Thursday, May 31, 2012
Big Black Lab
They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.
But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to.
And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant.
They must've thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike.
I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice."
_________ _________ _________
To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. He knew something was different.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after them, so be careful. Don't do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones ---"sit," "stay," "come," "heel."
He knows hand signals, too: He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He's up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.
And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you...His name's not Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this ... well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is "Tank." Because, that is what I drive.
I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with ... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter ... in the "event" ... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.
If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.
All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank.
Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags have been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
"Hey, Tank," I said quietly.
The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months. "Tank," I whispered.
His tail swished.
I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me."
Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
"So whatdaya say we play some ball?"
His ears perked again.
"Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?"
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including their life.'
That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.
"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."
G. K. Chesterton
Posted by Brett at 12:35 PM
FIFTY YEAR OLD MANURE SPREADER - $1
(WASHINGTON , D.C.)
Craig's List advertisement.
Fifty-year old manure spreader. Not sure of brand. Said to have been produced in Kenya. Used for a few years in Indonesia before being smuggled into the US via Hawaii . Of questionable pedigree. Does not appear to have ever been worked hard. Apparently it was pampered by various owners over the years. It doesn't work very often, but when it does it can really sling the shit for amazing distances. I am hoping to retire the manure spreader next November.
I really don't want it hanging around getting in the way. I would prefer a foreign buyer to relocate the manure spreader out of the country. I would be willing to trade it for a nicely framed copy of the United States Constitution.
Location: Currently being stored in a big white house in Washington , D.C.
Posted by Brett at 12:32 PM
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
by Burt Prelutsky
Recently,I wrote a piece in which I pleaded with Mitt Romney to toss away his copy of the Marquis of Queensbury rules and to stop playing defense in his battle with Obama and his gang of dirty tricksters. We saw what happened to John McCain when he tried to remain above the fray and prohibit his supporters from even mentioning Obama’s ties to Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, William Ayers, Valerie Jarrett and Van Jones, and we don’t need a repeat of his patty cake campaign.
I’m not suggesting that Mr. Romney play dirty, but that he constantly keep Harry Truman’s words in mind. In the 1948 presidential race, Truman pretty much ignored his GOP rival, Tom Dewey, and ran, as Obama will try to, against what he called a do-nothing Congress. When people urged Truman to keep giving the Republicans hell, he said he merely tells the truth, and they think it’s hell.
But it’s not just Romney who is reluctant to recognize that all’s fair in love and war, and this election is about as close to existential for America as anything since World War II. If Obama wins, it’s not just that the economy will be forever destroyed, but Israel will be left to the unmerciful mercy of Islam and our own Supreme Court will be skewed so far to the Left that FDR’s attempt to pack the Court will look amateurish.
It’s Republicans in general who insist on bringing a water pistol to a gun fight.
I realize that the Left has a great many more megaphones than we conservatives have, but we still have our blogs; a few people, such as Bret Baier, Steve Hayes, Charles Krauthammer, Bernie Goldberg, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Brit Hume, at Fox. Plus, we pretty much control talk radio, which is why the other side is constantly trying to find ways to get the FCC to nullify the First Amendment when it comes to our freedom of speech.
But why do we stand by while the Left demonizes decent rich people like Frank Vandersloot, the Koch brothers and Mitt Romney? Why aren’t we ridiculing wealthy left-wing hypocrites like Rosie O’Donnell, George Clooney, Jeffrey Immelt, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Rockefeller, Barbara Boxer and Barack Obama? And let us not forget George Soros, the man who’s so easy to demonize because his face, his voice and his personal history, are exactly what I have in mind when I try to visualize Satan.
When those on the Left strong arm sponsors into deserting people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, why aren’t we doing the same to those companies sponsoring the likes of Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, Al Sharpton and the rest of that creepy crew at MSNBC? For one thing, a lot of those lefties are college kids, the unemployed and folks on welfare. Who do you think sponsors are more likely to take seriously, millions of Republican adults with money to spend or the young, grungy hooligans who make up the Occupy Wall Street movement?
For that matter, when union thugs and Team Obama force a recall election on Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, why aren’t we doing the same to California’s Jerry Brown or North Carolina’s Bev Perdue? Governor Brown first told us we had a six billion dollar deficit, but, recently, while demanding a billion dollar tax hike, he has now decided the deficit is twice as large as he had first thought.
Governor Perdue recently said that, thanks to the 61% of North Carolinians who voted to ensure that marriage be limited to one man and one women, not only was she personally embarrassed, but that the entire country was so traumatized that we had begun to confuse North Carolina with Mississippi.
That’s a patent lie. Mississippi, after all, was wise enough to elect a Republican governor, Phil Bryant, whereas North Carolinians decided a few years earlier to elect its first female governor, a bonehead named Perdue, who made it one of her first orders of business to veto a law making it mandatory to show a photo I.D. when voting.
That leads me to wonder if perhaps it’s high time that we stopped using elections as a way in which to conduct social engineering. North Carolinians decided they would feel good about themselves if they elected their first female governor. At about the same time, Americans decided they would feel good about themselves if they elected their first black president.
All I can say is that not since Dr. Frankenstein pulled that unfortunate switch in his cellar have experiments gone this haywire.
To read another article by Burt Prelutsky, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:16 PM
By Doug Bandow on 5.31.12 @ 6:08AM
Religious intolerance is on the rise even in Kuwait, America's best friend in the Arab world.
KUWAIT CITY -- Many of America's biggest security threats emanate from its nominal allies, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Without them neither the Taliban nor al Qaeda would have been nearly so strong.
These countries also are hostile to religious minorities. Other malefactors include Iraq, where the government is a creation of U.S. invasion, and Afghanistan, where the government survives only with allied military support.
Religious intolerance is on the rise even in Kuwait, perhaps America's best friend in the Arab world.
Until now Christians have worshipped freely in the Persian Gulf state. However, growing threats to religious minorities reflect public attitudes which could undermine the heretofore close U.S.-Kuwait relationship.
Saudi Arabia long has promoted the worst forms of religious intolerance. Spiritual liberty simply doesn't exist. The country is essentially a totalitarian state. The government claims the right to decide the most fundamental questions involving every individual's conscience.
The State Department's latest report on religious freedom observed: "The laws and policies restrict religious freedom, and in practice, the government generally enforced these restrictions. Freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law and is severely restricted in practice." At best non-Sunni Muslims can hope to be left alone when they worship privately. The group Open Doors placed Saudi Arabia on its "World Watch List," noting simply that "religious freedom does not exist in this heartland of Islam where citizens are only allowed to adhere to one religion."
Earlier this year the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom tagged the kingdom as a "country of particular concern." The Commission found that "systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom continued despite improvements." A decade after 9/11, "the Saudi government has failed to implement a number of promised reforms related to promoting freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief. The Saudi government persists in banning all forms of public religious expression other than that of the government's own interpretation of one school of Sunni Islam."
Although Saudi Arabia is the most important Gulf State, it is uniquely intolerant. Most of its neighbors, like Kuwait, allow greater diversity of thought and action. That relative liberality does not go down well in Saudi Arabia.
The Wahhabist Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Asheikh oversees every Sunni Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia. He recently stated that it is "necessary to destroy all the churches of the region."
This judgment came in response to a question from a Kuwaiti delegation of the Wahhabist "Revival of Islamic Heritage Society." Al-Asheikh cited the Hadith, an oral commentary on Mohammad's life, which includes the Prophet's injunction that "There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula." Al-Asheikh's opinion has not been publicized in Saudi Arabia, but his pronouncement already is law there. No Christian churches exist to be torn down.
This is not the case in the rest of the Persian Gulf. "Christian churches, Hindu temples and Buddhist shrines are found in Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen," noted Irfan al-Alawi of the Gatestone Institute. In Kuwait there were three churches -- Catholic, Coptic, and Evangelical -- within two blocks of the hotel at which stayed. A few years back I interviewed ministers at all three.
In general their relations with the government were very good. The late Jerry Zandstra, then the senior minister at the National Evangelical Church, told me, "We've never had any serious interference at all." The government recently granted a permit to the Catholic Church to construct a new facility. Bishop Camillo Ballin, head of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, noted that he had "never experienced enmity" while acting in Kuwait.
