A very consequential choice ahead
On Monday The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza launched a voyage of the imagination --an extremely well sourced essay on what Team Obama thinks a second term would look like. Lizza's article should be mandatory reading for the pundit class, especially those enamored of the idea that all the country needs is some collective group therapy.
I have interviewed both GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP Senate Conference Chair John Thune since the article's appearance, asking each of them for their assessments of the president's recent rhetoric and of the argument being advanced from 1600 Pennsylvania about the vast gulf between the parties.
Both agreed that there is a divide that is large and growing, and a choice that the American people cannot avoid making. Mitt Romney spent a productive week outlining the dimensions of the divide and that which has been obvious to Beltway folk for a while is now on full and indeed unavoidable display for the whole country to see.
This isn't an argument about civility, or about the virtues of bipartisanship. It is a fundamental separation of values and a divide of directions. On this finally there is agreement: The president is taking America on a course far from any it has pursued before and one on which there can be no false "compromise."
Read the Lizza piece and the transcripts of the two interviews. Read as well the transcript of my interview with Lizza, who himself seems uncomfortable with the reality of what he so accurately communicated. (I conducted my half of that conversation from the front porch of Ronald Reagan's ranch, on the 25th anniversary of the Gipper's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech, which may have produced in me determination to hold Ryan to the significance of what he had been told --a channeled "There he goes again" impulse.)
The president ran as a centrist in 2008. He is running now as a hard left, big government Alinskyite, fully committed to the politics and the purpose of the fabled Chicago organizer. The president's "reset" speech in Cleveland yesterday, widely panned even by an admirer as loyal as Jonathan Alter doesn't leave any room for trimming.
Good, and enough of the old school liberals who want to tut-tut their way past the consequences of the president's full throated demands for an acceleration of the assault on the private sector and still more expansion of the national government. They treat the president as though he doesn't believe what he is saying, as though the "private sector is doing fine" line was a Biden-like burp of incoherence.
He does believe it, and yesterday's marathon oration of cliches wrapped around the theme of more-money-for-the-government is Exhibit 1,000 in evidence of his intent. The president wants it all, and if he wins he will demand it.
It is tiresome beyond belief to have the president's MSM protectors daily trying to undo the president's meaning, like so many Penelopes waiting for their Ulysses to get home. He means it. He says it again and again. What is it that compels so many of his apologists to attempt to air brush the man's every public appearance of the meaning of his words?
Only this: They know it is a loser. They know this is not how the left advances. They know that letting President Obama be President Obama means letting him be former President Obama.
This is the next five months: The president saying what he wants, Mitt Romney hearing him clearly, repeating the message and saying "No!" and the president's handlers and accomplices trying to hold hands over the country's ears and shouting "We can't hear you" loud enough and long enough in the vain hope of changing the subject.
Nothing could be more clear, more stark, more consequential. Voters have to choose.
The Democrat’s War on Small Business
Small businesses owners are apparently one of the most misunderstood groups in America. Despite overwhelming respect from the American public, Democrat administrations openly use envy and resentment of small business success to justify enacting legislation that threatens their prosperity.
Periodic polling by Rasmussen and other national polling groups shows that small business owners are the most respected profession in America, respected by more than 80 percent of the American public. This is even higher than pastors and religious leaders that have a 50 percent favorability rating. At the bottom of the list are members of Congress with a 25 percent favorability rating. Similar polling by The Tarrance Group conducted in 2010 for The Free Enterprise Alliance, which also includes government bureaucrats and union leaders, give those occupations only a 20 percent favorability rating.
Since we live in a representative democracy, small business owners have always relied on their elected legislators to create an environment where their hard work and personal investment will lead to prosperity for themselves and their employees. For much of America’s history this was true. However today, the legislative and regulatory process has been hijacked by those on the left that want to use it for their own intellectual and financial gain at the expense of small business owners and taxpayers.
