It turns out that many donors gave multiple small amounts that added up to the legal maximum. Plus, we should remember that the Obama campaign disabled the normal checks on credit card donations, which makes it easier to evade campaign finance limits.
Everybody knows how President-elect Barack Obama's amazing campaign money machine was dominated by several million regular folks sending in hard-earned amounts under $200, a real sign of his broadbased grassroots support.
Except, it turns out, that's not really true.
In fact, Obama's base of small donors was almost exactly the same percent as George W. Bush's in 2004 -- Obama had 26% and the great Republican satan 25%.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
It was reported last week that the Obamas have chosen the elite, $30,000 per year Sidwell Friends School for their daughters. [...] Public school officials, however, should be perplexed as to why the Obamas, like nearly all politicians, have discarded Washington D.C.'s public schools for the "private sector."
An important question then becomes why the Obamas chose Sidwell Friends, a school bereft of so many elements public educators and the media tell us are required for academic "growth and excellence." Since it would be a shame for Sasha and Malia to miss out on all the "benefits" of public schooling, here are some recommendations I have for Sidwell Friends, which will help mold it into the type of school "the experts" desire.
That National Education Association believes "the attainment and exercise of collective bargaining rights are essential to the promotion of education employee and student needs in society." How can the Obama kids have the complete educational experience without early release time for "professional development," empty parking lots at 2:40pm for salary protests, strikes, and pilfered paychecks?
In the old days -- from the Venetian Republic to, oh, the Bear Stearns rescue -- if you wanted to get rich, you did it the Warren Buffett way: You learned to read balance sheets. Today you learn to read political tea leaves. [...] Today's extreme stock market volatility is not just a symptom of fear -- fear cannot account for days of wild market swings upward -- but a reaction to meta-economic events: political decisions that have vast economic effects. As economist Irwin Stelzer argues, we have gone from a market-driven economy to a politically driven economy.
Putting it all together, Mundell's anti-recession program is a reduction of the high marginal tax rate on business to reignite growth along with a stable dollar to contain inflation.
Would Barack Obama have gotten the Democratic nomination if he had told the party he would retain George Bush's Defense Secretary?
Mr. Obama's announcement of his economic team on Monday provided surprisingly positive clarity. He picked as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the respected, soft-spoken New York Fed president. Mr. Geithner has been a key player with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in confronting the financial crisis. Every major decision in the rescue effort came only after the three agreed.
The National Economic Council director-designee, Larry Summers, is another solid pick. Mr. Summers has been an advocate for trade liberalization, he was the Clinton administration's negotiator for the financial deregulation known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and he even attempted to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the 1990s.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
First there is the Washington Post's revelation that Rangel inappropriately claimed a tax break on his D.C. townhouse by claiming it was his primary residence. The five-year charade only netted the congressman from Harlem about $1,500, which is relatively small potatoes. But it nicely dovetails with two other Rangel escapades of late: That he failed to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income from his luxury beach villa in the Caribbean because he—ahem—didn't know it was income; and that he scored several rent-stabilized apartments in New York, each of which he must claim as his primary residence. Taken all together, it looks like the top tax-writer in Congress is a tax cheat.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Let's be blunt here: The Marc Rich pardon was one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of the Justice Department. Not the modern history, the entire history. Rich was accused of mega-crimes: millions in fraud, tax-evasion, and trading with the America's enemies. In 2000, he was a fugitive. He had been one for nearly two decades, during which the government had expended immense resources in a futile attempt to apprehend him.
Mind you, flitting from country to country to avoid prosecution, as Rich was doing, is itself a felony. When Eric Holder aided and abetted Rich's pardon effort, he was not only grossly violating the Justice Department policy it was his job to uphold; he was dealing with the agents of someone who was actively committing a serious federal crime. That's why, when prosecutors deal with a fugitive's representatives, the appropriate question is: "When is he going to turn himself in?" It's not, as Holder essentially asked, "What can I do to help?"
Holder, then Clinton administration deputy attorney general, steered the fugitive toward a friendly Clinton insider: former White House Counsel Jack Quinn. That enabled the most-wanted fugitive to lobby the President directly — and in violation of an executive order barring lobbying by recently departed White House staffers — without nettlesome interference from the Justice Department's long-established, procedurally rigorous pardon process. In order to protect the public, that process called for input from the case prosecutors and investigators. As Holder well knew, following it would have demonstrated beyond cavil that pardoning Rich would be an outrage, in violation of every DOJ guideline.