Of course, not all is perfect. The State Department reported occasional problems and explained: "The constitution protects freedom of belief, although other laws and policies restrict the free practice of religion." Most important, religions "not sanctioned in the Qur'an," such as Buddhism and Hinduism, "could not build places of worship or other religious facilities," reported State, though worship in private homes was allowed.
When asked about Al-Asheikh's recommendation, Jamal Al-Shahab, Kuwait's Minister of Religious Endowments, responded that "the constitution of Kuwait guarantees its citizens [freedom of] religion and worship" and that "Demolishing churches and forbidding the members of the Christian community from worshipping contravenes the state's laws and regulations." The issue was not even mentioned when I visited in February to cover the National Assembly election. Government officials obviously were committed to a society that was both open and Muslim.
However, the election delivered a new Islamist majority in parliament. The Emir is head of state and chooses the government, but the 50 member National Assembly passes laws and interrogates ministers. Charges of corruption led to the resignation of the prime minister and dissolution of parliament. Western-leaning liberals were decimated while 34 Islamists were elected.
It's not the same as an Islamist takeover in, say, Pakistan, or even what might happen in Egypt. Kuwait is a small society in which most everyone seems to know or is otherwise connected with everyone. Many Islamists, including some who I met, were seen more as moderate government critics than intolerant crusaders.
Yet it didn't take long for the new majority to press for policies contrary to Kuwait's record of openness. The Islamist group -- formal parties do not exist -- proposed amending the constitution to make Sharia the source of law. The Emir said no, but he did accept legislation to impose the death penalty on Muslims for blasphemy (non-Muslims remained subject to a fine and imprisonment).
Worse, just a couple weeks after the election MP Osama Al-Monawer proposed drafting a law to turn Al-Asheikh's pronouncement into law. Explained Al-Monawer: "Kuwait is an Islamic country where churches are not permitted to be built." An Islamist cleric in Kuwait, Sheikh Saleh Al-Ghanem, backed the parliamentarian, arguing that according to Mohammed no non-Islamic "religion may be practiced in the Arabian Peninsula." And Al-Asheikh endorsed the proposal, explaining that "Kuwait is part of the Arabian Peninsula, and [countries in] the Arabian Peninsula must demolish any churches" because "the Prophet instructed us that there is no place for two religions" in the Peninsula. If such a measure was enacted, Kuwait would suddenly look a lot like Saudi Arabia.
Al-Monawer's threat may have been triggered by the issuance of the construction permit to the Catholic Church. Rumors also circulated -- though they are impossible to confirm -- that a member of the ruling family had converted to Christianity. In any case, Al-Monawer's initiative was greeted with substantial criticism. Kuwaiti religion minister Al-Shabab explained that "the constitution of Kuwait guarantees its citizens [freedom of] religion and worship, and Islam is well known as a tolerant religion. Demolishing churches and forbidding the members of the Christian community from worshipping contravenes the state laws and regulation."
Commentators ranging from political to academic to journalistic criticized the proposal on theological and legal grounds. Some also made the obvious point that Kuwait and other Islamic nations could hardly complain about Western strictures against Islam if Muslim nations were destroying Christian churches.
Under pressure Al-Monawer backed down slightly, limiting his proposal, advanced by the new Al-Adala or "Justice" Bloc in parliament, to a ban on the construction of any new facilities. A fellow MP explained that "Kuwait already has an excessive number of churches compared to the country's Christian minority." Kuwait would avoid the PR disaster of demolishing churches while sharply constricting the Christian community and rolling up the welcome mat for believers, who form an important part of the large foreign work community.
However, without government approval the measure was doomed. In March Al-Adala tabled the proposal, though Al-Monawer indicated that he wanted to question the religion minister over the new church permit. Another Bloc member, Mohammad Hayef, said the approval was "a mistake" which "will not go unnoticed."
Although Kuwaiti Christians reacted with relief to the legislation's apparent demise, they remained cautious. Bishop Ballin refused to be interviewed out of fear of speaking to the press. Bishop Paul Hinder, who heads the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, explained that the situation in Kuwait has "become critical." He added that Bishop Ballin was "in a particularly delicate situation. People should remember we are living here and have to proceed very carefully."
For now, at least, the threat of actual religious persecution in Kuwait has passed. The government deserves credit: the ruling family remains committed to a forward-looking and open country. Long noted for its generally free press and fair elections, Kuwait remains a tolerant society as well.
Nevertheless, unsettling popular currents are running strongly through a population that remains very friendly to America. The fact that the most powerful parliamentary faction contemplated passing legislation to shut every Christian church -- and had the votes to do so -- offers a warning if Kuwait eventually becomes a full parliamentary democracy, as some Kuwaitis desire. If final political decisions in Kuwait were made by an elective prime minister rather than a hereditary emir, every Christian church in the country might have been demolished by now.
Kuwait remains Washington's best friend in the Persian Gulf. However, shared interests do not guarantee shared values. And a lack of shared values could end up threatening shared interests. As with Saudi Arabia.
The latest parliamentary election results should serve as Thomas Jefferson's famed "fire bell in the night." The Islamist tide in Kuwait is likely to recede, as it has done before. If not, however, Kuwait could turn into Saudi Arabia-lite. Americans can ill afford another nominal ally that promotes the forces of violent intolerance worldwide.
To read another article by Doug Bandow, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:02 PM
By Jeffrey Lord on 5.31.12 @ 6:11AM
John F. Kennedy, the father of the Reagan Democrats, would have been 95 this week.
May 29th of this week marked John F. Kennedy's 95th birthday.
Had he never gone to Dallas, had he the blessings of long years like his 105 year old mother Rose, the man immutably fixed in the American memory as a vigorous 40-something surely would be seen in an entirely different light.
If JFK were alive today?
Presuming his 1964 re-election, we would know for a fact what he did in Vietnam. We would know for a fact what a second-term Kennedy domestic program produced. And yes, yes, all those torrent of womanizing tales that finally gushed into headlines in the post-Watergate era (and still keep coming, the tale of White House intern Mimi Alford recently added to the long list) would surely have had a more scathing effect on his historical reputation had he been alive to answer them.
But he wasn't.
As the world knows, those fateful few seconds in Dallas on November 22, 1963 not only transformed American and world history. They transformed JFK himself into an iconic American martyr, forever young, handsome and idealistic. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination--and in spite of all the womanizing tales, in spite of the passage of now almost half a century--John F. Kennedy is still repeatedly ranked by Americans as among the country's greatest presidents. In the American imagination, JFK is historically invincible
All of this comes to mind not simply as JFK's 95th birthday came and went this week with remarkably little fanfare.
As readers of The American Spectator are well familiar, TAS founder and Editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. has a new book out in which he details The Death of Liberalism.
Once upon a time -- in 1950 -- Bob Tyrrell notes that the liberal intellectual Lionel Trilling could honestly open his book The Liberal Imagination with this sentence:
In the United States at this time Liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition.
It was true in 1950 -- and it was still true on the day John F. Kennedy's motorcade began to make its way through the streets of Dallas.
It was still true a year later, when Kennedy's successor Lyndon Johnson swamped the GOP's conservative nominee Barry Goldwater.
But something had happened by 1964. Something Big. And it's fair to wonder on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's 95th birthday if in fact that Something Big would ever have happened at all if Kennedy had not been in Lee Harvey Oswald's gun sight that sunny November day almost 49 years ago.
In short, one wonders. Did the bullets that killed JFK hit another target -- liberalism itself? Unlike JFK, not killing liberalism instantly but inflicting something else infinitely more damaging than sudden death? Or, as Tyrrell puts it, inflicting "a slow, but steady decline of which the Liberals have been steadfastly oblivious."
While LBJ would ride herd on American liberalism for another year, in fact the dominant status of liberalism in both politics and culture that Trilling had observed in 1950 had, after JFK's murder, curiously begun to simply fade. Not unlike Alice in Wonderland's Cheshire cat, leaving nothing behind but a grin. Writes Tyrrell:
Yet Liberals, who began as the rightful heirs to the New Deal, have carried on as a kind of landed aristocracy, gifted but doomed.
The new book in Robert Caro's biographical series, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power has received considerable attention for Caro's detailed depiction of LBJ's transition from powerful Senate Majority Leader to a virtual impotence as Kennedy's vice president. But there's a clue in this book as to the future decline of liberalism that is completely overlooked (and wasn't published until after Tyrrell's). A clue that revolves around the treatment of Vice President Johnson by Kennedy insiders and JFK's Washington admirers -- a treatment, it is important to note, that was never ever exhibited by JFK himself.