As a rule, small business owners are risk adverse. There is a very good reason for this. Almost every small business owner is financially at risk for the success of their business. In exchange for a bank line of credit, the business owner pledges their business and personal assets as collateral to the bank. Unlike large corporations like GM and Chrysler, small business owners do not have the political influence to get preferential government treatment if they default on their loans. If the small business owner fails, the bank will simply seize their personal assets and the owner will get to start over after many years of hard work.
Despite the risks, small business creates prosperity. As globalization and increased regulation encourages large corporations to move production to other countries, most new jobs created in America have been in small businesses. However, these small businesses require policies that allow prosperity to enable job creation to occur. When risk adverse small business owners are concerned about the impact of legislation and regulation, as they have been since 2009, they will not hire more employees.
If the Federal government passes a law that makes it easy for their employees be coerced into joining a union and then allows a government bureaucrat to determine the wages and benefits they will be paid, why should small business increase the number of employees beyond their existing loyal work force? That is exactly what recent NLRB regulations are designed to do.
If the energy cost for a small business will dramatically increase to subsidize renewable energy projects, why expand energy intensive processes? Given that uncertainty, it makes sense to move those processes to a manufacturer in another country to stay competitive. That is what large corporations have already done. This is why studies have shown that green energy policies in Spain have cost 2.2 jobs for every one they create.
If a small business already struggling with the cost of providing health care benefits, will face even higher insurance costs, why increase the number of employees or even provide coverage? Businesses over 50 employees will be forced to comply with all the provisions of Obamacare. Coverage mandates will force insurance companies to greatly increase the cost of coverage. However the fines are low for not providing coverage, so it is far cheaper to stop providing coverage. In addition, there are even fines for providing “unaffordable” coverage to employees that qualify for government insurance subsidies, so why hire less skilled workers.
In a free market economy, owners of small businesses cannot raise prices merely because their costs go up. If the wages paid to minimum wage employees, which are mostly part-time high school and college workers, go up, the employer will not be able to automatically pass those costs on to the customer. This is why after each minimum wage increase in the last ten years there has been a sharp increase in the unemployment rate for young workers. Yet progressive socialists propose even greater increases in the minimum wage, while at the same time demanding more funding for programs to reduce unemployment among young and minority workers.
What progressive socialists apparently resent most about free enterprise and small business is that it works. If a small business owner works hard, makes personal sacrifices, and does not demand instant gratification, a small business can be profitable during periods of economic prosperity. Because many small businesses are not organized as corporations, the profits of the small business appear on the owner’s personal tax return. That is why a significant portion of the people that report taxable earnings over $200,000 are small business owners. Unlike the very wealthy that have their earnings in sophisticated investments that reduce their taxation, most small business owners are taxed at the highest personal tax rates.
While Obama and the left have singled out those making over $200,000 to subsidize their wealth redistribution schemes, the reality is that those people already pay far more than their share of taxes. The top 5 percent of taxpayers in this country already pay 60 percent of all income taxes. When you include the employees of small businesses, the tax burden is even more unfair. Taxpayers earning above the median wage of $32,000 pay 97 percent of the tax burden in this country. Conversely, that means that the other 50 percent of taxpayers only pay 3 percent of income taxes. While the left tries to vilify those with high earnings during periods of prosperity, it is their earnings that pay for most of the cost of government.
The last time an administration demonized small business, created uncertainty, and raised taxes, it turned a recession into a depression. Very similar policies to those promoted by the Obama administration were first enacted voluntarily by Herbert Hoover, then legislatively by FDR. These policies were able to turn the Stock Market Crash of 1929 into the decade long Great Depression. Although unemployment started to decline on its own after 1929, Progressive Socialist policies created ten (10) years of high unemployment and misery until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and reduced employment through the induction of 12 million people into the military service.
Unfortunately for small business owners, just having the respect of the public does not ensure that legislators will enact policies that produce prosperity for small business owners, their employees and their communities. Small business owners and their employees must become involved in the political process if they are going to prevent legislators from enacting policies that threaten free enterprise and the prosperity it provides.
