Tuesday, September 01, 2009
America once had two constructive political parties
HIS NAME WAS KENNEDY. He was the pre-eminent figure in the Democratic Party. And he was a resolute supply-side tax-cutter. "It is a paradoxical truth," he once told the Economic Club of New York, "that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now." What he had in mind, he said, was not "a 'quickie' or a temporary tax cut." He wanted nothing less than "an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes."
Would he be a Democrat today? Those were not the words of Senator Edward Kennedy. The speaker – in December 1962 -- was President John F. Kennedy, and his ringing call for tax cuts was no anomaly. In a televised address from the Oval Office four months earlier, JFK had called high tax rates a danger to "the very essence of the progress of a free society: the incentive of additional return for additional effort." In his 1963 State of the Union message, he said his first priority was "the enactment this year of a substantial reduction and revision in federal income taxes." In the speech he was scheduled to deliver to the Texas Democratic State Committee on Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy planned to report proudly: "We have proposed a massive tax reduction, with particular benefits for small business."
In recent days, Ted Kennedy has been justly acclaimed as a lion of the Democratic Party. But how different the party mourning Kennedy today is from the one that first nominated him in 1962!
The reversal on taxes is one vivid example. When Ted Kennedy entered the Senate in 1963, JFK was leading a campaign for sweeping tax relief that would eventually slash the top marginal rate by a huge 21 percentage points, from 91 to 70. But Democrats have long since become the party that resists lower taxes. In our era, it has been Republicans like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush who have championed JFK-style rate cuts -- cuts that Democrats now condemn as "tax breaks for the wealthy."
On civil rights, too, there has been a sea change.
Liberal Democrats in the 1960s upheld the colorblind ideal -- the conviction that Americans should be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Far from supporting racial quotas and preferences, civil-rights Democrats of that generation flatly rejected them. Senator Hubert Humphrey famously vowed that if anyone could find anything in the 1964 Civil Rights Bill that would compel employers to hire on the basis of race or national origin, "I will start eating the pages one after another, because it is not in there." In a 1963 press conference, President Kennedy explicitly opposed racial preferences: "We are too mixed, this society of ours, to begin to divide ourselves on the basis of race or color."
But in the years that followed, as such preferences became entrenched in hiring and education, liberal Democrats became their doughtiest supporters. Senator Kennedy was "a leader in congressional efforts to preserve federal affirmative action," his Senate website notes. When the Supreme Court ruled against the racial classification of schoolchildren in a 2007 case -- "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," the court frankly advised -- Kennedy blasted the decision as one that "turns back the clock on equality."
Especially dramatic has been the Democratic Party's metamorphosis on foreign affairs.
"There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future: Let them come to Berlin," declared President Kennedy, a staunch Cold Warrior, in his great Berlin Wall speech in 1963. "There are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists: Let them come to Berlin." But by 1987, when another American president journeyed to Berlin to challenge Moscow to "tear down this wall," such muscular anti-Communism had all but vanished from Democratic Party thinking.
JFK likewise spoke for mainstream Democrats when he asserted that America would "pay any price, bear any burden" to spread freedom and democracy in the world. He was a hawk who pressed for higher defense spending and American military superiority. The Democratic Party of more recent years -- the party of "come home, America" and a nuclear freeze -- was one he wouldn't have recognized.
All political parties alter over time, of course. Today's Republican Party is not a carbon-copy of Eisenhower's: It is more internationalist, more religious, more Southern. But a resurrected Eisenhower would still recognize the GOP, and still command its esteem.
The Democrats' transformation has been much more profound. Over the course of Ted Kennedy's long Senate career, his party's ideological center shifted hard to the left. It goes without saying that a JFK today could never be the Democrats' candidate for president. The question is, would he still be a Democrat?
And why have the Democrats drifted so far Left? Because they no longer need the support of mainstream Americans. They are now the party of the minorities and the haters -- and with their unwavering support for illegal immigration, they hope to entrench that -- JR]
His monument stands all around us
By VIN SUPRYNOWICZ
The most revealing moment in Edward "Ted" Kennedy's political life came Nov. 4, 1979, just three days before he would officially launch his challenge to a sitting president of his own party, Jimmy Carter. In a televised interview, CBS News correspondent Roger Mudd asked the already stout Massachusetts senator a "giveaway" question, a question about as tough as a quiz show host trying to help break the ice with a nervous contestant by asking, "What color is grass?" Roger Mudd asked: "Why do you want to be president?"
Ted Kennedy, 47, was about to challenge an incumbent president of his own party, with whom his ideological differences were minimal. Why not wait just four years more? Dividing one's own party in such a way must always weaken the party, creating an opening for the other party's challenger in the general election (Ronald Reagan, in this case) no matter who wins the primary.