While Kennedy gave strict orders that LBJ was to be treated at all times with the respect due his office -- and this was in an era when vice presidents customarily went unused by presidents, a fate that had befallen all vice presidential occupants from the nation's first, John Adams, to Johnson -- there was something else bubbling just below the surface in the Washington that was the Kennedy era.
Robert Caro describes it this way:
Washington had in many ways always been a small town, and in small towns gossip can be cruel, and the New Frontiersmen -- casual, elegant, understated, in love with their own sophistication ("Such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not", recalls Ashton Gonella) -- were a witty bunch, and wit does better when it has a target to aim at, and the huge, lumbering figure of Lyndon Johnson, with his carefully buttoned-up suits and slicked-down hair, his bellowing speeches and extravagant, awkward gestures, made an inevitable target. "One can feel the hot breath of the crowd at the bullfight exulting as the sword flashes into the bull," one historian wrote. In the Georgetown townhouses that were the New Frontier's social stronghold "there were a lot of small parties, informal kinds, dinners that were given by Kennedy people for other Kennedy people. You know, twelve people in for dinner, all part of the Administration," says United States Treasurer Elizabeth Gatov. "Really, it was brutal, the stories that they were passing, and the jokes and the inside nasty stuff about Lyndon." When he mispronounced "hors d'oeuvres" as "whore doves," the mistake was all over Georgetown in what seemed an instant.
Johnson's Texas accent was mocked. His proclivity for saying "Ah reckon," "Ah believe," and saying the word "Negro" as "nigrah." On one occasion of a white tie event at the White House, Caro writes of LBJ that "he wore, to the Kennedy people's endless amusement, not the customary black tailcoat but a slate-gray model especially sent up by Dallas' Neiman-Marcus department store." The liberals populating the Kennedy administration and Washington itself were people with an affinity for words, and they began to bestow on Johnson -- behind his back -- nicknames such as "Uncle Cornpone" or "Rufus Cornpone." Lady Bird Johnson was added to the game, and the Johnsons as a couple were nicknamed "Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop."
None of this, Caro notes, was done by John Kennedy himself. JFK had an instinctive appreciation for Johnson's sense of dignity, and he thought Lady Bird "neat." This is, in retrospect, notable.
Let's rocket ahead now to what Bob Tyrrell calls The Death of Liberalism. In particular the numbers -- polling data. Tyrrell spends an entire chapter discussing polling data, as well he should. His findings are the ultimate teachable moment as we settle into the 2012 Obama-Romney race.
By 1968 -- five years after the death of JFK and in the last of the five years of the Johnson presidency -- the number of "self-identified" conservatives began to climb. Sharply. The Liberal dominance Lionel Trilling had written about had gone, never to this moment to return. Routinely now in poll after poll that Tyrrell cites -- and there are plenty of others he doesn't have room to cite -- self-identified liberals hover at about 20% of the American body politic. Outnumbered more than two-to-one by conservatives, with moderates bringing up the remainder in the middle.
What happened in those five years after JFK's death?
One very compelling thing.
The attitude toward Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson that was evidenced by Kennedy's liberal leaning staff, by the Washington Georgetown set, by Washington journalists -- slowly seeped into the sinews of liberalism itself.
Recall Caro's descriptions of people who were "in love with their own sophistication," who were "such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not." Think of the snotty arrogance displayed as these people laughed at LBJ's accent, his mispronunciations, his clothes, his wife ("Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop").
Slowly, and then not so slowly, these elitist, arrogant and if not outright snotty attitudes sought out a new target during the years when LBJ was sitting in the White House -- when, in the view of these people, "Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop" had replaced the King and Queen of Camelot.
That new target?
The American people themselves. They had, after all, elected LBJ in a landslide in 1964. Now Uncle Cornpone was the elected President of the United States. To make matters more unbearable, LBJ was using his newfound power and popularity to actually pass the liberal agenda of the day, which Johnson labeled "The Great Society." Uncle Cornpone, it seemed, wasn't such a ridiculous figure after all when it came to getting the liberal wish list through the Congress.
No one better than JFK would have known instantly what a huge mistake this elitist attitude would be. Discussing the relationship of a presidential candidate with the American people, JFK had told historian and friend Theodore H. White, author of The Making of the President series, that, in White's re-telling, "a man running for the Presidency must talk up, way up there." It was a principle Kennedy surely would have applied to his own party -- and did so while he was president. Not from JFK was there a drop of elitist contempt -- from a man who unarguably could claim the title in a blink -- for his fellow countrymen.
But in a horrifying flash, JFK was gone. And the elitist tide spread.
Slowly this contempt for the American people spread to institutions that were not government, manifesting itself in a thousand different ways. It infected the media, academe and Hollywood, where stars identified with middle-America like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball were eclipsed in the spotlight by leftists like Warren Beatty and Jane Fonda.
The arms-linked peaceful civil rights protests led by Christian ministers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr gave way to bombings and violent demonstrations against the Vietnam War led by snooty, well-educated white left-wing kids like Bill Ayers. The great American middle class -- from which many of these educated kids had sprung -- was trashed in precisely the fashion LBJ had been trashed. For accents, clothing styles, housing choices (suburbs and rural life were out) food, music, the love of guns, choice of cars, colleges, hair styles and more. Religion itself could not escape, Christianity to be mocked, made into a derisive laughingstock. The part of America between New York and California became known sneeringly as "flyover country.
As time moved on, these attitudes hardened, taking on colors, colors derived from election night maps where red represented conservative, Republican or traditional candidates and blue became symbolic of homes to Liberalism.
Red States. Blue States.
Liberal candidates hoping to carry Red States or even Purple States had to hide the contempt they felt for their own constituents. When Governor Bill Clinton's wife Hillary snapped in a 60 Minutes interview over her husband's infidelities that:
You know, I'm not sitting here -- some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.
-- the Clinton campaign quickly swung into damage control mode, an apology as quickly forthcoming.
Sixteen years later it was Barack Obama's turn, the candidate caught on audio tape describing Pennsylvania voters to a fundraising audience of rich, fashionable San Francisco liberals as:
bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
The Obama and Hillary Clinton expressions were about as far as one could get from JFK's conception that when running for president one has to talk "way up there" to the American people.
By now, millions of Americans have come to see the elitism that once was directed privately at LBJ in Georgetown salons as an ingrained characteristic of Liberalism. Even NBC's Tom Brokaw is getting antsy at the insiderdom on televised display at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Think of the treatment of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin versus that afforded Hillary Clinton. The treatment of Clarence Thomas -- versus Barack Obama.
Self-identify with that kind of treatment? Of course not. Compounding the problem for liberals is that this attitude is linked to what Tyrrell accurately calls Obama's "Stealth Socialism." And the combination of the two is proving to be politically deadly.
Here's a JFK-Obama contrast.
In 1960, JFK determined that if he were to win the Democratic nomination he would in fact have to win the West Virginia primary. Why West Virginia? Because Kennedy was Catholic, no Catholic had ever been elected president -- and West Virginia was heavily Protestant. It was a knock-down, drag-out fight -- a furious battle against Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey. In an upset, a legend in West Virginia politics to this day, JFK won. By emphasizing his PT-109 heroism in World War II and his support of coal mining -- and coal miners.
What happened the other day in the West Virginia Democratic primaries? That's right. A Texas prison inmate named Keith Judd paid the $2,500 filing fee to get his name on the ballot opposing Obama -- getting 40% of the vote. Why this particular humiliation? Right again. The President's "Stealth Socialism" -- specifically in West Virginia his energy and environmental policies -- are seen by West Virginians as savaging the state's coal industry. A world away from the JFK approach.
And let's not forget the double standard that elitist liberals in the media love when it comes to their fellow countrymen.
What was one of the most notable stylistic aspects of the Kennedy presidency that had Georgetown parlors and the liberal media of the day swooning with admiration?
