Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I have received a mailout from the Boston Globe asking me to comment on one of their articles ("A lesson for Bob Dole: old rules no longer apply" by Michael Kranish). I am not quite sure why I deserved that honor but I do indeed have something to say about the article concerned.
The article claims, rightly I think, that Congress has become intractably polarized. It goes on to give an example. It says that the Senate recently refused to ratify an international treaty giving rights to the disabled. All the votes against were cast by Republicans. A two thirds majority is needed to ratify treaties.
The article portrays the GOP opposition to ratification as irrational. It was not. Once ratified, a treaty becomes legally binding. And once you've got a law it is in the hands of the courts. And it is an old, old, strategy in America to get the courts to impose what no legislature would.
If America's legal system were simply judicial and not political it might have been reasonable to give the courts a new set of rights to chew on but America's courts are an abomination right from the Supreme Court down. SCOTUS has "found" rights in the constitution that are not even mentioned there (a right to abortion) and denied rights that are explicitly set out in the constitution (allowed "affirmative action" despite the 14th amendment requirement for equal treatment). The GOP senators were right to be leery.
A bigger question, however, is why there is little or no bipartisanship in Congress these days. The article I am discussing is persuasive that in the not too distant past there was substantial bipartisanship.
I think much of the fault lies with Obama and his Senate henchman, Harry Reid. Obama came to power floating on a promise of bipartisanship and "reaching across the aisle". It was soft-soap. He has done the opposite. His idea of compromise is getting people to agree with him. The GOP have got nothing from him.
And Obamacare exemplifies the Reid/Obama axis of intransigence. They got that legislation though without a single Replublican vote and by way of gigantic arm-twisting of their own congressmen. The small group of anti-abortion Democrats that stood in the way were bought off by a meaningless promise from Obama that has been breached virtually from the get-go. The fear that Obamacare would affect the rights of abortion opponents has been amply justified, with a ruling that church bodies and others must pay for health insurance that includes a right to abortion. Catholics are particularly affected and are in court trying to get the ruling overturned.
So when the Donk establishment will go to any length to get its way, they have got to expect the GOP to dig in its heels too. It takes two to tango.
Republicans must be aggressive to secure smaller government
Republicans in Congress have a problem reducing the size and scope of the federal government. Far too often, they introduce watered-down legislation that they hope will not be torn to shreds by the media. This strategy has failed to pay off.
Instead of continuing down this road of failure, Congressional Republicans should focus on big ideas and craft their message around big plans. This is what Democrats have done to pass their own proposals and continue to do while they run circles around Republicans.
When Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats launched their efforts to pass Obamacare, their initial message focused on a single-payer health care plan. While their dream health care plan was not what ultimately passed Congress, the end result moved them much closer to their end goal of making government the sole entity that distributes health care. Their strategy was to ask for a lot knowing you will get a big part of it.
Republicans do not do this. They play in to the media’s hand each time a major debate is occurring. Instead of laying out broad plans for reducing the role of government, they endorse plans that should be the compromise deals Democrats would seek if the President were a Republican. The GOP does not have the same fire in legislating that Pelosi does.
With the upcoming debt ceiling debate — Republicans supported suspending the debt ceiling in January effectively allowing Obama to spend and borrow without a limit — the GOP has a chance to turn the page and finally push for a real plan to cut spending and force the federal government to spend within their means.
If Republicans in the House want to be the party of limited government, they will have to start legislating like it. If they cave to the same old media and Democrat pressure that calls Republican ideas “radical” and “out of touch”, they will have effectively signaled to those who want leaders in Washington to champion limited government issues that they are not up to the job.
Instead of caving, Republicans should lay out a broad plan, tied to something such as a vote on the debt ceiling, that finally begins to rein in the mountain of debt and out-of-control spending that Congressional Republicans have allowed to continue. Rhetoric without action must not be allowed.
If Congressional Republicans are not aggressive in fighting the downward debt spiral, then who will be? That answer is probably no one.
Cyprus: Can It Happen Here?
The decision of the government in Cyprus to simply take money out of people's bank accounts there sent shock waves around the world. People far removed from that small island nation had to wonder: "Can this happen here?"
The economic repercussions of having people feel that their money is not safe in banks can be catastrophic. Banks are not just warehouses where money can be stored. They are crucial institutions for gathering individually modest amounts of money from millions of people and transferring that money to strangers whom those people would not directly entrust it to.
Multi-billion dollar corporations, whose economies of scale can bring down the prices of goods and services -- thereby raising our standard of living -- are seldom financed by a few billionaires.
Far more often they are financed by millions of people, who have neither the specific knowledge nor the economic expertise to risk their savings by investing directly in those enterprises. Banks are crucial intermediaries, which provide the financial expertise without which these transfers of money are too risky.
There are poor nations with rich natural resources, which are not developed because they lack either the sophisticated financial institutions necessary to make these key transfers of money or because their legal or political systems are too unreliable for people to put their money into these financial intermediaries.
Whether in Cyprus or in other countries, politicians tend to think in short run terms, if only because elections are held in the short run. Therefore, there is always a temptation to do reckless and short-sighted things to get over some current problem, even if that creates far worse problems in the long run.
Seizing money that people put in the bank would be a classic example of such short-sighted policies.
