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Archive for February, 2011
February 28th, 2011 at 7:21 pm
Obama Damns Romney with Faint Praise
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Though the 2012 presidential season hasn’t started quite yet, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney earned an endorsement earlier today that he’s probably not too happy about. While addressing the National Governors Association at the White House, President Obama complimented his would-be challenger in a fashion that will come back to haunt Romney come primary season. As USA Today reports:

In telling critical GOP governors they could develop their own health care plans, Obama said, “I know that many of you have asked for flexibility” under the new federal law.

“In fact, I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts and supports giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions,” Obama said.

In a limited sense, Romney should take the remarks as a compliment. Though Obama’s invocation of the Massachusetts health care plan is partially intended to make Obamacare seem centrist, the president also knows that it will cause grief for the former governor with the GOP rank and file. As such, it’s a sign that Romney is a potential opponent Obama wouldn’t mind seeing knocked out of contention.

In a bigger sense, however, Romney is stuck with an albatross. Ask most conservatives what they consider the greatest sin of the Obama Administration and they will point to the government takeover of health care without hesitation. For any potential Republican presidential candidate, having an executive record that includes creating the program that Obama cites as his intellectual template is devastating.

Translation: it may be bad for Romney that Obama took a shot at him. But it’s much worse that Romney gave him the ammunition.

February 28th, 2011 at 4:06 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Cheese Head vs. Air Head
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

February 28th, 2011 at 11:12 am
Voters Favor Gov’t Shutdown Over Keeping Spending at Current Levels

As the congressional standoff over budget cuts heats up in Washington D.C., both Republicans and Democrats are seemingly scrambling to reach a compromise to avoid a government shutdown.  But is compromise what the American people want?

According to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, 58% of likely voters “would rather have a partial shutdown of the federal government than keep its spending at current levels. “  A mere 33% would prefer Congress agree to maintain last year’s spending level in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Broken out by party affiliation, Rasmussen found that:

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Democrats prefer avoiding a shutdown by going with current spending levels. But 80% of Republicans — and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party — think a shutdown is a better option until the two sides can agree on spending cuts.

Read the complete top-line survey results here.

February 26th, 2011 at 5:50 pm
Texas Anglos Adjusting to Life as a Minority Group

With a Rice University demographic expert projecting that only 20 percent of the state’s public school enrollment being Anglo by 2040, the makeup of the Lone Star State’s population will be decidedly more Hispanic.

Reflecting on the fact that Anglos are already a minority in Texas (at 42% still the largest minority), a group at Texas State University, San Marcos announced a new scholarship offer for white males with at least a 3.0 GPA.  Says the group’s leader, “We’re not looking for blond-haired, blue-eyed, stereotypical white males.  My feeling is that if you can say you’re 25 percent Caucasian, you’re Caucasian enough for us.”

Welcome to a new America.

February 26th, 2011 at 5:37 pm
37,000 Libyans Flee to Tunisia and Egypt

If you’re looking for proof that the situation in Libya is the worst in the North Africa, consider these statistics from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: 22,000 Libyans have fled across the border into Tunisia, and another 15,000 have crossed over into Egypt.

One of the appeals of American federalism is the ability of people to ‘vote with their feet’ when they don’t like the policies of a particular state.  In Libya, citizens are sending unmistakable signals that Muammar Gaddafi’s crackdown on dissent is a terror worth opposing.

H/T: My Way News

February 25th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
Media Announces Start of GOP 2012 Campaign

Like emaciated jackals hungry for fresh meat MSNBC’s political staff announced today that the GOP 2012 campaign is now underway.  The reason?  Mike Huckabee (R-AR) made the rather unsurprising link between Massachusetts’ individual mandate law passed under then-Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and the almost identical requirement in ObamaCare.  Mitt’s “RomneyCare” problem has been so well documented it’s not worth a verifying hyperlink.

That said, the fact that Huckabee’s identifying of the main obstacle in Romney’s path to the GOP nomination is being treated like a campaign salvo is too much; especially since neither man has formally announced a candidacy.  At the earliest, it looks like Newt Gingrich might be the first to take the plunge sometime next month.  For now, MSNBC’s announcement is just the latest attempt to goad the pack of likely candidates into justifying a political reporter’s salary.

February 25th, 2011 at 1:54 pm
Dems Are Wrong to Think Govt. Shutdown is a Win for Them

Not so fast, says Fox News columnist Chris Stirewalt.  An important difference between the 1995 shutdown that empowered President Bill Clinton was the lack of public anxiety over the $4.97 trillion debt.  Now, it’s $14 trillion plus, “a sum equal to the size of our entire economy.”

