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Archive for November, 2011
November 30th, 2011 at 5:35 pm
Holder Seals Fast and Furious Records

How’s this for a breach of the public’s trust?  From Judicial Watch:

The Obama Administration has abruptly sealed court records containing alarming details of how Mexican drug smugglers murdered a U.S. Border patrol agent with a gun connected to a failed federal experiment that allowed firearms to be smuggled into Mexico.

This means information will now be kept from the public as well as the media. Could this be a cover-up on the part of the “most transparent” administration in history? After all, the rifle used to kill the federal agent (Brian Terry) last December in Arizona’s Peck Canyon was part of the now infamous Operation Fast and Furious. Conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the disastrous scheme allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels.

Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of more than 1,000 guns which have been used in numerous crimes. In Terry’s case, five illegal immigrants armed with at least two semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and Terry got hit.

The report goes on to say that Border Patrol officials have been kept out of the loop on why the Mexican national charged with killing Terry has yet to be tried almost a year after the murder.

Just before the court documents were sealed, the Washington Times published an article showing why U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and others responsible for the Fast and Furious scandal want the details of Terry’s murder under wraps:

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

At least two of the Mexicans carried their assault rifles “at the ready position,” one of several details about the attack showing that Mexican smugglers are becoming more aggressive on the U.S. side of the border.

According to the indictment, the Mexicans were “patrolling the area in single-file formation” a dozen miles northwest of the border town of Nogales and — in the darkness of the Arizona night — opened fire on four Border Patrol agents after the agents identified themselves in Spanish as police officers.

Two AK-47 assault rifles found at the scene came from the failed Fast and Furious operation.

Imagine if some corrupt machine politician tried to keep in the dark a metropolitan police department on why politically appointed prosecutors were delaying justice for a mafioso cop-killer and sealing his records.  The cops – and the public – wouldn’t stand for it.  Neither should the Border Patrol and the American people.

H/T: Mark Hemingway at the Weekly Standard

November 30th, 2011 at 4:48 pm
Survey: 82% of Americans Rate Their Healthcare “Excellent” or “Good”
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Remember the alleged “crisis” that demanded ObamaCare?  To hear Obama, Pelosi, Reid and their minions, that crisis demanded that we do something, anything, even if it meant passing a bill before finding out what was in it.

The overwhelming majority of Americans apparently never got the memo.  According to Gallup, fully 82% of Americans rate their healthcare “excellent” or “good,” while 11% of the remaining 18% rate their care “fair,” and only 5% say “poor” (2% said “no opinion” or “not applicable”).  As Gallup notes, “That combined excellent/good percentage has remained fairly steady at around 80% since 2001,” when polling on this question began.

Occupy the 5%!

November 30th, 2011 at 4:33 pm
GOP Offering to Trade Federal Pay Freeze for Payroll Tax Cut Extension
Posted by Troy Senik Print

With the end of the year only about a month away, Republicans on Capitol Hill are stuck in a bit of a quandary. Under current law, the dawning of 2012 will bring with it the expiration of the payroll tax cuts passed last year, which dropped employee rates from 6.2 to 4.2 percent.

As I’ve written before, the payroll tax cuts get you less bang for your buck than virtually any alternative. The  savings for an average American are about $40 per paycheck — not nothing, but certainly not enough for even the most dyed-in-the-wool Keynesian to think aggregate demand will shift, particularly because the program’s temporary nature means that it is not altering long-term plans. Also, remember that the payroll tax is there to finance Social Security and Medicare, so pulling money out of those accounts only hastens the day of fiscal reckoning for both of those programs. Finally, there’s the fact that there’s only a cut to the employee’s chunk of the payroll tax, not the employer’s. That means it does absolutely nothing to galvanize hiring.

Savvy congressional Republicans have made these points, but voting to end the break would put them in the unusual position of defending an increase in taxes at a time of extreme economic weakness. While the payroll rate will eventually have to return to the status quo, the GOP is thus stuck looking for something to plug the hole in in the interim.

