While inspecting the body politic, one encounters one clear sign that liberalism is dead. It is the condition of our political discourse. Polite commentators note that the dialogue is "rancorous." Some say toxic. Actually, it is worse than that. It is nonexistent.
From the right, from the sophisticated right, there is an attempt to engage the liberals. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan just did it by presenting a budget that cried out for intelligent response. President Barack Obama's response was to invite Ryan to sit in the front row for his "fiscal policy" speech at George Washington University. There Obama heaped scorn on an astonished Ryan and his work. He did not even mention Ryan's name. This is what Obama calls an "adult" debate?
Last weekend, David Ignatius in his Washington Post column made a vital contribution to the debt and deficit debate: "Take the deficit pain now. It's a truth of economics and life that if you have bad news coming, take the hit early and get it behind you. You can't start building until the debris is out of the way."
Ignatius offers various examples from history (e.g., Fed Chairman Paul Volker's 1979 interest rate hikes that caused the recessions of the early '80s, but broke the inflation psychology and (I would add, with Ronald Reagan's policies) built the foundation for 25 years of prosperity.
The RINO (reverend in name only) Terry Jones is like his fellow RINO, Fred Phelps, but in political drag.
Jones, the "pastor" (PINO?) of the tiny and inconsequential Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., was jailed last week in Dearborn, Mich., "following a jury trial that found he was likely to create a 'breach of the peace' for plans to protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn," according to the Detroit News. Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp were taken into custody after they refused to post a $1 "peace bond." A judge then barred Jones and Sapp from entering the property of the Islamic Center -- the largest mosque in the U.S. -- for three years. The two posted bond and were released, but they promised to return on Friday.
Confirmed: "Drain the swamp" is Washington-speak for "Let it fester." While House ethics watchdogs dither, it's shady business as usual for ethics scandal-plagued Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters.
Last summer, the House Ethics Committee charged the entrenched California congresswoman with three violations related to her wheeling and dealing on behalf of minority-owned OneUnited Bank in Los Angeles. The panel accused Waters of bringing discredit to the House for using her influence to seek and secure taxpayer-subsidized special favors for the failing financial institution.
Eight months have passed since the House ethics panel charged Waters. But to date, there has been no action. No trial. No consequences.
Smugglers are heroes of sorts. The essence of what a smuggler offers is: "Government tyrants want to either prevent or interfere with peaceable voluntary exchange among individuals. I can reduce the impact of that interference." Let's look at smuggling, keeping in mind that not everything illegal is immoral and not everything legal is moral.
Leading up to our War of Independence, the British, under the Navigation Acts, had levied taxes on a wide range of imports. One of those taxes was on molasses imported from non-British islands. John Hancock, whose flamboyant signature graces our Declaration of Independence, had a thriving business smuggling an estimated 1.5 million gallons of molasses a year. His smuggling practices financed much of the resistance to British authority. In fact, a joke of the time was "Sam Adams writes the letters (to newspapers) and John Hancock pays the postage."
In the Bush years, poll results that showed the American people losing confidence in their president were featured routinely on the front page of major newspapers like The Washington Post. But when the Post discovers Obama’s ratings collapsing, you need a search party to find where inside the paper they’re buried.
On April 26, the Post offered three stories on polls, each with bad news for Obama. The only one mentioned on the front page (in the very bottom right-hand corner) was a Post/ABC poll showing “rising gas prices are leading Americans to drive less, and hurting the president’s popularity.” Then the reader would have to travel to page A-12.
“Hurting” is an understatement. Only 39 percent of those who called gas prices a “serious financial hardship” approve of Obama’s performance as president. Among independents who found hardship, 67 percent disapprove of Obama. Ouch.
The governing class in Washington has no excuse for not having addressed our spending issues and formulating a comprehensive federal debt retirement plan before we approached another debt ceiling threshold.
At every possible opportunity, politicians convince themselves that it's always better to kick the can down the road — Democrats because they aren't remotely serious about debt reduction, Republicans because they're afraid of their own shadow.
"I am so glad not to be in high school anymore," Mary Hardy tells me.