Exactly. They loved Jackie Kennedy -- specifically they absolutely adored that the First Lady was an accomplished horsewoman. Scenes like this video of Jackie riding with her children in the Virginia hunt country - as JFK watched from nearby -- were staples of the liberal media, the only media, of the day. If one grew up in the Kennedy era it is recognized instantly, particularly the scene where Caroline's horse "Macaroni" is nibbling on JFK as the President laughs. Horseback riding as Mrs. Kennedy pursued it was an expensive hobby then -- as now. And this fact was lavishly presented to the American public as a sign of class -- both financial class and as in "classy."
What was the big story about Ann Romney the other day? Take a look at Breitbart.com where they have neatly caught onto the sneering elitism that is falsely ascribed to Ann Romney because -- yes indeed -- just like Jackie Kennedy, Ann Romney rides horses. With one very big difference. In Mrs. Romney's case horseback riding was prescribed as therapy for her multiple sclerosis. Now, however, as was true with a big front page story in the New York Times, Republican Ann Romney is involved with a "rarified sport." Translation: Mrs. Romney is a snob. What's fabulous for Jackie is snooty for Ann.
Which leads us back to where we began.
Had John F. Kennedy been alive and well this week, celebrating his 95th birthday, one can only wonder whether liberalism would have survived with him.
This is, after all, the president who said in cutting taxes that a "rising tide lifts all boats." Becoming The favorite presidential example (along with Calvin Coolidge) of no less than Ronald Reagan on tax policy. This is, after all, the president who ran to the right of Richard Nixon in 1960 on issues of national security.
In fact, many of those who voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960 would twenty years later vote for Ronald Reagan. One famous study of Macomb County, Michigan found 63% of Democrats in that unionized section of autoworker country voting for JFK in 1960. In 1980, same county, essentially the same Democrats -- 66% voted for Reagan. The difference? Liberalism was dying.
There is a term of political art for these millions of onetime JFK voters -- a term used still today: Reagan Democrats. It is not too strong a statement to say that in point of political fact John F. Kennedy was the father of the Reagan Democrats.
Would JFK have let the arrogant liberal elitism that was bubbling under the surface of his own administration metastasize to so many American institutions -- including his own party -- had he lived?
Would he have sat silently as the liberal culture turned against the vast American middle and working blue collar class and its values, sending JFK voters into the arms of Republicans in seven out of twelve of the elections following his own?
Would he have fought the subtle but distinct change of his famous inaugural challenge from "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" to what it has now become: "ask not what you can do for your country, ask what service your government can provide you?"
We will never know.
But there is every reason to believe, after all these decades, that, to use the title of JFK biographer William Manchester's famous book, The Death of a President, brought another, quite unexpected death in its wake.
The Death of Liberalism.
To read another article by Jeffrey Lord, click here.
To read another article about JFK, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:19 AM
By Peter Ferrara on 5.30.12 @ 6:09AM
Yes, Obama's spending binge did happen -- all of it, like Obama's unprecented deficits, on his watch.
Obama campaign operative Rex Nutting surprised a lot of people with an article on the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch website claiming that the "Obama Spending Binge Never Happened." Adding a new chapter to Aesop's Fables, Nutting fantasized that "under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s."
Just like if Jack in the Beanstalk and the Jolly Green Giant both eat the same feast, the percentage weight gain for the Giant will be so much smaller than for Jack. Or as the Journal's editorial page explained it in its weekend May 26-27 edition, "This is like an alcoholic claiming that his rate of drinking has slowed because he had only 22 beers today and 25 beers yesterday."
Nutting does not offer evidence in his article that he has any idea what he is talking about. But he seems to have been fed some storyline by Nancy Pelosi, who is to Sarah Palin what Dorothy's Strawman was to Sherlock Holmes.
Nutting's confusion is what he claims as his insight -- that George W. Bush's last fiscal year was 2009. Fiscal year 2009 ran from October 1, 2008 until September 30, 2009. Most 4th graders could spot the error.
Sure federal spending grew more slowly after Obama's first year starting on January 20, 2009. But it was that first year that began the wildest spending binge in world history, "under Obama."
Nutting begins his stumbling by explaining to us, "What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress." Not exactly.
The previous administration, or President, proposes a budget. The previous Congress approves a budget. And what Congress approves can be radically different from what the President proposes.
For fiscal year 2009, President Bush in February, 2008 proposed a budget with a 3 percent spending increase over the prior year. But Nutting seems to have no memory that the
Congress in 2008 was controlled by Democrat majorities, with the renowned budget skinflint Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and the restless Senator Obama already running for President, just four years removed from his glorious career as a state Senator in the Illinois legislature.
As Hans Bader reported on May 26 for the more careful Washington Examiner, the budget approved and implemented by Pelosi, Obama, and the rest of the Congressional Democrat majorities provided for a 17.9 percent increase in spending for fiscal 2009! Not that President Bush was a fiscal conservative. Far from it. But Obama and Pelosi have served as drunken sailors to Bush's comparative Boy Scout on the issue.
Actually, Obama and the Democrats were even more deeply involved in the fiscal 2009 spending explosion than that. As Bader also reports, "The Democrat Congress [in 2008], confident Obama was going to win in 2008, passed only three of fiscal 2009's 12 appropriations bills (Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security). The Democrat Congress passed the rest of them [in 2009], and [President] Obama signed them." So Obama played a very direct role in fiscal 2009 spending that Obama operative Nutting, working hand in glove with the campaign, hides in his short story for MarketWatch.
Reagan v. Obama
But poor President Obama pleads that when he came into office in January 2009, he was just unable to do anything about the Animal House, binge drinking, frat party he and Pelosi ordered up for the year, with Rep. Barney Frank co-starring as John Belushi. Unlike when a real adult came into office in January, 1981. Then President Reagan didn't just go along with the wild spending binge of the previous Democrat Congress when he came into office in fiscal year 1981.
Too bad almost no one remembers the much vilified at the time 1981 Reagan budget cuts, the new president's first major legislative initiative. Then Democrat Rep. Phil Gramm joined with Ohio Republican Del Latta to push through the Democrat House $31 billion in Reagan proposed budget cuts to the fiscal year 1981 budget, which totaled $681 billion, resulting in a cut of nearly 5 percent in that budget. But that is actual history, while Nutting seems to be more of a novelist.
Reagan then ramped up the spending cuts from there. In nominal terms, non-defense discretionary spending actually declined by 7.1 percent from 1981 to 1982. But roaring inflation at the time actually masks the true magnitude of the Reagan spending cut achievement. In constant dollars, non-defense discretionary spending declined by 14.4 percent from 1981 to 1982, and by 16.8 percent from 1981 to 1983. Moreover, in constant dollars, this non-defense discretionary spending never returned to its 1981 level for the rest of Reagan's two terms! By 1988, this spending was still down 14.4 percent from its 1981 level in constant dollars.
Even with the Reagan defense buildup, which, remember, won the Cold War without firing a shot, total federal spending as a percentage of GDP declined from a high of 23.5 percent of GDP in 1983 to 21.3 percent in 1988 and 21.2 percent in 1989. That's a real reduction in the size of government relative to the economy of 10 percent. That is a huge achievement.
In sharp contrast to Reagan (of course), Obama's first major legislative initiative was the so-called stimulus, which increased future federal spending by nearly a trillion dollars, the most expensive legislation in history up till that point. We know now, as thinking people knew at the time, that this record shattering spending bill only stimulated government spending, deficits and debt. Contrary to official Democrat Keynesian witchcraft, you don't promote economic recovery, growth, and prosperity by borrowing a trillion dollars out of the economy to spend a trillion dollars back into it.
Obama's Spending Binge
But that was just a warm up for the Swedish socialist in American drag. Obama worked with Pelosi's Democrat Congress to pass an additional, $410 billion, supplemental spending bill for fiscal year 2009! As Ann Coulter, far sharper than Nutting and relying on far better economists, explains, "Obama didn't come in and live with the budget Bush had approved. He immediately signed off on enormous spending programs that had been specifically rejected by Bush. This included a $410 billion spending bill that Bush refused to sign before he left office. Obama signed it on March 10, 2009." But in the fairy tale by Nutting, who appears to have been a lot more than one toke over the line when authoring his story, that spending is attributed to the evil and notorious President Bush.
Next in 2009 came a $40 billion expansion in the SCHIP entitlement program, as if we didn't already have way more than too much entitlement spending. But that was just a warm-up to the biggest single spending bill in world history, Obamacare, enacted in March, 2010. That legislation, not yet even counted in Obama's spending record so far because it mostly does not go into effect until 2014, is now scored by CBO as increasing federal spending by $1.6 trillion in the first 10 years alone, with trillions more to come in future years. Indeed, as explained in detail in my 2011 book, America's Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb, that is surely still a gross underestimate.