Kudos, then, to the Republican leadership, who, according to Politico, are looking to pay for the continued tax break by extending a salary freeze for federal employees and lawmakers, a move that would save about $100 billion. While the country’s biggest economic need is a wholesale overhaul of tax policy and regulatory policy combined with a dramatic reduction in federal spending, that won’t happen in the current atmosphere of political polarization in Washington. If we have to muddle through in the interim, this is a fairly reasonable way to do it — don’t increase the debt and let the Washington crowd foot the bill for the everyday Americans they’ve so badly misserved.

November 29th, 2011 at 6:18 pm
Obama’s Campaign Geniuses Don’t Understand the Basics of Republican Politics
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Everything you need to know about the Obama political team’s total ignorance of Republican politics can be summed up with one fact: when Obama chose then-Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to serve as his Ambassador to China in 2009, he did so thinking that he was removing a formidable opponent for the presidency. Huntsman’s tepid performance as a 2012 candidate — and his total inability to connect with the conservative base — have comprehensively given the lie to that notion, an outcome that the president’s political team could have envisioned if they had actually talked to any Republicans.

Now, the best minds in the Democratic Party are at it again. With Newt Gingrich leading in the polls in Iowa and South Carolina — and closing the gap in New Hampshire — they’re issuing a new television ad targeting … Mitt Romney?

 

Reports indicate that the White House is convinced Romney will be the nominee and wants to soften him up early. That’s silly for a couple of reasons. First, it shows (as did the Huntsman calculation) that these strategists don’t realize that being the Democrats’ favorite Republican doesn’t automatically launch you to the front of the field. Second, Romney’s continued inability to get above about 25 percent in the polls (his favorability has actually been dropping of late) and Gingrich’s surge make it extremely premature to assume a nominee. And third, even if the White House’s hunch is right, what difference is a general election ad airing a month before the primaries going to make?

The alternative, more Machiavellian interpretation is that the White House wants to weaken Romney in order to bolster Gingrich, who they view as the more beatable candidate. If that’s true, watch this video and ask yourself if this is a man you’d be spoiling for a fight with:

If this is how Team Obama plays offense, they better hope they have a hell of a defense in 2012.

November 29th, 2011 at 5:09 pm
Gingrich, AGAIN for the Individual Mandate

This video of Gingrich from 2005 shows his true ideological colors, methinks.

November 29th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
Santa Becoming a Fiscal Conservative

It’s an old trope that Democrats are the Santa party while Republicans play Scrooge.  But if the experience of this group of veteran Santa Claus impersonators is any guide, it looks like Old Saint Nick is learning the value of managing (economic) expectations.

Fred Honerkamp, a Santa graduate who also lectures at the school, said that he had come up with his own story of an errant elf to in the North Pole explain why children can’t have everything.

He said: ‘It’s hard to watch sometimes because the children are like little barometers, mirrors on what the country has been through.

‘In the end, Santas have to be sure to never promise anything.’

The school has also been advising its pupils on how to deal with such questions as: ‘Can you bring my daddy a job?’

Santa student Tom Ruperd told the New York Times that he tends to guide children towards more realistic gifts and tells them that ‘Santa’s been cutting back too’.

Faced with an impossible question, such as finding a job for a parent, his reply is: ‘Santa specializes in toys, but we can always pray on the other’.

Pray, and work hard to elect government officials who know that the truth told with respect for another’s dignity is a much better gift than empty promises.

H/T: Daily Mail

November 29th, 2011 at 2:50 pm
Richmond Tea Party Gets Taxed While Occupiers Protest for Free

Here’s a story that serves as a great response to people who say there’s no difference between the Tea Party and Occupy movements.  The Tea Party in Richmond, VA, got a business license, rally permits, and paid $10,000 for the privilege of exercising their First Amendment rights to speech and assembly.  The Occupy Richmond mob, on the other hand, squatted on public property for days without jumping through any of the legal hoops that ensure the health and safety of a civilized society.  When the Tea Party complained, the City of Richmond sent them an audit claiming the group failed to pay excise taxes for its events.

What hypocrisy!  Lawbreakers are allowed to devalue public goods like parks while law-abiding citizens who follow the rules are sent an extra bill to pick up the tab.  If local government officials aren’t careful they are going to teach all Americans that the rule of law only applies when you want it to.  If that’s the governing philosophy going forward, it’s time to renegotiate the social contract.

