid to liberal states like Massachusetts, New York and California.

This would go a long way to breaking the back of the "leftist establishment" by cutting off their unearned funding and making them have to state their case with the open market. And that would be a significant change.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011


Since you’re all watching football, I’ll keep this short. Many things happened this weekend that deserve attention: GE, Obama and the NFL, Keith Olbermann. . . you get the picture. Try to leave a few comments during the timeouts!! Hey, was that a touchdown?

1. Ding Dong The Witch Is Gone

Keith Olbermann, famous for his heartwarming “worst person in the world” award, has left MSNBC abruptly amidst an ongoing civil war between Olbermann and everyone at NBC. Olbermann was known for such obnoxious behavior as making his staff leave notes on his door rather than speaking to him and refusing to talk with management. When the donation scandal hit on November 4th, where Olbermann was caught donating money to various Democrats -- something Olbermann savagely attacked Fox News for doing -- things got even worse. Staffers described his conduct after being criticized by NBC brass as “scorched-earth policy” and “totally narcissistic response.” They also blasted him for embarrassing the network.

Now he's gone. Olbermann's departure was so rapid MSNBC didn’t even have time to pull the promos for his upcoming interviews. No word on what Olbermann plans to do next, but no doubt it will involve a good deal of hate. Indeed, Olbermann has been a problem wherever he’s been. Said one former colleague at ESPN, when Olbermann left ESPN, “he didn't burn bridges here; he napalmed them.”

An old saying comes to mind, “if you go to bed with the worst person in the world, you wake up with the worst person in the world.”

2. Are Ancient Astronauts Threatening Jerry Brown?

Graffiti found in Southern California predicts that Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown will be killed on Valentines Day. It’s not clear who is responsible for this prediction, but police suspect the Mayans.

3. GE: Lord Vader To Obama’s Emperor

“GM” may stand for “Government Motors” but “GE” stands for “Government Everything-else,” and they proved that again this weekend as Sith Lord Darth Jeffrey Immelt accepted Emperor Obama's appointment as President of Obama’s President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. This follows a couple years in which:
(1) GE subsidiary NBC allowed MSNBC to spew leftist hate-speech on behalf of the Democrats, while Immelt told CNBC not to criticize Obama;

(2) GE spent $32,050,000 lobbying in 2010, mostly on Democrats;

(3) GE worked hard to bring about cap and trade so companies would be forced to purchase GE industrial gear;

(4) GE received money under TARP, which was somehow kept secret from the public; and

(5) GE made obscene profits shipping your job to China.

"The power to destroy an economy is insignificant next to the power of GE!"

Immelt promises to get to the bottom of why America is producing no jobs. Maybe he’ll start with the 25,000 jobs GE shipped overseas during the past two years? Or maybe not.

4. NFL Honored As Obama Picks A Favorite

Finally, our Kenyan Overlord has selected a team to win the NFL playoffs. Reliable sources inform us this was no easy decision for Obama.

Obama initially wanted to support the Kenyan team, until he was reminded that he was “born” in Hawaii. . . (how goes the search for that elusive birth certificate Governor Abercrombie?). But Hawaii has no team, so Obama considered the Green Bay Packers, who are located in strategic Wisconsin. But he wasn't sure what they were packing, so he ruled them out. The New York Jets represent more voters than anyone else in the playoffs, and critically, richer voters than anyone else in the playoffs, but it's not like New York will ever vote Republican. Pittsburgh is a union town and they have an NAACP approved coach, but so does Chicago. Hmm. Ultimately, Obama decided that economics would drive this decision, so he chose the Bears for their association with stock market symbology. . . with one minor change. Accordingly, Obama has chosen to support the Chicago Bulls in the American Footballs Tournament, and has thereby demonstrated that he is indeed a true American male. . . the skinny jeans notwithstanding.

Who you got today? I’m thinking Packers and Jets.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Global Warming Enthusiasts Caught Again

The climate change industry is a disgrace. They’ve been exposed for faking their data, falsifying their formulas, conspiring to keep contrary opinions from being published, and simply making things up -- like the story about the snow vanishing from the Himalayas. Well, they’ve done it again, and you’re not going to believe the audacity this time.

The latest incident involves climate “scientist” Liliana Hisas of the Universal Ecological Fund. Hisas just put out a report that projected a 2.4 degree Celsius increase in temperature during the next decade, which will of course cause massive worldwide food shortages and all kinds of other horrible things. The report in question was published on the American Association for the Advancement of Science website, and was of course, widely covered in the press.

Well, it turns out that the report is wrong. . . very wrong. So wrong, in fact, that the report had to be pulled from the AAAS website.

How wrong was it? It turns out that even if you use the highest estimate for warming, the best you could achieve by 2020 is a 0.2 degree Celsius increase. Thus, the report overstated the maximum amount of warming by ten times. Moreover, according to a climate “scientist” who reviewed the report after this problem arose, the “study. . . confuses ‘equilibrium temperature rise’ with ‘transient temperature rise.’” In other words, the report confuses temporary with permanent.

Ok, embarrassing right? Well, it gets more interesting than that.

Hisas was told about these mistakes before she published the report. So why didn’t she change the report? Well, let’s let climate “scientist” Rey Weymann explain that one:
“The author of the study was told by several of us about this error but she said it was too late to change it.”
Seriously? It was too late to correct the numbers? It was too late to yank the report before she had it published. . . on a website, not in a printed journal? It was too late to include a disclaimer. . . . “this report is spectacularly wrong”? How in the world can it be too late?