After just one year of the Obama spending binge, federal spending had already rocketed to 25.2 percent of GDP, the highest in American history except for World War II. That compares to 20.8 percent in 2008, and an average of 19.6 percent during Bush's two terms. The average during President Clinton's two terms was 19.8 percent, and during the 60-plus years from World War II until 2008 -- 19.7 percent. Obama's own budget released in February projects the average during the entire four years of the Obama Administration to come in at 24.4 percent in just a few months. That is an enormous, postwar record, undeniable spending binge. These are facts, not opinions over which reasonable people can differ.
President Obama's 2013 budget actually proposes to spend $47 trillion over the next 10 years. That Obama budget itself shows federal spending increasing from $2.983 trillion in 2008 to $3.796 trillion in 2012, an increase of 27.3 percent. Obama has already increased the federal government indefinitely by roughly one-fourth in just one term, with more, much more, to come. But Nutting puts his spectacles on, looks into his microscope, peers out through his telescope, and just can't find Obama's spending binge anywhere.
To even compare this spending record to President Eisenhower is disgracefully dishonest, and everyone parroting this theme in the media is just self-identifying themselves as the party controlled press. When he came into office in 1953, Eisenhower cut federal spending that year of $76.1 billion, already just 2 percent of Obama's spending this year, to $70.9 billion in 1954, and again to $68.4 billion in 1955. Federal spending did not really climb above the 1953 level until 1958. During his first term, Eisenhower slashed federal spending from 20.4 percent of GDP when he came into office in 1953 to 16.5 percent of GDP in 1956, when he was so rightly rewarded with reelection. In sharp contrast, President Obama as noted above did just the opposite in increasing federal spending by roughly the same amount as a percent of GDP in his one term.
But for liberal socialists like Nutting, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and David Cay Johnston to even talk about federal budget numbers is like small children playing with matches.
Moreover, before Obama there had never been a deficit anywhere near $1 trillion. The highest previously was $458 billion, or less than half a trillion, in 2008. The federal deficit for the last budget adopted by a Republican-controlled Congress was $161 billion. But the budget deficits for Obama's four years were reported in Obama's own 2013 budget as $1.413 trillion for 2009, $1.293 trillion for 2010, $1.3 trillion for 2011, and $1.327 trillion for 2012, four years in a row of deficits of $1.3 trillion or more. This is why Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) told Obama to his face that the annual deficits under the Republicans have become the monthly deficits under the Democrats.
President Obama's own budget released in February shows that as a result federal debt held by the public will double during Obama's four years as President. That means in just one term President Obama has increased the national debt as much as all prior Presidents, from George Washington to George Bush, combined.
Moreover, as Bader also carefully reported in the Examiner, "If Obama had his way, spending would be even bigger than it is, since the Congress has not approved as much spending as Obama sought in his budget proposals, as Nutting himself conceded. As [CBO] noted, 'The President's proposals would add $4.8 trillion to the national debt,' increasing the cumulative deficit from 2010 to 2019 to $9.3 trillion."
Nutting tries to credit Obama with the slight spending restraint enacted in "the budget that was agreed to last August." But agreed to with whom? That would be the Republican House majority, which was elected in November 2010 in a New Deal size landslide, precisely to shut down Obama. But as the Journal editorial page also explained last weekend, "Every time House Republicans have tried to cut more spending since 2010, Mr. Obama has fought them tooth and claw." Indeed, Obama has spent the past year denouncing the House Republicans for the modest spending cuts they imposed on him as part of that 2011 debt limit deal. As too many have not noticed, that House Republican majority has passed spending cut after spending cut, all to be bitterly opposed by Obama and the Senate Democrats, who have refused to even consider any of them.
But that Republican House majority has succeeded at least in slowing the Obama spending binge, as the American people elected them to do over the hysterical objections of Obama. That modest spending growth slowdown consequently cannot be credited to Obama, Nutting to the contrary notwithstanding.
This is all what Romney meant when he talked about President Obama's "debt and spending inferno," which Nutting devotes his short story to ridiculing. But Nutting's analysis is so confused and disoriented that he cannot even comment on the federal spending, deficit and debt issue intelligently.
It's All About Ryan v. Obama
The difference between the parties on federal spending, deficits and debt is defined for the 2012 election by the difference between the Ryan budget and the Obama budget proposed this year. Ryan's budget effectively repeals the Obama Administration, restoring federal spending and taxes to their long term, post World War II levels, which were fairly stable over 60 plus years, consistent with booming, world leading American prosperity, until Obama. Ryan's budget consistently reduces federal debt as a percent of GDP to manageable, modest levels, solving the looming debt crisis. Ultimately, in fact, under Ryan's reforms to be enacted today, not future spending cuts, the federal debt eventually goes to zero.
Under Obama's budget, by contrast, all of this spins wildly out of control, ultimately crashing America. On our current course, as projected by CBO, under Obama budget policies federal spending explodes to 30 percent of GDP by 2027, 40 percent by 2040, 50 percent by 2060, and 80 percent by 2080. With state and local spending, total government spending approaches the Communist Party nirvana of near 100 percent. Moreover, under those policies, federal debt held by the public rockets to 140 percent of GDP by 2030, 220 percent by 2040, and 320 percent by 2050, on its way to over 700 percent by 2080. That would undoubtedly create a Grecian style sovereign debt crisis for America before that point.
Reality will be much worse. On our current course, with Obama budget policies, when the top federal tax rates soar next year, on top of exploding Obama regulatory costs, the result will be another recession, and the above numbers will all be much worse much sooner.
Don't try to deny it. The Democrats have revealed they already know these truths. That is why when the Obama budget was put to a vote in the House, it got exactly zero votes. Not one Democrat as well as not one Republican would vote for it. And the exact same thing happened in the Senate. The Obama budget there got the Big Sombrero too, with not even one Democrat vote. Obama has created bipartisan unity at last. In sharp contrast, the Ryan budget was passed by the House.
The real point of Nutting's article was to confuse the public about these truths, for that is the only hope for Obama's reelection. Nutting's nonsense is old-fashioned, Soviet-style disinformation, the kind of gross distortion of the truth the Communist Party used to dish out to its captive population through its party controlled press. True to that form, as should be expected, Obama quickly began citing and echoing Nutting on the campaign trail, with Obama spokesman Jay Carney, an expatriate from party-controlled Time magazine, denouncing anyone in the media who will not echo this party disinformation as guilty of sloth and laziness.
This is not American behavior. It is reminiscent of a 20th century Third World country threatened with a socialist party takeover, like Argentina suffered with Juan Peron and his party. But the American people will not fall for this hapless stupidity, as the Democrat Party will be learned real good this fall. That is why the course for America was so different than the course for Argentina during the 20th century.
Presumably, Nutting was able to infiltrate MarketWatch when it was owned by party-controlled CBS. But now that the Wall Street Journal has taken over, it needs to clean house if it wants to remain an independent journalistic voice. The Journal editorial page, of course, is the leading independent media voice in the country on economic policy issues. But the Journal news division reflects much of the same Democrat Party control as other media institutions.
America faces a threat to its continued, prosperous existence like it has not since 1860. What the Democrat party does not yet realize is that it faces such an existential threat this fall as well.
To read another article by Peter Ferrera, click here.
To read more about the Democrat's and Obama's bogus Nutting Report, click here.
Posted by Brett at 8:44 AM
Poland deserves more respect than Obama offers.
by John Hayward
In the course of honoring Polish resistance hero Jan Karski, President Obama managed to touch off an international crisis by saying, “Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action.”
It’s rather difficult to imagine Karski barging into FDR’s office and announcing his discovery of “Polish death camps.”
The Poles were understandably furious, with Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski saying via Twitter, “The White House will apologize for this outrageous error.” That’s pretty much the textbook example of demanding an apology in no uncertain terms. Sikorski added, “It’s a pity that such a dignified ceremony was overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence.”
No apology was forthcoming, but National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor did offer a clarification, explaining that “the President was referring to Nazi death camps operated in Poland. The President has demonstrated in word and deed his rock-solid commitment to our close alliance with Poland.”
