Weekly Musing 10-20-13

Weekly Musing 10-20-13

Saul Anuzis


Paul Harvey…wow!

This was 47 years ago. April 3, 1965.  An amazing prediction.  Do you remember the famous ABC radio commentator Paul Harvey?


Millions of Americans listened to his programs which were broadcast over 1,200 radio stations nationwide.


When you listen to this, remember the commentary was broadcast 47 years ago on April 3, 1965


It’s short…less than three minutes. You will be amazed…and he never met Obama?!?





A conservative group joins the fight in Michigan

 Those of us who follow the battle for freedom raging in the state capitol have seen a group enter the fray more and more in recent weeks.  The Michigan Freedom Fund is a statewide non-profit working to expand freedom and defend our rights from big government, big labor and anyone else who wants to take them away for their own personal gain.  You might remember them from their key role in the push to pass Freedom to Work legislation last December.  Well, now they’ve expanded operations, added staff and picked up the mantle for us in several new areas.


MFF is fighting against dirty politicians and election fraud, shedding light on corruption and putting the enemies of freedom on notice.  You can read more about what they’re up to, and get in touch to share your concerns about rights you feel are under attack in Michigan, on their website, their Facebook page and on Twitter.



Michigan’s Big Show with Michael Patrick Shiels –

Guest Hosting November 4th!

Monday, November 4th , I will be sitting in for Michael Patrick Shiels and guest hosting his show.  I’ve lined up some great guests and I hope you’ll make an effort to tune in.  So far I have confirmed the following guests:


Callista & New Gingrich

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

NY Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long

NRA President Jim Porter

…and more!


Obama Wins! Big Whoop. Can He Lead?

It looks like Obama plans to walk Republicans into another box canyon, this one of his making.


A wiser course would be to humbly accept the GOP’s terms of surrender and immediately leverage his advantage to end the budget fight that has polarized Washington. While Republicans are licking their wounds, Obama could announce an intense schedule of high-level budget meetings – daily, ideally. Rather than lecture lawmakers publicly, he could privately put his offer of modest entitlement cuts back on the table and declare his openness to do more. He could listen to Republicans – not for hours, but for days, if necessary.


If Obama could finagle a budget deal out of the GOP, voters would almost certainly welcome the break from gridlock. His declining approval ratings might reverse. Higher ratings might help him rescue his stalled agenda (including immigration reform) and a wilting legacy. Obama was right to call the GOP’s bluff: Bowing to their demands would have been poor politics for him and a poor precedent for future politics. But the country gained nothing beyond another short-term deal that punts the long-term problem. Now what?


Okay, we get it: Obama is a winning politician. What’s in serious doubt is whether he will be remembered as a successful president.





The Wisdom of ‘Mr. Republican’  What advice would Robert Taft have for the tea party and the GOP establishment?

What is the purpose of a party?


“A theater critic once said a critic is someone who knows where we want to go but can’t drive the car. That can apply here. It is the conservatives of the party, in my view, who’ve known where we want to go, and often given the best directions. The party is the car. Its institutions, including its most experienced legislators and accomplished political figures, with the support of the people, are the driver. You want to keep the car looking good. It zooms by on a country road, you want people seeing a clean, powerful object. You want to go fast, but you don’t want it crashing. You drive safely and try to get to your destination in one


In the current dispute, he says, “both sides have something to admit. The GOP will not be a victorious national party in the future without the tea party. The tea party needs the infrastructure, tradition, capabilities—the car—in order to function as a fully coherent and effective national entity.” He feels more sympathy toward the tea party than the establishment. “Their policy aims, while somewhat inchoate, seem on the right track. They need to be clearer about what they’re for—intellectually more ordered. They can’t lead with their hearts.”


The establishment? “My goodness—lobbyists, consultants. I gather there’s now something called hedge-fund billionaires.” The establishment has a lot to answer for. “What they gave the people the past 10 years was two wars and a depression. That loosened faith in institutions and left people feeling had. They think, ‘What will you give us next, cholera?'”


The tea party, in contrast, seems to him to be “trying to stand for a free citizenry in the age of Lois Lerner. They’re against this professional class in government that thinks we’re a nation of donkeys pulling their wingèd chariot.


