At Issue this week... January 15, 2014 2013 Lowry (5) Shapiro (10) 2014 Farah (18) Tyrrell (11) Afghanistan Malkin (1) Afghanistan & Iraq Farah (4) Answer Man Seamans-Shook (14) Chamber of Commerce Towery (6) China Barone (30) Cultural Decline Buchanan (21) Dear Mark Levy (19) Economics Lambro (28) Limbaugh (2) Sowell (11) Thomas (15) Electorate Will (8, 22) First Amendment Jacoby (10) Global Warming Saunders (26) Hispanic Vote Barone (9) Immigration Chavez (25) Jobless Benefits Morris (22) Marijuana Kudlow (21) Media Bias Bozell (18) Minimum Wage Williams (13) Obamacare Charen (17) Jeffrey (16) Krauthammer (13) Lambro (12) Lowry (15) McCaughey (17, 26) Murchison (23) Norris (27) Perceptions of U.S. Prager (29) Poverty Jeffrey (20) Lowry (30) Murchison (9) Republican Party Elder (5) Sanctity of Life Malkin (4) Simmons, Harold Bozell (23) Snowden, Edward Saunders (29) Sochi Olympics Buchanan (3) Socialism Shapiro (25) South Sudan Bay (31) Standing Up Coulter (7) Limbaugh (24) Massie (6) Welfare Schlafly (14)
Afghanistan by Michelle Malkin
President Obama’s Afghanistan mess
s President Obama sleeping well on his Hawaiian holiday? I can think of many families of American soldiers who might not be enjoying the same bliss right now. That’s because 2014 opens with alarming news that the Afghan government will free an estimated 650 prisoners from a Bagram detention facility — including scores involved in deadly attacks on our men and women in uniform. The White House handed over control of the jihadi-clogged prison to the Afghan government last spring. Some 3,000 notorious Taliban and al Qaeda killers call the jail home. Surprise, surprise: After the Obama administration supposedly secured “private assurances” that no dangerous criminal operatives would be released, U.S. officials are now balking that the agreement has been broken. Everyone, put on your shocked faces.
battlefield. Last fall, Karzai freed senior Taliban leader Maulawi Ghulam Mohammad — who now commands some 400 insurgents and immediately launched several deadly attacks on security forces’ check-posts in the Badghis province.
(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
Mohammad joins Mullah Zakir, the Taliban’s top “surge commander,” who was released from Gitmo to Afghanistan custody and let loose by the Afghanistan government in 2007. He’s back at work, killing in the name of Allah without skipping a beat. Former Gitmo detainee Abu Sufian bin Qumu, also released in 2007, has been named a possible lead plotter in the Benghazi attack. Karzai’s jail-emptying scheme comes as the Obama administration continues to widen the Gitmo revolving door for even more potential recidivists-to-be. In December alone, the White House returned Guantanamo detainees to Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, and dispatched three Uighur detainees to Slovakia.
AN ANONYMOUS U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal this week: “We are concerned that 88 people who have blood on their hands — Afghan and coalition blood — would be turned loose, but more important, that an agreement that we have with the Afghan government is being violated.” The New York Times reports that Muslim terrorists who trained teen suicide bombers and planted IEDs at schools are among the lucky thugs slated for release. “These are QUESTION: ARE the Taliban leaders guys that are tied directly to killing and try- detained and arrested last fall in connecing to kill our forces and Afghan forces,” an tion with the deadly 9/14/12 attack on our American military official told the New York Times. “This is an issue of deep concern. It is serious.” Cue the “UNDERSTATEMENT” klieg lights. Members of Afghanistan’s own parliament are decrying the lax review process and dangerous unilateral decisions of a “Bagram Inmates’ Assessment Committee” established by presidential decree. Afghan senator Dawood Hasas told the Afghanistan Times: “Among the released prisoners from Bagram jail, many were murder convicts, and release of notorious prisoners would not be in the national interests.” Who knows how many others will be freed to kill American soldiers again? President Hamid Karzai is busy pandering to Taliban forces in advance of the country’s spring election season. He is also stalling approval of a bilateral security deal with the U.S. and U.K. It’s a recipe for bloody recidivism. The new batch of freed jihadists will join a burgeoning population of other freed Taliban commanders who promptly returned to the
Marines at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan on Karzai’s release list? Don’t forget that the infiltration of 15 jihadists disguised in U.S. combat fatigues took place three days after the 9/11 attack on our Benghazi consulate. Refresher: The Camp Bastion attack came exactly six months after a failed suicide bombing that targeted then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The meticulously coordinated siege resulted in the deaths of Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, along with the most devastating loss of U.S. airpower since Vietnam. British commanders knew the airfield was insecure before 9/14/12. Leaders on both sides of the pond failed to coordinate their defenses. Three months before the raid, the Pentagon acknowledged, military officials had been warned of “uncontrolled access” that left “personnel and equipment exposed.” The families of the fallen continue to fight for accountability on both sides of the pond, and to push for both the U.S. and U.K. to take meaningful remediation steps to secure coalition bases. It’s safe to say that “Freeing imprisoned Taliban and al Qaeda jihadists who targeted and killed American troops” wasn’t on any military family’s New Year’s wish list. AS FOR THE commander-in-chief? It’s back to the golf course. Fore! January 3, 2014
ECONOMICS: January 7, 2014
The left’s latest mantra: Income inequality
t’s no mystery what the left in- the harm his sacred plan would cause. tends to make its next life-or- The progressive agenda is marching death issue: income inequal- forward. Liberals must now shift our attenity. Liberals are all popping off about to the next issue they can it. It’s everywhere, from Obama’s tion about and showcase speeches to liberal think tanks to lib- p r e e n their moral superieral reporters. ority. It’s almost as Notice that if they were conWoodward didn’t spiring to distract (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate say, “We need to us from Obamget the economy acare. Nah! On Meet the Press, PBS anchor- moving again and get people back to woman Judy Woodruff sounded the work.” She conflated “doing somealarm, not as a dispassionate reporter thing about the economy” with “the but as a progressive advocate. While argument for addressing inequality.” News flash: You don’t do something acknowledging Obama’s problems with Obamacare, she breathlessly in- about the economy by obsessing over sisted, “At the same time, the argu- income redistribution. The two are ment for doing something about the connected, but not in the sense that economy, the argument for addressing liberals believe they are. While Obama liberals scoff at coninequality, is such a compelling arguservatives for their alleged “tricklement.” down” approach to economics, they BEHOLD THE liberal mindset. make the preposterous counterarguIt’s apparently only of passing concern ment that you grow the economy to Woodruff that Obamacare caused “from the middle out,” by which they cancellations of millions of policies mean you fuel economic growth by reof insurance for people. That is so last distributing income. You don’t generate economic activyear. The important thing is that liberal ity by punishing producers and taking icon Barack Obama forced quasi-so- their earnings and giving the money to cialized health care through Congress, others. How in the world could that exand any harm it causes people must pand the economic pie? More likely, as history demontake a back seat to advancement of the progressive agenda, which is os- strates, it will shrink the pie by disintensibly designed (in the progressives’ centivizing all groups from producing. minds) to prevent harm to people. Ig- The wealthy will produce less because nore the foolish inconsistency. Nor when you increase taxes on something does it matter that Obama lied about (in this case, productivity and suc-
cess), you get less of it. The recipients will mostly produce less because they are rewarded for not producing. So “addressing inequality” is connected to “doing something about the economy” but in precisely the opposite way the left implies. Efforts to misuse the tax code to equalize outcomes — as opposed to using it for the purpose of securing funds for constitutionally prescribed federal government functions — will usually harm the economy. SOME LIBERALS probably don’t even believe their own propaganda that redistribution stimulates economic growth. In 2008, Obama told ABC’s Charlie Gibson he favors increasing capital gains tax rates despite the fact that such increases had resulted in less revenue for the government. “It’s a matter of fairness, Charlie.” For Obama, it was more important to punish the “rich” than to help the poor. That’s his mindset — and it’s warped. Don’t get me wrong. Obama and his fellow leftists are fixated on redistributing wealth, but a major component of that, as witnessed by his attitude on increasing the capital gains rate, is that the wealthy need to be punished — even if it means hurting lower-income groups. The irony of all this is that these liberal policies often result in exacerbating income inequality. Obama can pretend, once again, that he’s an innocent bystander, but income inequality is getting worse under his presidency. A half-century and trillions of dollars in government transfer payments have not helped the poor. Even the New York Times is grudgingly conceding that after 50 years, “the war on poverty declared 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson has largely failed.” Whether or not liberals are able to process the reality that their programs have failed, they will not abandon them, because class warfare and government dependency programs are their ticket to power. CNN’s Candy Crowley unwittingly admitted as much when she asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker why any unemployed Ameri-
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can or minimum wage worker would become a Republican. It’s not that conservatives don’t care about the poor. It’s that we do care about the poor — and everyone else. We believe that our free market solutions generate economic growth, stimulate upward mobility and improve the economic lives of far more people, including the poor and middle class, than any other system. History vindicates us. The left will always win the “look at how much I care about you” contest. But it loses in the “actually caring” department because at some point, people have to be presumed to have intended the damaging results their policies have consistently caused. LIBERALS CAN posture about how much they care and they can try desperately to change the channel from Obamacare, but the devastating harm that program has caused to millions already may finally have punctured their pretense of caring and their shameless practice of attempting to exempt themselves from accountability for their policies.
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January 15, 2014 SOCHI OLYMPICS: January 3, 2014
President Obama should go to Sochi
ith twin suicide bombings reaching out of America’s hand, to him in Volgograd, at a train sta- and to Russia. What would be the downside? tion and on a trolley, 34 Those who have been calling for stiffRussians are dead and scores are injured ing Putin and boycotting and hospitalized. his Sochi games Moscow and to protest Russia’s the world have law prohibiting disbeen put on notice tribution of proby Doku Umarov, homosexual prothe Chechen Is(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate paganda to youth lamic terrorist, that the winter Olympics in Sochi, six weeks have already had their point made. In an in-your-face gesture, the U.S. away, may not now be safe for visitors. How should friends of Russia re- delegation is headed by Billie Jean King, tennis legend and lesbian, who will travel spond? to Sochi with gay athletes Brian Boitano, PRESIDENT OBAMA, in a gesture the ice skating gold medalist, and Caitlin of solidarity with the Russian people, Cahow, a two-time hockey medalist. “This is the grandest of snubs, to Putin who have suffered more than any European people from Islamic terror since and to Russia,” exults Chad Griffin of the 9/11, should announce he has changed Human Rights Campaign. Yet U.S. relations with the world’s his mind and will be going to Sochi. The impact would be dramatic. The largest nation, stretching across a dozen Western boycott of the winter Olym- time zones from the Baltic to the Bering pics would collapse. The attention of the Sea and holding thousands of nuclear world’s TV cameras, along with the rest weapons, are too serious to allow petty of mankind, would turn to Sochi. Suc- quarrels to prevent our working together. Earlier presidents showed the way. cess of the games would be assured. Three years after Nikita Khrushchev’s And who would get the credit? Presitanks ran over the Hungarian freedom dent Barack Obama. A message would be sent to the world fighters, Eisenhower invited him to that no matter where America disagrees tour the United States. Six months after with Russia, terrorists do not tell us Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba, JFK where we can or cannot go, and we stand extended his hand in his American Uniin solidarity with the Russian people in versity speech. Months after Leonid Brezhnev had our detestation of and determination to sent Warsaw Pact armies to crush the combat terror. Vladimir Putin, who has his prestige “Prague spring,” President Nixon was fully invested in the Sochi games, would sounding him out on arms control and resee this as a magnanimous gesture, a ciprocal summits. Though the Red Army
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SANCTITY OF LIFE: January 1, 2014
The gifts of Jahi: A reminder that life is precious
ew Year’s Day should be a time of fresh beginnings and forward motion. But for the family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, the holiday season has been suspended in a cloud of unfathomable pain and suffering: A routine tonsillectomy gone wrong. A beautiful child declared “brain dead.” Lawyers, TV cameras, tears. THE MCMATHS are fighting for life. On Monday, they won a court order that prevents Children’s Hospital of Oakland from pulling the plug on Jahi until Jan. 7. Her relatives have been attacked as “publicity hounds” for doing everything possible to raise awareness about the young girl’s tragic case. They’ve been criticized as troublemakers for challenging powerful hospital officials. They’ve been labeled “selfish” and ignorant because they are praying for a miracle. Why, many observers ask, don’t they just “accept reality” and let go? As the mother of a 13-year-old girl, I would have done everything Jahi’s mom has done to this point. Everything. Here’s reality: Children’s Hospital faces serious malpractice questions about its care of Jahi. Hospital execs have a glaring conflict of interest in wielding power over her life support. According to relatives, medical officials callously referred to Jahi as “dead, dead, dead” and dismissed the child as a “body.” The McMath family refused to be rushed or pushed around. They demanded respect for their loved one. I say more power to them. There are plenty of reasons to question the medical establishment’s handling of catastrophic cases involving brain injury and “brain death.” In 2008, doctors were dead certain that 21-year-old Zack Dunlop was legally deceased after a horrible ATV accident. Tests showed there was no blood flow to his brain. His hospital issued a death notice. Authorities prepared to harvest his organs. But family members were not convinced. A cousin who happened to be a nurse tested Zack’s reflexes on his own one last time as the hospital swooped in. The “brain dead” “body” responded. Forty-eight days later, the supposedly impossible happened: “Brain dead” Zack Dunlop walked out of the hospital and lived to tell about his miraculous recovery on the Today Show. The immense pressure Jahi’s family faces to give up and give in reminded me of another child written off by medical and government officials: Haleigh Poutre. She’s the miracle child who was nearly beaten to death by her barbaric stepfather. Hooked to a ventilator in a comatose state, she was then nearly condemned to death by Massa-
chusetts medical experts and the state’s avo case brought out the worst, most criminally negligent child welfare bu- dehumanizing impulses of American reaucracy, which hastily declared her medical ethics debates. And from the to be in a hopeless vegetative state and attacks I’ve seen on the McMath family, little has changed. wanted to pull the plug on her life. Schiavo’s brothThe “experts” er, Bobby, knows were wrong. Haexactly how it leigh breathed on feels to battle the her own; a caring culture of death team of therapists (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate and medical expenursed her back diency. His group, to health. Soon, she was brushing her hair and feeding Terri’s Network, and other pro-life herself. She lived to testify against her organizations are trying to help with abusive stepfather, now behind bars. Jahi’s transfer to a long-term care faHer survival is a stark warning against cility. In the meantime, Jahi’s plight blind, yielding trust in Big Nanny and serves as a teachable moment for those with ears, eyes and hearts open. This Big Medicine. is a gift. “Families and individuals WE DON’T know what God has must make themselves aware of what planned for Jahi. But I do know this: so-called ‘brain death’ is and what it is America has become a throwaway cul- not,” Schindler advises. “Additionally, ture where everything and everyone families and individuals must educate — from utensils to diapers to cameras themselves regarding their rights as pato babies — is disposable. Elites sneer tients, the advance documentation that at the sanctity of life. The Terri Schi- must be completed prior to any medi-
cal procedure as well as how to ensure best any patient’s rights.” Jahi’s story should also prompt family discussions about living wills, durable powers of attorney, “do not resuscitate” orders, revocable trusts and advance directives. It’s never too early to broach these uncomfortable matters of life and death. I WANT TO thank Naila Winkfield and the McMath family for not “letting go” so easily. Their plight is every parent’s worst nightmare. Their fight reaches beyond ideology, race and class. The united front of the family and the public testaments of their faith in God are gifts. The Instagram image of Naila clasping her daughter’s hand at her hospital bedside — the hope, the desperation, the abiding love — is universal. At the start of 2014, the greatest gift of Jahi is her transcendent reminder that all life is precious. Let it not be taken for granted.
AFGHANISTAN & IRAQ: January 8, 2014
Iraq War and Afghan War lost
ith the news that Fallujah is back in the hands of al Qaeda, it’s fair to say the U.S.’s 13-year-old war in Iraq has been lost. A series of bombings by terrorists in Baghdad over the weekend killed more than 20. As American forces continue to draw down in Afghanistan with the Taliban, who are allies of al Qaeda and still occupying most of the country, it’s difficult to see what was achieved in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.
THE LONGEST war in United States history has resulted in some 21,000 casualties, with 73 percent of them occurring in 2009 and after, during the leadership of President Barack Obama. The 2004 battle for Fallujah alone, conducted as a street-by-street, houseby-house ground campaign, resulted in the deaths of 95 American soldiers and left 560 wounded. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were waged by the U.S. at a cost of billions of dollars per month. It’s time to ask the obvious question: Was it all worth it? Neither war had clear goals from the start. What began as vague “wars against terrorism” certainly didn’t defeat terrorism, which is on the rise in both countries. This is what happens when you fight wars against a “tactic” of war rather than a clearly defined enemy. Not that long ago, Obama told Americans al Qaeda was “on the run.” It appears today that
al Qaeda is sprinting toward victory on both fronts. Not only is al Qaeda winning back ground it lost in Iraq and Afghanistan during these never-ending conflicts, it is also surging in Lebanon and Syria — with the help of the U.S. Obama made the strategic decision to aid Muslim Brotherhood rebels in Syria. But now, the weapons and other supplies America gave these fighters is
(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
in the hands of al Qaeda’s network, resulting in more violence in Syria, with much of it spreading to Lebanon. ONE CAN only wonder how much worse the situation would be had Obama’s wild and irresponsible plan to directly attack Syria been approved by Congress. It’s true that Syria is run by a dictator — a second-generation tyrant named Bashar al-Assad. But in the Arab and Muslim world, good guys are in short supply. As bad as Assad is, he actually was a stabilizing factor in the Middle East, an enemy of al Qaeda and a protector of religious minorities — especially Christians. Christians are being massacred and chased out of their homes in Syria, as the fighting and bombings and intimida-
tion by al Qaeda spreads into Lebanon. It’s complicated, isn’t it? But it gets worse. Syria is aligned with Iran. In fact, Assad would have been toppled by now had Iran’s Hezbollah guerrillas not been aiding Assad’s army. Hezbollah is the most significant military force in Lebanon, overshadowing the Lebanese Army. Iran represents a serious threat not only to Israel but also to the U.S. because of its nuclear weapons program. Iraq has plunged into Iran’s orbit, thanks to the U.S. war there. This is why al Qaeda, a Sunni terrorist network, is at battle in Iraq, as well as in Lebanon and Syria. But the U.S. has no strategy for victory over, or even containment of, any of these forces. It’s a mess. There are no easy answers. The U.S. continues to follow a half-hearted strategy doomed to failure at the cost of American lives and billions a month in financial costs. Former President George W. Bush made mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan. But these mistakes have been compounded by Obama, whose campaign for the presidency in 2008 was a “peace” platform. America, more than ever, is still stumbling and bumbling with its military policy on all these fronts. Meanwhile, the terror and misery of the populations in these countries is worsening. DOES ANYONE understand what the U.S. is still doing in Afghanistan and Iraq?
January 15, 2014 REPUBLICAN PARTY: January 2, 2014
The Republican ‘agenda’ — and the youth vote
ichael Steele, then-chair of the Republican National Committee, criticized Obama’s stimulus plan as “a wish list from a lot of people who have been on the sidelines for years ... to get a little bling, bling.” Steele, who wanted to expand the GOP’s appeal to young voters, used the expression to, in Steele’s words, “take the party to the streets,” while making the GOP more “relevant” to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.” IN 2008, Obama took 66 percent of the 18-to-29-year-old vote, and 60 percent in 2012. To broaden the GOP’s appeal, consultants hold forums, town halls and focus groups to figure out ways to attract the youth vote. Is it the core message — low taxes, low regulation, secure boarders and strong national security — that young voters find off-putting? Is it the messenger? Former Democratic Chair Howard Dean once referred to the GOP as the “white” party.
An April 2013 Washington Post/ lia, Republican appointee and arguably ABC News poll found 65 percent of the most conservative justice, said the lack the expertise and young people thought the Republican c o u r t s judgment to resolve Party was “out of issues like same-sex touch.” Only 47 marriage, abortion percent considand doctor-assisted ered the Demosuicide. cratic Party “out (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate Scalia argues of touch.” Focus that such issues are groups find young voters, largely because of the GOP posi- state matters: “On controversial issues tion on abortion and same-sex marriage, on stuff like homosexual rights, abordismiss the GOP as the party that “tells tion, we debate with each other and persuade each other and vote on it either people how to live their lives.” `Blame the GOP, in large part, for through representatives or a constitueither being confused on its approach tional amendment. ... Whether it’s good to social issues or confused on how to or bad is not my job. My job is simply to talk about them. On domestic issues, say if those things you find desirable are the GOP should be the “federalism,” contained in the Constitution.” growth and empowerment party. Social SOCIAL ISSUES are important, issues such as gay marriage, abortion and drugs, where the U.S. Constitution but it’s still the economy, stupid. Ronis silent, are state matters to be fought at ald Reagan was elected president in the state level — not matters addressed 1980, capturing 44 states. When he ran for re-election, he won 49 states. Did by the federal government. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Sca- he win two landslide elections because
2013: December 30, 2013
A year of shamelessness All things considered, it was a year without shame. It was the year that Miley Cyrus French-kissed a sledgehammer in the music video for her song “Wrecking Ball,” and cavorted naked on said wrecking ball. The former Disney star popularized the act of twerking in a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards that was so luridly infantile, it wasn’t outrageous so much as pathetic. Yet it worked. It gained her at least another 15 minutes of fame and probably more, to have people pay attention to other insipid things she might do, usually half-clothed. Cyrus made us yearn for the good taste and restraint of the era of Lady Gaga, not to mention the golden age of classic Britney Spears. IT WAS THE year the president of the United States posed in a selfie with other foreign leaders at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela. He evidently had a grand time, but made us nostalgic for the period before our presidents posed in selfies with other heads of state, i.e., the long stretch of American history ending on Dec. 9, 2013. It was the year Anthony Weiner admitted in the midst of his New York City mayoral campaign that he had continued to sext after resigning from Congress for sexting. Under the delightfully absurd alias “Carlos Danger,” he had sent pictures of his private parts to a 22-year-old woman, whose notoriety instantly launched her career in adult
film and as a spokesmodel for an adultery-facilitating web site. Weiner made us fondly recall the self-effacing modesty of past New York City politicians like Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani. It was the year that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denied smoking crack, before admitting smoking crack — probably “in one of my drunken stupors.” He blamed reporters for not asking “the correct questions”
Lowry (c) 2013, King Features Syndicate
when he made his initial lawyerly denial, in which he had only said, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.” He denounced a successful effort by the City Council to strip him of most of his powers as a “coup d’etat.” While running around like a bull high on amphetamines during the raucous council debate, he knocked a woman down. The good mayor made us miss the decorum and straightforwardness of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. IT WAS THE year Dennis Rodman nominated himself as goodwill ambassador to North Korea, touchingly pronouncing himself Kim Jong Un’s “friend for life.” He excused the dictator’s brutal rule by explaining that the Supreme Leader is only 28 years old.