You see, it’s all the Poles’ fault for misunderstanding The Smartest President In History. Obama couldn’t possibly be too lazy to develop a serious understanding of Jan Karski or his people. It’s not as if he just robotically reads whatever appears on his teleprompter while daydreaming about his next fundraiser.
Would it really have been so hard for Obama to personally rush out a sincere apology for his blunder? What sort of overweening ego is necessary for a man to consider any other course of action at such a moment? Given the intensity of the Polish reaction, they’re likely to view Obama’s reluctance to take personal responsibility for his statement as salt in their wounds.
For those who think the Poles are over-reacting, imagine Imperial Japan had captured Hawaii during World War II, and some future foreign leader prattled about the “American death camps” established by the occupiers. To complete the analogy, imagine that America spent five decades after the defeat of the Axis trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Pretend the ruins of fascism and communism were scattered around your hometown.
For good measure, imagine the foreign leader in question had chosen to shoot a round of golf during the funeral of our President, following his tragic death in an airplane crash, and stripped us of the missile defenses we were promised, famously assuring the Russians that he would be even more “flexible” once he was safely re-elected. Oh, and suppose that foreign leader had openly declared war on the religion a good 90 percent of us held, compelling the Church to file dozens of lawsuits to defend its religious liberty.
We’d be a little testy under those circumstances, don’t you think? Poland deserves much more respect than Barack Obama has been willing to offer.
To read about Jan Karski, click here.
To read another article by John Hayward, click here.
Posted by Brett at 8:03 AM
We passed it, and found out what was in it.
by John Hayward
The greatest legislative disaster of our time, ObamaCare, continues its grim march through American society, flattening astonished bystanders who were under the impression that it was going to make health care cheaper. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Fox News reports students at Clearwater Christian College in Tampa are getting walloped with a one hundred percent increase in the cost of their health care plans:
“Due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA – commonly known as health care reform), the cost of student health insurance has doubled,” read the letter from the college’s human resources department. “In addition, most insurance carriers are hesitant to provide contracts for this insurance due to the unpredictability of the cost of the claims.”
Clearwater requires all students to have insurance – either through the college’s plan or a private plan. It’s unclear how many of the school’s 500 students will be impacted by the price hike.
The report cites the example of 19-year-old student Curtis Johnson, whose premium is skyrocketing from $600 last year to $1,330 next year. “It’s a lot of money for a college kid,” he said. “The President and the Democratic leaders in Congress championed this bill and they said it was going to lower the cost of healthcare. It’s not only raised my cost, it doubled the cost of my healthcare.”
emember the battle cry for extending taxpayer-subsidized student loan discounts? “Don’t double my rate!” Well, guess what, kids? Obama doubled your rates.
Of course, the Department of Health and Human Services had nothing to say about any of this when Fox News contacted them, beyond prattling about all the “extended benefits” students will enjoy under the law, and how they can “count on being covered by their health plan if they get sick.” Does that sound worth a 100 percent increase in premiums? Trick question – your opinion doesn’t matter.
“I remember when Nancy Pelosi said earlier that they had to pass the law to find out what was in it,” Johnson cheekily observed. “I’m sure finding out for myself what’s in this law. I really never thought it would directly affect me.”
Join the club, Curtis Johnson! Actually, you didn’t have to read ObamaCare carefully – as very few members of Congress did – to know something like this was lurking within it. This is what always happens when mandates destroy market flexibility. ObamaCare forced expensive new mandates onto people who didn’t want to pay for them. The rational decision of consumers to seek out less comprehensive coverage at lower cost was over-ridden by central planners. Healthy 19-year-old college students must pay, not only for benefits they personally aren’t interested in, but for the coverage of other people with “pre-existing conditions,” as “health insurance” completes its slow mutation into a welfare program. Everyone must buy a Cadillac, even if they would have preferred to save money by driving a Ford Focus.
Only a delusional leftist could have believed this would happen without dramatically increasing health care costs for many people. The logic of ObamaCare is to socialize health care costs, spreading them across the entire population. At the current, corporatist level of the health care takeover, this involves forcing everyone to buy health insurance from private companies, compensating them for the provision of government-mandated benefits that would otherwise quickly bankrupt them.
If the “individual mandate” didn’t exert blatantly extra-Constitutional power to compel the purchase of health insurance from these private middlemen when they’re healthy, people would wait to purchase insurance until they got sick, then invoke their right to coverage for “pre-existing conditions” at no additional charge. That would sound like a good deal to someone like Curtis Johnson. Instead, he's a victim of the basic process of socialism: providing benefits at below-market cost to some, while "socializing" the losses among others.
Barack Obama told one of the greatest lies in American political history when he promised, “If you like your coverage, you can keep it.” No, you can’t. If your provider doesn’t drop it outright, the ObamaCare mandates will force your plan to change.
To read another article about ObamaCare, click here.
To read another article by John Hayward, click here.
Posted by Brett at 7:51 AM
Your betters have spoken, and you must obey.
by John Hayward
Barack Obama may be losing most of America, but he can count on the fervent support of the extremely well-heeled abortion industry. Its political coffers are stuffed with cash, from both the sale of services and compulsory taxpayer subsidies. There’s no way Planned Parenthood will allow taxpayers to turn off the money spigot.
Remember, the Democrat Party was prepared to shut down the entire government, including a halt to military pay, to protect Planned Parenthood subsidies during the last debt crisis. When the Susan G. Komen Foundation threatened to cut off their cash, heads rolled. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask of the old Lone Ranger, and you don’t mess around with Planned Parenthood’s revenue stream.
(I’ve always thought that song was odd, because if you tug on Superman’s cape, nothing bad will happen to you. He’s just going to ask you to stop, or perhaps gently advise you to release his cape before he takes off, to avoid injury. Threatening Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer loot is more like tugging on Batman’s cape.)
Just a day after Live Action showed the world that Planned Parenthood is totally cool with “gendercide” – the selective abortion of health baby girls, up to five months into pregnancy, because the parents really wanted a boy – the Godzilla of abortion providers announced a million-dollar TV ad campaign attacking presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Life News offers a preview:
The ad buy targets Romney’s previous comments saying he would “get rid” of federal taxpayer funding for the abortion business and Planned Parenthood indicated the ad buy would target places like West Palm Beach, Florida; Des Moines, Iowa; and voters in northern Virginia.
“When Mitt Romney says ‘Planned Parenthood — we’re gonna get rid of that,’ Romney is saying he’ll deny women the birth control and cancer screenings they depend on,” the ad’s narrator says. “When Romney says, ‘Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes,’ he’s saying he’ll deny women the right to make their own medical decisions. And when his campaign can’t say whether he’d support equal pay protections … Romney’s putting your paycheck at risk.”
Answering a question from CNN affiliate KDSK of St. Louis, Romney listed a series of programs he would cut or eliminate as president in order to reduce the federal deficit.
“You get rid of Obamacare, but there are others,” Romney the station. “Planned Parenthood, we’re gonna get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, both excellent programs, but we can’t afford to borrow money to pay for these things.”
You tax serfs need to get it through your thick skulls: you’re not allowed to “get rid of” compulsory taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood. That’s what “compulsory” means, you know. It doesn’t matter if the government is tumbling into total fiscal meltdown, or many Americans find Planned Parenthood’s activities morally objectionable. Their hand will be forever in your wallet.
I’d joke about how this principle can be found floating in the “penumbras and emanations” of the Constitution, but Planned Parenthood funding actually transcends the Constitution, which is much more subject to electoral will. The Constitution also has a quaint obsession with the notion of “states’ rights.” Your state had better not get any big ideas about refusing to pay Planned Parenthood, either.
Of course, Planned Parenthood’s political operatives will seek to paint Romney’s pro-life views as “extreme,” even though they are shared by a fast-growing majority of Americans, across the partisan divide.
Planned Parenthood’s political and funding machine is a great example of the corruption inherent when Big Business fuses with Big Government… although strangely enough, passionate critics of Big Business never mention this particular example. The Planned Parenthood defense mirrors the way Big Government protects its flab from reformers: if you oppose any aspect of what PP does, you “hate women” or are an “enemy of women’s health.”
All of the many dollars pouring into this massive, billion-dollar company - which also receives $487 million in government contracts and taxpayer subsidies – melts into a vast financial slush. According to its defenders, every dollar taken away is a dollar pinched from “women’s health,” while no particular dollar goes to abortions or political campaigns.
