Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Politics

Just How Important is the Vice President, Anyway?

Dan McLaughlin: The Vice Presidential Stakes

Ten of the last twenty presidents, dating back to 1900, have been forced from office or come close: one was forced to resign (Nixon), one was impeached (Clinton), two were assassinated (Kennedy and McKinley), one was shot (Reagan), one was shot at twice in three weeks (Ford), two died in office of natural causes (FDR and Harding), one was incapacitated by a stroke (Wilson), and one nearly died of a massive heart attack (Eisenhower).

Romney - Ryan 2012

Romney – Ryan 2012 (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

I’ve been staying away from the presidential election for all the obvious reasons: the contenders are part of the same group that’s been leading us into slavery for years: two wings of the same bird of prey, as some wag cleverly stated. Besides, the real action is in the House and the Senate, in my opinion, as well as on the state and local levels.

So I could care less about who Mittens picks for vice president. It won’t matter anyway as the vice president never gets to influence policy.

But McLaughlin has challenged me to consider the chances of the vice president taking over the presidency. That possibility gets me excited. And the statistics are quite remarkable. After iterating additional statistics to show how important the vice president position could become, McLaughlin sums it up:

All of which is a way of saying that Mitt Romney’s choice of a running mate could have very important repercussions whether or not that choice makes much impact on the outcome of the 2012 election.

Romney seems to be a man of unusual health, vigor and personal ethics, and so less likely than most to leave the Oval Office before his term is out if he’s elected, but he’s also 65 years old; things happen.

Indeed, they do.

What if Unintended CAFE Standards Consequences are Intended?

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.: 54.5 MPG and The Law of Unintended Consequences

Legislators and regulators need to observe a fundamental Golden Rule: Do not implement new laws if you have not considered or cannot control important unintended consequences.

Unintended Consequences by John Ross, 1996

Unintended Consequences by John Ross, 1996 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author Jackson’s premise is wrong: one cannot foresee all the unintended consequences. Many won’t manifest themselves until after the fact.

But that’s not the point I wish to make. Jackson outlines many of the unintended consequences of forcing car makers to raise gas mileage to 54 mpg on their vehicles. And he does a good job:

  • Each vehicle will cost more
  • This will increase interest costs as most new vehicles are financed
  • Lower income people won’t be able to buy them
  • Lower income people will be forced into the used car market
  • This increased demand will drive the prices of used cars higher
  • This will force lower income people into driving “hoopties”—pieces of junk which cost more to operate

Jackson concludes, then, that increased gas mileage requirements (CAFE standards) are a “regressive tax” on the poor. But that still isn’t the point I want to make.

What if all these unintended consequences were, after all, intended. What if politicians want to reduce the mobility of lower income people? What if it’s part of a plan to force more people to use public transportation which would require—voila!—more government!

There are other unintended consequences. Lighter, more fuel efficient cars and trucks will cost people their lives and increased injuries, putting more pressure on insurance rates. But that’s good for insurance companies isn’t it? And aren’t insurance companies interested in increased revenues? And aren’t some of them politically connected to the PTB (Powers That Be) in Washington?

And doesn’t this fit nicely into the global warming scam? We must, after all, reduce our “carbon footprints” in order to meet the latest UN demands—a la the Kyoto Protocol—don’t we? That’s intended, isn’t it?

Maybe those unintended consequences aren’t so unintended after all.

“Tax the Rich” a Losing Campaign Strategy

Jeff Jacoby: The Rich Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes — And Then Some

The president who came to office vowing to “spread the wealth around” by raising taxes on individuals with incomes above $200,000 is doubling down, making a tax hike on the rich the centerpiece of his campaign for reelection.

Luxury Taxes For The Rich

Luxury Taxes For The Rich (Photo credit: kenteegardin)

President Obama is making a mistake. Not the first, you understand, nor the last. But he thinks that the American people don’t like the rich, don’t trust the rich, are envious of the rich and want to punish the rich. That’s what he thinks and in his hubris he thinks everyone else must think so too.

But this article, a nice reminder of just how much the rich already pay, illustrates the point that most Americans (those who think about the matter at all) understand that, and also understand that the way they became rich was by providing goods and services that other people wanted. And some, like Steve Jobs, provided things that people didn’t even know they wanted, until they saw them!

Here’s more:

But voters, by and large, don’t yearn to see the wealthy stripped bare by the tax collector. In a new nationwide poll, Gallup asked Americans to rank a list of policy proposals for the next president to address. Respondents gave highest priority to “creating good jobs,” “reducing corruption in federal government,” “reducing the federal budget deficit,” “dealing with terrorism and other international threats,” and “ensuring the long-term stability of Social Security and Medicaid.” Raising taxes on the wealthy placed last. Even among Obama supporters, no issue on Gallup’s list was deemed less important.