“The Worm,” as the former basketball player is known, made Jane Fonda’s infamous visit to North Vietnam in 1972 seem an effective, well- calibrated act of international diplomacy in comparison. It was the year Lance Armstrong confessed to cheating in every single one of his Tour de France victories, after attempting for years to destroy anyone who had blown the whistle on his doping. He did the obligatory interview with Oprah as a first step to redemption. Armstrong made us miss the sportsmanship of Rosie Ruiz, who won the Boston Marathon years ago in record time by neglecting to run the entire course. It was the year that New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez alleged a vast conspiracy encompassing most of Major League Baseball to bust him for using performance-enhancing drugs — again. The third baseman leads the league in misplaced sense of victimhood. Rodriguez made us long for the guilelessness of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. It was the year something truly outlandish happened on “The Real Housewives of Somewhere or Other.” It was the year Mob Wives got crazy. It was the year that 16 and Pregnant descended into moral chaos. They all made us remember a time when Jersey Shore represented a more decorous, elevated form of reality television. SO GOOD riddance to a year of shamelessness. It is sure never to be excelled — except by 2014.
he converted the country into embracing all of his positions? Of course not. A September 1984 New York Times article lead with this headline: “Polls Show Many Choose Reagan Even If They Disagree With Him.” Reagan supported an amendment to ban abortion. Most Americans disagreed. On abortion, the Times wrote, “Half of those who disagree with Mr. Reagan on abortion say they plan to vote for him, while only 38 percent of them say they will vote for Mr. Mondale.” Did the Great Communicator effectively convey his empathy, his heart and his compassion? No, not compared to his opponent, former Vice President Walter Mondale: “Significantly,” wrote the Times, “71 percent said yes when asked if Mr. Mondale ‘cares about people like you;’ 56 percent said that of Mr. Reagan.” On the issue of “caring,” advantage to Mondale. So what was it? The Times provides an explanation: “There is clear evidence in the (New York Times/CBS News) poll that the economy is a critical issue in the campaign.” On the economy, the poll asked about unemployment, inflation, the deficit and interest rates. Of those naming “unemployment” as most important, half planned to vote for Reagan. “But among the two-thirds who cited one of the other three problems,” the Times said, “Reagan supporters outnumbered Mondale supporters by margins of greater than 2 to 1.” At its nadir, the recession Reagan inherited reached 10.8 percent unemployment, 21.5 percent prime interest rate and 13.5 percent inflation. Reagan turned this around with a combination of tax cuts, deregulation and slower domestic spending, assisted by a Federal Reserve determined to rein in inflation. His economic record, as of 1984, convinced voters — who otherwise disagreed with him on many issues — to give him a nearly 50-state sweep. The party that says the federal government should butt out of social issues — the Republican Party — is the party that “tells us how to live our lives?” The party that tells an inner-city parent where her child will attend school, the party that attempts to stop you from drinking a sugary beverage from a big cup — the Democratic Party — is the party of empathy and compassion? REAGAN, LIKE the people who wrote the Constitution, believed in federalism, that any power not specified in the Constitution resides with the people and the states. President Barack Obama criticizes Congress for “failing to act” on gun control. Yet he recently praised states like Colorado and California for taking action. That’s called state action, Mr. President. It’s how our republic is designed to work.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: January 2, 2014
Vow to take on tea party a stupid, divisive move
ould there be a group that looks more insular, elitist and out of touch than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? One strategist for the chamber says they want “no more fools” nominated for office by the Republicans. By “fools” he meant tea party candidates and their ilk, and the chamber is readying to spend $50 million to defeat them in 2014.
THIS, FROM an organization that has launched a thousand sinking ships. Recall that this is the same crowd that helped Mitt Romney and John McCain win GOP nominations for president. (They also supported Fred Thompson, who turned out to have the energy of a tortoise.) And the strategist who is credited with this new U.S. Chamber strategy is famous for running Bob Dole’s presidential effort in 1996. Now, that was a real winner.) What these inside-the-Beltway retread political strategists continue to miss is that Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama was due in part to a decision by millions of conservative voters to stay home on Election Day 2012. They felt no compelling reason to fight hard for Romney, who seemed good and decent, but lacked fire and had no real connection with most Americans. Make no mistake: It’s not the worst gig in the world to try to nominate sane GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate in states where Republicans are either trying to hold seats or they have a real shot at unseating incumbent Democrats. But the chamber’s goals seem at odds with the “average” voter, without whose allegiance few Republicans will win next year. This chamber perspective is both elitist and divisive. And it’s likely to backfire. Consider the U.S. Senate race in Georgia. Incumbent Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss is retiring. One might presume that any Republican who manages to win the GOP nomination in this Red State will automatically cruise to victory against the Democrat. It’s just not the case. Republican incumbents aren’t polling so great in Georgia. And while Democrats remain at a disadvantage, partly because of President Obama’s high disapproval rate in the state, they will still pose a credible threat with Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, as their Senate nominee. And they will enjoy a “ticket effect” with the combination of Nunn and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter — who is Jimmy Carter’s grandson. THE MOST likely nominee for the GOP Senate nomination is longtime Republican Congressman Jack Kingston. He earned his political stripes decades ago and, by most measures, he
has good conservative credentials. It’s But as political marketing, his words no secret that most “chamber-types” have flown like a lead balloon with in Georgia and in D.C. are supporting Georgia voters. Even the most conserKingston in hopes that his amiable per- vative of talk show hosts ripped Kingssingling out poor kids sonality and understanding of the more ton for and forcing them to sophisticated side “sweep the cafeteof public policy ria floor” in view of will trump the their more affluent qualifications of peers. If Kingsany tea party types (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate ton wins the GOP who are running. nomination, his words will be used by But if the chamber’s litmus test for Republican nominees is “no more Democrat Nunn in TV ads that will fools,” then Kingston might not qualify help sway especially moderate, inderight now, thanks to his recent sugges- pendent women voters away from the tion that kids who receive government Republican. Kingston’s ace up the sleeve against subsidies for food in public schools Nunn would normally be the fierce and should work for what they get. When considered in context, Kings- nearly automatic support of ultra-conton’s comments are harmless enough. servative voters. But with groups like
the U.S. Chamber picking and choosing who is worthy of joining their “inner circle” of power in D.C., the chance that some miffed conservatives might sit out the race against Nunn, just as they did with Mitt Romney for president, is more likely. The example of Ronald Reagan is often invoked in situations like this, and with reason. Does anyone who was actually around in 1980 doubt that these out-of-touch political snobs would have labeled him a “fool” before he went on to kick the butt of the Republican establishment by winning the nomination? MEMO TO all D.C. geniuses: Think about it.
STANDING UP: January 3, 2014
We the People must awaken
friend recently wrote me, “What the Duck Dynasty affair means to me is that, finally, some have had the courage to say ‘ENOUGH’ within the context of the media.” My friend extended his observation to discuss that “there is an extreme force among social workers, etc. to intimidate white adoptive parents of black children for ‘corrupting’ them. I would hope there are those in the media that have the courage of Phil Robertson and his family to also tell the race pimps ‘ENOUGH.’” WHICH BRINGS me to my point. I’m not making a contradistinctive argument pursuant to my friend’s observation; I’m reinforcing the primacy in which said observations should evolve. If objections to the scurrilous injustice meted out to Phil Robertson had been left to the media to condemn, I submit Hitler would be wearing an overcoat and earmuffs (i.e., hell would have frozen over). The outrage over the mistreatment and injustice perpetrated against Mr. Robertson began with We the People. And that is precisely where the condemnation of “race pimps” must start. Which brings me to a tangential observation. We the People didn’t wait for a show of hands pursuant to who would be involved before cries of outrage cascaded from every area of domicile. People didn’t ask others, “What can we do?” They took it upon themselves to express personal outrage that metastasized into a cacophony of condemnation that resulted in the retreat of the A&E cable network. That is the exertive power that politicians know exists and pray every day we do not realize that we have at
our disposal. Because, as was evidenced in the 2010 off-year elections, when We the People are motivated to stand up and push back no political force on earth can deny us. It is that force that we must utilize to oppose racialism that allows blacks to be used as political idiots for financial gain and political advancement. It is that force that we must generate to dislodge a n d replace Karl Rove, Reince
Massie (c) 2014, Mychal Massie
Priebus, John Boehner, et al. who are working to turn our once-vaunted Party into a replica of the Democrat Party. We the People must be vigilant and proactive. We cannot rely upon the media. We know right from wrong, and we certainly should know a lie when we hear one. But I would be remiss if I didn’t reference the prominent part the Church played in defense of protecting and preserving the truth pursuant to defending Mr. Robertson. I WAS SAYING it before the 2010 off-year elections, and I’ve been saying it since same. The ability to stop the transmogrification of our great nation into a socialist state where we are lorded over by Fabianistic, Neo-Leninist Mensheviks who are the equivalent of toxic pathogens intent on subjugating the minds and behavior of our populace lies with We the People. The reason the tea party achieved such demonstrable and quantifiable success in 2010 was that it was a movement of the people. It was not a program or
political party. That was also the case with Duck Dynasty and Mr. Robertson. It is a conundrum to me that people do not realize this strength that we possess. Specific to that point, you can bet your last dollar that politicians realize the threat we pose as a united people which is why they work diligently to ensure the fragmentation of society and social discord. The media, on the other hand, believe themselves en masse to be more sophisticated and more intelligent than We the People who dare to think for ourselves. It is a conundrum that We the People could respond immediately with great focus and clarity of purpose in defense of our right to free speech vis-à-vis the crime that was perpetrated against Phil Robertson, and yet these very same people allow politicians and Erebusic malevolents to deprive us of our Constitutional rights and institute deplorable agendas that ultimately will harm us all. The lesson we must take away from the attack on Duck Dynasty is that We the People are a sleeping giant who must come out of sporadic hibernation. We must unite and let our refusal to be ruled known. We have been mistreated and taken for granted to the point that we now stand on the precipice of having no true individual rights left. We have lost our right to self-determination in nearly every facet of life. It is the government and a cabal of elected politicians whose primary concern is self-perpetuation who are depriving us of our Constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. THE ONLY way we can end this nightmare is to wake up. And awaken we must.
January 15, 2014 STANDING UP: December 31, 2013
The anus monologues: Liberal agitators
nable to comment on the Duck Dynasty controversy last week due to my hectic Kwanzaa schedule, I am able to sweep in at the end and comment on the commentary. Anyone who utters the mind-numbingly obvious point that A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson doesn’t involve the First Amendment because a TV network is not the government, should be prohibited from ever talking in public again. You can bore your few remaining friends with laborious statements of the obvious, but stop wasting everyone else’s time. WE KNOW A&E is not the government. It may shock your tiny little pea brains, but free speech existed even before we had a Constitution. Free speech is generally considered a desirable goal even apart from its inclusion in the nation’s founding document. Suppose TV networks were capitulating to angry Muslims by suspending people for saying they opposed Sharia law? Would that prompt any of you pusillanimous hacks to finally take a position on the state of free speech in America? Or would you demand that we stop the presses so you could roll out your little cliche about a television network not being the government? That fact has very little relevance to someone whose life has just been ruined. Hey! Don’t
worry about it — at least it wasn’t the be a lot more fun if we were making it up as we went along.) government! So they blamed Robertson for Holy Instead of the government censoring speech, what we have is shock troops Scripture. True, God created the uniof liberal agitators demanding people’s verse and every living thing, but liberthey can improve on His heads for the slightest divergence from als think work. Officially Ap- p r o v e d Since Robertson’s Liberal Opinion. interview appeared, Evidently, the I haven’t heard as Word of God is on much sophistical the banned list. As (c) 2013, Ann Coulter nonsense about the Robertson himNew Testament self has said, all he did “was quote from the Scriptures, not condemning fornication since I was a teenager in the backseat of a car. but they just didn’t know it.” The book of Romans, called “the CaHis offending remarks delivered to thedral of the Christian faith,” provides GQ magazine were: “Everything is blurred on what’s right the clearest explanation of the doctrines and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine ... of sin. Here are a few catchy verses: “The wrath of God is being revealed Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleep- from heaven ... so that people are withing around with this woman and that out excuse. woman and that woman and those men. “BECAUSE OF this, God gave Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, them over to shameful lusts. Even their the homosexual offenders, the greedy, women exchanged natural sexual relathe drunkards, the slanderers, the swin- tions for unnatural ones. In the same dlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom way the men also abandoned natural reof God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not lations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men commitright.” There’s absolutely no question but ted shameful acts with other men, and that Robertson accurately summarized received in themselves the due penalty biblical strictures. But liberals can’t for their error ... “Although they know God’s righgrasp that God is not our imaginary friend, who says whatever we want Him teous decree that those who do such to say, when we want Him to say it. (I things deserve death, they not only conpromise you, except for venereal dis- tinue to do these very things but also apease and eternal damnation, life would prove of those who practice them.”
Also, keep these citations in your back pocket for the next time some sweaty teenage boy tries to convince you Jesus didn’t condemn fornication: 1 Corinthians 7:2; Galatians 5:19-20; Jude 1:7; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:13, 18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; and Matthew 5:32. The lake of fire and burning sulfur (Revelation 21:8) may not sound like a day at the beach, but judging by their hysterical attack on Robertson, our new earthly gods are a lot less forgiving than the real God. GLAAD instantly condemned Robertson’s totally accurate rendition of Holy Scripture as “vile.” With refreshing originality, CNN’s Piers Morgan called Robertson a “vile bigot.” And it’s not just “vile” to cite Holy Scripture. Evidently, it’s also vile not to appreciate the joys of anal sex. What seemed to set liberals off as much as Robertson’s Biblical summaries was his statement that he doesn’t find anal sex appealing. He said: “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” So now, not only do we all have to support gay marriage, gay wedding cakes and gay soldiers — but we also have to agree that anal sex sounds peachy! It’s like being denounced for saying you prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate. To paraphrase an old Jewish line: This is not good for the gays. Gays have gone from being the bullied to the bullies — a modern American phenomenon detailed in my book Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America. Yes, we know you used to be unfairly victimized. But being beaten up for being gay is simply not the same as having to endure hearing someone opine that anal sex isn’t his cup of tea. A&E didn’t dare cross the gays, never anticipating that the Robertson family wouldn’t back down — and the rest of the country wouldn’t, either. Even non-Christians can have only contempt for the network’s utter cravenness in suspending Robertson for stating basic Christian doctrine. THE FIRST time someone stands up to a bully and the sky doesn’t fall, the tyranny is over. The gay mafia was out of control, drunk with power. This time, they got their wings clipped. Christians: 1; Angry gays: minus 1,000. Cliche-spouting hack TV pundits: I recommend capital punishment.
ELECTORATE: January 2, 2014
A look at what political ignorance delivers
t was naughty of Winston percent could name the three branches Churchill to say, if he really did, of the federal government. Voters cannot that “the best argument against hold officials responsible if they do not what government is democracy is a five-minute conversation k n o w doing, or which parts with the average of government are voter.” Neverthedoing what. Given less, many voters’ that 20 percent think paucity of inforthe sun revolves mation about poli(c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group around the Earth, tics and government, although arguably rational, raises it is unsurprising that a majority are unawkward questions about concepts cen- able to locate major states such as New tral to democratic theory, including York on a map. Usually only 30 percent consent, representation, public opinion, can name their two senators. The averelectoral mandates and officials’ ac- age American expends more time becoming informed about choosing a car countability. In Democracy and Political Igno- than choosing a candidate. But, then, the rance: Why Smaller Government is consequences of the former choice are Smarter (Stanford University Press), immediate and discernible. Many people, says Somin, acquire Ilya Somin of George Mason University Law School argues that an individual’s political knowledge for the reason peoignorance of public affairs is rational be- ple acquire sports knowledge — because cause the likelihood of his or her vote it interests them, not because it will alter being decisive in an election is vanish- the outcome of any contest. And with ingly small. The small incentives to be- “confirmation bias,” many people use come informed include reducing one’s political information to reinforce their susceptibility to deceptions, misinfor- pre-existing views. Committed partisans mation and propaganda. And if remain- are generally the most knowledgeable ing ignorant is rational individual behav- voters, independents the least. And the ior, it has likely destructive collective more political knowledge people have, the more apt they are to discuss politics outcomes. with people who agree with, and reinSOMIN SAYS that in Cold War 1964, force, them. The problem of ignorance is unlikely two years after the Cuban missile crisis, only 38 percent of Americans knew to be ameliorated by increasing voter the Soviet Union was not a member of knowledge because demand for inforNATO. In 2003, about 70 percent were mation, not the supply of it, is the major unaware of enactment of the prescrip- constraint on political knowledge. Detion drug entitlement, then the largest spite dramatic expansions of education welfare state expansion since Medicare and information sources, abundant evi(1965). In a 2006 Zogby poll, only 42 dence shows the scope of political igno-
rance is remarkably persistent over time. New information technologies have served primarily to increase the knowledge of the already well-informed, which increases the ability of some to engage in “rent-seeking” from the regulatory state, manipulating its power in order to transfer wealth to themselves. And if political knowledge is measured relative to government’s expanding scope, ignorance is increasing rapidly: There is so much more to be uninformed about. A BETTER ameliorative measure would be to reduce the risks of ignorance by reducing government’s consequences — its complexity, centralization and intrusiveness. In the 19th century, voters’ information burdens were much
lighter because important federal issues — expansion of slavery, disposition of public lands, tariffs, banking, infrastructure spending — were much fewer. Political ignorance helps explain Americans’ perpetual disappointment with politicians generally, and presidents especially, to whom voters unrealistically attribute abilities to control events. But the elections of 1932 and 1980 dramatically illustrated how voters primarily control politicians — by “retrospective voting,” refusing to re-elect them. Some people vote because it gives them pleasure — the satisfaction of expressive behavior — and because they feel duty-bound to cast a ballot that, by itself, makes virtually no difference, but affirms a process that does. And although many people deplore the fact that U.S. parties have become more ideologically homogenous, they now confer more informative “brands” on their candidates. Political ignorance, Somin argues, strengthens the case for judicial review by weakening the supposed “countermajoritarian difficulty” with it. If much of the electorate is unaware of the substance or even existence of policies adopted by the sprawling regulatory state, the policies’ democratic pedigrees are weak. Hence Somin’s suggestion that the extension of government’s reach “undercuts democracy more than it furthers it.” AN ENGAGED judiciary that enforced the Framers’ idea of government’s “few and defined” enumerated powers (Madison, Federalist 45), leaving decisions to markets and civil society, would, Somin thinks, make the “will of the people” more meaningful by reducing voters’ knowledge burdens. Somin’s evidence and arguments usefully dilute the unwholesome democratic sentimentality and romanticism that encourage government’s pretensions, ambitions and failures.
January 15, 2014 HISPANIC VOTE: January 7, 2014
The right and left of the Hispanic vote It is widely accepted that Hispanics will become a larger share of the American electorate in the years to come. This is a matter of simple arithmetic. Less than one-tenth of adults counted in the 2010 Census classified themselves as “Hispanic” (a term invented by the Census Bureau for the 1970 count). But one-quarter of children were similarly classified. Many of them the offspring of illegal aliens, were born in the U.S. and thus entitled to citizenship. IT’S TRUE that Hispanics may not be as large a share of voters as is sometimes projected. There has been zero net migration from Mexico to this country since 2007, and, given advances in Mexico, immigration at the 1982-2007 levels may never resume. In any case, Hispanics are bound to form some larger percentage of the electorate than the 10 percent recorded in
Latin Catholicism has traditionally the 2012 exit poll, and one that inevitably will be targeted by both parties and been more lenient on mores than traditional Irish-influenced American Camany candidates. Which is why it may be helpful to tholicism; the Catholic Church has not for nearly 2,000 years expose two myths about Hispanic voters survived without adapting to advanced by both local terrain. the political right Recent polling and the political shows that Hispanleft over the past ics are as acceptfew years. (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate ing of same-sex One, advanced marriage as most hopefully by the right, is that Hispanics are highly reli- Americans and that opposition to aborgious and family oriented, and as a re- tion among Hispanics is higher than average only among immigrants and not sult are natural cultural conservatives. The picture these analysts paint looks among their children and grandchildren. much like 1950s Irish-American Catho“FAMILY VALUE” themes may reslics, regular Mass attenders with large families. But in fact, Hispanic rates of onate among the one-sixth of Hispanics divorce, unmarried motherhood and who are evangelical Protestants, but not single-parent families are significantly so much among others. A second myth about Hispanic voters, higher than among whites (though lower advanced by many on the left, but also than among blacks).
