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How Long Will Rand Paul Be In Detention?

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 20:49

A few days ago, Rand Paul asked, “Do I have to be in detention the rest of my career?”

The junior Senator from Kentucky posed the question after evidence of plagiarism had come to light resulting in the loss of his Washington Times column

Frankly, in asking the question, Paul comes across like a petulant schoolboy who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar instead of someone who seeks to make amends.

But the answer to his question all depends on Rand Paul. If the younger Paul can demonstrate due diligence and that he is capable of an original thought then he can enjoy a fine career as a public servant. I am sure the people of Kentucky will continue to send him to the Senate just as the people of Delaware continued to send Joe Biden to the Senate until Barack Obama made him his number two. I agree with The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake that Biden’s transgressions were far worse than Paul’s. I mean why would anyone pass themselves off as Neil Kinnock?

I would also that Paul’s transgressions are far less egregious than the abomination that is Obamacare. Indeed, Paul should thank his lucky stars because things would be much worse for him if millions of people weren’t losing their health insurance. But plagiarism isn’t something that can be ignored or swept under the rug. At this point, it remains to be seen if Paul has learned his lesson. So, for now, Rand Paul stays in detention.

The Difference Between Trudeau & Harper on China

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 19:13

Late last week at a Liberal Party fundraiser in Toronto that was aimed at women, Justin Trudeau was asked which country’s government he admired the most outside of Canada. Without hesitation, Trudeau mentioned China:

There is a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say we need to go green, we need to start, you know, investing in solar. There is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about: having a dictatorship where you can do whatever you wanted, that I find quite interesting.

Trudeau then added, “But Sun News can now report that I prefer China.” Sun News is considered Canada’s equivalent to the Fox News Channel.

Now I’m not totally surprised Trudeau would have mentioned China. After all, his father, Pierre Trudeau established diplomatic relations with China nearly a full decade before the United States did. But given China’s human rightss record, the younger Trudeau has been in damage control ever since.

But now the CBC has come to the rescue. Terry Milewski, the CBC’s senior correspondent has written an article arguing that Prime Minister Harper has also praised China. Milewski cited a speech Harper made to the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce during a 2009 state visit. Harper said of China’s economic prosperity:

In the last three decades, since making the first tentative moves toward liberalization, China has been witness to the greatest surge in general prosperity in the history of mankind. More than 400 million people have been lifted out of poverty.

Although Milewski provides a link to a news account of Harper’s speech, he does not mention what Harper said about human rights in China:

Our government believes and has always believed that a mutually beneficial economic relationship is not incompatible with a good and frank dialogue on fundamental values like freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

And so, in relations between China and Canada, we will continue to raise issues of freedom and human rights, be a vocal advocate and an effective partner for human rights reform, just as we pursue the mutually beneficial economic relationship desired by both our countries.

The cold fact is that Canada needs China. Even more so because of the Obama Administration’s refusal to approve the Keystone Pipeline. So Harper, like any head of government, has to strike a very fine balance. Harper’s remarks on human rights in China aren’t radical, but it’s better than what Trudeau had to say the other night. 

Harper might have to be diplomatic in his approach to China, but I think if Harper were asked which foreign country’s government he admired the most I do not think China would have crossed his lips. 

Businessmen Target Justin Amash

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 17:48

A campaign is growing in Michigan for a GOP primary challenger to unseat Congressman Justin Amash, one of the most outspoken members of the party’s libertarian wing, in 2014.

The Hill published an article today highlighting the fundraising efforts of some Michigan businessmen who have aligned themselves with Brian Ellis, Amash’s opponent in the upcoming primary. Ellis, who had a career as a businessman and worked in finance, announced his campaign during the height of the recent government shutdown. He cast his intention to run in light of Amash’s perceived support for the shutdown tactic. The group of businessmen wrote a donation solicitation letter on behalf of Ellis, citing the shutdown and its potential ramifications on Michigan’s economy, and blaming Amash for having “effectively nullified the Republican majority in the U.S. House.”

Amash’s supporters are countering. Today he received an endorsement from the Club for Growth, who declared that “[Amash] has proven time and time again that he will do everything he can to represent Michigan taxpayers and defend the constitution, even if that bothers the big spenders in the both parties.” Amash also counts numerous local businesses within his district as supporters, and will likely enjoy the backing of organizations such as the National Federation of Independent Business, according to the Hill.

Further, Amash might be difficult to unseat just on the basis of his strong personality and popular appeal. He is one of the youngest members of the Congress, popular for explaining on his Facebook page the rationale behind every one of his House votes. His stance against NSA surveillance and his lionization of Edward Snowden’s leaks inspired criticism from some conservatives, but other, more libertarian Republicans have embraced him for this advocacy.

Whether Amash can overcome the challenge that’s arisen from the shutdown and added fuel to talks of a GOP civil war is one battle that will determine whether the party will continue on its present, more uncompromising and libertarian course.

Obama and Veterans Day

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 11:55

President Obama is giving a speech about veterans.

I can’t listen.

I didn’t serve, but both my parents did and I grew up on Camp Pendleton (Marine base) and Guam (Navy base).

I can’t hear Obama talk about veterans as if he cares.

Just hearing his voice today makes me angry. (Not that I enjoy hearing him on any other day, either. After all, if his lips are moving, he’s lying.)

In the context of his making war, perhaps even nuclear war, so much more likely by his desperation to make a deal with Iran, I’m even angrier.

But it’s Monday and I don’t want to be angry, so I’m just turning him off.

Maybe later, someone who really cares, and who really has a clue what he’s talking about, will say something worth listening to.

Thank goodness for small mercies: Obama has turned down a request to speak at the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, perhaps knowing how inconsequential and insincere he would seem in comparison to Abraham Lincoln — though I think he’d do about as badly in comparison to Millard Filmore.

In the meantime, I just sent a “thank you” e-mail to a gentleman I know — a retired US Army Special Forces full-bird colonel who is also a medical doctor — who won a Silver Star for parachuting into the jungles of Viet Nam to set up field hospitals for wounded soldiers.

That, my friends, is a hero.

To think that President Obama (or his self-loathing Secretary of State who should look at what the hero I just mentioned did and feel tremendous shame at his own life, or his anti-American UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, who praised “Hanoi Jane” Fonda in a speech last Wednesday) represents that man or anyone like him does all veterans, indeed all Americans, a tremendous dishonor.

The hero is too well-mannered to disrespect the commander-in-chief.

So I’ll do it for him.

Barack Obama, please sit down and shut up, and let veterans be celebrated and honored by those who really know, and those who really care.

I’m Buying a Car Because of Ron Burgundy?

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 11:52

From the good folks over at Advertising Age:

Dodge says dimwitted 1970s news anchor Ron Burgundy is moving the metal.

The character created by comedian Will Ferrell and used as the spokesman for the 2014 Dodge Durango has increased online shopping for the crossover.

Sales of the re-engineered Durango climbed 59% in October to 5,120 units and are up 50% for the year. Edmunds.com analyst Michelle Krebs said shopping for the Durango “soared on Edmunds.com after the ads launched” on Oct. 5.

If you have yet to partake in the splendor that is Ron Burgundy moving Dodge Durangos, click here and prepare to avoid any work getting done for the following ten minutes or so. 

Now, of course there is something here that Americans ought to be a little ashamed of. Increasingly, we’re a superficial bunch. Like kittens when a ball of yarn rolls by, or Jesse Pinkman high on meth at a Pink Floyd laser-light show, far too many of us are far too easily distracted and amused by inconsequential stimuli. 

But I say good for Dodge. It’s the free market at work. Comedy, when done properly, can move weight. Whether we’re talking about products or politics (The Daily ShowThe Colbert ReportThe Onion, etc.), if you can make ‘em laugh, you’ve got a potential customer for life. And people remember the funny kid they grew up with, not the one who had the best GPA or best ideas for school projects. I’m not saying it should be that way. But it is that way.

Conservatives and libertarians—the fracturing center-right coalition in America—would do well to consider such realities every once in a while. I’m not talking about predictable, ham-fisted ideas like Fox News’s horrifically unfunny 1/2 Hour News Hour (2007). And I’m not talking about calling in Dennis Miller to bail out every gathering of Republicans that needs a few laughs. All I’m saying is that liberals are not the only funny, entertaining people in this country. And progressive voices like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart don’t speak for all entertainers.    

The problem is that when someone like an Adam Carolla—for my money, one of the most entertaining and creative comedic minds around—is out doing yeoman’s work on his podcast and at live shows, communicating the value of hard work and the pitfalls of an ever-increasing nanny state, the best idea anyone on the center-right has is to slap him on a weekly segment of The O’Reilly Factor so Bill can step on Adam’s jokes and explain to Mother Maybelle in Cedar Rapids why what Carolla just said was funny. 

I fully understand that Adam operates as a blue comic for the most part (thus turning off many religious folks on the right), and I’m not here to convince anyone that Carolla can be the “John Galt” who leads us all to economic freedom and limited government, but listen to this exchange between The Ace Man and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and try to tell me you’ve ever heard any conservative (politician or pundit) do a better job of exposing the shallow, hypocritical nature of modern progressive liberalism!  

If I was running the RNC or part of an organization focused on reaching new, younger demographics, my first order of business would be to recruit the likes of an Adam Carolla to help me with the messaging and branding of core conservative principles. 

Our side has Rolls Royce ideas and we’re packaging them like they’re a used bike someone’s dad ran over in the driveway.

(By the way pops, you still owe me a new bike from the great Chevy Suburban incident of 1996. Make mine a Dyno.)

This Year’s Deficit is a Failure of Leadership, Not a Success

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 11:36

Since the 2013 federal deficit was calculated to be a five-year low of $680 billion, many media voices have incorrectly proclaimed victory over deficit concerns, at least in the short run. One of those voices is Eduardo Porter at The New York Times.

Porter’s inaccurate claims are numerous. This post will focus on two. First, how Porter’s argument that austerity measures have been implemented in the United States ignores reality. Second, how his claim that “austerity shrinks the economy in the short term, often more than it shrinks the burden of public debt” ignores the long-term benefits of budget cuts.

First, there has been no austerity in America. The federal budget has gone up by almost $800 billion from fiscal year 2007 (the year before the recession started) through fiscal year 2013. It has gone down since 2009, but only by approximately $30 billion. A $30 billion cut—largely because of lower spending on unemployment benefits and war, as the economy has improved and the U.S. has transitioned out of Iraq and Afghanistan—is hardly “austerity.”