Most people don’t recognize this as the progressives’ strategy of class warfare (they are at war with us) but they do recognize the politics of envy, the “tax the rich” mantra, and they don’t like them. There are much bigger fish to fry than trying to get the rich to pay more, according to most Americans.

And that’s good thing.

More Evidence Social Security is Fading Away

Daily Bell: Baby Boomers Bamboozled: Social Security Fades Into a Dreamtime Haze

Social Security started out well enough, of course. The first person to receive a check was Ida May Fuller who paid Social Security taxes for three years that came to a total of $24.75. Her very first monthly check in 1940 was for $22.54. And since she lived to be 100, she collected $22,888.92.

The Roosevelt administration made a big deal out of Fuller and the benefits she received. But in reality, Social Security was just like any other big government program. It was built to fail.

Ida May Fuller, the first recipient

Ida May Fuller, the first recipient (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social Security (anti-social and insecure), or as I like to refer to it, a Ponzi scheme at the point of a gun, is one of my favorite subjects to write about. And when Anthony Wile gets spooled up about Social Security, the combination is delicious.

This business about Ida May Fuller is legendary, and instructive. It exposes the fraud of the system from its very first beneficiary. I remember Ayn Rand’s favorite question to ask about any government program designed to “improve peoples’ lives:” At whose expense?

Once we get an answer to that question, we know how things will turn out.

When I received my first paycheck at age 17 and discovered that someone had gotten there first, I learned just whose expense was involved: mine!

When I talked with my socialist father-in-law (predictably a college professor) about the Social Security fraud, I suggested that (as he was already on Social Security at the time) I just cut him a check directly, and skip the round trip through Washington, DC.

He became furious and wouldn’t talk to me about it anymore! Truth hurts and I had seen through the fraud. And his answer was to run away and hide. We never talked about it again.

Wile has his point of view, which is well-taken: “If people don’t understand how their society operates, how are they going to change it?” Those on Social Security are about to find out.

Labor Unions Are Sinking Cities

Mish: Union Pay, Benefits Create Zombie Cities

Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez declared a state of financial urgency Friday for the fourth year in a row.

The move gives the city commission authority to restructure its existing contracts with police, general employee, and fire unions.

San Bernardino City Logo

San Bernardino City Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mish looks at four cities that are failing, although he says there are hundreds that he could examine to prove his point: labor unions and thieves are sinking them.

The labor unions aren’t cooperating and so are increasingly being shown the exit door. This from Miami:

The unions are not cooperating with the process,” Mayor Tomas Regalado told the Miami Herald. “We need to have a balanced budget.”

[Miami City Manager Johnny] Martinez said in a statement that the city will be contacting union representatives to start up two weeks of negotiations.

The declaration of urgency has likely incensed police and fire officials; according to Reuters, the latter group argued before city officials Thursday night that their pay has been cut 35 percent in the last 3 years already.

Perhaps that’s because their pay and benefits were already 35 percent too high? Just asking.

Detroit is in such a sorry state that bodies of murdered victims are being dumped there, often for days before being discovered. Professor of urban planning at the University of Michigan says it’s happening because it’s allowed to happen:

There is no one to watch. There is no capacity to enforce laws about dumping. There is a perception you can dump and no one will report it.

And then there’s Stockton, California’s police chief who stayed just eight months and left with an annual pension of $204,000.

In San Bernardino the city council lowered the retirement age for public-safety workers to 50 from its already generous age 55, knowing full well that it would bankrupt the city. But expediency and stupidity ruled the day. This from one of those city council members:

“I knew it was going to be costly in the long run,” San Bernardino City Councilwoman Wendy McCammack said of the lower retirement age. “However, this city is one of the toughest to police. In order to attract and retain the kind of officers that it takes to police a city like this, that was a benefit that we had to negotiate.”

And so how’s that workin’ out for ya there, Wendy?

Finally, there’s Oakland (it’s interesting that of the four cities Mish selected, three are in California) which made pension promises in 1976 and failed to fund them and now has to borrow to pay for them. Says Mish: Oakland is headed for bankruptcy.

Cities cannot survive labor unions and corruption. Or is that a redundancy?

Military Spending: Romney Will Outspend Obama

Washington Times: Obama, Romney spar over Pentagon spending

In a time of deep deficits and tight budgets, President Obama says the Defense Department cannot be entirely spared the scalpel. But Mitt Romney, his likely opponent in November’s election, says the U.S. must spend more on the Pentagon now because it will pay off with a stronger economy in the long run.

