Thursday, September 30, 2010
BTW, I've added Shane's blog to my favorites at the right.
I have come out strongly against Proposition D, the proposed half cent sales tax increase in San Diego. However, it occurred to me that we should cut a deal to see if the politicians who put it on the ballot are serious. I'll vote for the increase if two conditions are met:
- The city's budget is cut in actual dollars year on year, by at least 5%
- The city outsources enough jobs to reduce the number of union workers on the city's payroll by 10%.
Good to see W.C. on board with my recommendation; He'd better be, I've got clout. You don't get to be unofficial chief ideologist just by self proclamation.
OK, actually you do, but don't tell anyone.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
A legitimate criticism of the the Pledge to America is that it doesn't get specific about how to slash the size of government, except for repealing the stimulus and Obamacare (not bad starts, however). Reason magazine steps into the fray with this month's issue appropriately titled "How to Slash Government Before It Slashes You." If Republicans are too get serious about governing they need to look at some of the best ideas (my picks, there were many more, so go subscribe already):
- Reform Medicaid by changing the funding from a matching grant to a block grant. Matching funding encourages the states to just spend more, rather than getting costs under control.
- Reduce federal education spending back to 2001 levels. The federal government doesn't educate a single child, but the Education budget has risen 80% in the last decade.
- Switch to defined contributions pensions at the federal, state and local level. (This has been partially accomplshed at the federal level.) It won't solve the immediate issue, but the shift will pay long term benefits to both employees and taxpayers. (Meg Whitman has proposed this, I may vote for her yet.)
- End Davis-Bacon "prevailing wage" laws. The requirement was originally a racist attempt to deny blacks jobs on federal projects, its impact is to increase the cost of all federal contracts to the benefit of union shops.
- Bust up Fannie and Freddie. Because these agencies operate with the backing of the Federal Reserve, as well as the Treasury, they will continue to be a drain on the economy. Like a compulsive gambler with a trust fund, they will always take on excess risk and leave you, the taxpayer, stuck with the bill.
- Just start cutting. In the 1990s, Canada, under a Liberal government even, mandate actual cuts in the size of government to deal with a ballooning deficit. The key was a concerted campaign by the Prime Minister to convince the public of the need for cuts. This might have to wait until after Obama is defeated in 2012, but it can be done.
Reduce regulation and then fire regulators. Not only will this save money, but it will grow the economy as businesses are unburdened from the overwhelming number of new regulation that has piled up over twenty years.
There, the GOP needs to take a look at some of these ideas and get ready to govern. They better cut spending, or they will find themselves with primary challenges again. The Tea Party has shown its clout, time to use it for the good of the Republic.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A Republican-led Congress would send Obama an appropriations bill minus the money for enacting the health care law and dare him to veto it. If he vetoes it, no funds are appropriated and unless Congress folds and sends it back with the health care money included, funding for the government would start to run out. Most of the health care funding would be contained in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which funds a lot of the programs that get the most use, like public schools, low-income heating assistance, unemployment insurance, job training, and public broadcasting, so it would be a very high-stakes game.Republicans who have long memories remember how Clinton used the government shut down after the 1994 elections to bludgeon the Republicans over budget cuts. At the time and now I believe there is another way.
By custom spending bills originate in the House, Republicans have an easy means to shape the debate, but it takes work. There is constitutionally no limit to how many appropriations bills can be submitted, even though traditionally the appropriations bills accrue to the thirteen "substantive" committees. To avoid the government shutdown, there is no reason the Republicans can't fund a portion of the Department of HHS budget that doesn't involve enforcing Obamacare. This will take extra work on their part, but is worth the effort, because it puts Obama in the awkward position of having to veto a bill because of what it does not contain.
Republicans need to think this through ahead of time or they will stand accused of not keeping their campaign promises. Getting ready to govern is hard work. Is our man up to it?
