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Posts Tagged ‘Bernie Sanders’
January 25th, 2019 at 11:48 am
Notable Quote: American Incomes Versus Supposedly Superior European Counterparts
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The myth of superior livelihoods in supposedly more enlightened European nations remains a curiously persistent one, but Mona Charen’s latest commentary today provides a refreshing corrective:

Median household income reached $61,372 in 2017, which is higher than comparable countries like Canada, Germany, France, Britain and Denmark, and exceeded only by a handful of tiny rich nations sitting on oil (Norway) or numbered bank accounts (Switzerland and Lichtenstein).  U.S. median household size, meanwhile, has declined, so individual wealth has increased even more than the income numbers reflect.”

Something to remember the next time Bernie Sanders or latest leftist darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez alleges that “democratic socialist” nations of Europe somehow offer a superior alternative, nevermind that Venezuela actually offers a better illustration of socialism in practice…

July 14th, 2016 at 12:29 pm
If A Tree Falls In A Forest…
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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.

December 31st, 2015 at 6:13 pm
The Rise of the Anti-Anti-Trumpians
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The Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously postulated five emotional stages following a death or profound loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Conservatives for much of the summer and fall have been attempting to come to terms with the reality of Donald Trump’s candidacy and the depth of division between the Trumpians and the Anti-Trumps. First came denial. (This guy? Are you kidding?) Then came anger. (Seriously, this guy?!)

Now winter is here, a new year is upon us, Trump remains the Republican frontrunner (despite the growing likelihood he will come up short in Iowa). And so we’ve arrived at the bargaining stage and with it, the emergence of the Anti-Anti-Trumpians.

William Voegeli, senior editor of the indispensable Claremont Review of Books (disclosure: I was managing editor of the CRB over a decade ago and Voegeli is a friend), explains why he is “Anti-Anti-Trump”:

The fact that Trump has become a credible contender despite, or even because of, his obvious faults argues, however, for taking his followers’ concerns seriously rather than dismissing them. It is not, in fact, particularly difficult to explain the emergence of Trumpismo in terms of legitimate concerns not addressed, and important duties not discharged. That such a flawed contender could be a front-runner tells us more about what’s wrong with the country than about what’s wrong with his followers. People have every reason to expect that their government will take its most basic responsibilities seriously, and every reason to be angry when, instead, it proves more feckless than conscientious. Governments are instituted among men to secure their inalienable rights, according to the Declaration of Independence. This means that when we and our rights are left avoidably insecure, government has failed in its central mission.

In short, Trump supporters’ anger is a righteous anger that should be understood and harnessed, rather than treated with contempt and dismissed. Voegeli continues:

The problem, in any case, is not so much that we are governed by idiots as that we are governed by idealists, who proudly follow the Kennedy brothers’ exhortation to disdain seeing things as they are in favor of dreaming dreams that never were. Because no such dream would incorporate a nightmare like ISIS, idealists have preferred to dwell on more congenial matters.

Adding insult to injury, we are governed by idealists who think we’re idiots for not appreciating the bang-up job they’re doing.

Voegeli concludes:

Demagoguery flourishes when democracy falters. A disreputable, irresponsible figure like Donald Trump gets a hearing when the reputable, responsible people in charge of things turn out to be self-satisfied and self-deluded. The best way to fortify Trump’s presidential campaign is to insist his followers’ grievances are simply illegitimate, bigoted, and ignorant. The best way to defeat it is to argue that their justified demands for competent, serious governance deserve a statesman, not a showman.

Voegeli is hardly alone among the Anti-Anti-Trumpians. Peter Lawler at NRO’s Postmodern Conservative blog has been making the case for months, almost to the point of exasperation. Nor have the Anti-Antis escaped criticism, though mostly from the left. Damon Linker at The Week recently published a fairly scathing column on the “unbearable lameness” of Anti-Anti-Trump Republicans, which amounted to “you reap what you sow.”

Perhaps. On the other hand, it isn’t as if the Republicans have a monopoly on populist discontent. Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton in national polls, but he could very well win in New Hampshire. Trump and Sanders have substantial support among independent voters in the Granite State. And as the New York Times reports, Trump’s strongest supporters are “self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats.”  

The trouble with the Anti-Anti-Trumpian argument is that it’s not entirely clear that “competent, serious governance” is what Trump’s supporters really want. (Check out this unrepresentative sample of Trump voters responding to a question from The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf. Trump contains multitudes.) We know what they don’t want: More of the same. But, let’s face it, that’s likely what they’re going to get.

October 16th, 2015 at 9:52 am
Denmark: Not the Socialist Paradise Bernie Sanders, Leftists Conjure
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Whereas the term “socialist” was once an epithet, among today’s political left it is a badge of honor, despite socialism’s uninterrupted record of failure across the globe and over an entire century of experimentation.  As we’ve observed, devotees typically offer Scandinavian nations like Denmark as exemplars, in violation of their professed fealty to “multiculturalism” and “diversity.”  But there’s another problem for Bernie Sanders and other leftists who constantly offer Denmark as a model for us to follow:  It’s not the socialist paradise that they imagine.