Any mature politician considering such a move -- any thoughtful man who had seen two elder brothers assassinated for their trouble in seeking that office -- would have asked himself, not once or twice, but a hundred times, "Do I really want to do this? Is seeking the White House -- heck, even winning the White House -- the best thing for my family, my country, my party, for me? What can I accomplish that Jimmy Carter cannot, and how important is it?"
Instead, Ted Kennedy was caught flat-footed when Mudd asked him why he wanted to be president. This was not merely a "bad moment." His rambling, directionless answer -- vague bromides about the European nations doing better on energy policy and on fighting inflation -- made it clear he was merely being swept along by those who wanted to benefit from installing him in the seat of power. He was running because it was "his turn" ... or something.
The little boy who had always been overshadowed by his big brothers; the spoiled brat who was kicked out of Harvard for paying someone else to take his Spanish exam for him; the confused, panicked drunk who returned to the party and left Mary Jo Kopechne to drown in his car as it sank into the waters off Chappaquiddick Island (unless we choose to give the event a more ominous interpretation -- Gene Frieh, the undertaker, told reporters death "was due to suffocation rather than drowning"; John Farrar, the diver who removed Kopechne from the car, claimed she was "too buoyant to be full of water"; there was never an autopsy) was finally on his own, asked a question that any thoughtful man would have been rehearsing in his own mind for months.
And the second-term senator was revealed to have the quality of intellect we'd expect from some babbling beauty contestant, a creature whose life and purpose and ambition were, to be as kind as possible, unexamined.
Oh, some will moan, you're just concentrating on the bad parts. The man's body is barely cold, for heaven's sake. Can't you talk about his achievements, all the good he did?
Read the paeans from the left, praising him as a "lion of the Senate." They speak of his endless concern for the "underprivileged," though they're woefully short on specifics.
The socialists and redistributionists always seek forgiveness for their errors and excesses -- the policies that have driven this country to the brink of bankruptcy and hyperinflation -- in terms of what they meant to accomplish for "the poor and the downtrodden." But who suffers worst in the hard times their policies have brought about? The hardworking poor, who find their jobs gone, their mortgages upside down, the once-proud currency in which their savings and investments are denominated increasingly worthless.
The welfare classes will do all right -- for a while. But what favor have the condescending handouts of the Ted Kennedys of Washington done them, by locking them into multiple generations of fatherless, spiritless, smoldering angry dependence, while gradually sapping and enervating the larger, entrepreneurial, once-vibrant free market economy that could have offered them real opportunity?
Another Democrat crook
Rep. Charles Rangel failed to report as much as $1.3 million in outside income -- including up to $1 million for a Harlem building sale -- on financial-disclosure forms he filed between 2002 and 2006, according to newly amended records. The documents also show the embattled chairman of the Ways and Means Committee -- who is being probed by the House Ethics Committee -- failed to reveal a staggering $3 million in various business transactions over the same period.
This week, Rangel filed drastically revised financial-disclosure forms reflecting new, higher amounts of outside income and numerous additional business deals that had not been reported when the reports were originally filed. In 2004, for instance, Rangel reported earning between $4,000 and $10,000 in outside earnings on top of his $158,100 congressional salary. But the amended filings show that after the sale of a property on West 132nd Street, his outside income that year was somewhere between $118,000 and $1.04 million. The forms filed by House members provide for a range of value on such transactions, so the precise number isn't publicly known. Rangel also lowballed his income by as much as $70,000 in 2002, $46,000 in 2003 and $117,000 in 2006, records show. Only in 2005 did Rangel reveal his total outside income.
Members of Congress are required to disclose all their assets and outside income in an effort to expose possible undue influences. Rangel's office insists the Harlem Democrat did not conceal any outside income from the IRS and is paid up on his taxes.
The Post revealed yesterday that Rangel is in arrears on New Jersey property taxes -- for property that for more than 15 years he failed to disclose to Congress and the public. Another area of wide discrepancy in his financial-disclosure forms is where he's required to list financial transactions. Every year between 2002 and 2007, Rangel failed to include all his deals for the year, according to records. On his 2002 and 2003 financial-disclosure statements, Rangel did not include any transactions whatsoever, according to papers on file with the House clerk. But the amended records filed this month show as much as $310,000 in business deals in 2002 and up to $80,000 in transactions in 2003.
In 2004, Rangel left off his disclosure form as much as $430,000 in stock transactions, amended records show. One of those deals he did include as a transaction on his original disclosure was the sale of the brownstone on West 132nd Street. But in the same report, Rangel failed to include proceeds from that sale as outside income. That has been revised in the amended report. Despite the reported sale, city records still show Rangel is the owner of that property. His nephew, Ralph, who appears to live in the building, wouldn't answer questions yesterday. Rangel's office declined numerous requests yesterday for explanation.
