Weekly Musing 4-7-13
The one thing our Founding Fathers could not foresee…was a nation governed by professional politicians who had a vested interest in getting reelected. -Ronald Reagan
Food for thought:
Bonhoeffer called it ‘cheap grace’.
R.I.P. Donn Wolf
This last Friday morning, a good friend, Republican and omni-present activist passed away. He was a committed public servant, family man and conservative who was never afraid to fight the good fight. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
Obama’s Presidency Won’t Stand the Test of Time
We can imagine what lies ahead in 2017 — no matter the result of either the 2014 midterm elections or the 2016 presidential outcome.
There will be no more $1 trillion deficits. About $10 trillion will have been added to the national debt during the Obama administration, on top of the more than $4 trillion from the prior eight-year George W. Bush administration. That staggering bipartisan sum will force the next president to be a deficit hawk, both fiscally and politically.
Deep in the Red of Texas, Republicans Fight the Blues
Republicans’ desire to shore up their standing with this growing Hispanic bloc has some in the party scrambling to change their immigration stance.
The state party dramatically changed its official platform last year, eliminating references to mass deportations and calling for a guest-worker program. In January, the Texas Federation of Republican Women went further, voting to support a federal path to citizenship for millions of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
But both of the state’s Republican senators, including the party’s own top Hispanic lawmaker, Sen. Ted Cruz, oppose opening a route to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally.
Mitt Romney’s niece, Ronna, won’t run for Levin’s Senate seat
Romney McDaniel was intrigued by the opportunity after encountering many Michiganians on the campaign trail who said they wanted change in Washington. She said she felt she could especially help Republicans by better appealing to women.
If Romney McDaniel had joined the race, she would have been the third generation of Romney women to launch a U.S. Senate bid. Her mother, Ronna Romney, ran for U.S. Senate in 1994 and 1996. Her grandmother, Lenore Romney, ran in 1970. Both were unsuccessful.
“It’s not the right time to put my kids through something like that,” she said.
” … I’m a stay-at-home mom,” she said. “My kids do not want me to run and I said OK. That’s what it comes down to.”
I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last from Ronna!
One reason is that Rand Paul is not his father. The libertarian agenda of Ron Paul’s presidential bids drew a following as narrow as it was zealous. The younger Paul seems determined to broaden his father’s base of perhaps 10% to 15% of the GOP electorate and is hunting for new recruits across the political spectrum. That means freshening up his dad’s familiar message and downplaying hoary crusades like the gold standard and auditing the Federal Reserve. It means policy surprises, like his outline of a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. And it means a stage sense and media savvy his father lacked.
Guns Save Lives
Surveys of American gun owners have found that 4 to 6 percent reported using a gun in self-defense within the previous five years. That is not a very high percentage but, in a country with 300 million people, that works out to hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns per year.
The gun control crusade today is like the Prohibition crusade 100 years ago. It is a shared zealotry that binds the self-righteous know-it-alls in a warm fellowship of those who see themselves as fighting on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. It is a lofty role that they are not about to give up for anything so mundane as facts– or even the lives of other people.
Will Obama’s Majority Survive?
Political scientist John Sides provocatively argues in the Washington Post, “it’s premature to make similar predictions about a Democratic majority or write the GOP’s epitaph.” Sides’s primary evidence is that most voters in 2012 viewed Mitt Romney as ideologically closer to the center, and to themselves, than Obama. To Sides, this suggests the Republican Party does not have a fundamental image problem. To me, it suggests that abstract measures of proximity to the center aren’t a very good measure of a party’s standing – since, after all, Romney was seen as more moderate but still lost by five points.
Obama’s top-down grassroots army
President Barack Obama’s got a volunteer army — and all their marching orders come from carefully organized paid generals back at headquarters.
Obama won two terms by harnessing a grassroots movement through a tightly controlled, top-down organization. Now the group formed out of that old campaign is now bringing that approach to Organizing for Action.