At least she’s acknowledging the problem now, right? I mean, she retracted the report, right? Well, no. AAAS yanked the report. But the public relations firm which helped issue the report on her and the Universal Ecological Fund’s behalf has issued a statement standing by the study.

Can you imagine a scientist in a real scientific field knowingly publishing a report they knew to be wrong and not retracting it or correcting it, and then even issuing a statement standing by it once their fraud became widely known? Bigfoot scientists have more scientific integrity than this!

And before you think this was just one disreputable scientist, let me point out that climate “scientist” Osvaldo Canziani was listed as scientific advisor on the project. Who is Canziani? He’s part of the 2007 Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the United Nations climate group whose figures are being used by all global warming enthusiasts and government policy makers everywhere. So what does he say about his utter failure to catch this fundamental and devastating mistake or about the failure to correct these problems even after they were known?

Nothing. He claims to be ill and unavailable for interviews.

The IPCC, by the way, whose reports are used by governments to set environmental policy, has itself been accused of exaggerating its claims.

So what is the response of global warming enthusiasts? Are they repudiating this “scientist” and her lack of interest in putting out accurate reports? Nope. They’re calling this an “honest mistake” and they stand by her conclusions. . . just 100 years from now instead of 10.

This tells us a lot about the validity of climate science. That such a report could be issued and given publicity when the author and the entire global warming enthusiast community knew the report was wrong is stunning. And this report isn’t just wrong, it’s so spectacularly wrong as to be 1000% off in its conclusion. Yet, they stand by the report and its conclusions. This is borderline fraud, and they’re standing on the wrong side of the border. If a drug company had issued something similarly fraudulent, there would be calls for prison time for all of the participants. Yet, strangely, we’re supposed to overlook the utter fraudulence of the report and still believe its conclusions?

So much for climate "science."

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hey You, Get Off Of My Cloud

The next big thing in computing is “cloud computing.” I see this as a serious danger to our freedoms. Am I paranoid? Hardly. I pay attention to history and I've seen how cloud computing's advocates behave, and this has “CONTROL” written all over it.

“Cloud computing” actually has several meanings. In its most benign form, cloud computing means the use of web-based applications like internet e-mail providers. One level deeper involves the creation of a centralized operating system. In this environment, rather than having Windows or Linux run your system, your computer calls Microsoft whenever you turn it on and anything you want to run gets run on Microsoft’s servers, but you keep the data. In other words, any time you wanted to balance your checkbook, Microsoft does the math, but they don’t keep track of what’s in your checkbook. The third level essentially turns your computer into nothing more than a terminal. At this level, Microsoft not only runs your computer, but it stores your data.

So what’s my beef with cloud computing?

At the first level, I have few complaints. But when you start getting to the second and third levels, you run into practical and control issues.

First, the practical. For anyone who has ever lived somewhere backwards, you know how it stinks to lose your internet. Having lost my internet regularly for a day or two at a time and once as long as a week, I can tell you that it hits you pretty quickly how stupid it is to become reliant on the internet. So why in the world would I want to join one of these clouds? I use my computer to balance my checkbook, keep my contact information and handle my job, through word processing and the such. If all of that is done on the internet and I lose my internet periodically, I lose my access to all of that information. That’s disastrous.

And don’t forget the utter lack of safety on the internet. How many times have we heard about 50 million credit cards being stolen from some commercial site and posted in Russia? No hacker worth a plugged byte is coming after your data. But if your data is sitting in a pile with the data of 200 million other people, then suddenly you become a tempting target.

But most troubling are the control issues. In the past few years, we’ve seen evidence that the tech companies are little Nazis. Google spies like the Stasi. Microsoft is obsessed with even the smallest details of how you handle your system -- make a change to anything they don’t like and they’ll issue a new version of Windows that stops you in your tracks. Facebook doesn’t believe in privacy. None of them have had a problem with deleting politically incorrect content, and don’t forget, each of these “good liberal companies” has surrendered to totalitarian regimes like China and Pakistan with barely a whisper of complaint.

How happy will you be when you sign in one morning only to discover that the book you were writing is gone because you used a word Google doesn’t like. I guess you should have read their policy on “hate speech” a little more closely. And while we’re at it, your music library is gone because they’re pretty sure you didn’t have a license to upload those songs. Oh, and those pictures of your kids, they look kind of porny to our administrator, expect the child services people to call you today. Hey, at least we didn’t pass those around like the ones of you and your spouse! And while we’re breaking bad news, your insurer was quite interested in your diary, how long did you say you’ve had that itch? Not to mention that our advertisers paid us to scan your data looking for things that might interest you, but their analysis of your in-depth profile says you might be a bad credit risk.

Many people have learned the hard way that information is power. The Germans learned this under the Nazis and the Stasi. The Russians learned it under the KGB. When an organization can learn intimidate details of your life, they control you. And I don’t even mean blackmail. I mean that giving one organization the power to know everything about you lets them determine what you can buy and sell, what jobs you can hold, how to handle your health care, whether to send the police to watch you, and even lets them intrude on how you raise your kids.

It makes no difference if this is the government or private companies. For one thing, these companies have shown that they are willing to blur the distinction between public and private to guarantee their profits, and governments are more than willing to make that trade off for power. But even more importantly, with the database-ization of the world, every company you might want to deal with, and the companies that make it possible for you to deal with them (like banks and credit card companies), can buy access to these databases.

Should we loan you money? No, our data says you’re over-extended. Should we give you insurance? No, our data says you might be a health risk. Should we give you a job? No, our data says you hold unpopular opinions.