Moreover, Holder extended his helping hand with the crassest of motives: the careerist was hoping the influential Quinn would look favorably on Holder's quest to become attorney general in a Gore administration. That is, Holder was actively soliciting help from Quinn (Vice President Gore's former counsel and friend) at the very time he was providing invaluable help to Quinn's fugitive client — first in unsuccessfully pushing Rich's preposterous effort to settle the case without jail time with prosecutors in New York, then in overcoming the uniform objections of White House staffers to a Rich pardon.
And the cherry on top: The scenario in which Holder's sell-out of Justice Department principle took place was scummy in every particular; multi-millionaire Rich's ex-wife and staunchest supporter, Denise Rich, was making mega-bucks donations to Clinton causes (according to Time, $400,000 to the Clinton Library Fund, $10,000 to the Clinton Legal Defense Fund, and over $1 million to Democrat campaigns during the Clinton era — including $70,000 for the 2000 Senate campaign of Hillary Clinton, now Obama's pick for secretary of State).
Monday, November 24, 2008
Conservatives are once again lining up their support to put Flake on Appropriations. The anti-tax advocacy group FreedomWorks has renewed their 2008 "Make it Flake" campaign at www.makeitflake.com. "There are 59 members of the House Appropriations Committee," the site says. "We think it is time to have at least one Committee member who doesn't take earmarks and who doesn't support pork barrel spending."
The Club for Growth's Pat Toomey made the case for Flake in the pages of the National Review writing, "[House Minority Leader] John Boehner should use his influence and leadership position to appoint Rep. Jeff Flake to the Appropriations Committee."
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The advisers who helped trash the former First Lady's foreign policy credentials on the campaign trail are being brutally shunted aside, as the price of her accepting the job of being the public face of America to the world. In negotiations with Mr Obama this week before agreeing to take the job, she demanded and received assurances that she alone should appoint staff to the State Department. She also got assurances that she will have direct access to the President and will not have to go through his foreign policy advisers on the National Security Council, which is where many of her critics in the Obama team are expected to end up.
Mr Craig's crime was not so much that he enthusiastically backed Mr Obama for President and helped run his foreign policy advisory panel, it was his lacerating attacks on the putative Secretary of State's claims that she passed the "Commander-in-Chief test" as a foreign policy expert in the Clinton Administration. In a devastating memo of 11 March last, which he addressed "to interested parties," Mr Craig said: There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff."
"She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis."
The memo went on to say that Mrs Clinton "never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue – not at 3 AM or at any other time of day." Earlier this week Mr Craig was tapped to become White House counsel, a totally anonymous position, and shunted him out of the line of fire from the Secretary of State.
She should tell the media that she apologizes and she'll do her next interview inside an abortion clinic.
And, while you're right that "it would have been funny whichever pol stood there", ask yourself whether the media would even have noticed had Joe Biden done such a thing. That's what upgraded it from mildly infelicitous to side-splitting hilarious - not the footage, but the po-faced huffing of the shrieking nancies at MSNBC and the portentous plonkers at The New York Times:You don't have to be a huge animal lover to question why Governor Palin chose to be interviewed — while issuing a traditional seasonal pardon of a turkey — while turkeys were being executed in the background.
And that's Sarah Palin's real stroke of genius in these difficult times for the global economy. For, in an age when the government picks which banks to nationalize and which banks to fail, and guarantees mortgages that should never have been issued, and prepares to demand that those taxpayers with responsible and affordable pension plans prop up the lavish and unsustainable pension programs of Detroit, Governor Palin has given us a great teaching moment and a perfect snapshot of what my Brit reader would recognize as pre-Thatcher "industrial policy":
When the government decides it can "pick winners" and spare them from the realities of the market, everyone else gets bled to death.
Thank you, Sarah. It's the first election ad of Campaign '12.