Well, two can play at that game. Every nickel of that $1.4 million ad campaign against Mitt Romney can be portrayed as a dollar extracted from Romney supporters by force, using exactly the same logic that says all of Planned Parenthood’s money is somehow tied to “women’s health.” The fusion of identity politics, mission creep, and compulsive force is always ugly. So are demands for obedience, at the expense of conscience.
To read another article by John Hayward, click here.
To read more about Planned Parenthood, click here.
Posted by Brett at 7:33 AM
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
By Ann Coulter
An election almost as important as the presidential election will be held next Tuesday, and conservatives aren't making a big deal of it, just as they didn't make a fuss over the 2008 Minnesota Senate election as Al Franken stole it from under their noses. (Gov. Tim Pawlenty: "Minnesota has a reputation for clean and fair and good elections. We've got 4,100 precincts run by volunteers. They do a good job, and we thank them.")
The public sector unions are trying to oust Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office for impinging on their princely, taxpayer-supported lifestyles. If Walker goes down, no governor will ever again suggest that snowplow operators work when it snows. No governor will dare try to deprive public school teachers of their Viagra. Forget about ever firing self-paced, self-evaluated, unnecessary government employees.
Always leading the nation, California has already been bankrupted by the public sector unions. That's the country's future if Walker doesn't win, and it's not going to matter who's in the Oval Office.
Democrats know what's at stake. They're treating this election like the Normandy invasion. Meanwhile, Republicans are sitting back, complacently citing polls that show Walker with a slight lead.
Polls don't register passion.
Public employee unions have vast organizing abilities, millions of dollars in union dues at their disposal, and millions of voters who are either union members themselves or relatives of union members. And it's their lifestyles being voted on.
The public sector unions will turn out 99.9 percent of their people. Even if they are only 15 percent of the electorate, that could be enough. Union members will have every distant relative, every neighbor, every person they can drag to the polls, voting to recall Walker next Tuesday.
Ordinary people answering polls may agree with Walker, but they'll have to decide: "Do I really want to get out of bed early and drive to the polls, just so they don't recall the governor?"
News reports blare with the information that the Walker campaign has spent more money than the opposition. This is absurd. Every union member in the country is working to defeat Walker.
Union political operatives aren't volunteers: They're getting salaries from the unions. But those expenditures don't get counted as money spent on a campaign -- a little detail of campaign finance laws Republicans have been screaming about for 20 years.
One measure of the unions' disproportionate passion is how difficult it is to obtain non-union information about the Wisconsin fight. Try running a few Google searches on Scott Walker and the public sector unions, and you'll get 20 pages of union propaganda under names such as "Common Dreams," "All Voices," "United Wisconsin," "Veterans News Now," "Struggles for Justice," "One Wisconsin Now," "Defending Wisconsin" and "Republic Report."
From the hysteria, you wouldn't know Walker's reforms have nothing to do with government employees' salaries. He eliminated collective bargaining only for all other aspects of government employees' contracts. OK, you can have two guys on a snowplow, but you can't have a snowplow watcher.
One of the most egregious union scams Walker dispensed with was the requirement -- won in collective bargaining -- that all school districts purchase health insurance from the same provider. The monopolist insurer was WEA Trust, which happens to be affiliated with the teachers union.
Simply by eliminating this union boondoggle, Walker has already saved individual school districts millions of dollars per year, which could easily rise to hundreds of millions of dollars. (Most districts still get their health insurance from WEA Trust, but the mere threat of competition forced it to lower its price.)
Amazingly, Walker actually had to eliminate "overtime" for snowplow operators who work outside of their 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. shifts. Isn't the whole idea of snowplowers to have them work when it snows and not during specific, pre-set hours of the day?
The teachers unions wail, "It's all about the kids!" -- and then we find out the Milwaukee teachers union sued the school district because their health insurance didn't cover Viagra. Yes, it's all about the kids.
Loads of Milwaukee bus drivers are using sick days and overtime to take home more than $100,000 a year.
Public sector employees seem to think they should be exempted from belt-tightening everyone else is subject to in the Obama economy. (Obama thinks so, too. Most of the stimulus money went to shore up public sector employees' salaries and perks.)
Half the country is unemployed, but these special people are indignant that Walker asked them to start contributing a tiny amount of their salaries to their own pensions -- 5.8 percent, up from zero percent -- and a little bit more for their own health insurance, from a measly 6.2 percent to 12.4 percent of their salaries.
Of course, it's extremely difficult to locate this information with the unions filling the Internet and the airwaves with their "Common Dreams" nonsense.
Fox News has barely mentioned this election, while on MSNBC they're doing non-stop campaigning on behalf of the unions. Apparently, James Madison will be rolling over in his grave if government unions aren't allowed to dictate how many employees are required to move a copy machine.
To read another article by Ann Coulter, click here.
To read another article about Scott Walker's Recall Election, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:57 PM
By Victor Davis Hanson
RUDESHEIM, Germany -- This week I am leading a military history tour on the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam. You can learn a lot about Europe's current economic crises by just ignoring the sophisticated barrage of news analysis and instead watching, listening, and talking to people as you go down river.
Switzerland, by modern standards, should be poor. Like Bolivia, it is landlocked. Like Italy, it has no real gas or oil wealth. Like Afghanistan, its northern climate and mountainous terrain limit agricultural productivity to upland plains. And like Turkey, it is not a part of the European Union.
Unlike Americans, the Swiss are among the most homogeneous people in the world, without much diversity, and make it nearly impossible to immigrate there.
So Switzerland supposedly has everything going against it, and yet it is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Why and how?
To answer that is also to learn why roughly 82 million Germans produce almost as much national wealth as do 130 million Greeks, Portuguese, Italians, and Spaniards. Yet the climate of Germany is somewhat harsh; it too has no oil or gas. By 1945, German cities lay in ruins, while Detroit and Cleveland were booming. The Roman historian Tacitus remarked that pre-civilized Germany was a bleak land of cold weather, with little natural wealth and inhabited by tribal savages.
Race does not explain present-day national wealth. From 500 B.C. to A.D. 1300, Switzerland and Germany were considered brutal and backward in comparison to classical Greece and Rome, and later Renaissance Venice and Florence.
Instead, culture explains far more -- a seemingly taboo topic when economists nonchalantly suggest that contemporary export-minded Germans simply need to spend and relax like laid-back Southern Mediterraneans, and that the latter borrowers save and produce like workaholic Germans to even out the playing field of the European Union.
But government-driven efforts to change national behavior often ignore stubborn cultural differences that reflect centuries of complex history as well as ancient habits and adaptations to geography and climate. Greeks can no more easily give up siestas than the Swiss can mandate two-hour afternoon naps. If tax cheating is a national pastime in Palermo, in comparison it is difficult along the Rhine.
I lived in Greece for over two years and often travel to northern and Mediterranean Europe and North Africa. While I prefer the Peloponnese to the Rhineland, over the years I have developed an unscientific and haphazard -- but often accurate -- politically incorrect method of guessing whether a nation is likely to be perennially insolvent and wracked by corruption.
Do average passersby throw down or pick up litter? After a minor fender-bender, do drivers politely exchange information, or scream and yell with wild gesticulations? Is honking constant or sporadic? Are crosswalks sacrosanct? Do restaurant dinners usually start or wind down at 9 p.m.? Can you drink tap water, or should you avoid it? Do you mostly pay what the price tag says, or are you expected to pay in untaxed cash and then haggle over the unstated cost? Are construction sites clearly marked and fenced to protect pedestrians, or do you risk walking into an open pit or getting stabbed by exposed rebar?
To put these crude stereotypes more abstractly, is civil society mostly moderate, predicated on the rule of law, and meritocratic -- or is it better characterized by self-indulgence, cynicism and tribalism?
The answers to these questions do not hinge on race, money or natural wealth, but they do involve culture and the way average people predictably live minute by minute. Again, these national habits and traditions accrued over centuries, and as much as politics or economics, they explain in part why Bonn is not Athens, and Zurich is not Naples, or for that matter why Cairo is unlike Tel Aviv or why Mexico City differs from Toronto.
