Sunday, December 02, 2012
GOP must not lie down and die
With its House majority, the GOP has a "mandate" too
The only thing worse than losing in politics is quitting after a loss since the vast and great American sport of politics never stops, and increasingly doesn't even pause for the holidays.
Which is why I am grateful for Kelly Ayotte, Ted Cruz, Jon Kyl and Shelley Moore Capito.
In the weeks since the election, New Hampshire Senator Ayotte could have gone to ground as most of her colleagues have done, adopting a wait-and-see attitude that minimized political risk and profile. Instead she teamed with Senate veterans John McCain and Lindsey Graham to insist that Ambassador Susan Rice, presumptive nominee for the position of Secretary of State, be held accountable for statements the ambassador made during the presidential campaign about the September 11 slaughter of American diplomats and security personnel in Benghazi.
Ayotte was on my radio show Wednesday (transcript here) and it is clear that she will do everything she can to set a precedent about the politicization of American foreign policy during campaigns. If political appointees to key foreign policy positions distort issues of American national security in order to gain political advantage, as Rice appear to have done, Ayotte and her like-minded colleagues will not allow those deceptions to lead to promotion.
Ted Cruz, the senator-elect from Texas, is another rising star of the GOP who could, quite easily, blend into the scenery for a few months and adopt a wait-and-see attitude about what the political future holds.
Instead of the safe course, Cruz accepted a key role at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and has reappeared on the airwaves to make a case for finding certain kinds of candidates committed to an articulate, fighting conservatism. Like Ayotte, he was on my program this week to make these points. (That transcript is here.) We need Cruz and Ayotte, as well as the other rising stars of the Senate GOP caucus --Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, John Thune and Pat Toomey-- to be constantly out in front of cameras and crowds making the case for slowing down and stopping the president's ruinous agenda for which no mandate was asked for much less received. These half dozen senators also have to model for would-be candidates in the incredibly important cycle ahead what it takes to succeed in a political environment where the left dominates MSM.
Retiring Senator Jon Kyl continues to display the sort of gifts that have made him among the most admired men in Washington, D.C. as he tries to help his GOP colleagues move towards a compromise with the president that is truly a compromise and one that protects the nation's defenses. I am skeptical of the GOP's ability to do anything except strap on a parachute and go over the cliff because the president is demanding a set of measures worse than the fall ahead and the GOP has managed to blow its initial negotiating posture again via ill-timed concession speeches by the likes of Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole. Perhaps Speaker Boehner can recover the position, but the president's talking points, bolstered by voices like Cole's, have been amplified by the Obama-loving media into a formidable media message that the GOP is responsible for a looming economic collapse. Not true, of course, but the Republicans resolute unwillingness to try and communicate the real situation leaves it a victim of the president's relentless messaging.
Senator Kyl demonstrated in an interview with me yesterday how to combat this White House maneuvering, but that example needs replication by Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor and of course Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. You can't win arguments with the American people that you never make.
Which is why the last elected I want to praise for taking action this week is West Virginia Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. Capito declared her candidacy for the senate seat currently held by Jay Rockefeller. She did so, she told me on air yesterday, only after considerable discussion about whether it was "too early" to start a 2014 race and after deciding that since she knew she was going to run it was only fair to tell her constituents, Senator Rockefeller and anyone who might want to consider running for her House seat. Candid and transparent, that, and exactly the way to approach politics in the new media age.
I am extremely happy Capito announced for it allows the GOP to focus not just on her candidacy --she's a terrific campaigner, a veteran, popular legislator who is smart and articulate and a leader on the energy issues so crucial to the future of the GOP-- but also on the need to recruit similar candidates for the other nine Democratic senate seats that are up for grabs in 22 short months. (Dems are defending 20 of 33 senate seats and recall that voting begins in October 2014, so we are already two months into the next cycle.)
Capito came out of the box with a great website and a commitment to social media --@capitoforWV on Twitter-- that allows for frustrated GOP grassroots to see that the party isn't going to blow a third chance at taking the gavel out of Harry Reid's hands and thus passing a budget in 2015 that will be a blueprint for voters in 2016, who will by then understand that Obamanomics has never been about growth but always about power, just as Obamacare hasn't been about health care but about power.
