Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ike's Admonition

Ken Connor

The 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous farewell address to the nation has prompted much discussion about the prescience of his message. Has Eisenhower's vision of an America dominated by a military-industrial complex come to fruition? What would he think about our current military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan? Has Eisenhower's address been wrongly interpreted, misapplied, or misunderstood over the decades? Eisenhower's granddaughter, Susan, offered her perspective on the address in an op-ed for The Washington Post:
"While the farewell address may be remembered primarily for the passages about the military-industrial complex, Ike was rising above the issues of the day to appeal to his countrymen to put the nation and its future first. 'We . . . must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.'"

The lessons that Susan Eisenhower takes away from her grandfather's speech prompted me - as I'm sure it has many others - to read President Eisenhower's address for myself. And like Susan, what I found most insightful and inspirational about Ike's words were his emphasis on the importance of balance in our approach to and expectations of government, the obligations of national identity and intergenerational bonds, and the need to remember and preserve the spirit of faith and democratic values that undergird the American experiment:
"Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. . . .

But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration; the need to maintain balance in and among national programs - balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages - balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration."

Unfortunately, it seems that in the half century that has elapsed since Eisenhower's address we have forgotten - or forsaken - this critical principle of balance and are at risk of becoming the "insolvent phantom" of Eisenhower's tomorrow.

There can be no denying that America has truly become a nation of "spectacular and costly action." We have, both individually and collectively, become a society of blind consumers and reckless spenders that looks to government as the guarantor of our comfort and security. Unable to distinguish between our wants and our needs, we've driven ourselves to the very brink of financial insolvency.

A spirit of greed and a lack of concern for the long-term consequences of our actions was the root of the huge Wall Street/mortgage/banking crisis of 2008 and the subsequent bailouts. Those same attitudes are at work in the funding crises involving entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. They are evidenced by the reigning influence of a "global corporate" complex that is aided and abetted by Washington, insulated from accountability for wrongdoing, and singularly focused on profits to the exclusion of all other concerns.

Were Eisenhower alive today, he might wonder what has happened to the America he knew - a land of "free and religious people" who still embraced the Judeo-Christian values of piety, thrift, personal responsibility and diligence at the heart of the American spirit. Today's America is increasingly reflecting a rigid secularism fiercely antagonistic to religion and her offspring, morality and ethics. Virtue is being rejected as an antiquated notion, and individualism reigns. Everywhere we turn, we are faced with the looming consequences of our shortsightedness, self-indulgence, and hubris, and we are willing to do just about anything to avoid accountability for our actions. For decades now, the preferred method has been to kick the can of responsibility down the road - leaving the problem for the next generation to solve - rather than do the hard work of changing how we think and how we live in the here and now.

Every election cycle, aspiring politicians ask the American people for their support and promise that they are the leaders who will, once and for all, set America back on the path towards stability, solvency, and success. But even the most honorable and hardworking politician can't do this alone. It requires the support of a nation committed to a revolution in how we think and act, from the blue collar working man to the high-powered corporate CEO. Given the trajectory we are on, unless everyone gets on board, we will inevitably slide into mediocrity and hopeless indebtedness.

Fifty years from now, when America celebrates the 100th anniversary of Eisenhower's speech, I pray that my own grandchildren will be able to rejoice in the fact that their nation was able to change course before it was too late.



Note to Conservatives: Guard Your History

Critics forget that the Gipper had to deal with a Democrat majority Congress

February 6th marks the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, and while his legacy as the pre-eminent conservative of the 20th century remains not only unshaken but sturdier than ever, his ideological heirs had better guard the truth of the 1980's from those who typically rewrite history to suit their own ends.

Conservatives, who typically feel more at home in the realms of military and business, readily concede art and academia to the left. Little wonder that Calvin Coolidge is widely regarded as a docile country bumpkin who slept his presidency away, and Warren Harding, the scandalous bootleg-gin swilling philanderer has transformed the real 29th president who, according to some accounts, literally worked himself to death.