This is the world cloud computing promises; it makes Big Brother look like a Keystone Cop. And if this weren’t the case, tell me why Facebook fights so hard keep privacy advocates at bay, why Microsoft cares if I want arrows on my icons or not, why Google is roaming the earth illegally collecting data, and why Microsoft’s ads about cloud computing lie to you. . . they make you think they will give you new programs you can’t get at home (although you can), and they never once mention who gets their hands on your data. I wonder why that is?

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Obama Surrenders On ObamaCare?

Yesterday, I pointed out how Obama has strangely jumped to the free market right, specifically with his Executive Order requiring federal agencies to start looking through their books for regulations that can be eliminated to spur economic growth. Now we have something even more bizarre. While Obama was busy cautioning the GOP against repealing ObamaCare, he released the following statement. See what you make of this:
“I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. But we can’t go backwards. Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing that insurance companies can’t deny, cap, or drop their coverage when they need it most, while taking meaningful steps to curb runaway health care costs.”
Is this freaking you out? It should.

While the media is portraying this statement as nothing more than Obama standing steadfast against repealing ObamaCare while simultaneously giving some vague assurance he might, somehow be willing to consider improvements, this statement goes WAY beyond that.

Politics and law are very similar, and both thrive on negotiation. And what Obama and the Republicans are about to do is to start negotiating the fate of ObamaCare. As an experienced negotiator, I can tell you that the statement above contains Obama’s opening offer, i.e. his list of demands for the coming negotiations. And the list is stunning. Take another look. As I read this statement, Obama says he's willing to work with the Republicans to rework (i.e. improve) ObamaCare, but the finished product must:
1. Not be officially "repealed."

2. Must prevent insurers from turning people down for pre-existing conditions.

3. Must prevent insurers from putting lifetime caps on policies.

4. Must prevent insurers from dropping coverage when people file claims or get sick.

5. Must find ways to cut costs.
Note what’s missing: the public option, government-issued policies, mandatory purchase of insurance, punishing employers, subsidies, taxes on providers. . . everything that makes ObamaCare what it is. All that’s left here is keeping the credit for the final product, some insurance reform, and cost cutting -- which has always been the Republican goal of health care reform.

Essentially, Obama is saying that he only cares about the popular parts of ObamaCare (the parts that even many Republicans said need to be kept), that he wants credit for the final product, and that he’s going to rely on the Republicans to find cost cutting measures.

That’s called “total surrender.”

So what’s going on here? It’s possible Obama has some devious plan to sound bipartisan, but then resist everything. But that gets him nothing. He knows he needs to negotiate with the Republicans, or they will just defund his entire program and repeal it in 2012. This could be some sort of trick, but again I don’t see how that helps him as the Republicans have the power. This could just be a mistake? But Obama knows he’s entering a negotiation with the Republicans and even a newbie lawyer knows that your opening statement pretty much becomes the maximum you’ll ever get. So even if he didn’t intend this to be his opening demand, it’s too late to jam that genie back into the bottle.

What I suspect is really going on here, is that Obama has read the tea leaves and he knows ObamaCare is a political disaster. He knows it’s doomed, and the only way he can maintain some sort of legacy out of it is to cut a deal with the Republicans. So he has (again) decided to throw the Democrats under the bus and hook his fame to ObamaCare II, a much smaller, but much more popular law.

Can you imagine how happy the unemployed Blue Dogs must be feeling today? And what the Huffers are going to say when they figure this out?


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Barack Obama, Republican?

After suffering an historic repudiation in the last election, the Democrats are in a tizzy. Should they move further left? Should they just throw tantrums? Should they block everything? What would Barack do? Oh oh, Barack’s moved to the right, further right than even the RINOs. What’s worse, he keeps undercutting the Democrats. What is going on?

When the Democrats got blasted in 1994, Bill Clinton realized pretty quickly that he had to move to the center to survive. The strategy was called triangulation. And what it entailed was to let the Republicans have their way, and then claim ownership of their best ideas. Occasionally, Clinton would also criticize his own side, but rarely in stark terms and he never undercut them. Essentially, he became everyone’s friend.

Obama is now faced with a similar dilemma and he’s opted for triangulation as well. But Obama isn’t like Clinton, and his triangulation isn’t the benign sort Clinton tried. His version of triangulation involves undercutting the Democrats over and over. Indeed, things are getting ugly!

The first obvious example of triangulation occurred right after the election when Obama endorsed the idea of extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. The Democrats intended to play hardball on that issue and were already staking out a typically nasty class-warfare position, when Obama suddenly announced he would agree to extend the tax cuts in exchange for more stimulus spending. The Democrats were beside themselves with rage. “He’s undercut us!” they scream, along with a few profanities. In fact, the House held a closed-door meeting of Democrats where they took turns swearing at, blasting, and lampooning Obama.

The next instance of triangulation involved Obama’s retention of Bill Daley as his replacement for “center-right” (**chuckle, chuckle**) Rahm Emanuel. The selection of Daley, a noted non-leftist Democrat with massive Wall Street ties, was seen as an attempt by Obama to get back into the good graces of big business. The Democrats were despondent.

Then came the Tucson shooting. As the left wound up their hate machine and began calling for the blood of their critics, all under the guise of whining about the atmosphere of hate their critics created, Obama came along and told everyone that rhetoric had nothing to do with the shooting. Once again, he cut the legs out from beneath them and there were furious.

Now, Obama has stolen the idea of Paul Ryan and Darrell Issa to go through the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) and identify for removal any regulations that are hindering economic growth. What makes this all the more interesting is that (1) this has the potential of crippling years of Democratic legislative victories, (2) doing this won’t stop Issa from embarrassing the Democrats through his hearings, where businessmen will come and blast the regulations they’ve put in place, and (3) this provides a tremendous amount of cover for the Republicans from Democratic attacks that they’re undermining government. Wow!

