Weekly Musing 7-21-13
I was born and raised in the city of Detroit in 1959. I watched a great city waste away as utopian politicians created the greatest example of failed liberal, progressive policies in our country’s history. I’m so sad and disheartened. All I can say is that I’m all for “hope and change”…but I’m hoping folks now better understand the kind of change we need!
Detroit WILL be back!
Without big changes, Detroit won’t have a second act
“I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote. It’s a good thing he wasn’t talking about Detroit.
Until the city’s politicos treat its humble entrepreneurs with the same respect they show big investors, Motown’s second act will never arrive.
Detroit just became the biggest city to file for bankruptcy in America. Many people are hoping that bankruptcy will give Detroit a fresh start, another chance.
Many people are hoping that bankruptcy, the largest of its kind on U.S. soil, will give Detroit another chance. But that’ll remain wishful thinking until Detroit reverses its backward economic strategy.
A city that showers subsidies on well-connected businesses while thwarting individual entrepreneurs and ignoring basic services is writing its obituary — not its second act.
The Downfall of Detroit It took only six decades of “progressive” policies to bring a great city to its knees.
If your inheritance includes the fruits of visionaries like Henry Ford, Walter Chrysler, and the Dodge brothers, you can coast for a long time, and then decline incrementally, and then less incrementally, and then catastrophically, until what’s left is, as the city’s bankruptcy petition puts it, “structurally unsound and in danger of collapse.” There is a great deal of ruin in advanced societies, but even in Detroit it took only six decades.
“Structurally unsound and in danger of collapse”: Hold that thought. Like Detroit, America has unfunded liabilities, to the tune of $220 trillion, according to the economist Laurence Kotlikoff. Like Detroit, it’s cosseting the government class and expanding the dependency class, to the point where its bipartisan “immigration reform” actively recruits 50–60 million low-skilled chain migrants. Like Detroit, America’s governing institutions are increasingly the corrupt enforcers of a one-party state — the IRS and Eric Holder’s amusingly misnamed Department of Justice being only the most obvious examples. Like Detroit, America is bifurcating into the class of “community organizers” and the unfortunate denizens of the communities so organized.
The one good thing that could come out of bankruptcy is if those public-sector pensions are cut and government workers forced to learn what happens when, as National Review’s Kevin Williamson puts it, a parasite outgrows its host. But, pending an appeal, that’s “unconstitutional,” no matter how dead the host is. Beyond that, Detroit needs urgently both to make it non-insane for talented people to live in the city, and to cease subjecting its present population to a public “education” system that’s little more than unionized child abuse. Otherwise, Windsor, Ontario, might as well annex it for a War of 1812 theme park — except if General Brock and the Royal Newfoundland Fencibles had done to Detroit what the Democratic party did they’d be on trial for war crimes at The Hague.
Detroit’s Dead, Al-Qaida’s Alive
What’s the connection? In 2012, as he was running for a second term, he and his political allies made much about how he had “saved Detroit” by arranging to bail out Chrysler and General Motors. They also made a lot of the idea that “Obama Got Osama,” meaning he had managed to accomplish what his immediate predecessor had been unable to do and would be bringing the troops home any time now from Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, Detroit’s dead and al-Qaida and other terrorist groups seeking to cause great harm to the United States are still alive – thank you Boston bomber brothers It may not be 100 percent fair to place the blame for either squarely on the president’s shoulders but it does seem an apt metaphor for the entire Obama presidency.
Elected with great fanfare, Obama has been able to accomplish little except to foster a sense of paralysis and gridlock in the nation’s capital. This he of course blames on the Republicans just as he continues to blame on George W. Bush other things that cause Americans to tell pollster they believe overwhelmingly that the country is still on the “wrong track.” Indeed, since making himself available to sign the massive government stimulus package pushed through Congress by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., what has he really done?
Upon until a few weeks ago he could always point to the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act but, now that he has unilaterally taken it upon himself to push the start date for the employer mandate back a year it’s clear that even that is being messed up. The whole administration reeks of unmet goals and unfulfilled objectives, promises delayed and promises denied. Even some liberals are unhappy that he has not moved the country to the left, at least not far enough that any of the changes he has made to the way America governs itself cannot be undone. He has abandoned Congress and is seeking to rule through administrative agencies and executive orders that, in our system of government, make him as near to a despot as we are ever likely to get – knock wood.