POVERTY: January 7, 2014
The war on poverty at 50
ith the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty at hand, the New York Times undertook a guided tour of the vast and murky battlefield, offering a surprising — for the Times — admission. To wit, poverty isn’t just about what the government does, or doesn’t do, for poor people. It’s about, in part, how poor people live, voluntarily or otherwise.
Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute has written on the topic with particular wisdom and with particularly painful insight. Two years ago, in Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010, Murray took aim at the cultural factors that inform poverty and dysfunction. Of America at the time of the Kennedy
THE TIMES didn’t make a big deal about what it called “sociological trends (that) help explain why so many children and adults remain poor, even putting the effects of the recession aside.” That the story so much as acknowledged the impoverishing effects of family breakdown is the really big deal, given the broad commitment of American liberals to the notion of job-training, better education, minimum-wage hikes and so on as the keys to overthrowing “inequality.” “More parents,” the Times story notes, “are raising a child alone, with more infants born out of wedlock. High incarceration rates, especially among black men, keep many families apart. About 30 percent of single mothers live in poverty.” So what? So everything — razorsharp and hard to grasp as the question may be to grasp. If the poor are always with us, never in modern times has the culture afforded them so few props and protections as those available today. The Times has brilliant company in asking readers to think about the consequences of letting — or encouraging — the culture to fall apart.
(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
assassination, he writes: “Marriage was nearly universal and divorce was rare across all races.” The Americans of that time knew enough and understood enough to put the cultivation of virtue at the apex of their civic aspirations. Upon virtue depended liberty. With dedication to an overarching standard of behavior went acknowledgement of supernatural religion as the source of good. THIS WAS before the uproars and disruptions that followed, the consequence of which was the exaltation of individual appetites over any cultural factors that restrained those appetites — the longing for divorce, let’s say; hostility or indifference toward “the products of conception,” also known as unborn babies; the shrugging-off of responsibility for children actually born. Government actually conspired to satisfy these appetites by, among other things, authorizing no-fault divorce and daring defenders of unborn life to try and stop a woman bent on having an abortion.
Pure grants of taxpayer money — Aid to Families with Dependent Children comes to mind, a poverty-war artillery piece that overheated and blew up — encouraged the very opposite of initiative. A client of government not always but too often comes to enjoy that status. And, in consequence, remains poor. No human problem is older, or more tenacious, than poverty. Or more complex. Ages before Lyndon Johnson, haggard beggars squatted or slept in the streets of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The great mistake of “war on poverty” programs, except being tools to win votes, was the assumption that poverty equates to too little money. We may be learning that poverty of mind and of spirit can be as damaging a factor as an empty wallet or an overdue mortgage. Murray’s point about the family and its modern deterioration is urgent. “No matter what the outcome being examined,” he writes — including bad behavior, school problems and sexual attitudes — “the family structure that produces the best outcomes for children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married.” NO TELEVISION Bible-swatter is talking here; a sociologist speaks — an observer of behaviors, a sorter-outer of competing human claims. He isn’t pleased by what he sees; and neither should the rest of us be. Fifty years into the all-out assault on economic dejection, the battlefield is distinguished mostly by shell holes. A few more birds sing now — barely enough to be heard.
ruefully by some on the right, is that they are big government liberals. This finds backing in surveys where Hispanics are more likely than average to say that they favor a bigger government providing more services and less likely to favor a smaller government providing fewer services. In the 2012 campaign, this translated into support for Obamacare. Obama campaign strategists noted that the law was unpopular among voters generally, but evoked very positive responses from Hispanics. So the Obama campaign, generally mum on Obamacare in English, ran Obamacare spots in Spanish-language media. The numbers seem to look different now. Since the Obamacare rollout, Gallup’s numbers show that the president’s job approval has declined more among Hispanics — 23 percent — than among any other demographic group. If Hispanics had difficulty, like everyone else, in using the English-language Obamacare website, they had even more difficulty with the Spanish-language version, which wasn’t operative at all for weeks. Hispanics with roots in societies where government is crony-ridden and corrupt may have expected government that would be trustworthy and efficient in the United States. Hey, who doesn’t want free stuff from such a government? But practice proved different. The Obamacare rollout — just like the government programs that encouraged home mortgages for not necessarily creditworthy Hispanics — has not produced the favorable results they may have expected. By my estimate, about one-third of the homeowners foreclosed on in the years just after the housing price collapse were Hispanics. Their dreams of accumulating wealth through ever-rising house prices were shattered. And the dreams of getting subsidized health insurance through a website just as efficient as Amazon.com seem to be getting shattered too. Government in the United States is beginning to look as unreliable as government has traditionally been south of the border. People tend to form their political attitudes over the years as they experience how political parties’ policies work out in practice. People who have been voting for many years tend to have fixed attitudes because they already have plenty of experience, and one new episode doesn’t usually make much difference. Most Hispanic voters, in contrast, don’t have years of experience voting in the United States. They may be more susceptible to revising their attitudes in light of recent events. WHICH IS TO say, the Hispanic vote is up for grabs.
FIRST AMENDMENT: January 5, 2014
Buffering out the right to hear in Massachusetts
vidence that misery doesn’t love company is common at pro-life gatherings, where women holding poignant signs — “I Regret My Abortion” — urge others not to make a mistake that haunts them. As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a constitutional challenge to the Massachusetts abortion-clinic “buffer zone” law this month, the justices are being reminded that the First Amendment protects more than just a speaker’s right to express ideas. It also protects a listener’s freedom to hear those ideas. Stifling that freedom near abortion clinics can mean — as 12 women argue, from personal experience, in a compelling friendof-the-court brief prepared by Carrie Severino of the Judicial Education Project — that individuals in a crisis pregnancy are denied essential information at the moment they may need it most. THERE IS nothing eccentric about the idea that the Constitution shields the right to receive information. “The dissemination of ideas can accomplish nothing if otherwise willing addressees are not free to receive and consider them,” wrote Justice William Brennan in 1965. “It would be a barren marketplace of ideas that had only sellers and no buyers.” But the practical effect of the Massachusetts law, which forces pro-life protesters, advocates and counselors to stay at least 35 feet away from the entrance to any abortion clinic, is to make a reasonable exchange of ideas extremely difficult, if not impossible. The law, signed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2007, makes no allowance for peaceful or quiet protest. It doesn’t permit an individual to simply stand in silence, holding a sign or offering pamphlets. It forbids approaching even a willing listener who would like to hear — who might be desperate to hear — about a realistic alternative to abortion. The 35-foot boundary is marked with paint, and anyone who steps over it can be arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to as much as 2½ years in prison. Anyone, that is, except for “employees and agents” of the abortion clinic. They’re exempted from the buffer law, and can approach pregnant women or prospective patients at will. Planned Parenthood, for example, deploys official “escorts” at its large Boston facility. They function, in Planned Parenthood’s description, “like ushers in a theater: They help people figure out where to go and keep foot traffic moving.” Meanwhile, prolife advocates are kept so far away that they have to call out to be heard — they can’t initiate a normal conversation, in a gentle voice with a reassuring smile. Yelling from a distance is rarely a good way to engage in a respectful dialogue about anything
Women such as Paula Lucas-Langwith anyone. It is surely not the best way to offer support and empathy to a hoff, whose story is one of those rein Severino’s amicus woman on the point of getting an abor- c o u n t e d tion. Even someone deeply ambivalent brief. Pregnant at or anxious about 19, she was unending her pregder pressure by her nancy is unlikely boyfriend to get to respond well to an abortion. But messages shouted (c) 2014, Boston Globe the prospect filled from 35 feet away. her with trepidation. “The night before THE RESULT, not surprisingly, is the abortion, I wandered the neighborthat sidewalk counselors like Eleanor hood looking for someone, anyone, that McCullen, the 76-year-old lead plain- I could talk to who could help,” she tiff challenging the Massachusetts law, recalls. She had been assured by the are far less successful than they used abortion clinic staff that the procedure to be at persuading women to consider would be “easy;” in fact it was physialternatives to destroying their unborn cally excruciating and emotionally baby. That, in turn, means more abor- traumatizing. “I would give anything to change the tions — and more women who end up past,” Lucas-Langhoff tells the court in regretting them.
her sworn statement. “If pro-life counselors had been outside the abortion clinic that evening, my child would be alive today, but I was too young and frightened to know what to do. ... My baby died because I was alone and had no one to help me.” ABORTION PROVIDERS such as Planned Parenthood insist that “most women ultimately feel relief after an abortion.” But there are many women who are left with lifelong regrets, and who assert that they would never have chosen to have an abortion if only, at that last, critical moment, they could have received a different message. The Constitution protects their right to receive that message — whether the Commonwealth of Massachusetts likes it or not.
2013: January 3, 2014
Here’s what to expect in 2014 2013 was a year of revelations, a year of possible turning points. For nearly two decades, since Ronald Reagan left office, America moved steadily in the direction of the left, both culturally and politically. When the Soviet Union fell, optimistic scholars believed the world had shifted inexorably in the direction of free markets and liberal democracy. Instead, the West gradually embraced bigger government and weaker social bonds, creating a fragmented society in which the only thing we all belong to, as President Barack Obama puts it, is the state.
tural battles, decided to focus entirely on Obama’s economic buffoonery. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work; culture, as my friend Andrew Breitbart was fond of stating, is upstream of politics. 2013 marked a turning point. From Chick-fil-A to Duck Dynasty, conservative religious Americans found their footing: Whether you are for or against same-sex marriage,
ALL BATTLES for the soul begin with culture. And while the battle against Obama’s unprecedented growth of government started with the tea party victories of 2010, the cultural battle against the left didn’t truly take until 2013. The seeds were planted for this cultural battle in earnest in 2012, when Obama and his Democratic Party allies put race, sexual orientation and abortion at the core of his re-election campaign. Americans were told by the media that Obama’s competence mattered less than the fact that half the country was mean, nasty, racist and homophobic. Todd Akin’s absurd comments on conception via rape were the issue, Americans were told, not the imminent takeover of the health care system; Obama’s sudden support for same-sex marriage was the issue, not his devastating regulatory state; George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were the issue, not the destruction of entire swaths of the United States via leftist governance. And it worked. Conservative Americans, bludgeoned into silence on cul-
it is plainly un-American to override someone’s religious beliefs in the name of your politics. Conservative Americans seemed to realize, for the first time in a long time, that the battle over samesex marriage came wrapped in a larger battle over religious freedom. And they fought back, and won. Meanwhile, conservatives began to fight back against the left’s uncorroborated assertion of right-wing racism. While MSNBC focused laser-like on one Confederate flag at an anti-Obamacare rally, those same MSNBC hosts laughed at Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandchild (Melissa Harris-Perry), suggested that someone ought to “p---” and “s---” in Sarah Palin’s mouth (Martin Bashir), used anti-gay slurs (Alec Baldwin), shook down businesses over race (Al Sharpton) and labeled words like “black hole” and “Chicago” racist (Chris Matthews). Race, the right realized, was an obsession only for the left.
Shapiro (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
AND IN THE aftermath of the left’s successful 2012 “war on women”
meme, the right began to fight back, too. Beginning with the left’s attempted deification of amoral Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who filibustered for 11 hours on behalf of the murder of 21-week-old fetuses, the right refused to be cowed. Abortion is a real moral issue with real lives at stake, and no amount of leftist badgering could back conservative Americans off their attempts to protect the unborn. The cultural battles gradually made their way into the political arena, too. Freed from the burden of the beige and blundering Romney campaign, conservatives stood up against the growth of government on moral, not merely practical, grounds. Obama’s signature program began to collapse the moment Americans awakened to the deep immorality of government-controlled medical care. Sen. Ted Cruz’s government shutdown strategy, right or wrong, highlighted conservative opposition to the state as cradle-to-grave caretaker. American distrust of government, for the right reasons, soared. THIS DOES not mean the battles are over for conservatives. They’re just beginning. The media have already geared up toward nominating Hillary Clinton in 2016 (The New York Times whitewash of Benghazi this week was only the beginning.). The D.C.-run Republican Party has a disheartening way of crippling its own conservative base in order to cut deals. But 2013 could go down as the year that conservatives moved beyond standing athwart history shouting “stop,” and began shoving in the opposite direction, which could make 2014 historic.
January 15, 2014 ECONOMICS: January 7, 2014
The perpetual ‘trickle-down’ lie
ew York’s new mayor, Bill many people have repeated it over de Blasio, in his inaugural the years, without any evidence being speech, denounced people asked for or given. Years ago, this column “on the far right” who “continue to challenged anypreach the virtue body to quote any of trickle-down economist outeconomics.” Acside of an insane cording to Mayor asylum who had de Blasio, “They (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate ever advocated believe that the way to move forward is to give more this “trickle-down” theory. Some readto the most fortunate, and that some- ers said that somebody said that somehow the benefits will work their way body else had advocated a “trickledown” policy. But they could never down to everyone else.” If there is ever a contest for the big- name that somebody else and quote gest lie in politics, this one should be a them. Mayor de Blasio is by no means top contender. the first politician to denounce this WHILE THERE have been all too non-existent theory. Back in 2008, many lies told in politics, most have presidential candidate Barack Obama some little tiny fraction of truth in attacked what he called “an economic them, to make them seem plausible. philosophy” which “says we should But the “trickle-down” lie is 100 per- give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles cent lie. It should win the contest both be- down to everyone else.” Let’s do something completely uncause of its purity — no contaminating speck of truth — and because of how expected: Let’s stop and think. Why
would anyone advocate that we “give” something to A in hopes that it would trickle down to B? Why in the world would any sane person not give it to B and cut out the middleman? But all this is moot, because there was no trickledown theory about giving something to anybody in the first place. THE “TRICKLE-DOWN” theory cannot be found in even the most voluminous scholarly studies of economic theories — including J.A. Schumpeter’s monumental History of Economic Analysis, more than a thousand pages long and printed in very small type.
2014: January 2, 2014
Woman of the Year and restoration “What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” observes Camille Paglia, the learned iconoclast and professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She made that observation in a lengthy interview with the Wall Street Journal, the highbrow newspaper that proves daily that intelligent journalism in America is neither dead nor near bankruptcy as long as it holds to the right values. Paglia was talking about our civilization, and I have nothing to add save one caveat. I recall the late 1970s, when America was pretty much in a heap. Suddenly, along came the oldest president in American history — a president whom his friend William F. Buckley adjudged too old to govern — and that president, Ronald Reagan, won the Cold War, revived the economy and still managed long naps in the afternoon. MISS PAGLIA, America still has enormous restorative powers, and I think 2014 is going to see those powers revive. Yet for now, you are right. Today the American scene is bleak, except for a few horselaughs provided by the White House. When I reflect on the nonsensical boasts made for big government and the nanny state and I watch our president slip and fall on yet another government-issued banana peel, you will forgive me, but I double up in laughter. President Barack Obama has been a hoot. Possibly not so amus-
ing as Jimmy Carter, but he comes very close, and I think that history will prove that he brought the entire left-wing project to foozle. The Founding Fathers are redeemed! Still, there is reason to be alarmed, and the sage from the University of the Arts has put her fingers on all the culprits. The Journal sums them up: “The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead.”
Tyrrell (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
CERTAINLY, THE values that go into a soldier are dismissed by our cultural institutions, though Hollywood still has a little time for its nonsensical dramaturgical monstrosities about the SEALs and the fiery and clangorous special effects that they supposedly struggle with. “These people (our elite class) don’t think in military ways,” she says, “so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.” Wait a minute,
Miss Paglia. Think of our elites’ assessment of Sen. Ted Cruz. The bland saps who do so much to foster cultural decline begin their adventure in blandness in kindergarten and continue right through college and graduate school. There, both female and male students are educated in “female values,” by which she means displaying tender emotions, socialization and cooperation. Education in America is perpetrated by a conspiracy of idiots. To speak of the proper use of aggression is horrifying to these elites, and no good can come of it. Though, of course, aggression is a concomitant of testosterone. It can be put to good effect, for instance, in hard work, creative work, high-tech work, spatial cognizance and, one of Paglia’s favorites, manual work. She has spoken with admiration about men in the construction trades, building roads and dams and bridges. Her ideal feminist role models are “iconoclastic women” from the 1930s, such as Amelia Earhart and Katharine Hepburn. I wonder who her male role models are. Would one be the Old Cowboy, Ronald Reagan? Well into his 70s, he could still wrestle with a broken fence post and mind the ranch. Not only that bit of manual labor but he minded the White House pretty well. IN 2014, we shall find a few likely presidential candidates, and with luck, one or two will be like Reagan.
It is not just in politics that the non-existent “trickle-down” theory is found. It has been attacked in the New York Times, in the Washington Post and by professors at prestigious American universities — and even as far away as India. Yet none of those who denounce a “trickle-down” theory can quote anybody who actually advocated it. The book Winner-Take-All Politics refers to “the ‘trickle-down’ scenario that advocates of helping the have-italls with tax cuts and other goodies constantly trot out.” But no one who actually trotted out any such scenario was cited, much less quoted. One of the things that provoke the left into bringing out the “trickledown” bogeyman is any suggestion that there are limits to how high they can push tax rates on people with high incomes, without causing repercussions that hurt the economy as a whole. But, contrary to Mayor de Blasio, this is not a view confined to people on the “far right.” Such liberal icons as Presidents John F. Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson likewise argued that tax rates can be so high that they have an adverse effect on the economy. In his 1919 address to Congress, Woodrow Wilson warned that, at some point, “high rates of income and profits taxes discourage energy, remove the incentive to new enterprise, encourage extravagant expenditures, and produce industrial stagnation with consequent unemployment and other attendant evils.” In a 1962 address to Congress, John F. Kennedy said, “it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.” This was not a new idea. John Maynard Keynes said, back in 1933, that “taxation may be so high as to defeat its object,” that in the long run, a reduction of the tax rate “will run a better chance, than an increase, of balancing the budget.” And Keynes was not on “the far right” either. THE TIME is long overdue for people to ask themselves why it is necessary for those on the left to make up a lie if what they believe in is true.
OBAMACARE: January 2, 2014
Religious freedom threatened by Obamacare mandates
This is the latest development in a ne of Obamacare’s worst mandates, which threatens to growing controversy over the manundermine our religious free- dates and regulations that will force regroups to offer birth doms, has run into a small, determined ligious control services that band of Catholic they consider a sin nuns. against their faith, As key parts or else pay heavy of President fines for refusing Obama’s health (c) 2014, United Media Services to do so. care program went And it’s not just into effect Wednesday, a surprising Supreme Court order religious orders such as the Little Sisters delayed a provision that will force reli- of the Poor. It also extends to colleges gious groups to provide birth control pro- and universities, parochial schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other health cedures in their health insurance plans. care and social welfare organizations THAT MANDATE forces most em- run by or associated with a church. The First Amendment to the U.S. ployers to provide health care plans that will fully pay for birth control pills, the Constitution states, in part: “Congress morning-after pill, and surgical proce- shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the dures such as tubal ligation. In a David-vs.-Goliath legal battle, free exercise thereof.” That is what’s at stake in this widenJustice Sonia Sotomayor issued the stay late Tuesday in response to a plea from ing battle over a health care mandate the Little Sisters of the Poor, a nonprofit which thumbs its nose at fundamental order of nuns in Colorado who provide religious beliefs that run contrary to charitable services to low-income and government policy. Earlier this week, Archbishop Joseph indigent, elderly people. Their complaint: that the law’s man- Kurtz, who heads the U.S. Conference date violates one of their most deeply of Catholic Bishops, complained in a held religious beliefs opposing artificial letter to Obama that while some interest forms of birth control and abortion pro- groups have won reprieves of one sort cedures, and thus is an attack on their re- or another from the law, those whose religious liberties are threatened have not. ligious freedom. Obama’s law “harshly and disproThe nuns were not the only group seeking protection from Obamacare’s as- portionately penalizes those seeking to sault on religious freedom. Sotomayor’s offer life-affirming health coverage in delay applied to more than 200 religious, accord with the teachings of their faith,” faith-based groups that have health in- Kurtz wrote. The Obama administration tried to surance provided by the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, a company end the controversy by offering a comthat follows Catholic teachings on birth promise that would let women employed by nonprofit religious organizacontrol.
tions receive coverage that was not paid arguments in two related cases that will probably be heard in March. for by their employer. One concerns a Mennonite cabinetBUT MORE THAN 45 religious making company in Pennsylvania that groups, Catholic dioceses and promi- sought a religious exemption from the nent educational institutions, such as law for its employees. The other is Hobthe University of Notre Dame, flatly re- by Lobby, an arts-and-crafts business chain, whose owner argues that the law jected that approach and sued. Mark L. Rienzi, senior attorney for violates his freedom for religious exthe Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, pression. What’s at stake here is an unprecwho is representing the Sisters of the Poor, explained that the nuns would edented government denial of basic rehave to sign a paper requesting that ligious freedoms. For the first time in their insurance, not their employer, pay U.S. history, the federal government is for any and all birth control benefits to demanding that medical insurance plans of religious groups must cover contraavoid substantial fines. “At the end of the day, they can’t be ceptives and sterilization procedures, involved in certain things, and one of with no co-pay. Obamacare’s mandate, in direct viothem is signing forms authorizing permission slips for those kinds of drugs,” lation of the Constitution, forces religious institutions to include drugs and Rienzi told the Washington Post. In a statement Wednesday that ex- procedures in their medical plans that pressed their fears that they may be are contrary to their religious teachings forced to end their charity work, the and for whom the sanctity of human life nuns said: “We hope and pray that we is a central doctrine of their faith. This poses agonizing decisions on will receive a favorable outcome in order to continue to serve the elderly of all the part of religious people of good faith faiths with the same community support and the institutions and businesses who and religious freedom that we have al- employ them. “To force American citizens to choose ways appreciated.” How this case will turn out is un- between violating their consciences and clear, but the high court will consider forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable,” says Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. But this is not just a Catholic issue. More than 40 non-Catholic organizations, including Protestant-affiliated colleges and the National Association of Evangelicals, said they backed Catholic leaders who opposed the religious mandate. “We write in solidarity,” they said in a letter to the White House. Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, put it best when he said last year, “We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the government not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings.” While the administration seems to have dug in its heels in this fight, Democrats in Congress fear the issue will hurt them in the November elections. INSIDERS, INCLUDING the nuns’ chief defender Mark Rienzi, now think the mandate will eventually be overturned.