If Democrats in Washington make the same miscalculation as Democrats in Wisconsin, they will suffer brutally at the next election.  Shutting down the government in favor of public employee unions or unsustainable federal spending is a fool’s strategy.  With President Barack Obama and party leaders like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) daring House Republicans to stand firm on budget cuts, expect to see thousands of pro-shutdown protestors flood Washington if government buildings go dark.

If dormant long enough, perhaps some of those buildings – and the agencies that house them – will never be revived.  The debt and spending issues are more important now than in 1995.  If Democrats fail to realize that, they may help hasten a reduction in government overall.

February 25th, 2011 at 1:34 pm
The Secrets of Chris Christie’s Success

In a characteristically well written piece Matt Bai identifies several political skills wielded by New Jersey’s dynamic governor.  Among them, Chris Christie’s ability to humanize mundane issues like pension policy stand out.

The theme of the week was pension-and-benefits reform, and in his introductory remarks, Christie explained the inefficiency in the state’s health care costs not by wielding a stack of damning statistics, as some politicians might, but by relating a story.

When he was a federal prosecutor, Christie told the audience, he got to choose from about 100 health-insurance plans, ranging from cheap to quite expensive. But as soon as he became governor, the “benefits lady” told him he had only three state plans from which to choose, Goldilocks-style; one was great, one was modestly generous and one was rather miserly. And any of the three would cost him exactly 1.5 percent of his salary.

“ ‘You’re telling me,’ ” Christie said he told the woman, feigning befuddlement, “ ‘that no matter which one I pick, the good one or the O.K. one or the bad one, I’m going to pay 1½ percent of my salary?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’

“And I said, ‘Then everyone picks the really good one, right?’ And she said, ‘Ninety-six percent of state employees pick the really good one.’

“Which led me to have two reactions,” Christie told the crowd. “First, bring those other 4 percent to me! Because when I have to start laying people off, they’re the first ones!” His audience burst into near hysterics. “And the second reaction was, of course I would choose the best plan,” Christie said, “and so would you.

Bai goes on to report seeing Christie’s mixed race audience nodding in agreement that public employees should be required to pay more for the better plan.  As Christie says, this isn’t rocket science, just common sense.  His ability to relate hard truths in understandable terms is a unique gift shared by the likes of Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, JFK, and FDR.  Not bad company for a guy from New Jersey.

February 25th, 2011 at 1:23 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  Obama’s Secret White House Schedule Revealed
Lee:  Liberals, Big Labor Bring Athens to America
Ellis:  Gaddafi, Wisconsin Unions Suffering from Martyr Complex
Ellis:  John Bolton for Vice President?

Freedom Minute Video:  A Revolution Brews in Wisconsin
Podcast:  Scholar Dissects Life of (and Myths about) America’s First President
Jester’s Courtroom:  A Raw Deal Leads to a Lawsuit

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

February 25th, 2011 at 10:27 am
Video: A Revolution Brews in Wisconsin
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino comments on the budget clash in Wisconsin between taxpayers and public-sector unions, noting that the standoff and issues surrounding it have the potential to completely change the shape of American politics.

 

February 25th, 2011 at 9:18 am
Podcast: Scholar Dissects Life of (and Myths about) America’s First President
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Edward Lengel, editor-in-chief of the Washington Papers Project and professor at the University of Virginia, discusses his new book, “Inventing George Washington: America’s Founder, in Myth & Memory.”

Listen to the interview here.

February 24th, 2011 at 6:39 pm
Italy’s Berlusconi Too Good to Gaddafi

Time magazine reports that scandal-plagued Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi can add another rotten olive wreath to his spoils: first friend of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.  Berlusconi’s acts of fealty include not only a bow to the strongman, but also kissing his hand.

Not even President Barack Obama has gone that far (yet).

February 24th, 2011 at 6:13 pm
We Had an Election, Stupid

Maybe Wisconsin Democrats need Ragin’ Cajun Jim Carville to explain the concept that elections have consequences.  It wouldn’t be the first time Carville unleashed on members of his own party.

But perhaps Ed Morrissey will do as a substitute with his cool reasoning about the proper way to handle a campaign defeat:

If Republicans overreached with their budget-repair bill and unfairly restricted the rights of unions, then let Democrats go on record opposing the bill and make it the centerpiece of the next legislative election in Wisconsin. Under the circumstances, though, the Democrats who have tried to hijack democracy in order to dictate terms should be the ones who fear the next election the most.

The longer Wisconsin Senate Democrats delay action on legislative business, the more authority they lose to negotiate on any other issue this session.  They also shouldn’t forget the lesson they’re teaching majority Republicans whenever they do return: lock the doors and monitor the whereabouts of every quorum-busting Democrat to make sure they don’t pull this stunt again.

