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Archive for April, 2011
April 30th, 2011 at 8:40 pm
NRA Wants Holder’s Resignation over Gunrunner Fiasco

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre has a clever response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s claim he didn’t authorize an agency he oversees to sell guns to known criminals and “let them walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

“He’s the attorney general of the United States of America — the highest law-enforcement officer in our land,” LaPierre said. “Who’s in charge? If he didn’t know, then who’s minding the store? If Holder didn’t know, Holder has got to go.” (Emphasis added)

The programs at issue, Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious, are initiatives run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) that attempted to track the post-sale movement of guns used in violent crimes.

Disastrously, at least one U.S. Border Patrol agent has been killed with a gun linked to the ATF initiative.

With all his other missteps, this could be the fiasco that ultimately removes Eric Holder from power.

April 30th, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Feds’ Deficit Spending is $4.8 Billion a Day

Mark Steyn puts federal spending into yet another helpful perspective:

Under the 2011 budget, every hour of every day the government of the United States spends a fifth of a billion dollars it doesn’t have.

Your (future) tax dollars at work.

April 29th, 2011 at 4:25 pm
Gallup: 73%-22% Majority Blames Deficit on Too Much Spending, Not Insufficient Taxes
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Here’s more encouraging news:  Americans are “getting it” on the issue of federal deficits and debt.  According to a new Gallup survey, an overwhelming 73% to 22% majority blames excess spending for the deficit, not insufficient taxation.  Barack Obama and his liberal apologists seek to blame “tax cuts for the rich” and insufficient revenues as the problem.  But as illustrated by the Heritage Foundation’s newly-released 2011 Budget Chart Book, our budget would still be approximately balanced if spending merely returned to early 2000s levels.  Does any serious person contend that government was too small in the first half of the 2000s, that government didn’t spend enough, that the poor and hungry were somehow cast out on the cold streets, that bureaucrats went unpaid?  Of course not.  The problem is explosive spending growth.  Obama oversaw an 84% increase in domestic discretionary spending, including his failed “stimulus,” in just his first two years.

Fortunately, Americans see through his attempt to demand even more taxpayer dollars to feed the insatiable leviathan he hopes to enlarge.

April 29th, 2011 at 1:50 pm
Community Organizing Targets Public Education

Conservatives are rightly convinced that private sector initiative is the key ingredient to almost every major improvement, be it economical, cultural, etc.  But before individuals can make big changes, they must be legally allowed to do so.

Thanks to Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top program, states like California opened up their public school districts to more parent involvement.  (These kinds of reforms are necessary to qualify for Race to the Top funding.)

According to Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles-based organization helping parents maximize their rights under the law,

The Parent Trigger is a historic new law that gives parents in California the right to force a transformation of their child’s current or future failing school. All parents need to do is organize – if 51% of them get together and sign an official Parent Trigger petition, they have the power to force their school district to transform the school.

If successful, parents have five options:

1) Charter conversion:

If there is a nearby charter school that is outperforming your child’s failing school, parents can bring in that charter school to transform the failing school. The school will then be run by that charter school, not the school district, but it will continue to serve all the same students that have always attended the school.

2) Turnaround:

If parents want huge changes but want to leave the school district in charge, this option may be for them. It forces the school district to hit the reset button by bringing in a new staff and giving the local school community more control over staffing and budget.

3) Transformation:

This is the least significant change. It force the school district to find a new principal, and make a few other small changes.

4) Closure:

This option would close the school altogether and send the students to other, higher-performing schools nearby.  Parent Revolution does NOT recommend this option to parents – we believe schools must be transformed, not closed.

5) Bargaining power:

If parents want smaller changes but the school district just won’t listen to them, they can organize, get to 51%, and use their signatures as bargaining power.

Parents get to pick which option they want for their children and their school. For a much more detailed overview of each one of these options, please click here.

All public policy needs to do is create space for private initiative to occur.  Once it does, the ingenuity of the American people will make the most of the opportunity.

For more on Parent Revolution, click here.

April 29th, 2011 at 1:10 pm
It Takes People to Grow an Economy

The Wall Street Journal reports China’s controversial one-child policy will have disastrous effects on the country’s capacity for economic growth, a stunning rebuke to policymakers who argue that predetermining fertility rates is key to eliminating poverty.