January 15, 2014 OBAMACARE: January 3, 2014
Stop the Affordable Care bailout — now
irst order of business for the returning Congress: The No Bailout for Insurance Companies Act of 2014. Make it one line long: “Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Affordable Care Act are hereby repealed.” END OF BILL. End of bailout. End of story. Why do we need it? On Dec. 18, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers was asked what was the administration’s Plan B if, because of adverse selection (enrolling too few young and healthies), the insurance companies face financial difficulty. Jason Furman wouldn’t bite. “There’s a Plan A,” he replied. Enroll the young. But of course there’s a Plan B. It’s a government bailout. Administration officials can’t say it for political reasons. And they don’t have to
The whole scheme was risky enough say it because it’s already in the Affordto begin with — getting enough enrollable Care Act, buried deep. making sure 40 percent First, Section 1341, the “reinsurance” ees and are young and healthy. fund collected from Obamacare is already insurers and selffar behind its own eninsuring employrollment estimates. ers at a nifty $63 a But things have head. (Who do you (c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group gotten worse. The think the cost is administration has passed on to?) This yields about $20 billion over three years been changing the rules repeatedly — with every scrimmage-line audible raisto cover losses. Then there is Section 1342, the “risk ing costs and diminishing revenue. First, it postponed the employer mancorridor” provision that mandates a major taxpayer payout covering up to 80 date. Then, it exempted from the individual mandate people whose policies percent of insurance-company losses. Never heard of these? That’s the beau- were canceled (by Obamacare). And for ty of passing a bill of such monstrous those who did join the exchanges, Health length. You can insert a chicken soup and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is “strongly encouraging” insurrecipe and no one will notice. Nancy Pelosi was right: We’d have to ers to — during the “transition” — cover pass the da-- thing to know what’s in it. doctors and drugs not included in their clients’ plans. Well, now we have and now we know.
MINIMUM WAGE: January 8, 2014
Politics and minimum wage
here’s little debate among academic economists about the effect of minimum wages. University of California, Irvine economist David Neumark has examined more than 100 major academic studies on the minimum wage. He reports that 85 percent of the studies “find a negative employment effect on low-skilled workers.” A 1976 American Economic Association survey found that 90 percent of its members agreed that increasing the minimum wage raises unemployment among young and unskilled workers. A 1990 survey reported in the American Economic Review (1992) found that 80 percent of economists agreed with the statement that increases in the minimum wage cause unemployment among the youth and low-skilled. If you’re searching for a consensus in a field of study, most of the time you can examine the field’s introductory and intermediate college textbooks. Economics textbooks that mention the minimum wage say that it increases unemployment for the least skilled worker. The only significant debate about the minimum wage is the magnitude of its effect. Some studies argue that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage will cause a one percent increase in unemployment, whereas others predict a higher increase. HOW ABOUT the politics of the minimum wage? In the political arena, one dumps on people who can’t dump back on him. Minimum wages have their greatest unemployment impact on the least skilled worker. After all, who’s going to pay a worker an hourly
wage of $10 if that worker is so unfortunate as to have skills that enable him to produce only $5 worth of value per hour? Who are these workers? For the most part, they are low-skilled teens or young adults, most of whom are poorly educated blacks and Latinos. The unemployment statistics in our urban areas confirm this prediction, with teen unemployment rates as high as 50 percent.
Williams (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
THE POLITICS of the minimum wage are simple. No congressman or president owes his office to the poorly educated black and Latino youth vote. Moreover, the victims of the minimum wage do not know why they suffer high unemployment, and neither do most of their “benefactors.” Minimum wage beneficiaries are highly organized, and they do have the necessary political clout to get Congress to price their low-skilled competition out of the market so they can demand higher wages. Concerned about the devastating unemployment effects of the minimum wage, Republican politicians have long resisted increases in the minimum wage, but that makes no political sense. The reason is the beneficiaries of preventing increases in the minimum wage don’t vote Republican no matter what; where’s the political quid pro quo? Higher-skilled and union workers are not the only beneficiaries of higher mini-
mum wages. Among other beneficiaries are manufacturers who produce substitutes for workers. A recent example of this is Wawa’s experiment with customers using touch screens as substitutes for counter clerks. A customer at the convenience store selects his order from a touch screen. He takes a printed slip to the cashier to pay for it while it’s being filled. I imagine that soon the customer’s interaction with the cashier will be eliminated with a swipe of a credit card. Raising the minimum wage and other employment costs speeds up the automation process. I’m old enough to remember attendants at gasoline stations and theater ushers, who are virtually absent today. It’s not because today’s Americans like to smell gasoline fumes and stumble down the aisles in the dark to find their seat. The minimum wage law has eliminated such jobs. FINALLY, THERE’S a nastier side to support for minimum wage laws, documented in my book Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?. During South Africa’s apartheid era, racist labor unions were the country’s major supporters of minimum wage laws for blacks. Their stated intention was to protect white workers from having to compete with lowerwage black workers. Our nation’s first minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, had racist motivation. Among the widespread racist sentiment was that of American Federation of Labor President William Green, who complained, “Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates.”
The insurers were stunned. Told to give free coverage. Deprived of their best customers. Forced to offer strippeddown “catastrophic” plans to over-30 clients (contrary to the law). These dictates, complained their spokesman, could “destabilize” the insurance market. Translation: How are we going to survive this? Shrinking revenues and rising costs could bring on the “death spiral” — an unbalanced patient pool forcing huge premium increases (to restore revenue) that would further unbalance the patient pool as the young and healthy drop out. END RESULT? Insolvency — before which the insurance companies will pull out of Obamacare. Solution? A huge government bailout. It’s Obamacare’s escape hatch. And — surprise, surprise — it’s already baked into the law. Which is why the GOP needs to act. Obamacare is a Rube Goldberg machine with hundreds of moving parts. Without viable insurance companies doing the work, it falls apart. No bailout, no Obamacare. Such a bill would be overwhelmingly popular because Americans hate fat-cat bailouts of any kind. Why should their tax dollars be spent not only saving giant insurers but also rescuing this unworkable, unbalanced, unstable, unpopular moneypit of a health care scheme? The GOP House should pass it and send it to Harry Reid’s Democratic Senate. Democrats know it could be fatal for Obamacare. The only alternative would be single-payer. And try selling that to the country after the spectacularly incompetent launch of — and subsequent widespread disaffection with — mere seminationalization. Do you really think vulnerable Democrats up for re-election will vote for a bailout? And who better to slay Obamacare than a Democratic Senate — liberalism repudiating its most important creation of the last 50 years. Want to be even bolder? Attach the anti-bailout bill to the debt ceiling. That and nothing else. Dare the president to stand up and say: “I’m willing to let the country default in order to preserve a massive bailout for insurance companies.” In the past, Republicans made unrealistic and unpopular debt-ceiling demands — and lost badly. They learned their lesson. Last year, Republicans presented one simple unassailable debt-ceiling demand — that the Senate pass its first budget in four years. Who could argue with that? The Senate capitulated within two days. WHO CAN argue with no bailout? Let the Senate Democrats decide — support the bailout and lose the Senate. Or oppose the bailout and bury Obamacare. Happy New Year.
WELFARE: January 7, 2014
Minimum wage and welfare: The tradeoff
he Democrats have selected it,” welfare spending as a percentage of raising the minimum wage our national output has nearly doubled, 2.2 percent of GDP in 1989 to as THE issue to protect them from cent in 2013. People from public opposition to the Obam- 4.3 perwho earn wages acare fiasco near the poverty which is dimming level supplement their prospects for their incomes with retaining the Senan array of federal ate in the 2014 (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate benefits, including elections. But raising the minimum wage may actu- food stamps, Medicaid, child care and ally be worth considering if it has the cash wage subsidies, plus school lunch side benefit of cutting the gigantic total (and breakfast) for their kids. All these programs and handouts of our hidden welfare programs. are based on someone’s income level. YES, HIDDEN. We call the welfare If raising the minimum wage raises state “hidden” because most people the individual above the governmenthave no idea that it has grown to nearly prescribed poverty level, raising the a trillion dollars a year. And most peo- minimum wage could be a benefit for ple think “welfare” goes all or mostly taxpayers. Robert Rector of the Heritage Founto the unemployed, whereas the truth is that most of it goes to working families dation, the country’s expert on welfare whose income is below a government- statistics, has concluded that: “Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, designated poverty line. The hidden welfare state has mush- government has spent $19.8 trillion roomed into a massive complex of at (in inflation-adjusted 2011 dollars) on least 79 means-tested programs doled means-tested welfare. In comparison, out by at least nine federal agencies, the cost of all military wars in U.S. plus state funds. Included in this wel- history from the Revolutionary War fare total are food stamps (for which through the current war in Afghanistan spending has doubled since 2007), has been $6.98 trillion (in inflation-adTANF, the Earned Income Tax Credit, justed 2011 dollars). The War on Povhousing aid, energy assistance, child erty has cost three times as much as all care and Supplemental Security In- other wars combined.” Rector says that 100 million Americome, not even counting the new subcans now receive benefits from at least sidies in Obamacare. Since the end of the Reagan Admin- one of the 79 programs. The bipartisan istration, our $937 billion in welfare welfare reform of 1996 actually rehandouts have grown beyond any rela- formed only one of the 79 programs, tion to actual need. So-called welfare and Barack Obama gutted the heart of has grown faster than growth in our that reform by illegally eliminating the economy, our population increase, the “work” requirement. The temptation to cheat is always rise in the poverty rate and annual federal expenditures on defense, educa- present. The Census Bureau reported that one quarter of single moms retion, Social Security or Medicare. Seventeen years after Bill Clinton ceiving generous taxpayer cash and said “we are ending welfare as we know benefits actually have a partner living
in the house whom she doesn’t marry (and doesn’t report) because marriage would reduce her government handouts. The EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) lifted 5.7 million wage earners above the poverty line in 2011, but the EITC is full of all sorts of fraud. The Treasury’s inspector general reported that more than $110 billion in payments were given out during the past decade to people who were not qualified. WELFARE PAYS more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, according to a Cato Institute study, and welfare in 13 states pays more than $15 an hour. Remember, welfare benefits are tax free, so their dollar value is even greater. Legislation to raise the minimum wage would elevate many low-wage earners above the income threshold that qualifies them for benefits and should result in reduced welfare spending. That’s a tradeoff Republicans could support.
A good example of how our so-called welfare program is subsidizing and incentivizing bad behavior was illustrated on Sean Hannity’s May 11, 2013 TV interview with a young man who fathered 22 children with 14 different mothers. The U.S. taxpayers, of course, are supporting them all. The man was proud of his achievement, didn’t have a job, didn’t pay child support, believes it is the duty of the taxpayers to support them all and defiantly looks forward to creating more kids with more women. Our welfare system makes this travesty possible; it’s much worse than the famous “welfare queen” who became notorious back in 1976. IN ORDER to reduce our slide into massive dependence on government, Congress should restore effective work requirements, tighten eligibility requirements, aggressively go after fraud and make large cuts in total spending on handouts. Raising the minimum wage might make it possible to legislate fair and sensible improvements.
ANSWER MAN: January 4, 2014
T h e A n s w er M an NEW YEAR’S TRADITIONS AROUND THE GLOBE 1. Name the country in which friends and family wish each other a happy Navasard on the first of January. 2. Name the country that refers to New Year’s Day as “Chaul Chnam Thmey.” 3. If you are of this descent, you may pick and eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight. 4. Families in this country celebrate St. Basil and eat the Vassilopitta on the first of January.
SeamansShook (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
5. As the clock strikes midnight, and we say farewell to 2013, many may sing to this Scottish folk song, which was given new words in the 1700s by Robert Burns. Name both the song and its translation.
January 15, 2014 OBAMACARE: January 6, 2014
Obama vs. the Little Sisters of the Poor
t takes some doing to get em- ployers cover in their insurance plans. broiled in a court fight with nuns Given the ongoing delays, waivers and who provide hospice care for the exemptions associated with the law, it seem natural simply to indigent. Amazingly, the Obama admin- w o u l d let the Little Sisters istration has mango about their busiaged it. ness of pouring out Its legal battle their hearts for the with the Little Sissick and dying. ters of the Poor is (c) 2014, King Features Syndicate But this is a the logical consefight the adminisquence of Obamacare’s conscience-trampling contracep- tration won’t walk away from. For it, it tion mandate. The requirement went into is a matter of principle. And the principle effect Jan. 1, but Supreme Court Justice is that the state trumps the convictions of Sonia Sotomayor issued a New Year’s people with deep-held religious beliefs. When the contraception mandate first Eve injunction against enforcing it on the caused an uproar, the administration Little Sisters. contrived a so-called accommodation THEY ARE Catholic nuns who fol- for religiously oriented groups (actual low the doctrinal teachings of the church churches have always been exempt). But and therefore oppose contraceptive and whoever crafted it had a sick sense of huabortive drugs and sterilization, all of mor. The very same document by which which Obamacare mandates that em- a group registers its moral objection to
contraceptives and abortifacients also authorizes the insurer to cover them for the group’s employees. What the accommodation gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. THE LITTLE SISTERS refuse to sign such a document. They happen to be in an unusual situation because they get their insurance from another religiously affiliated organization opposed to contraceptives and abortifacients, so it may
ECONOMICS: January 7, 2014
Idealogy vs. reality: Good intentions
rench President Francois Hollande has been confronted by the glaring light of reality —
sort of. On New Year’s Day, as his massive tax increases began taking effect, Hollande, a member of the Socialist Party, admitted that taxes in France have become “too heavy, much too heavy.”
INDEED, AS of Jan. 1, French households now must contend with a new value added tax on many goods and services and, writes International Business Times, “French companies will be required to pay 50 percent tax on all employee salaries in excess of one million euros. ... The effective tax rate will amount to 75 percent.” Unemployment, which Hollande promised to reduce, has risen to nearly 11 percent. Some companies and wealthy people have left France in search of businessfriendly environments. More will surely follow unless Hollande’s rhetoric is followed by actual tax reductions. Hollande’s head-on collision with reality is reminiscent of President Bill Clinton’s remarks in 1995 at a campaign fundraiser in Houston: “Probably there are people in this room still mad at me ... because you think I raised your taxes too much. It might surprise you to know that I think I raised them too much, too.” Neither Hollande (so far), nor Clinton, followed up on their remarks by cutting taxes. Like many other politicians, these men tried to have it both ways. The next political leader who will be forced to adjust his left-wing ideology
to reality is the new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, who has proposed a tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K education. He, too, thinks raising taxes on the successful is the way to prosperity for the poor. He should pick up the phone and ask Hollande how that is working for him, as Hollande’s approval ratings are sinking faster than President Obama’s.
Thomas (c) 2014, Tribune Media Services
Even better, he might recall Calvin Coolidge’s remark: “Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.” Penalize success and prosperity and you get less of it. Subsidize bad decision-making by giving taxpayer money to the poor, and you may well undermine initiative and personal responsibility and create new generations of poor people. THE LEFT IN America and France have gained political power by appealing to voters’ emotions, but when they achieve power their ideology harms the very people who voted for them when these well-intentioned programs prove unworkable. This presents conservatives and Republicans with an opportunity, as well as risks. Liberals are allowed to be as ideological as they wish, and the major media and too many among the unfocused public will mostly support
them. The left is never told they must compromise their ideology when reality proves them wrong, or “work with Republicans and conservatives” to achieve common goals. That is the trap liberals set for conservatives, who are repeatedly told they must compromise their principles if they hope to win elections, but whose squishy politics then become as unappealing as cold oatmeal. Here is the path Republicans and conservatives must take if they not only want to win, but bring positive change to the country. Instead of debating feelings and ideology with the left (territory on which they almost always lose — recall “compassionate conservative”), conservatives should hold their opponents accountable. Are their policies producing the results they claim? Is the record debt good for the country? Are agencies performing as their charter demands, and should their budgets be reduced or the agency eliminated if it can’t show results? Every government agency and program should be regularly required to justify, not only its budget, but its very existence. AMERICANS TYPICALLY hate waste. It is why as children most of us were told to clean our plates because somewhere in the world there were hungry people. Requiring the left to prove their programs and policies are producing outcomes at reasonable cost would shift the debate from ideology and good intentions to reality. This is where conservatives have a distinct advantage if they will embrace it.
be that these drugs don’t get covered no matter what. But the Little Sisters can’t be sure of this — the regulations are complicated and subject to change. Regardless, they don’t want to sign. They want no part in authorizing coverage of contraceptive or abortive drugs. Enthusiasts for the mandate scoff. What the nuns are objecting to, they insist, is just a piece of paper. Just a piece of paper? So is a mortgage. So is a wedding certificate. So is a will. How would the board of directors of NARAL react if the government forced them to sign a “piece of paper” tacitly condemning contraception or abortion? Would they shrug it off as a mere formality? The Little Sisters deserve deference. Their religious sensibility is different than — and, one hazards to say, more finely tuned than — that of the mandarins of President Barack Obama’s administrative state. In a dispute over what their conscience tells them to do or not to do, the Little Sisters are better positioned to know than anyone else. Besides, who is harmed if the Little Sisters don’t provide contraception coverage? They are a voluntary organization. They aren’t imposing their views on anyone. Who, for that matter, is harmed if a secular organization run by people with moral objections to contraceptives and abortifacients refuses to cover them? Employees are still free to go out on their own and get contraceptives, which are widely available. If this sounds like an outlandish imposition, it is what people managed to do throughout American history all the way up to last week. The contraception mandate has always had a strong ideological impetus. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius notoriously declared in 2011 that opponents of the mandate “want to roll back the last 50 years in progress women have made in comprehensive health care in America. We’ve come a long way in women’s health over the last few decades, but we are in a war.” By this bizarre way of thinking, a small congregation of nuns that cares for the most vulnerable is somehow complicit in a war on women’s health. INSTEAD OF respecting the moral views of the Little Sisters, the administration hopes to grind them under foot by force of law. For shame.
January 15, 2014
Free exercise of virtue prohibited in the USA
“God himself is its author, its pros of today — Jan. 1, 2014 — a Democratic administra- mulgator, its enforcer,” said this Roman tion led by President Barack senator. “He who obeys it not, flies from and does violence to Obama will use a regulation permitted h i m s e l f , very nature of man.” and funded by a Republican-majority t h e “When a man is House of Repinspired by virtue resentatives to such as this, what prohibit Ameribribes can you cans from freely (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate offer him, what exercising not treasures, what just Christianity, but virtue itself in the United States of thrones, what empires?” wrote Cicero. “He considers these but mortal goods America. The Merriam-Webster dictionary de- and esteems his own divine.” “And,” concluded this pre-Christian fines virtue as “conformity to a standard of right” — and, in truth, there is only statesman, “if the ingratitude of the one such standard. Individuals are born people, and the envy of his competitors, and die, nations rise and fall — yet it or the violence of powerful enemies despoil his virtue of its earthly recomremains. pense, he still enjoys a thousand consoNOR CAN IT be escaped — no mat- lations in the approbation of conscience, ter how devoutly men such as Obama and sustains himself by contemplating seek to annul it, or how abjectly his op- the beauty of moral rectitude.” Our Founding Fathers believed preponents in the political establishment cisely this when they founded the Unitshrink from defending it. What is it? The Roman senator Ci- ed States. Before Thomas Jefferson wrote cero explained it with force and clarity the Declaration of Independence, an five decades before Christ. “There is a true law, a right reason, 18-year-old Alexander Hamilton wrote: conformable to nature, universal, un- “Good and wise men, in all ages, have changeable, eternal, whose commands ... supposed that the Deity, from the reurge us to duty, and whose prohibitions lations we stand in to Himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal restrain us from evil,” wrote Cicero. “Neither the senate nor the people and immutable law, which is indispenscan give us any dispensation for not ably obligatory upon all mankind prior obeying this universal law of justice,” to any human institution whatsoever.” “Upon this law depend the natural he said. “It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and rights of mankind,” said Hamilton. “They are written,” he concluded, another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must forever “as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the reign, eternal and imperishable.”