THE NEW FLAT TAX: Encourages Growth and Job Creation
The New Flat Tax, as outlined in Heritage’s ‘Saving the American Dream’ plan, would replace today’s convoluted tax system with a simple, neutral, and transparent tax system that would allow America to achieve its full economic potential.
One Tax System with One Rate for All: In addition to the income tax, the federal government imposes payroll tax, death tax, and a slew of excises. The New Flat Tax replaces them all for individuals, families, and businesses with one tax system with one tax rate of roughly 28 percent.
Two Tax Credits: The New Flat Tax retains the Earned Income Credit to preserve the level of income support for low-wage workers. And low- and middle-income families also receive a tax credit of $3,000 ($2,500 for singles) toward the purchase of health insurance.
Three Deductions: The only remaining deductions are for higher education, gifts and charitable contributions, and an optional home mortgage interest deduction.
ANOTHER viable alternative is the “Fair Tax” which would be a flat sales or consumption tax.
And they’re off: 2016 has already started
Indeed, the 2016 cycle is looking more in line with previous cycles. The early start in no small measure comes down to the fact that the White House will be up for grabs in 2016 as opposed to 2012, when the Democratic side was set.
“When the presidency is going to be open, the race starts yesterday,” said Democratic strategist Steve Murphy.
“We have a deep bench of 2016 prospects, and it’s obvious that several of them are already preparing in case they decide to pull the trigger,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member who backed Rick Perry and then Mitt Romney in 2012. “One of the clear lessons from 2012 is if you want to go the distance, the candidate and the campaign better be ready.”
Why I Think the GOP Will Have Control in 2017
My assertion that there’s a 70% chance that the GOP controls White House, Senate, and House in 2017 has attracted a lot of pushback. And it’s certainly possible that I’m wrong! Here’s my thinking, for what it’s worth
How the Republicans could win big in the 2014 Senate elections
Republicans‘ chance to win back the United States Senate in 2014 are up. Analysts from Nate Silver to Sean Trende put the chances at just south to about 50% for Republicans to take the six seats necessary to gain 51 seats. Why are Republicans doing so well?
The immediate answer is Democrats can’t seem to find strong Democrats to run in states more Republican than the nation as a whole, as measured by the 2012 presidential vote. Democrats have yet to field any candidates in either Montana such as Brian Schweitzer or West Virginia, even though Democrats currently represent those states. Indeed, the majority candidates Democrats are finding to run in red states are lackluster. Even the better than average candidates such as incumbent Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are facing mediocre polling numbers.
Democrats’ red state blues are a big deal considering Democrats have to defend seven seats more Republican than the nation as a whole, while Republicans only have to beat back a Democratic challenge in one state won by President Obama. Seven minus one equals the six seats the Republicans need for control.
Jim DeMint back at war with Republicans
Jim DeMint’s at war with Republicans — again.
The tea party firebrand who made his mark in GOP primary races across the country is now at the helm of the Heritage Foundation where its political arm is doing the same thing: holding conservatives’ feet to the fire.
Mint only joined the group earlier this year, but already Heritage’s political arm has had some early fights out of the gate that have Republican leaders both angry and frustrated – feeling like DeMint is diminishing one of the party’s most powerful intellectual engines by turning it into a group taking cheap shots at Republicans.
The Speaker Is Mute But Not Unintelligible
What John Boehner is thinking.
Whereas Boehner? I asked.
“He’s not going to drive the outcome,” said Chocola. “He’s going to manage the outcome.”
These words seemed especially prescient a few weeks later, when Speaker Boehner held his final press conference before the July recess. A bipartisan immigration bill was on the verge of passing the Senate later that afternoon. In an alternate universe, one could imagine Boehner bringing that Senate bill to the House floor, even though it allowed a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, which the majority of his conference doesn’t support. He’s a conservative, certainly, but also an institutionalist, an old-school politician who likes to do deals; as his months-long effort to concoct a “grand bargain” with Obama on the budget showed, he has an interest, at 63, in leaving a legacy of bipartisan accomplishments behind him. Most Democrats discern in him a rational streak, though they pity him for it. (“John Boehner is a reasonable man,” Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, told me this spring, “and that probably damns him.”)