Either markets allocate resources, or government -- meaning politics -- allocates them. Now that distrust of markets is high, Americans are supposed to believe that the institution they trust least -- Congress -- will pony up $1 trillion and then passively recede, never putting its 10 thumbs, like a manic Jack Horner, into the pie? Surely Congress will direct the executive branch to show compassion for this, that and the other industry. And it will mandate "socially responsible" spending -- an infinitely elastic term -- by the favored companies.
Conservatives rightly think, or once did, that much, indeed most, government spreading of wealth is economically destructive and morally dubious -- destructive because, by directing capital to suboptimum uses, it slows wealth creation; morally dubious because the wealth being spread belongs to those who created it, not government.
In America, socialism is un-American. Instead, Americans merely do rent-seeking -- bending government for the benefit of private factions. The difference is in degree, including the degree of candor. The rehabilitation of conservatism cannot begin until conservatives are candid about their complicity in what government has become.
As for the president-elect, he promises to change Washington. He will, by making matters worse. He will intensify rent-seeking by finding new ways -- this will not be easy -- to expand, even more than the current administration has, government's influence on spreading the wealth around.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Driving Mrs. Clinton's deliberations in part, friends said, was a sense of disenchantment with the Senate, where despite her stature she remained low in the ranks of seniority that governs the body. She was particularly upset, they said, at the reception she felt she received when she returned from the campaign trail and sought a more significant leadership role in the expanding Democratic majority.
"Her experience in the Senate with some of her colleagues has not been the easiest time for her," said one longtime friend. "She's still a very junior senator. She doesn't have a committee. And she's had some disappointing times with her colleagues."
In particular, the friend said, Mrs. Clinton was upset when the Senate Democratic leadership rejected the possibility of her heading a special task force with a staff and a mandate to develop legislation expanding health care coverage. The idea of giving her an existing leadership post was also dismissed because the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, did not want to force out any senators currently holding those jobs.
On this symbolic date, it seems worthwhile to reflect that the planet has not only cooled since George W. Bush took office – pause and let the significance of that one sink in – but began to chill significantly at almost precisely the moment that we signed the Kyoto Protocol, exactly ten years ago today.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is standing by an agency director who OK'd improper computer checks for confidential information on "Joe the Plumber" and used state e-mails for political fundraising.
Strickland announced today that Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Department of Job and Family Services, will be placed on unpaid leave for one month in response to an inspector general's investigation.
The investigation found Jones-Kelley had no legitimate reasons to check on Toledo-area resident Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who was popularized as "Joe the Plumber" by Republican presidential candidate John McCain. It also confirmed she improperly used her state e-mail account to raise campaign money for President-elect Barack Obama.
Some Republican leaders, who cited the report's findings to call on Democrat Strickland to fire Jones-Kelley, were stunned that she will remain on the job.
"The actions described in this report cross the line of what you can do and lead a state agency. She violated the public trust," said House Speaker Jon Husted, R-Kettering.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
So to be clear, Holder helped steer the attorney for Rich, a fugitive whose pardon request would likely have been rejected through normal channels due to his status as a fugitive, to the man Holder wanted assistance with in getting his next job. Now there's a man who knows something about conflicts of interest.[...]
So returning to Holder's possible selection as Attorney General, the mind reels as to why this person, who participated in a notorious Clinton scandal and himself seemed so oblivious to his own conflict of interest, would be chosen. Is this the New Politics? Or is it a throwback to the Clinton years, the very years Obama is attempting to turn the page on, to put behind us all?
When one looks to the people Obama in turn has selected as mentors (e.g., Reverend Wright, Father Michael Pfleger), friends (e.g., Tony Rezko), and now key advisors (e.g., Eric Holder), voters may begin to question whether Obama possesses the judgment necessary to run an effective and scandal-free administration. If Holder is emblematic of Obama's personnel decisions and an example of what is to come, the answer is "no."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I declare November 22, 2008 to be "Victory in Iraq Day." (Hereafter known as "VI Day.")
By every measure, The United States and coalition forces have conclusively defeated all enemies in Iraq, pacified the country, deposed the previous regime, successfully helped to establish a new functioning democratic government, and suppressed any lingering insurgencies. The war has come to an end. And we won.