H/T: Fox News

November 29th, 2011 at 1:06 pm
Goeglein’s Fortunate Friendships

A couple of months ago I reviewed the new book by former Bush aide Tim Goeglein, who headed outreach to conservative groups, for National Review. In my largely favorable review (unfortunately, available online only to subscribers; if you want to see the whole review and you ARE a subscriber, please look back and check it out), I wrote that perhaps the single most enjoyable parts of Man in the Middle was Goeglein’s fond, elegant and moving section on his fortuitous friendships with conservative intellectual forebears William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk. (Note: I also recommended Goeglein’s book during the American Spectator’s annual “books for the holidays” section in the December issue just hitting subscribers now.) Well, now NRO has run that whole section of the book on its web page. It’s a great read.

I found this to be a particularly important paragraph, one that too many conservatives no longer pay heed to, because too many so-called conservatives are indeed ideologues. Here’s the passage, with my emphasis added:

Russell changed my life by seeding my intellectual curiosity. I came to see that his external life was much smaller than his internal world, which was large, deep, and wide. He taught me to be wary of ideologues because they got in the way of a good life. He famously said that “ideology is anathema.” Conservatism, I came to see, because of the influence of Russell, was not an ideology but instead a way of life. There is no official or unofficial handbook for what constitutes conservatism, and in fact the conservative life is various.

This is also a good passage:

The glue of the American conservative movement is the Madisonian view that our framers created a government of strictly enumerated and restricted powers that give most power to the states and to the American people, not Washington and its permanent, ever-expansive bureaucracy.

I came to see the conservative intellectual and journalistic world as a vibrant place, peopled by talented individuals whose own diversity of opinion, outlook, and styles destroyed the myth that there was anything like unanimity on the American Right. Yet there was a singular devotion among all conservatives to first principles and to the idea of American exceptionalism best exemplified in adherence to and respect for our nation’s founding documents, none more so than the Constitution. That idea bound all American conservatism and was the foundation of some of the most fortunate, blessed friendships of my life.

Now, why do I share these now? Because conservatives need to take a broad view, need to see their cause as a broad-based movement that extends beyond politics into culture, and that fosters friendships as, second only to the family, the glue that holds culture together.

Now while ideology is not a great thing, a governing philosophy is. In another part of the chapter that NRO ran, Goeglein noted that Buckley was a libertarian economically. Economic libertarianism, especially rooted in a constitutional/legal framework as Goeglein explained, is (with a minor tweak or two) the economics most conducive to mass prosperity and to the ending of blight, poverty, and suffering. So I believe. So most conservatives believe. I’ve digressed a bit, but the underlying philosophical substance Goeglein describes, while describing his friendships with two great men, is exactly the sort of broad-minded (free-thinking, of what one might also call a libertarian cast of mind) attitude that conservatives, and all Americans, ought to hold dear.

November 28th, 2011 at 10:51 pm
Chris Christie Takes President Obama to the Woodshed
Posted by Troy Senik Print

We’re way overdue for a Chris Christie video here on Freedom Line. Thankfully, the New Jersey governor is back in the saddle and he’s seemingly competing with Newt Gingrich to see who can blister the sitting Commander-in-Chief more thoroughly. This is a thing of beauty:

November 28th, 2011 at 4:18 pm
THIS WEEK’s RADIO SHOW LINEUP: CFIF’s Renee Giachino Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 (CST)/5:00 pm (EST):  Thomas Hazlett – Professor of law and economics at George Mason University, author of Encounter Broadside, “The Fallacy of Net Neutrality”;

4:30 (CST)/5:30 pm (EST):  Troy Senik – CFIF Senior Fellow and former Bush Speechwriter, on the failure of the “supercommittee” and presidential hopefuls just weeks before votes are cast;

5:00 (CST)/6:00 pm (EST):  Jeff Ashton – Prosecuting Attorney of the Casey Anthony trial and author of “Imperfect Justice:  Prosecuting Casey Anthony”;  and

5:30 (CST)/6:30 pm (EST):  Carrie Severino – Judicial Crisis Network, on Elena Kagan and Obamacare.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

November 28th, 2011 at 3:11 pm
Young Guns Now in Charge

Fred Barnes has a great article in The Weekly Standard about how the trio of Republican House members his magazine first dubbed “Young Guns” back in 2007 is now perhaps the single weightiest force in Washington Republican politics. The three are Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan. “Cantor is majority leader, McCarthy is Republican whip, and Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee and the leading Republican voice on domestic policy,” Barnes wrote. ” [....] They knew Republicans had lost their way, ideologically and politically. And they were eager to promote House candidates from diverse backgrounds, with little or no political experience but a zeal for bold conservative reforms. ‘We focused our effort,” Cantor says, “on recruitment of people who wanted to run for the right reasons’.”