The wise college sophomore was responding to an article I asked her to read about adolescent girls dressing badly.
As in, like sluts.
Mary tells me: "My parents never let me dress like that and I am grateful -- only now -- to them because the boys in high school, although they did not say it, did respect me more especially at the dances, where no one tried to come up and 'dance' with me in the manner they did with the other girls, whose bodies were mostly exposed."
For the Christian faithful, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday is sacred. It’s a time of reflection and prayer and fasting. It is Holy Week. It deserves the strongest respect.
But our secular media culture does not bend a knee – or even shut a mouth. Instead, Holy Week means it is time to grab the spotlight with the most indulgent forms of spiritual irreverence and mockery. Start with the infantile Lady Gaga. She released a new single titled "Judas."
Her primary lyrical "thought," if you can call it that, is "I'm just a holy fool, oh baby he's so cruel / But I'm still in love with Judas, baby." She says "Jesus is my virtue," but "Judas is the demon that I cling to."
Everyone but the blind and reckless agrees that the United States faces a dire financial crisis. But only one of the two major political parties is offering a plan that has a reasonable chance of averting this crisis and restoring the nation to financial health.
Obama's ever-changing proposals, allegedly designed to tackle the problem, simply could not work. One of the following must be true: He doesn't agree that the crisis is grave, doesn't understand that his policies can't work, doesn't have the same vision about America as most of us, or doesn't intend for his policies to work. Some people believe he's intentionally damaging America, because they believe he's too smart not to know that we face a crisis and that his policies can't work.
Don't be fooled by The Donald. Take it from one who knows: I'm a South Jersey gal who was raised on the outskirts of Atlantic City in the looming shadow of Trump's towers. All through my childhood, casino developers and government bureaucrats joined hands, raised taxes and made dazzling promises of urban renewal. Then we wised up to the eminent-domain thievery championed by our hometown faux free-marketeers.
America, it's time you wised up to Donald Trump's property redistribution racket, too.
Trump has been wooing conservative activists for months and flirting with a GOP presidential run — first at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington and most recently at a tea party event in South Florida. He touts his business experience, "high aptitude" and "bragadocious" deal-making abilities. But he's no more a standard-bearer of conservative values, limited government and constitutional principles than the cast of "Jersey Shore."
In bridge, a trump card is held in reserve for winning a trick. In politics, Donald Trump is anything but reserved and appears to think he might trick enough voters to win the next presidential election.
There's plenty to draw on when critiquing a possible Trump candidacy. His multiple marriages (three) and affairs provide fodder for the media and contrast poorly with President Obama's "family values" image as husband of one wife and father of young daughters, whom he clearly loves.
Why is it that Donald Trump is a creditable candidate with a significant segment of Republican voters? In some polls, he runs ahead of all Republicans save Mitt Romney, and all I have heard him say is that he wants to see our president's birth certificate. Imagine if he would ask to see budget cuts from the president or revenue enhancements.
Frankly, I would like to see President Barack Obama's birth certificate, too. But on the other hand, I have in hand a copy of a notice of our president's birth printed Aug. 13, 1961, from The Honolulu Advertiser. That has to count for something, no? According to the notice, he was born Aug. 4, 1961, but there are a lot of other things about him I would like to know. For instance, I would like to see those aforementioned budget cuts and the revenue enhancements.
Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. President Obama's perpetual campaign cash-o-matic machine kicks into high gear again this week as the celebrity-in-chief heads to Hollywood for several high-priced fundraisers. But while the Democrats' 2012 re-election team stuffs its hands into every liberal deep pocket in sight, questions about the Obama 2008 campaign finance operation still fester.
Last week, the laggard watchdogs at the Federal Election Commission announced an audit of the Obama 2008 campaign committee — which raised a record-setting $750 million. White House flacks are downplaying the probe as a "routine review."
If future historians look back on the ruins of the American economy after a U.S. bond crisis struck in the second decade of the 21st century, many causes will be noted. Obviously, it will be seen that for decades before the catastrophe, the U.S. was spending vastly more than it could afford on government health and retirement programs.