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Obama has suddenly become a Republican. There were political reasons for each of these acts. The Republicans simply weren’t going to cave in on the tax issue, so why not get what he could and declare victory. Obama needs to reconnect with Wall Street to finance his billion dollar campaign, and Daley is the man to do that. By the time he spoke about Tucson, it was increasingly clear the shooter was a leftist and a backlash was growing against the left’s attacks. And Obama knows that economic growth is his only chance to get re-elected. So these decisions were political, not principled.

But in each instance, Obama could have achieved his goals without so ruthlessly cutting the legs out from under the Democrats. So why do it this way? I think the answer lies in the difference between Obama and Clinton. Clinton was a master at following the crowd. He had no principles whatsoever, so he stuck his finger into the wind and went where it led him. But more importantly, he was savvy enough to chart the safest course to the front of the bandwagon for himself and his friends.

Obama lacks Bill Clinton’s savvy, and he is not and never has been a team player. So now that he finds he need to chase a few bandwagons to get re-elected, he doesn’t even bother thinking about his friends and allies. It’s every man for himself. And that’s why the Democrats keep finding themselves stranded as Obama runs off and shells the land he had led them to.

So this has led Obama to tax cuts, deregulation, spending cuts, and stopping attempts to stifle gun rights and free speech. If Obama keeps this up, he may actually end up being one of the better Republican presidents before his term is over. . . and what’s left of the Democratic Party is going to hate him.

Finally, let me throw this out there for you to chew on. Putting aside our natural and well-earned cynicism for dealing with Democrats, it's also just possible that Obama's change of heart on these issues is an indication that he's grown wiser and he's starting to understand that the destructive class-warfare preached by the Democratic Party is no way to run a country? Wouldn't that be interesting?

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Don't Tax Me Bro!

Americans are a practical people, our politicians are not. While our chattering class can’t imagine how to fix the deficit problem, the public is actually very clear: cut spending, but do NOT raise taxes. We know this from a new CBS poll, which is actually very enlightening.

To give you the headline numbers, the CBS poll found that 77% of Americans want spending cut to fix the Obama deficit disaster. Only 9% want taxes raised, and an additional 9% want both cuts and tax hikes. This is an unmistakable message, especially for a poll produced by left-leaning CBS.

BUT, say our chattering class, Americans always say they want spending cuts, but they can never agree on what to cut. And if you look at part of this poll, that actually seems to be a plausible interpretation. When asked to volunteer a program they’d be willing to cut to reduce the deficit, only 38% of respondents could name a program. And of those who volunteered a program, no choice came up with anything more than token numbers. For example, the top response was the military (6%), followed by Social Security (4%), welfare (4%), and government salaries (2%).

But can you see what’s wrong with this question? It asks people to wipe out an entire program. In other words, it’s not asking “should we trim the military budget,” it’s asking “should we eliminate the military.” This is a false dilemma, and that’s what accounts for the low percentages. That’s also why the chattering class keeps using this type of question to create the impression that “Americans want cuts in principal, but don’t actually want anything cut.”

So what happens when you dig a little deeper? Well, this poll did. It actually asked people if they would agree to certain specific cuts. Here’s what the survey found people would agree to:

Reduce Social Security for wealthy63%34%
Reduce money for projects in your area58%35%
Reduce farm subsidies55%38%
Reduce defense spending52%44%

And here are the things they would not agree to:

Eliminate mortgage interest deduction45%48%
Raise retirement age43%54%
Reduce student loan money41%56%
Raise taxes33%65%
Reduce health care spending27%67%
Tax health care benefits26%69%

So what does this tell us? First, it’s clear that people will not accept tax increases of any sort. The American people have reached their limits on taxes. Any attempt to go above Clinton-era levels will be hazardous to your political career, and apparently even going this high is enough to wipe out a Democratic majority.

Secondly, take a look at what people are willing to cut. These are not minor programs that no one has ever heard of; these are the sacrosanct “untouchables” of our budget. These are the programs that everyone automatically assumed were excluded from any discussion of budget cuts: social security, “projects in your area” (i.e. pork), farm subsidies and military spending. I can’t think of any programs that have been considered more “untouchable” than these in our politics.

Third, it’s clear that when you go from broad, meaningless questions, like “would you eliminate the defense department”, to "would you be willing to reduce the defense budget", the public shows that they are indeed willing to make some cuts.

So what should we conclude from this? We should conclude that Americans are not looking for sweeping redefinitions of our government. They are willing to remake the government on an issue by issue basis, but forget proposals like eliminating Agency X or Department Y. Indeed, if you are a conservative looking to cut the budget, propose specific cuts to existing programs, but don’t propose broad, generalized cuts. And don’t be afraid to propose cuts in previously sacrosanct programs.

This also means the game is up for the chattering class, and they can no longer hide behind the fiction that people don’t want cuts because they aren’t willing to wipe out whole programs.

The American public is ready to do the right thing. Now our political class needs to catch up.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ban Free Speech, Are You Kidding?

There have been many proposed responses to the Giffords shooting. Some of them are dumber than others, but all are stupid, especially the idea that we should be limiting freedom of speech. That's a horrible idea.