Is that really the precedent Wisconsin Democrats want to establish?

February 24th, 2011 at 5:40 pm
Wisconsin Dems’ Life on the Lam(e)

No one should pity Wisconsin Senate Democratic caucus members from being harried hither and thither by Tea Party activists uncovering their secret hideaways from public responsibility.  Nor should anyone doubt Republican Governor Scott Walker’s resolve to persuade them back to work.  From the New York Post:

Under the plan detailed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, legislators who miss two consecutive sessions will have their direct deposits stopped.

“You still get a check,” Walker said. “But the check has to be personally picked up.”

But the checks won’t be sitting in a basket in some random government office. They’ll be locked “in their desk on the floor of the state Senate,” Walker said.

Let’s see who blinks first.

February 23rd, 2011 at 11:40 pm
Gettysburg Address Now Illegal in D.C.
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Looking for an upside to the prospect of a shutdown of the federal government? This gem from the Daily Caller’s Chris Moody ought to do it:

Fast fact: It is illegal to deliver the Gettysburg Address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial without permission from the U.S. National Park Service.

On President’s Day — standing where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” — Phillip Howell, 25, recited Lincoln’s famous address and was quickly stopped by a Park Police officer. He told Howell that he could not give speeches on the steps of the memorial without a permit.

“He called me Abe, and then I turned around and he said, ‘Do you have a permit?’ I said ‘no’ and he said, ‘well you can’t do that here then,’” Howell told The Daily Caller. “Then I said, ‘I’m just giving the Gettysburg Address, come on, it’s President’s Day.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care what you’re giving, You’re not allowed to do that here. I don’t care what speech or what agenda you want to give.’”

February 23rd, 2011 at 9:43 am
Ramirez Cartoon: History for Journalistic Dummies
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

February 22nd, 2011 at 11:52 pm
Gorbachev Speaks Truth to Power
Posted by Troy Senik Print

As post-communist Russia has drifted further and further towards authoritarianism, one seemingly insurmountable obstacle has thwarted would-be reformers: the lack of an opposition figure who can challenge Vladimir Putin’s moral legitimacy without inviting swift reprisals from his government. That challenge is now coming from a seemingly unlikely figure: the final President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. As the UK Guardian reports:

Russia under prime minister Vladimir Putin is a sham democracy, Mikhail Gorbachev has said in his harshest criticism yet of the ruling regime.

“We have everything – a parliament, courts, a president, a prime minister and so on. But it’s more of an imitation,” the last president of the Soviet Union said.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of his 80th birthday, Gorbachev criticised Putin for manipulating elections.

In response to the prime minister and former president’s comments that he and his protégé, President Dmitry Medvedev, would decide between them who would run for office in March 2012, Gorbachev said: “It’s not Putin’s business. It must be decided by the nation in elections.”

He called Putin’s statements a sign of “incredible conceit”.

Asked how he thought the regime approached human rights, Gorbachev said: “There’s a problem there. It’s a sign of the state of our democracy.” He was echoing statements made by Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, during a visit to Russia last week.

Gorbachev said United Russia, the ruling party founded with the sole goal of supporting Putin’s leadership, was a throwback.

“United Russia reminds me of the worst copy of the Communist party,” he said. “We have institutions but they don’t work. We have laws but they must be enforced.”

The aging Gorbachev won’t be the figure to lead the political opposition to Putin. But his authority can provide a beacon of hope where there was none before. Bravo, comrade.

February 22nd, 2011 at 12:06 am
Further Proof that Paul Krugman is Unstable
Posted by Troy Senik Print

From today’s iteration of the inimitable (thank God) Dr. Krugman’s column in the New York Times:

… what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.

If this is what makes it to print, one wonders what function it is exactly that Dr. Krugman’s ‘editor’ serves. The Grey Lady is on life support.

February 21st, 2011 at 1:04 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama in the Pocket of Big Labor Unions
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

February 19th, 2011 at 8:05 pm
Rahm Emanuel Takes Google Analytics to Municipal Campaigning

In a good overview of Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago mayoral campaign this nugget stands out:

Behind the scenes, meanwhile, Emanuel employs the most cutting-edge techniques. A focus on social networking and demographically targeted e-mails is part of “using the Internet in ways not previously used in a municipal campaign,” says Chicago-based Democratic consultant Eric Adelstein. Emanuel is harnessing Google Analytics to micro-target voters based on their Web surfing. “So you look for ‘Chicago Bears’ and there may be an Emanuel message that might interest you, a sports fan between the ages of 40 and 60,” Adelstein says.

H/T: Time