The problems with Rangel's 2004 disclosure report were so glaring that apparently they caught someone's attention, forcing Rangel to write a letter correcting his failure to fully disclose transactions that year. "I listed only the real-estate transactions in which we were involved in calendar year 2004 on the transactions schedule because I was not aware of such details as the date and magnitude of the transactions involving our securities holding in the Merrill Lynch account," he wrote in a May 2006 letter to House Clerk Karen Haas.
House will pass “audit the Fed” bill: "Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), one of the most unabashed liberals in the U.S. House of Representatives, told a Massachusetts town hall recently that Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve will clear his chamber by October. Over half of the House members, most of them Republican, have signed on to the bill, H.R. 1207. Though Frank disagrees — as many proponents of the bill contend — that the Fed is the cause of the U.S. dollar’s shrinking value, he told a Massachusetts audience that he’s been a proponent of greater transparency at the nation’s central bank for some time.” [Anything to distract attention from the role of Congress itself]
Taiwan: Dalai Lama visits, Chicoms throw usual tantrum: “The Dalai Lama has arrived in Taiwan on a visit that has been denounced by China as being likely to destabalise improving ties with Taipei. The Tibetan Buddhist leader landed at Taoyuan International Airport on Monday for what he called a ‘purely humanitarian’ trip aimed at comforting victims of Typhoon Morakot. He has been exiled from Tibet for more than half a century following China’s invasion of the then-state and labelled a separatist by Beijing, for promoting initially independence and now autonomy for the region.”
NV: LVRJ “bullied” by Reid?: “The publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV], of ‘bullying’ his newspaper by telling an employee he wants the [paper] shut down. Sherman Frederick alleged in a column in his newspaper that the ‘full-on threat’ was made during a brief exchange between Reid and the newspaper’s advertising director Wednesday at a luncheon for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Frederick said that as Reid shook the employee’s hand, he said, ‘I hope you go out of business.’ … It’s unclear whether Reid’s comment was meant in jest.”
TN: Nashville parks enforce bicycle speed limit: “A clash between ‘Tour de France wannabes’ and ‘iPod-deaf roadblocks’ has park police warning cyclists to slow down and walkers to stay in the slow lane on Nashville’s greenways. Park police trained radar guns on cyclists on three greenways Saturday. They weren’t there to write speeding tickets, says Capt. Rich Foley, park police commander. The aim is to teach riders about the new 15 mph speed limit on the walk/bike paths and encourage riders and walkers to share the space. Conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians are a big issue and seem to be on the rise, Foley said.” [People have been killed by speeding cyclists]
Diversity Czar: End run around the Fairness Doctrine?: “The premise for ending the stranglehold on the talk radio genre by conservatives is that too much conservative talk and not enough liberal talk is bad for American democracy because it’s anti-diversity. Yet it’s diversity that gave rise to conservative talk radio in the first place. In a free society with free people freely tuning their freely purchased radios to freely sponsored programs and freely listening to whom they damn well pleased, free people voted with their ears to listen to conservative yak rather than liberal lip. But of course when progressives talk about diversity they don’t mean individual diversity, they mean politically correct ideologically-defined government-imposed ‘group diversity.’ They mean a diversity of people who believe exactly as they believe.”
Free the mails: “Yet another giant company has plunging sales, soaring debt, and is weighed down by massive labor costs. Will taxpayers have to pay for another federal bailout? Alas, it’s already in the cards because this company is the U.S. Postal Service, which has estimated losses of $7 billion this year. With email grabbing ever more market share from snail mail, USPS’s finances are steadily deteriorating. What should federal policymakers do? They can’t give USPS the General Motors treatment and nationalize it, because it’s already government-owned. And they can’t reform postal markets with a ‘public option’ because that’s what the USPS already is. Instead, Congress and President Obama should deregulate postal markets and privatize the USPS.”
Caving to trial lawyers: "We’ve always suspected that fear of angering trial lawyers was the only reason President Obama refused to embrace tort reform as a crucial part of achieving his goal of reduced health care costs. Now we know for sure. A moment of candor by Howard Dean, the former chairman of the DNC and an enthusiastic backer of Obama’s health reform initiative, confirmed our suspicions. ‘The reason that tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everyone else they were taking on,’ Dean said at a town hall meeting in Virginia last week. So much for Obama’s insistence that cutting costs is dear to his heart. He’s rejected, for purely political reasons, one of the most effective tools for containing medical costs. It would upset a special interest group — well-heeled plaintiff’s lawyers — that is one of the biggest funders of the Democratic party.”
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:38 AM