Fault Lines in Democratic Party
What is probably closer to the truth is that America is fatigued with all politics, especially anything involving Washington – and Democrats will have to contend with the electorate’s mistrust in the midst of Obama administration scandals, and just as our second great experiment with embracing progressivism slides behind us.
They also face a still painfully slow economy that has been tough on most Americans outside of Washington. And they will compete in the next election cycle without a rock star at the top of their ticket, one who can inspire liberals to vote and persuade undecided voters to stay home – a phenomenon that skewed the numbers in both directions in the last two cycles.
The days of blaming Republicans for getting America into its economic mess have passed, mainly because Democrats are not accruing any credit for getting us out of it. In fact, Democrats don’t have much to brag about at all with Barack Obama’s presidency; if we continue limping along with slow growth for the next few years, they will be hard pressed to make the argument that their party is better for the country than the GOP.
Judge Kim Small met with NRSC about Michigan Senate race
The National Republican Senatorial Committee met this week with Oakland County District Court Judge Kim Small about the open Senate seat in Michigan, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting.
Small is tight with Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and the GOP donor community, and Republicans believe she could raise significant money.
She has also earned a reputation as one of the nation’s toughest judges when it comes to first-time drunk driving convictions. In 2011, she sentenced former NBA star Jalen Rose to 20 days in jail following his drunk driving arrest.
Barack Obama’s Lawlessness
This is all part of a pattern in which Mr. Obama enforces laws he likes and refuses to enforce (or unilaterally alters) laws he disagrees with. I suppose the temptation to act as a potentate is understandable; but it also happens to be illegal. The president, after all, has the constitutional duty to “take care that the Laws be faithfully executed” (see Article II, Section 3 for more).
One of the reasons there isn’t a firestorm of protest against the president’s contempt for the rule of law is that that apart from a few honorable exceptions, the press doesn’t care and therefore isn’t covering this story. Let’s just say that if the same kind of violations had been committed by presidents with the last names of oh, say, Bush or Reagan, you can be sure the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, Politico, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, NPR, and the major news networks would all be covering the story.
The problem here is that a dangerous precedent is being set by the president.
Economic populism, not Gang of Eight immigration reform, will boost GOP’s future
Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics.com’s senior elections analyst, rattled Washington this month when he challenged the conventional wisdom that the Republican Party must give citizenship to current illegal immigrants if it ever hopes to win a national election again.
Trende argued that instead of pandering to every demographic group, Republicans should instead adjust their agenda to better appeal to Reagan Democrat/Perot Independent voters who stayed home last November.
“Ultimately, the basic prescription for the GOP is a healthy dose of economic populism,” Trende writes. “This includes a lot of changes Democrats would presumably enjoy, such as jettisoning the pro-big business, Wall Street-style conservatism that characterized the Romney campaign.”
Getting to Sí – How to win the Hispanic Vote
How do you succeed in wooing Hispanics without really trying? Rick Perry may have the answer. In 2010, running for his third full term, the Republican governor won the support of more than 400,000 Hispanic voters in Texas, his best performance to date. Perry didn’t need to win that many—Texas is still deep red, and he had won his last two elections pretty easily. But even had he needed the votes, it isn’t Perry’s style to make an explicitly ethnic pitch to a minority group. In fact, Rob Johnson, Perry’s campaign manager, says the team didn’t develop a separate Hispanic outreach strategy at all.
“Did we have Spanish-language ads? Sure,” Johnson says. “But they mirrored the same message as the English ones.”
That message was part economic, part populist: The Perry regime of lower taxes and smaller, less intrusive government had kept the economy booming through the Great Recession and kept more money in the average Texan’s pocket. That convinced the majority of Texas voters, who reelected Perry over his Democratic challenger by double digits. More remarkable, though, was how the Anglo Republican also managed to convince about 40 percent of Hispanic voters, who are traditionally and overwhelmingly Democratic. That was a major improvement for Perry, who in 2006 received closer to 31 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Kill the sham bill — Inside the immigration bill: Details, bureaucracy and pork
WASHINGTON — Inch your way through the Senate immigration bill and you’ll find special stuff for ski instructors, cruise line repairmen and Irish workers. You’ll see “committee’’ mentioned 152 times, and task forces cited 39 times.