It’s what differentiates OFA from other grassroots groups, and even the Democratic National Committee: they’re combining large-dollar donations and unpaid local leaders for a carefully built, lasting structure that they believe will be just as effective in supporting the president as it was in electing him.
Why 2012 Postmortems Overstate Republican Woes
The only salient change has been a diminution in the share of the electorate self-identifying as Republicans, and an increase in Independents. And therein lies the rub. You see, the vast majority of Independents aren’t all that independent. They are “closet partisans,” regardless of how they might label themselves. These Republicans-turned-Independents have almost entirely driven the growing gap in partisan identification, but have actually tended to hold on to their Republican voting habits. This is why the Romney-Ryan ticket was able to win self-identified Independents by five points while still losing the election; this is also what gave birth to the horribly mistaken notions that the pre-election polls were under-sampling Republicans, and that the Republican edge with Independents foreshadowed a big GOP win.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, this entire line of argument rests on a narrative of realignment that simply doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. Yes, Democrats opened up a massive lead in party identification during this time. But that didn’t translate into the electoral majorities we would expect to see if party identification were as salient as claimed, and the periods of Democratic national dominance were fleetingly small.
The Obama administration is more inclined to public relations than hard-headed pragmatism in dealing with unemployment
The present phase of our Great Recession might be called the Grand Illusion, because all the happy talk and statistics that go with it, especially on the key indicator of jobs, give a rosier picture than the facts justify. We are not really advancing. We are, by comparison with earlier recessions, going backward. We have a $1.3 trillion budget deficit. And despite the most stimulative fiscal policy in our history and the most stimulative monetary policy, with a trillion-dollar expansion to our money supply, our economy over the last three years has been declining or stagnant. From growth in annual GDP of 2.4 percent 2010, we bumped down to only 1.8 percent in 2011 and were still down at 2.2 percent in 2012. The cumulative growth for the last 12 quarters was just 6.2 percent, less than half the 15.2 percent average after previous recessions over a similar period of time. It is the slowest growth rate of all the 11 post-World War II recessions.
Schools push a curriculum of propaganda
Today, the school systems in 20 states employ more non-teachers than teachers. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice reports that between 1950 and 2009, while the number of K-12 students increased 96 percent, full-time-equivalent school employees increased 386 percent. The number of teachers increased 252 percent, but the number of bureaucrats — including consciousness-raising sensitivity enforcers and other non-teachers — increased 702 percent. The report says states could have saved more than $24 billion annually if non-teaching staff had grown only as fast as student enrollment. And Americans wonder why their generous K-12 financing (higher per pupil than all but three of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations) has done so little to improve reading, math and science scores.
The Truth About Taxes and Spending in Europe
In short, the world economy has become divided into two groups: (1) sickly PIIGGS with chronic fiscal crises and (2) booming BRIC and MIST economies with modest government spending, lower tax rates and vigorous growth of both the economy and tax receipts.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has lately been drifting nearer the PIIGGS camp. The highest tax rates were just increased and federal spending is nearly 23% of GDP — way up from the 19.2% average of 1997-2007.
If U.S. legislators hope for better results—for both the economy and the budget—they must shun the failed policies of the PIIGGS and instead embrace the proven policies of the rapidly-growing BRIC and MIST economies.
What works, these successful economies discovered, is (1) to prevent government spending from growing faster than the private economy that supports it, and (2) to reduce rather than increase the highest, most damaging tax rates.
Reagan’s Daughter Says He’d Have Backed Gay Marriage – maybe? Conflict with Freedom of Religion?
Mr. Reagan had a mixed record on gay rights. As president, he infuriated many gay people with his slow response to the AIDS epidemic, but as governor of California he joined a number of Democrats, including President Jimmy Carter, in opposing a ballot measure that would have barred gays and lesbians from working in public schools.
Ms. Davis said her father “did not believe that gayness was a choice,” although “as a straight man and an old-fashioned man, it’s not like he understood it.”
Ms. Davis’s comments are certain to inflame conservative admirers of her father.