Shelby Steele on President-Elect Obama: Chapter 3 of 5 - Uncommon Knowledge on National Review Online
Shelby Steels says Obama represented an opportunity for white voters to dispel the stigma that this is a racist country. Black voters, by contrast, voted for Obama to dispel the idea that they are inferior.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Neither the Bush presidency nor the McCain candidacy was a pleasant experience for conservatives. George W. Bush was a liberal big spender in domestic policy and John McCain's "maverick" image was code for insulting conservatives in order to charm the travelling press. Having to swallow these irritations and support their authors was a trial that is now over.
Sarah Palin, by contrast, is in Margaret Thatcher's phrase "one of us." She does more than advocate — she incarnates — the practical common-sense conservatism of Middle America. The assembled right-wingers love her for the smears and condescension she has suffered on their behalf. And since they will be among the donors, precinct workers and voters in the 2012 presidential primaries, Ms. Palin clearly has a big political future.
Nevertheless, Bush is the GOP's Jimmy Carter, a weak bumbler who embarrassed his constituents, betrayed his philosophical movement, sank his party, and eventually surrendered the White House to the opposition, this time led by the Senate's Number One liberal, still in his first term. Bush should retire quietly to Texas, where he can drive his truck, chop wood, and avoid the limelight for the balance of his natural existence.
Monday, November 17, 2008
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.
This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.
So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That andClimate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Although the loss of the presidential election is the backdrop to this meeting, everyone here will tell you that Republicans shouldn't be thinking about 2012, because the way to build long-term success is by achieving short-term success.
"I thought Sarah was very right to say that we're focused on 2009 and 2010," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told reporters. "Thirty-six governors' races in 2010, including in Florida — that's where our focus is. When I was chairman of the Republican National Committee the last time we lost the White House, after the 1992 election, we focused exclusively on 1993 and 1994. And at the end of that time, we had both houses of Congress with Republican majorities, and we'd gone from 17 Republican governors to 31. So anyone talking about 2012 today doesn't have their eye on the ball. What we ought to worry about is rebuilding our party over the next year and particularly in 2010."
If that's the message, then Palin is very much on message. Speaking to the governors, she made a few jokes about the campaign — reporting on her last year, she said, "I had a baby, I did some traveling, I very briefly expanded my wardrobe, I made a few speeches, met a few VIPs, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey, but other than that, it was pretty much the same old, same old." She praised John McCain. She recounted inspiring moments involving children with special needs. And then she spent a lot of time talking about the future — the governors' future.
"Let the pundits go on with their idle talk about the next election, about what happens in 2012," she said. "Our concern should be about our state's next great reform, our next budget, our next opportunity to progress in the states that we serve, and on issues like taxes and energy and health care, immigration, education, we will not lack for opportunities to serve and to lead and to show the way."
As conservatives ponder a long exile in the political wilderness, many voices are calling for a period of contemplation, a returning to roots, so to speak.
They could do worse than return to William H. McNeill's 1963 magnum opus, The Rise of the West, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. The lessons of that 900-page survey of human history have as much urgency today as they did at the height of the Cold War, and they make a sweeping case for economic and political freedom.
Others wondered last night if the Obama camp - which is very disciplined about unwanted leaks - is even serious about floating her name or simply trying to compliment her by suggesting she's in the running.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
But something interesting happened on Election Day that didn't get much attention. Bans on gay marriage were on ballots in several states, and they all won. In fact, gay marriage bans have ultimately passed in all 30 of the states in which they were on the ballot.
The ban in California was particularly intriguing. Proposition 8 would have failed in the Golden State if it were up to white voters, who opposed it by a 51-49 ratio. What carried it over the top was enormous support from black voters, with about 70 percent of them backing it. Hispanics also supported the ban by significant, though smaller, margins. In Florida, where a similar ban required a 60 percent margin, Amendment 2 just barely passed, getting 60 percent of the white vote. The cushion came from blacks, who voted 71 percent in favor, and Latinos, who voted 64 percent in favor.
In other words, Obama had some major un-progressive coattails. The tidal wave of black and Hispanic voters who came out to support Obama voted in enormous numbers against what most white liberals consider to be the foremost civil rights issue of the day.
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, Broun admitted to calling the future commander-in-chief a 'Marxist' at a recent Rotary club meeting, and said Obama has expressed support for policies similar to those of Hitler.
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Broun told the AP. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may– may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."