Liberal "revivals" of conservatives from the past
Jonah Goldberg does a good job below of showing that conservatives who were reviled in their time by the Left somehow experience a revival of respect after they have passed from the scene. The Left of today praise conservatives whom the Left of the past abhorred. It is a strange trope but I think there may be one element of truth in it. Conservatives were once more polite but after decades of unprincipled and treacherous behaviour from the Left, conservatives these days are more prone to call out the Left for the would-be totalitarians and thugs that they are
My daughter learned a neat rhetorical trick to avoid eating things she doesn't like. "Daddy, I actually really like spinach, it's just that this spinach tastes different."
Democrats and the journalists who love them play a similar game with Republicans and conservatives. "Oh, I have lots of respect for conservatives," goes the typical line, "but the conservatives we're being served today are just so different. Why can't we have Republicans and conservatives like we used to?"
"The Republican Party got into its time machine and took a giant leap back into the '50s. The party left moderation and tolerance of dissent behind." So reported the Washington Post's Judy Mann -- in July of 1980.
Today, of course, the 1950s is the belle epoch of reasonable conservatism. Just ask New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, or for that matter, President Barack Obama, who insists that the GOP is in the throes of a "fever" and is displaying signs of "madness." It's his humble wish that the GOP regains its senses and returns to being the party of Eisenhower again.
Today's intellectual conservatives, likewise, are held against the standard of yesterday's and found wanting. New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus wrote a book on "The Death of Conservatism" a few years ago (inconveniently, right before conservatism was dramatically revivified by the Tea Party, which helped the GOP win historic victories in the 2010 elections) in which he pined for the conservative intellectuals of the 1950s and 1960s.
Of course, the Tanenhauses of their day were horrified by the very same conservative intellectuals. Within a year of William F. Buckley's founding of National Review in 1955, liberal intellectuals insisted that the magazine's biggest failure was its inability to be authentically conservative. The editor of Harper's proclaimed the founding editors of NR to be "the very opposite of conservatives." Liberal titan Dwight Macdonald lamented that the "pseudo-conservative" National Review was nowhere near as wonderful the old Freeman magazine.
Again and again, the line is the same: I like conservatives, just not these conservatives.
As far as I can tell, there are competing, or at least overlapping, motives for this liberal nostalgia for the conservatives and Republicans of yesteryear. Some liberals like to romanticize and glorify conservatives from eras when they were least effective but most entertaining. Some like to cherry-pick positions from a completely different era so as to prove that holding that position today is therefore centrist.
But whatever the motivation, what unites them is the conviction that today's liberals shouldn't cede power, respect or legitimacy to today's conservatives. Hence when compassionate conservatism was ascendant, liberals lamented that the GOP wasn't more libertarian.
When, in response to the disastrous explosion in debt and spending over the Bush-Obama years, the GOP enters a libertarian phase, the same people who insisted they'd love Republicans if they became libertarian are now horrified by their "social Darwinism."
Look where G.W. Bush's moderation got him: denounced as a crazed radical by much of the liberal establishment, despite having run as a "compassionate conservative" who, once in office, vastly expanded entitlements and worked closely with Teddy Kennedy on education reform. Right on schedule, Dubya is now entering the rehabilitation phase.
It'll be some time before liberals bring themselves to say, "I miss George W. Bush." But already, the New York Times is proclaiming that Bush represented "mainstream conservatism," unlike today's Republicans, of course. As always, the problem with conservatism today is today's conservatives.
Leftist thug's Case Against Aaron Walker Dismissed!: "Capital Hill can confirm that the criminal case against Aaron Walker has been dismissed by the Maryland State Attorney. Walker, you will recall, was led away in handcuffs after a June 4 peace order hearing. The charge, filed by Brett Kimberlin, was that Walker has violated a temporary peace order. Go here to see a screenshot of the criminal case against Aaron Walker. Near the middle, you will see “Disposition” next to which you will see the words “NOLLE PROSEQUI.” Nolle Prosequi is Latin for “we shall no longer prosecute,” and “is a declaration made to the judge by a prosecutor in a criminal case...either before or during trial, meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped.” One wonders why the prosecutors declined to go forward? Perhaps the evidence left something to be desired?"
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)