As a related side note, Porter criticizes tax increases and spending cuts as “austerity” measures, but focuses a great deal more attention on spending cuts—cuts that simply haven’t happened since the recession started.

Interestingly, Porter cites the International Monetary Fund (MF) for his 2009 to 2014 austerity claim—that two-thirds of U.S. deficits on all government levels will disappear in that five-year period. However, not only does he fail to cite a specific report, leaving readers guessing, but a Global Finance Magazine article citing a December 2012 IMF report shows America’s deficit will drop by approximately 56 percent, not the two-thirds Porter claims, over that time period. On a scale of trillions of dollars, being off by 10 percent is quite a significant error.

Moving on, Porter’s claim about short-term harm to the economy via austerity ignores the medium-term and long-term economic pictures. CBO’s February projections estimate that implementing $4 trillion in spending cuts over a decade as compared to increasing spending by $2 trillion (a $6 trillion difference in spending) over the same time period would harm the economy in the immediate short term, but leave it much, much stronger in future years.

Related, Porter’s claim about economic harm as a result of aggressive budget cuts and/or entitlement reforms sidesteps how the economy is being hurt right now by high national debt. Given that harm, and the size of America’s debt, the deficit—which is the annual negative difference between revenues and expenses—should be eliminated, not diminished. This would shrink America’s debt-to-GDP ratio quickly, thus improving America’s ability to actually grow and provide economic benefits to all Americans, not just the wealthy and those with Washington connections.

Rogue Hall Monitors

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 06:15

IN HIS 1951 book God and Man at Yale, the document that, to simplify only a little, launched the conservative movement, William F. Buckley, Jr. lamented what he later called “the phenomenon of the somnolent college trustee.” Looking back in 2007, Buckley concluded that little had changed in the intervening 56 years. “Mostly, the college establishment is regnant,” he wrote. “Trustees are expected to be affable creatures, preferably rich and generous. They are not expected to weigh in on college affairs, which are adequately handled by presidents, provosts, deans, and lesser administrative folk.” 

This was not always the case. Decades previous, boards of trustees (for private universities) or regents (for public universities) had real power, since they were composed of donors and alumni on whose good opinion the university depended for financial support. By Buckley’s day, their influence had waned, but the final act that cast regents and trustees off the seat of power came, along with much other mischief, in the 1960s. The federal government got into the higher-ed game with loans and grants. This opened college to students who otherwise couldn’t have afforded to attend—and that’s a good thing. But it also permitted schools to increase tuition and declare financial independence from private donors.

U.S. institutions have been wonderfully successful in the hard sciences and economics. At this year’s Nobel Prize announcement, nine of the eleven joint winners in science and economics were affiliated with an American university. But this kind of glitter masks the all-too-evident failures in the other parts of the academy: the courses on things best left to People magazine, the indoctrination in hard-left ideology, the absurd salaries paid to administrators. Much of this can be traced to the absence of any kind of adult supervision.

What we’re left with are two different forms of university governance, dignified and efficient (to use a distinction employed by Walter Bagehot in The English Constitution). The dignified one describes how power flows symbolically, by the letter of the law: The board appoints a college president, who polices the faculty. But the efficient one describes where power lies in practice: The faculty runs the show and the board is virtually powerless. A corrupt bargain has been enshrined between professors and college presidents. The former run the university and teach whatever they desire, and the latter get half-million dollar salaries. It’s a great honor to be named to a university board, just so long as one doesn’t take the job seriously.

WALLACE HALL, HOWEVER, means business—and it has landed him in the middle of a you-know-what-storm. The University of Texas regent, appointed by Rick Perry in 2011, faces potential impeachment in the state legislature for, primarily, filing too many requests for public records. State Rep. Jim Pitts, the man who has arguably led the charge to impeach, has accused Hall of conducting a “witch hunt” aimed at ousting Bill Powers, the president of the system’s flagship institution, the University of Texas at Austin. 

Hall has filed requests under the Texas Public Information Act for large amounts of information, including correspondence among UT Austin administrators and emails between Powers and state politicians. But he contends the method has achieved results. In a letter to state legislators, Hall’s lawyer pointed out three substantive findings from the regent’s efforts.

The first relates to a now-defunct program, intended to help the UT Austin law school retain talent, under which a private foundation gave “forgivable loans” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) to faculty as off-books compensation. The dean of the school, Lawrence Sager, received a $500,000 such loan but was forced to resign when the affair became public in 2011. Hall’s attorney wrote that, based on documents he has reviewed, Hall now believes President Powers knew of Sager’s loan as early as 2009.

Second, the lawyer wrote, Hall has corrected the university’s method of reporting donations. In one case, the letter states, UT Austin had included temporary grants of software licenses in its fundraising tally, which inflated the number by $224 million.

Third, Hall has evidence, according to the letter, that state legislators have contacted university officials and used their clout to influence the school’s admissions process. For instance, Hall’s attorney wrote that one senator, lobbying for a favored applicant who previously had been rejected, “reminded the UT Austin official of recent legislative action taken to benefit The University.”

If one considers these matters of public import, then the question must be raised: Why would legislators go through the trouble of trying to oust a regent through impeachment—which would be historic, since only two Texas officials have ever been impeached—over what seems on its face to be legitimate oversight? 

ONE THEORY IS that legislators are practicing politics through different means.

Higher-education circles in the state have been roiled over the past several years by a set of proposals backed by Governor Rick Perry and the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, some of which seem to have percolated into the UT chancellor’s Framework for Advancing Excellence. The plan aimed to increase learning and keep tuition and administrative costs in check by, among other things, ranking faculty on the number of students taught per unit of salary, putting more emphasis on student evaluations, and instituting bonus pay for particularly effective professors.

UT Austin certainly does have room to improve. The school is ranked by U.S. News as no. 52 in the nation, though its $2.3 billion budget is about the same size as two schools ranked much higher, the University of Virginia (no. 23) and the University of Michigan (no. 28).

But those in the faculty lounges took this businesslike talk of metrics and efficiency as an attack. Hunter Rawlings, for instance, the president of the prestigious Association of American Universities, has called Texas “ground zero” in the higher-ed crisis. “Governor Rick Perry has, with the help of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, launched an assault on Texas A&M and the University of Texas, Austin: he wants an undergraduate degree to cost $10,000, and no more; he wants graduates ready-made for jobs; he wants faculty members evaluated on the basis of how much money they bring in and how many students they teach,” Rawlings said last year. “This is essentially to treat research universities as vocational schools, diploma mills, and grant-getters. 

Within the state, one of those who has resisted the reform agenda is UT president Bill Powers. “To paraphrase Lincoln, we are a house divided about our fundamental mission and character,” he said in his 2011 State of the University speech. Powers publicly butted heads with UT regents—ostensibly his bosses—last year when they voted down his request for a tuition hike.

A source we talked to at the university who has observed the preceding events says the only possible conclusion is that the effort to impeach Hall is little more than a proxy battle in this larger war over the future of Texas higher education. As a Houston Chronicle columnist joked: “Impeachment is a rare event in Texas history, and has been invoked solely for serious crimes. Bribery, for instance. Or messing with the University of Texas at Austin.”

BUT OTHERS SAY the situation is much more simple: Hall, on his march to reform, walked straight into a tangled web of powerful interests.

UT Austin wields tremendous influence within the state in its own right. With its independent government relations office, PR shop, newsletters, magazines, and Texas Exes alumni association, the university can move public opinion. The school doles out prestigious alumni awards and gives prominent politicians free football tickets, or seats in the president’s box during home games.

Personal and familial connections abound. Hall continues to push investigation into the “forgivable loans,” and the man under whom the program probably started, according to a university investigation, was none other than…president Bill Powers, who served as dean of the law school prior to the ousted Lawrence Sager. Hall claims to have evidence to prove legislators interceded in the admissions process, and one state representative has now admitted that he wrote a recommendation letter on behalf of his son. That politican’s name? Jim Pitts, the appropriations committee chairman gunning for Hall’s impeachment. (Pitts contends the letter for his son was a “form letter” no different than any other recommendation he sends, though one suspects UT Austin officials noted the applicant’s surname.)

There’s a whole lot of circular backscratching that Hall has the potential to disrupt. Witness how, when the temperature began to rise, those in politics and academia began to circle the wagons. Just weeks ago, the Association of American Universities elected Powers its leader. “He has been explaining to his state and the country the vital role these extraordinary institutions play in solving the nation’s most serious problems,” Hunter Rawlings said. In February, after a particularly contentious meeting between Powers and the regents, the Texas Senate passed a resolution in support of the UT president. For 40 minutes, senators sang Powers’ praise in what one Austin-American Statesman columnist called a well-choreographed performance. “So flowery were the comments,” the columnist wrote, “that Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, assured Powers, ‘This is not a eulogy.’”

Charles Miller, a well-regarded former UT regents chairman, argues that the spectacle—and the impeachment proceedings overall—amounts to inappropriate political meddling. “It’s not the legislature’s business to protect the president of the University of Texas at Austin,” Miller says. “I don’t think they know what they’re doing. I don’t think it’s any of their damn business.”

Miller, a proud advocate of UT schools, is no fan of the entire Texas education reform agenda. But he says the board sets the direction for the system, and if an institution’s president is continually at odds, as Powers has been, it is well within a regent’s right to advocate a change in leadership.

Another voice in Hall’s defense has been Anne Neal, the president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. “Impeachment is a rare sanction reserved usually for elected officials who have engaged in serious malfeasance. It is not a club to wield when there are policy differences or to intimidate appointed officials when, in good faith, they are doing their job,” she wrote last week in the Houston Chronicle. “The Legislature has determined to target Hall, and the public should say ‘enough.’” In a June op-ed for the Austin-American Statesman, Neal decried “a culture that expects trustees to be little more than potted plants.”

Legislators, clearly, would prefer the potted plants. The committee investigating Hall, which meets again this week, has not allowed the besieged regent to cross-examine those giving testimony against him. Nor has it notified Hall when—or whether—it will call him to tell his side of the story. Impeachment in Texas does not require any finding of criminality, leaving Hall’s fate to the personal opinions of members of the statehouse. “I think the standard for impeachment,” an attorney for the committee told the Texas Tribune, “is pretty much what the majority of 150 people are going to say.”