Here are few of the proposed responses to the Giffords shooting:
• Encase the entire House and Senate floor with Plexiglass to stop tourists from throwing something at the Congress (and presumably keep Congress from throwing poop back). ~Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.
How does a shooting at a grocery store lead to the idea that we need to protect the Congress floor from tourists. . . the same tourists who are already searched before they enter the building? There is no logic here. And if this sounds like the Cone of Silence to you or the Ape House at the San Diego Zoo, then you’re smarter than Dan Burton.
• Ban the carrying of a firearm within 1,000 feet of any “high-profile” public officials. ~Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.
For starters, these “high-profile public officials” move around. Are you seriously going to arrest people who have a right to carry a gun the moment a Congresscritter hops on a bus with them? Secondly, if someone wants to kill a Congresscritter, they aren’t going to care about a 1,000 feet gun-ban zone. By definition, laws do not deter these people. All this will do is disarm those who might save the Congresscritter.
• The federal government should impose tougher drug laws because the Tucson shooter smoked pot. ~David Frum, Hack
Let me repeat, people who want to assassinate politicians do not care about the law. Moreover, pot hardly inspires people to violence. To the contrary, it inspires laziness and the munchies. Poor thinking Dave. Dave’s not home man.
• Use the Federal Communication Commission to force Rush Limbaugh off the air. ~Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.
Right, because political oppression and silencing the opposition keeps paranoids from deciding to kill people, and if we can just force people to stop disagreeing it would be a wonderful world.
• Make it illegal to say things that might be considered ‘threatening’ about lawmakers. ~Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa.
Down with free speech! Ok, let's hit this issue of curtailing free speech straight up:

First, the Constitution forbids it, thank God. End of argument.

Secondly, what gives anyone the right to decide what another may say or think? And if we’re going to play that game, what makes you think you’re going to get to decide what it is that everyone else says or thinks?

Third, how does it make any sense to limit free speech when there’s no evidence that any speech incited this guy to do the shooting? He’s a nut. He shot her because he didn’t like the answer she gave to a nonsense question he asked in 2007.

Fourth, where do we draw the line? The New York Times drew a target on Peyton Manning. Was that hate speech? Should we just ban the symbol or also the word “target” or both? Or should we only ban it when it’s used against a person, as in “he’s the target of this investigation”? Do we only ban words that involve shooting? What about words that involve blowing things up? What about words that imply stabbings? Or beatings? Or do we ban beating words only when they include a hint of death? Do we ban “beat him within an inch of his life” or just “beat him to death”? What about words that have become euphemisms? “Take out” usually refers to Chinese food, but we should probably ban that in case it gets used to mean a person. What about “I hate”? That’s dehumanizing and it implies feelings of violence and aggression, should we ban that?

What about “f*ck the cops?” That clearly implies a threat of violence against the police. So do we ban rap music? What about films that inspire violence? A film about an assassination or a bombing could set the unstable off. So could a Discovery Channel show about assassinations, now that I think about it. And if we are going to ban movie violence, how do we decide which kind of movie violence will inspire violence? How about a slap in a romantic comedy? What about cartoon violence? What if the next killer kills because a non-violent cartoon dog told him too? Do we ban cartoon dogs? What about cartoon cats? John Hinckley wanted to get Jodi Foster’s attention, should we ban anyone who can get the attention of a crazy person? Maybe Letterman should be taken off the air, he has a stalker, so there must be something about him that inspires crazy people -- that could cause the unstable to kill someone.

Where do we stop?

Fifth and finally, why are we even drawing lines at all? There are 308 million Americans who did nothing wrong this last weekend, so why are we going to punish them by forcing them to change the way they think and speak and act, by neutering their culture and language, by talking away their entertainment and their rights, just because of the actions of one insane person? I’m sure someone drove drunk too, should be ban cars or alcohol?

If we go down that road, aren't we eventually going to ban everything?

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Republicans Play Smart!

Prior to the Giffords shooting, the media was busy trying to discredit House Republicans for their first week in power. They spun stories of a lavish “Republican” fundraiser (though only a handful of Republicans attended), they whined about two Republicans not being properly sworn in (a non-issue at best), and they complained that Republicans didn’t cut $100 billion from the budget on day one. Of course, few people fell for these smears. What's more interesting though is something that's gone almost entirely unnoticed by the media, something that could turn out to be significant.

Years back, the Congress put a limit on the size of the federal debt. But the federal budget is so out of control that the Treasury keeps running into that limit. Consequently, the Congress must repeatedly vote to raise the debt ceiling or face the music as government spending grinds to a halt and the government begins defaulting on its obligations.

One such moment came up prior to the election. But with the Democrats likely to lose the election, they decided to set a trap for the Republicans. By voting only to extend the debt ceiling for a few months worth of spending, the Democrats hoped that one of the first votes the new Republican Congress would need to make would be to raise the debt ceiling. The Democrats hoped this would embarrass the Republicans and alienate them from their Tea Party allies. It seemed like a nice trick.

But like everything else the Democrats do, this one has blown up in their faces. Indeed, rather than just hold their noses and vote to raise the debt ceiling, as the Democrats expected, the Republicans decided to hold out until Obama agrees to budget concessions. Said Speaker John Boehner:

"The American people will not stand for such an increase unless it is accompanied by meaningful action by the president and Congress to cut spending and end the job-killing spending binge in Washington. While America cannot default on its debt, we also cannot continue to borrow recklessly, dig ourselves deeper into this hole, and mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren."
Even the RINOs are on board. Said Lindsey Graham (RINO-S.C.):

“This is an opportunity to make sure that the government is changing its spending ways. I will not the vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long-term obligations, starting with Social Security.”
Graham’s demands are similar to those of many Tea Party activists -- raise the retirement age for Social Security, means test benefits, and slash non-security discretionary spending to 2008 levels. The Republican leadership is on board as well, as are most members, though some are opposed to raising the debt ceiling under any circumstances.