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
When I became Chief of the Voting Section in 2008 and because I had experienced, as I have described, employees in the Voting Section refusing to work on the Ike Brown case, I began to ask applicants for trial attorney positions in their job interviews whether they would be willing work on cases that involved claims of racial discrimination against white voters, as well as cases that involved claims of discrimination against minority voters.
. . .
However, word that I was asking applicants that question got back to Loretta King. In the spring of 2009, Ms. King, who had by then been appointed Acting AAG for Civil Rights by the Obama Administration, called me to her office and specifically instructed me that I was not to ask any other applicants whether they would be willing to, in effect, race-neutrally enforce the VRA. Ms. King took offense that I was asking such a question of job applicants and directed me not to ask it because she does not support equal enforcement of the provisions of the VRA and had been highly critical of the filing and prosecution of the Ike Brown case.
The election of President Obama brought to positions of influence and power within the CRD [Civil Rights Division] many of the very people who had demonstrated hostility to the concept of equal enforcement of the VRA [Voting Rights Act].
I think this testimony speaks for itself. We have elected an administration that feels free to follow a policy of racial discrimination. Only oversight by the opposition party controlling the Congress will prevent further abuse.
RightKlik, at fellow SLOB blog Left Coast Rebel, has additional material and commentary and ties in that clown Colbert.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Another commenter that I respect, Eric Erickson at RedState has this to say:
The plan wants to put “government on the path to a balanced budget” without doing anything substantive. There is a promise to “immediately reduce spending” by cutting off stimulus funds. Wow. Exciting.I thought that was a little harsh. The pledge includes a roll back of the stimulus and Obamacare, as well as rolling back federal spending to 2008 levels. Not intellectually challenging perhaps, but necessary first steps.
Richard Viguerie of ConservativeHQ and direct mail mastermind from the 1980's had this to say in an email to me (how BDaddy got on his email list, I don't know.):
This new promise is mostly about Republicans promising not to do things they relished doing in the last decade. But if the GOP does not push hard in the new Congress to return America to small, constitutional government, expect most Republican incumbents to be seriously challenged by Tea Party candidates in 2012.Agreed, but again, it is still a step in the right direction. Glenn Beck makes the same point right now his TV show, by saying that returning to 2008 spending levels is insufficiently bold. Viguerie goes on to say the document is a good first step.
Was this the year to be even bolder with this pledge? Would the Democrats attacks have been more vicious or less? Who cares? As a way to change the debate, I think the document is almost brilliant. It focuses on the real issues, even if it doesn't have too many specifics. It keeps the focus on the right issues, for the most part, and puts the left on its heels.
Michele Malkin is among those on the right who liked the pledge.
Left Coast Rebel links to a pretty decent set of proposals, that unfortunately might be construed as too radical right now from Doug Ross. Don't get me wrong, he has great ideas, but I question if we have sufficiently changed the terms of the debate for a major party to issue a manifesto like his.
• We will repeal the Democrat health care bill and, if vetoed by the President, will de-fund every aspect of that bill until such time as the American people have input into a sensible health care reform process.
• We will slash the size of the federal government bureaucracies (Commerce, Education, Energy, the EPA, Labor, etc.) by 20% in 2011 with a goal of reducing each by 50% over the next three years, thereby saving hundreds of billions of dollars.
• We will secure the border with physical fencing suitable to repel drug smugglers, human smugglers, and terrorists, while encouraging legal immigration and enforcement of the law.
• We will confront the entitlement crisis -- Social Security and Medicare -- by preserving benefits for those who depend upon them and moving to privatized options for younger workers. Anything less condemns future generations to mountains of debt and economic catastrophe.
• We will strengthen our armed forces, space and missile defense programs to retain our unparalleled superpower status.
• We will begin the process of paying down our debts, spending within our means every year.
• We will ban public sector unions, which exist solely to wage war against the taxpayers who fund their operations.
Jonah Goldberg hopped on my bandwagon and reviewed the conservative reaction to The Pledge albeit much more eloquently than me. If you thought this article was worthwhile you ought to give his round up a read as well, to put some perspective on the whole effort.