And, just as after the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11, 2011, blue-ribbon commissions will be incredulous that all the telltale signs of the coming disaster were in plain view, yet were ignored.
The average American, as parent, student and taxpayer, has little idea of the academic rot at so many of our colleges. Save for a tiny handful of the nation's colleges, what distinguishes one college from another is the magnitude of that rot.
One of the best sources of information about our colleges is the New York City-based Manhattan Institute's quarterly Web magazine, Minding the Campus, edited by John Leo, former columnist for U.S. News & World Report.
Conservatives who really wanted to see at least a spending “haircut” for NPR or public broadcasting in the underwhelming budget deal for 2011 might have suggested at least some symbolic victory for conservatives. Here it is: Fire David Brooks as the alleged conservative or Republican “counterpoint” on PBS and NPR on Friday nights. We could hire Donald Trump to announce it from the boardroom.
Or keep him, but banish forever, for once and for all, the notion that he is a man of the Right.
After President Obama’s budget speech at George Washington University, Brooks wrote a column for The New York Times declaring: “It doesn't take a genius to see that Obama is very likely to be re-elected.” Republicans may try to reform entitlements, but “voters, even Republican voters, reject this.” Obama “hit the political sweet spot with his speech this week. He made a sincere call to reduce debt, which will please independents, but he did not specify any tough choices.”
I am beginning to wonder whether President Obama is so cocky about his 2012 re-election prospects that he thinks he doesn't even have to be serious in his budget plan offerings.
Unfortunately, the nation's unfunded liabilities aren't so casual as the president; they are growing by more than $10 trillion per year, which means that our looming debt crisis becomes far more problematic with each passing day.
As most Americans have done since our republic's inception, millions of us across the country this Holy Week will commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But what concerns me in America is not only the growing disdain for Christian sentiment but also the increasing spread of Shariah.
There's no mystery that radical Islamists intend to use the freedoms in our Constitution to expand the influence of Shariah. But still, too many Americans don't know or understand how it threatens the very fabric of our republic. So I've decided to do a series on how Shariah is seeping into American society.
The Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., Vincent Gray, distinguished himself last week by getting arrested in an act of "civil disobedience" reminiscent of the '60s. The mayor, six council members and more than 40 other protesters were detained by Capitol police for blocking the street to oppose the congressional budget deal that deprived D.C. of federal funds for abortions.
They were also protesting a mandate under the same agreement that revives a popular school choice program, the "Opportunity Scholarship Program," which allows poor children in failing schools an opportunity to attend schools they and their parents believe will give them the best possible education. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had pulled the plug on the Bush-era program after pressure from the teacher's union which, in a reversal of Bush's "No Child Left Behind," behaves as if no child in a failing school should be let out.
So much for the new era of fiscal responsibility. The federal government's dependency drones have been spared the chopping block. After vowing to eliminate funding for President Obama's bloated $6 billion AmeriCorps social justice army, House Republicans retreated — and will shrink the AmeriCorps budget by a minuscule 6.7 percent.
Politicians originally sold AmeriCorps as an alternative to big government — a program to "renew the ethic of civic responsibility and the spirit of community throughout the United States." With bipartisan support, the program has morphed into an all-purpose progressive slush fund. Instead of reining in the national service boondoggle, Washington has turned taxpayer-subsidized helping hands into a legion of Nanny State handout helpers. Goodbye, AmeriCorps. Hello, FoodStampCorps.
In my book "Crimes Against Liberty," I described President Obama as dishonest, hyper-partisan, a bully, a narcissist and a hard-core left-wing ideologue. Anyone who thinks my description is exaggerated or too harsh didn't hear his Wednesday speech on the budget.
One might have expected that a newly elected president who had "inherited" such a disturbingly high deficit, a growing national debt, and a forecast of unfunded entitlements soon to explode because of baby boomer demographics alone would roll up his sleeves and tackle this deficit and debt problem.
"(T)his is a loving, caring Jesus," is how the New York Times recently profiled a leading man in a play about abortion written by a Notre Dame grad.
The script dialogue includes a woman asking Christ: "Did you ever say, 'I'm Jesus, and I say that stupid girls who let guys talk them into going to the back seat of their cars have to have babies?' Did you say that ever?"