After thousands of American banks failed during the Great Depression of the 1930s, there were people who would never put their money in a bank again, even after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was created, to have the federal government guarantee individual bank accounts when the bank itself failed.
For years after the Great Depression, stories appeared in the press from time to time about some older person who died and was found to have substantial sums of money stored under a mattress or in some other hiding place, because they never trusted banks again.
After going back and forth, the government of Cyprus ultimately decided, under international pressure, to go ahead with its plan to raid people's bank accounts. But could similar policies be imposed in other countries, including the United States?
One of the big differences between the United States and Cyprus is that the U.S. government can simply print more money to get out of a financial crisis. But Cyprus cannot print more euros, which are controlled by international institutions.
Does that mean that Americans' money is safe in banks? Yes and no.
The U.S. government is very unlikely to just seize money wholesale from people's bank accounts, as is being done in Cyprus. But does that mean that your life savings are safe?
No. There are more sophisticated ways for governments to take what you have put aside for yourself and use it for whatever the politicians feel like using it for. If they do it slowly but steadily, they can take a big chunk of what you have sacrificed for years to save, before you are even aware, much less alarmed.
That is in fact already happening. When officials of the Federal Reserve System speak in vague and lofty terms about "quantitative easing," what they are talking about is creating more money out of thin air, as the Federal Reserve is authorized to do -- and has been doing in recent years, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a month.
When the federal government spends far beyond the tax revenues it has, it gets the extra money by selling bonds. The Federal Reserve has become the biggest buyer of these bonds, since it costs them nothing to create more money.
This new money buys just as much as the money you sacrificed to save for years. More money in circulation, without a corresponding increase in output, means rising prices. Although the numbers in your bank book may remain the same, part of the purchasing power of your money is transferred to the government. Is that really different from what Cyprus has done?
25 Examples of Liberal Racism in Quotes
1) "(Obama’s) a nice person, he’s very articulate this is what’s been used against him, but he couldn’t sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic." -- Dan Rather
2) “White folks was in the caves while we [blacks] was building empires … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it." -- Al Sharpton
3) "‘Hymies.’ ‘Hymietown.’" -- Jesse Jackson’s description of New York City while on the 1984 presidential campaign trail.
4) "A few years ago, (Barack Obama) would have been getting us coffee." -- Bill Clinton to Ted Kennedy
5) "The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington and meets with the puppet in the White House. He then goes down Pennsylvania Avenue and meets with the puppets in Congress. The Israeli leader then 'brings back millions of dollars' in aid to Israel." -- Ralph Nader
6) "(Harry Reid) was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." -- Harry Reid's comments reported by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann
7) "I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia [Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klan recruiter] that he would have been a great senator at any moment. . . . He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this nation." -- Former Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd (D.,Conn.)
8) “Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them.” -- Mary Frances Berry, former Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights
9) "Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness." -- Mary Frances Berry, former Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights
10) “Well, because the Arabs who were involved in 9/11 cooperated with the Zionists, actually. It was a cooperation. They gave them the perfect excuse to denounce all Arabs. It’s a racist sort of thing, really racist – you know, picking out these 19 or 20 terrorists – they were terrorists – and saying all the Arabs are like them.” — Former Democratic Senator James Abourezk on Hizbullah TV
11) "Let me see one of you adopt one of those ugly black babies." -- Abortionist Ashutosh Ron Virmani
12) “There’s no great, white bigot; there’s just about 200 million little white bigots out there.” -- USA Today columnist Julienne Malveaux
13) "Them Jews aren’t going to let (Obama) talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he’ll talk to me in five years when he’s a lame duck, or in eight years when he’s out of office. …They will not let him talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is.” -- Jeremiah Wright
14) "There’s white racist DNA running through the synapses of his or her brain tissue. They will kill their own kind, defend the enemies of their kind or anyone who is perceived to be the enemy of the milky white way of life." -- Jeremiah Wright
15) "The white man is our mortal enemy, and we cannot accept him. I will fight to see that vicious beast go down into the lake of fire prepared for him from the beginning, that he never rise again to give any innocent black man, woman or child the hell that he has delighted in pouring on us for 400 years.” -- Louis Farrakhan
16) “White people shouldn’t be allowed to vote. It’s for the good of the country and for those who’re bitter for a reason and armed because they’re scared.” -- Left-wing journalist Jonathan Valania
17) "(Joseph Lowery) said that when he was a young militant, he used to say all white folks were going to hell. ...'Then he mellowed and just said most of them were. Now, he said, he is back to where he was.’" -- The Daily Mail quotes Joseph Lowery, who gave the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration
18) "We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is…We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way." -- Helen Thomas
19) “You cannot go to a 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian Accent.” -- Joe Biden
20) “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” -- Joe Biden
21) "I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street." -- Spike Lee
22) “I want to go up to the closest white person and say: ‘You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing’ and then slap him, just for my mental health.” — New York City Councilman, Charles Barron
23) "We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go." -- Marion Barry
24) “The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person…” -- Barack Obama
25) “That’s just how white folks will do you. It wasn’t merely the cruelty involved; I was learning that black people could be mean and then some. It was a particular brand of arrogance, an obtuseness in otherwise sane people that brought forth our bitter laughter. It was as if whites didn’t know that they were being cruel in the first place. Or at least thought you deserving of their scorn.” -- Barack Obama
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Posted by JR at 1:49 AM