Bottom line, I think Republicans can look forward to crushing the Democrats this fall and the Pledge will be somewhat helpful in both doing so and in claiming a policy mandate.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I am impressed and thankful that they have adopted so many of the Tea Party's issues. But of course I have some disagreements.
1. The commitment to secure the border is almost in the fine print, not quite, but not prominent enough and mixed in with a bunch of other national security issues.
2. Too much time is spent on the national security stuff. Not that it's not important, just not as important as constitutional government. It risks coalition building.
3. They just had to insert a "traditional family values" paragraph at the start. I am not against, just think this might be the year to deal with weightier issues. Fortunately, they don't make a big deal with any new policy proposals of a social nature.
Summary from CBS news:
- Stop job-killing tax hikes
- Allow small businesses to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income
- Require congressional approval for any new federal regulation that would add to the deficit
- Repeal small business mandates in the new health care law.
- Repeal and Replace health care
- Roll back non-discretionary spending to 2008 levels before TARP and stimulus (will save $100 billion in first year alone)
- Establish strict budget caps to limit federal spending going forward
- Cancel all future TARP payments and reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
- Will require that every bill have a citation of constitutional authority
- Give members at least 3 days to read bills before a vote
- Provide resources to troops
- Fund missile defense
- Enforce sanctions in Iran
The biggest peril Americans now face isn’t Islamo-fascism. It’s our own inability to live within our means. It would be nice to give our country the wisdom and self-discipline to stop running up the credit card. And we should try.Sorry about the length of the quotes, but Kinsley is a better writer than I am, and the fact that he is on the left but acknowledges the severity of the crisis is telling.
. . .
There are a dozen ways to look at the national debt and the annual government deficit, and they all lead to varying degrees of panic. What’s especially scary about our fiscal situation is that everybody knows the facts and concedes the implication, but nobody is doing anything about it (except for grinding out books and reports and long articles in magazines like The Atlantic, complaining that everybody knows about it but nobody is doing anything about it).
. . .
And the national debt is just a fraction of the problem. State and local governments, unlike the national government in Washington, cannot print money, and many states have constitutions that forbid them to run a deficit. Nevertheless, they will be losing, together, about $140 billion this year. They’ll make up the money by “disinvesting”: firing teachers, putting off maintenance on public buildings, shutting libraries. We’ve been delaying maintenance on our public infrastructure of highways and schools and, yes, airports since at least the 1980s, and the shabbiness is really starting to show. Delaying maintenance is like borrowing against the future. Debt is everywhere you look. Here’s a short inside piece in The New York Times Magazine about state and local unfunded pension obligations for retired employees. They add up to between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You? Now we can only say, “Add it to the pile.” Then there is all that consumer debt—those underwater mortgages, those credit cards. And you can pick almost any number you wish, for what Medicare and Social Security will cost above and beyond their alleged “trust funds.”
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The object is to win fairly, by the rules – but to win.Time to do the hard work of getting our folks in office.
After we put some Tea Party candidates in office the next challenge will be to reverse the most pernicious effects of the last ten years. This means ending the bailouts, ending the stimulus, but I repeat myself, repealing Obamacare and securing the border. This is our platform, it is simple, it is popular and it is powerful. I look forward to good results in November regardless of individual polls and naysayers.
Now for the bad news. The next set of problems are much harder to deal with, but deal with them we must.
1. Entitlements. Even if we repeal Obamacare, whose purported benefits have not yet kicked in, entitlements are slowly destroying the federal budget. But the chief entitlement programs are very popular, Social Security and Medicare.
2. Government Pensions. State and local governments are going to be unable to meet their debt obligations (technically not bankruptcy, but practically) due to the crushing burden of their pension obligations. Even if new employees are put in more rational plans, the current benefits are usually contractually obligated, and therefore have a first call on the revenue of government. A call for a federal bailout is sure to come.