The future of the House GOP majority depends on the moves made by Speaker Boehner over the next six months, but recapturing the Senate depends upon Capito and nine other individuals not yet known. Perhaps another one or two, like former South Dakota Governor Mile Rounds, will make their candidacies formal before Christmas, but certainly by the time the new session begins in D.C. the would-be senators should have laid their cards on the table and asked for the help of the party and the SuperPacs. "There isn't a moment to be lost," Jack Aubrey has a habit of saying throughout the masterful novels of Patrick O'Brian, and he was never wrong. That's a good message for a Beltway GOP that still seems stunned, and thanks to Ayotte, Cruz, Kyl and Capito, it is a message that may be getting through.
Is the decline of American manufacturing jobs a bad thing?
Lately, I’ve encountered with unusual frequency claims that the 1950s were a glorious economic time for America’s middle-class – a time so glorious, what with strong labor unions and high (above 90%!) marginal income-tax rates and all, that we middle-class Americans of today should look back with longing and envy on those marvelous years of six decades ago.
So on Saturday I bought on eBay this Fall/Winter 1956 Sears catalog. I spent an extra $8-and-change to have it shipped to me overnight – a service that I could not have purchased in 1956. My catalog arrived on my doorstep today. I’m eager to explore it and to report my findings with some thoroughness.
But to give you a taste now, below is a sample of what I plan to do.
Having on hand information on the nominal average hourly earnings of nonsupervisory nonfarm private production workers in the U.S. in 2012 - that figure being $19.79 (as of October 2012) - I searched for the same earnings figure for 1956. Thus far I’ve had no luck finding that number. (Please feel free, I bleg of you, to help me find this figure, if you so desire.) So, for 1956 I instead use average hourly manufacturing earnings of production workers, as reported in Table 1 here. That figure is $1.89.
This nominal wage figure for 1956 isn’t exactly comparable to the nominal wage figure that I use for 2012, but it’s close enough, at least for this first-pass analysis. If the claim of many “Progressives” is true that manufacturing is the most princely sort of work that middle-class Americans can do, then presumably this figure of $1.89 is higher than the hourly earnings of all private, nonfarm nonsupervisory workers in 1956. Anyway….
So let’s ask: how long did a typical American worker have to toil in 1956 to buy a particular sort of good compared to how long a similarly typical American worker today must toil to buy that same (or similar) sort of good? Here are four familiar items: refrigerator-freezers; kitchen ranges; televisions; and automatic washers.
Sears’s lowest-priced no-frost refrigerator-freezer in 1956 had 9.6 cubic feet, in total, of space. It sold for $219.95 (in 1956-dollar prices). (You can find a lovely black-and-white photograph of this mid-’50s fridge on page 1036 of the 1956 Sears catalog.) Home Depot today sells a 10 cubic-foot no-frost refrigerator-freezer for $298.00 (in 2012-dollar prices). (You can find it in color on line here.)
Therefore, the typical American worker in 1956 had to work a total of 219.95/1.89 hours to buy that 9.6 cubic-foot fridge – or a total of 116 hours. (I round to the nearest whole number.) Today, to buy a similar no-frost refrigerator-freezer, the typical American worker must work a total of 298.00/19.79 hours – or 15 hours. That is, to buy basic household refrigeration and freezing, today’s worker must spend only 13 percent of the time that his counterpart in 1956 had to spend.
Sears’s lowest-priced 30″ four-burner electric range, with bottom oven, was priced, in 1956, at $129.95. (You can find this range on page 1049 of the 1956 Sears catalog.) Home Depot sells a 30″ four-burner electric range, with bottom oven, today for $348.00.
The typical American manufacturing worker in 1956, therefore, had to work 129.95/1.89 – or 69 hours – to buy an ordinary kitchen range. His or her counterpart today must work 348.00/19.79 – or 18 – hours to buy the same sized ordinary range.
Sears’s lowest-priced television in 1956 was a black-and-white (of course) 17″ model. (You can find it on page 1018 of the 1956 catalog.) That t.v. set was priced at $114.95. Sears today sells no 17″ t.v. sets. The closest set I could find at Sears was this 19″ color (of course) model, which is priced at $194.00.