In a timely commentary this week entitled “Bernie Sanders’s Denmark Comments Show He Doesn’t Even Understand His Own ‘Socialism,'” National Review’s Kevin Williamson summarizes the flaws in their effort well:

[Y]ou probably missed the exchange between Mrs. Clinton and Senator Sanders at last night’s debate, when she lectured him that the United States isn’t Denmark and he responded with a rousing defense of the Danish model.  Never mind, for the moment, that neither of these batty old geezers has the foggiest idea of what’s going on in Denmark, or in the other Nordic countries.  Denmark, like Sweden before it, has been engaged in a long campaign of reforming its famously generous welfare state.  The country’s current prime minister is the leader of a center-right party, which, strangely enough, goes by the name ‘Left,’ Venstre.  (You might even call it libertarian:  it’s former longtime leader wrote a book bearing the positively Nozickian title ‘From Social State to Minimal State.’)  Denmark has been marching in the direction exactly opposite socialism for some time.  Our friends at the Heritage Foundation rank its economy the eleventh most free in the world, one place ahead of the United States, reflecting Denmark’s strong property rights, relative freedom from corruption, low public debt, freedom of trade and investment, etc.  Don’t tell Senator Sanders, but Denmark’s corporate tax rate is a heck of a lot lower than our own.”

More accurate examples of socialism at work include Venezuela, where consumers endure shortages of such things as toilet paper, or increasingly dystopic France.  Regardless, leftists’ image of a Danish socialist utopia simply isn’t accurate.

August 13th, 2015 at 1:32 am
Larry Lessig . . . for President?!
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Campaign finance reform crusader and aspiring censor Lawrence Lessig is threatening to form an exploratory campaign to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. Because apparently Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton aren’t serious or strident enough.

Yes, he is serious.

I want to run. But I want to run to be a different kind of president. “Different” not in the traditional political puffery sense of that term. “Different,” quite literally. I want to run to build a mandate for the fundamental change that our democracy desperately needs. Once that is passed, I would resign, and the elected Vice President would become President.

This is the Presidency as referendum. Our constitution, unlike some states, doesn’t give us a referendum power directly. This hack adds one in. Almost never would it be necessary — in a well-functioning democracy. But when a democracy has lost the capacity to act as a democracy, a referendum president is a peaceful means to force a change that Congress is otherwise not going to make. When the system has become the problem, we need an intervention from the outside.

We are at one of those moments now. In no plausible sense do we have a representative democracy in America today. That fact shows itself in a thousand ways — from #BlackLivesMatter to billion dollar SuperPACs, and none more profound than the deep sense that most Americans have that their government is not theirs. “The system,” as Elizabeth Warren puts it, “is rigged.” And the fundamental challenge for our democracy today is to find a way to fix that rigged system.

The problems here are manifest. Would it be pedantic to point out that the United States was founded as a republic, not a democracy, and that the difference matters? Or to mention that the Constitution was written to limit government as well as democratic impulses? Or to bring up the small fact that direct democracy is a disaster?

(Incidentally, your writer understands that attacks on the initiative, referendum, and recall most often come from progressive quarters nowadays. It wasn’t always so.)

Lessig likes to cite polls suggesting “96 percent of Americans say it’s ‘important to reduce the influence of money in politics.’” More recently, he’s become fond of citing a MoveOn/YouGov poll that purports to show that 82 percent of Americans of all political stripes agree “the system is rigged.” Many conservatives and libertarians would agree with the latter proposition.

So what? As always, the question must be: what’s the remedy?

Lessig’s answer is the Citizen Equality Act of 2017, which includes such novelties as “a meaningfully equal freedom to vote,” ranked-choice voting; and taxpayer-funded (or, to use his parlance, “citizen-funded”) elections.

Do read the proposal. All three ideas are worth deeper exploration—and sound refutation. In lieu, we have James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal, who made sport of Lessig’s quixotic campaign in Wednesday’s Best of the Web Today:

Lessig would ask Congress (1) to abolish freedom of speech in favor of “equality of speech,” whatever that means, (2) to prohibit state legislatures from engaging in “political gerrymandering,” and (3) who knows what else. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that (1) and (2) have glaring constitutional problems. Maybe he should consult with some law professors.

Oh wait, he is a law professor. At Harvard no less.

Lessig last month stepped down as chairman and of MayDay, the SuperPAC he founded to promote “reform” candidates in the 2014 congressional elections. The effort raised $10 million and had virtually no impact. Only one of the candidates MayDay supported won and that was Rep. Walter Jones, the Republican from North Carolina whose reelection was a mortal lock.