Since the one-child-per-couple policy went into effect in 1980, over 400 million births have been prevented, decreasing the amount of poor people and thus the rate of poverty.  (Though since the policy applies to everyone, it has also reduced the amount of children born to middle class and wealthy families; i.e. those most likely to produce entrepreneurs and innovators.)

An informal advocacy group in China is trying to overturn the one-child policy because of a generational imbalance that threatens continued economic growth:

They say China’s elderly population is expanding rapidly as Mao-era baby boomers retire, putting new burdens on society to cover the cost of their retirement. At the same time, China’s labor force is due to start shrinking in 2016, reversing the demographic phenomenon of a widening pool of low-cost labor that powered a manufacturing boom over the past three decades.

It takes people to grow an economy.  If Chinese policymakers continue to eliminate entrepreneurs and workers from the economy, they will soon experience the same chilling effects of the demographic winter settling in over Western Europe and Japan.

April 29th, 2011 at 1:03 pm
Fiscal Victory: DOD Announces Termination of Duplicative F-35 Engine
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Although the campaign for America’s fiscal survival continues, it is important to recognize battle victories along the way.

CFIF has participated in the effort to stop the duplicative, unnecessary and wasteful second engine for the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that refused to die.  Pratt & Whitney was awarded production of the F-35 engine, but forces in Congress perpetuated the wasteful General Electric/Rolls-Royce second engine.  The Pentagon doesn’t want it.  The Senate has voted it down.  The House has voted it down.  The Bush White House sought to stop it.  The Obama White House has sought to stop it.

Unfortunately, the second engine project rambled on at a cost to taxpayers of $1 million per day, because of Beltway pork-barrel political forces and the previous Congress’s failure to even pass a 2011 budget.

But at long last, the Defense Department this week instructed G.E. and Rolls Royce that the second engine contract has been terminated.  This is progress.

April 29th, 2011 at 1:01 pm
CFIF’s Weekly 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:

Lee:  More Obama “Recovery” – Economy Slows While Inflation, New Unemployment Claims Rise
Ellis:  Obama Tilting at Oil Companies, Propping Up Windmills
Senik:  Obama Administration Undermines Federalism to Prop Up Faltering Unions
Hillyer:  The Coming Bernanke-Obama Stagflation
Ellis:  Liberals’ Facebook Diplomacy

Freedom Minute Video:  Obama Gives Us the Jimmy Carter Blues
Podcast:  The Debt Ceiling and Failure of Government “Stimulus”
Jester’s Courtroom:  Delay at Toll Brings 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.

April 29th, 2011 at 11:11 am
Podcast: The Debt Ceiling and Failure of Government “Stimulus”
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

CFIF Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs Timothy Lee discusses the pending debate over the debt ceiling and how lawmakers need to better understand that wealth is created rather than “distributed.”

Listen to the interview here.

April 29th, 2011 at 10:03 am
Liberals Bemoan Integration

Abigail Thernstrom has a tremendously important column at NRO today.  She discusses the truly bizarre (in terms of logic) liberal teeth-gnashing over the “problem” that black population movement to the suburbs causes for the idea of black-majority legislative districts:

Blacks should know their place, the media seem to think. Increasingly, they are leaving their natural habitat — the inner city — and wandering into residential areas where lots of non-blacks live, the Washington Post and other media outlets report with obvious distress. … 

There goes the neighborhood — that is, the black ghetto. It isn’t yet gone, but it’s going. One might see that as excellent news. It’s not, the mainstream media tell us. Residential segregation has long been considered the most important sign of miles to go on the road to racial equality, but the escape of blacks to the suburbs will make the creation of majority-black legislative districts harder to achieve…. 

A possible Justice Department response to the new, worrisome demographic picture is to insist on even more imaginative racial gerrymandering to recapture black voters who have fled cities for greener pastures, but a majority on the Supreme Court has voiced dismay over tortured race-driven lines. The Court’s discomfort arises from constitutional concerns, but quite another question can also be asked: When black voters have been able to choose the traditional path of upward mobility and settle in a suburb, should the law be working to reunite those voters with the communities they made great efforts to escape?