Romney

Romney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

This article is all about Romney’s mirror image of Obama when it comes to military spending. With either of these people in the White House, you can be sure that the Defense (Offense) Department is going to get all that it wants, plus some.

The economic fallacy is what Taylor wants to talk about. And it is a fallacy. Romney has many apologists for this view, including former Senator Jim Talent who served on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Upon losing re-election in 2006 he became a lobbyist for a major firm in Washington, DC, which sports a Congressional alumni list that includes Fred Thompson, Dale Bumpers and Chris Van Hollen, among many others. Talent now serves as a senior fellow at the pro-war Heritage Foundation.

I go into this so that you can see where Talent comes from. Economic logic to the contrary, he thinks, and says, silly things:

There’s a price to strength, but there’s a greater price to weakness.  When you don’t adequately fund the military, you end up increasing the amount of risk of security around the world, which tends to suppress economic growth.

Got that? This is an extension of the older fallacy of “peace through strength” which has justified military adventurism and empire-building for decades.

But to the issue at hand: Romney will support the military, whatever the cost. Even the liberals get it. This from Winslow Wheeler, at analyst at the pro-military Center for Defense Information:

Obama will spend a lot; Romney will spend more. That’s the difference.

Some difference.

The Post Office isn’t Supposed to Be a Monopoly

Townhall.com: The U.S. Postal Service and the Constitution

Article 1, Section 8 says that [The Congress shall have the power] to establish Post Offices and Post Roads. It does not say that the federal government shall have the exclusive power to deliver mail. Nor does it require that the mail be delivered by an agent of the federal government to every home in the country, six days a week.

Image taken by User:Minesweeper on December 14...

From left to right, the post boxes belong to FedEx, UCB, UPS, and two from the USPS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a thoughtful and useful article on the Post Office, about which I have written from time to time. Although I don’t think anything will change by any act of Congress, the Post Office itself is increasingly irrelevant and will someday disappear altogether or, even better, be bought out of bankruptcy by UPS or FedEx, privatized, and made profitable.

But it clarifies exactly what the Constitution says about the Post Office. And the history of mail delivery is interesting: private companies delivered the mail in the early years of the republic. James Campbell, in his 1996 book “The Last Monopoly” published by the Cato Institute, said:

Delivery of local, intracity letters was pioneered by private companies such as Boyd’s Dispatch in New York City and Blood’s Dispatch in Philadelphia. One authority counted 147 private local postal companies. The “locals” introduced adhesive postage stamps at least as early as 1841. The Post Office did not introduce stamps until 1847 and did not require their use until 1851. Efforts by the Post Office to suppress the locals failed when, in 1860, a federal court ruled that the postal monopoly pertained only to the transportation of letters over “post roads” between post offices and did not prohibit the delivery of letters within a single postal district.

Private delivery of the mail? Who woulda thunk it?

Bringing Taxmageddon Home

Education News: Taxmageddon: Tax Tsunami Could Hit January 1, 2013

By any measure, the impending tax increases are huge! Taxmageddon will amount to $494 billion in tax hikes. On an individual level, average taxpayers will see their taxes increase by about $2,000 to $4,000 next year!

This article from Education News is helpful in that it provides real life examples of how real people are going to get hit by Taxmageddon next year. $494 billion is an impossibly large number that no one can relate to. But boil it down to my level and you get my attention!

For example, here are Roberto and Juanita who have an income of $70,662:

Roberto and Juanita have an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $70,662. They are concerned about the looming Taxmageddon tax hikes and want to know how it will affect them.

Their taxes will go up $4,138 next year due to Taxmageddon.

Let’s press this a little bit. That’s $344 a month. That’s a car payment. That’s a contribution to their IRA or their 401(k) or college fund. That’s a payment on their credit card that they’ve been trying to pay off.

And then there’s Frank who makes just $24,757 a year:

Frank has an Adjusted Gross Income of $24,757. He does not consider himself a “low-income worker.” He works hard and earns a steady living but he is on a tight budget.

Unfortunately, Frank will have to pay an additional $1,207 in taxes next year…

Frank’s monthly income, after deductions, is just over $2,000 a month. Another $100 a month taken out of that? What does that mean for Frank? A smaller apartment? Skipping some meals? Moving in with mother?

And then there’s Teasha who just started work. Yes, she found work! It pays her about the same as Frank:

Teasha has an Adjusted Gross Income of $23,917. She has just started her career and is glad she was able to find a job…

She will face a tax hike in 2013 of $1,099.

She’s just starting work. What a great incentive! Another $100 a month that she wasn’t expecting.

The article then explains how Taxmageddon will affect you: multiply your Adjusted Gross Income from last year—you’ll find it on the front page of last year’s Form 1040—by 6%.

That makes it real personal.