The message from the whole affair is that any board member who raises his head above the foxhole can expect to take fire from all sides—from politicians, from faculty, from students, from the press. Already the lesson seems to have been internalized. Three current regents phoned about Hall’s case did not answer or return calls.

But Hall himself seems ready to take on all comers. He declined to comment for this story, except to provide the following statement:

“I’m unfazed by the activities of the committee,” Hall said. “I will continue to do my job, which includes asking questions, and on some occasions asking more questions until I get good answers.”

There’s a Wallace Hall scandal, of course. It’s also a scandal that it’s a scandal. What the sorry episode reveals is that boards are expected—by politicians and university leaders alike—to be supine, sycophantic, and that the prevailing powers react savagely against anyone who steps out of line. A state ready to impeach a regent for doing his job would, if it had any integrity, dispense with the pretense and abolish the board altogether.

Photo: Aidan Wakely-Mulroney (Creative Commons)

Game of Fools

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 06:09

President Obama’s foreign policy record remains intact. Across the world from which he is withdrawing American power and influence, governments are recognizing that where once a superpower resided, now only a shadow remains.

First it was left to the Communist Chinese to admonish us against spending too much. Then they began a campaign to replace the dollar as the reserve currency of the world. The French led us into Libya because they needed to protect their oil interests there. Then Vladimir Putin bamboozled Obama into an agreement on Syria which goes against America interests by enabling Assad to remain in power while Iran flexes its muscles there. And that was after Putin suckered Obama into a new nuclear arms agreement that went against American interests and prior well-thought-out policies.

Now, Obama is eagerly chasing Iran, like a puppy chasing a ball, seeking an agreement that would relieve Iran of economic sanctions without doing anything to slow or stop Iran’s march to nuclear weapons.

The agreement that Vichy John Kerry — along with the rest of the UN Gang of Five Plus One — was about to foist off on the world as a great achievement toward peace was one that would have benefitted only Iran and those nations that choose to trade with it (some in violation of U.S. and UN sanctions). It has now thankfully been torpedoed by, of all nations, France.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius — not to be confused with American war-mad cowboys such as Ronald Reagan — called the proposed deal with Iran a “fool’s game.”

Fabius was being too diplomatic. The deal engineered by Vichy John Kerry would have begun by relieving Iran of much of the economic sanctions that are burdening its economy. At the same time it would have accomplished precisely nothing to stop or even slow the Iranians’ progress toward nuclear weapons.

You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to know that Iran has reached what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called the breakout point — on which he drew a “red line” during his 2012 speech to the UN General Assembly — which is critical to every nation unwilling to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. At least those who say so and really mean it, a group that may never have included the U.S.

Not to parse things too finely, the failed deal would not only have let Iran off on important sanctions, it would not have:

* limited in any way Iranian enrichment of uranium;

* required any change in the operation of Iran’s Arak heavy water plant, which is busily engaged in making plutonium; or

* required any reduction of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile or even required it to reduce the level of enrichment of the already-enriched uranium. 

In that UN speech, Netanyahu warned that Iran would soon reach the point at which it could “break out” to produce nuclear weapons from enriched uranium so quickly that the western powers (a group that formerly included the United States) could not stop it.

Netanyahu argued then — and in his UN speech two months ago — that Israel would have to act to protect itself before Iran achieved nuclear weapons.

Just last month, Iran reached the “break out” point, its stockpile of enriched uranium sufficient that it could produce nuclear weapons within weeks. Netanyahu, last year, said that this was a “red line” across which Iran could not be allowed. (NB: The difference between Netanyahu’s “red line” and Obama’s regarding Syria is that the former is meant to be enforced.)

Now we are there, and President Obama is doing precisely nothing to stop Iran from breaking out and actually producing nuclear weapons. As Netanyahu predicted, the time has passed in which we could have enough warning of Iran’s actions that we could have stopped it from taking them. That part of history is over.

Instead, Obama’s eagerly seeking an agreement with Iran that can only result in it reaching its nuclear weapons goal.

France, not regularly confused by facts or clear thinking, has clearly saved the world from what Netanyahu called a “historic mistake.” Obama’s strategy — or diplomacy or Iran policy or whatever you want to call it — is revealed to be the sort of mistake that nations often make but few nations survive.

The media are reacting predictably, blaming France for being unreasonable while (as we’ll get to in a minute) carefully burying the news of the historic U.S.-Israel split. Iran’s President Rouhani is telling the French that their government is wasting valuable time and acting foolishly out of disrespect for Iran.

Rouhani has worked a first-order deception on Obama and some other faux-leaders. Rouhani and the Iranians have somehow convinced Obama that Rouhani is a moderate and his time in office cannot be allowed to expire without some ground-breaking peace agreement on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Surely, the next guy will be worse.

Nonsense. The fact is that Rouhani is as phony a moderate as Obama. That may be the reason that Obama fell for it. Add to that the fact that Rouhani is doggedly following the Putin model from the Syria agreement. Rouhani, moderate good guy that he is, has gulled Obama into thinking that Iran is no different from any other country and has to be treated with the trust and respect we’d accord, say, Canada. Truthfully, Obama can deal with Iran just as successfully as he dealt with Putin.

The only answer — to Obama and Kerry — is to find a scapegoat for their historic mistakes. And, just as the “bad apple” insurance companies are the only ones canceling healthcare insurance policies, it’s surely Israel’s fault for scuppering the Iran agreement. 

Most people see and hear about these events from the media. But those who see don’t observe: those who hear don’t listen. And those who don’t both listen and observe will realize that U.S.-Israeli relations are at an all-time low. Vichy Johnny scolded the Israelis recently for not being “serious” about Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. And when Netanyahu labeled the Iran deal a very bad one, and lobbied the Gang of Five Plus One against it, Kerry and Obama found their scapegoat.

The Gang of Five Plus One — having failed to reach a deal — are going to try again on November 20. By then, Obama and Kerry hope, the French can be brought in line. They may be. With all the pressure Obama and Kerry can exert (along with Britain, Germany, Russia, and Germany), Fabius and French President Hollande can be expected to fold. And then what?

Iran is at the breakout point and could produce nuclear weapons within weeks, not months. Israel is, in John Kerry’s words, isolated. More so than ever in its history. And if France folds its cards, Israel will have to act.

Obama’s policies — towards Iran and Israel both — are pushing the world closer to war, not farther away. Israel is full of fractious political groups, but none of them can be blind to the fact that when it comes to Iran and its about-to-be-achieved nuclear ambitions, it is entirely alone. And it has been since about 1992.

Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama have all said again and again that Iran will not be permitted to have nuclear weapons. But with the exception of the Stuxnet computer worm attack, none of the three have done anything to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons.

We know Iran is working hard and may already have succeeded in designing the means of mating a deployable nuclear warhead to a missile. We also know that Iran is developing nuclear weapon triggers and has probably tested those mechanisms already. We know enough to make a decision, and so do the Israelis.

America has — or at least Obama has — decided that we will do nothing militarily to stop Iran from achieving nuclear weapons. There are no other means that can succeed. Israel — after almost five years of Obama — must have decided that it cannot rely on us to protect it from those weapons.

Israel’s decision will be much harder but simpler. It cannot live with a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran has told it as much by threatening to destroy the Israeli nation. The Israelis have to strike with all the guile and strategy they can muster to destroy or delay the Iranian nuclear sites because their lives depend on it.

Photo: UPI

Obamacare: Who’s Crying Now?

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 06:09

It is wrong, of course, to take pleasure in the misfortune of others. Still, I must confess that I have derived no small amount of schadenfreude from news stories about Obamacare advocates who have been adversely affected by the not-so-Affordable Care Act. It would take a stronger man than yours truly to suppress a smile as the law’s media pimps pule about their canceled health plans, when smug urban progressives get mugged by the reality of “reform,” and lifelong Democrats publicly denounce President Obama as a brazen liar while declaring their intention to become foot soldiers for the Republican Party.

One of the most exquisitely ironic complaints about Obamacare has come from former MSNBC blowhard, Dylan Ratigan. During the debate preceding the law’s passage, this character regularly suggested that we who opposed the Democrat plan to take over U.S. health care were all racists. It appears, however, that this erstwhile scourge of bigotry has now joined the knuckle-dragging enemies of our first black president. Recently, he fired off the following querulous tweet: “I bought a catastrophic health policy for $170/mo when I left MSNBC. Obamacare cancelled the policy. New rate $600/mo. Thnx Mr. President!”

If Ratigan had stopped abusing his opponents long enough to hear what we were saying, he wouldn’t have been surprised by the cancellation. What did he think Obamacare’s authors intended when they stipulated that a plan must provide “minimum” levels of coverage? What did he think the President meant by “cut-rate insurance”? If he had shut up long enough he would have learned the truth, as he himself expressed it in a follow up tweet when he finally pulled his head out of … er … the sand: “I have been a long time advocate of catastrophic with a transparent mkt for routine. Struck me as interesting that that is illegal now.”

Few of the liberals lamenting the loss of their health plans are media types like Ratigan, however. Most are garden variety progressives naïve enough to believe the President’s promise that they could keep their coverage. Typical of this more common species of gull are Lee Hammack and JoEllen Brothers, a married couple from San Francisco. As reported by the left-leaning ProPublica, these folks “donated to the liberal group Organizing for America and worked the phone banks a year ago for President Obama’s re-election.” Thus, they were deeply shocked when their health plan was cancelled without warning.

Hammack and Brothers didn’t have “one of those skimpy plans Obama has criticized.” They had long-standing coverage through Kaiser Permanente. Nonetheless, in September, “Kaiser informed them the plan would be canceled at the end of the year because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.” Even worse, they will be forced to buy a more expensive policy with fewer benefits. Yet, demonstrating the trademark progressive inability to learn from experience, Hammack and Brothers remain true believers: “We believe the Act is good for health care, the economy, & the future of our nation.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the legacy news media has finally been forced to tell the truth: “Even as President Barack Obama sold a new health care law in part by assuring Americans they would be able to keep their insurance plans, his administration knew that tens of millions of people actually could lose those policies.” Included among those millions is Cathy Wagner, one of 250,000 Coloradans who lost their coverage this fall. CBSDenver reports, “She was a nurse for 35 years and championed Obamacare, until she received a letter from her insurance company saying it was canceling her policy.”

Wagner, like Hammack and Brothers, was shocked. Also, like the San Francisco couple, she was further dismayed to discover that she will now pay 35 percent more for her coverage and be responsible for a higher deductible: “Our premium for next year is going up to over $1,000 a month.” And her words for the man who repeatedly promised she could keep her coverage if she liked it? “Oh my gosh, President Obama. This is not what we hoped for. It’s not what we were told.” Wagner is not merely disillusioned, however. The costs of the required policy are such that she is actually considering going without health insurance.

Some of Obamacare’s disillusioned supporters are taking even more drastic steps. The Seattle Times reports that the President’s brazen perfidy has transformed some Democrats into Republicans: “Bill Fullner has reached his breaking point. It started with the letter from his health-insurance company informing him it was canceling his plan.” When Fullner searched unsuccessfully for an acceptable replacement for his insurance plan, he had a “road to Damascus” moment. Fullner described his epiphany thus: “This whole experience has converted a lifelong Democrat into a foot soldier for the Republican Party.”

His dramatic conversion was due in part to the discovery that he was just one of many thousands who had also lost their coverage: “In Washington, most of the 290,000 people covered by insurance plans they purchased on the individual market received letters this fall telling them that their plans are going away.” This convinced Fullner that he and the others were victims of a huge fraud: “Obama stated that if we were happy with an insurance plan that we currently had, we would be able to keep it. I feel that the President … has lied to the public.” Fullner is by no means the only victim of Obamacare to draw this conclusion.

This reality, combined with the comically inept rollout of Healthcare.gov, has caused considerable angst among congressional Democrats facing reelection next year. Last week, 16 Senators descended on the White House demanding to know how Obama and his bumbling assistants are going to make the pig’s breakfast they have cooked up palatable to the voters. Whatever skullduggery results from that meeting, watching these grifters face their gulls should be entertaining. I plan to have plenty of popcorn on hand.

Photo: UPI

True Story of the Old Army

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 06:08

Private “Rondi” Rondinoni had been in B Company for a little more than one hitch (three years). He had reached the rank of Private First Class (PFC), but was busted back to buck private for repeated fractures of discipline. It didn’t matter to Rondi. He just enjoyed being a soldier. It drove his platoon sergeant crazy, but his captain — the company commander—intervened to keep Rondi from being booted out on a Section 8 (mental illness). Back in the late 1930s, before Pearl Harbor and the draft, a U.S. Army company often consisted of less than seventy men; eager EM’s (enlisted men) were not readily available at $21 per month, even during the Great Depression. Rondi could read and write English and loved his apparently always forgiving captain.

Company B was part of an under-strength motorized rifle regiment that had been recharacterized as “Transportation and Maintenance” in order to conform to the Army’s  reduced TO&E (table of organization & equipment). Stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama, the unit was rarely visited by ranking officers. When a Brigadier General arrived to inspect the camp, he needed a staff car in which to travel. As usual Rondinoni was on KP (kitchen police), so was available to drive the one-star around to the various units. The mess sergeant was happy to be rid of Rondi, even for a short while. Rondi changed into his Class “A” uniform and became chauffeur for a day.

Fort McClellan even then was a big facility and the general had no idea where his grinning driver was taking him; neither did Rondi, but eventually they got where they were supposed to be. The general would visit with the various units and then move on. At one point the general instructed Rondi to wait as he visited HQ staff for an hour or so. This was a big mistake on the general’s part. Pvt. Rondinoni had the vehicle to himself and he had no intention of waiting in the hot ’Bama sun.

Rondi had noticed that wherever he had driven the general the troops would snap to attention as they drove by and salute the passing vehicle designated by its red plaque with yellow star attached to the front bumper. Pvt. Rondi took off in the staff car to see what would happen when the general was not in the vehicle. Rondi was delighted he could collect the same salutes himself — that is, until the general sent the MPs out to find his staff car. Rondi was swiftly returned to KP, grinning as usual. But the story remained as regimental lore about the day “General” Rondinoni took salutes at Fort McClellan.

Of course KP wasn’t the only punishment that could have been thrown at the private from Brooklyn, but the matter was buried by his captain. Rondi was now the hero of Company B. Company-level punishment was judged by all concerned to be all that was necessary. Rondi enjoyed the accolades from his buddies, but knew it was his captain who had been saved from the stockade. He decided he had to repay him somehow. The opportunity arrived the next time the captain inspected the enlisted mess where Rondi was on his usual assignment of mopping the floor.

“So what are you up to today?” inquired the captain of his permanent private.

“Keeping the world clean, sir. By the way, captain, is it true you have to buy your own uniforms, sir?” Logical response was not one of Rondinoni’s strong points.

“Yes,” said the captain. “Why?” he asked.

“Jes wanted t’know,” replied the private. “Seems unfair, sir.”

That was the entire exchange, and the captain put it down to just another “Rondinoni-ism.”

Several days later the captain returned to his tent to find neatly piled items of regulation G.I. clothing on his cot: socks, underwear, shirts, pants, etc.

“What the Hell!” Could be heard all the way down officers’ row.

The captain ordered the Top Sergeant to call out the entire company on parade. He made a brief grim-faced speech:

“Some well-meaning but extremely stupid soldier has put me in a very dangerous position that would cause a great deal of legal trouble. There are G.I. items on my cot that will be considered stolen if discovered by any authorities. Now, I will be gone from my tent for the next few hours. When I come back I want to see all this damn stuff gone. Top, dismiss the company!”

As promised the captain returned to his tent some hours later to find all the offending items gone. There was nothing more mentioned, but everyone knew who must have done the deed. A week or so afterward the captain had the need to get something from his heavily locked foot locker where he kept his personal items, including his dress blue uniform. Carefully laid out in the second layer of what had been the securely locked trunk were the items formerly found on the cot. They indeed were “all gone from sight” as the captain had ordered. Rondi had not only broken into the well-locked foot locker, but relocked it afterward leaving not a trace of entry.

Rondi would have done anything for his captain, but he did what came naturally for a street kid from Brooklyn in the late 1930s. He spent WW2 befuddling the Japanese Imperial Army in the South Pacific and made it back to PFC — twice. The captain eventually was transferred to a command bound for the ETO (European theater) and retired as a colonel after being wounded in the region of Vere, France. With decorations from the American and French armies he spent several years in and out of Army hospitals. He never forgot Rondi. The colonel now rests peacefully in Arlington with the thousands of other comrades. No one knows what happened to Rondi, but it’s certain he made it back to PFC at least a few more times and in spirit is still in the U.S. Army today. 

Slouching Towards Kansas City

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 06:07

Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker
By Stanley Crouch

(HarperCollins, 384 pages, $27.99)

Few reputations in jazz are more secure than Charlie “Bird” Parker’s. Miles Davis is said to have quipped that “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.” Hundreds, if not thousands, of Bird discs, from budget-priced compilations to $300 deluxe boxed sets, are in the catalogues of various record companies. Modern students of jazz, trombonists, guitarists, and saxophonists alike, painstakingly transcribe and commit to memory his spontaneous solos, searching through alternate takes and obscure bootleg recordings in the hope of internalizing the idiomatic language of bebop.

But do readers need another biography of the legendary bebopper? Half a dozen biographies of various scope and quality are readily purchasable for the interested fan, even a children’s book, Chris Raschka’s Charlie Parker Played Be Bop. Clint Eastwood directed a respectable biopic back in 1988, and Parker features prominently in Ken Burns’s Jazz miniseries. Audio interviews with Parker stream across YouTube channels and his life, and the mythology that surrounds it, is central to all the published biographies of his contemporaries.

In the acknowledgments of Kansas City Lightning, Stanley Crouch’s new book about Charlie Parker’s early life, the author hints at “the misreadings, distortions, and willful fantasies” about his subject “that some others have paraded forward as fact.” Perhaps Crouch, a jazz critic and New York Daily News columnist known for his antipathy toward rap and his attacks upon, among others, Al Sharpton, Spike Lee, and Cornel West, seeks to set the record straight on this often misunderstood champion of American music. (He may even be alluding to Bird Lives!, Ross Russell’s infamously fictionalized account of Parker’s life.) Tall tales and hazy anecdotes of Parker’s exploits, musical and otherwise, abound. But Crouch does little to dispute the claims staked in the existing Bird bios on the market. Instead, Crouch has given us a 334-page extemporization about a range—admittedly wide—of subjects that interest him. Here are 50-odd pages of actual biography surrounded by cultural commentary, music history, jazz criticism. Who would have thought that a short biography of Charlie Parker would draw not only upon scores of hours of personal interviews but upon Madame Bovary, Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, Simone Weil’s War and the Iliad, and David Dary’s Cowboy Culture: A Saga of Five Centuries?

Still, when Crouch is actually writing about Parker’s life, his diligent research adds the grace note of minutiae that helps us to envision our strange Kansas City cast as real people. For instance, Crouch shows us a young Parker and his bride-to-be Rebecca Ruffin watching serialized Westerns on the silver screen. Crouch uses Parker’s penchant for accurately aping the screen actors’ voices to foreshadow Bird’s ability to mimic his musical heroes, as well as his aptitude in navigating the complex and contradictory swing subcultures of Kansas City, Chicago, and New York.

Too often, however, Crouch pursues what are often tangential talking points at the expense of his narrative. For example, he sidelines his account of Charlie and Rebecca’s relationship in favor of a detailed comparison between Duke Ellington and D.W. Griffith, both of whom he claims “mirrored America’s democratic dimension by evoking the fundamental tension between the individual and the collective.” Crouch’s similar meditations on Jack Johnson’s cultural influence and the ways in which the Midwest killing sprees of Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, and John Dillinger paralleled the rising popularity of swing are interesting enough in themselves, but seem destined for another book entirely. Elsewhere he goes out of his way to quote himself, in a soliloquy about “infinite plasticity” from his book Considering Genius. Meanwhile, he fails to expand upon seemingly important events in Parker’s life: in the space of three paragraphs, one of them only a sentence long, we learn that Parker’s mother had a long affair with a church deacon and that (one assumes, but is never told, that there is a causal relationship here) Parker “never went to church.” Perhaps instead of reminding us that the saxophone, Parker’s chosen instrument, was “invented by the Belgian Adolphe Sax in the 1840s,” he might have told us more about Rebecca’s second pregnancy, which ended in a miscarriage.

Even when Crouch is relaying information about Parker and his associates, we are often left with what amounts to monotonous backstory and mere cataloguing of facts. “Buster Smith,” one of Bird’s heroes, “was the reliable type. If he got a job, he was there and ready to perform,” Crouch informs us in what becomes a 20-page aside about the life and the work of the multi-instrumentalist and bandleader that exhausts readers who wish to learn how Parker and Smith’s careers intersected. Similarly, he spends eight pages dissecting the transition between ragtime and swing band archetypes before finally returning to a story about Parker losing a screw in his saxophone. The reader needn’t even worry about young Parker’s diet as a growing sax shark, since Crouch offers us a few paragraphs from Jay McShann summoning up remembrance of barbeque joints past.

Lightning is at its best when it approaches the novelistic, as it does in Crouch’s opening riff about Parker’s experiences in the big band “battles” of the swing era. Unfortunately, as the book proceeds, we get less and less of this as Crouch gradually dispenses with scene and character building. This is a shame. Tertiary figures, extraneous detail, and scholarly pomp snuff out what might have been a compelling lost love story about Parker and Ruffin.

Crouch is a gifted, if uneven, prose stylist. Occasionally he thrills: “celluloid cowboys were clouding the air with the smoke of blanks,” “like a suicidal Napoleon crowning himself with solid stink,” or “get through a jam session losing slices of scalp and butt to the locals.” But too often he relies upon clichéd phrases and unimaginative metaphors. “The rearview mirror of memory,” “running home with his tail between his legs,” “taking in information like a vacuum cleaner,” or “Charlie’s involvements and horizons were expanding” are filler that suggest Crouch’s fatigue from a project he claims “was begun more than three decades ago.” Interestingly enough, some of the most memorable language comes from Crouch’s sources, as when Orville Minor describes Buster Smith’s ability to “run a cyclone of fire up your butt.”

By the end of the present volume, Parker is not quite 20 years old. His legacy as a performer and recording artist is entirely in front of him. For the specialist reader interested in seeing Bird placed in a much broader cultural context, Kansas City Lightning is an enlightening, if occasionally frustrating read. As tumultuous as its subject’s brief life, Crouch’s book attempts to translate Parker’s enduringly modern musical style into letters, with mixed results. Let us hope that, if and when Crouch produces a second companion volume, he is able to rein in his more dubious improvisations.

For now, readers in search of a thorough account of Charlie Parker’s life should look elsewhere.

Grow With the Flow

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 06:07

AMID THE CLATTER and clutter of official Washington’s daily dysfunction, a movement is slowly gathering steam to design and enact pro-growth tax reform that reduces marginal tax rates—which is to say, tax reform that is not a Trojan Horse for a tax increase.

This has been a long time coming. In 1986 Ronald Reagan signed a bill that simplified the tax code significantly. It replaced the 14 existing rates, which ranged from 50 to 11 percent, with two rates, 28 percent for top earners and 15 percent for everyone else. Corporate tax rates were cut from 46 percent to 34 percent. The bill passed with 74 votes in the Senate and 292 votes in the House—overwhelming, bipartisan margins. Both parties had learned (even if Democrats refused to acknowledge it publicly) that lower marginal tax rates help economic growth. 

Since 1986 there has been some backsliding. In 1990, George H.W. Bush won a vote—also bipartisan—to raise the top marginal tax rate to 31 percent. Three years later, with no Republican votes, Clinton bumped the top business rate to 35 percent, and the top individual rate to 39.6 percent.

In a reversal of this trend, George W. Bush pushed through temporary tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. These reduced the death tax, cut rates on income, capital gains, and dividends, and expanded child deductions. Barack Obama turned around and increased 20 taxes as part of Obamacare, though he has also signed a bill that made the Bush tax cuts permanent for 98 percent of Americans. 

In other words, since 1991 at least, never in power have Democrats cut taxes and never in power have Republicans raised taxes: a very partisan divide. Now, with a split Congress, what hope is there for a bipartisan tax reform package that would lower taxes, simplify the code, and be revenue neutral à la Reagan’s in 1986? Doubters point to Obama’s persistent demand that any tax bill include at least $1 trillion in higher taxes. The product of Obama’s debt commission, the so-called Simpson-Bowles proposal of 2011, would have increased federal taxes as a percentage of GDP from a historical average of between 18 and 19 percent to 21 percent—a $5 trillion tax hike over 10 years. Not pro-growth. Not revenue neutral.

Republican enthusiasm is easy to understand. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s ambitious plan has become the official position of the Republican caucus in the House and Senate. Through block grants, it would give individual states control of various federally funded welfare programs. It would reform Medicare, allowing competition to keep prices down. On the spending side it would save us $5 trillion over the next 10 years. Without the Ryan plan—or something like it—by 2050 the federal government will absorb 40 percent of GDP—as opposed to around 20 percent of GDP, if Ryan’s plan is enacted. Bluntly put, with Ryan we remain America, but without Ryan we become France.

So on paper the GOP has come a long way toward solving the budget problem: Defend the sequester budget limits won in 2011 and, as soon as we win the Senate and White House, pass the Ryan budget. Done. But the Ryan budget provides only an outline for tax reform, which is why House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp and Senate Finance Committee Leader Orrin Hatch are now focused on putting meat on the bones of what they intend to be the most pro-growth tax reform legislation the nation has ever seen.

PRO-GROWTH TAX reform is the antidote to four years of economic sluggishness. Had the economic recovery that began in July 2009 been as strong as Reagan’s tax cut-driven recovery, 6.8 million more Americans who are jobless today would be employed in the private sector, and total growth in real GDP might be as much as 13 percent higher.

Any future plan for tax reform must do three essential things: lower tax rates on businesses and individuals, shift from a worldwide tax system to the territorial tax systems of most of our successful competitors, and move to full and immediate expensing of new business investment.

Of these three, rate reduction has received the most attention. Even Obama and the Democrats must hear from American businesses that cannot compete in a world in which they are taxed at a rate of 35 percent, when the European average is 25 percent, Canada is 17.5 percent, and China of all places is 25 percent. The small business community, much of which pays taxes at the individual rate, stands firm in demanding that it fall to 25 percent alongside the business rate. This “small” business community wields a significant amount of power. There are 4.1 million subchapter S—or “pass through”—corporations with a net income of $334 billion. Together these employ 31 million Americans, or one quarter of the private sector workforce. They know that taxing the rich is code for taxing independent businesses.

If territoriality is a less visible tax-related question to most Americans, it is not less important. Most nations only tax economic activity that takes place within their borders. The United States is the only major economy that taxes money that its citizens and companies earn overseas. An American earning a dollar in France pays French taxes and then American taxes on top of that. This is punishing for millions of Americans who work abroad and crippling for American firms with worldwide business investments. Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, and drug companies point out that there is some $2 trillion sitting overseas that could come back to the United States as soon as we shift to a territorial tax system. Meanwhile, that $2 trillion ends up financing factories overseas. Even Democrats should see this is self-destructive.

Last but not least, any prospective tax reform should make it easier for businesses to re-invest their earnings. Fortunately Republicans have been making progress on this front since 1981, almost always with help from the other side of the aisle—including in 2010, when Obama extended the Bush tax cuts. Expensing reform would rip out about 1,000 pages of the tax code and reduce the cost of all new investment.

Right now these three reforms are wrongly seen as mutually exclusive. For example, it is often assumed that lower rates must come at the expense of weaker depreciation for investment and less robust territoriality. But the Joint Tax Committee has agreed to estimate the revenue costs of tax cuts using both static and dynamic methods. A static model that does not take supply-side responses into account finds, for example, that cutting the business and individual rates to 25 percent would “cost” the government $5 trillion within the decade. But we know from American history—and from common sense—that lower rates and faster capital cost recovery will increase growth. Increasing economic growth by 1 percent for one decade would probably increase tax revenue by $2.5 trillion. Increase growth by 2 percent, and Uncle Sam raises an additional $5 trillion over ten years.

Cutting rates, taxing Americans only on their domestic economic activity, and moving to immediate expensing for business investment: Here are steroids for economic growth. 

Missing in Government Action

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 06:06

Testifying on October 30 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the cost to date of the federal government’s malfunctioning HealthCare.gov website is $174 million — “about $118 million on the website itself and about $56 million has been expended on other IT to support the web.”

And it still didn’t work, and still doesn’t. The big news during the morning as Secretary Sebelius was heading over to the Congressional hearing was that the repeatedly bombing website was conked-out yet again. Throughout the three and a half hour hearing, the HealthCare.gov registration page was inaccessible.

Secretary Sebelius told the House committee that the website would be all fixed by November 30, but she also believed the website’s contractors and was convinced that the HealthCare.gov website was all ready-to-go for its promised October 1 launch date.

The poorly named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed the Senate on December 24, 2009, passed the House on March 21, 2010, and was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, so here we are three years and seven months later — and $174 million more in the hole — and the registration page of the HealthCare.gov website still doesn’t open.

The three years and seven months from the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to today’ failing website is just two months short of the total time it took the United States to get up off the floor after Pearl Harbor, transform a peacetime economy into a winning war machine, and achieve an unconditional surrender from Japan.

The attack on Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II, was on December 7, 1941. The Japanese signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, formally ending World War II, on September 2, 1945.

Germany unconditionally surrendered four months earlier in Reims, France, on May 7, 1945, three years and five months following the attack on Pearl Harbor — less time than it’s taken the Obama administration to get the HealthCare.gov website up and scarcely operational.

Bottom line, we’d all be now eating beer-simmered bratwurst and bite-sized balls of vinegared rice if the U.S. government in the 1940s was as useless and inept as today’s federal government.

The other big news on the morning of the testimony by Secretary Sebelius before the House was the accusation, out of Italy, that the United States had bugged the new pope’s phone.

Panorama, an Italian news magazine, reported that the National Security Agency had monitored phone calls at a residence in Rome where then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis, was staying before and during the Vatican conclave, the secret election process that selected Bergoglio as pontiff.

The NSA reportedly sought to ascertain Bergoglio’s ideas regarding “foreign policy objectives,” “human rights,” “threats to the financial system,” and “leadership intensions.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said it was “not true” that the agency had targeted Bergoglio.

Reported the Los Angeles Times, “According to documents released by WikiLeaks, the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican was tracking Bergoglio in 2005, naming him as a favorite to become pope.”

President Obama will most likely say he knows nothing about the tapping of Vatican phones and prospective popes, just as he allegedly knew nothing the tapping of Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, nothing about gun-running to cocaine gangs via Fast and Furious, nothing about the IRS targeting Tea Party groups to delay their tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 election, nothing about Benghazi, nothing about monitoring the electronic communications of tens of millions of people in Spain and France, nothing about snooping on allied leaders, nothing about the flawed Obamacare website, nothing about anything.

Executive Leadership…and Unlikely Restraint

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 16:03

In a 2005 article reviewing a book on presidential leadership, John Yoo—professor of law at the University of California at Berkley, and Bush-era architect of the “9/11 constitution”—wrote:

‘‘A ‘great’ President may be one who does not stay within carefully chalked lines of acknowledged presidential and congressional authority, but one who, to surmount a crisis, revolutionizes the accepted understanding of his powers.’’

In hindsight, Yoo’s bullish stance on the revolutionary powers of the chief executive is appropriately terrifying.

Somewhere between the presidential institution’s intrinsic demand for power and its ever-expanding authority, we seem to be dealing with an altogether new sort of executive leadership. More and more, the president’s enhanced administrative capabilities allow him (or her) the ability to accomplish a lot more than we might like—often without much congressional, partisan, or public support.

Since the Reagan administration (and before that, until the Nixon years) presidents have increasingly bypassed Congress using administrative authority that is regularly less time-consuming and demanding of political capital. By use of formal and informal executive powers, presidents have wielded the power of appointment, executive orders, executive agreements, proclamations, signing statements, an augmented Executive Office of the President and increased White House control of federal bureaucracy.

In the case of the Obama administration, we are witnessing all of the institutional muscle with none of the necessary leadership through restraint. The Bush years were no better.

Ideally, the president, and subordinate bureaucrats, administrative wonks, EOPers, etc. would resist Yoo’s prescribed impulse to outstrip the lines. That hasn’t happened recently. And the bigger the executive office grows the more opportunity there is for it to slip the bounds of restraint.

Consider the institutional layers of the modern presidency. They begin at the top. A White House staff is comprised of analysts and advisors tasked with meeting the chief executive’s needs and preferences.[1] The EOP, in and of itself, has grown from six administrative assistants in 1939 to today’s 400 employees working directly for the president in the White House office – not to mention some 1,400 individuals staffing the divisions of the EOP.[2] All told, the president enjoys an enormously enhanced capacity to gather information, develop programs and strategies, communicate with various constituencies, respond to interest groups and exercise supervision over the executive branch. This extended staff serves as a bureaucratic, programmatic force multiplier of the president’s eyes, ears, and arms.[3]

For instance, the executive controls the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which offers the president the means to exert his or her influence over the flow of monies, and the shape and content of national legislation—for its part, the OMB is tasked with the analysis and approval of all legislative proposals (not just budgetary requests), not to mention all legislation and executive orders that originate in the White House.[4]

Of course, this is only one small wing of a presidential bureaucracy.[5] The institutional officialdom—or organization—is comprised of a vast network of smaller bureaucracies and the success of those subsidiary services ultimately depends upon their successful leadership and management and restraint.  

Some 2.6 million federal employees work at the behest of the president and his cabinet. Any surprise they’ve ALL avoided ObamaCare?

Until we recognize that the executive institution is not an expressionless, impassive structure—but a startling nerve-center of American politics that wields fearsome influence—we will not fully appreciate the importance of executive leadership…through restraint.


[1] Theodore J. Lowi, The Personal President, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985), pp.141-150.

[2] Harold W. Stanley and Richard G. Niemi, Vital Statistics on American Politics 2001-2002 (Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2001), pp. 250-251.

[3] Sidney M. Milkis, The President and the Parties (New York: Oxford, 1993), p. 97.

[4] Ibid. 160.

[5] John Vaughn and Jose Villalobos, “The Managing of the Presidency: Applying Theory Driven Empirical Models to the Study of White House Bureaucratic Performance,” Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1 (March 2009) p.158.

Jobs Numbers Thwart Shutdown Narrative

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 13:38

Today’s job numbers, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), show that 204,000 jobs were added in October, leaving the unemployment rate slightly higher at 7.3 percent, while also detracting from the claim that the recent government shutdown would have disastrous effects on the economy.

As the shutdown began to materialize in October, lawmakers and pundits alike turned into analogues of Chicken Little, warning that the shutdown of a tiny fraction of government services would mean certain doom for the just-barely-getting-by economy. Economists and administration officials had expected that there would be only a little more than 100,000 jobs created. The addition of 204,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls was surprising.

Particularly troubling is a decrease in the labor force participation rate by almost half of a percentage point, to 62.8 percent. This means that nearly 40 percent of the American labor force has given up looking for work. Politico cites analysts as saying that is due to temporarily unemployed federal workers from the shutdown, but it’s unclear as to how furloughed workers could substantially contribute to this number. An analyst at CNBC, Kathy Bostjanic, indicates that, “The negative impact from the partial government shutdown on the nonfarm payroll employment count doesn’t seem to have affected the private sector at all.” All job growth in October occurred in the private sector, according to the BLS numbers.

CNBC believes the jobs numbers might spur a new round of betting on whether the Fed will taper due to marginal improvement in economic statistics, but with Janet Yellen inbound and based on the trend so far, that’s unlikely. “Oddly enough, those on Wall Street will be disappointed as tapering talk will again resurface, thus squashing any idea of a would-be Gatsby rally today,” quotes CNBC of Todd Schoenberger from LandColt Capital. It appears as if markets have become more interested not in signs of growth or an uptick, but rather in whether these signs of growth will force the Fed to wean the economy off of quantitative-easing.

Public Prayer In A Small Town

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:52

It has come to the point where any mention of Jesus Christ in a public place, whether in Congress or in small-town New York, is potentially a “coercive” violation of the rights of atheists and non-Christians. 

The Supreme Court is currently hearing oral arguments over whether it is constitutional for the Greece, N.Y. town board to pray before every public session. The plaintiffs, residents Susan Galloway (Jewish) and Linda Stephens (atheist), claim that because the prayers are performed mostly by Christian clergy, the town is violating the Establishment Clause. 

Douglas Laycock, the residents’ attorney, argued that “the prayers were sectarian and that Greece residents who show up at board meetings because they have business with the town officials are in effect ‘coerced’ into acquiescing with prayers, whatever their personal religious inclinations.” 

Associate Justice Sam Alito reasonably asked the attorney to “recite a prayer that was nonsectarian.” Justice Antonin Scalia also argued that to use “Creator” or “the Almighty” is to offend atheists and devil worshippers. 

Why is the Supreme Court even hearing this case? Greece is a town of just over 96,000 residents. Galloway and Stephens apparently feel so “oppressed” that they want the highest court in the land to dictate the decisions of a municipal board. 

While federal consolidation is an issue, it is secondary to the main problem of the decline of tradition. The town’s attorney, Thomas Hungar, relied on the primary argument of historical legacy:

“The town of Greece has a legislative prayer practice that is consistent with the traditions of this country from its very founding,” Mr. Hungar told reporters after the arguments. “Congress, from the very beginning of our history, has had a legislative prayer practice that is comparable to what the town of Greece has been doing.”

Justice Kennedy didn’t accept this argument as wholly sufficient grounds for upholding the prayers. Much as I dislike doing so, I partially sympathize with the libertarian Kennedy. 

For centuries, the majority of Americans realized the importance of a “Creator” and the recognition of such in the political arena; President Thomas Jefferson himself proposed at his first Inaugural that the country “pursue our own federal and republican principles…acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter…”

Now, however, if a municipal government dares to mention the transcendental, atheists demand relief from “coercion.” The word, as defined by the Oxford English dictionary, means “to persuade somebody to do something by using force or threats.”

First, neither of these women have been persuaded, judging by their outrage. Second, they are not forced to do anything except hear the words of a Christian tradition in a nation borne out of Western Judeo-Christian values. While Ms. Galloway and Ms. Stephens may critique the Christian nature of prayer, is it reasonable to bring their case to court? 

Or could they have simply met with the appropriate municipal office to request the presence of a rabbi? Why make a federal case out of a basic plea for supernatural guidance? 

That this case has gone so far exposes a division in our country: that of the traditionally faithful versus the individually resentful. Atheists and the non-religious resent any mention of a God because of their own moral outrage against a world that is meaningless and brutal. Thus, they seek to eliminate any form of “sectarian prayer” from the public sphere. 

The Mount Vernon Assembly: A Constitutional Convention?

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 11:06

Well this is interesting.

Indiana State Senate President Dan Long has sent out a letter to fellow state legislators of both parties inviting them to convene at George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon home on December 7. 

Why?

To explore calling a Constitutional Convention.

Says Long, a Republican, in this article by Dan Carden at an outfit called the Times of Northwestern Indiana

The authors of the Constitution included a state-led amendment option as a check on a runaway federal government. The dysfunction we see in Washington, D.C., provides an almost daily reminder of why this option is needed now more than ever.

Carden writes of Long’s goal:

He said the Mount Vernon Assembly will devise a “prudent and cautious process” other states can follow to ensure an Article V convention remains focused on specific subjects.

Long has indicated he supports a convention that would propose amendments limiting the power of Congress to impose taxes and regulate business.

Not mentioned in the article is that what Long is doing is the subject of Mark Levin’s bestselling The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American this year.

It will be interesting to see what happens. But without a doubt the very fact that a serious and influential state legislator has set about the task of, as Levin says, “Restoring the American Republic” is a sign that serious people in the right places are beginning to act.

Stay tuned.

Greenspan Talks Recession, Central Banking, and Modern Washington

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:55

Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan spoke at the National Press Club Wednesday night, presenting a placid summary of the findings from his new book The Map and the Territory. The gist of Greenspan’s remarks was that in economics (and human nature) you can never discount human irrationality—particularly fear—and that in politics people aren’t playing nice like they used to.