3. Immigration. Securing the border won't fully solve this issue. Sorry. It is a necessary first step to gain control of the problem and gain the trust of the people, but the economic pressure that caused the problem isn't going away. Further, we need the skilled people that want to enjoy our freedom if we are to maintain competitive advantage. We need the unskilled people that perform work that would often go begging. Their is little broad agreement on how to achieve these ends.
4. The Culture. The culture of entitlement, lack of accountability and personal responsibility are at the root of all of our other problems. We have to restore a culture where it is considered morally objectionable to dump one's problems at the doorsteps of society while taking no personal responsibility for one's own problems.
These problems are thornier but not intractable. What gives me hope is that average people are thinking into the root causes of our problems, giving us a chance to effect long term change.
Monday, September 20, 2010
UK Proposes All Paychecks Go to the State First
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (doesn't that sound quaint) has proposed that all employers hand over employee paychecks to the government, who will then decide what employees get to keep. What could go wrong? Read the full article here and commentary here.
Now the most charitable explanation is that Obama was ad-libbing and muffed the quote. Another explanation might be that it's all the TOTUS' fault. Worst possible explanation? The TOTUS had it right but the President was worried about offending atheists. Note in the previous couple of minutes he slings some ahistorical multicultural hash about different peoples sharing the land. No matter what the explanation, it means that he is not familiar enough with the most recognized text of our founding to avoid the mistake.
Normally I wouldn't make a big deal of this, but it feeds suspicion about the leftist mind set of the President.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The Tea Party isn't complicated. If you don't think that the Constitution imposes any meaningful limits on the federal government's regulation of the economy, then you should not join our cause. But if you think Obamacare, the stimulus packages, the deficits, and the bail out of corporations and Wall Street's financial firms are harming our country, then by all means, join us; protest, vote, support candidates for limited government, write letters or blogs and make your voice heard. The hour is late, but not too late, to save our nation from calamity.
3 Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.
5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
I think the founders understood this principle when they deliberately put checks on the powers of each branch of government. But more importantly, we are called to believe that neither government nor politics can solve our ills, nor should they be our ultimate focus in life. Most Tea Partiers support me on this. Most Tea Partiers are ordinary people who don't especially want to be involved in politics or rallies, but the bad behavior of those who call themselves public servants has forced us to take action.
In the coalition for limited government that forms the basis for the Tea Party there are many Christians like myself. This is not a coincidence. In our founding document, the Declaration of Independence we state:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
These rights do not come from the king, the Republic, or even the Constitution itself, but from God to mankind. This belief informs a vision of the limits of government, that we believe is true to Biblical principles.
I am not saying that the Tea Party is exclusively or even primarily the province of Christians. The message of limited government and a belief in freedom resonate with Biblical principle. Just as the Founding Fathers were a coalition that included devout Christians and Deists, all of whom could not tolerate the usurpation of rights by King George and the elected Parliament of England, so our coalition is comprised of all of us who know that our current government has exceeded both its constitutional and moral bounds.
Happy Sunday, hope you are enjoying the day off, even with the Chargers blacked out.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . .
But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
Tax cut? Please Barack, I appreciate the gesture, but it's a little late for romantic gifts. Don't embarrass both of us.
Friday, September 17, 2010
. . . or so states the newspaper headline. At first, it sounds like the city council is working to keep its promises to get Proposition D, but read the fine print, as pointed out by Carl DeMaio. Although the outside bidders do not have to provide health care benefits, as previously demanded by the city's unions, two other factors make a mockery of this process:
City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who opposes Proposition D, said the managed competition guide is a watered-down version of what Sanders proposed last year and creates several opportunities for the council to avoid outsourcing city jobs, such as not requiring the city to accept the lowest bid. He also noted that, in addition to their 10 percent advantage, city workers don’t include annual pension costs in their bids — one of the most significant expenses in each department’s budget.The 10 percent advantage is a provision that the winning bidder must be 10% less expensive than the city. Unfortunately, I don't care if they are slightly more expensive, if we could offload pension and health care obligations for city workers.