John Stossel Explodes Harry Reid’s Textile Myths

John Stossel: Myths We Live By

“I’m so upset,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile, and burn them. … We have people in the textile industry who are desperate for jobs.”

Harry Reid - The Scream

Harry Reid – The Scream

Harry Reid must be a troglodyte—one who lives in a cave and consequently has no understanding of how the world works. But John Stossel comes to the rescue although it’s unlikely Reid will read it:

Here, Reid demonstrates economic cluelessness. It seems logical that Americans lose if American clothing is made overseas. But that’s nonsense. First, it’s no surprise the uniforms were made in China. Most clothing is. That’s fine. It saves money. We invest the savings in other things, like the machines that Chinese factories buy and the trucks that ship the Olympic uniforms.

It’s about the efficiency of markets and the division of labor that Reid fails to understand. In a free market one does what he does best, and trades with others to get what he wants. Art Carden is an economist from Sanford University (not Stanford!) who explains the macroeconomic picture:

One could argue that the American uniforms were not manufactured in China, but grown in the soybean field in Iowa. We export soybeans to China. Because we’re incredibly productive in the soybean market, we get more uniforms at lower prices (and) the Chinese get more soybeans at lower prices. … Everybody wins.

Daniel Ikenson from Cato is more direct:

We design clothing here. We brand clothing here. We market and retail clothing…

Chinese athletes arrived in London by U.S.-made aircraft, trained on U.S.-designed and -engineered equipment, wear U.S.-designed and -engineered footwear, having perfected their skills using U.S.-created technology.

So there, Mr. Reid. Read it and weep over your ignorance. If you can just find those candles in your cave…they’re around here somewhere!

Eating the Establishment Elephant One Bite at a Time

Newsmax: Texas GOP Chooses Tea Party-Backed Cruz for Senate

Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz scored a stunning upset over a longtime Texas state officeholder in a Republican U.S. Senate primary runoff on Tuesday, transforming Cruz into a national conservative star and marking a resurgence of the movement to shrink the size of U.S. government.

Cruz, 41, a former state solicitor general who has never held elected office, became the third insurgent Republican this year to defeat an establishment Republican in a U.S. Senate primary.

He scored a surprisingly comfortable victory with about 56 percent of the vote to about 44 percent for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who a year ago was considered the front-runner.

Republican Elephant - 3D Icon

Republican Elephant – 3D Icon (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

This is how we reverse the push towards totalitarianism and martial law in our country: focusing on races “we” can win and ignoring those we can’t.

I’m no political expert but for me the presidential election is inconsequential. The real battle is in the Congress. And Cruz is just one of three recent “freedom candidates” to win their primaries, with excellent chances of winning again in November.

The other two are Steve Stockman, running for the House from the newly redrawn 36th District in Texas, and Rep. Paul Broun from Georgia’s 10th Congressional District.

Here is what Gun Owners of America had to say about them:

Steve Stockman, as a Congressman in the mid-1990s, drafted legislation to repeal gun control laws from the books.  Rep. Stockman also opposed every single attempt to restrict your gun rights, earning a perfect A+ rating from GOA and every national gun group in the country.  Like Cruz, he will be a powerful advocate for 2nd Amendment rights…

And then there is Rep. Paul Broun in Georgia.  For the past several years, he has been THE pro-gun leader in the House of Representatives.  As the head of the Second Amendment Task Force in Congress, Broun has used his platform to advance pro-gun legislation and rally opposition against gun control.

All three are favored to win in November. As I said, one bite at a time.

ADP Jobs Numbers are Anemic, at Best

ADP: National Employment Report, July 2012

Carlos A. Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP, said: “According to this month’s ADP National Employment Report, the U.S. economy added 163,000 jobs in July. This increase marks two-and-half years of positive job growth.

According to our data, businesses across the country have restored nearly 4 million jobs during this period with an average of 131,000 new positions a month. Although encouraging, we’d like to see continued growth but at more robust and consistent levels.”

ADP

ADP (Photo credit: Joits)

This is called “spin.” 4 million jobs in two-and-a-half years? That’s 133,000 jobs per month. He calls this “encouraging.” I called it stalled.

Parsing the numbers, nearly all the growth in jobs, according to ADP, is taking place in the service sector, not the “goods-producing” sector. 90 percent of those 163,000 jobs created in July were in the service sector.

But employment among small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, where the bulk of job creation ought to be taking place, just 73,000 jobs were created, and 69,000 of them were in the service sector. The remainder, in the goods-producing sector, was just 4,000 jobs.

In an economy which employs more than 110 million people, this is a rounding error.