Broun was specifically referring to a July speech by Obama, where the then-Democratic presidential nominee said he supports a civilian force helping the military when it comes to national security: "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded [as the military]," Obama said in the speech that was largely a call to national service.
Responding to those comments, Broun told the AP Monday: "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."
"We can't be lulled into complacency," Broun added. "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential."
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The point is that the free market, which I think amounts to one of the Permanent Things, cannot be fooled or tooled. As Malcolm Muggeridge said, God is not mocked. I make the point again in my article today, when I say that the housing market reacted to the signals of government in ways that government approved of, until the market showed them the end result. So we should defend the free market not because it always delivers perfect results. It won't, not unless we have perfect people. Instead, we must defend it because it delivers information far better than a Philosopher King, a Politburo, or a Regulator. [...]
In other words, if we value property rights, the free market is an essential consequence. And that is why market socialism never works, because it devalues property rights. Liberty demands property rights which demand free markets. We only interfere with that chain in defiance of history.
MELISSA CLOUTHIER: Shame on John McCain for Not Defending Sarah Palin. "What rock is Senator McCain hiding under and why can't he show himself for a moment to defend his running mate? . . . Once again, John McCain's actions betray the character traits conservatives abhorred about the man during his years in the Senate: He would spit in a friend's eye to win the favor of an enemy." On the upside, he's making a lot of Republicans feel better about losing to Obama. It's all part of the healing!
I for one never trusted McCain to care about conservatives so it's not surprising that he declines to support Palin. His whole "maverick" image depends on betraying conservatives so that liberals will like him. Now, watch him sell out the Republicans to cozy up to Obama and the press. As Rush said, the McCain campaign was one long concession speech.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Margaret Thatcher used to talk about the "ratchet effect." When the Left gets power, she said, they drive everything Left; when the Right gets power, they slow the Leftward drive, perhaps even halt it for a spell; but nothing ever gets moved to the Right. U.S. politics in the 21st century so far bears out this dismal analysis. What does the Right have to show for eight years of a Republican presidency? I supported George W. Bush in 2000 because I thought he had a conservative bone in his body somewhere. I supported him in 2004 because I thought him the lesser of two evils.
Illegal-alien and open-borders advocates may succeed in getting the Arizona Supreme Court to ban numerous immigration-related phrases, including "illegal alien" and "open-borders advocates."
In a significant blow to the First Amendment and the use of legally-correct terminology, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor has advanced the demands of the Arizona Hispanic Bar Association by moving to ban the following language from all of the state's courtrooms:
Resident or non-resident aliens
Pro-illegal immigration activists
Open borders advocates
Proponents for amnesty
Many of these terms have a precedent in the law that reaches back to the origins of this country. The first five terms are used repeatedly throughout federal immigration statutes and case law. In place of these words, the Hispanic Bar Association demands the use of legally-enigmatic terms such as "unauthorized workers." Of course, use of inaccurate and activist-created terms only creates confusion and legal uncertainty.
Here's what has to happen. Cerebus needs to sell Chrysler to somebody with cash and a need for access to the US market. India's Tata comes to mind.GM and Ford should be allowed to go through bankrupt reorganizations. Yes, there will be huge transaction costs. Yes, some of those costs will be borne by the taxpayers. The bankruptcy court's ability to remake contracts, however, will be critical. GM and Ford need to tear up their contracts with the unions, its retirees, and its dealers.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Parties are all about getting people elected to political office; and the practice of politics too often takes the form of professional juvenile delinquency: short-sighted and self-centered.
This was certainly true of the Bush presidency. Too often the policy agenda was determined by short-sighted political considerations and an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms. How else do we explain "compassionate conservatism," No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug benefit and the most dramatic growth in federal spending since LBJ's Great Society?
In 1992, Republican backbenchers including Newt Gingrich, myself, Bob Walker and John Boehner rose up to challenge the Clinton administration's agenda on taxes, spending and government-run health care. But before we could beat the Democrats, we had to beat the old bulls of our own party who had forgotten their principles and had become very comfortable as a complacent minority. We captured control of Congress in 1994 because we had confidence in our principles, and in the American people's willingness to understand and reward a national vision based on lower taxes, less government and more freedom.