The deal isn't done either, city union members have to approve the negotiated process for outsourcing. Hard to predict how that vote will go. Taking the pensions out of the calculation gives them a significant advantage, but who knows, their salary structure still might be too high to withstand competition.
Until we see actual outsourcing, we should not be voting for tax increases.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
It all comes back to this little amendment, my favorite, the 10th:
But, tea partiers say, if you think moving votes and passing bills are what they are really all about, you have not taken the full measure of their ambition. No, the real point is to change the country's political culture, bending it back toward the self-reliant, liberty-guarding instincts of the Founders' era. Winning key congressional seats won't do that, nor will endorsing candidates. "If you just tell people to vote but you don't talk about the underlying principles," Martin says, "you just have to do it again and again and again, in every election."
What will work, they believe, is education: DVDs on American history; "founding principles" training; online reading lists; constitutional discussion groups; cultural and youth programs. In Tennessee, says Anthony Shreeve, an organizer there, groups are giving courses on the Constitution and "socialism and the different types of isms," bringing in speakers from around the state. "Our members have gotten more involved and learned about our local government, how it works, and what kind of influence we can have," Shreeve says. "Education has been the biggest thing."
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.My favorite lefty litmus test is to ask this, "Under the Interstate Commerce Clause and the 10th amendment, what if any limits are there on federal authority to regulate economic activity?" Your lefty, knowing he/she is trapped, will him and haw and not answer the question.
Notice how the question never gets answered. This is what we get when we ignore the principles of our founding. This is why the Tea Party isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity to save the nation. Please join our protests and educate yourself on the constitution.
Programming note: Sarah's video montage with Muses' Uprising so perfectly captures the spirit of our movement that I decided to unilaterally make it the Official Music Video of the movement, as noted in the column at right.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Many states and localities have their own coordinators. Dawn Wildman, a national coordinator based in San Diego, doubles as a California state coordinator, hosting two weekly conference calls that typically include about 40 of 180 or so local coordinators. . . . Strange though it may seem, this is a coordinated network, not a hierarchy. There is no chain of command. No group or person is subordinate to any other. The tea parties are jealously independent and suspicious of any efforts at central control, which they see as a sure path to domination by outside interests. "There's such a uniqueness to every one of these groups, just as there's an individuality to every person," Wildman says. "It has this bizarre organic flow, a little bit like lava. It heats up in some places and catches on fire; it moves more slowly in other places."Nice work, Dawn.
The conversation got me thinking. If Howard Wayne knows to train his volunteers to take on the pension issue, then the public must really be catching on. In fact, in today's WSJ opinion section, Steve Malanga comes to the same conclusion, that association with public employees' unions are becoming political poison.
Instead, organized labor— increasingly dominated by public-sector workers—is facing a backlash from taxpayers because of widespread publicity about the rich pay and benefits of some government employees. That's made Mr. Christie's blunt campaign talk about reining in government costs a popular approach among candidates. Even old friends of labor in the Democratic Party have made public workers a target, leaving labor with fewer allies and playing defense.
Back to our race in San Diego, I am concerned about Lorie Zapf's electability. She has not really successfully rebutted issues with mortgage defaults and claims that she has filed numerous lawsuits even while leading a group called Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. I am not saying these charges show wrongdoing, just that she is not actively campaigning in a way to effectively rebut them. Further, she is losing the lawn sign war. Lawn signs aren't an accurate indicator, but the trend of fewer Lorie Zapf signs and more Howard Wayne signs in the district aren't a good trend. My fear is that we are left with a bad situation in District 6, with Wayne being the handpicked candidate of Big Labor and Zapf the hand picked candidate of Big Business. I endorsed Zapf, because labor problems from pensions are crushing the city right now, and she seemed the most willing to take on the unions. If Zapf loses, we will have the same status quo on the city council, a very pro-labor group. This is another reason to vote against Proposition D, we won't be able to trust this council to enact meaningful reform.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The 10 reforms listed in the ballot measure provide the start of major structural changes, not the end. The actual savings depend not only on negotiations before the tax could be increased, but also on the implementation of reforms anticipated but not required by the measure. In the end, it will come down to how hard the city's elected officials decide to push for many reforms' execution.This is why I am opposing the measure. I want the politicians to show good faith and do some hard work for us, before we hand them more money. Eventually the economy will recover, sooner if there are significant Tea Party types in the House and Senate. The money will start rolling into the city's coffers, taking the pressure off executing these reforms. We will be stuck with the increase but without the fix. Better to force the reforms now, and see how much of an increase is really needed.