Divinity itself, and can never be erased he wrote in 1825. “All its authority rests or obscured by mortal power.” then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversaWHEN JEFFERSON stated that all tion, in letters, printed essays, or in the men “are endowed by their Creator with elementary books of public right, as Arcertain unalienable Rights” and that istotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc.” governments are created to protect those Today, the Patient Protection and Afrights, he was echoing both Cicero and fordable Care Act’s ironically entitled the common view of his countrymen. “individual responsibility requirement” “Neither aiming at originality of prin- takes effect — at least so far as the letciple or sentiment, nor yet copied from ter of the law is concerned. It says that any particular and previous writing, it almost all Americans must “maintain was intended to be an expression of the minimum essential coverage” for health American mind, and to give to that ex- insurance for themselves and their depression the proper tone and spirit called pendents or be penalized by the governfor by the occasion,” Jefferson wrote, ment. explaining the Declaration, in a letter This “minimum essential coverage” includes a “preventive services” regulation, which has been defined by the Obama administration to require copay-free coverage for sterilizations as well as drugs and intrauterine devices that cause abortions. Quite literally, under this regulation, a mother can be forced through her insurance coverage to provide her daughter with the drug that kills her granddaughter. To deliberately terminate the life of an innocent human being, or to be complicit in that act, is to violate the unchanging moral law that even pagans such as Cicero recognized and understood. A government that forces individuals into complicity with the taking of innocent life is fully breaking faith with the purpose of government: It violates the God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Virtue — living by our creator’s unchanging law — requires Americans, like all those before us, to respect life. UNDER PRESIDENT Obama, that now violates a federal regulation. January 1, 2014
This Week’s Conservative Focus
A bright spot?! Welcome to Medicaid for all
he Washington Post’s Ezra Klein has found what he thinks is a bright spot amid the gloomy Obamacare news. When you hear what he’s enthusiastic about, you’ll perhaps understand why I wonder if there is any common ground at all between liberals and conservatives. Klein reports that Obamacare’s “biggest success” is that four million new enrollees signed up for Medicaid as of November and the number should be even higher when December’s statistics are tallied. “If the point of health care reform is covering people who need health insurance, the expansion of Medicaid should be a huge win.” SORRY, BUT the expansion of dependence on government is never cause for rejoicing. Conservatives acknowledge that a safety net is necessary for the poor, but we regard only the number of
people leaving a government program Medicaid spending simply contributes like Medicaid as cause for celebration, to the problem. Medicaid is plagued by fraud. Among not adding to the numbers who receive mon scams perpebenefits. Klein is hardly alone. Nancy the comtrated by enrollees, Pelosi describes the National Conunemployment ference of State benefits as the Legislatures lists greatest possible “obtaining medica“stimulus” to the (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate tions or products economy. By this that are not needed logic, we should put everyone on unemployment, right? and selling them on the black market, filWhy is it terrible news that millions ing claims for services not received” and more people are signing up for Medic- more. Providers commit fraud by “billing aid? Here are just a few of the reasons: for services not performed, billing dupliMedicaid is one of the entitlements cate times for the same service, ordering whose growth endangers national sol- excessive or unnecessary tests” and so vency. Together with Medicare, Med- forth. Just last month, dozens of Russian icaid was already consuming more than diplomats — yes, noncitizens — were one in five federal dollars before the en- charged with bilking Medicaid of $1.7 actment of Obamacare. The growth in million over the course of nine years. Medicaid is not just a program for the health care spending was one of the rationales for Obamacare, but expanding poor; it’s a poor program. Reimburse-
Obamacare’s biggest whopper 2013 was the year of Obamacare whoppers. But the nastiest truth about the health law is still to be exposed — the tightening hold the federal government will have over your doctor, even if you’re paying with private insurance. President Barack Obama said, “You’re not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision-making.” It was a lie from day one, just like the president’s other sales pitches. Obama’s often-repeated claim that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” is the obvious whopper of 2013. Over six million people have had their plans canceled already. THEN, ON Dec. 20, the president brushed aside reporters’ questions about the latest changes to Obamacare by brazenly claiming “the basic structure of the law is working.” That’s a lie, too. Premiums for Obamacare plans are 41 percent higher, on average, than what consumers paid in the individual market last year, with deductibles as high as double, and for all that, you generally won’t be able to use academic hospitals, toptier cancer hospitals and the doctors who practice at these institutions. But the truth is still to come out about the biggest whopper. Section 1311(h)(1) (B) of the health law gives the secretary of health and human services — a presidential appointee — blanket authority to dictate how doctors treat patients, and not just patients in government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but also patients with private plans they pay for themselves. On Dec. 2, 2013, in the Federal Reg-
ister, it was disclosed that the rules are in the process of being written. Starting in 2015, insurance companies will be barred from doing business with doctors who fail to comply. Supposedly the rules are in the name of “quality,” but this could mean everything in medicine.
McCaughey (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
“THE POWERS given to the secretary are so broad he or she could literally dictate how all physicians nationwide practice medicine,” warns Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., who is himself a physician. Gingrey is sponsoring a bill to repeal Section 1311(h)(1) (B). He explains that otherwise, the HHS secretary, a Washington bureaucrat with no medical training, could bar doctors from doing routine mammogram screenings until female patients turn 50, for example. The government will be calling the shots on what care patients get. The rules have not yet been announced, but the president’s key health adviser at the time the Affordable Care Act was written, Ezekiel Emanuel, who continues to speak on behalf of Obamacare, discussed early on what government intervention was needed. Emanuel said doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously “as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others.” As long as doctors are in charge, cost control would not be possible. “Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention
ment rates for doctors, dentists and other professionals are so low under Medicaid that enrollees have difficulty finding care. Having health insurance does not equate with having medical care. As Avik Roy recounts in How Medicaid Hurts the Poor, there is a “massive fallacy at the heart of Medicaid, and therefore at the heart of Obamacare. It’s the idea that health insurance equals health care.” In fact, people without health insurance get care in a variety of ways. The startling news is that Medicaid enrollees fare worse on health outcomes than those with no health coverage at all. EXPANDING MEDICAID was sold on the premise that uninsured people were driving up health care costs by waiting until they were very sick before seeking care and thus overburdening emergency rooms. If the near poor had Medicaid coverage, the argument went, they would see doctors before their conditions became critical and required expensive emergency room treatment. But research on Oregon’s program, published in the journal Science, found the reverse to be true. Tracking 25,000 enrollees for a period of 18 months, researchers found that Medicaid patients used emergency rooms 40 percent more than similarly situated adults who lacked health insurance. Having a Medicaid card did not divert people away from emergency rooms and into primary care. The number of ER visits for nonemergency matters increased. There was no change in the number of visits for nonpreventable emergencies. An earlier analysis of Oregon’s data found that having a Medicaid card did not improve health outcomes. Medicaid patients were no healthier than the uninsured, except on one measure of mental health (which might be the result of people initially feeling — however incorrectly — that they had access to good medical care). Medicaid is a poor program because it promises benefits but squeezes provider reimbursement to keep costs down. The result is rationing. The poor are forced to wait in long lines for treatment and are sometimes denied care altogether. Klein may applaud these results, but the poor clearly don’t. Medicaid is also the model for Obamacare — top-down price-fixing and mandates from Washington.
and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality of care are merely ‘lipstick’ cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change.” Emanuel advocates for topdown federal rules to allocate resources based on what he calls “social justice.” Donald Berwick, the Obama nominee to run the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, also insists that the federal government must step in between doctors and their patients to curb and redistribute the use of medical resources. Berwick says resources should be allocated based on “important subgroups.” These groups, rather than the individual patient in the doctor’s office, should be the “unit of concern,” according to him. Obama’s advisers would have these considerations override your doctors focusing on your needs. Right now, states license and discipline doctors. And this is plenty of oversight. In 2006, when the U.S. attorney general tried to interfere in how Oregon doctors used controlled substances to treat patients, the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Oregon struck down the federal intrusion. The justices warned it would amount to a “radical shift of authority THERE ARE alternatives — like a from the states to the federal government to define general standards of medical combination of health savings accounts and catastrophic insurance — that would practice in every locality.” provide better care to the poor and an THIS IS WHAT Obamacare does. It improved outlook for the nation’s fiscal puts the federal government between you health. Klein’s happy talk notwithstandand your doctor, with an eye toward lim- ing, there are no “successes” in Obamiting your care — just what the president acare. Left alone, it will remake the entire health care system in Medicaid’s image. promised would not happen. January 1, 2014
January 7, 2014
MEDIA BIAS: January 7, 2014
The liberal ‘least productive’ complaint
iberals are angry President is what happens when Congress is houndBarack Obama won a second ed as “least productive.” And yet there term, and yet, they didn’t get is no fiscal achievement here, either. As at CNSNews.com has the liberal agenda items they wanted Terry Jeffrey even adjusted for passed in 2013, including gun control and explained, inflation, this defiamnesty for illegal cit is exceeded aliens. The comby only one preplaint at the end of Obama deficit — the year is that this the one the U.S. was the “least pro(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate government ran in ductive Congress” in 66 years, with production always be- 1943, during the height of World War II. The deficit came down in part because ing measured by the amount of legislaHouse Republicans forced sequestration tion passed. on Team Obama — an idea the White BUT THE MEDIA complaint here House first proposed, even if it meant it isn’t about just any legislation; it’s about only as an empty threat. The sequester a liberal wish list. Washington Post re- clipped the deficit in spite of TV and print porter Paul Kane laments the “shrunken reporters screeching about the tsunami of ambitions” of congressional Democrats suffering that would result. This turned in a front-page story: “Back in 2009, dur- out to be an assembly line of phony baing the heady days of hope and change, loney, right down to the silly unnecesSen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced sary shutdown of White House tours by 90 pieces of legislation. In 2013, amid the Obamas. Whatever money they’ve gridlock and dysfunction, he sponsored “saved,” they blew it somewhere else — just 35 bills. None of them became law.” like on endless Christmas vacations. Back on Dec. 5, 2013, CBS congresKane laments Congress as “an institution whose historically low approval rating has been at or below 20 percent for 2014: January 1, 2014 three years.” So the problem on Capitol Hill began in 2011 — the minute Republicans took over the House majority. The Post reporter does not explain that journalists just started seizing on an overall approval rating for Congress — he year 2013 will not go down an electorally irrelevant number comin my memory as one of the pared to each representative’s popularhappiest. It was a year of atity in the home state or district — as a tacks on Americans’ most basic liberway of bolstering Obama by comparison. ties, cultural decay unimaginable just They didn’t seize on any measure of the a few short years ago and outright repopularity of Congress during former bellion against God by government and President George W. Bush’s second term other powerful forces. because they wanted him to look like a complete loser. SO WHY AM I so happy this New This “least productive Congress” rap Year’s Eve? Why am I popping the suggests that the passage of any legisla- champagne corks and throwing streamtion is the equivalent of progress. Get a ers around the house? Why am I so load of how Kane offers a brief balance to giddy? Is it because things can’t get any his own thesis: “For instance, amid all the worse? Absolutely not. In fact, things outcry over congressional dysfunction in can get much worse. 2010, 2011 and 2012, Congress still manI would expect the economy to be aged to pass a bounty of landmark laws, mired in stagnation at best in 2014. It including the Affordable Care Act and could fall apart, as even some Wall two tax-and-budget bills that brought a Street insiders are warning openly. Excombined $2.8 trillion in deficit savings.” pect the federal government to serve everyone but U.S. citizens this coming NOTE TO America: Reporters year — promoting amnesty for illegal still insist Obamacare is a “landmark” aliens, doing everything in its power to achievement, regardless of how millions make sure your travel is restricted by of Americans, now without health care, rising gas prices, ensuring your ability feel they’ve been kicked in the teeth by to protect yourself and your family is rea president who repeatedly lied to them. stricted by making firearms and ammuReporters simply ignore the very real nition more expensive and harder to get, deficit numbers Obama has rung up — and continuing its divide-and-conquer over $5.1 trillion in his first term — and strategy by promoting special interests pretend it’s a tremendous achievement as opposed to the general welfare. that Congress passed by its own tricky In short, look for more misery, as accounting some imaginary “$2.8 trillion corrupt and unaccountable government in deficit savings.” lights brushfires designed to limit freeThe deficit in fiscal 2013 was $680 bil- dom. lion, the lowest of the Obama years. This In the new year, for instance, Wash-
sional reporter Nancy Cordes scolded a “do-nothing Congress” — those were the words on screen. Cordes warned of the price of inaction: “American families could see milk prices spike to $7 a gallon if Congress can’t pass a farm bill by the end of the year. Lawmakers are also running out of time to set funding and policy for the Pentagon next year, and they still need to confirm Janet Yellen as the next Federal Reserve chair before Ben Bernanke’s term ends next month.” Since then, Yellen has been confirmed, the Pentagon funded, and milk is still $3.50 a gallon. This is what the “news” business does today — it cajoles and
threatens about the need for a more “productive” liberal future instead of reporting on what has already happened. And it does succeed in intimidating squeamish Republicans. THESE TV reporters are hardly the ones to drag out the “least productive” scolding. If we measured their productivity by the number of congressional hearings and investigative stories delving into our corrupt government — IRS harassment, Benghazi cover-up, “Fast and Furious” cover-up and on and on — we could rightly conclude they are the “least productive” journalists in history.
Some good news for 2014
ington takes away your light bulb choice — mandating the elimination of perfectly good and reasonably priced incandescents with more expensive and dangerously toxic lighting. Your health care choices have already shriveled, and costs have skyrocketed for those who were responsibly providing for their own families.
(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
Government is doing its best to drive up energy prices, too — the lifeblood of a vibrant economy. The excuse is catastrophic, man-made climate change, a lie as big as “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” To perpetuate frauds like this requires a citizenry unable to distinguish right from wrong and truth from fiction, so you can be sure the systematic dumbing down of the populace will continue. SO, AGAIN, why am I happy today? Well, this is the bad news. But today is not a day for bad news. Today is a day to look at the opportunities before us — to discover the silver lining in those foreboding dark clouds on the political horizon. Here’s the good news: God is in control. He has provided us with a clear prescription for turning things around.
Though it’s not through politics, I encourage everyone to engage in the political opportunities before us in 2014. It may well be that the midterm election results represent a very positive development. But the long-term trends are still disconcerting. Unlike many of you reading this column today, I am not fearful about the attacks on liberty that are assuredly ahead of us. I see them as a necessary evil for a reawakening of the American public. Nothing short of what is coming could possibly get us back on track. I’m not telling you to sit back and relax. I’m advising you to hunker down for spiritual battle. It’s not going to be easy. But there is an end in sight. Meditate on this verse during your New Year celebrations. Commit it to memory: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” There is not a doubt in my mind that if believers follow this simple prescription in 2014, miracles will abound next year. America will be revived and restored. Is it too much to ask for those called by His name to repent and humble themselves before God? I WOULDN’T think so. It is with this good news that I wish you a very happy new year.
January 15, 2014 DEAR MARK: January 4, 2014
Obamacare idea, Whitehouse emails, banned words DEAR MARK: I am puzzled. Recently I’ve been hearing liberals claim that the Affordable Care Act was a Republican idea and that we should stop complaining for this reason. I’ve heard a lot of whacky excuses in my life, but this one takes the cake. Where are they getting such ridiculous information? — Can’t Be Can It? Dear Can’t Be: This notion that Obamacare is actually a conservative idea is just the latest attempt to deflect blame away from Democrats for this debacle. Democrats realize the albatross Obamacare has become and are looking for any way possible to disassociate themselves from this train wreck. This “stretch” comes from an article published over 20 years ago by the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. The article does, in fact, discuss that an “individual mandate” would be needed to implement universal health insurance. Here’s what Stuart Butler, one of the author’s, had to say in 2012: “The confusion arises from the fact that 20 years ago, I held the view that as a technical matter, some form of requirement to purchase insurance was needed in a near-universal insurance market to avoid massive instability through “adverse selection” (insurers avoiding bad risks and healthy people declining coverage). At that time, President Clinton was proposing a universal health care plan, and Heritage and I devised a viable alternative.”
Publishing an economic theory or idea is a far cry from actually putting a bill before congress, like the Democrats did with Obamacare. The reality is that only Democrats wrote the law, only Democrats voted for the law, only Democrats are implementing the law and only Democrats will choke on the law when the 2014 midterm elections arrive.
(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
DEAR MARK: I just received an encouraging email from the Whitehouse explaining how important Jan. 1 was for most Americans and that the tide is favorably turning for the Affordable Care Act after all of the glitches. Why don’t you get off of the administration’s back for once? — The Truth Dear Truth: I received that same email from Whitehouse Deputy Senior Advisor, David Simas, that said “Americans across the country have new health insurance that starts today, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.” With the recent news that millions of Americans have lost their coverage and that the government can’t even verify who has successfully enrolled in the exchanges or made payments, Mr. Si-
mas’ statement sounds more like a pipe dream. Of course, with pot being legalized in Colorado, we know what liberals like to put in their “pipes.” DEAR MARK: I just read where a university is trying to ban the word “Obamacare.” Granted, I’m not a fan of the president or his health care law, but I am a fan of the constitution and free speech no matter how idiotic the phrase. Are the thought police really becoming that bold on our college campuses? — Nervous Ned Dear Nervous: Believe me, if liberals in academia thought they could banish certain words and phrases, they would in a heartbeat. Although, the AP Stylebook is doing a pretty good job of altering the language to suit its agenda; i.e. “undocumented worker” versus “illegal alien.” Fear not, because in this case, Michigan’s Lake Superior State University has simply compiled a list of words from 2013 that it feels should be “banished from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse and general uselessness.” In addition to “Obamacare,” here are some of the other words the university thinks should be banned: “selfie,” “TBone,” and “twerking.” I was taught that you are judged by the company you keep, so let’s see, a word implying narcissism, a car wreck, and jamming one’s butt in the air to porn music, yep, I’d say “Obamacare” belongs with those other banned words.
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POVERTY: January 8, 2013
Escape poverty: Graduate, work, get married, have kids
ifty years ago today, in his demographically. Members of families State of the Union Address, were less likely to be in poverty (17.4 President Lyndon Johnson de- percent) than Americans overall. But cans in families clared an “unconditional war on poverty Ameriheaded by a female in America.” with no husband Over the next present were far two years, he masmore likely to be in sively expanded poverty (44.4 perthe federal gov(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate cent) than Ameriernment, creating Medicaid, Medicare and the food stamp cans overall. Since 1964, the poverty rate for peoprogram, and increased federal involveple in families headed by females withment in public education. out husbands has never dropped below WHAT IMPACT did this have on the 28.5 percent it hit in 2000. In 2012, it was 33.9 percent. poverty? Could differences in family structure In the mid-1960s, as measured by the Census Bureau, the percentage of contribute to differences in family inAmericans living in poverty was on its come? In 2012, households headed by feway down, dropping from 22.4 percent males without a spouse had a median in 1959 to 14.7 percent by 1966. Yet, since Johnson declared his war income of $30,686. Households headed on poverty in 1964, the poverty rate has by a male without a spouse had a medinever dropped below 11.1 percent (the an income of $42,358. Households with level it hit in 1973) and there has been married couples had a median income only one three-year period when it per- of $75,535. What about children? Could they sisted above 15 percent. That was the last three years on re- make a difference? Single women did better if they had cord — 2010, 2011, 2012. But what causes some people to be no children. The median income for a relatively poorer than others in the Unit- female householder who had no children was $42,147 in 2012. The median ed States? The Census Bureau determines who income for a single woman who had is in poverty by placing them on a scale one or more children 18 or younger was that measures income by family size. In $25,493. But married couples did better with 2012, a single person under 65 would be in poverty if he or she earned less than children. The median income for a mar$11,945. A family of nine with seven ried couple with no children under 18 children under 18 would be in poverty was $70,902. The median income for a married couple with one or more chilif they earned less than $46,165. In 1964, 19.0 percent of Americans dren under 18 was $81,455. Indeed, married couples with at least fell below the federal poverty level. But they were not equally distributed one child under 18 earned a mean (as
opposed to median) household income of $101,738 in 2012. In addition to getting married and having children are there any other secrets to financial success? Yes. GO TO SCHOOL and do your homework. High school dropouts had a median household income of $30,107 in 2012. For high school graduates, the median household income was $49,486; for college dropouts, it was $57,933; for college graduates, $95,418; for master’s degree holders, $110,048; for doctoral degree holders, $132,467; and for professional degree holders, $154,137. It also helps to get a job and keep it. American families in which the householder worked at a full-time job at least 50 weeks during the year had a median income of $83,468. Married couples in which both the husband and wife worked in 2012 had a
median income of $91,779 and a mean income of $112, 217. No doubt many of these husbands and wives both held jobs because they wanted to earn the money to raise and educate their own children. But what has happened to family life and the work ethic since LBJ and his liberal allies declared their “war on poverty?” Last week, the federal Centers for Disease Control published its report on births in the United States in 2012. It pointed to two telling trends: Unwed motherhood remained near an historic high while the overall fertility rate hit an historic low. Americans are having relatively fewer babies and more of them are illegitimate. “The 2012 general fertility rate declined to 63.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44, another historic low for the United States,” said the CDC. Of the 3,952,841 babies born in the United States during the year, 1,609,619 — or 40.7 percent — were born to unmarried women. As recently as 1980, only 18.4 percent of the babies born in the United States were illegitimate. In 2008, the percentage exceeded 40 percent for the first time. It was 40.6 that year, then 41.0 in 2009, 40.8 in 2010, 40.7 in 2011 and 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Census Bureau, 108,592,000 Americans — 35 percent of the population — received benefits from one or more mean-tested federal welfare program. That number will surely rise if Americans continue having 40 percent of their babies out of wedlock. AND, IN THEIR “war on poverty,” left-wing politicians will no doubt increasingly target for redistribution the wealth of married, two-parent, hardworking, diploma-earning families who cause this nation’s income inequality by living exactly the sorts of lives we must live if we wish to remain free.