Friday, November 07, 2008
This is only a cursory analysis of the budget at its most superficial level, but it is enough to reveal that Barney Frank's desire to cut defense by 25 percent is either fantasy or lunacy--or a cynical attempt to play to the pacifist wing of his own party while distracting attention from his own culpability for the current financial crisis. In any case, Frank is very much alone in his desire to make such deep cuts in defense (though Obama makes noises of this sort from time to time, he is quick to backtrack). In fact, there is an emerging consensus that the U.S. must maintain its defense spending at close to its present levels for the foreseeable future.
The best way to understand what that means is defense as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). Though it is commonly believed that defense spending is at unprecedented levels (it is, if one just counts dollars), relative to the size of our economy, we are only spending about 4 to 4.5 percent of GDP on defense. This compares to 11.7 percent during the Korean War, 9.8 percent during the Vietnam War, 6 percent during the Reagan defense buildup, and 4.6 percent during the first Gulf War. Despite fighting a war on two fronts for six years while simultaneously attempting to modernize our forces, despite spending more money on defense than ever before, our economic growth has outpaced the growth of the defense budget by a wide margin. From an historical perspective, current spending levels are both affordable and the minimum appropriate level, given the global security situation.
The real threat to the defense budget comes from what has been called "entitlement squeeze"; i.e., the growth of "entitlement programs" such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the like, which go up every year in response to inflation and new government mandates, without Congress even having to appropriate the money--it's just taken off the top, automatically. That leaves less and less room for "discretionary' funding--money which Congress has to appropriate and authorize every year. Defense constitutes the single largest pile of discretionary funds, and is also the one with the least domestic support, since its benefits are not visible (unless there is a war).
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Barack Obama and congressional Democrats won big on Tuesday night, but they should not mistake their victory for a big-government mandate. The evidence tells a very different story.
A poll commissioned by the Club for Growth in 12 swing congressional districts over the past weekend shows that the voters who made the difference in this election still prefer less government -- lower taxes, less spending and less regulation -- to Sen. Obama's economic liberalism. Turns out, Americans didn't vote for Mr. Obama and Democratic congressional candidates because they support their redistributionist agenda, but because they are fed up with the Republican politicians in office. This was a classic "throw the bums out" election, rather than an embrace of the policy views of those who will replace them.
More on the poll:
Of course, helping the infirm, the handicapped or soldiers overseas cast ballots makes sense. But do we really think the outcomes will be improved if we triple the turnout of the lazy and uninformed?
Apparently, the answer is yes, particularly judging by the virtual deification of "undecided" voters this year. I understand why campaigns care so much about the undecided voter in the last days of the election: They're kingmakers of a sort. But the press lionizes these people as geniuses and, judging from some of the focus groups we've been subjected to, these proudly indecisive and lazy voters actually believe all their good press.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
It has been six years since Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act after the devastating accounting irregularities of Enron and WorldCom. While the intent of the law was to prevent corporate fraud, there is growing evidence that it has done more harm than good, and is undermining the venture-capital industry in Silicon Valley. Now, with signs that our economy is moving toward recession, Congress should take this opportunity to repeal the law.
The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.
Using these numbers, we can see that Barack Obama succeeded in turning out his base much more effectively than McCain did his. How do we know that it's a base turnout rather than a tsunami of opinion to Democrats? For one thing, Dems didn't pick up a boatload of new seats in the House, and they may underperform expectations yet in the Senate. They did gain some strength with independents, but only gaining between 11-20 seats in the House tells us that they found votes in districts they already control, more than finding converts.
John McCain and the GOP didn't get their turnout in this race. They lost almost seven million voters from 2004, a rather stunning number. We'll be chewing on this for a while, but that's more than 10% of the Bush vote that got lost in this election. Did they stay home, or did significant numbers of them defect to Obama? I'm guessing the former. The GOP demoralized their base by acting like Democrats for too many years, and the winds of "change" proved too dispiriting this time around.