It seems legitimate to assume (although I know of no survey data confirming the point) that minority families who leave central cities don’t necessarily identify with their former, less prosperous neighborhoods. Surely, they acquire new interests tied to schools, as well as other institutions and organizations in the area where they now live. And thus we may wonder why legislators drawing new maps insist on stereotyping blacks as fungible members of a cohesive group and, on the basis of that assumption, place them in bizarre districts that often resemble (as one federal judge has put it) “a microscopic view of a new strain of disease.”… 

Both in cities and in suburbs, America is thus becoming increasingly multi-ethnic — a picture we should surely celebrate. And yet, while residential segregation is widely viewed as evidence of continuing racial pathology, the deliberate drawing of electoral districts to segregate whites from minorities is, ironically, considered positively enlightened public policy.

It is not, in fact. Race-conscious districts, particularly in the South, were appropriate in the years in which few southern whites would vote for black candidates regardless of their qualifications. But they come with substantial costs that are bound to grow as America keeps maturing racially. By now, those costs outweigh any possible benefits.

Contortionate efforts to create “majority minority districts,” except in unique circumstances to remedy obvious past wrongs, have always been obnoxious. For the same reason that segregated lunch counters were morally wrong, so are segregated voting districts. The elder Bush’s administration in the early 1990s made a devil’s bargain with black political leaders: Ghettoize as many black voters as possible into black-majority districts, no matter how illogical the districts might otherwise look, and they could create more black elected officials in the short term — and also more Republicans, because by pushing black voters (who typically vote Democratic) out of the surrounding districts, they could increase the odds of Republican victories in those surrounding jurisdictions.

It was a cynical maneuver. It caused further divisions between blacks and whites who no longer had to even try to appeal to each other in order to win elections. It further exacerbated the trend of blacks being considered automatic vassals of the Democratic Party while Republicans developed a greater cluelessness (and sometimes an uncaring-ness) about the concerns of black citizens.

The national Democratic Party, pandering to the black elected officials, openly supported this racial gerrymandering, even though it should have been obvious that it was costing Democrats legislative victories in what otherwise would have been swing districts. As moderate Democrats lost the chance for election, the party moved ever more leftward — and the national political well was poisoned by further polarization and discord, and indeed by a growing failure of each side to even begin to understand, much less pay any heed to, the other side’s point of view.

Frankly, the left has taken its cynicism to far greater levels than Bush 41’s minions ever did. The nadir of ghettoization based on an assumption of racial group-think (not to mention the insulting assumptions of the general populace’s idiocy and possibly racism) came when the Obama Justice Department, via radical lefty attorney Loretta King, refused to allow the town of Kinston, N.C., to hold municipal elections in non-partisan fashion. Why? Because, she decided, the black majority in Kinston would not be able to elect its “candidate of choice” if Democrats were not identified on the ballot — with the assumption being that only Democrats could possibly be the “candidates of choice” for black voters. (For more on this case, read this and this and this.)

Thernstrom explains why this paternalistic attitude towards blacks is utterly counterproductive politically:

The majority-black districts to which the civil-rights community and its allies in the media and the academy are so committed also appear to act as a brake on black political participation. A number of first-rate scholars have found that safe black districts dampen electoral turnout; why bother to vote when the outcome will surely be the election of one black candidate or another — all likely to support the same policies once in office?

Worse than that, it is morally repugnant. It insists that even in the 21st Century, American government policy is to judge citizens’ political rights by the color of their skins. Jim Crow lives, and it is the political Left that is feeding him.

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April 29th, 2011 at 8:38 am
Video: Obama Gives Us the Jimmy Carter Blues
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses how today, just as in the 1970s under President Carter, Americans are worried about the nation’s future. And just as in the 1970s, our current president doesn’t seem to grasp that his policies are causing the anxiety.  Giachino explains, “The American people need a pick-me-up in the short term.  In the longer run, we’ll have to wait for the ultimate mood enhancer: The 2012 election.”

April 28th, 2011 at 4:37 pm
Rubio, Rand Paul: Two Sides of the Tea Party Coin

Politico has a revealing article on the different approaches of Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY).  Each claims credibility with the Tea Party movement that propelled them past establishment candidates in their respective primaries.

Rubio is developing a reputation as a quiet Capitol Hill operator who still votes his fiscal conservatism.  (As evidenced by his opposition to the 2011 budget bill negotiated by GOP leadership.)