Welcome to the Senate’s 1,198-page blueprint for overhauling the nation’s immigration system. Few lawmakers probably read the weighty tome, so we did. And we found it full of exacting details, excruciating bureaucracy and a little pork.
The back of the bill has stuff lawmakers tucked in to make constituents happy. On page 984, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., set aside 10,500 visas for Irish immigrants with at least a high school degree.
Bilingual and multilingual ski instructors made the cut in the Senate bill, thanks to Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo. (The word “ski” appears six times).
Our Enemy, the State
Those who have read Nock know that there is something about his writing that tugs very deeply on one’s conscience and soul. This book will linger in your mind as you read the daily headlines. He makes his points so well that they become unforgettable.
In so many ways, it is a tragedy that years have gone by when this book has been unavailable. But here it is again, just as hot, just a revealing, as it was in 1935. It is the ultimate handbook of the political dissident. If you aren’t one yet, you may find that Nock is a very persuasive recruiter into his informed army that makes up the remnant who know.
A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal
The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel.
That is a bombshell—such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing in which some members seemed to have accidentally woken up in the middle of a committee room, some seemed unaware of the implications of what their investigators had uncovered, one pretended that the investigation should end if IRS workers couldn’t say the president had personally called and told them to harass his foes, and one seemed to be holding a filibuster on Pakistan.
Those trying to get to the bottom of the scandal have to dig in, pay attention. The administration’s defenders, and their friends in the press, have made some progress in confusing the issue through misdirection and misstatement.
This is the moment things go forward or stall. Republicans need to find out how high the scandal went and why, exactly, it went there. To do that they’ll have to up their game.
Obama’s Newspeak? U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News To Americans
But if anyone needed a reminder of the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, the past 12 months provided ample reasons. Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. Eventually, one of the co-owners of the firm confessed to creating phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously. Additionally, just this month, The Washington Post exposed a counter propaganda program by the Pentagon that recommended posting comments on a U.S. website run by a Somali expat with readers opposing Al-Shabaab. “Today, the military is more focused on manipulating news and commentary on the Internet, especially social media, by posting material and images without necessarily claiming ownership,” reported The Post.
Does President Obama have a second-term strategy?
A year ago President Barack Obama jammed a prediction into his stump speech that evoked his 2008 hope-and-change message – a vow that a victory in 2012 would break the partisan ‘fever’ in Washington. But behind closed doors, … Obama never bought his own rhetoric and was quietly planning for precisely the opposite scenario, perpetual gridlock, during West Wing strategy sessions in the weeks before and after beating Mitt Romney. Those clashing visions of the second term – the president’s public optimism, shadowed by his dour, private realism – have made the opening act of Obama II something of a muddle, with critics and allies alike wondering if the president has a coherent strategy for retaining influence during what promises to be 3½ maddening years … ‘The fever didn’t break. It turned into smallpox,’ joked one of Obama’s top 2012 campaign advisers.
74% of small businesses will fire workers, cut hours under Obamacare
Despite the administration’s controversial decision to delay forcing companies to join Obamacare for a year, three-quarters of small businesses are still making plans to duck the costly law by firing workers, reducing hours of full-time staff, or shift many to part-time, according to a sobering survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Small businesses expect the requirement to negatively impact their employees. Twenty-seven percent say they will cut hours to reduce full time employees, 24 percent will reduce hiring, and 23 percent plan to replace full time employees with part-time workers to avoid triggering the mandate,” said the Chamber business survey provided to Secrets.
Under Obamacare, just 30 hours — not the nationally recognized 40 hours — is considered full-time. Companies with 50 full-time workers or more are required to provide health care, or pay a fine.
Republicans Get Filibusted Democrats end the 60-vote Senate rule for presidential nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Rich Trumka, er, Harry Reid held a gun to the head of Republicans on the filibuster, Republicans blinked, and President Obama and the AFL-CIO will now get their nominees confirmed for the cabinet and especially a legal quorum for the National Labor Relations Board.
Cut through all the procedural blather and that’s the essence of the Senate’s “deal” Tuesday over the 60-vote filibuster rule. While Democrats didn’t formally pull the trigger of the “nuclear option” to allow a mere majority vote to confirm nominees, they have now established a de facto majority-vote rule. Any time Democrats want to do so, they can threaten to pull the majority trigger.