If you believe the exit polls (I know, I know), Bush in 2004 got 84 percent of conservatives, 45 percent of moderates, and 13 percent of liberals. McCain lost ground among everyone. He got 78 percent of conservatives, 39 percent of moderates, and 10 percent of liberals. Also, the ideological composition of the electorate was almost exactly the same this year as in 2004—34 percent conservative, 44 percent moderate, 22 percent liberal. On party ID, the same story. McCain performed slightly worse than Bush across the board. Bush won 93 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents, and 11 percent of Democrats. McCain won 89 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents, and 10 percent of Democrats. Here, though, the composition of the electorate changed. In 2004, Republicans were 37 percent of voters, in 2008 32 percent.
I'm not indulging in the same somewhat moist-eyed congratulations as some of our colleagues. I extend my congratulations mainly in the same sense that elderly British veterans of my acquaintance like to express their admiration of the marvelously innovative ways their Japanese captors found to torture them. The President-elect ran rings round our side, and found many novel ways to torture us.
Yes, you're right. Acorn is still a disgusting organization and Obama's fundraising fraud is still outrageous. But nobody wants to hear that now. The problem for us is more basic - the Dems control the language on such issues ("count every vote", etc), and they're much better at demonizing. Why did McCain talk about Ayers but not even mention Wright? Because he was terrified someone would point a finger and cry "Racist!" And in four years' time the Democrats' media-cultural-organizational advantage on such subjects will likely be even greater. The salient feature of Ron Jones' brief appearance on TV yesterday is not that Mr Jones voted "a couple of times" in Philadelphia nor even that he was entirely comfortable about admitting as much on TV, but that CNN's Brian Todd beamed indulgently and said, "I think that's against the law but it's okay." That's the way large numbers of the American people feel about Acorn, the Undocumented Auntie, foreign donations and much else: it may be against the law but it's okay.
So I think our energies would be better focused on examining where we went wrong than in objecting to where the other guys went right. We need to rediscover a coherent conservatism and find someone who can pitch it to sufficient numbers of people. We didn't have either in this campaign.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The difference of opinion here, between those who know Palin and those who don't, is unusual. The criticism of Palin is personal. Normally in politics, campaign operatives are called on to make excuses for a dull and uninspiring candidate. Invariably, they explain that in private, especially face-to-face with a small group of voters, the candidate is dazzlingly likable and enormously persuasive.
With Palin, it's the opposite. No one questions her ability to excite a crowd. Simply by stepping on stage at rallies, Palin rouses audiences, and her speeches are frequently interrupted by chants of "Sarah, Sarah, Sarah."
It's the private Palin, the person--who she is, what she knows, her lack of experience--that has provoked both the strongest criticism and most legitimate doubts about her readiness to be first in the line of succession if the president dies or is incapacitated.
In judging Palin, it comes down to who is more credible. Is it those who've worked with her, or know her, or have at least met and talked with her? Or those who haven't? The answer is a no-brainer. Okay, I may be biased on the subject of Palin, having been impressed after spending nearly two hours with her on one occasion and an hour on another.
HELENA - Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown this week accused Democrats of spreading a false rumor that he is a vegetarian in this meat-loving state.
"I am not and have never been a vegetarian," Brown said.
"I am disgusted by the baseless allegation that I am a vegetarian and that my personal eating habits should somehow be construed as opposed to the economic interests of Montana's livestock industry."
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has hired forensic accounting specialists to investigate more than $1 million in church funding to voter-registration group ACORN, fearing the money may have been spent in partisan or fraudulent ways that could jeopardize the church's tax-exempt status.The investigation is "thorough, serious and ongoing," according to a July 11 letter to more than 200 bishops from New Orleans Bishop Robert Morin, chairman of the committee that oversees the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
The CCHD sent $1,037,000 to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in 2007, including a $40,000 grant to an ACORN affiliate in Las Vegas that was raided last month by the Nevada attorney general's office in a voter-fraud probe.
The Catholic aid agency has given more than $7.3 million to ACORN over the past decade for about 320 projects, according to the Catholic News Service.
In June, the Catholic Church froze a $1.2 million grant for 38 ACORN chapters after the community-organizing group was accused of voter fraud in 15 states.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Back in 1999, terrorists on the daylight-saving West Bank built several time bombs, delivered to co-conspirators in Israel and scheduled to explode at a set time. Problem was, Israel had just switched back to standard time, so the only people injured were the terrorists themselves when the bomb detonated an hour earlier than they expected and killed them all.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck."