How have we arrived at this place where the fate of our federal budget — our economy, indeed our capacity to have a functioning federal government — seems to depend on what two men (the speaker of the House and the president) may or may not be secretly talking about in an interior room in the White House?
Meanwhile, elected representatives and senators, kept ignorant of those life-and-death discussions, are forced to wait. When the two men are finished — doubtlessly mere hours before "the world will end" — our elected representatives and senators will be stampeded to vote yes for a deal about which no one knows the details. Cattle may need to be stampeded; elected representatives of the American people never should be so compelled.
Here's what President Barack Obama said about our high rate of unemployment in an interview with NBC's Ann Curry: "The other thing that happened, though — and this goes to the point you were just making — is there are some structural issues with our economy, where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers," adding that "you see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM; you don't go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate." The president's statements suggest that he sees labor-saving technological innovation as a contributor to today's high rate of unemployment. That's unmitigated nonsense. Let's see whether technological innovation causes unemployment.
In 1790, farmers were 90 percent, out of a population of nearly 3 million, of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our labor force was employed in agriculture. By 2008, fewer than 3 percent of Americans were employed in agriculture. Through labor-saving technological advances and machinery, our farmers are the world's most productive. As a result, Americans are better off.
Wu-hoo! Welcome to another freaky ethics fiasco brought to you by the D.C. den of dysfunctional Democrats. This one comes clothed in a Tigger costume, wrapped in blinders and bathed in the fetid Beltway odor of eau de Pass le Buck.
Liberal David Wu is a seven-term Democratic congressman from Oregon who announced Tuesday that he'll resign amid a festering sex scandal involving the teenage daughter of a longtime campaign donor. He won't, however, be vacating public office until "the resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis." Translation: Call off the U-Haul trucks. Wu's staying awhile.
As the White House and Congress debate cuts in federal spending, millions of dollars are being funneled overseas to help build many Islamic mosques and structures.
An Atlanta television news station, WSB, reported that "the State Department is sending millions of dollars to save mosques overseas. This investment has received criticism as the United States makes an effort to slash nearly $4 trillion in government spending." The anchor noted that the U.S. Agency for International Development has granted copious funds for mosques in Cairo, Cyprus, Tajikistan and Mali.
Dodd-Frank, the 2,300-page financial "reform" monstrosity spearheaded by Capitol Hill corruptocrats, turned 1 this week. It made too-big banks bigger. It made too-risky incentives riskier. It made a lousy economy lousier. Billed as a "consumer protection" act, Dodd-Frank has succeeded phenomenally — in protecting and stimulating the business-stifling business of government.
Dodd-Frank is a tyrannical triumph of rule-makers, lobbyists and other non-elected spongers over taxpayers. If you don't want an unseemly glimpse into the self-serving, sausage-making process that feeds the insatiable Beltway industry, read no further. The law's implementation process is so far-reaching and Byzantine that every member of Congress should be suffering migraines from it.
But it's not the congresswoman herself who is to blame for the pain. It's so many of the stories about her.
We're still months away from the first caucus or primary of the presidential nominating season, and already things have gotten way out of control. Accusations that Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann is heavily medicated on account of incapacitating headaches were just the latest attempts to nip her candidacy in the bud. A former aide insisted: "The migraines are so bad and so intense, she carries and takes all sorts of pills. Prevention pills. Pills during the migraine. Pills after the migraine, to keep them under control. She has to take these pills wherever she goes."
Laura Ingraham calls her newest book "Of Thee I Zing" a “comedic intervention” on the sorry state of our popular culture. It begins with a declaration of independence from the moral soup in which we swim: “When in a coarse state of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bonds between themselves and the cultural blight degrading the Republic...they should declare the causes that impel their separation.”
Ingraham's willingness to mix it up on the culture is refreshing and was apparent during her book interview on NBC's “Today,” where she underlined to Matt Lauer that Today's "own" Summer Concert Series included vile artists like woman-battering singer Chris Brown and F-bomb-dropping “artists” Enrique Iglesias and Cee-Lo. How big are these cultural icons? Ingraham and her collaborator on the book, Catholic TV journalist Raymond Arroyo, were amazed at what they thought must be the new homelessness on the streets of New York, but then realized people were camping out two nights early to acquire a choice spot to witness Chris Brown perform on NBC.
It seems Rep. Michele Bachmann is under increased scrutiny for her religious views, even as she climbs ever higher in the presidential polls. With tea party support, she is now No. 2 in the Republican polls even though she has been in the race for only a short time. The numero uno, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is himself the victim of gentler bigotry for his religious views. He is a Mormon. No, I did not say moron. I said Mormon.
What is Bachmann's transgression? She was, until recently, a member of a church that opposes homosexuality and gay marriage. It also takes issue with the Roman Catholic papacy. It is the Salem Lutheran Church of Stillwater, Minn. And by the way, it is no longer Bachmann's church. She now attends the evangelical church Eagle Brook, in another part of Stillwater, where she now lives. A close friend, JoAnne Hood, tells The New York Times that the Bachmanns "are absolutely not against the gays. They are just not for marriage" — presumably not for gay marriage. As for their position on the Catholic papacy, Hood is mum.
Last December, I reported on Harvard University professor Stephan Thernstrom's essay "Minorities in College — Good News, But...," on Minding the Campus, a website sponsored by the New York-based Manhattan Institute. He was commenting on the results of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, saying that the scores "mean that black students aged 17 do not read with any greater facility than whites who are four years younger and still in junior high. ... Exactly the same glaring gaps appear in NAEP's tests of basic mathematics skills." Thernstrom asked, "If we put a randomly-selected group of 100 eighth-graders and another of 100 twelfth-graders in a typical college, would we expect the first group to perform as well as the second?" In other words, is it reasonable to expect a college freshman of any race who has the equivalent of an eighth-grade education to compete successfully with those having a 12th-grade education?
In Atlanta, the teachers cheat on exams so the students don't have to. It doesn't raise the knowledge level of our children, but it gets the school system past the next exam — even as the system continues its death spiral. We will know the spiral has reached its terminal station when there is full unionized teacher employment and complete student illiteracy.
Now, in this same spirit of treating the symptoms at the price of the patient soon dying, Moody's credit rating agency, according to Reuters, has proposed that the United States "eliminate its statutory limit on government debt to reduce uncertainty among bond holders."
On July 3, 1999, The New York Times exposed Al Gore for lying about his family in a national convention speech as vice president of the United States. In 1996, Gore had moved the Democrats to tears by claiming that when his sister Nancy died of cancer in 1984, he vowed then and there to oppose the tobacco industry. How courageous – and completely untrue. The Times found Gore campaigned in 1988 boasting of his tobacco-farming prowess. So he lied through his teeth. Network coverage from ABC, CBS, or NBC on this whopper, even as Gore prepared a presidential run? Zero.
On July 13, 2011, this cycle repeated itself, when The New York Times reported on another national Democrat lying about a death in the family in his convention address, presidential debates, just about everywhere. That was Barack Obama in 2008 claiming his mother Ann Dunham died of cancer battling with insurance companies all the way through. Dramatic? Yes. But an utter lie. Network coverage of this new jaw-dropper on ABC, CBS, and NBC? Also zip, zilch, zero.
Immediately after President Obama took office, his Hollywood benefactors clamored for the creation of a "Secretary of Culture." Tinseltown was disappointed with the administration's crony arts czar choice (Chicago lawyer Kareem Dale), but left-wing artists and entertainers have now been mollified.
Instead of one government-supported arts czar, the White House has designated an entire herd of them.
There is an overarching reason we can't move toward a balanced budget, which underscores why we face ongoing stalemates over debt ceilings and continuing resolutions: President Obama doesn't want to balance the budget.
I don't say this out of extremism or to be gratuitously controversial or even provocative. It's just that his words and actions lead to the inescapable conclusion that he is unwilling to curb his appetite for big government. In the absence of any such restraint, our alarming budget trajectory cannot be reversed. The debt ceiling may be the last clear chance before the 2012 elections to force meaningful budgetary reforms.
PLYMOUTH NOTCH, Vt. -- If your disgust over America's crushing debt and the irresponsible leaders who refuse to reduce unnecessary spending has reached the fed-up point, there is an easy solution beyond whatever compromise might be reached in the current standoff between President Obama and congressional Republicans. Vote Republican in 2012.
But don't vote for just any Republican, rather vote for conservatives who believe the foundational principles of America still work and can rescue us from default, placing the country back on a track that leads to prosperity and greater liberty.
The OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz., was where Doc Holliday and Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp fought the Clantons and McLaurys on Oct. 26, 1881. At the end of that 30-second showdown, Virgil and Morgan Earp were wounded, and three cowboys were dead.
President Barack Obama and House Republicans' showdown over the debt and deficit quickly is turning into Washington's OK Corral. And politicians on each side are trying to convince you which are Tombstone law enforcement (the good guys) and who the rogue cowboys (the bad guys) are.
Is there a health insurance horror story disseminated by the White House and its allies that ever turned out to be true? Obamacare advocates have exercised more artistic license than a convention of Photoshoppers. Now, a prominent sob story shilled by President Obama himself about his own mother is in doubt. It's high past time to call their bluffs.
Ordinarily, I'd have difficulty grasping the magnitude of arrogance driving President Obama in budget negotiations that could determine the survival of our nation, but after several painful years of observation, I've come to expect it from him.
Obama's personality type does not well handle opposition, so when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor refused to budge on Obama's unreasonable demand that the GOP agree to raise taxes during these economic hard times, which would not raise revenues, Obama blew up and "stormed out of the room."
Sometimes the most radical ideas are the most sensible For instance, take the recent decision by John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to phase out co-ed dorms, returning to single-sex residence halls.
Garvey presented a fairly practical case for the move: Not unlike many colleges, there is a drinking problem on campus. And as Christopher Kaczor, professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, whom Garvey cites, has surmised: Increased binge drinking in co-ed living situations may be explained by a "'party' expectation that students fulfill. College males want to get females to drink more ... College men themselves drink more as 'liquid courage' to approach women and as part of the process of encouraging female drinking (for instance, with drinking games). In order to demonstrate 'equality' with male students and so as not to seem prudish, college females drink more than they otherwise would. Single-sex residences reduce this binge-drinking dynamic."
Some “reality shows” are designed to advertise wanton misbehavior and stupidity for its own sake. There’s no “life lesson,” just an exercise in how you can grade your own moral worth on a “Jersey Shore” curve.
That is not the case with TLC’s “Sister Wives.” For TLC (The Learning Channel, a misnomer demanding initials-only), it was the usual slam-dunk oddball premise: Won’t people be curious to see how four wives – married to the same man – get along in the same house? The show’s stars, Kody Brown and his wives, want much more than fame and fortune. They want to make polygamy respectable, even legalized.
Do we need any other evidence that the Kultursmog exists and that it is international — at least in the English-speaking world — than the fact that the biggest news story in the United Kingdom today is also the biggest news story here. I have in mind the story that News of the World reporters in London listened in on private conversations and possibly bribed Scotland Yard. The Kultursmog is that set of ideas and tastes that are utterly polluted by left-wing values and carried by the liberal news media to pollute people's minds.
Every day, the money-losing New York Times and its subsidiaries throughout mainstream media hammer away at the story of a scandal in faraway England, and of course, they have located Rupert Murdoch at the very heart of the story. Over the weekend, he flew to London. He meets with top aides. The News of the World is killed off. Now a deal for BSkyB is being pulled. What comes next? Well, what comes next, reports Reuters, is that the American Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Murdoch's company, News Corp., on this side of the Atlantic for criminal behavior. Or maybe they are not. No one would go on the record and say they are investigating. Oh, yes, and by the way, we have a constitution here with a First Amendment. The Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, did not want to see the press harassed by innuendo.
Some people can spot a slight in every compliment, whereas others — the happy ones — find a compliment in every slight. So last week, as a free-market, low-taxes, constitutional conservative, I happily found an apparently unintended compliment from the liberal New Republic.
It is not often that I agree with the central attack line of my sometimes media sparring partner, The New Republic's Ed Kilgore. But in his effort at a hit piece last week on Michele Bachmann and her stand for "constitutional conservatism," what he thinks is an effective attack on us constitutional conservatives, I take as a badge of honor.
A recent Superman comic book* has the hero saying, "I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship" because "truth, justice, and the American way — it's not enough anymore." Though not addressing Superman's statement, Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow William Damon explains how such a vision could emerge today but not yesteryear. The explanation is found in his article "American Amnesia," in Defining Ideas (7/1/2011), based upon his most recent book, "Failing Liberty 101: How We Are Leaving Young Americans Unprepared for Citizenship in a Free Society."
A rising chorus of repeal-mongers, outraged at the Obama administration's federal health care power grab, took over Washington this week. Nope, it's not the tea party. It's Democrats Against the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Yes, Democrats.
What's IPAB? A Beltway acronym for subverting the deliberative process.
The political prognosticator Charlie Cook appeared on National Public Radio on July 11 and summarized perfectly the media narrative on the debt-limit battle. Boehner, Cook said, “is not a burn-the-barn-down, break-the-china kind of guy [and] he does not necessarily reflect the views of a majority...of the House Republican Conference, who are of the burn-the-barn-down, break-the-china mold.”
Hold on here. Why is it destructive to insist on a limited government? Why is fiscal sanity equated with pyromania? Cook was brought on as a “nonpartisan” analyst, but there’s nothing either civil or accurate in casting conservatives as barn-burners.
The depressing debate over the debt ceiling underscores just how recklessly the ruling class has squandered America's sacred heritage — a heritage I had the privilege of revisiting up close this past week on a family vacation.
The contrast between the sublime historical locations we experienced during the day and the alarming news we ingested each night about the dire state of our nation's financial condition couldn't have been starker.
"Nothing succeeds like success" -- Alexandre Dumas, 1802-1870
If new millionaires or billionaires were created every time President Obama and his fellow liberals disparage "millionaires and billionaires," there would be far more of them than there are today. And that would be a good thing because it would mean more people are succeeding.
While Democrats and Republicans struggle to make headway in debt- and deficit-reduction talks in Washington, former President Bill Clinton pontificated in a recent issue of Newsweek about his own solutions for our sluggish economy.
I don't agree with all of Clinton's "14 ways to put America back to work," but I definitely believe he's right about one of them: cutting corporate taxes. Yes, you read that right. The chief paragon of the Democratic Party espouses cutting corporate taxes, while the majority of his political chums, including President Barack Obama, advocate raising taxes on the wealthy. In his Newsweek article, Clinton was emphatic: "Cut corporate taxes. ... I'd be perfectly fine with lowering the corporate tax rates (and) simplifying the tax code."
Want a little wisdom? Given we're a culture that tends to be self-help hungry, odds are that you and I aren't hostile to a little good advice. Who would be?
Well, May and June were months populated by commencement addresses. Some were memorable; some were political; some were self-indulgent. Some need to be reread now that the parties are over, internships are being settled into, vacations are being enjoyed, or the satisfactions of labor are giving way to harsh realities about paychecks, FICA --- and, well, don't ask Paul Ryan how bright that future looks about now.