Nevertheless, the “spin” continues. This is from the chairman of Macroeconomic Advisors which works with ADP in developing this monthly report:

According to Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC, “July’s increase was the thirtieth consecutive monthly advance, and higher than the consensus forecast for today’s release and for the official jobs number due out Friday from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although recent employment gains likely have been restrained by heightened uncertainty over the European financial crisis and by growing concerns about domestic fiscal policy, July’s increase of 163,000 new jobs reinforces that the pace of hiring has picked back up after slowing sharply during the Spring.”

“The pace of hiring has picked back up…?” Show me the numbers, Joel!

And yet he thinks this report, acting as a precursor to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report due out on Friday (which everyone focuses on), is a harbinger for a drop in the unemployment rate:

This gain in private employment is strong enough to suggest that the national unemployment rate may have declined in July. Today’s estimate from ADP, if re-enforced by a similar reading on employment from the BLS on Friday, will alleviate concerns that the economy has slipped into a downturn.

Pardon my cynicism but I don’t think Friday’s report is going to “alleviate” anyone’s concerns.

Please remember that the 1920-21 recession was just as severe as the Great Recession of 2008, but the economy had rebounded by some 60 percent within two years of the bottom, bringing the unemployment rate down to normal levels. Here’s the relevant quote from Wikipedia:

The AT&T Index of Industrial Productivity showed a decline of 29.4%, followed by an increase of 60.1%–by this measure, the recession of 1920–21 had the most severe decline and [the] most robust recovery of any recession between 1899 and the Great Depression. (emphasis added)

Of course, this was before “experts” in the government determined that Keynesian “solutions” would make things better quicker. Thanks for that, Mr. Keynes.

But the Government has ALWAYS Delivered the Mail!

Newsmax: Post Office Nears Historic Default on $5B Payment

With cash running perilously low, two legally required payments for future postal retirees’ health benefits—$5.5 billion due Wednesday, and another $5.6 billion due in September—will be left unpaid, the mail agency said Monday.

Postal officials said they also are studying whether they may need to delay other obligations. In the coming months, a $1.5 billion payment is due to the Labor Department for workers compensation, which for now it expects to make, as well as millions in interest payments to the Treasury.

USPS Truck at Night

USPS Truck at Night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years ago, when I was less informed on the matter, I laughed (along with Mad magazine where I first saw it stated) that of course the government should deliver the mail! It always has! Any suggestion to the contrary was just silly. And that was the end of it.

Until I started reading. That was the beginning of the end of that misperception. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss!

I understand what the Constitution says about the matter: “The Congress shall have Power to…establish Post Offices and post Roads;” but nowhere can I find anything there that says anything about providing workers with health care and retirement benefits or workers compensation or even interest the USPS must pay on previous monies borrowed to make these payments.

The reality is, and has been for years, that the USPS is broke, insolvent, near bankruptcy. I say, “let it go.” The internet and alternative means of communication have replaced the post office. If documents need to be served or delivered, private companies can do that far better than the outdated, outmoded and outrageously expensive postal service.

Just yesterday I was talking with my mailman, Gene. He’s been working for the post office for 35 years. He has had two knee surgeries, paid for by us because they were damaged while working for the post office. He is collecting disability along with his regular check. He said to me: “I can afford to retire. The wife says we can afford to retire. But the money is too good that I don’t want to retire.”

I didn’t ask him just how good that money is. But you can bet your sweet petunias that it’s much more than a new mailman would be paid to do the same work.

In a microcosm, that’s the problem with the post office. It’s a government agency—I don’t care what they call it—and consequently, predictably, certainly, it is inefficient, backward, and outdated.

It needs to go away and let the free market deliver the mail.

Withholding Tax Scam Exposed

Forbes: The Rise of The 1099 Economy: More Americans Are Becoming Their Own Bosses

Phoenix may well be on its way to recovery. Brookings recently estimated its rebound since the Great Recession to be the fifth best of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas. Its unemployment rate has dropped from 12% in 2010 to around 7.5% in May 2012. Bankruptcies have fallen dramatically and the housing market is clearly on the mend.

taxes

taxes (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

This is good news for a city that has been pummeled during the Great Recession. What’s especially good news is that as employers are continuing to get and stay lean, they find it’s better to hire “contract” labor rather than hire permanent employees: less hassle, no “hire and fire” issues, no overhead costs or health or retirement benefits.

And contract labor is likely to work just as hard as, perhaps harder than, an employee who may feel like he can relax a little, knowing that his paycheck is coming on Friday. The independent contractor knows his paycheck may not—unless he performs.

There’s another aspect to the “1099 culture” shift that is taking place: people are discovering, perhaps for the first time, just how much government is taking out of their paychecks. For the first time, they must file their own tax returns and often are chagrined to learn what their real tax liability is.