Description of America – of Yesterday & for Tomorrow
Sharing Amy Hawkins blog post:
These powerful passages are from his book, The American Cause:
“…the United States is not a centralized democracy. It does not have government from the top downward; on the contrary, it has government from the bottom upward. Strictly speaking, our government is federal, a union of states for certain explicit purposes of general benefit. Federation is very different from centralization. The theory of federation is this, that fifty sovereign states have conferred, of their own free will, certain powers upon the federal administration, to promote the interests of the several states and of the people within those several states. The United States are united voluntarily, and are united only for the purposes, and under the conditions, described in the federal Constitution. In the matters which most immediately affect private life, power remains in the possession of the several states; while within those fifty states, the people reserve to themselves control over most walks of life. The state governments, like the federal government, have been hedged and checked by constitutions and public custom.
“…Everywhere in America, individuals and private voluntary associations jealously reserve to themselves the rights of choice and action in those spheres of activity which most nearly affect the private person. The state touches these private concerns only upon sufferance, or not at all. Religious belief and affiliation are matters wholly of private choice; economic activity, by and large, is left to the will of individuals; social relationships are voluntary and private relationships; where one lives, and how, is not determined by political authority. Quite as much as in England, an American’s home is his castle. A great many Americans live their lives through without ever conversing with a civil servant, or even saying more than good morning to a policeman. Americans have no official identity card, or internal passports, or system of national registration. Until 1941, America never experienced peacetime conscription into the armed forces. Nowhere in the world is the operation of government less conspicuous than in the United States. If an American citizen desires to abstain altogether from political activity, even to the extent of never voting, no one interferes with him; and for millions of Americans, their only direct contact with government is their annual submission of income-tax reports. Private life looms much larger than public life in the American commonwealth.
“Even in those concerns which have been opened to local or state or federal political activity, the theory persists that political authority operates only as a convenience to private citizens. The public schools, for instance, are intended simply to facilitate the education of young people, not to enforce the educational doctrines of central authority; although the states require that children should be schooled in some fashion, parents with the means are free to educate their children privately, or in denominational schools, if they prefer such methods to enrollment in public schools. The American assumption is that education is primarily the concern of the family and the individual, not of the political state; and this frame of mind extends to many more activities in which the state acts as servant, rather than as master.
“…So in America the things in which people are most interested generally remain strictly within the jurisdiction of private life. And in matters of public concern, it is the American habit to keep authority as close to home as possible. The lesser courts, the police, the maintenance of roads and sanitation, the raising of property-taxes, the control of public schools, and many other essential functions still are carried on, for the most part, by the agencies of local community: the township, the village, the city, the county. American political parties, in essence, are loose local associations: the state and national party organizations are the reflections of local opinion in caucus and town meeting. “
– The American Cause by Russell Kirk, page 69-71.
Here Are the 10 Freest States in the U.S. (And the Least)
The 223-page report “scores all 50 states on their overall respect for individual freedom, and also on their respect for three dimensions of freedom considered separately: fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom,” the study explains. Surprisingly, Texas did not make the top 10 and was ranked the 14th most free state. Hat tip to Mike Cox for sharing.
Detecting Shift in Beijing, U.S. Makes Its Case on North Korea
China, which has been deeply suspicious of the American desire to reassert itself in Asia, has not protested publicly or privately as the United States has deployed ships and warplanes to the Korean Peninsula. That silence, American officials say, attests to both Beijing’s mounting frustration with the North and the recognition that its reflexive support for Pyongyang could strain its ties with Washington.
“The timing of this is important,” Tom Donilon, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said in an interview. “It will be an important early exercise between the United States and China, early in the term of Xi Jinping and early in the second term of President Obama.”
While administration officials cautioned that Mr. Xi has been in office for only a few weeks and that China has a history of frustrating the United States in its dealings with North Korea, Mr. Donilon said he believed that China’s position was “evolving.”
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Thanks again for all you do!
Thanks again for all you do!