I have to admit that I was with W.C. on the candidacy of Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, even though he later changed course. Michelle Malkin got me thinking that maybe we should wait and see what the voters decide and that rewarding Democrat lite-types with further high office might not be in our best interests. In his retraction, W.C. nails it, saying that this year's contests are not Republican vs Democrat but Ruling Class vs the people. Further, you have to ask yourself, would having Mike Castle in the Senate have really helped? Knowing he will probably vote with the Dems on cap and trade and his history of supporting porkulus is hardly helpful. Might as well have your enemies out in the open and identified.
With Christine O'Donnell winning the Republican primary in Delaware, I think we are seeing the rise of disgust with the ruling class. As of this writing, O'Donnell was ahead of Castle 53% to 47%. It also shows what a political powerhouse Sarah Palin has become. I admit that she makes me nervous, but boy can she energize the grass roots.
Sorry I have been away from blogging for a while, work has been too much.
One more thing about the O'Donnell win. Everyone is writing off O'Donnell, but given the rising tide of disgust against the ruling class, O'Donnell could very well win. Under such a rising tide, wouldn't we want a true conservative in the Senate to give us some spine to start repealing Obamacare and stopping cap and trade?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The Post's T.W. Farnum did some research and found that out of the total sum, just 638 workers on Capitol Hill owe the IRS $9.3 million in back taxes. As in, overdue. The IRS gets stiffed by the legislative body that controls its budget. How Washington works.Exit question "Can you define Ruling Class?"
. . . Privacy laws prevent release of individual tax delinquents' names. But we do know that as of the end of 2009, 41 people inside Obama's very own White House owe the government they're allegedly running a total of $831,055 in back taxes. That would cover a lot of special chocolate desserts in the White House Mess.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
But I digress. There seems to be a great fear of Islam among conservatives. My only fear is that some jihadist moron will slip through our crack security system and kill some of us. With regards to the larger issues, Western culture and religion will prevail over the medievalist interpretation of Islam for a number of reasons, religious, cultural and political.
1. Religion. Fundamental Islam has not reconciled itself with modernity. Its treatment of women is appalling, even if considered enlightened by 8th century A.D. standards. By contrast, Christianity fundamentally considers every man and woman equal in the eyes of God. Further, Christianity has thousands of years of intellectual tradition from some of the finest scholars to explain its tenets. The Bible is translated into far more languages than the Koran and there is not even general agreement in Islam that the Koran should be translated out of Arabic. Judeo-Christian values suffuse the moral compass of most of the world, even that of Western atheists, not that they would admit it. Christianity has a way of renewing itself to meet the challenges it faces in the world. African Episcopalians are leading the fight against Anglican church's acceptance of homosexuality, for instance, because they must compete with Islam for the hearts and souls the people on that continent.
2. Culture. The culture of Islam is too puritanical to succeed indefinitely. Even if Western culture is often too "decadent" or infused with the culture of pornography, it is not hopelessly so. Taliban prohibitions on alcohol, requirements for the burqa, and rules about which vegetables men or women may handle do not strike the educated as sensible. Further, Western culture is richer in content and more liberating than Muslim culture. But strict Islamists reject every facet of Western culture and cannot cope with the inevitable intersection of cultures that result from a global, networked economy.