Greenspan, who is 87 years old (and has always looked it), ambled into a half-filled ballroom and sat down for an interview with Angela Greiling Keane, president of the NPC, who posed mostly softball questions. Oftentimes Greenspan would insist that the answer is within the book. But when he wasn’t redirecting attention, Greenspan spun a tale that pointed to human foibles as the source of our economic woes, rather than central banking.

Not once did the former Fed chairman address the potentially negative ramifications of central banking. Greenspan seems to view the world of economics primarily through the lens of a Fed agent, referring to his perspective multiple times as that of a central banker rather than a private economist, so it should be no surprise that he places the blame for economic problems on behavior and emotions rather than on market manipulation.

In talking about the crisis of 2008, Greenspan acknowledged the impact that federal regulations and schemes had in spurring economic collapse, but he preferred to dwell on less quantifiable measures such as euphoria. “The old conceptions were that in spite of irrationality, all economic growth must reflect actions that are rational,” said Greenspan. Bubbles are a function of human nature, he reflected, and they happen all the time, but “most bubbles, when they break, do not have significant economic impact.” The problem with the 2008 housing/financial bubble was that markets actually shut down. They didn’t do that during the Depression.

He praised government for helping—in his opinion—restore economic activity and called for more and higher capital requirements to help abate crises in the future. TARP in particular was not the political disaster most made it out to be, Greenspan suggested. A ratio that Greenspan regularly employs to gauge the state of the economy is illiquid fixed asset investment to liquid cash flow, which gauges uncertainty. His analysis indicates that this ratio is currently at an all-time low.

When discussing politics, Greenspan pined for the good old days. Social gatherings in Washington used to be 50 percent Democrat, 50 percent Republican, he recollected, but now they’re usually 98 percent weighted in one direction or the other. He shared an anecdote about how Tip O’Neill would spend an entire day at the Capitol lambasting Gerald Ford, only to show up at the White House by 6 pm for drinks with the president.

People used to talk to each other, Greenspan said, and that speaks to the core values of the nation: In his opinion, what’s unique about the United States is that there is one set of political principles that are beyond question—the Bill of Rights—and the rest is on the table for discussion and compromise.

It was intriguing to hear Greenspan talk about markets and glaze over the role that central banking played. Even as he talked about how economic models failed and how he made the fatal assumption of underestimating human irrationality, he did nothing to refute the Alan Greenspan of 40 years ago, who, in 1966, wrote an article about the gold standard for Ayn Rand’s publication The Objectivist, and denounced central banking and the Fed as sources of economic disruption and wealth appropriation. “Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth,” said the old Alan Greenspan. What does the new and wiser Alan Greenspan have to say about free markets and the issue of central banking? “I talk about that in the book.” Principles seem to be of less interest to Greenspan these days—“Ideology is a useless abstraction.”

He did give a warning to incoming Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen. “Yellen is going to have a tough set of problems going forward.”

Morning Round-Up 11-8

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:23

Feature of the Day: Super typhoon Haiyan strikes Philippines, among strongest storms ever

Morning Headlines

Domestic

Associated Press

  1. Not Good Enough: Math, Reading Scores Up Slightly
  2. Senate Oks Gay Rights Bill Banning Discrimination
  3. Voters Reward Pragmatic, But Limited Government

Politico

  1. Name-calling turns nasty in education world
  2. GOP hits Obama the manager
  3. Ken Cuccinelli bright spot: Young voters

Reuters

  1. N.Y. City to seek immediate ruling preserving stop-and-frisk
  2. U.S. veterans agency slashes claims backlog by a third since March
  3. Pentagon offset budget cut impact in key areas—watchdog

Wall Street Journal

  1. FDA Says Trans Fats Aren’t Safe in Food
  2. Iran Nuclear Deal Expected as Early as Friday
  3. GDP’s 2.8% Growth Masks Shaky Details

Washington Post

  1. President Obama apologizes to Americans who are losing their health insurance
  2. On gay rights bill, Republicans worry for small businesses—should they?
  3. The lowest low of the Obama presidency

Washington Times

  1. Promise breakers: Congressional lawmakers shirk shutdown pledge, keep paychecks
  2. Cruz bill offers $5m reward for Benghazi info
  3. Invasion: 7,500 drones in U.S. airspace within 5 years, FAA warns

International

Associated Press

  1. World’s Top Diplomats To Join Iran’s Nuclear Talks
  2. Israeli PM ‘Utterly Rejects’ Emerging Iran Deal
  3. US, Israel Lose UNESCO Voting Right in Dispute

Reuters

  1. Syrian army closes in on Aleppo after dawn attack
  2. China to loan Pacific island nations $1 billion
  3. Evidence does not prove Arafat poisoning

Wall Street Journal

  1. Kerry Tries to Rekindle Israel-Palestinian Talks
  2. In Southern Turkey, Renewed Fears of Sectarian Strife
  3. Olympic Torch Sent to Space

Washington Post

  1. Pakistani Taliban’s new chief was behind attempt to kill Malala

Top Conservative Stories of the Day:

The American Conservative

  1. NSA Blowback
  2. This Is Chris Christie’s Moment—But Will It Last?

The Blaze   

  1. Watch the Passionate Ashton Kutcher Rant on the Only Job That Could Ever Be ‘Beneath You’—You’ll Be Glad You Did

Breitbart    

  1. Ratings: Fox Dominates, CNN Trounced on Election Night
  2. Fox’s Eric Bolling: Couldn’t Bring Myself to Vote for Christie

 The Daily Caller 

  1. Obama apologizes to those who lost their insurance plans
  2. Immigration battle fades as Republicans look to 2014

CNSNews.com

  1. IRS Sent 343 Refunds Worth $156K to 1 Address—in Shanghai, China
  2. Delaware Spends $4M to Enroll 4 People in Obamacare

National Review

  1. One More Campaign: Obama Stumps for the ACA
  2. Father Fed Knows Best

Washington Free Beacon

  1. Barack Hussein Machiavelli
  2. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Spending $81,700 for ‘Bat Monitoring’

Top Liberal Stories of the Day:

The Daily Beast

  1. Exclusive: Obama’s Secret Iran Détente
  2. Can Chris Christie Avoid Giuliani’s Errors in 2008? Hizzoner Hopes So

Huffington Post

  1. Lara Logan Apologizes for Botched ’60 Minutes’ Benghazi Report, Says Show Will Issue Correction
  2. Harry Reid Compares GOP’s Obamacare Gripes to Lame Prison Jokes

Talking Points Memo

  1. GOP Blockade Sells Even Old-School Dems on Nuking Filibuster
  2. Why I’m Staying Put

ThinkProgress

      1. The Cancer Patient From the Wall Street Journal Will Likely Save Thousands Under Obamacare

The Sabotage Republicans

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 06:10

Call them the Sabotage Republicans.

They have been busily at work in Virginia these last few weeks, sabotaging the gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

But first?

Remember these headlines?

  • From 2012: Romney Loses; Conservatives Weigh Limiting Clout of GOP Establishment
  • From 2008: McCain Loses: Conservatives Call for GOP Reform 
  • From 2004: Bush Narrowly Beats Kerry; Conservatives Call for Rove Resignation
  • From 2000: Bush wins by Supreme Court vote: Conservatives Call for End of “Compassionate Conservatism”
  • From 1996: Dole Loses: Conservatives Demand End to Moderate Nominees
  • From 1992: Bush Loses to Clinton: Conservatives Weigh Restrictions on GOP Establishment 

If you don’t recall these headlines, no, your memory isn’t failing. They were never written. And if you saw these headlines yesterday your eyes weren’t failing you either. They were written:

  • From the New York Times: GOP Weighs Limiting Clout of Right Wing
  • From the Washington Post: Close Result in Va. Governor’s Race Hardens GOP Divisions
  • From Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal: Lessons for 2014 From a Virginia Defeat

While we’re at it, let’s throw in one more headline, like the last three from yesterday, this headline too is a real one:

  • From 1976 in the New York Times: Reagan Urges His Party to Save Itself By Declaring Its Conservative Beliefs

Now, notice anything here?

Every time some Establishment GOP nominee loses the White House or a hot gubernatorial, Senate or other race — conservatives have been silent about this unending ability of Establishment Republicans to lose either close elections or win them by unnecessarily close margins.. 

Yet if one conservative — that would be Ken Cuccinelli this week — loses a race, Katie bar the door. 

Worse, up until now not much has been made of the long, disgraceful trait of Establishment Republicans to demand party unity — unless they lose a primary or a convention. In which case they simply refuse to unite behind the winning conservative. And deliberately, with malice aforethought — actively seek to sabotage that conservative.

There was one notable exception to this, captured in that 1976 New York Times headline which we have cited in this space many times. Ronald Reagan had finally had enough — and in the aftermath of yet another Establishment GOP presidential crash he made clear what path the GOP had to follow if it really wanted to win. Losing to Gerald Ford in the battle for the 1976 nomination, Reagan made a rallying speech for Ford at the convention and campaigned for him that fall. Ford lost. A month after the 1976 election, Reagan made a point of breaking the traditional conservative silence on losing Establishment races and turned the tables. A political party was not a “fraternal order” he said tartly to the Times, and that was the real problem with moderate, Establishment Republicanism. Which is why they kept setting the party up for repeated defeats.

In fact, one of the real problems here — as exemplified by the Cuccinelli defeat — is that moderate Republicans not only refuse to pull together. They go out of their way to sabotage the conservative.

Say it again? That word is sabotage. Betrayal. The Establishment GOP goes out…of…its…way to sabotage. Spelled s-a-b-o-t-a-g-e.

Let’s name some names here, shall we? Present and past to illustrate the point.

We’ll start here with this story in Breitbart by Matthew Boyle. The headline?

Cantor’s Ex-Chief of Staff Helped McAuliffe to Victory

The story begins thusly:

The ex-chief of staff for House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) helped Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia’s gubernatorial election race. 

Boyle goes on to detail how GOP House Majority Leader’s ex-chief of staff Boyd Marcus, who had supported the GOP moderate Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for governor. Cuccinelli won the day — so what to do? Why but of course! Marcus was out the door to help defeat Cuccinelli by actively working to elect Democrat Terry McAuliffe. 

Marcus is quoted as saying — and I have supplied the bold print for emphasis:

“I was looking at the candidates, and I saw Terry McAuliffe as the guy who will work with everybody to get things done… Virginia needs an experienced businessman who will put the practical needs of our people ahead of political ideology. I’ve never before supported any Democrat, but this election Terry is the clear choice for mainstream conservatives. I am excited to work with him to grow the already-long list of prominent Republican leaders who are supporting his campaign.”