January 15, 2014 CULTURAL DECLINE: January 7, 2014
Is America going to pot? Our moral compass
moking Marlboros is now forbidden in Irish bars in New York City. But buying, selling and smoking marijuana is legal in Colorado. It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. But where are we going? ONE CERTAIN result of the legalization of marijuana is that there are going to be more potheads, more dropouts and more deaths on highways from those high or stoned — and more rehab centers. Scores of thousands of Coloradans may relish the freedom they have voted for themselves. But the costs will be borne by society and the families of future victims of potheads behind the wheel. So it has been with alcohol. All of us can recall classmates injured and dead in auto accidents, jobs lost by friends, lives destroyed and families smashed because of booze. Just as beer opens the door for the young to bourbon, scotch, gin and vodka, marijuana is the gateway drug, the escalator drug, to cocaine and heroin. And if marijuana sales bring in the revenue Colorado envisions, other
Not so very long ago, the U.S. govstates will follow suit, and some state will become the first to decriminalize ernment enforced Prohibition, pronounced smoking a menace to the nacocaine. health, punished Undeniably, the cultural revolution t i o n a l gambling as orgais gaining connized crime and verts and picking declared a war on up speed. The drugs. haste with which Now the govsome Republi(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate ernment has cans are deepshouldered aside sixing the social issues to focus on tax cuts testifies to organized crime to take over, tax and regulate the rackets. At federal, state this. It was half a century ago that pot and local levels, the government rakes first began to replace alcohol as the off vast revenues from taxes on booze, drug of choice for baby boomers arriv- bars, cigarettes, casinos and, coming ing on campuses in 1964. Yet not until soon, online poker. Government lotteries have crowded the boomers began moving onto Social Security rolls did the first state legalize out the old numbers racket. marijuana for personal enjoyment. AS THE POET Alexander Pope Yet, as with same-sex marriage, now legal in 16 or 17 states, the legal- wrote three centuries ago: Vice is a monster of so frightful ization of marijuana appears to be an mien, idea whose time has come. As to be hated needs but to be seen; What does this tell us about our Yet, seen too oft, familiar with her country? America is not only diversifying face, We first endure, then pity, then emracially, ethnically and religiously as a result of continuous mass immigra- brace. In the 1965 decision Griswold v. tion, legal and illegal. We are diversifying, and disuniting morally, cultur- Connecticut, the Warren Court discovered a constitutional right to privacy ally and politically.
MARIJUANA: January 4, 2014
Enough pot happy talk
here was way too much giddiness in the media about the first day of legal pot selling in Colorado. Instead of all the happy talk, I think it’s time for some sober discussion and a strong dose of education about the addiction risks of smoking marijuana — particularly among young people. It may start out as a party, but it often ends up as something much, much worse.
American Medical Association recommended against legalization, stating, “Cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern.” The AMA added that pot “is the most common illicit drug involved in drugged driving, particularly in drivers under the age of 21. Early cannabis use is related to later substance-use disorders.”
WITH THE grace of God, I’ve been clean and sober for over 18 years — a recovery experience that still has me going to a lot of 12-step meetings. And I hear time and again from young people coming into the rooms to get sober how pot smoking led to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Now, this is anecdotal, and I am not an expert. And I will say that many people can control alcohol or pot or other drugs. But I am not one of them. And I am not alone. Talk to virtually any professional drug counselor, and they will warn that pot is a gateway drug. Or listen to leftof-center columnist Ruth Marcus, who has gathered important professional evidence about the risks of pot. Ms. Marcus reminds us that the
Kudlow (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
THE AMA also noted that “Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic-thought disorders.” I am indebted to Ruth Marcus for this information. She, by the way, thinks “widespread legalization is a bad idea, if an inevitable development.” Now, I didn’t hear any of this coming from the media in its first day of reporting on legal pot sales. That’s way too bad. The risks associated with pot
use must be discussed frequently and soberly so that all can recognize the downside threats. Of course, legalization will encourage greater use. In turn, that greater use increases the risk of addiction illness, a lack of growth as individuals and workers, and a more non-productive society. Normally, I’m a free-choice guy. And I realize that I’m not going to be able to stop the legalization of pot. I can’t control that. But I can raise some of these important issues. Alcohol and drug addiction are huge problems in our society. And it’s not easy to get clean and sober once the disease of addiction sets in. So many people search for that great initial high, and they keep searching until they get hooked. And if and when they get hooked, the costs and consequences are frequently catastrophic. So no, I’m not going to completely oppose the legal sale of pot. But this experiment should be studied carefully before the rest of the country decides to go forward with it. MOST OF all, the legalization of pot needs serious and sober discussion — not simply giddy reporting.
and overturned a state law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives. Contraceptives are now handed out to high schoolers and a right to contraception has been written into Obamacare. Abortion and homosexuality used to be scandalous. Now they are constitutional rights and popular social causes, and same-sex marriage is the civil rights cause of the 21st century. As Justice Antonin Scalia noted, if tradition, religious beliefs, or a community animus against conduct is insufficient to restrict private behavior, upon what legal ground do we stand upon to outlaw polygamy, adult incest or prostitution? Yet traditional America is not rolling over and playing dead. “Abortion rights” face new restrictions in state after state, as a new generation appears more pro-life than its parents. And as the A&E network discovered when it sought to suspend Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson for his biblical reflections, the silent majority remains faithful to the traditional morality. And while a libertarianism of the left appears ascendant, there is also a rising and militant libertarianism of the right. We have seen it manifest in the explosion of “stand your ground” and concealed-carry laws, opposition to federal background checks for gun owners, and ferocious resistance to the outlawing of assault rifles and 30-round magazines. In that Colorado where pot is now legal, state senators have been recalled for insufficient devotion to Second Amendment rights. And there are bubbling secessionist movements in states like Colorado, of folks who would like to separate themselves from places like Denver. The triumph of the sexual revolution has not been without its casualties, e.g., an endless supply of new HIV/ AIDS and STD cases and a national illegitimacy rate of over 40 percent of all births. And the correlation between that illegitimacy rate and the dropout rate, drug use rate, delinquency rate, crime rate and incarceration rate is absolute. Undeniably, the claims of the individual to maximum autonomy and freedom appear triumphant over the claims of community. The clamor of me is prevailing over the claims of us. BUT IN YIELDING, America has not only tossed overboard the moral compass that guided us for two centuries. We no longer even agree on what is “True North” anymore.
JOBLESS BENEFITS: January 7, 2014
GOP: Compromise on jobless benefits
resident Obama’s mission as 2014 starts is simple: He has to distract attention from the health care debacle. Health care reform isn’t working and won’t work. So he needs to create a diversion. With his poll numbers lagging around 40 percent, he is naturally concerned to stop the erosion of his base, so he is resorting to hot button class warfare issues to build his support back up. NONE HAS more of a potential political edge than the extension of unemployment benefits. The Republican Party should not let Obama depict it as a heartless caricature of capitalism by giving him a free ride on the issue of extension of unemployment benefits. Yes, the Republicans advocate an extension as long as it is paid for in the budget. Yes, the Democrats are resisting a deal to pay for the extension just to make a political issue. But, in any case, the Republicans cannot afford to be the party of no when it comes to aiding those out of work. One can only sympathize with the GOP concerns that extending benefits in the face of a dropping jobless rate is tantamount to creating a new entitlement, a federal welfare system, to subsidize unemployment. But the answer is to compromise. Republicans should look for the answer by treating different states differently depending on their levels of unemployment. While national joblessness averages 7.1 percent, the range among states is enormous. At the low end, North Dakota is blessed with a paltry 2.6 percent unemployment rate while Rhode Island and Nevada suffer with a 9.0 percent rate. There are 28 states, containing onethird of the nation’s population, with jobless rates of 6.5 percent or below. With unemployment this low, they cannot make a compelling case for extended benefits. But that should not stop the Republicans from extending benefits to states with higher unemployment rates. The state with rates at or below the 6.5 percent threshold are: North Dakota: 2.6 South Dakota: 3.6 Nebraska: 3.7 Utah: 4.3 Hawaii: 4.4 Iowa: 4.4 Vermont: 4.4 Wyoming: 4.4 Minnesota: 4.6 Kansas: 5.1 New Hampshire: 5.1 Montana: 5.2 Oklahoma: 5.4 Virginia: 5.4 Idaho: 6.1 Missouri: 6.1 Texas: 6.1
West Virginia: 6.1 Alabama: 6.2 Louisiana: 6.3 Wisconsin: 6.3 Florida: 6.4 Maine: 6.4 Maryland: 6.4 New Mexico: 6.4 Alaska: 6.5 Colorado: 6.5 Delaware: 6.5
Politically, most of the politically potent Democratic states are above the 6.5 percent level. These include N.Y., Mass., Calif., Mich., Ohio, Pa., Conn., Wash. State, Ore., N.J. and, of course, Nev. If Republicans offer benefit ex(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate tensions to these states, the Senate Democrats can hardly refuse and kill the bill because it won’t THE LEGISLATION extending extend benefits in Texas or Florida or the benefits should include a trigger other red states. The Democrats will huff terminating the extension for any state and puff but they will have to bow to the whose jobless rate drops below 6.5 will of the House. Their own constitupercent so as the nation recovers from ents will demand it. Let the Republicanthe recession, the 99 week or 52 week tilting states fend for themselves, they unemployment benefit fades into his- will insist, get us the extension we need. tory. And Republicans will have legisla-
tively reinforced the principle that jobless benefits are primarily for high unemployment periods where one arguably cannot find work. Once work becomes available, jobless benefits deter employment and drive up wage rates to unaffordable levels. The positive national tend in jobless data will give the Congressional Budget Office a basis for a favorable scoring of the future cost of the compromise. After all, unemployment insurance is basically a state, not a federal program. So why should Washington set its terms on a one-size-fits-all basis. Economic conditions vary and so should jobless benefit time periods. SO GIVE the Democrats half a loaf — their half. It will be an offer they can’t refuse.
ELECTORATE: January 5, 2014
Politics — by the numbers
wo years from today, Iowa — dark, brooding, enigmatic Iowa — will be enjoying its quadrennial moment as the epicenter of the universe. And in 10 months, voters will vent their spleens — if they still are as splenetic as they now claim to be — in congressional elections. Some numbers define the political landscape.
much of the Democratic vote is inefficiently concentrated in and around large cities. Obama won 80 percent or more in 27 districts; Romney did so in only one. That is why in 2012, Democratic House candidates got about 1.4 million more votes than Republican candidates, but did not win control of the House.
IN AN OCTOBER poll, 60 percent favored voting out of office every congressional incumbent. The poll was taken just 11 months after voters re-elected 90 percent of House and 91 percent of Senate incumbents. Democrats are more likely to lose control of the Senate than gain control of the House. Ninety-three percent of Republican House members represent districts Mitt Romney carried, 96 percent of Democratic members represent districts Barack Obama carried. Since the mid-19th-century emergence of the current two-party competition, no party holding the presidency has ever won control of the House in any midterm election. Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics note that since the Civil War, the average turnout in presidential elections has been 63 percent and in midterms 48 percent. The decline comes mostly from the party holding the presidency, and analyst Charlie Cook says three crucial components of Obama’s coalition — unmarried women, minorities (more than 40 percent of Obama’s 2012 vote) and young people — are especially prone to skipping midterms. In the seven midterms since 1984, voters under 30 averaged 13 percent of the midterm vote, down from 19 percent during presidential years. Furthermore, for House elections
(c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group
TODAY THE 30 Republican governors — four short of the all-time GOP high of 34 in the 1920s — represent 315 electoral votes. Republicans have a 52 percent majority of state legislative seats. After the 2012 elections, Republicans controlled the governorships and legislatures in 25 states with 53 percent of the nation’s population; Democrats had unified control of 13 states with 30 percent of the population. Since the emergence of the Republican Party, only two Democratic presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, have been followed by Democrats, and both FDR and JFK died in office, so their successors ran as incumbents. But Republicans have not decisively won a presidential election since 1988. Since then, no Republican nominee has won more than 50.8 percent of the vote. In the six elections 1992-2012, Republicans averaged 211 electoral votes, Democrats 327. Republicans lost the popular vote in five of these elections, and in the sixth, 2004, George W. Bush’s margin was the smallest ever for a re-election. In 2012, Obama became the first president since Ronald Reagan to win two
popular-vote majorities, but Obama got 3.6 million fewer votes than in 2008, a five percent decline. (The last re-elected president, Bush, got 11.6 million more votes in 2004 than in 2000.) Except for a small gain among those 30-39, Obama lost ground among every age cohort. And in 2012, Republicans improved the share of votes they got in 2008 from men (in 2012 Obama became the first person to win a presidential election while losing the male vote by seven points), whites, young voters and Jews. And independents: John McCain lost them 44-52 but Romney won them 50-45. And by September 2013, independents were leaning Republican by 18 points, above even the 14-point advantage Republicans had in 2010. In three of the most intensely contested states in 2012, Fla., Va. and Ohio, Obama’s victory margins averaged 2.6 points. But even if he had lost all three he would have still won with 272 electoral votes. Analyst Jeffrey Bell calculates this: “Of the 12 ‘battleground’ states, Obama won 11 — eight of them by a margin of more than five percentage points. Remarkably, this meant that if there had been a uniform five point swing toward the Republicans in the national popular vote margin — that is, had Romney won the popular vote by 1.1 percentage points instead of losing it by 3.9 — Obama would still have prevailed in the Electoral College, winning 23 states and 272 electoral votes.” THESE NUMBERS suggest that the great political prizes can be won by either party. There will be more numbers to contemplate by the time the one percent of Americans who live in Iowa are heard from.
January 15, 2014 OBAMACARE: December 31, 2013
Obamacare and the price of bad habits
nd so with ukuleles and autoharps, and cheers and groans, Americans usher Obamacare onto the public stage, knowing — with hope, with disgust, with fear, with acceptance — that the thing is here to stay, in the way all government programs, once enacted, hang around like a deadbeat brother-in-law: chain-smoking, impossible to get rid of. FOES AND friends of Obamacare understand this truth: You never get rid of a government program. Did Ronald Reagan, despite vows and expectations, ever get rid of the promiscuous and worthless Department of Educa-
tion? Or the Department of Energy? less human attention, more bureauHardly. In like-manner, Obamacare cratic decision-making. It will likely age various people will endure. The government already discourbecoming doctors, claims 1.1 million sign-ups. It is be- f r o m or from continuing low original exin medical pracpectations; each tice. No wonder one nevertheless majority opinion, represents an asas reported by the piration not even (c) 2013, Creators Syndicate polls, rejects the a President Cruz would find possible to repudiate. And whole thing. But it will endure. That’s partly bemore sign-ups are to come. The monstrosity won’t deliver its cause it will serve people who consider products efficiently. It will cost more themselves underserved, and in many than taxpayers can afford. It will over- cases may actually be. People who like load particular hospitals and physi- a particular government “service” becians while short-potting others. It come loud and articulate advocates for will mechanize the delivery of care: it, outshouting less-passionate oppo-
HAROLD SIMMONS: January 1, 2014
Remembering Harold Simmons
’ve not read the official obituaries because they are predictable. “Billionaire.” “Reclusive.” “GOP donor.” “Swift Boat Vets.” “Industrialist.” “Controversial.” “Dallas.” And there you have it: the death of a sinister figure driven by greed, the puppeteer manipulating the political process, a 21st century J.R. Ewing. (Or is it Mr. Burns?) If this is what you’ve read, it’s written by someone who didn’t know Harold Clark Simmons. I never knew a man quite like him. I MET HIM in 1981 while panhandling for some political cause or another. Back then, he kept a ledger of his political donations on 5-by-7 cards. You’d make your pitch. He’d open the file and examine his giving to you. He’d then give you his answer. His answer was as crisp as each of these sentences. To not know Harold was to be intimidated by his curt responses. On one visit, after a Shakespearean presentation by this writer, Harold looked down at his (my) file, then looked up at me and snapped in his adopted Texas slang, “No, I gave you (x dollars) in January. That’s all you’re worth to me.” Another time, a colleague traveled 1,300 miles just to visit Harold. After cooling his heels in Harold’s vast lobby, he was ushered into the office. He walked in with a smile, hand extended for a handshake, bade Harold a cheerful hello and prepared to settle in for a talk. But Harold had other plans. As he shook my friend’s hand, he stopped him dead in his tracks. “What do you want?” Out came the request, and back came the response (in the affirmative, if I recall). Out went the guest. Total meeting length for a trip halfway across the country: two minutes.
My colleagues and I laughed for years recounting these and other “Harold” visits. We expected nothing less. He was a blast of fresh air, a man who was decisive, and if your presentation had value, virtually unrivaled in his generosity. In 1986, I set out to form the board of directors for an organization I was endeavoring to launch, the Media Research Center. I visited Harold
Bozell (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
and made my request. Harold’s classic answer: “OK, but only if I don’t have to go to any meetings.” And he never did, not in the 27 years he served on the board, ultimately as its chairman. His participation was by phone or by proxy, and my visits were always in person. I’d bring him up to speed on things, and he’d offer comments only if he felt it absolutely necessary to do so or took special interest in the financial reports. He always thanked me for the visit. HAROLD GAVE vast amounts of his fortune to hospitals and universities. In the days to come, we’ll learn more as his estate is settled. I suspect we will be stunned. But why the millions upon millions to political and public policy causes? What could a man worth such a vast fortune — billions — stand to gain? Nothing, really. Except the satisfaction knowing he was helping the most important thing to him after his faith and his family: his country. Former President Ronald Reagan used to refer to the average American
who did his bit for his country as the “American hero.” As average billionaires go, Harold was an American hero. I last visited Harold a few weeks ago. Several people had warned me that recently his health had deteriorated dramatically. I saw nothing of the sort. He was as sharp and pleasant as ever. He looked good, too. I laid out my thinking for an ambitious new political adventure, one that would require tens of millions of dollars. “Could we have that conversation?” I asked. “Not yet,” he answered. He needed to tend to some business concerns. But he wanted me to know he was definitely interested. Come back in six months, he said. This meeting will never happen. How does one react to that? Let us put it in perspective. There is a wonderful story told about Philip II of Spain, who in 1588 had already bankrupted his country twice to build the most formidable navy in history to defeat the Protestant forces of England’s Queen Elizabeth. He awaited news at his massive imperial compound in El Escorial. And when the courier finally arrived, it was with the worst news imaginable: All is lost; the navy had been destroyed. Philip’s reaction was one for the ages. If he was crushed, history did not record it. Instead we know he immediately ordered a Te Deum Mass to be offered, giving glory to God, accepting without question His will. I WILL MISS Harold. He cannot be replaced. There is sadness, yes, but there is also immediate gratitude owed providence. It was willed that our nation be given Harold Simmons and that some of us would be honored to know him. This gift continues forever.
nents. Moreover, a government structure, once erected and financed and fully staffed, becomes too large a thing to clear away and replace. Obamacare will endure, but maybe in a form less harmful to civic, as well as personal health. That’s the hope as 2014 brings to us the greatest change in our governmental culture since the Great Society. Upon the brains and leadership of the Republican Party — highly uneven commodities — rest all realistic hopes for change. You see what a dicey business this will be on account of the utter lack of a Republican approach to change. “Repeal and replace” rolls off the tongue with great readiness — not to mention effrontery. It doesn’t get us past the bill title. There’s nothing like a “Republican plan” to deal with Obamacare: not least because nobody can yet know what kind of plan to propose. The “what kind” part will depend on developments yet to develop. All we know at present is that theory and concept are at odds with general experience in that they put the government in charge of the whole thing with only modest scope for personal decisions (e.g., a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum plan). Not until clients (bondservants?) of the system start to put its requirements into effect will anyone know what needs to be done. Plans and proposals can then come into play. This is a sorrowful message to deliver at the start of a new year. It happens, alas, to agree with experience. What will be fundamental to reform is introducing into the system as much change as it can accommodate. This is because programs built on the theory of “one size fits all” — the only theory the federal government recognizes — are costly and don’t work. One size doesn’t fit all, the less so when health needs are involved. There has to be room in any post-Obamacare program for people to explore their own needs and pick and choose among opportunities of the sort no overstuffed bureaucracy could ever devise. There is one more point to keep in mind. This ghastly mess is due to our 80-year-old habit of reliance on government for solutions to perceived problems. Every time we conjure up government, as opposed to free-market, solutions to this or that, the habit grows larger, deeper, harder to shake. Eighty years of government “problem-solving” has put Americans in the relaxed mood that gave us Obamacare. Let government do it! So the cry goes out regularly, monotonously at the slightest provocation. DO WE START to appreciate how we got into this — assuming we’re lucky — partly fixable fix?