Paul is taking his father Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) outsider approach to the insular Senate.  Much like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Paul is scoring points for taking uncompromising stands on spending, even if it angers the Republican leadership.

Both approaches are needed; especially if the Age of Obama stretches into a second term.

April 28th, 2011 at 4:20 pm
The Anatomy of Obama’s Leadership Failures
Posted by Troy Senik Print

The American Interest’s Walter Russell Mead is one of the nation’s most consistently insightful pundits. He’s also an Obama voter and a Democrat, albeit one of unusual intellectual independence. That’s just one of the reasons that it must be so bracing for denizens of the White House to read Mead’s most recent entry at his Via Meadia blog at AI. In an essay rife with criticism’s of President Obama’s leadership style, Mead distills it all down to one scathing two-paragraph passage:

Here is the paradox we face:  The President is a consensus-seeker whose decision making style rewards polarization and a conciliator who loses friends without winning over enemies.

The President’s problem is not, I think, that he seeks compromise.  It is that the type of compromise he chooses is so ineffective.  Splitting the difference is not leadership; leadership is looking at the positions of two sides and finding creative new directions that give something to all sides — but move the ball down the field.

Forget the liberal base or the intellectually capricious swing voter. If Obama can’t secure the allegiance of a left-leaning mind as sharp as Mead’s, he has serious problems going into 2012.

April 28th, 2011 at 4:15 pm
Daniels-Bachmann?

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s surprise announcement that he won’t run for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination clears the way for one of his protégés: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

One problem for each is the perception that he represents the Republican establishment in an era when the Tea Party puts a premium on grassroots activism and policy.

If Daniels does run and win the nomination, the push to put a more vocal conservative on the ticket could lead to an interesting pairing: Daniels-Bachmann, anyone?

April 28th, 2011 at 10:33 am
California’s Failures, Revisited
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Last week, Ashton examined California’s economic failures courtesy of a John Fund piece that used restaurant CEO Andy Puzder as an object lesson in the Golden State’s fiscal insanity. Puzder recently appeared on Fox Business’s “The Wild Card” to explain the state’s travails in greater detail. Watch it and weep.

 

April 28th, 2011 at 9:52 am
No Transcripts, No Transparency

All along, the issue of Barack Obama’s birth certificate has been an embarrassing sideshow. All along, it has been clear he was born in Hawaii (not one but two newspaper announcements at the time attested to that), and all along, it hasn’t mattered anyway, because as the son of an American mother, Obama is a “natural born citizen” regardless.

But as I have long argued, the delay in releasing the birth certificate is indeed a symptom of a more important disease in the Obama administration, namely its terrible lack of transparency. Just eight months into his term, I complained about it:

The candidate whose most identifiable promise was to provide open and transparent government instead is leading an administration rife with secrecy, stonewalling and prevarication.The administration repeatedly has stiff-armed Congress, the media, outside organizations and even a prestigious independent government commission. It has raised “none of your business” from an adolescent rejoinder to a public policy – to keep the public in the dark.

Two months before I wrote that, Andrew McCarthy at National Review explained that the question isn’t where Obama was born, but how he lived his life as an adult:

The fact is that Obama’s account of his background is increasingly revealed as a fabrication, not his life as lived; his utterances reflect the expediencies of the moment, not the truth. What is supposed to save the country from fraudulence of this sort is the media. Here, though, the establishment press is deep in Obama’s tank — so much so that they can’t even accurately report his flub of a ceremonial opening pitch lest he come off as something less than Sandy Koufax. Astonishingly, reporters see their job not as reporting Obama news but as debunking Obama news, or flat-out suppressing it. How many Americans know, for example, that as a sitting U.S. senator in 2006, Obama interfered in a Kenyan election, publicly ripping the incumbent government (a U.S. ally) for corruption while he was its guest and barnstorming with his preferred candidate: a Marxist now known to have made a secret agreement with Islamists to convert Kenya to sharia law, and whose supporters, upon losing the election, committed murder and mayhem, displacing thousands of Kenyans and plunging their country into utter chaos?