Got that?

Terry McAuliffe — your basic left-wing liberal, huge supporter of Obamacare, abortion on demand, high taxes and big government among other things (does the name Hillary Clinton ring a bell?) — and Boyd Marcus the Cantor/Bolling guy, plus an “already-long list of prominent Republicans,” see Ken Cuccinelli as the ideologue. And these guys are, they say, the “mainstream conservatives.”

Scratch a “mainstream conservative” on Eric Cantor’s staff, apparently, and what you really have is a left-wing liberal.

Is there any wonder why the GOP House Leadership has had so many problems dealing with conservative members? Clearly there is reason to believe the Leader’s staff of the supposedly conservative party isn’t even close to being “mainstream conservative.” In the case of Marcus, he has vividly illustrated that in fact he was all too willing to go over the side to a far-left ideology.

Marcus isn’t alone in the Sabotage Republican category. In fact, he is merely typical of the breed.

Here’s the difference between conservatives and Establishment Republicans.

Back in the paleo-days of American political history — 1960 — Barry Goldwater’s name was placed in nomination for the presidency. He lost — he actually never ran a real campaign — but be that as it may, when he went to the podium of the 1960 GOP convention to withdraw his name and endorse Establishment winner Vice President Richard Nixon he said this, bold print added for emphasis: 

Now you conservatives and all Republicans, I’d like you to listen to this. While Dick and I may disagree on some points, they’re not many. I would not want any negative action of mine to enhance the possibility of a victory going to those who by their very words have lost faith in America….. And you conservatives think this over—we don’t gain anything when you get mad at a candidate because you don’t agree with his every philosophy. We don’t gain anything when you disagree with the platform and then do not go out and work and vote for your party. 

…I know what you say. You say, “I’ll get even with that fellow. I’ll show this party something!” But what are you doing when you stay at home? You are helping the opposition party elect candidates dedicated to the destruction of this country!

Now I implore you. Forget it! We’ve had our chance, and I think the conservatives have made a splendid showing at this convention! 

We’ve had our chance: we’ve fought our battle. Now let’s put our shoulders to the wheels of Dick Nixon and push him across the line. Let’s not stand back. This country is too important for anyone’s feelings: this country in its majesty is too great for any man, be he conservative or liberal, to stay home and not work just because he doesn’t agree. Let’s grow up, conservatives. 

Let’s, if we want to take this party back—and I think we can someday—let’s get to work. 

I’m a conservative and I’m going to devote all my time from now until November to electing Republicans from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ticket, and I call upon my fellow conservatives to do the same. Just let us remember that we are facing Democrat candidates and a Democrat platform that signify a new type of New Deal, far more menacing than anything we have seen in the past.”

Then comes 1964. Barry Goldwater and his conservatives defeat liberal Republican New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Like Goldwater the loser fours earlier, Rockefeller the loser this time gets his five minutes to address the delegates and the nation via television. 

Unlike the conservative loser Goldwater in 1960, the Establishment loser Rockefeller took a very different approach to losing.

Said Rockefeller, and we will leave in the notations of “Crowd Boos” as they happened in the original, with bold print supplied for emphasis: 

During this year I have criss-crossed this nation fighting—to keep the Republican party the party of all the people and warning of the extremist threat, it’s a danger to the party. 

It’s danger to the party and it’s danger to the nation. The methods of these extremist elements, I have experienced first hand. [Crowd boos.] That’s right. Their tactics have ranged from cancellation by coercion of a speaking engagement before a college to outright threats of personal violence.

This is still a free country ladies and gentlemen. [Crowd boos.] These things, ladies and gentlemen have no place in America, but I can personally testify to their existence. And, so can countless others who have also experienced anonymous mid-night and early morning telephone calls. That’s right. [Crowd boos.] Unsigned and threatening letters. Smear and hate literature, strong-arm goon tactics, bomb threats and bombings. Infiltration and takeover of established political organizations by Communist and Nazi methods! [Crowd boos.]

Some of you don’t like to hear it ladies and gentlemen, but it’s the truth. These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror…There is no place in this Republican party…for such hawkers of hate, such purveyors of prejudice, such fabricators of fear. [Crowd boos.] Whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Birchers! [Crowd boos and begins continuous cheer of “We want Barry!] There is no place in this Republican Party for those who would infiltrate its ranks, distort its aims and convert it into a cloak of apparent respectability for a dangerous extremism. And make no mistake about it, the hidden members of the John Birch Society and other like them are out to do just that.

Lovely. Not a word there about the real opponent in 1964 — Lyndon Johnson, the Great Society, the impending deluge of Big Government that would swamp the country and set it on the road to fiscal disaster. No, Rockefeller’s approach was to go after conservatives and trash them. They were Nazis. Klan members. Haters.

Then there was this jewel.

In the closing hours of that 1964 nomination battle, when it was abundantly clear to all that Goldwater had well-more than a majority of the votes, out came this charming missive over the name of Rockefeller’s last minute replacement as the liberal GOP hope to defeat Goldwater. Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton. Tellingly, it was written by Scranton’s staff and not seen by their boss, but it reflected the liberal GOP mindset. The letter was, as presidential campaign chronicler Theodore H. White described it, theoretically a debate challenge. But in fact it read “less like a challenge to debate than an indictment, a summons to Goldwater to stand trial before the Convention delegates.” The letter read, in part, with bold print added for emphasis:

Your organization…feel they have bought, beaten and compromised enough delegate support to make the result a foregone conclusion. With open contempt for the dignity, integrity and common sense of the convention, your managers say in effect that the delegates are little more than a flock of chickens whose necks will be wrung at will…

You have too often casually prescribed nuclear war as a solution to a troubled world.

You have too often allowed the radical extremists to use you.

You have too often stood for irresponsibility in the serious question of racial holocaust.

You have too often read Taft and Eisenhower and Lincoln out of the Republican Party.

In short, Goldwaterism has come to stand for a whole crazy-quilt collection of absurd and dangerous positions that would be soundly repudiated by the American people in November. 

Got that? The winner of the GOP nomination was “absurd,” his positions “dangerous.”

When the 1964 convention was over, instead of uniting behind Goldwater as Goldwater had done with Nixon — and asked his supporters to do the same — the Establishment/Rockefeller wing of the GOP took a walk. They sat on their hands — or went out of their way to sabotage Goldwater.

Decades later, moderates were still at it. In 2010 Delaware, GOP moderate Congressman Mike Castle was filled with soothing calls for party unity — until he lost the GOP Senate nomination to the conservative Christine O’Donnell. And promptly sat on his hands along with the Delaware and Washington GOP Establishments. Which spent their time shorting her on funds and attacking her.

Now the same stunt has been pulled in Virginia with the GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. The moderates, led by moderate Lieutenant Governor Bolling and Eric Cantor’s ex-chief of staff, lost in a convention to the conservative Cuccinelli. So Bolling spends his time, like Nelson Rockefeller and liberal Republicans all the way back in 1964, and does the minimal. With Cantor’s friend Marcus simply going over to the other side, period.

What, pray tell, was going on with Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee? With the Chamber of Commerce? Here’s this from Politico:

McAuliffe outraised Cuccinelli by almost $15 million, and he used the cash advantage to pummel him on the airwaves. A lack of resources forced the Republican to go dark in the D.C. media market during the final two weeks.

The Republican National Committee spent about $3 million on Virginia this year, compared to $9 million in the 2009 governor’s race.

The Chamber of Commerce spent $1 million boosting McDonnell in 2009 and none this time.

“If the Republicans would have rallied around the nominee instead of refusing to support Cuccinelli, he would have won,” said a GOP source involved in the race.

Then there is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the Republican Governors Association deciding to take their money and, instead of giving directly to Cuccinelli, going off on their own to do commercials talking about… China. That’s right…not Obamacare, but China.

Here’s Matt Lewis on this over at the Daily Caller:

“Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign is over,” said the Cuccinelli advisor. “He screwed this up so bad. And I don’t know why. The campaign knew it was moving numbers over ObamaCare. And the RGA was not very far from that information, they could have obtained it themselves,” the advisor continued. “They should have given the money to the campaign to spend as opposed to running these stupid China ads. They just blew it.” 

About the only thing one can say for Jindal is that this was political incompetence as opposed to political sabotage.

And who will forget Chris Christie? Last year, as the key moment of the presidential campaign arrived along with Hurricane Sandy, Christie went out of his way to put his arm around Romney opponent President Obama. This year….cruising to a 60% percent victory and asked to spare a few hours for Cuccinelli, Christie refused. Once again, it was all about Christie..

And this is the guy who is supposed to be the new leader of the party?

The fact here is that sabotaging conservatives is built into the DNA of the GOP Establishment. Unable to win themselves a considerable bit of the time — and then continuing to move the country left when they do win, just not as fast and so much better managed don’t you know — they have never ever changed.

Governor Christie is being touted as some sort of inevitable nominee in 2016. The next Tom Dewey, the next Gerald Ford, the next Bob Dole and John McCain and Mitt Romney.

And if by chance he flames out? With the conservative base in open rebellion in the 2016 primaries, awarding the nomination to, say, Texas Senator Ted Cruz? You can bet that America will be treated to yet another knee-jerk, reflexive response from the quarters of the GOP Establishment.

Sabotage.

The GOP Establishment will find a way — quietly or not so quietly — to sabotage the conservative nominee if there is a conservative nominee in 2016. This is what they do. They did it to Barry Goldwater in 1964, they tried to do it to Ronald Reagan in 1980 with liberal GOP Congressman John Anderson. Anderson who lost in the primaries to Reagan, running as a third party candidate in a deliberate attempt to sabotage Reagan. Anderson failed — but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

The Republican Party has two serious problems on its hands.

The first is with those like Eric Cantor’s ex-chief of staff who are invited into leadership positions in the party — when they in fact are not conservatives at all and quietly or openly seek to sabotage the party.

The second is with those Establishment Republicans who do manage to win — and then see their job as merely managing the leftist status quo. 

This time around the target was Ken Cuccinelli. 

But Ken Cuccinelli wasn’t the first — and he isn’t going to be the last.

That is the Republican Party’s real problem. And it’s a big one.

Photo: UPI