Obama first tried to castigate the Republicans for “playing chicken” with “catastrophe,” but now indicates he’s willing to reach a deal with the Republicans. Harry Reid too has climbed on board, though many on the left continue to resist. Said Dick Durbin (D-Ill): "Using this doomsday scenario and putting the American economy at risk I don't think is a responsible way to govern." Wah!! What does Durbin know about responsibility?

What makes this such an interesting issue is that the Republicans could well be on the verge of obtaining actual, serious concessions from Obama. Consider that for a moment. When the Republicans won the House but not the Senate, the assumption was that nothing would happen until 2012, when Obama could be replaced and a majority obtained in the Senate. But through the careful application of political pressure, the Republicans may be about to obtain concessions that begin to right our fiscal house and reshape the federal budget toward conservative goals.

Combined with actual cuts ($35 billion in the House budget), Issa’s deviously clever plan to let American business have a hand in slashing regulations, and the seeming easy unity of Tea Party people and RINOs (and even some Democrats), things appear to be off to a pretty good start in Washington. Maybe these really aren’t the same old Republicans?

What do you think?

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why The Vitriol?

For years now, it’s been apparent the modern left is driven by hate. In fact, it’s ingrained in the left’s ideology, which is entirely premised on taking from people it considers evil or undeserving. But their outpouring of hate in the past few days has been breathtaking. So why is the left so angry about this? There are several explanations for the left’s current vitriol and, as you might expect, the answer likely involves a combination of each factor. Let’s consider the possibilities:

Reason One: Exploitation Plain and Simple.

When Rahm Emanuel said “never let a good crisis go to waste,” he was saying something that has been at the core of leftist thinking for decades. The left puts little value on human life and no value of human dignity (their self-serving protestations to the contrary notwithstanding). Indeed, their entire political philosophy is based on the idea that society is more important than the life, rights, or dignity of any individual, and that we are all expendable for the greater good, i.e. their agenda. Add in other leftist ideas like the Black Panther slogan, “by any means necessary,” and you have a philosophy that will happily exploit any tragedy to further their political agenda. Hence, it’s been no surprise that gun control groups began pushing legislation within minutes of the shooting, that leftists took to the net and the airways immediately to slander their enemies (even after they should have known better), or that Democrats would use this in fundraisers before the bodies are even cold.

This is who the left is, and people need to realize that. The vitriol is all just part of the show. The left understands that its recent sales job to the public about the Tea Party being a bunch of klansmen fell on deaf ears. So now they are trying to raise the volume and intensity of the debate in the hopes that the public abandons the Tea Party.

Reason Two: Guilt Transference.

A second possible explanation involves psychology. One of the most common behaviors of the left over recent years has been that they routinely deny their own actions, and then they accuse others of the very things they pretend they have not done. In psychological terms, this is called transference, and it’s a defense mechanism that lets the individual avoid the responsibility for their own actions. You see this used in Hollywood when a gay-bashing character turns out to actually be gay, but is unwilling to admit it to themselves. It’s the same idea here:

At some level, the left must be aware that it engages almost constantly in hateful rhetoric. It also knows that this is wrong. To avoid the logical conclusion that, therefore, it is guilty of wrongful behavior, the left transfers this behavior onto the right by accusing the right of acting in the way that the left actually acts. This helps leftists cleanse their consciences. The stronger the guilt that must be cleansed, the strong the attack. Over the past 8-10 years, the left has been guilty of an incredibly high level of hateful rhetoric. Hence, the incredibly high level of vitriol in their current attack.

Reason Three: Fear.

The next possible explanation involves fear. The left has for decades engaged in guerilla tactics. This involves smearing their opponents, disrupting political events, spreading lies to trick the “ignorant masses,” and electoral fraud. This also includes making life incredibly unpleasant for people who oppose them.

That has taken the form of shouting down people who dare oppose them (politicians or otherwise), protesting at their homes or businesses, seeking to have their opponents fired or taken off the air, and using threats or implied threats to scare their opponents. Indeed, anyone who paid attention to the Townhall meetings saw this when union thugs intimidated speakers with violence. Similarly, most right-wing radio personalities and writers routinely receive death threats. Disruptions of political speeches and college commencement speeches often include death threats, bomb threats, physical attacks, threats against the speaker’s children, and other suggestions of violence.

But here’s the thing. This has been 100% the domain of the left. In other words, they’ve been getting away with it consequence free.

If the left honestly believes this shooter came from the right, their vitriol could indicate that they are terrified that this could (or will) become a trend. Indeed, with the right already adopting many of their other tactics, like turning out to protest en masse or giving the Code Pink treatment to the reading of the Constitution, this could easily be evidence that the right is about to adopt the same guerilla tactics. This would a terrifying prospect for the left as they would now begin to face personal danger for their political views. Hence, the vitriol is in direct response to their fear.

Reason Four: Lashing Out.

Finally, we come to what appears to be the main reason: the left feel personally betrayed by America, and this vitriol is them lashing out.

For years, there have been growing hints of hate boiling over on the left. And when I say hate, I mean it. People use the term "hate" far too lightly, just as they misuse other words. Real hate almost can't be described except with the word "hate." It's fiery, it's nasty, it's violent, it's irrational.

As victimology took hold on the left, the hate followed. Blacks who subscribe to victimology hate whites. Feminists hate men and housewives. Socialists hate capitalists and the rich. Etc. And when I say “hate,” I don't mean "dislike." I mean when you get these people started, they end up foaming at the mouth saying things that often end with them trying to find the nastiest way to wish some dead.

Then Bush came along and gave them something specific to focus their hate upon. And hate they did -- very publicly. Indeed, there was so much open hate that it soon became acceptable in leftist circles to talk about assassinating Bush or Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Delay, or Bill O’Reilly (later add Palin and Beck).