Twenty-nine years after her death, novelist Ayn Rand is coming to a theater near you. After many failed attempts, her 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged" has been made into a film.
In an age when overspending, overreaching, higher-taxing and overregulating government increasingly strangles the private sector, robbing us of our liberties and transforming the country into the model of a socialist state, Rand's story reminds us how far ahead of her time she was and just how dangerous a time we live in now.
Last week was the culmination of a process begun years ago. A bill was introduced to Congress that could end American dependence on foreign oil. What is called the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act — more simply put, the NAT GAS Act — was introduced to Congress on April 6. It has bipartisan support. It ought to pass and pass promptly. It could be called the Boone Pickens bill.
The process began with the Pickens Plan for global energy security in 2008. Authored by legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens, who put some $80 million of his own money into promoting it, it called for the development of all sources of energy, even wind and solar. Boone recognized that as long as America is dependent on foreign oil, America has a national security problem. We import 70 percent of our oil, an amount that can only go up unless something is done. The oil comes from unfriendly countries in the worst scenarios, unstable countries in slightly better scenarios. Canada is the best scenario but cannot provide all the oil we need.
It's time for a 21st-century retirement age. __If 40 is the new 20 and 50 is the new 30, why shouldn't 70 be the new 65? The last time Washington politicians tinkered ever so gingerly with the government-sanctioned retirement age, Ronald Reagan was in office and Generation X-ers were all in diapers. Since then, American life expectancy has increased by half a decade and continues to rise — while the "traditional" retirement age (established eight decades ago) has only recently begun phasing up to 67 and the official "early" retirement age (established four decades ago) remains stuck at 62.
There is simply no good reason 21st-century workers should operate under obsolete 1930s-era expectations and 1970s rules. We're living longer, working longer and, in general, holding down jobs that are far less physically taxing than those of previous generations.
The great American engine of democracy is beginning to build up a head of steam, and it remains the finest device created by man to organize collective human action.
Two months ago, the conventional wisdom held that Washington would do nothing of consequence to start dealing with our fiscal crisis. Certainly, that was the political baseline for the president's Feb. 14 budget proposal for 2012, which, while roundly condemned as a call to inaction, was seen as politically "shrewd."
I've often said that I wish there were some humane way to get rid of the rich. If you asked why, I'd answer that getting rid of the rich would save us from distraction by leftist hustlers promoting the politics of envy. Not having the rich to fret over might enable us to better focus our energies on what's in the best interest of the 99.99 percent of the rest of us. Let's look at some facts about the rich laid out by Bill Whittle citing statistics on his RealClearPolitics video "Eat the Rich."
This year, Congress will spend $3.7 trillion dollars. That turns out to be about $10 billion per day. Can we prey upon the rich to cough up the money? According to IRS statistics, roughly 2 percent of U.S. households have an income of $250,000 and above. By the way, $250,000 per year hardly qualifies one as being rich. It's not even yacht and Learjet money. All told, households earning $250,000 and above account for 25 percent, or $1.97 trillion, of the nearly $8 trillion of total household income. If Congress imposed a 100 percent tax, taking all earnings above $250,000 per year, it would yield the princely sum of $1.4 trillion. That would keep the government running for 141 days, but there's a problem because there are 224 more days left in the year.
The ominous threat of a government shutdown dominated the news last week. The media weren’t wrong to cover it as a dramatic debate, but all of the hype and horror looked a little bizarre by the weekend – like wide-eyed, screaming hurricane warnings on the Weather Channel followed by a sunny calm.
When the deal was struck, the TV pundits quickly moved on to how there were sharper, harsher battles ahead over much larger chunks of federal spending. That’s true. But in hindsight, the entire shutdown fight looks by comparison like a war over who was splitting the pizza delivery bill....tip. The $38 billion in spending cuts is a bit of an achievement when Obama didn’t want to cut anything – but it’s still the drop in the proverbial $3.7 trillion bucket.
Instead of fighting over who’s the “winner” in this small skirmish, let’s just focus on a few obnoxious shutdown spins.