3. Political. Fundamental Islam is antithetical to democracy. This was articulated during the insurgency in Iraq, where al-Qaeda in Iraq actually argued that they had to kill fellow Muslims to prevent them from voting, because by voting, they might commit a sin by voting against Allah's will. This is not a serious ideological challenge. No serious person, except maybe Thomas Friedman, thinks that any other form of government is preferable to democracy. How can one take seriously a political challenge from an ideology that advocates theocracy? Even Kim Jong Il call his country a Democratic Republic for crying out loud, but Islamists are unapologetic in their disdain for democracy. Are you kidding?
For these reasons and so many others, I am supremely confident that radical Islam is not up to the challenge of Western democracy, particularly as practiced in America. Fell free to build a mosque, but stand by for an onslaught of the most successful political-economic system the world has ever seen.
Monday, September 6, 2010
- Repeal Obamacare. There are so many reasons to make this a priority, Dean has cataloged many of them. One more issue detailed in this month's Reason is the budget busting nature of Obamacare mandates on state budgets, which comes at a particularly bad time. More details here.
- The Deficit or Reduce Spending. Republicans have campaigned many times on reducing taxes. That's easy, figuring out how to reduce spending is hard and necessary, or we will just end up raising taxes later or igniting inflation. The Bush tax cuts should remain in place, but if you are going to govern, you need to explain what you are going to cut. I would start by de-funding the vast new bureaucracy needed for Obamacare. Returning all unused stimulus money to the Treasury would also be a nice start.
- The Economy. High unemployment and no growth can be laid at the footsteps of the Democrats. But what policy prescriptions do we advocate? This is where we can make the case for the tax cuts. But excessive regulation is also killing American business and destroying our freedom. (From the link: "People who don't know if their day-to-day behavior will trigger prosecution are not truly free.") Unfortunately, the cozy relationships between regulators and the regulated have given regulation a bad name. We should be calling for simpler forms of regulation across government. Obamacare's regulatory regime makes the most obvious target, because it has yet to be implemented. In the financial sector, simpler rules that would shift risks to stockholders and away from government are all that is really required. For example, to prevent the "Too Big Too Fail" scenario, we need to increase capital reserve requirements as firms gain market share. This will increase the cost of capital for firms that grow too quickly by taking on excess risk.
- Culture of Corruption. (Or process, as Dean puts it.) The staggering ways in which both the Democrats in Congress as well as the Obama administration have disobeyed their own promises and ethical rules is an easy target. But the whole process is foul. A pledge to end earmarks would be a good start. Reducing the size of government is a good way to also reduce the corruption that taints the process, illegal and otherwise. This also sets up the Presidential race in 2012, by attacking what was once seen as Obama's strength.
- The Border. Republicans need to pledge they will keep faith with the American people and enforce the border before they tinker with other aspects of immigration policy. "Comprehensive reform" may be necessary, but we need the government to establish trust with the people first.
The most difficult conversation will be over the nature of regulation, but if the Party is going to do the hard work needed to govern effectively, regulatory failure must be explained.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Photo from Pat Dollard's blog.
Since we're on a car theme today, how are your shares of GM doing? Don't own any? Fail. You do, if you are a taxpayer.
Taxpayers likely to face initial loss on GM IPO-sources
The U.S. government is likely to take a loss on General Motors Co [GM.UL] in the first offering of the automaker's stock, six people familiar with preparations for the landmark IPO said.
KT points out that the domestic content of Obama's Iraq speech was disconnected from reality:
Hundreds of billions of dollars had been spent on precisely what he was suggesting and the results were horrible.
I remember sitting at the blackjack tables in Vegas many years ago and watching an obviously inebriated punter double down on a 5,4 hand while the dealer had a King showing. When the dealer inevitably relieved him of his chips, he loudly complained abut not getting his free drinks fast enough. This reminds of nothing so much as Obama's economic strategy.
Meanwhile unemployment is rising and there is little job creation.
Job creation is slow because of a few simple to understand facts.
1. Uncertainty. The unknowns of future regulatory policy and the impact of Obamacare are injecting uncertainty into the economy.