STANDING UP: January 3, 2014
Answering liberals’ race exploitation
number of news items from just as they did to Condoleezza Rice, the past few days underscore Clarence Thomas and others, long bethe painful reality that liber- fore Kieran Romney. For all the talk about diversity from als are wholly unrepentant about their there is no such thing. exploitation of the race issue and have the left, Diversity of ideas no intention of and thoughts is abchanging their solutely forbidden. ways. March in lock step John Nolte, on with leftist thinkBreitbart, reported (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate ing, or else. It that MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel wouldn’t matter if we had a black Regrotesquely lampooned a photo of Mitt publican president and most of his CabRomney with his extended family be- inet and other appointees were black or cause one of Romney’s grandchildren, if we also had a majority of black Repictured on his knee, is Kieran Romney, publicans in Congress. As long as they remained Republican, they wouldn’t an adopted child who is black. be regarded by the left as authentic PANELIST PIA GLENN, refer- blacks, and the GOP’s presumed racism ring to Kieran in the photo, said: “One wouldn’t be slightly mitigated. For racially exploitive leftists, poliof these things is not like the others. ... And that little baby, front and center, tics trumps everything, and thus they would be the one.” Glenn’s crass re- exempt themselves from the rules of marks were met with approving laugh- common civility that normally inhibit ter from Harris-Perry. Lest there be any decent people from doing such repredoubt about Harris-Perry’s mindset on hensible things as using an innocent race, Nolte noted last month that during young black child as fodder for a cheap a racial rant, she asserted that “wealthy laugh — and as a means for a televiwhite men” created the term “Obam- sion personality to further ingratiate acare,” which she regards as a racist act. herself to the self-congratulatory left. This mindset, shared by all too many After receiving blowback, Harris-Perry liberals, is that Republicans and conser- tweeted an apology to the Romney famvatives, solely by virtue of their party ily, but the assumptions and presumpidentification and ideological leanings, tions leading to the incident in the first are racists. Black Republicans are even place doubtlessly remain in this type of worse in their eyes. They are traitors to leftist mindset, as the next news item iltheir race and, as such, are fairly sub- lustrates. ject to condemnation and ridicule from ON THE SAME network a day or white liberals and black liberals alike. Thus, it is fair play for white liberals to two later, a panel of MSNBC regulars, mock and belittle black conservatives, on a special edition of PoliticsNation,
selected awards for 2013. Network contributor Joy Reid said that the “knockout game” was the “most overrated story of the year,” claiming that conservatives “went absolutely ballistic” because they wanted “to stoke issues of race.” The “knockout game,” according to Wikipedia, is an assault in which one or more assailants attempt to knock out an unsuspecting victim, often with a single sucker punch, for the amusement of the attackers and their accomplices. The participants often record their assaults, and these videos have gone viral on the Internet. In the great majority of cases, the assailants appear to be teenage blacks and the victims defenseless whites. Reid apparently concludes that conservatives have singled out these stories not because they are newsworthy, as rep-
rehensible acts of abject evil that have been underreported in the mainstream media, but because they have largely been committed by blacks. It is much ado about nothing. There is nothing to see here. Move on. The only noteworthy thing about it, according to Reid, is the alleged racism of those focusing on it. Next, the Daily Caller reports on an essay by a liberal professor of constitutional law at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in which the professor blames “southern White radicals” for the disastrous rollout of Obamacare aka the “Affordable Care Act,” as if either the negative reports about the rollout were overblown or the problems were caused by bigots, as opposed to the incompetent statist bureaucrats actually responsible. In her essay, “2013: A Year of Racial Challenges,” Gloria J. Browne-Marshall alleges that “southern White radicals vowed to stop implementation of the Obamacare law leading one to wonder if tea party members would oppose affordable health care if it came from a non-Black President.” Are these leftists really so blinded by their own ideology or so cloistered among people with their own narrowminded liberal ideas that they believe we conservatives oppose Obama’s policies, including Obamacare, because of his race? Why, then, did we just as adamantly oppose Hillary Clinton’s scheme for socialized medicine? Why do we always oppose liberal ideas, the overwhelming majority of which have been advanced by white liberals? IN AN IDEAL world, I wouldn’t dignify with a response these false charges of racism, but if we conservatives have learned any lesson in the past few decades, it is that unanswered allegations in the spirit of respect and civility just egg shameless liberals on — and all too often, those allegations stick. Like it or not, we have to fight them back at every turn, and that is what I intend to do.
January 15, 2014 IMMIGRATION: January 3,2014
Amnesty for illegal immigrants is not enough
oes it make sense to allow legal status for his son. Nineteen years someone who has broken our later, Garcia still awaits a decision on his immigration laws to be admit- p e r m a n e n t resident status, which is common for those ted to the practice of law? Most people not unwho try to legally would answer traverse the system. “no,” but then not Meanwhile, Garmuch makes sense cia graduated high when it comes to school, college the morass of im(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate and law school. migration policy these days. This is why the decision by He took the bar examination right after the California Supreme Court this week graduating from Cal Northern School of to admit Sergio Garcia to the practice of Law and passed it on the first try — a feat law in the state should come as no sur- only about half of 2013 bar exam takers managed. When Garcia applied for adprise. mission to the state bar, however, the SuGARCIA CAME illegally to Cali- preme Court was faced with a dilemma. Federal law prohibits providing nonfornia as a 17-month-old baby, brought by his migrant worker parents. He lived citizens certain benefits. Originally enin California until he was nine years old, acted as part of federal welfare reform, and then returned with his family to Mex- the 1996 law’s section on “Restricting ico in 1986. In 1994, at age 17, he ac- Welfare and Public Benefits for Aliens,” companied his father back to California prohibits the granting of state profesto work in the fields picking almonds. By sional licenses to those who are not legal then, the father had obtained legal status residents of the U.S. However, the fedin America and immediately applied for eral law provides an exception “through
the enactment of a state law after August 22, 1996, which affirmatively provides for such eligibility.” In October 2012, shortly after the California Supreme Court heard arguments in the Garcia case, the state legislature indeed passed a law that allowed illegal immigrants to obtain law licenses. The provision thus fulfilled the federal law’s exception clause. I AM HAPPY for Garcia, who seems by all accounts to be a smart, talented and dedicated man who will contribute to the state and country he calls home. And the
SOCIALISM: January 8, 2014
Why socialism is on the rise
t took capitalism half a century to come back from the Great Depression. It’s taken socialism half that time to come back from the collapse of the Soviet Union. In New York City, avowed socialist Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared that his goal is to take “dead aim at the Tale of Two Cities” — the gap between rich and poor. In Seattle, newly elected socialist city Councilmember Kshama Sawant addressed supporters, explaining, “I wear the badge of socialist with honor.” To great acclaim from the left, columnist Jesse Myerson of Rolling Stone put out a column telling millennials that they ought to fight for government-guaranteed employment, a universal basic income, collectivization of private property, nationalization of private assets and public banks. THE NEWLY flowering buds of Marxism no longer reside on the fringes. Not when the president of the United States has declared fighting income inequality his chief task as commander in chief. Not when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said that America faces “no greater challenge” than income disparity. Not when MSNBC, the New York Times and the amalgamated pro-Obama media outlets have all declared their mission for 2014 a campaign against rich people. Less than 20 years ago, former President Bill Clinton, facing re-election, declared “the era of big government” over. By 2011, Clinton reversed himself, de-
claring that it was government’s role to “give people the tools and create the conditions to make the most of our lives.” So what happened? Capitalism failed to make a case for itself. Back in 1998, shortly after the world seemed to reach a consensus on the ineffectiveness of socialist schemes, economists Daniel
Shapiro (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw wrote that the free market required something beyond mere success: It required “legitimacy.” But, said Yergin and Stanislaw, “a system that takes the pursuit of selfinterest and profit as its guiding light does not necessarily satisfy the yearning in the human soul for belief and some higher meaning beyond materialism.” In other words, they wrote, while Spanish communists would die with the word “Stalin” on their lips, “few people would die with the words ‘free markets’ on their lips.” THE FAILURE to make a moral case for capitalism has doomed capitalism to the status of a perennial backup plan. When people are desperate or wealthy, they turn to socialism; only when they have no other alternative do they embrace the free market. After all, lies about guaranteed security are far
more seductive than lectures about personal responsibility. So what is the moral case for capitalism? It lies in recognition that socialism isn’t a great idea gone wrong — it’s an evil philosophy in action. It isn’t driven by altruism; it’s driven by greed and jealousy. Socialism states that you owe me something simply because I exist. Capitalism, by contrast, results in a sort of reality-forced altruism: I may not want to help you, I may dislike you, but if I don’t give you a product or service you want, I will starve. Voluntary exchange is more moral than forced redistribution. Socialism violates at least three of the Ten Commandments: It turns government into God, it legalizes thievery and it elevates covetousness. Discussions of income inequality, after all, aren’t about prosperity but about petty spite. Why should you care how much money I make, so long as you are happy? CONSERVATIVES TALK results when discussing the shortcomings of socialism. They’re right: Socialism is ineffective, destructive and stunting to the human spirit. But they’re wrong to abandon the field of morality when discussing the contrast between freedom and control. And it’s this abandonment — this perverse laziness — that has led to socialism’s comeback, even though within living memory, we have seen continental economies collapse and millions slaughtered in the name of this false god.
state Supreme Court appears to have correctly interpreted both state and federal law. Nonetheless, I am troubled by the contortions in common sense the decision entailed, most of which are the result of a broken immigration system. In my view, Garcia and the hundreds of thousands of others who came illegally to the U.S. as children and have led exemplary lives here should be granted amnesty. There, I’ve said it, the dreaded A-word. But real amnesty requires Congress to enact a law, which will then be signed by the president. The Obama decision to issue waivers to so-called Dreamers (illegal immigrants who came here as children) doesn’t accomplish the same thing. Amnesty recognizes a broken law but forgives the transgressor for reasons of mercy, or in the case of young children, lack of agency on their part. Former President Ronald Reagan understood this when he granted amnesty to some three million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. in 1986. If Garcia had received amnesty, he’d be a legal resident right now. But amnesty is not enough — and in the case of our current population of 11 million illegal immigrants, no politician will even consider a true amnesty. No law that does not include some punishment has a chance of passing. What is needed is a change in overall immigration policy that would make Garcia’s case impossible. Even without amnesty, Garcia should long ago have received permanent legal resident status. But our current system is hopelessly backlogged, and waits of two or more decades is the rule, not the exception, for people from Latin America and parts of Asia. The number of permanent visas available is too small to accommodate U.S. labor demands, much less the desire of people like Garcia to contribute their talents to our nation. UNLESS CONGRESS acts — and soon — we’ll see more states like California that try to dig their ways out of the morass our immigration laws have created. Immigration policy is a federal responsibility, but Congress has abrogated this responsibility for the last decade. Keeping bad federal laws on the books doesn’t advance the rule of law. It only encourages scofflaws and state usurpation of the federal role.
GLOBAL WARMING: December 31, 2013
Global warming researcher stuck on ice
funny thing happened during tion acknowledges. It’s a conundrum. If Australian climate change warming is melting ice in the Northern professor Chris Turney’s Hemisphere, why isn’t it melting ice in venture to retrace a 1912 research expe- the Southern Hemisphere? Believers seize on all dition in Antarctica and gauge how climanner of weather mate change has — less Arctic ice, affected the contimore Antarctic ice nent: Two weeks — as proof of cliinto a five-week mate change, but excursion, Tur(c) 2013, Creators Syndicate as Spencer notes, ney’s good ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy got trapped there is no climate change without manin ice. It turns out, global warming not- caused global warming. Turney told the Australian Broadcastwithstanding, that there’s so much ice down under that two ice-breaking ves- ing Corp. that his goal is to excite the sels sent to rescue the research team public about science. As for climate cannot reach the Australasian Antarctic change, “in the scientific community, it’s remarkably solid.” And “self-evident.” Expedition.
YEARS AGO, global warming believers renamed the phenomenon “climate change” — probably because of pesky details such as unusually cold weather undercutting the warming argument. Now, just as advocates argue that earth is approaching a tipping point, there’s so much ice floating in Antarctica during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer that the Australasian Antarctic Expedition posted in a statement: “We’re stuck in our own experiment.” Does this incident mean that climate change is an illusion or a hoax? Of course not. Even during its summer, Antarctica is subject to extreme weather. “Bad weather is the norm in Antarctica,” climatologist Roy Spencer observed. But it does show that like the rest of us chickens, scientists have feet of clay. Turney had told journalists that his expedition wanted to collect data that could be used to improve climate models. Too bad the folks who are supposed to predict climate decades into the future are guided by scientists who could not manage to avoid ice floes during a five-week trip. “We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Turney told Fox News. He believes that the ship was stuck in old ice from a 75-mile-long iceberg that broke apart three years ago. Fair enough. But there’s still the issue of ice volume. Climate changers usually warn about Arctic ice, which has been receding over the past few decades, but rarely address the overall growth of ice in Antarctica. “I’m sure some researchers can find a possible explanation where humans are causing both Arctic ice melting and Antarctic ice growth, but I’m skeptical of scientists who blame every change in nature on human activities. Nature routinely causes its own changes, without any help from us,” quoth Spencer, himself a climate change contrarian. “SEA ICE is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up,” the Australasian Antarctic Expedi-
HE PUSHES a framework of science being data-driven and free from politics.
Yet it’s hard to escape the suspicion that perience, they will frame it as proof that whatever the icebound researchers ex- climate change is unassailable.
OBAMACARE: January 8, 2014
Obamacare: Workplace disaster ahead
n 2014, 25 to 30 million Americans with employer-provided health insurance are likely to lose it, thanks to Obamacare’s requirement that all plans cover what Washington deems “essential benefits.” Some employers will consider this unaffordable, so after their current lower-cost plans expire over the course of the year, they’ll drop coverage altogether. These 25 to 30 million are in addition to six million who bought plans in the individual market and had them canceled by Jan. 1. The plights of these six million made headline news and caused the first cracks in the Democratic Party’s support for the law. The bigger wave of workplace cancellations will force Democrats seeking re-election this fall to defend a law that harms twice as many people as it helps. THAT’S RIGHT. At least twice as many will lose coverage in 2014 as will gain it. The Congressional Budget Office projects 16 million will gain coverage through the law’s Medicaid expansion and subsidized exchange plans. This is a best-case scenario, rosier than the enrollment figures we’ve seen so far, but still half the number of those losing coverage. There were warnings of this workplace disaster. In 2011, management consultants McKinsey & Company cautioned that nearly one-third of employers surveyed were considering dropping coverage in response to the law. Employers who self-insure are not affected by the “essential benefits” requirement, but employers who purchase coverage in the small-group market (for
about 60 million people altogether) get clobbered. The one-size-fits-all requirement adds a whopping $1.79 an hour to the cost of a 40-hour employee, and over $2 an hour in New York and New Jersey, where health plans are more expensive, according to economist James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation. It’s one thing if you’re paying lawyers and accountants, but unaffordable if you’re paying waiters and receptionists.
McCaughey (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
MICHAEL KENNEDY, who runs two dog grooming salons near Albany, N.Y., said the requirement doubles his insurance cost per employee, eating away at his already-small profit. The 31.5 million people most at risk of losing their on-the-job coverage currently get it from employers with fewer than 50 employees. These employers are free to drop coverage, and many will. Employers with 50 or more full-time workers are in a different position because the Affordable Care Act mandates that they provide coverage. The law says the mandate shall take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. But President Barack Obama delayed it (without legal authority) until Jan. 1, 2015, and it’s likely it will never go into effect. Nevertheless, employers will prepare in case it does. Last year, at this time, public- and private-sector employers began avoiding hiring full-time employees and
pushing full-time workers down to parttime status. An astounding 77 percent of hires in the first seven months of 2013 were part-time until the president delayed the mandate. The possibility of the mandate is likely to cause a repeat of last year’s problem. If it goes into effect, employers with over 50 employees will have to either provide the “essential benefits,” pay fees levied on covered employees by Obamacare and cope with reporting requirements, or drop coverage and pay a $2,000 penalty per employee, which adds 98 cents an hour to the cost of a worker instead of $1.79 or more. Dropping is a better deal. It’s not a bargain, however, for the employees losing coverage. Workers with on-the-job coverage contribute $999 year in pre-tax dollars and have a deductible of $1,135 on average for individual coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. On Obamacare exchanges, all but the lowest earners will pay more (even after subsidies), pay with after-tax dollars, face deductibles of $3,000 to $5,000 for silver and bronze plans, and lose access to many doctors and hospitals. Finally, add to those losing coverage the 3.1 million workers in low-margin industries who had mini-med plans. Obamacare barred these plans in 2010, but the administration handed out waivers to postpone the fallout. These waivers expired Jan. 1. ALL IN ALL, the toll of those losing coverage in 2014 probably will reach 30 million. And most will find Obamacare an unaffordable and low-quality alternative.
January 15, 2014 OBAMACARE: January 7, 2014
Barack Obama bullying nuns (Part 1)
olitiFact has crowned the pro- er underhanded pro-abortion moves by moter in chief’s sound bite Barack Obama’s administration since for Obamacare the “Lie of the then, right down to the present. In fact, LifeSiteNews.com Year” for 2013: “If you like your health last week, a piece by Rep. Chris care plan, you can keep it.” And let me ran Smith, R-N.J., exmake a prediction plaining abortion’s that among his top rapid growth and 10 falsehood confunding in and tenders for 2014 through Obamwill be a reversal (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate acare: “Rollout of of what he emphatically stated back on Sept. 9, 2009: the Obamacare exchanges reveals that “Under our (health care reform) plan, many health insurance plans will subno federal dollars will be used to fund sidize abortion-on-demand. For example, the preliminary data suggests that abortions.” every insurance plan on the ConnectiINDEED, JUST a few months later, cut health care exchanges will pay for he reiterated to ABC News: “I laid out a abortion-on-demand. In the most recent very simple principle, which is this is a example, we learned that 103 of the 112 health care bill, not an abortion bill. And insurance plans for Members of Conwe’re not looking to change what is the gress and congressional staff include principle that has been in place for a elective abortion coverage. Only nine very long time, which is federal dollars plans offered exclude elective aborare not used to subsidize abortions. And tion.” (You can go to http://chrissmith. I want to make sure that the provision house.gov/uploadedfiles/2013_12-02_ that emerges meets that test — that we floor_flyer_on_member_hc_plans.pdf are not in some way sneaking in funding to view the flier about the nine plans.) It is clear that there are numerous for abortions.” “Sneaking in funding for abortions,” Obamacare plans that include elective abortion and that billions of taxpayer this administration? Of course, we didn’t have to wait a dollars will be handed out as credits year before we discovered that federal to buy abortion-covering health insurfunds were in fact being funneled to ance — a clear violation of the Hyde provide for abortive services in Penn- amendment’s fundamental principle of restricting funds to abortion-subsidizing sylvania and New Mexico. Then the House and Senate, in secret health insurance plans. If Obamacare is to encompass the Sunday sessions, passed an omnibus bill and its provision that overturned the full measure of abortions, Obama 1988 Dornan amendment, which pre- knows that he and his cronies must first vented taxpayer dollars from funding remove all the stops that prohibit fedabortions in Washington, D.C. (Tragi- eral funding for the termination of life cally, that omnibus bill also appropri- in the womb. Legislatively, the Dornan ated $648.5 million for international amendment was their start. And they family planning funding — an increase will continue to chip away at the Hyde of $103 million over 2009 funding — amendment, which prohibits the same and contained funding for Planned through the Labor and Health and HuParenthood and for the United Nations man Services departments — for examPopulation Fund, both of which have ple, with Medicaid. Obama knows that if his pro-abortion pro-abortion agendas.) Of course, there have been many oth- agenda is to win the war on the womb,
his administration must also oppose anti-abortion advocates, and chief among those warriors is the Roman Catholic Church. You know the White House isn’t dumb enough to confront papal power overtly — yet that doesn’t stop it from chipping away at the anti-abortion wall by putting nuns and Catholic contraception views and values in its cross hairs. On New Year’s Eve, just one day before Obamacare’s mandate forced nonprofit companies and religion-affiliated institutions across the country to provide contraception and drugs that possibly induce abortions in their employee health care plans, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor blocked the requirement for a care facility for the elderly, run by Catholic nuns who appealed to the high court for help. AS NPR explained, “churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the birth control requirement, but affiliated institutions that serve the general public are not. That includes charitable organizations, universities and hospitals.” In response to the nuns’ appeal, the Department of Justice placed the Little Sisters of the Poor in an ethical dilemma in which group members must violate their faith or pay fines. The DOJ argued in legal papers filed last Friday that the nuns don’t have a leg to stand on. The Obama administration tried to explain that they don’t have to offer contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, as long as they sign a government form that delegates the action to a third party. Without signing that “self-certification” form, the nuns would incur steep government fines. But Mark Rienzi, who is senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, responded on behalf of the nuns to the DOJ’s argument by retorting that government officials “are simply blind to the religious exercise at issue: the
Little Sisters and other Applicants cannot execute the form because they cannot deputize a third party to sin on their behalf.” And where is President Obama — the so-called constitutional lawyer living in our White House — during the whole debate? Coming out to protect the Bill of Rights for the nuns as he has for a number of progressive minorities? No. He’s hiding behind the curtains in the Oval Office, manipulating his minions to follow his pro-abortion biddings. It is not known when Justice Sotomayor will rule on these ludicrous government actions and violations of the nuns’ personal religious liberty and practice. But one thing we do know is that the Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves right now regarding the government’s obliteration of our First Amendment religious rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” What an utter constitutional and leadership travesty it is that Obamacare’s promoter in chief repeatedly is breaking this promise: “Under our (health care reform) plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.” SEEING AS our president won’t honor life in the womb, please write or call your representatives to let them know where you stand. Read and hand out my friend Randy Alcorn’s book Why Pro-Life? (http://www.epm.org). And then ensure your local community of faith is honoring Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on Jan. 20. The day commemorates the Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion in our country. Since then, more than 55 million abortions have taken place in the U.S. I will follow up next week on Sotomayor’s next action and where this case goes.
ECONOMICS: January 7, 2014
Look to what’s worked before to spur sluggish economy
Throughout 2013, the Gallup Poll’s resident Obama and the Democrats desperately need a po- surveys showed a steady decline in his litical issue to distract strug- job-approval numbers — falling from cent in January to 41 gling, jobless Americans from their 52 perpercent in Decemeconomic misery. ber. And they think But a closer look “income inequaliat the numbers ty” and raising the shows that most minimum wage (c) 2014, United Media Services of his shrinking is the answer to job-approval score their problems. But the yawning income gap be- was due to a 14 point decline among tween the wealthy and the middle class independent voters and, most notably, is not the cause of our lingering eco- a 15 point loss among Democrats. “The dip among Democrats explains nomic troubles. It is a symptom of the president’s failed economic policies. why Obama has of late focused on ecoRaising the minimum wage to $10 an nomic inequality,” writes Washington hour won’t help, either. It will only Post political analyst Chris Cillizza. make things worse as employers find “Those moves are aimed at rallying the party’s base and, with it, Obama’s apways to cut their payroll costs. proval numbers.” That seems unlikely at this juncture. WHAT THE United States needs is stronger economic growth, in the five At this same point in Ronald Reagan percent range, that leads to job-creating and Bill Clinton’s second terms, Reacapital investment. But these terms are gan had a 62 percent approval rate and not in Obama’s vocabulary, let alone in Clinton’s score was at 58 percent. Both his policies. More on this in a moment. presided over very strong economies. But Obama remains a prisoner of his Battered by a so-so economy, where 11 million people are unemployed, and widely unpopular health care law, and a botched health care plan, the presi- it’ll become more unpopular as health dent is said to be retooling his class care premiums continue to rise and its warfare rhetoric to pump up his disap- insurance mandate on small businesses is soon reimposed. pointed and dispirited political base. With only one exception, public The issue of “economic fairness” worked for him in the 2012 election, support for Obamacare has ranged beand Obama and Democratic leaders tween the low 40s and high 30s since think it can work for them again in this the summer of 2010. “It’s probably fair to say that as year’s midterm elections. It can’t and it won’t, because this goes health care, so goes the Obama time around the polls show a grow- presidency for next year,” Democratic ing number of voters aren’t buying his pollster Fred Yang told the Wall Street class warfare demagoguery any longer. Journal last week. The Democrats’ political troubles Take a look at his declining job scores are also worsening because Obama’s and you’ll see why.
economy remains mediocre six years after he came into office, saying he would fix it by throwing $800 billion at the problem. That didn’t work, either. You don’t hear much about the nation’s unemployment rate now, except once a month when the Department of Labor issues its “seasonally adjusted” numbers. The news media tend to overlook the painful reality behind the cold, hard numbers that are a daily survival nightmare in much of the country.