The typical American manufacturing worker in 1956, therefore, had to work 114.95/1.89 – or 61 hours – to buy this tiny black-and-white (with no remote!) television set. His or her counterpart today must work 194.00/19.79 – or 10 – hours to buy a slightly larger, high-def, color (with remote!) television set.
Automatic Washing Machines
Sears’s lowest-priced automatic washer – it could handle loads up to a maximum of 8 lbs. – sold in 1956 for $149.95. (You can find it on page 1029 of Sears’s 1956 catalog.) Today, Sears’s lowest-priced washer sells for $299.99. (It’s got 3.4 cubic feet of wash-bin space; I can’t find a maximum “pound-load” for it. Presumably, this 2012 washer isn’t significantly smaller than – and might well be significantly larger than – the low-priced 1956 model.)
The typical American manufacturing worker in 1956, therefore, had to work 149.95/1.89 – or 79 hours – to buy an ‘inexpensive’ new washing machine. His or her counterpart today must work 299.99/19.79 – or 15 – hours to buy an inexpensive new washing machine.
(Bonus point: Because the lowest marginal personal-income-tax rate imposed by Uncle Sam in the 1950s was significantly higher than it is today, hourly middle-class earnings today go even farther, for individual earners, than they did six decades ago.)
In the above I don’t adjust for quality – yet it is certainly true what they say: “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” They make ‘em better. So the real-price reductions for these above four items are even larger than indicated above.
In follow-up posts I’ll go into more detail, using my lovely Fall/Winter 1956 Sears catalog, to gain further insight to how middle-class Americans’ economic fortunes today compare to what those fortunes were in 1956. I am well-aware that no such ‘catalog’ analysis covers all fronts or can possibly tell a complete picture. Yet I also firmly believe that such analysis does convey very useful information.
LA Times Anti-Israel Bias is Malicious
Rule #1 of the anti-Israel media, fanatically followed by the LA Times: Israel is always the aggressor no matter what and even if it means changing the facts.
In the LA Times from Thursday, November 22, Edmund Sanders reported: "…even after the cease-fire went into effect about half a dozen rockets were fired into Israel."
See also the Jerusalem Post.
But in the LA Times from Saturday, November 24, the same Edmund Sanders reported the following after suspected PLO infiltrators were shot at on the Gaza border: "The [Israeli] shootings marked the first episode of violence since the cease-fire took effect…"
When the same reporter lies about facts he reported 2 days earlier, to falsely make Israel look bad as the aggressor and first breaker of the cease-fire, the bias is malicious.
The antisemites at the LA Times are just a step away from denying the Holocaust.
3 Reasons to Kill the Dept. of Homeland Security
It's unnecessary, ineffective, and expensive. And that's just for starters
Sunday, November 25, 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which pulled together nearly two dozen federal agencies and departments under the control of new, single entity. Its responsibilities include running the US Border Patrol, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, and FEMA.
DHS is the third biggest cabinet agency, but are we better off because of its existence?
Here are three reasons to get rid of DHS.
1. It’s unnecessary. In the months immediately following September 11 attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush initially resisted calls to create a new high-level bureaucracy that would be laid on top of current activities. He was right to recognize that coordinating existing agencies would have been smarter and better. Unfortunately, he caved in to pressure to create a massive new department.
2. It’s ineffective. To read the titles of Government Accountability Office (GAO) analyses of Homeland Security is to be reminded constantly that DHS is never quite on top of its game. Recent reports include “DHS Requires More Disciplined Investment Management to Help Meet Mission Needs,” “DHS Needs Better Project Information and Coordination Among Four Overlapping Grant Programs,” and “Agriculture Inspection Program Has Made Some Improvements, But Management Challenges Persist.”
3. It’s expensive. Last year, Homeland Security spent a whopping $60 billion, a figure that will doubtlessly increase in coming years. The construction of its new headquarters – the single-largest projectever undertaken by The General Services Administration – will cost at least $4 billion and is already years behind on schedule since breaking ground in 2009.
Since it’s the holiday season, here’s a bonus reason to get rid of the Department of Homeland Security: It also runs the Transportation Security Administration, whose nasty reputation for manhandling innocent travelers is only slightly more annoying than its massive and undeserved growth in personnel and cost over the past decade.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . GUN WATCH is now put together by Dean Weingarten.
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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)
Posted by JR at 1:34 AM