And that leads to another point: it’s a lot harder for the IRS to check up on all those 1099s. W-2 employees have taxes deducted automatically. Essentially, their employers are acting as agents of the IRS. Not so for 1099 people.

As Judy Morris notes:

1099 income is a whole lot harder for governments to trace and enforcement becomes a huge problem for the government.  Precisely because 1099 tax revenues don’t consistently and reliably flow to the government in a timely manner, the government is at a disadvantage because it no longer has employers functioning as efficient and immediate tax collectors.

The economic calamity has also spawned a massive distrust of the government.  Folks are simply fed up with paying taxes.  When government is perceived a corrupt to the core and no longer offers value to taxpayers, taxpayers will seek ways to just opt out of the system.  And thus, the underground economy is born.

All of this is to the good. In my opinion one of the most pernicious parts of government is the withholding tax. The growing 1099 economy is exposing it, perhaps for the first time to those who once were W-2 employees.

The Sinking Economy May Sink Obama

Washington Times: Obama’s Economic Crisis

“He is deliberately misrepresenting this. Here’s a person with a terrible record on government spending and a terrible record on jobs and a person who broke his word on taxes. He has no credibility.”

English: "Former Presidents George H. W. ...

“Former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton film a public service announcement encouraging the American people to make cash donations to the tsunami relief effort through www.usafreedomcorps.gov in the White House Library Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who said that? Bill Clinton! Who was he saying it about? George H. W. Bush! When did he say it? 1992!

Fooled ya, didn’t I? 20 years have passed and little has changed except the players.

The GDP numbers on Friday showing the economy continuing to slow and headed into the recession predicted months ago by ECRI (Economic Cycle Research Institute), isn’t good news for Obama. The last quarter of last year showed growth (conveniently revised upward in Friday’s report) was 4.1 percent (on an annualized basis), while the second quarter was just 1.5 percent. Not only is the economy slowing, it is slowing at an accelerating pace.

But the White House claimed that Friday’s numbers indicate that “the economy continues to move in the right direction.” Spokesman (read: apologist) for the White House Jay Carney said:

We’re still in a position where we are pulling ourselves out of the very deep hole caused by the Great Recession, and there is still—of course—a great deal of anxiety in the country about the economy.

The establishment’s mouthpiece, The Wall Street Journal, even had to admit that things are looking dour for Obama:

Mr. Obama is running for re-election as a tribune of the middle-class against “millionaires and billionaires,” but his Presidency has been the worst for the middle class and the poor in decades

In return for blowing out the federal balance sheet, Americans got more debt but not more growth. And Mr. Obama says he wants $100 billion in more stimulus now?

Added to the record of the last four years, the 1.5% second quarter should solidify in the public mind that President Obama has failed on the economy.

Talk about mixed emotions. Watching the economy crater under Obama’s watch reminds me of the fellow watching his mother-in-law drive off the cliff in his brand new Cadillac.

Are Conservatives Growing a Backbone?

Jonah Goldberg: Business vs. Markets

Sweet fancy Moses! What’s next? Will conservatives come out in favor of bears doing their bathroom business in the woods without government oversight? Will the market fundamentalists soon argue that children eat candy for the sweet, sweet taste? Is there no end to their ideological madness?

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

What a great way to start the day! Jonah Goldberg, writing in National Review, thinks the resistance to renewing authorization for the “corporatist carbuncle”—as he calls the Export-Import bank—is a very good thing. And so do I.

Usually that authorization is rubber-stamped by Democrats and Republicans alike—another example of how different they aren’t—as evidenced by their willingness to use our money to fund the bank two dozen times since its birth under FDR in 1934, with nary a dissenting voice.

But not this time. According to the AP it took months of negotiations and pleas and bargainings and, no doubt, some backroom deals, to get the recalcitrant objectors into line and obtain the authorization finally rendered.

And who are these “recalcitrant” throwbacks? Why free market supporters, that’s who! As Goldberg said, “Conservatives—and especially libertarians but also some leftists—have been building the case against corporatism for a very long time.”

Partly it’s Obama’s fault, says Goldberg:

President Obama is easily the most corporatist president since FDR. He bought a couple of car companies. His health-care law turns insurance companies into utilities. He increasingly speaks the language of economic nationalism used by the two Roosevelts.

But it also has to do with what Goldberg calls a “growing philosophical consistency on the right.” Where did that come from?

I like to think that the so-obvious attempts by Obama to impose his socialist mandates onto the American people are causing many of them to reconsider exactly what kind of government they want. And that’s a good thing.

I have been hard-pressed to find any good thing to say about Obama and his attempts to impose Alinsky-ite authoritarian rule onto the country. But I have found one: he is galvanizing opposition like no president before him.