Republicans might as well acknowledge this new reality, even if it means admitting defeat in this round. GOP Senators should state clearly for the record that the next time there is a GOP President and a Democratic Senate minority wants to block an appointment with a filibuster, fuhgedaboutit. Majority rule will prevail.
Awesome News: David Keene to lead opinion pages of Washington Times
David Keene, a trusted adviser to presidents, a longtime champion of personal liberty and one of conservatism’s most respected voices, was appointed Sunday as the new opinion editor of The Washington Times.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Mr. Keene “a major voice defining conservatism in America for the last generation.” Former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton called Mr. Keene’s appointment a “great coup for The Times. No one knows Washington better than Dave.”
Conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, editor of The Daily Caller, called Mr. Keene the perfect blend of intellectual and outdoorsman.
“Dave Keene is one of the smartest, most principled people I know. He’s also an accomplished fly fisherman and sportsman, which is not a small thing in an age when so few people in the policy world ever go outside,” Mr. Carlson said.
Republican attorneys general: the unsung heroes in challenging the Obama agenda
Practically no one has noticed the emergence of the Republican AGs. Yet they’re a scourge of President Obama. They drive the Environmental Protection Agency crazy. They’ve beaten the best lawyers at the Justice Department numerous times. “What I really do for fun is I go into the office [and] I sue the Obama administration,” Texas attorney general Greg Abbott said last year. He’s filed 30 lawsuits against the administration, 17 against EPA alone—with considerable success.
The AGs, who often attack the administration in packs, have done more than Republicans in Congress, statehouses, or anywhere else to block, cripple, undermine, or weaken Obama’s initiatives. They failed to stop Obamacare in the Supreme Court, but won limits on Medicaid and neutralized the use of the commerce clause to expand the reach of the federal government. And there’s one case left. AG Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma has sued to prevent Obama-run health insurance exchanges from handing out subsidies. If he wins—and he has a credible case—the implementation of Obamacare will come to a halt, at least temporarily.
The Life and Death (and Life?) of the Party
Today, according to GOP pollster Mike Baselice, fully 59 percent of the state’s general-election voters are concentrated in just 13 of Texas’s 254 counties. Those counties are largely urban and suburban and less reliably conservative than the state’s rural areas. Dallas County, now mainly composed of minorities, went from red to blue in 2006 and has remained a Democratic stronghold ever since. Nearly 15 percent of the state’s general-election voters reside in Harris County, and a majority of them supported Obama in both 2008 and 2012. And the trend is spreading. Houston’s melting pot has spilled over into adjacent Fort Bend County, which, according to another Republican strategist, Ted Delisi, will be “the first truly competitive suburban area.” Delisi could have been speaking about Texas as a whole when he added, “It’s not your daddy’s suburbia anymore.”
Demography is the driver of this runaway freight train. The 2010 census found that the state’s population had increased by 4.3 million over the previous decade and that more than 3.3 million of the new inhabitants were minorities. Of these, an astounding 2.8 million were Hispanic, historically a reliable constituency for Democrats. These numbers conveyed a new reality: the Texas political landscape was getting friendlier for Democrats and tougher for Republicans. And if all of this seemed preposterously hopey-changey—yet another liberal hallucination straight out of The Gay Place—then the indelible image of that slender blond lady in the pink tennis shoes provided stark documentation. This was real. This could happen. Texas could, at minimum, become a state where elections are actually competitive.
A very clear explanation of China’s economic woes
One of the biggest economic stories in the world right now is the sharp slowdown in China’s economy. On Monday, the country reported that it had grown just 7.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, a worrisome drop from previous quarters.
A laborer welds a steel frame at a residential construction site in Hefei, Anhui province, July 15. China’s annual GDP growth slowed to 7.5 percent in April to June – the ninth quarter in the last 10 that expansion has weakened. (Jianan Yu/Reuters)
To get a clearer sense of why China is in such economic turmoil — and whether it could drag the rest of the world down with it — I called up Patrick Chovanec, a longtime China watcher who is currently chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management and was formerly an associate professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in Beijing. A transcript of our talk follows.
Stay In Touch…Feel Free to Share
My goal is for this to be a weekly political update…sharing political news and analysis that should be of interest to most activists.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook.
On Facebook at:
On Twitter at:
My blog “That’s Saul Folks” with Weekly Musings & more:
Thanks again for all you do!