Chief among the questions is how Obama managed to get from Hawaii to Occidental to Columbia to Harvard, with an odd stop in Chicago in between and again after Harvard. Were strings pulled in his behalf? By whom? That’s why, as I argued yesterday at The American Spectator, the otherwise objectionable Donald Trump is actually right (blind squirrel finds acorn) to pivot and ask about Obama’s college transcripts:

They are questions that ought to be answered. They are not, however, the sorts of questions that should be allowed to run out of control the way the birther questions did. The real reasons to vote against Obama have to do with his extreme leftist ideology, his horrendous record, and his insufferable arrogance that leads him to push the outer bounds (and probably exceed those bounds) of permissible executive authority. That record is enough to discredit him. If the transcripts discredit him further, so much the better. But if they are released and show him to have been a fine student, they should not be allowed to overshadow his other, dangerous deficiencies.

One of those deficiencies — a lesser one, perhaps, but still significant — is his administration’s propensity for stonewalling, which isn’t a private sin but a public one. It undermines our republican (small ‘r’) system. Every respectable study of Obama’s record in this regard has found it lacking. Even liberal sites are complaining. The summation from the Associated Press has the numbers:

Two years into its pledge to improve government transparency, the Obama administration took action on fewer requests for federal records from citizens, journalists, companies and others last year even as significantly more people asked for information.

Amazingly enough, the administration even blocked media requests about its transparency record itself:

The Obama administration censored 194 pages of internal e-mails about its Open Government Directive that the AP requested more than one year ago. The December 2009 directive requires every agency to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public. But the White House Office of Management and Budget blacked-out entire pages of some e-mails between federal employees discussing how to apply the new openness rules, and it blacked-out one e-mail discussing how to respond to AP’s request for information about the transparency directive.

This is an administration that hides one heck of a lot of information. That’s probably because this is a president with a lot to hide.

April 27th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
Breaking Down the Budget “Deal”
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

The budget compromise reached between Congressional leaders and the White House a few weeks ago has been analyzed, dissected and commented upon exhaustively.  While the “deal” may have averted a government shutdown, it ended up being a disappointment to taxpayers, who were overwhelmingly demanding meaningful spending cuts this year. 

In an attempt to help the American people better understand what transpired, Mike Bates of 1330 AM WEBY, Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio, prepared and recently read the following analysis of the “deal” on the air. 

The Budget Agreement is Nothing to Celebrate
 
The “government shutdown” was avoided when Republicans and Democrats in Washington agreed to a budget compromise to cut $38.5 billion from the proposed $3.8 trillion budget.
 
Though it’s been touted by both parties and the press, this is no cause for celebration.  Why not?
 
A few quick facts:
 
Our national debt is $14.2 trillion.
This year’s budget calls for $3.8 trillion in spending.
Our government will borrow $1.6 trillion to do this.
That means we are borrowing 42 cents of every dollar we spend.
We are spending $1.6 trillion dollars more than we are taking in.
The Republicans wanted to cut $45 billion from the budget.
The Democrats wanted to cut $33 billion from the budget.
The Republicans and Democrats were arguing over $12 billion.
They agreed to cut $38.5 billion.
 
Few people comprehend how bad our nation’s finances are.  Just how much is a trillion dollars?
 
If you laid one trillion one-dollar bills end to end, it would extend from the Earth to just past the Sun.  It would stretch to the moon 394 times.  And that trillion dollars would wrap around the Earth 3787 times.  But money is not understood as a measurement of distance.
 
If you spend one dollar every second, it would take you 32,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.  But money is not a measurement of time.

Money is a measurement of value.  So I broke down the budget into terms we can all understand.
 
A husband and wife have accumulated debt of $373,684.
They have a household income of $58,000.
They plan to spend $100,000 this year.
So they’ll have to borrow $42,000 to do this.
That means they are borrowing 42 cents of every dollar they spend.
One spouse proposed that they cut $1184 from the budget.
The other spouse proposed that they cut $868 from the budget.
The husband and wife were arguing over $316.
They agreed to cut $1013.
 
How long can that couple keep borrowing and spending like that?  How long can our government keep borrowing and spending like that?
 
The budget agreement is nothing to celebrate.
 
But wait!  It gets worse.  Within a week of the budget deal, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the actual savings of the claimed “$38.5 billion” in cuts could be as little as $352 million.  If that turns out to be true, the couple above just saved a pathetic nine dollars and twenty six cents.