Now I haven’t always liked what Cantor, McCarthy or even Ryan have done or said, but for the most part, they (especially Ryan) have been tremendous forces for a revitalization of the GOP as a party of new ideas and bold, serious proposals.  But the key, bigger point emerges from this Barnes explanation: “[T]heir political skills were complementary: Cantor the party leader, McCarthy the strategist, and Ryan the policy thinker.” One of my biggest complaints through the years has been that far too few conservatives married practical politics well with policy expertise, and that fewer still knew how to breed those two skills together to produce something that looks good and will sell well in the public arena.

The next best thing to having one person able to do all three is to have one person who is really good at one or two of them and also wise enough to affiliate himself with the right person or people to do whichever of the other three functions at which he might be lacking.

Alas, it has been decades since we have seen a Republican presidential nominee even come close. Hence the clamor earlier this year for Ryan himself to enter the fray.

The search continues. But Barnes’ article well identifies not just the players but the troika of required skills. It’s well worth a close read.

November 28th, 2011 at 9:33 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Shopping With Aunt Pelosi
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.

November 25th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
How ‘Do-Something’ Pundits Endanger the Country

Matt Welch of Reason magazine has a wonderfully critical review of New York Times columnist’s Tom Friedman’s newest paean to government action, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back.  In a wide-ranging essay that faults as well NYT columnist David Brooks and CNN contributor (and one-time Bush speechwriter) David Frum for their simplistic preference for more government power to fix all that ails America, Welch explains how the ‘do-something’ crowd endangers freedom.

First, a definition:

Do something. Is there a two-word phrase in politics more loaded with disguised ideological content? Embedded within is both an urgent call for powerful government action and an up-front declaration that the policy details don’t matter. The bigger the crisis, the more the urgency, the sparser the detail.

Try as its cheerleaders might, there is nothing essentially new about ‘do-something’-ism:

As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent pointed out in response to Miller, “many of those calling for a third party are refusing to reckon with an inconvenient fact: One of the two partiesalready occupies the approximate ideological space that these commentators themselves are describing as the dream middle ground that allegedly can only be staked out by a third party. That party is known as the ‘Democratic Party.’ ” By dreaming up a third way to deliver ideas and rhetoric already associated with Barack Obama, the centrists are making the implicit admission that the president is ineffectual in the face of GOP intransigence.

As usual, claimants for a ‘third way’ are really just calling for a formula that results in an overall subtraction of individual freedom:

Fortunately for Brooks—and unfortunately for us—there is a distinct third way. Though vague on details, it involves increased taxes (especially on energy), short-term spending boosts, long-term entitlement cuts, and roughly the same foreign policy commitments as today. It calls for renewed citizen engagement, a return to political civility, and a rejection of coarse cynicism. Better teachers, trained workers, and cleaner air. Although advocated by pundits from all over the traditional political spectrum, the program is remarkably uniform when it comes to giving the government more power. Just don’t call it ideological.

Read the entire piece, here.

November 25th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Hat tip to the Heritage Foundation for sending along the text of President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

November 23rd, 2011 at 6:13 pm
County-Level Secession Movements Growing

You know political differences are coming to a head when state and local leaders takes step – albeit unrealistic – to break away from misbehaving neighbors.  Earlier this year liberal Pima County made noise about seceding from Arizona.  A county official in conservative Inland California called for meetings to legally distance themselves from spendthrift Sacramento and the loony Left Coast.  Now, two Republican state lawmakers in Illinois have introduced a bill to divide Illinois into two states: liberal Cook County (home of Chicago), and the other 101 municipalities.  Claiming that “Chicago-style politics” are dominating all other concerns in the state, the GOP legislators want to part ways and limit the influence of Second City Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a smaller geographic area.