Revisionists today would like history to recall that Ronald Reagan was not the conservative the modern right makes him out to be. A May 2010 Newsweek piece entitled "Even Ronald Reagan Was Not a Reagan Conservative" cites numerous tax increases, a skyrocketing budget deficit and the size of the federal government (versus the Clinton years), among other actions during his presidency, to prove that modern-day conservatives would have booted the Gipper much like they did George W. Bush into his second term.

Point of fact: conservatives, particularly those who were around at the time, will concede (albeit reluctantly) that the Reagan Revolution lost some of its steam in the second term, thus enabling the Democrats to regain the Senate in 1986. Nonetheless, his early tax increases were enacted with the understanding that the Democrat-controlled House would make spending cuts - for which we're still waiting. (Is it just me or does bi-partisanship usually work to the detriment of America's best interests?)

As to the growth of government, even if the Newsweek claim is true, power is not measurable in the mere number of federal employees - a more streamlined, more outsourced, more efficient Nanny-state is still just that. The entrepreneurial, can-do spirit that Reagan unleashed is what sustained America's economy for a generation.

To understand Reagan (and Newsweek and other outlets clearly don't) demands context. In 1980', America and the GOP itself had seldom seen such a powerful, likeable conservative on the national stage, and it took an epic loss in the 1976 primary to finally secure the nomination four years later. No talk radio, no Internet, no cable news - conservative dialogue was mostly limited to National Review and PBS's The Firing Line. With a massive Democrat majority in the House and an entrenched federal bureaucracy, Reagan was able to cut top marginal tax rates from around 70 percent to just under 30 percent and also gave businesses investment tax credits and depreciation deductions.

He not only forged a path for future Republican leaders, he set the bar and he raised it high. The point is not whether Reagan would be a conservative by modern standards, his greatness is earned because he refused to surrender American prosperity and pre-eminence when such senile blather was not couth and not cool, not in the Washington establishment and not even in his own party.

Now that the liberal brand has clearly fallen out of favor, we're hearing more and more that labels don't matter, that victory is won not on the extremes but in the center. Don't be fooled - Reagan's impact on modern conservatism is incalculable, and while he may have surrendered some details, he never let go of his vision, and that is why his name, and not Gerald Ford's or Bob Dole's or John McCain's, is synonymous with American exceptionalism. Reagan's memory belongs not just to historians - of either the left or the right - but to the fruitful, law-abiding Americans in whom he invested so much faith. The truth of his purpose and legacy is the ultimate gift to a free people on his 100th birthday.



Another revelation about Obamacare

Americans are already experiencing the chaos that the new law has created in our regional healthcare markets, which has led to health insurance costs rising as much as 40% in some cases, just since its passage.

But another key reason why Obamacare cannot be left in its current form can be found in research conducted by our government itself. No, the claims of congressional Republicans "killing Americans" are not to be taken seriously. But President Obama's attempt at caring for our health may be sickening, and even endangering, the American work ethic.

According to none other than the Congressional Budget Office, many of us have decided we no longer will have to work as much as we once did, given all the "assistance" we can get via Obamacare. This is not just political "spin" or partisan punditry. It comes directly from Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the non-partisan C.B.O., a federal agency within the legislative branch of our government that employs people to analyze government policies, and consider their impact on the federal budget, and on the economy. The C.B.O. likely produces some of the most objective, "fair," and non-politicized data that we receive from our government.

Speaking at a little-noted event at the University of Southern California's Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, Mr. Elmendorf noted that, outside the healthcare sector of our economy, the greatest impact of the Obamacare agenda will be in the labor market. It was October 22nd, just days away from the big midterm election, and Elmendorf's presence at this conference, and his remarks at the conference, did not receive nearly the amount of press attention that they deserved.