Then 2008 happened and suddenly leftists thought the world had changed. The clouds opened up, a rainbow appeared, and America finally accepted them. But things went wrong almost immediately. They got nothing. And at the first opportunity, the public thoroughly repudiated them (probably for several generations at least). Suddenly, what seemed like a dream come true victory became a humiliating defeat that indicated to them that they would never succeed in America.

So now it’s January 2011. You’ve got years of boiling hate, which reached a level where expressing it in its vilest form has become acceptable. You’ve got a crushing defeat inflicted upon these self-defined enlightened leftists by a public that they see as ignorant, and a fear that they are doomed to perpetual failure because that same public will never accept them. That is a recipe for an epic tantrum. Suddenly, you have this shooting and an opportunity to focus that tantrum on one thing. In one fell swoop, they could unleash all their hatred on the ignorant public that they blame for their failure and they could target the various bogeymen and bogeywomen they’ve come to despise over the past couple years. Hence, the vitriol.

It’s possible that some are hoping that by spewing forth, they might encourage other unstable people to assassinate their bogeymen, but for the most part I think this vitriol is the result of a personal desire by most on the left to “get even” with the ignorant public that shattered their dreams and the evil conservatives who made that happen.


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Monday, January 10, 2011

Leftist Hate Speech

The left are liars and hypocrites. No surprises there. But the last couple days have been extreme, even for them. I'll deal with the reason they've flipped out tomorrow morning, so as not to clutter this post. In the meantime, today I’ve collected some information they won't like: examples of leftist hate. I apologize in advance for the vile language (NSFW), but I will be quoting lots of leftists.

1. The Shooter Is A Leftist

Before we dig into leftist hate, let me point out that this shooter was by no means a right-winger. All the evidence puts him firmly on the left:
● The shooter’s favorite books include The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, and The Republic, which are all leftist books.

● He's a 9/11 truther.

● He was an intolerant atheist who wrote a diatribe against the military handing out miniature Bibles to recruits.

● Classmate Caitie Parker, who knew him in high school and college and was in a band with him, has stated: “As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal and oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.”

● His favorite video on YouTube was someone burning the American flag.
None of these are consistent with him being a right-winger. Indeed, the only thing consistent with him being on the modern right is vague demands about abandoning the dollar because it is not backed by gold, BUT he then talks about everyone making their own currency -- which is more akin to Marxist thinking, which disdains currency as a tool of oppression.

2. The Left/Media Ignore The Truth So They Can Attack

Despite this evidence coming out fairly quickly, the left and their friends in the MSM jumped right out and claimed it was hateful right wing rhetoric that was to blame. Here are some samples of their claims (note the emphasis on boogeywoman Sarah Palin):
● Markos Moulitsas, founder of the DailyKos, sent the following tweet: “Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin.”

● New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell said: “There’s an aura of hate and elected politicians feed it, certain people on Fox News feed it.”

● Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) specifically blamed the Tea Party for turning our political discourse “toxic” and making it so that “if you’re an opponent, you’re a deadly enemy.” He then accused them of “threatening our form of government.” And he said that “Ms. Palin needs to look at her own behavior, and if she wants to help the public discourse, the best thing she could do is to keep quiet.”

● Keith Olbermann compared the shooter to Glenn Beck and called on him to apologize.

● Paul Krugman claimed that Rush, Beck and Palin were to blame.

● CBS’s Nancy Cordes, CNN’s Jessica Yellin, Today’s Kelly O’Donnell and ABC’s David Wright all blamed Palin’s “cross hairs campaign” for causing this.

● The New York Times wrote a piece that actually lets liberals speculate that the shooter was motivated by specific militia magazines, even after they confirmed that he was never a subscriber to any of these. And interestingly, when they describe the shooter in this piece, they "somehow" fail to mention any of the evidence presented above, even though they mention every other known fact about him.
There are literally thousands of more examples, as this became a liberal talking point. Note the key themes, this was because of an "atmosphere of hate" created by the right.

3. The Real Purveyors of Hate Speech

So who really created this atmosphere of hate about which the left complains. With all their vast media resources, they've found one instance where Palin use a cross hairs image, which they have spun into possibly implying to the unstable that she was calling for an assassination (forget that leftist journalists routinely use warfare terminology to describe politics and many have used the cross hairs image themselves). Beside that, they have their opinions that Beck, Rush, etc. are spreading hate, but have been unable to produce any examples.

But what about leftist rhetoric? Bev informed us that the Huffers claimed the left had never said anything hateful. Roger Ebert likewise claimed that: "Were liberals angry about Bush? Yes. But liberals played by the rules." So is this correct or has the left conveniently developed collective amnesia? Let’s take a look.

Let’s start with some of things Ebert has said about Republicans:
● They have "a base it should be ashamed of."
● "The entire climate of paranoia and hate? Have these people always been there?"
● "Some of them may have been the victims of child abuse."
● "They are told to oppose, even hate, those who might be trying to help them."
So right-wingers are retarded, hateful, victims of child abuse? Nope, nothing hateful there. But Ebert's a piker when it comes to hate. For example, he never called for Bush's assassination, like so many other liberals did:
● Here is a collection of protest signs that threaten to kill Bush. Some of these signs include:
○ I’m here to kill Bush (Shoot Me)
○ Kill Bush Bomb His F___IN House
○ Save Mother Earth Kill Bush
○ Hang Bush For War Crimes
○ Bush Is The Disease Death Is The Cure
○ Bush the only Dope Worth Shooting
This link also shows dozens of other items like images of Bush being decapitated, a guillotine brought to a protest with Bush’s head in the basket, Bush being hung, Bush being burned in effigy, and an image of Bush being assassinated. Here are thousands of images of Bush as Hitler or Satan, and examples of t-shirts calling for Bush’s death, and wanted dead or alive posters.