2. Housing slump. Many small businesses are tied to the real estate market. Businesses that serve the homeowner are often smaller ones. Further, small business owners use the equity in their homes as collateral for lending. Trying to prop up home prices only delays the recovery, because home prices need to fall so that new buyers can start fixing up properties and they can be properly valued for small business owners.
3. Future taxes. Expiring tax cuts, aka tax increases, are injecting fear into the economy.
Exit question: How does doubling down on deficit spending fix any of these problems?
Thursday, September 2, 2010
It has been widely reported that Bjorn Lomborg, noted global warming skeptic, has changed his mind and is now saying that global warming is a problem. That is false, he has always said that global warming is a problem, but so is hunger, high infant mortality, and the recession. His view shows that the real issues around are technological and economic and that appeals to SCIENCE by the left are naked grabs for power. He proposes relatively modest measures at reason.com.
Last weekend I went to the convocation for incoming freshmen at SDSU that was overall fairly reasonable, but had this bit of indoctrination: a pledge to work for "social justice." To help those freshmen to stay free of the stench of socialism, the most failed ideology in the history of mankind, I offer the following. Social justice means:
- People should retain the fruits of their labor, it is theirs by right.
- Agreements reached in good faith are honored under law.
- The poor are not denied the right to work in their chosen occupation by restrictive licensing laws.
- We will judge all persons on the content of one's character, not the color of one's skin.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
My answer, tough. The right to bear arms is as protected as free speech. Imagine the police chiefs arguing that protests should only be allowed behind specially designated areas behind chain link fences, because potential confrontations risk officers' lives?
California had long allowed the open display of handguns as long as they were unloaded.
But police chiefs this year had mounted a drive to outlaw the practice, saying it risked officers’ lives because when they responded they didn’t know whether the guns were loaded.
Lori Saldaña, my Assembly critter, is the sponsor of this bit of odiousness. Since Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in my district, but don't have a majority, small chance she will be turfed out in November. Fortunately, Republicans in the Assembly were able to run out the clock on this bill as Democrats apparently had other fish to fry. Saldaña let loose some frustration that her bill didn't get the love from Democrat leadership she wanted:
What a bunch of tools. The state has no budget, but they have time to piss on the Bill of Rights while the state slips closer towards more financial chaos.
Saldana had pleaded for almost an hour with Democratic leaders to bring the bill up for a vote. But with midnight fast approaching and Republicans stalling, the top Democrat managing floor action in the closing-day chaos decided to sacrifice the gun bill so that other priorities could move ahead.
The Senate had earlier approved the bill by just one vote.
Later, a frustrated and angry Saldana lashed out, calling her own party’s leaders “disorganized” and described as “embarrassing” their refusal to employ parliamentary procedure tactics to choke off GOP debate so the measure could be heard.
Apologies to KT for image at upper right.
Real democracy is messy. It’s got protestors and agitators and banners and manners and morals and financial pressures and gossip and policemen on horses keeping an eye out to make sure it doesn’t turn violent. Oh, yes, it’s also got government, but apart from paying for those policemen, government ought not to be too deeply involved as these things sort themselves out. If what the Muslims want to do is not illegal, then government should have nothing more to say.
That does not mean, however, that everyone else should also have nothing more to say. The attempt to build a large, new mosque and Islamic center anywhere near the site of the World Trade Center is so offensive, so bizarre, and so deliberate that it should be stopped.
And stopped it will be, through the offered mediation of New York’s Archbishop Dolan, or the skittishness of the financial community, or the disturbance of the neighbors, or the anger of the protestors, or the refusal of the building contractors. It will be messy, and it will be sharp. Inspiring and disturbing, with loud shouts on the streets and a few quiet words in the back rooms.
But that’s democracy—it’s how things get done when you accept that government shouldn’t do everything. The churches and the synagogues have long experience with this kind of democratic negotiation. Time for the mosques to learn how to do it, too.