“Their impatience with the status quo is right. Their sense of urgency is right. Their insight that the party in power has gone to the left of where America really is—right on that, too.”


But the tea party has a lot to learn, and quickly. “It’s not enough to feel, you need strategy. They need better leadership, not people interested in money, power and fame. Public service requires sacrifice. I see too many self-seekers there.


“The tea party should stop the insults—’RINO,’ ‘sellout,’ ‘surrender caucus.’ It’s undignified, and it’s not worthy of a serious movement. When you claim to be the policy adults you also have to be the characterological adults. Resentment alienates. An inability to work well with others does not inspire voters.”


They should remove the chip from their shoulder. “Stop acting like Little Suzie with her nose pressed against the window watching the fancy people at the party. You’ve arrived and you know it. Forget the obsession with Georgetown cocktail parties. There hasn’t been a good one since Allen Drury’s wake.” Taft paused: “You can Google him. He wrote a book.”


Most important? “I don’t like saying this but be less gullible. Many of your instincts are right but politics is drowning in money. A lot of it is spent trying to manipulate you, by people who claim to be sincere, who say they’re the only honest guy in the room. Don’t be the fool of radio stars who rev you up for a living. They’re doing it for ratings. Stop being taken in by senators who fund-raise off your anger. It’s good you’re indignant, but they use consultants to keep picking at the scab, not to move the ball forward, sorry to mix metaphors. And know your neighbors: Are they going to elect a woman who has to explain she isn’t a witch, or a guy who talks about ‘legitimate rape’? You’ll forgive politicians who are right in other areas, but your neighbors and the media will not. Get smart about this.


Don’t let the media keep killing your guys in the field. Make it hard for them. Enter primaries soberly. When you have to take out an establishment man, do. But if you don’t, stick with him but stiffen his spine.”





GOP blame game: Who lost the government shutdown?
The government shutdown saga has drawn to an end. The debate within the GOP about who blew it is just beginning.


Since before the federal government closed its doors on Oct. 1, leaders within the Republican coalition have been privately – and sometimes not-so-privately – squabbling over who should take the blame for the unfolding political smashup. Some in the party questioned whether a shutdown and debt-ceiling standoff would do noticeable damage to the GOP, but many more always believed this would turn into a prime-time fiasco.


The question racing around Washington now is: Have Republicans learned their lesson? Will the GOP finally understand that when you touch the stove, it burns?


Within Republican circles, however, there’s widespread disagreement about exactly what lesson the party might stand to learn. If there’s general consensus that the party got burned, there are already competing narratives on the right about whose hand it was that.




Debt Ceiling: How Much Is $16.699 Trillion?

A trillion dollars’ worth of $1 bills stacked on top of one another would reach about 67,000 miles (108,000 kilometers) high, according to Freakonomics. Therefore, $16.699 trillion of stacked $1 bills would be more than 1 million miles (1.6 million km) high — enough to stretch from the Earth to the moon four times and still have money left over.





Are Democrats more extreme than GOP?

Why aren’t the Democrats a party divided between a centrist mainstream and a more extreme, radicalized left?


Let us count the reasons: Barack Obama has taken the Democratic Party left of Clinton. He left blue-dog, centrist Democrats to be punished for his sins and they were wiped out in the GOP’s 2010 Congressional landslide. All the while, the Internet has empowered and organized the party’s remaining and most extreme elements. The Democratic Party can’t go left. It is left, in entirety. They already occupy America’s left fringe.


Bill Clinton’s New Democrats are dead. This is not Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party. Today’s Democratic Party belongs to Elizabeth Warren. It is the party that just nominated a Sandinista trainee who returned from Nicaragua with “a vision of unfettered leftist government” for mayor of New York City, according to the New York Times.


And today’s Democrats think this is a good thing.





Don’t Voters Get Things Right?

It’s tempting to begin by listing the many things that I liked about Ilya Somin’s Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter. But that could easily take up all of my allotted space and wouldn’t make for a particularly interesting back-and-forth. Nevertheless, I do wish to state up front that Ilya’s book is well worth reading for anyone interested in the problem of how a democracy can cope with an electorate that isn’t particularly interested in politics. It’s lucid, original, and in many ways compelling.


Ilya’s basic argument, at least as I interpret it, runs like this: The American public is deeply ignorant about politics; this is problematic for a functioning democracy; this is unlikely to change in the future; the best and fairest way to address this is to decrease the number of functions that government performs and to encourage people to “vote with their feet.”


I’m going to focus my questions and/or critiques on the beginning of Ilya’s argument: Are American voters really ignorant, at least in ways that matter? I should acknowledge up front that a lot of what I’m about to write is addressed to varying degrees at other points in Ilya’s book, but for purposes of our discussion, it seemed best to start with the argument laid out in Ilya’s précis here.





The Electoral Aftermath of the Shutdown

The consensus (more or less) among political analysts was that the GOP was likely to lose in the shutdown showdown, but was unlikely to suffer serious electoral consequences. The first prediction appears to be the case (but see Peter Beinart’s smart contrarian take). How about the second one?


It is early, but what evidence we have seems consistent with the idea that the GOP didn’t take on much electoral water from this loss. This isn’t to say that there isn’t any evidence that the shutdown hurt Republicans, but the idea that their prospects were seriously jeopardized is thin.

Start with Wednesday night’s Senate election in New Jersey. Democrat Cory Booker defeated Republican Steve Lonegan by just over 10 points, 54.6 percent to 44.3 percent. This result is right in the middle of previous Republican gubernatorial and Senate performances in the state (gubernatorial races are in odd years; Senate races are typically in even years):





Don’t Believe The Debt Ceiling Hype: The Federal Government Can Survive Without An Increase

Reaching the debt ceiling does not mean that the government will default on the outstanding government debt. In fact, the U.S. Constitution forbids defaulting on the debt (14th Amendment, Section 4), so the government is not allowed to default even if it wanted to.


In reality, if the debt ceiling is not raised in the next two weeks, the government will actually have to prioritize its expenses and keep its monthly, weekly, and daily spending under the revenue the government collects. In simple terms, the government would have to spend an amount less than or equal to what it earns. Just like ordinary Americans have to do in their everyday lives.


…If the fiscal conservatives in Congress need to threaten to cut up the government’s credit card in order to get the big spenders to realize it is time to get serious about bringing the budget toward balance, then so be it. Republicans should hold firm and get meaningful spending cuts and perhaps other legislative concessions in exchange for letting the national debt continue to grow.


If Republicans cannot get a worthwhile agreement, put the credit card in the freezer and let everyone learn a lesson for a little while. If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the country will not default on its debt. Social security checks will still go out on time. There will be spending cuts, but plenty of spending will continue. The country can survive for a while on a balanced budget. Perhaps we will be better off in the long run if government gets a little taste of what so many families have been experiencing for years: staying within a budget.





President Crisis and the Wishful Thinking Brigade

Obama’s reflexes, praised instinctive timing and audacious as a candidate, turn out to be poorly suited to high office. Obama has been mostly reactive and mostly captive to events. Veering here and there is part of being president. The world is big and dangerous and governance is hard. But watching Obama govern is like watching a distracted man flipping through television channels and all of it bad.


“If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”(flip) Never mind. (flip) We must bomb Syria now! (flip) Er, scratch that. (flip) Al Qaeda is on the run. (flip) It depends on what you mean by “core al Qaeda.” (flip)

Some of the crises have been self-inflected, and sometimes even intentional. Obama’s signature health law, for example, was born of a crisis in Congress. As support for the entitlement long sought by liberals was fracturing, even with Democrats in complete control of Washington, the president jammed the throttle down. The crisis of confidence demanded that a poorly constructed law be passed. Now! Now! Don’t think. Don’t read. Just vote.


That decision, of course, has led to other crises. The one playing out now is the risible implementation of the law. Democrats are all dripping with glib swipes about how Republicans have been waging a very messy civil war amid the partial government shutdown. But the Democrats are pushing their confident chuffles through gritted teeth. They know that the launch has been damaging, and if unrepaired, possibly fatal to the law. However the current budget debacle ends, the ObamaCare debacle has just begun.




Obama’s leadership proves presidency is no place for amateurs

“I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them,” Harry Truman once lamented. “That’s all the powers of the President amount to.”

As usual, the plain-speaking Truman got it right: presidential power is the power to persuade. Too bad the current occupant of the White House has never learned this basic lesson.


Barack Obama’s refusal to negotiate with the Republicans in Congress on the government shutdown is proof once again that he doesn’t understand the first thing about presidential leadership.


Strangely enough, this one-time constitutional lawyer fails to grasp the fact that the president of the United States does not obtain results by giving orders.





Simple Truth:  Government shutdown due to excessive federal spending

The news regarding the government shutdown resulting from the continuous and contentious political wrangling over the funding of the federal budget often focuses attention away from the essential reality of the current administration’s efforts in generating the impasse in Congress. Unsustainable federal spending to expand  and operate the expensive machinery of government is the underlying cause of the current financial breakdown.




Who Shut Down the Government? A MUST Read.

Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.


There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.


This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either.


You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.


Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.





Obamacare: Don’t trust anyone over 60?

Mandatory health coverage could be the catalyst for a new generational war.


The Republicans’ obsession with Obamacare has been variously described as a tactical ploy to preserve the semblance of unity in a divided party or as a fundraising magnet to raise money from the sort of folks who think President Obama is a reincarnation of Lenin. It may be either (or both). But the idea of closing down the government, and even threatening to precipitate a global credit crisis, over the healthcare law has been widely written off as myopia on the part of the live-free-or-die crowd.


We’re not so sure. Focusing on Obamacare in general, and mandatory coverage in particular, could prove a plausible strategy for broadening the anti-Obama coalition to include voters in their 20s and 30s by bringing attention to what economists call the “cross-subsidy” inherent in any insurance system based on mandatory coverage. And, with hindsight, it may yet be seen as the opening salvo in a generational war, one fed by the reality that older Americans are a rapidly growing burden on younger workers, who can ill afford it.





GOP seizes advantage on Obamacare, White House struggles to defend: An alternative history of the past two months

What if, instead of throwing its political energy into a failing effort to defund Obamacare, the Republican Party had spent the month of August, and then September, and now October, pounding the Obama administration on the arrival of the president’s national health care scheme? What if the days before October 1 had been filled with Republican predictions of calamity, and the days after filled with Republican exploitation of that calamity? If the GOP had taken that path, the party might be in a very different place than it is today. The White House, too.


Everyone knew the first of October would bring the opening of the Obamacare exchanges, and there was good reason to think the opening would be troubled. Why did Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, one of the architects of the law, express concern in April that the Obama administration was failing to prepare the public for what he feared might be a “train wreck”? Why did Gary Cohen, a key player in the Obamacare bureaucracy, say a month earlier that he worried the Obamacare exchanges would be “a Third World experience” for consumers? Why did President Obama delay the employer mandate? Why did the administration give up in advance on the task of verifying whether Obamacare subsidy recipients actually qualify for their subsidies, opening the door to the possibility of widespread fraud? And most importantly, why did the administration in July back away from President Obama’s famous claim that anyone satisfied with his or her health plan could keep it after the arrival of Obamacare, no matter what?


What if….





Policy and the G.O.P. Civil War

Yet at the same time, to the extent that policy differences are driving the current intra-G.O.P. fight, the populists tend to have 1) decent ideas and 2) a better sense than their establishment rivals of how to brand the party as something other than just a tool of rich people and business interests. Their strategy is disastrous, but their substance has something to recommend it. Which is part of the reason why it isn’t enough, for the Republicans to escape their current cul-de-sac, for the party leadership to “win” and the populist base to “lose” — let alone for the leadership to somehow jettison the base. Instead, somebody, somehow, has to both integrate and purge — leaving the Tea Party’s baggage by the roadside while continuing to speak to populist impulses and taking up populist ideas, and folding both into a strategic vision that’s more connected to political reality than what we’ve seen these last few weeks.




The Tea Party and the GOP Crackup Ted Cruz and his followers represent Jacksonian America: angry and in full revolt against a new elite

More than a decade ago, before the post-9/11 national fervor set in, Walter Russell Mead published an insightful essay on the persistent “Jacksonian tradition” in American society. Jacksonians, he argued, embrace a distinctive code, whose key tenets include self-reliance, individualism, loyalty and courage.

Jacksonians care as passionately about the Second Amendment as Jeffersonians do about the First. They are suspicious of federal power, skeptical about do-gooding at home and abroad; they oppose federal taxes but favor benefits such as Social Security and Medicare that they regard as earned. Jacksonians are anti-elitist; they believe that the political and moral instincts of ordinary people are usually wiser than those of the experts and that, as Mr. Mead wrote, “while problems are complicated, solutions are simple.”


That is why the Jacksonian hero defies the experts and entrenched elites and “dares to say what the people feel” without caring in the least what the liberal media will say about him. (Think Ted Cruz. )


The tea party is Jacksonian America, aroused, angry and above all fearful, in full revolt against a new elite—backed by the new American demography—that threatens its interests and scorns its values.





ObamaCare’s Serious Complications For the IRS alone, implementing the law involves 47 different statutory provisions.

From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, simplicity is the new watchword. Books with titles like “Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity” and “The Laws of Simplicity” are must reading in boardrooms. Companies aim for the elegance of Apple’s design and Google’s search box.


Then there’s ObamaCare.


The functional failures of the Affordable Care Act websites are well-documented, but the fundamental flaw is the law’s mind-numbing complexity. The officials who planned ObamaCare blame their Web engineers, but they’re passing the buck. ObamaCare is a hugely complicated approach to addressing problems in health care that have simpler solutions.


Software glitches are no surprise with such a complex system. For example, signing up uses a Byzantine process to check if a family is entitled to a subsidy, requiring data from dozens of federal and state agencies using databases built on different technology platforms.





Obama’s Phony Debt-Ceiling Claim: GOP ‘Risking Default

“This is not normal,” Obama said Saturday during his weekly address. “Our government is closed for the first time in 17 years. A political party is risking default for the first time since the 1700s. This is not normal. That’s why we have to put a stop to it. Not only because it’s dangerous, but because it saps everyone’s faith in our extraordinary system of self-government and that hurts us all.”


But there’s one problem with Obama’s assertion: Congress has been doing this since the 1970s, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. (Obama’s reference to risking default refers to raising the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, which must happen by Oct. 17.)


That’s right: 27 times since 1978, Congress has used raising the debt limit as leverage, the Congressional Research Service notes. This happened during budget negotiations for the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill, a 1989 measure on employer-benefits, and a 1979 measure repealing an oil-import fee. Not to mention the fight over the debt limit in 2011, during Obama’s first term, that resulted in the Budget Control Act.


Moreover, a study published in Public Administration Review in 1993 notes that using the debt ceiling as leverage became routine decades ago.

“Additionally during this period, the genesis of a pattern developed that would eventually become full blown in the mid-1970s and 1980s: the use of the debt ceiling vote as a vehicle for other legislative matters,” the study states.


Even The Washington Post gives Obama “four Pinocchios” for saying on Sept. 18, “You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt.”





How Michigan Rebuts Redistricting/Polarization Claims

Dave Weigel wrote a brief post on gerrymandering last Friday in response to my piece on the same topic. He used Michigan as an example of how Republicans were able to use redistricting to enhance their standing in the House, particularly by shoring up vulnerable members, thereby contributing to extremism.


Before responding, I think it’s important to note up front, as Weigel does, that this isn’t really a black-and-white issue, a fact that is easily glossed over. People run along a continuum of opinion regarding how much redistricting contributed to the GOP’s House majority and to polarization. We might place Tom Friedman at one pole, as he seemingly laid our increasingly divided nation at the feet of redistricting, Citizens United, and Fox News. At the other end are those political scientists who find little to no effect from redistricting. In the middle are people like Weigel, Charlie Cook, and myself, who think redistricting played a role, but who disagree — sometimes strongly — on the extent to which it mattered and how much other factors contributed.


From my point of view, redistricting helped Republicans gain between five and 10 seats that they wouldn’t have otherwise won, by shifting the median district rightward. But even this is more a function of polarization than a cause of it.





NY leads nation in tax exodus: $45.6B lost to other states

New York led the nation over the last decade in the exodus of people, a hit of $45.6 billion in personal income from New York’s economy, the national Tax Foundation found.


The report is similar to ones down by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, which has reported that New York is getting older and smaller.

California the second-largest income loser, down $29.4 billion, followed by Illinois, down $20.4 billion, according to the Tax Foundation, a business-backed conservative group.


The greatest beneficiary of the exodus from New York and other states have been, not surprisingly, Florida—followed by Arizona and Texas.





Debt Ceiling: China Calls for World to Be ‘De-Americanised’

China’s official news agency has called for the creation of a “de-Americanised world”, saying the destinies of people should not be left in the hands of a hypocritical nation with a dysfunctional government.

Heaping criticism and caustic ridicule on Washington, the Xinhua news agency called the US a civilian slayer, prisoner torturer and meddler in others’ affairs, and said the ‘Pax Americana’ was a failure on all fronts.

The official news agency of China, which is seen as the pretender to the world’s superpower crown, then rubbed in more salt, calling American economic pre-eminence just a seeming dominance.


“As US politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world,” the editorial said.

It asks why the self-declared protector of the world is sowing mayhem in the financial markets by failing to resolve political differences over key economic policy.






Nobody can know for months who ‘won’ the Battle of the Shutdown

We don’t know how this month’s drama will play out over the next 13 months, or how the reputations of its key actors will rise and fall. Our feelings about it and the mess it is just doesn’t tell us much.


Along with the lefty Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein (I interviewed him on my show Friday and the transcript is available at HughHewitt.com) and lefty pollster Nate Silver, I agree that it simply isn’t possible to predict the political consequences of this confrontation.


But unlike Klein and Silver, and at least a few very prominent conservative pundits and electeds, I am very happy it has occurred, and very satisfied with Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies who are accused of precipitating it.


I may be proven wrong, but I may be proven right. What won’t be debatable is that the stakes of the debate are very high and they are about very important subjects, far more important than whether the EPA is shuttered for three weeks or a fake debt limit of October 17th is passed.

The electorate will judge in a year. And they will remember who fought on the ramparts to stop Obamacare and the surrendering of Article I authority to a reckless and petulant president.





Park Service Paramilitaries The government has King John’s idea of public lands.

But the one place where a full-scale shutdown is being enforced is in America’s alleged “National Park Service,” a term of art that covers everything from canyons and glaciers to war memorials and historic taverns. The NPS has spent the last two weeks behaving as the paramilitary wing of the DNC, expending more resources in trying to close down open-air, unfenced areas than it would normally do in keeping them open. It began with the war memorials on the National Mall — that’s to say, stone monuments on pieces of grass under blue
sky. It’s the equivalent of my New Hampshire town government shutting down and deciding therefore to ring the Civil War statue on the village common with yellow police tape and barricades.





Obama’s Aimless Presidency Is Starting To Alienate His Most Die-Hard Of Supporters

Five years in, Obama’s presidency appears more divisive than decisive.  There is a high irony in this outcome for a candidate elected on promises of unity and change.  Yet the increasingly obvious pattern is that Obama is unwilling to make a tough decision and as a result, he not only alienates a growing number of voters, but an increasing number of his supporters.

Move up http://i.forbesimg.com t Move down


bama’s presidential campaign was explicit in its commitment to an administration both unifying and bold.  “Hope,” “Change we can believe in,” and “Yes we can!” promised a muscular agenda America could rally around.  And America did.




Brian Schweitzer Mulling 2016 Presidential Bid

Schweitzer’s tough-talking leadership style, anti-Washington ethos, and proven ability to win in a state that has not been friendly to his own party in presidential elections might draw Democratic comparisons to New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie, another 2016 presidential aspirant.

But the pro-gun, pro-coal policies that worked for Schweitzer so well in Montana would be a far tougher sell in a Democratic primary.


Another of Schweitzer’s most immediate challenges in mounting a serious campaign would be to build his name recognition against the universally known and already nearly anointed Clinton.


But in the interview with RCP, Schweitzer suggested that his down-home persona and knack for generating free media coverage might keep him in the hunt, particularly in Iowa — a state that has not been friendly territory for Clinton in the past.


“Who would’ve thunk Obama would come out of this thing when you had, my God, Dodd, Biden, Billy Richardson, Hillary Clinton,” Schweitzer said of the 2008 Democratic nominating contest. “So the nice thing about the people of Iowa is they ain’t going to let the rest of America make up their minds for them.”





Don’t Bury the Elephant

That’s the question under widespread scrutiny these days by pundits and politicians pondering the fallout from the partial government shutdown and related matters. And the conventional wisdom seems to be that the GOP could actually go under as a result of its role in the ongoing mess.

The conventional wisdom is wrong, as it so often is in Washington. True, the American people aren’t happy with the performance of House Republicans in the current imbroglio, and President Obama is thus positioned to score a tactical victory before the curtain falls on this latest shutdown drama. Indeed, the impact on Republicans in next year’s midterm elections could be quite negative.


But the course of American politics isn’t determined by such puny proclivities and silly-season scenarios as we’re witnessing in the nation’s capital today. Rather, it is driven by deep underlying questions about what kind of nation America is going to be and where the electorate wants to take it. No doubt the electorate doesn’t like the silly-season stuff, as polls amply demonstrate. But that’s secondary to the bigger questions facing the nation in a time of profound domestic and global transformation.





Burying the Republicans: The media’s rush to judgment

“What is happening in the Republican Party today is reminiscent of what happened to the Democrats in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At that time, the Democrats in Washington were faced by a grassroots revolt from the new left over the war in Vietnam and from the white South over the party’s support for civil rights. It took the Democrats over two decades to do undo the damage—to create a party coalition that united the leadership in Washington with the base and that was capable of winning national elections. The Republicans could be facing a similar split between their base and their Washington leadership, and it could cripple them not just in the 2014 and 2016 elections, but for decades to come.”


“But Obama and fellow Democrats, particularly Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who urged him over the summer to adopt a hard line and keep deal-making Vice President Joe Biden out of the mix, know that their unwillingness to give an inch dragged some of their most ardent Republican adversaries to the position of just wanting to end the pain. They also know that the GOP suffered even greater self-inflicted damage by letting the government shut down before coming to the conclusion that the public agreed with the president’s position.”


But Obama’s not all that popular either. And progress seems to have stalled since that piece was posted.


The big question is whether the shutdown will still resonate by the time the 2014 midterms roll around, not to mention when the GOP unites behind a 2016 presidential nominee.


The media love to reach grand conclusions and to pronounce last rites. But they also love comeback stories.





Goldwater-Rockefeller Redux

According to Gallup, approval of the Republican Party has sunk 10 points in two weeks to 28 percent, an all-time low. In the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, approval of the GOP has fallen to 24 percent.


In the campaign to persuade America of their Big Lie — that the House Republicans shut down the government — the White House and its media chorus appear to have won this round.


Yet, the truth is the Republicans House has voted three times to keep open and to fund every agency, department and program of the U.S. government, except for Obamacare.


And they voted to kill that monstrosity but once.


Republicans should refuse to raise the white flag and insist on an honorable avenue of retreat.

And if Harry Reid’s Senate demands the GOP end the sequester on federal spending, or be blamed for a debt default, the party should, Samson-like, bring down the roof of the temple on everybody’s head.


This is an honorable battle lost, not a war.





GOP isn’t learning from its mistakes

The costs have been pretty big to the GOP. This shutdown drove the Republican brand into the ground, with only 24 percent of Americans approving of the party’s performance. That may not hurt conservative senators from Alabama or Texas, but it is a nightmare for Republicans representing states like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. More troubling is just how divided this episode left us. I’m not sure how it happened but the Grand Old Party is now divided in two camps over something as grubby as legislative tactics.


That is the crazy thing about the GOP’s latest battle. As Jonah Goldberg noted in National Review, this is not an epic ideological battle between Rockefeller Republicans and Goldwater conservatives. It is instead a legislative skirmish between Republicans who oppose Obamacare and wanted to use a two-month continuing resolution as a legislative device to undermine the law, and on the other side those who oppose Obamacare but did not think that tactic would work.


This was a big, fat nothing-burger turned into a gladiatorial grudge match by a blizzard of 30-second ads and tactical ignorance. As the smoke clears, we now see a Republican Party holding on to its lowest ever ratings in both the Gallup and the NBC News/WSJ polls. There is enough blame to go around but the bottom line is this: Republicans will not win the White House back again until they unite behind a candidate who wins the vote of Ted Cruz and Colin Powell. The GOP used to manage that feat and that’s why nominees like Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon won 49 states against a hapless Democratic Party. Unless a unified Republican Party comes together, the conservative movement will keep getting blindsided by history, and what has happened before will come back to haunt us all once again.





Three myths about conservatives and criminal justice

Over the summer, Americans were embroiled in fierce debates about NSA surveillance, Syria, and—of course—ObamaCare. Attorney General Eric Holder’s August 12th address on criminal justice reform, however, hardly made a blip on the national radar.


Observers who were surprised by this fundamentally misunderstand conservative views on criminal justice. Indeed, Holder himself quite possibly misunderstands conservative views on the subject. Three bits of conventional wisdom on this topic are completely wrong.


Prominent conservatives like Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Ed Meese                         are committed to reducing the incarceration of many nonviolent offenders while also enhancing public safety through effective community corrections and law enforcement. After Holder’s August policy address, Grover Norquist and Richard Viguerie essentially asked, “What took you so long?”


Increasingly, conservatives argue that prisons are necessary to incapacitate violent and career criminals but sometimes grow excessively large and costly like other government programs.





A lesson on Cuba’s healthcare for Bill de Blasio

Among the items CNN  and their “medical expert” Gail Reed left out  of their report is that according to those same UN figures, in 1958 (the year prior to the glorious revolution), Cuba ranked 13th from the top, worldwide with the lowest infant-mortality rate. This meant that robustly capitalist pre-Castro Cuba had the 13thlowest infant-mortality rate in the world. This put her not only at the top in Latin America but atop most of Western Europe, ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Today all of these countries leave Communist Cuba in the dust, with much lower infant mortality rates.


And even plummeting from 13th (Capitalist) to 47th (Communist), Cuba’s “impressive” infant mortality rate is kept artificially low by Communist chicanery with statistics and by a truly appalling abortion rate of 0.71 abortions per live birth. This is the hemisphere’s highest, by far. Any Cuban pregnancy that even hints at trouble gets “terminated.”


In April 2001, Dr. Juan Felipe García, MD, of Jacksonville, Fla., interviewed several recent doctor defectors from Cuba. Based on what he heard, he reported the following:


“The official Cuban infant-mortality figure is a farce. Cuban pediatricians constantly falsify figures for the regime. If an infant dies during its first year, the doctors often report he was older. Otherwise, such lapses could cost him severe penalties and his job.”

More interesting (and tragic) still, the maternal mortality rate in Cuba is almost four times that of the U.S. rate (33 versus 8.4 per 1,000). Peculiar how so many mothers die during childbirth in Cuba, and how many one- to four-year-olds perish — while from birth to one year old (the period during which they qualify in UN statistics as infants) they’re perfectly healthy!

This might lead a few people to question Cuba’s official infant-mortality figures. But such people would not get a Havana bureau for their news agency (CNN, NBC, ABC, etc.) or get access to the Stalinist regime’s “medical “experts.”





China’s left-leaning politics at odds with a right-leaning economy

The launch of the experimental free trade zone in the commercial hub of Shanghai last week was a significant step for China. The project was approved by the State Council, the country’s cabinet, which made it clear that the zone will support the Chinese leadership’s national strategy.

The zone is expected to testbed market-oriented reforms and will explore new ways of reducing government interventions and open the Chinese economy to global investors. It will also aim to draw investment to the service sector, encourage the adoption of global trade and management practices, and expand and extend reform dividends through the promotion of globalization. Beijing also hopes the zone will promote market transparency through institutionalization.


Observers claim that the well-intentioned project, combined with the city’s economic hub status, will bring about great change. However, reform is threatened by uncertainties from outside the zone. Since the 18th National Congress last year, China has tilted more towards the left in the political arena. This attitude was manifested in its questioning of western practices and constitutional ideals and insisting on a “Chinese mode of development.”





The Russia Left Behind

A journey through a heartland on the slow road to ruin.  From St.  Petersburg to Moscow, a fascinating pictorial journey.





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