April 26th, 2011 at 9:57 pm
Non-Existent Inflation? It’s Everywhere.
Posted by Troy Senik Print

As we prepare for the beginning of the era of the Federal Reserve as PR machine, we can anticipate a glut of federal statistics hand-picked to convince the public that the growing evidence of inflation is psychosomatic. Of course, it helps that the Fed’s core measure of inflation excludes such basic staples as food and energy. But as Jeffery Lord points out at the American Spectator, the main street indices tell a sharply different story than the Wall Street rationalizations:

Milk. A gallon of skim. At the local Giant in Central Pennsylvania:

January 11, 2011: $3.20
February 28, 2011: $3.24
March 6, 2011: $3.34
April 23. 2011: $3.48

That would be a 28 cent rise in a mere 102 days, from January to April of this year. The third year of the Obama misadventure.

Then there’s the celery. Same sized bag. Same store.

January 11, 2011: $1.99 a bag.
March 6, 2011: $2.49 a bag.

A rise of 50 cents in 54 days.

If this trend continues, the Fed will have to find an even more counterintuitive metric for gaging inflation. Perhaps one that doesn’t include prices.

April 26th, 2011 at 8:37 am
Gas Price Fairy Tales
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.

April 25th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
Pricing a U.S. House Seat

Because the U.S. Census shows it has a lower percentage of population relative to other states, Massachusetts is one of the states losing a U.S. House seat during its redistricting process this year.  But before Bay State cartographers can put pen to paper, they have to solve a simple math problem: what to do with 10 members who want 9 seats?

According to Roll Call, the Democratic Party may be expected to dust off its Joe Sestak file on how (not) to coax a candidate into swapping a campaign for a cushy administration job.  Here’s what one operative had to say about a potential match-up of Democratic incumbents:

“I think that’s unlikely to happen unless there’s some decision made at a higher level that such should be the case,” said Philip Johnston, former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, who also suggested national party leaders would have to find a soft landing for either of those Members, such as an ambassadorship, in order for them to willingly leave their seats.

If you were a voter, would you want to be represented by someone who’s willing to be bought into retirement instead of fighting for reelection?  Besides, how long would an ambassadorship last if President Barack Obama gets beat in 18 months?  As most of the Massachusetts Democratic Congressional delegation knows, winning a seat in Congress virtually assures one of lifetime tenure.

Trading a long-term job for a short-term payoff isn’t a graceful exit.  It’s an explicit admission that representing a constituency isn’t worth the price of fighting a competitive campaign.

April 25th, 2011 at 12:50 pm
Obama’s Gray Davis Moment

Along with lying about the size of the budget deficit and imposing a steep rise in the car tax, California Governor Gray Davis did something else to guarantee his historic recall: impose a pay-to-play “donation” schedule on groups wanting to do state business.  Want a permit from the Coastal Commission?  How about a government contract to manage welfare cases?

For Davis & Co. there was only one question: How much did you contribute to my campaign?

Former Federal Elections Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky obtained a draft executive order that would implement the substance of the Disclose Act, a bill promising to chill corporate political speech before it was defeated in Congress last year.

According to von Spakovsky, the proposed executive order claims to “increase transparency and accountability,”

Yet this proposed Executive Order would require government contractors to disclose:

(a) All contributions or expenditures to or on behalf of federal candidates, parties or party committees made by the bidding entity, its directors or officers, or any affiliates or subsidiaries within its control.

(b) Any contributions made to third party entities with the intention or reasonable expectation that parties would use those contributions to make independent expenditures or electioneering communications.

In layman’s terms, that means the federal government wants to know which political groups you’ve been giving money to before it will consider awarding a government contract.

In an editorial today, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) notes that the order exempts federal employee labor unions and the recipients of federal grants, both dues paying members of the Democratic Party.

At the moment, the Right is deploring the president’s last-ditch effort to silence dissenting political views after losses in the courts, Congress, and the FEC.  (Especially since Obama’s executive order specifically targets only those entities most likely to disagree with him.)

However, the Left should be leery of this latest version of gangster government.   There’s only a hair’s breadth of difference between punishing “bad” political expenditures, and demanding “good” ones.  As the deposed Gray Davis showed in California, a government nosy enough to punish its enemies, is a government powerful enough to tax its friends.