There is one final funny thing about contemporary culture. What people say and do about it are two different things. We in the postmodern, politically correct West publicly pontificate that all cultures are just different and to assume otherwise is pop generalization, but privately assume that you would prefer your bank account to be in Frankfurt rather than Athens, or the tumor in your brain to be removed in London rather than Lisbon.
A warm sunset with an ouzo on a Greek island beach may be more relaxing than schnapps on the foggy Rhine shore, but to learn why Greeks will probably not pay back what they owe Germany -- and do not believe that they should have to -- take a walk through central Athens and then do the same in Munich.
To read another article by Victor Davis Hanson, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:43 PM
By Larry Elder
Once upon a time, analysts, pundits and historians explored the relationship between a given subject and his father. We do so for possible insight into the subject's values, character, decision-making process, biases, interests, fears, etc. You know -- acorn, tree.
But the standard intellectual inquiry, for some reason, does not apply to the long, intimate relationship between Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who called himself a "second father" to young Barack.
Sen. Obama described his 20-year relationship with his pastor this way: "What I value most about Pastor Wright is not his day-to-day political advice. He's much more of a sounding board for me to make sure that I am speaking as truthfully about what I believe as possible and that I'm not losing myself in some of the hype and hoopla and stress that's involved in national politics." Indeed, Obama describes a relationship that is closer, far closer than the relationship that many sons have with their fathers.
Leftist New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd confidently places the actions, policies and decisions of George W. Bush at the feet of his father. Dowd insists, for example, that George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq was Dad-driven. She called the Iraq War "a Freudian tango" that provided a "chance for W. to complete his transformation from the screwup son to the son who fixed his father's screwups." None of that fear of chemical or biological attack in the wake of 9/11 national security stuff for Dowd. No, it's all about Dad.
In a recent column comparing blue-blooded "patricians" Bush-41 and Mitt Romney, Dowd writes, "Their political philosophies were not shaped by a passion for ideas as much as a desire to serve and an ambition to climb higher than their revered fathers. Pragmatism trumps ideology; survival trumps conviction. Both men, to the manner born in Greenwich and Bloomfield Hills, adapted uncomfortably to the fundamentalist tent meeting mood of the modern GOP, knowing their futures depended on Faustian deals with the right."
But Obama and Wright's relationship tells us nothing.
In a column about presidential aspirants and their fathers, Dowd puts the Bush and Romney quartet on the couch: "American politics bristles with Oedipal drama. Sons struggling to live up to fathers. Sons striving to outdo fathers. Sons scheming to avenge fathers. Sons burning to one-up fathers. Sons yearning to impress fathers who vanished early on. Sons leaning on fathers. Sons using fathers as reverse-play books. ...
"It's daunting, so soon after 'Junior' Bush crashed the Bush family station wagon into the globe in an effort to both avenge and outshine his dad, to gear up for another Republican presidential candidate (Mitt Romney) whose resume copies his famous Republican father and whose relationship with dad sculpts his outlook."
But Obama and Wright's relationship tells us nothing.
About Abraham Lincoln, historian David Herbert Donald writes: "Abraham's pulling away from his father was something more significant than a teenage rebellion. Abraham had made a quiet reassessment of the life that (his father) Thomas lived. He kept his judgment to himself, but years later it crept into his scornful statements that his father 'grew up, literally without education,' that he 'never did more in the way of writing than to bunglingly sign his own name,' and that he chose to settle in a region where 'there was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education.' To Abraham Lincoln that was a damning verdict. In all of his published writings, and, indeed, even in reports of hundreds of stories and conversations, he had not one favorable word to say about his father."
About John F. Kennedy's relationship with family patriarch Joseph, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin says: "There was no way (Jack) thought he could be what Joe. Jr. had been to his father. So the two of them circled around each other, I think for years, with Jack wanting to satisfy some need of the father's, the father wishing Jack could satisfy it but the father never could see Jack at that point as a politician."
Critics blasted Republican former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain for seeking -- and then repudiating -- the endorsement of a controversial Texas televangelist even though the Rev. John Hagee had never been McCain's personal pastor, let alone for 20 years.
But one "injects race" by asking simple questions about Obama and Wright. It is no stretch to argue that Wright's view of economics -- that America became successful not because of its founding principles but by exploiting the weak -- reflects Obama's own economic worldview.
Four years ago when Wright belatedly erupted as a possible campaign-ending scandal, Obama called his relationship with his then-pastor "a legitimate political issue." And Fox News' Chris Wallace recently said that in retrospect "McCain was crazy" not to use this issue.
What, the statute of limitations has run out?
To read Part 1 of this article, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:13 PM
By John Ransom
So Obama, like every good control freak, has this plan apparently.
Yeah. That’s the first thing that should make you wary.
It’s plan that you are probably familiar with.
Or to put it a better way, it’s another plan that will give you kind of sick, eerie feeling, like so many of his other plans that involve top-down government planning.
Remember when he combated the growing instability in world oil supplies and prices by making the price of oil go up even faster- twice?
Or that time when he ushered in a golden era for solar power by throwing money into manufacturing capacity in solar when there was no actual demand for solar products, thereby decimating the solar industry?
Or that time that he harangued us about fiscal discipline while he was spending money left and right and couldn’t even pass a budget? He called it “eating our peas.”
It’s like any one of those wonderful plans that worked out so well for all of us- and went exactly as planned for Obama, control freak.
Ok, so the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is warning that cuts in government spending along with automatic tax increases from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts will spur a recession in the first half of next year unless Congress and the president act before the 1st of the year.
Oh, their first mistake: They gave Obama a timetable. Control freaks have problems with timetables.
Does the CBO know that the president really doesn’t like timetables? They should ask Congressional Republicans about the timetable that they had with the Keystone pipeline. Or maybe ask S&P about their timetable on the debt ceiling debate last summer before S&P downgraded U.S. debt.
A control freak would rather do anything- even fail- than deal with a timetable.
“The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) fired off a warning Tuesday to our nation and its leaders in Washington,” writes Fox News’ Gretchen Hamel. “The CBO told us that the United States of America is headed toward a fiscal cliff and that if we do indeed fall off, it will have profound effects on our country and world economy. The CBO projects that if Congress does not act to prevent coming tax increases and spending cuts, a recession is certain. The CBO estimates gross domestic product would decline by as much as 1.3 percent if lawmakers don’t act.”
So here’s Obama’s plan to protect us all from an economy under assault by tax increases: more tax increases.
Yes. That’s right. Talk about control freak.
Obama wants to ensure our economic prosperity now threatened by tax increases by increasing taxes. Because, at least that way, Obama’s still in control.
This reminds me of a story from Abraham Lincoln.
An old friend from Illinois died after his disloyal comments about the Union set his neighbors against him.
“Blank is dead,” a friend informed Lincoln, “His extremely disloyal sentiments so provoked his neighbors that there was serious talk of inflicting vengeance on him, and he was found dead in bed—caused largely by fright.”
“He died, then,” replied Lincoln dryly, “to save his life, it seems.”
Like Obama, there's an example of extreme control-freakishness.
So Obama wants to save our economic life by first killing our economy through tax increases because, while it won’t help the rest of us, above all, it will give the government more control.
And it’s this repeated policy mistake that’s been killing us.
Whether it’s been Obamcare, or lack of a budget, or the debt ceiling, or a massive new regulatory schemes like Dodd-Frank- long on cost and short on benefit- the dreadful uncertainty of the control economy under Team Obama is frightening business and taxpayers to death.
Not coincidentally, consumers are reacting with peevishness.
“Americans confidence in the economy suffered the biggest drop in eight months,” reports Boston.com “as worries about the weak jobs, housing and stock markets rattled them again. The decline comes after a few months of optimism amid some positive economic news.”
The confidence index now stands at 64.9 from a bounce of 68.7 last month. Any time the measurement stands under 100, the incumbent president is going to have a hard time controlling his own destiny.
And don’t look for the economy to improve much over the summer either. Gas prices haven’t declined that much to make up for the sharp increase at the pump. While the stock market rallied a bit on good dividend news, investors have moved on from the quarterly distribution of loaves and fishes.
Government spending is certainly a component of our GDP, but it’s time we recognized that business and consumer spending are much more important components.
And time that the government stopped killing those components by seeking arbitrary control. Because really, they're a bunch of freaks.
To read another article by John Ransom, click here.
Posted by Brett at 10:58 PM