I find that reassuring. And so does Goldberg.

The Lamestream Media Gets Lamer

Judy Morris: Americans’ Confidence in Television News Drops to New Low

According to Gallup “Americans’ confidence in television news is at a new low…, with 21% of adults expressing a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in it. This marks a decline from 27% last year and from 46% when Gallup started tracking confidence in television news in 1993…”

English: The CNN Center in Atlanta.

The CNN Center in Atlanta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I share Judy Morris’ delight in this report from Gallup. I have had serious credibility issues with the lamestream media ever since I discovered that the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese wasn’t a surprise to Roosevelt! (See “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” and/or “Day of Deceit” for proofs.)

There are several pieces to the report that are worth mentioning. First, Democrats seem to have greater respect for the lamestream television media—34% of them give it the highest level of confidence—while independents and Republicans are tied at just 17%.

Print media seems, for some reason, to generate slightly higher credibility ratings.

But the choicest part is how dismal CNN is doing in the ratings:

Compared to Q1 2011, CNN was down -21% in total viewers and down -26% in A25-54 viewers for Total Day viewing and down -5% in both Total Viewers and A25-54 viewers in Primetime. CNN did see slight growth in Primetime (Mon-Fri) due to three GOP debates it carried, topping MSNBC in the demo (Mon-Fri and Mon-Sun).

As Judy notes, “In a nation of 310 million folks it’s quite pathetic that a new giant like CNN only has 599,000 nightly viewers…”

And even Fox News showed a decline. Explained Judy:

While Fox has also suffered a decline, Fox is basically GOP TV anyway. Establishment Republicans will continue to exclusively view Fox (they always do) but Fox also has the oldest viewers and as old Republicans die off, they aren’t being replaced with a crop of young folks. Fox and the GOP have the same problem, namely it can’t attract the young which is considered a very critical audience.

This brings me to a point not mentioned often enough: young people, informed young people, those who get their news from other, more reliable and less slanted news sources (read: the internet), are the ones most likely to make a difference in the freedom fight in the years to come.

I take great comfort in the fact that a 76-year-old Ron Paul continues to generate such interest and following from the younger generation (18-30).

The lamestream media, in the meantime, gets lamer all the time. I love it.

Woody Guthrie, Hard-Core Communist

Mark Steyn: Your Land is My Land

Elsewhere on National Review Online [NRO] this fine morning, Lee Habeeb has a terrific column on Woody Guthrie and “This Land Is Your Land,” a song I have always loathed, mostly on musical grounds—the consciously childlike melody, and the stiltedness of its central rhyme (“this land is my land … New York island”). I especially dislike it at my town’s Memorial Day ceremony when it intrudes on the Fifth Graders’ otherwise splendid repertoire of “God Bless America” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

But Lee reminds us there are other reasons to loathe it. From Inauguration Day 2009:

Hope and change were in the air that cold winter day, and Seeger and Springsteen figured it was time for America to hear the rarely performed stanza.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,
A great big sign there said, “private property”;
But on the back side, it didn’t say nothin’;
That side was made for you and me.

No wonder we’ve never heard that stanza. It changes Guthrie’s song from a celebration of America into a bitter indictment of a nation built on unjust private-property rights.

English: Woody Guthrie, half-length portrait, ...

Woody Guthrie, half-length portrait, seated, facing front, playing a guitar that has a sticker attached reading: This Machine Kills Fascists Türkçe: Woody Guthrie, üzerinde “Bu makine faşistleri öldürür” yazan gitarıyla birlikte (8 Mart 1943). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mark Steyn “loathes” this song but spends precious little time on the hard-core communist who wrote it. On the other hand, Joe Klein did, and here is a little piece of his biography on Guthrie that should suffice for any skeptics or doubters about Guthrie:

It was also in California, that Woody was first introduced to the Communist Party by Ed Robbin on KFVD who was a correspondent for [the] Communist Party’s paper, People’s World, and by actor, Will Geer. He played at countless labor strikes, union meetings, migrant camps, and Communist Hollywood parties with actor, Will Geer, and wrote for The Light, another Communist paper, and People’s World.

Shortly after leaving KFVD, The Light sent Woody back out on the road to investigate the conditions of the migrant Okies. According to Klein, the migrant culture Woody found this time was different: bitter, hardened, angrier, and more open to the action proposed by the union men who were seeking them out. Woody was angered, himself, by what he saw and…“having spent most of the 1930’s on the sidelines, Woody finally was spoiling for a fight. And, as he looked around, the people who seemed to be fighting hardest for the things he believed in were members of the Communist Party.”

I too loathe his song “This Land…” but for different, and perhaps more important, reasons than Steyn’s.