Will any of these ideas work?  Almost certainly not.  But the popularity of political separation just underscores how divided America is becoming.  That we’re still together is something to be thankful for, if not an occasion for perpetual rejoicing.

November 23rd, 2011 at 3:52 pm
Update: Huckabee NOT Endorsing Romney (But Thune Is)

Apparently, the media – and I – misread Mike Huckabee’s remarks to South Carolina Tea Party members as an endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Here’s a fuller quote of Huckabee’s answer to whether conservatives should stay home on Election Day 2012 if Romney is the Republican nominee:

“It would be real tragic if they stayed out. Mitt Romney may not be their first choice, but Mitt Romney every day of the week and twice on Sunday is going to be a much more effective president for issues that they care about than Barack Obama.”

In other news, one-time 2012 aspirant Senator John Thune (R-SD) did endorse Romney today in Iowa.  Even without Huckabee’s support, Romney is building up Beltway conservative bona fides with Thune and freshman Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) coming on board.

November 23rd, 2011 at 11:39 am
The Search for Marizela

Michelle Malkin’s cousin is still missing after eight months. Her column on it today is a tour de force.

November 22nd, 2011 at 8:12 pm
Perry Calls for Holder to Resign or Be Fired

It’s official: Eric Holder is now a campaign issue.  GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry says that because of Holder’s false statements about his knowledge and oversight of the Fast and Furious fiasco, the U.S. Attorney General should resign or be fired immediately.

This is a welcome development to those of us at CFIF who have been calling for Holder’s ouster for quite a while.  With the Solyndra scandal looking increasingly likely to take down Energy Secretary Steven Chu, it would be a shame if by comparison Holder held onto his job since someone actually died under his watch.

November 22nd, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Huckabee Endorses Romney, Tells Tea Party To Do the Same

In a head-scratching move, Mike Huckabee told South Carolina Tea Partiers that it’s time to support Mitt Romney for president.  How’s this for emphasis:

“I think Republicans and conservatives and the Tea Party need to get behind him and say, ‘You may not be our first choice, but between you and Obama, I’ll vote 40 times to get you elected,” Huckabee said.

The biggest loser with the socially conservative Huckabee’s endorsement of the socially moderate Romney is GOP candidate Rick Santorum.  Pundit chatter pegged Santorum as the beneficiary of the anti-Romney social conservatives in Iowa, but current poll numbers show Santorum still trailing badly.  There’s still time for him to make a move, but Huckabee’s endorsement of Romney just cut it in half.

November 22nd, 2011 at 6:08 pm
The Supercommittee Fallout Begins
Posted by Troy Senik Print

I’ve been shouting from the rooftops for as long as anyone would listen that the Congressional Supercommittee was (a) a bad idea (b) doomed to failure and (c) destined to put the funding of America’s military forces in danger because of triggered cuts that could add up to more than a trillion dollars.

Now that’s all coming true and the lines are beginning to get drawn in the sand. From today’s coverage in Politico:

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) vowed to eliminate the automatic cuts, which would take effect in 2013, citing dire warnings from his panel’s analysts and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the impact of an additional $500 billion reduction on the nation’s security.

“I will not be the armed services chairman who presides over crippling our military,” he said just before the supercommittee admitted defeat Monday afternoon…

President Barack Obama later said he would veto any attempt to undo the spending cuts. “There will be no easy offramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure,” he said.

The president’s callousness is stunning. Fully funding the men and women of the United States military is not an “easy offramp” — it’s a strategic and moral necessity. An easy offramp would be proposing an increase in the debt ceiling without offering any spending cuts during a time of record national debt. An easy offramp would be allowing Congress to grope its way through the supercommittee process without any leadership from the White House. In short, an easy offramp would be everything President Obama has done to avoid any responsibility for reducing the national debt.

It’s time for the Congress to make a stand — and not just the Republicans. Many Democrats will understand that it’s both good policy and good election-year politics to keep the Pentagon from being gutted. And let’s hope they’re not just limited to Capitol Hill. Nothing would put the issue in starker terms than Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — a good man and one who has consistently opposed this reckless policy — standing in solidarity with a bipartisan congressional majority against the president. If he’s worthy of his job, that’s exactly what he’ll do.