● Comedian(?) Craig Kilborn showed a picture of Bush and ran a caption that read “snipers wanted.”

● John Kerry joked about killing Bush on Bill Maher's show. When asked if going to New Hampshire for his campaign "would kill two birds with one stone," Kerry responded: "I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone."

● And of course, in the middle of these nasty protests and Bushitler signs, Nancy Pelosi encouraged all of this when she called Bush “stupid” and said that “Dissent is the highest form of Patriotism.” Of course, when the protests went against her, then she suddenly demanded the government step in and investigate anyone involved with the protests.

Similarly, Democrat Rep. Robert Brady has now told CNN he will introduce legislation to make it a crime to use language or symbols that could be seen as threatening or violent against federal officials. Funny how that wasn't an issue when it was Republicans being protested and attacked. . . like when bullets were fired at Eric Cantor's office or Bobby Jindal's campaign manager was attacked and her boyfriend's leg broken by protestors, or 7 out of 10 instances of violence at healthcare town halls were perpetrated by leftists.
But Bush hate is nowhere near the only hate the left has spewed of late. Tea Party hate is pathological on the left:
● In April, Joe Klein claimed that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin were guilty of sedition for opposing ObamaCare.

● Democratic House Whip James Clyburn accused the GOP of “aiding and abetting. . . terrorism.” Clyburn also described the Tea Party thusly: "It reminds me of that period in our history right after Reconstruction, when South Carolina had a black governor and the political gains were lost because of vigilantism, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan."

● Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) said this in October of Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott (a Tea Party candidate): "Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him."

● Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy said this of the Tea Party:
I know how the "tea party" people feel, the anger, venom and bile that many of them showed during the recent House vote on health-care reform. I know because I want to spit on them, take one of their "Obama Plan White Slavery" signs and knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads.
● In November 2009, Dylan Rattigan of MSNBC was so upset that voters (i.e. Tea Party) were frustrating his leftist friends that he said this: "Are things in our country so bad that it might actually be time for a revolution? The answer obviously is yes, the only question is how to do it."

His guest then said that non-violent means were not effective for the left: “The american left has been very peaceful since the early ’60s and where has it gotten us?” And here is a quote from the guest’s book, “The Anti-American Manifesto”:
“A war is coming. At stake: our lives, the planet, freedom, living. The government, the corporations, and the extreme right are prepared to coalesce into an Axis of Evil. Are you going to fight back? Will you do whatever it takes, including taking up arms?

The millions of partisans who follow Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and right-wing televangelists happen to be the best-armed people around, and they despise just about everyone who doesn’t think and pray like them. . . . They will act to stop teenage sluts from getting abortions, teach niggers a lesson, and slaughter those spics, dots, and everyone else who doesn’t fit into their vision of what and who is right.”
The Nation also calls for violence: “where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs?
And when it comes to radio personalities and political writers, the left really gets hateful. Ask yourself if you could ever imagine saying any of the following yourself or if you would accept your friends saying any of the following:
● Canadian columnist Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star said this of Michelle Malkin: “Forget the Marxists. I wish the marksmen would take MichelleMalkin.” This same liberal often complains of other’s hate speech.

● How about some of the letters Michelle Malkin gets, like this:
○ You’re a sick BITCH. Are you aware that you almost causes the death of an elementary school teacher the other day with your bullshit. You are a disgrace to Black people. I’m sorry .That’s right . You’re not black. Is your husband a white man that works for the Insurance Cartel?

○ from Greg Diaz: times up you ugly motherfucker make sure sure your husband signs that policy bitch
● How about some of the letters Rush gets from liberals:
○ Rush Limbaugh is Cunt of the Day for not dying. So many people die each day, why does hateful cunt Limbaugh get to live?


○ rush deserves to die AND I HOPE HE BURNS IN HELL!!
● How about some liberal hate for Palin on Twitter:
○ Death 2 Palin family them retarded hillbillies take teabaggers w/ you hateful bitch

○ We cant expect gov to intervene we must shoot Gen. Palin on site be 4 her troops strike again!

○ one word racism choose sides plain and simply that bitch Palin launch an attack, she need 2 b shot on site!

○ @Palin360 you need 2 b assassinated soon we ll settle 4 one of the family if not u!

○ maybe it takes a murder or 2 2 get the point across take aim at radical TP members

○ Palin will b met with gunfire her or her family

○ @SarahStormRpt u need 2 be shot on site startin that racist Tp shit, all you all do is promo violence dont cry when some kill u basterds

○ her map w crosshair need to b put on her family she that bitch can die or a TP supporter

○ I cant wait till someone serious hurt that bitch Palin or one of her children soon she out of control!

○ Palin came 2 lower 48 2 start a civil divide this could b the moment of truth 4 americans 2 put her down

○ i encourage ppl 2 meet the TP wit the same acts of violence Palin instructs them 2 do we need 2 harass them 2 their racist graves

○ Damn violent teabaggers!
So when the left complains about hate speech, let’s be clear, they are talking about themselves. That’s why they are so familiar with it. They use it, they mean it. These are the ideological blood-brothers of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Che, and so many more -- hate and murder are deeply ensconced within their ideology.

(FYI: Patti has a link today that the left is using this shooting in their fund raisers already: LINK. I guess we shouldn't be surprised: "Never waste a crisis." -- Rahm Emanuel)

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