NOT The Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes

Bob Beauprez: What Patriots Can Learn to Do

It seems that virtually everyone agrees that the upcoming election in November is the most important in our lifetimes. And, while many people do engage in supporting candidates, the vast majority of citizens remain on the sidelines. Barely half of the eligible population bothers to vote even in a presidential election. Only a small fraction of the people ever step up to volunteer to help or write a check.

Rep Bob Beauprez from Colorado

Rep Bob Beauprez from Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like Beauprez. He’s a “gut” conservative, meaning that he basically is conservative without having studied it by attending LPR or immersing himself in some other conservative program. But this time his premise is wrong. This isn’t the “most important election in our lifetimes.”

That’s just plain bunk. I learned that the hard way. Back in 1976, when Jimmy Carter was running for president, and likely to win, I thought that was going to be the last election to be held in America. I considered myself to be well-read. In 1967 I was introduced to the John Birch Society through a man who later became a very good friend. I fought it. I resisted it. I read everything I could about it (the society). It made some outrageous claims, and then proceeded to back them up with proof.

I remember reading Mr. Robert Welch’s book, “The Politician” about President Eisenhower. My folks thought Eisenhower was practically a saint. I remember working on his campaign, handing out literature (I was 16 in 1956, when Ike was running for reelection). Mr. Welch proceeded to dismantle, piece by piece, the image created by the media, and bought into by my folks, and then filled the last half of his book with footnotes and sources that proved his allegations. I was devastated.

I joined the JBS and continued on a quest to read…and read…and read (that continues to this day–I still feel like I’m chasing a bookmobile down the road, but not getting any closer!). By 1976 I figured I was pretty well read, and had things figured out. And one of those things was that the insiders had arranged for Jimmy the Peanut to be our last “elected” president and that he would install martial law upon taking the White House.

Imagine my surprise when life pretty much continued along as it had previously. Freedom shrank a little, but then expanded when Reagan took the White House in 1980.

So, no, Bob, I don’t think this election “is the most important election in our lifetimes.” It is an important election, sure, but much more is going to be decided in November in the House and the Senate and in the states and cities and municipalities. That’s where the battle for freedom is being fought, and being won.

Microsoft Sees Handwriting on the Wall, Splits from NBC

USA Today: Microsoft pulls out of MSNBC.com, sells stake to NBC

The online divorce stemmed from the two partners’ desire to gain greater control over their digital destinies as the Internet becomes an increasingly important part of their businesses…

Microsoft, in particular, had grown frustrated by contract terms requiring it to exclusively feature MSNBC.com content on its own websites. That exasperation was exacerbated by the MSNBC cable channel’s strategy to counter Fox News Channel’s appeal to conservative viewers by tailoring its programming for an audience with a liberal viewpoint.

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

After fifteen years of putting up with contract constraints that required MSNBC to use NBC’s liberal-leaning content, Microsoft is leaving to create it is own news network. Isn’t competition wonderful? And especially pleasant is the fact the NBC continues to lose market share to Fox, perceived to be more conservative and as a result more popular.

Regardless of whether you think Fox News in conservative (I don’t), competition is good. And NBC, if it persists in presenting programming that people don’t want to watch, their ratings will continue to tank.

I blame the internet for much of this paradigm shift. Drudge gets 2 million viewers every day. LewRockwell.com gets millions every month. Even a lowly website, TheNewAmerican.com, is approaching a million a month—it started in September 2008 with 25,000 visitors!

So the shift to better—read: more truthful, less slanted—programming continues to decimate the “establishment press.”

Here’s some more from the article:

“Being limited to MSNBC.com content was problematic to us because we couldn’t have the multiple news sources and the multiple perspectives that our users were telling us that they wanted,” said Bob Visse, general manager of MSN.com.

That’s how it works: “users were telling us [what] they wanted.” And they are tired of the leftward slant. Truth is so refreshing. Watch NBC’s numbers continue to crumble.

The Economist: Government Fixed America’s Economy

This article reminds me of the “nattering nabobs” phrase used by William Safire to describe those who tell only part of the truth in order to promote a bigger lie. The Economist is good at this. It is helpful to remember that it is the British equivalent of the CFR’s Foreign Affairs, but from an economic point of view.

You can tell almost immediately where this article is going: it’s government…government…government!…that is responsible, not for America’s present economic decline, but for the good things America enjoys: the internet and oil shale fracking!

Nothing is said about the Federal Reserve, or fractional reserve banking that sent the American economy into recession. Nothing is said about entrepreneurship based upon what’s left of the rule of law and contracts to make investments based not on government edict but on private estimate of potential gain.

I could go on, but you get the idea. If you decide to read this article anyway, be sure not to swallow it. It’ll give you intellectual indigestion.

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.