In Congress this week, the focus is on legislation that would provide funds for extended unemployment benefits, when the debate should be about growing the economy to produce jobs and higher incomes. We know what’s worked in the past — cutting taxes on capital investment, on businesses that have the secondhighest tax rate in the industrial world, and on income. Right now, the government is taxing every nook and cranny of our economy, and Obama wants to raise taxes even higher so he can spend more. In his second term, after carrying 49 states by ending a deep recession in two years, President Reagan signed a bipartisan bill to cleanse the tax code of corporate welfare and other loopholes. He used the increased tax revenue to lower income tax rates to further boost economic growth. Notably, the tax reforms were actively supported by prominent Democratic leaders such as Rep. Richard Gephardt and Sen. Bill Bradley, who saw lower tax rates as the key to stronger business expansion and job growth. In 1997, Bill Clinton signed a GOP bill to cut the capital gains tax rate that Democrats said would swell the deficit. In fact, capital gains tax revenues nearly doubled, venture capital investment quintupled and the economy soared. Instead of playing midterm election politics, as Obama is doing, we need to move the debate toward reforms like these that will unlock capital investment, spur business growth, create new jobs and boost incomes.
CONSIDER THIS all-too-common story in Hagerstown, Md., where the Shenandoah Family Farms had three dozen or so job openings recently, but received 1,600 applicants. A year ago, Neil Irwin, the Post’s chief economic analyst, wrote a New Year’s article that asked, “Will this be the year that the economy finally breaks out of its pattern of sluggish growth that has held since the recession ended in 2009?” His answer last week “is a resounding no. On jobs, for example, the nation added an average of 183,000 a month in 2012 — and 189,000 a month through the first 11 months of 2013.” The economy grew a modest 2.8 percent in 2012 and averaged a more modest 2.6 percent annual growth rate in the first three quarters last year, he said. “There is no dispute: In terms of overall growth rates, 2013 was a moreof-the-same kind of year,” he concluded. If that is what’s in store for Americans this year, then Obama’s got his work cut out for him if he is to prevent a Republican takeover of the Senate THIS ISN’T rocket science. It’s doand a stronger hold of the House. ing what has succeeded in the past and Sadly, he and his advisers are treat- can work again for all Americans. ing this as a political problem, when it’s an economic one that he’s incapable of dealing with.
January 15, 2014 PERCEPTIONS OF U.S.: January 7, 2014
Why some say America is the ‘greatest threat to peace’ Last week the International Business Times reported: “In their annual End of Year poll, researchers for WIN and Gallup International surveyed more than 66,000 people across 65 nations and found that 24 percent of all respondents answered that the United States ‘is the greatest threat to peace in the world today.’ Pakistan and China fell significantly behind the United States on the poll, with eight and six percent, respectively. Afghanistan, Iran, Israel and North Korea all tied for fourth place with four percent.” FOR THOSE of us who believe the opposite — namely, that the United States is the world’s greatest force for peace (and liberty) — an explanation of this poll is called for.
Not the Chinese regime that still venerHere is my explanation: Much of the world’s moral compass is ates Mao Zedong, the greatest mass murbroken. The moral north reads south and derer in history; that continues to crush of the world’s most the moral south reads north. In a world of Tibet, one ancient countries such loathsome and and cultures; that barbaric regimes squelches liberty as North Korea, and arrests and Iran and Syria; tortures dissiwith Chinese na(c) 2014, Creators Syndicate dents; and that is tionalism rising to engaged in a maschauvinistic levels under a communist dictatorship; with sive military buildup. Russia under Vladimir Putin seeking to NOT IRAN, which is governed by a recreate the Soviet empire and silencing critics, sometimes through murder; with regime that has repeatedly called for the the totalitarian murderers of the Taliban extermination of another nation; that torabout to retake much of Afghanistan; and tures and kills dissidents on a daily basis; with Islamic terror producing atrocities that is the greatest supporter of terrorist almost daily, it is the United States that is movements; and that is building a nuclear weapon. voted the greatest threat to peace.
EDWARD SNOWDEN: January 3, 2014
Free Edward Snowden — really?
ormer CIA Director James Woolsey has pronounced that the proper punishment for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden would be for him to be “hanged by his neck until he is dead.” The news media want to hand him not a rope but a pedestal. The Guardian editorialized last week that its high-profile source is a hero worthy of a presidential pardon. Likewise, the New York Times opined that the Obama administration should offer Snowden “a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home” and serve less time than the three decades he faces under a pending criminal complaint so that he can enjoy “the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.” WHO KNOWS? Mayhap the Gray Lady can give Snowden a blog whence he can lecture readers about privacy rights, as he did in a recent Christmas greeting video. In one sense, Snowden, 30, is a sympathetic figure. In an ocean of anonymous leakers, he came forward to put a name on the avalanche of information he shared with Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald and the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman. That singular act gave credibility to the leaks, ended any debate as to what the NSA is doing and peeled off the gauze that camouflaged an industrial-sized intelligence bureaucracy that couldn’t secure itself. On the other hand, if Snowden can lift about 1.7 million classified documents without penalty, any contractor can leak state secrets with impunity. No
other superpower on the planet would entertain such self-destructive folly. Snowden has argued that he had a moral duty to challenge an intelligence machinery that was out of control. Hudson Institute senior fellow Gabriel Schoenfeld, author of Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law, is not impressed. Snowden outed U.S. intelligence “for engaging in activity that almost every state engages in.” The former contractor then went into hiding in China and Russia, where he enjoys temporary asylum.
Saunders (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate
“I think it is disgraceful,” quoth Schoenfeld, that Snowden lectures Washington but “doesn’t have the courage to criticize abuses of free speech in his host country.” TO REACH its “free Snowden” position, the Times quoted a federal judge who found the NSA program to be “almost Orwellian” while ignoring another federal judge who upheld the program’s constitutionality. The Times also ignored testimony that “telephony metadata” prevented as many as 50 potential terrorist attacks, including a 2009 plot to blow up the New York subway. In essence, the Times is stuck in 2007, when then-candidate Barack Obama railed against the “false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide.” Obama abandoned that convenient campaign rhetoric after he won election and became responsible for the nation’s security.
The Times, however, clings to the 2007 fantasy that surveillance is not a national security tool. Snowden shares that fantastic view, so the paper of record doesn’t want him to pay the criminal price for civil disobedience. Even some intelligence dons entertain the idea. Last month, Rick Ledgett, the head of the NSA’s Snowden task force, told 60 Minutes that he considers amnesty for Snowden — in exchange for Snowden’s handing over the rest of the secrets he purloined — “worth having a conversation about.” Ever since, I’ve had this sneaking suspicion that some D.C. black hats want to cut a plea bargain or pardon deal that could make the embarrassing press stories disappear. Former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow is not unfamiliar with that sneaking suspicion. He thinks Snowden is a “traitor.” If the administration is toying with a deal, he said, it would send a catastrophic message to would-be leakers. To wit: “Just make sure you steal enough.” IT’S ALMOST funny when you follow the editorial boards’ logic. The papers argued that Snowden is a hero because he leaked material about which the public has a right to know. Then they supported granting amnesty or leniency if Snowden would agree to hand over any remaining documents rather than share them with the world. A trial would give Snowden the opportunity to tell his story, the American public a chance to find out what exactly Snowden leaked and Washington the burden of proving a criminal case — but the Times and the Guardian apparently prefer a backroom deal.
Not the Taliban, which, when in power, gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden, the world’s most lethal terrorist; which murders girls who attend school; and which murders aid workers who inoculate Afghan children against polio. Not nuclear North Korea, the world’s largest concentration camp, which regularly threatens its neighbors. And not Islamic terror groups, the greatest murderers of innocent people in the world today. Unfortunately, the poll results are not surprising. First, while individual human beings do enormous good, mankind has always been morally unimpressive. In terms of moral judgment, we should expect little from the majority of the human species. Second, the world’s news media are responsible for this perception of America. Almost every major news medium on earth is either center-left or left. And the left around the world loathes America. That the poll’s results are synonymous with the left’s perception of America is also shown by another result of the poll: “A plurality of people polled in several officially American-allied nations also rated the United States as dangerous. Thirty-seven percent of Mexicans and 17 percent of Canadians view their neighboring country with suspicion on the world stage. A surprising 13 percent of American respondents rated their own nation the biggest threat to world peace as well.” Who are these Mexicans, Canadians and Americans? They are leftist Mexicans, leftist Canadians and leftist Americans. Third, there is a morally flawed understanding of “peace.” In much of the world (again, thanks to the left), peace has been so narrowly defined as to be morally irrelevant. It essentially means not having troops fighting in a foreign country. Thus, because the United States has troops fighting in Afghanistan and recently had troops fighting in Iraq, it is considered a “threat to peace.” But Iran, with no troops on foreign soil, is not considered a threat to peace, even though it sustains terror movements, murders its own people, seeks to annihilate Israel, props up the mass murdering Syrian regime and is rapidly developing a nuclear weapon. It is only according to this definition of “peace” that states like Iran, North Korea and China — states that stay in power through violence — are not deemed threats to peace. Finally, here are two questions that should make clear the moral absurdity of the poll’s results: Would the world be more or less peaceful if only America disarmed? WOULD THE world be more or less peaceful if only America were armed?
CHINA: January 3, 2014
Democracy and peace pushed farther away
n 1793, the envoy Lord Macartney appeared before the Qianlong emperor in Beijing and asked for British trading rights in China. “Our ways have no resemblance to yours, and even were your envoy competent to acquire some rudiments of them, he could not transport them to your barbarous land,” the long-reigning (1736-96) emperor replied in a letter to King George III. “We possess all things,” he went on. “I set no value on strange objects and have no use for your country’s manufactures.” THE EMPEROR had a point. China at that time, according to economic historian Angus Maddison, had about onethird of world population and accounted for about one-third of world economic production. Today’s China, of course, has a different attitude toward trade. Since Deng Xiaoping’s market reforms started in 1978, it has had enormous growth based on manufacturing exports. In between Qianlong and Deng, China went through tough times. The Taiping rebellion (1849-64), decades Western domination, the Chinese revolution (1911-27), the War with Japan (1931-45) and Mao Zedong’s Communist policies (1949-76) each resulted in the deaths of millions. The Chinese ruling party and, apparently, the Chinese people see the economic growth of the last 35 years as a restoration of China’s rightful central place in the world. And note that that period is longer than the 27 years of Mao’s rule. American supporters of engagement with China, including the architect of the policy, Henry Kissinger, agree and have expressed the hope that an increasingly prosperous China will move toward democracy and peaceful coexistence. Those hopes, as James Mann argued in his 2007 book The China Fantasy, have not been and seem unlikely to be realized. Other China scholars such as Arthur Waldron and Gordon Chang have predicted that China’s Communist party rulers will be swept from power. That nearly happened, many say, in June 1989, when protesters gathered in Tiananmen Square, the universally recognized center of the nation. But Deng sharply overruled those who urged propitiation and ordered the massacre of unknown numbers. Repression seems to have worked. The Tiananmen massacre came only 11 years after the beginning of Deng’s reforms. Since then, another 24 years have passed, with the regime still in power. But perhaps not secure in that power. In 2013, leading members of the Politburo recommended that underlings read
Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Old Regime The Chinese people have come to expect rapidly rising living standards, and and the Revolution. It’s an intriguing choice. Tocqueville, may abandon the regime if it doesn’t reflecting on the Revolution that killed produce. But rising living standards his fellow aristocrats and family memmay also undermine bers, argued that the regime. Regime the revolution elites must be carecame only when ful, like Deng in the old regime 1989, or the rulers began reform and (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate will lose everyconditions improved — the revolution of rising ex- thing and chaos will be unleashed on China. pectations. China’s rulers have also been circuAnd he argued that the Revolution was largely destructive, increasing the lating a six-part TV documentary blamcentralization of the royalist regime. ing the collapse of the Soviet Union on “The old order provided the Revolution Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms and softwith many of its methods; all the Revo- ness. Message: avoid democracy or polution added to these was a savagery pe- litical freedom. All this, writes the Wall Street Jourculiar to itself.” nal’s Jeremy Page, is “part of an ideoTHE RELEVANCE to China seems logical campaign launched by China’s obvious. Regime members, such as new leader, Xi Jinping, to re-energize French aristocrats, no longer believe in the party and enforce discipline among their own ideology, but cling to power. its members.”
Another part of that campaign was the prosecution of Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai and his wife for corruption and murder. China’s party leaders and crony capitalists have become ostentatiously and unpopularly rich. The prosecution was a warning to lie low. If China’s leaders seem determined to block democracy internally, they have also been moving to rally nationalist feeling by aggressive moves against China’s neighbors. The latest, last month, was a declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone covering islands claimed by China but held by Japan and South Korea. China’s assertive stance has got its neighbors seeking closer ties and protection from the United States. Armed clashes — even war — seem possible. CHINA CONTINUES to grow. But democracy and peaceful coexistence may be farther away than ever.
POVERTY: January 2, 2014
The great equalizers: Do the math
ew York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a St. Crispin’s Day speech for progressives at his New Year’s Day inauguration ceremony. He evoked a city ravaged by a crisis of inequality. What Rudy Giuliani was to out-of-control crime, de Blasio wants to be to rampant inequality — its scourge and vanquisher. YET FOR ALL his impassioned egalitarianism, the new mayor neglected the great equalizers, those qualities that are the bedrock of success in America and the key to mobility. Like so many others on the left, de Blasio is loath to detract from the false but ideologically congenial narrative of the rich dispossessing the poor. So he gives short shrift to the basics of marriage, education and work — all grounded in an ethic of personal responsibility — that make it possible for people to escape and avoid poverty. Anyone can be a victim of bad luck — especially in a weak economy — but the essential formula for eluding poverty isn’t complicated: Graduate from high school, get a job and get married before having children. Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution writes in the journal National Affairs, “Census data show that if all Americans finished high school, worked full time at whatever job they then qualified for with their education, and married at the same rate as Americans had married in 1970, the poverty rate would be cut by around 70 percent — without additional government spending.”
The breakdown of marriage, in particular, drives impoverishment. The poverty rate is about six times higher for single-parent families than two-parent families. About 70 percent of all poor families with children are single-parent families. According to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, if single mothers were to marry the fathers of the children, about two-thirds of them would no longer be poor, in a stupendously effective anti-poverty program.
Lowry (c) 2014, King Features Syndicate
Then there’s education. A college degree is a rocket booster on income mobility. Among children from families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution, 84 percent of those who go on to get a college degree will escape the bottom fifth, and 19 percent will make it all the way to the top fifth, according to Haskins. Among kids from those families who don’t get a degree, 45 percent will remain in the bottom fifth. (In his speech, de Blasio did cite his highestprofile educational initiative, more funding for pre-K education.) AND, FINALLY, there’s work. “Even in good economic times,” Robert Rector writes, “the average poor family with children has only 800 hours of total parental work per year — the equivalent of one adult working 16 hours per week.
The math is fairly simple: Little work equals little income, which equals poverty. If the amount of work performed by poor families with children was increased to the equivalent of one adult working full time throughout the year, the poverty rate among these families would drop by two-thirds.” The bottom line is success ultimately depends on habits that money can’t buy. In a book-length study of the influence of parental income on the prospects of children, Susan Mayer found a complicated picture. She writes that “parental characteristics that employers value and are willing to pay for, such as skills, diligence, honesty, good health, and reliability, also improve children’s life chances, independent of their effect on parents’ income. Children of parents with these attributes do well even when their parents do not have much income.” This is the rub — and the dishonesty at the center of de Blasio’s vision. The rich aren’t causing anyone to have children out of wedlock, or drop out of high school, or stop looking for a job. They aren’t undermining discipline or eroding industriousness. They have nothing to do with failing schools or dangerous neighborhoods. Even if you believe their incomes are too high and their taxes too low, they don’t make it harder for anyone else to get ahead. IN OTHER words, they don’t cut anyone off from the foundations of success that are the country’s great equalizers.
January 15, 2014 SOUTH SUDAN: January 1, 2014
South Sudan needs another reconciliation process U.N. and African mediators an- Sudan’s ten states. Two SPLA generals nounced on Tuesday that South Sudan’s (both Nuers) commanding two major president Salva Kiir and rebel leader state divisions defected to Machar. OthRiek Machar have agreed to a ceasefire. er tribes and clans have chosen sides. But let’s return to the A political agreement signaling a comtentative ceasefire. mon desire to curb South Sudan’s interThe U.N., the African nal turmoil made Union and numerous by these two poother countries (inlitical adversarcluding China and ies and erstwhile (c) 2014, Creators Syndicate the U.S.) back the guerrilla allies is deal. Moreover, a major step toward preventing a much larger East Af- several East African nations, including three of South Sudan’s neighbors, Ethirican regional war. opia, Kenya and Uganda, have made a HOWEVER, STOPPING and then commitment to support South Sudan’s limiting the damage of the Dinka versus national integrity. That commitment sends a tough mesNuer tribal war spawned by the murky late evening events of Dec. 15 in South sage to Sudan’s president, indicted war Sudan’s capital, Juba, may be much criminal and South Sudan’s nemesis, more difficult. Kiir is Dinka. Machar is Omar al-Bashir. Bashir openly covets Nuer. In July 2013, Kiir fired Machar South Sudan’s oil fields. His Islamist as vice-president, after Machar accused regime in Khartoum lost billions in oil Kiir of undermining democracy and fa- revenue when South Sudan became invoring his Dinka cronies with govern- dependent in 2011. With South Sudan rent by tribal conflict, Bashir might ment largesse. Kiir supporters accuse pro-Machar seek to regain control of South Sudan rebel soldiers in the Sudan Peoples and end its existence as an independent Liberation Army (South Sudan’s mili- state. Kenya and Uganda both deploy hightary) of attempting a coup on Dec. 15. Machar supporters accuse Kiir’s Dinka- ly capable military units. Ethiopia has dominated presidential guard of delib- become East Africa’s most potent milierately fomenting a dispute with Nuer tary power. Its air force negates Sudan’s soldiers and then opening fire in order air advantage over South Sudan. Moreto establish a political pretext for purg- over, Ethiopia already has troops on the ing Machar’s political allies. Whatever ground. An Ethiopian peacekeeping sparked the battle in Juba, fresh blood brigade, under U.N. mandate, patrols has spilled between the tribes. Mutual the disputed oil-producing Abyei region accusations of mass murder and ethnic between Sudan and South Sudan. Sucleansing have followed the bloodbath. dan cannot completely ignore the U.N. Fighting has erupted in five of South forces assigned to the U.N. Mission in
South Sudan. The U.N. has reinforced UNMISS. China has a UNMISS troop contingent, and Bashir has relied on China as a source of weapons. All in all, South Sudan’s regional and international support makes an overt military move by Khartoum unlikely. However, Khartoum would delight in thoroughly destabilizing South Sudan by pitting ethnic faction against ethnic faction. In fact, South Sudan regularly accuses Sudan of doing just that; in turn, Khartoum accuses Juba of supporting rebel groups within Sudan.
ample of the restoration and reconciliation process may have occurred late last week when wire services reported that on Dec. 29, after days of discussion, Nuer tribal elders in Jonglei state convinced several thousand young fighters in a Nuer “White Army” militia to go home. The warriors were en route to fight pro-Kiir forces in the state capital, Bor. Though the entire force did not disband; the elders managed to cool some very hot heads. I’m speculating, but the reports suggest the elder practiced discrete peacemaking. In the mid-1990s Catholic and CAN SOUTH SUDAN be “put back Anglican Church mediators (most opertogether again” or is it a lost cause? The ating out of Kenya) began reconciliation answer is, yes it can. An immediate ex- discussions between Nuer and Dinka tribes in South Sudan. The discussions didn’t directly address political disputes, but focused on reconciling personal disputes, sharing common stories of suffering and establishing common interests between tribes and clans living in the same immediate area. Tribal elders played key roles. Tribe members had to ask if they really wanted to kill their neighbors or would they prefer shared peace? In 1991, during the long southern rebellion against Khartoum, Machar split with the SPLA and allied with Sudan. His reason? Dinkas unfairly dominated the SPLA. Sudan’s government, led by Bashir, used Machar’s defection as an opportunity to roll back SPLA gains in the south. But then the war stalemated and everyone suffered. Machar and his Nuer did not rejoin the South Sudan rebel movement until 2002. Why? Bashir’s Islamists tried to escalate Nuer-Dinka disputes with the goal of damaging both tribes. The Nuer-Dinka discrete peacemaking efforts made reconciliation possible. SOUTH SUDAN must make that effort once again.
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