Mr. Elmendorf stated that, in some cases, Americans will simply choose not to work, because their needs for healthcare will be provided by the enhanced Medicaid funding that is provided for in the Obamacare law. As Journalist Matt Cover noted at CNSNews.com (he was one of few journalists that actually reported on this event), this assessment of Obamacare by Mr. Elmendorf coincided with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's remarks in May 2010. Recall that last year, then-Speaker Pelosi insisted that Obamacare would allow "artists" to "quit their day job" and pursue their art, free from the constraints of having to provide for one's self, because the government would now take care of artists' healthcare needs. That all sounded so good, right? It seemed like President Obama was making good on his agenda of, as he likes to say in his folksy fashion, "gettin' people some help."

But notice the gravity of what Mr. Elmendorf is describing. He's talking about Medicaid, a social care program from our federal government that is intended to offer short-term assistance to poor and lower income households. And the head of the C.B.O., the individual described as the "top accountant to Congress," is making the observation that we have, as a result of Obamacare, given increasing numbers of Americans a reason not to work (or to not work as much), and to choose instead to avail themselves to a "free" government welfare program.

The promises of Obamacare - reduced health care costs, universal access, a balanced federal budget - are illusory. Yet given the ways with which Obamacare was "sold" to voters, it is now apparent that politicians in our federal government have incentivized (some) people to consume more than they produce, and have assured them that it is their "right" to do so.

Obamacare must be struck down, and meaningful "reforms" must replace it. In its current form, it is the drug that is leaving the patient more sickly.



High-speed rail is a fast way to waste taxpayer money

Where can the new Congress start cutting spending? Here's one obvious answer: high-speed rail. The Obama administration is sending billions of stimulus dollars around the country for rail projects that make no sense and that, if they are ever built, will be a drag on taxpayers indefinitely.

When incoming Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio canceled high-speed rail projects, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood refused to let them spend the dollars on other forms of transportation and sent the funds instead to California and other states.

Walker argued that Wisconsin didn't need $810 billion for a 78-mile line between Madison and Milwaukee because there's already a transportation artery -- Interstate 94 -- that enables people to get from one city to the other in a little more than an hour (I once drove that route to have dinner in Milwaukee).

Kasich's rationale? "They tried to give us $400 million to build a high-speed train that goes 39 miles an hour." Train boosters countered that its top speed was 79 miles per hour -- about the same as many drivers on Interstate 71.

High-speed rail may sound like a good idea. It works, and reportedly even makes a profit, in Japan and France. If they can do it, why can't we?

A look at some proposed projects gives the answer. Take the $2.7 billion, 84-mile line connecting Orlando and Tampa that incoming Florida Gov. Rick Scott is mulling over.

It would connect two highly decentralized metro areas that are already connected by Interstate 4. Urban scholar Wendell Cox, writing for the Reason Foundation, found that just about any door-to-door trip between the two metro areas would actually take longer by train than by auto, and would cost more. Why would any business traveler take the train?

Much more HERE



Report: Fraud plagues global health fund: "A $21.7 billion development fund backed by celebrities and hailed as an alternative to the bureaucracy of the United Nations sees as much as two-thirds of some grants eaten up by corruption, The Associated Press has learned. Much of the money is accounted for with forged documents or improper bookkeeping, indicating it was pocketed, investigators for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria say."

NM: Man beats TSA on ID case: "Capitol Hill software developer, civil liberties advocate, member of the Hill's Chamber of Commerce and, yes, frequent CHS commenter Phil Mocek announced this weekend that he was acquitted of all charges stemming from his arrest after refusing to show identification to TSA agents at the Albuquerque airport in November 2009. Mocek was in New Mexico this week to be tried on misdemeanor charges including concealing his identity from officers who responded when he tried to pass through airport security without an ID in the 2009 incident. ... It took the New Mexico jury all of an hour to find Mocek not guilty."

Dangerous bath salts? "When Neil Brown got high on bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders with such innocuous-sounding names as Ivory Snow, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky. Law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the bath salts, with their complex chemical names, are an emerging menace in several U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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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)


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