This cycle, he’s been urging the two leading Democratic candidates to go bigger on campaign finance reform. In July, Lessig wrote a memo to Sanders urging on the senator to take advantage of his growing popularity by making “citizen equality” the “first issue — the one change that makes all other changes believable.”

. . “…[A]fter the surge of support for you, the single strongest attack is going to be the ‘reality argument,’” Lessig wrote. “You’re talking about a string of reforms that simply cannot happen in the Washington of today. The ‘system is rigged.’ If that rigging is good for anything, it is good for blocking basically everything you’re talking about.”

Looks like Lessig didn’t get the response he was hoping for.

Now Lessig has launched a “kickstarter-like” campaign (Kickstarter itself doesn’t allow political fundraising) to raise $1 million for his new effort by Labor Day. If he makes it, Lessig vows to give “this run every ounce of my energy.” If he falls short, he’ll give the money back.

He’s raised about $166,000 so far, so who knows? Maybe he can waste another $10 million in service of an ignoble cause.

October 7th, 2013 at 6:06 pm
Britain’s Version of ‘Death Panels’

In a wide-ranging indictment of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), Philip Klein describes just how easy it is for government-run health care to turn into a nightmare.

“One of the most recent scandals has its roots in the 1990s, when the NHS established a set of best practices for providing care to patients at the end of their lives. Known as the Liverpool Care Pathway, it has since been applied to hundreds of thousands of people,” writes Klein.

“Last November, the Mail reported, an independent review found that 60,000 people were put on the pathway without their consent and a third of the time families weren’t even informed. Thus, they had no idea that their close relatives were removed from life support equipment and were being denied nourishment. In extreme cases, nurses shouted at relatives who attempted to give their dying loved ones sips of water. According to the Mail, hospitals were given incentive payments for putting more people on the pathway – effectively, the government was providing bonuses for ending people’s lives earlier.” (Emphasis added)

After a huge outcry, NHS is abandoning the Liverpool Care Pathway, admitting that “Caring for the dying must never again be practiced as a tick-box exercise and each patient must be cared for according to their individual needs.”

This is welcome news for those saved from murder, but it is cold comfort for the 60,000 Britons who were intentionally killed by their caregiver.

As this example from the world’s most famous single-payer health system attests, death panels are a logical extension of government-run health care. Cost-benefit calculations can easily be made to discard individuals for the sake of the faceless collective; especially when the doctor, the actuary, and the bean counter all work for the same government.

Interestingly, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) didn’t mention any of the horrors Klein catalogues in his op-ed to Britons explaining why Obamacare is a “good first step” toward a single-payer system like NHS.

No wonder.

June 25th, 2013 at 6:26 pm
Left & Right Agree: Immigration Bill Hurts Workers

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has been telling anyone who will listen that the immigration reform bill set to pass the U.S. Senate will hurt low-skill and entry-level workers. Flood the market with millions of cheap labor, and the results will be a dip in wages and a scarcity of jobs.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) agrees. This week Sanders, the Socialist who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, got the Gang of Eight and their allies to include a program that will fund summer jobs for American youths (ages 16-24) displaced by the wave of legalized immigrants once the reform becomes law.

Cost to taxpayers: $1.5 billion over two years.

The Sanders program is one of the price-spiking changes made by the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.

Besides the cost, including the provision undermines the Gang’s argument that legalizing 11 million people won’t have a negative impact on current legal workers.

If this bill becomes law, it’s almost certain that this won’t be Congress’ last attempt to spend its way out of an unemployment problem it is choosing to create.

H/T: Byron York

December 21st, 2009 at 12:09 pm
A Vote that Would Make Rod Blagojevich Blush
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This morning, the Senate invoked cloture on its scheme for government-run health care.  Under Senate rules, there will now be 30 hours of debate divided equally between the two parties, and then there is a strong possibility that the Senate will pass the legislation.

For Majority Leader Harry Reid, getting to this point was no easy task.  The typical horse trading that takes place on Capitol Hill was on overdrive lately as Leader Reid had to beg, borrow and deal to buy off each cynical Senator.

As much as the media and politicians on the Hill excoriated Governor Rod Blagojevich for selling President Obama’s old Senate seat, buying votes is a common occurrence in the nation’s capital.

As this piece from Politico demonstrates, what happens in Senate chambers typically borders on bribery.

For example:

  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), who was once emphatic in his opposition to ObamaCare, got $45 million in federal funds for Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.   Other states were not fortunate enough to have an undecided Senator provide their state with the perks of federal largesse.
  • Independent/Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), who was previously opposed to the legislation, was awarded $10 billion in new funding for community health centers.
  • Senator Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) garnered an excise tax carve-out for their states; all other states will be forced to pay the tax.
  • Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) received perhaps the most persuasive legislative nugget, a $300 million federal gift to Louisiana for Medicaid expansion.

In an attempt to rationalize this border-line legislative bribery, Senator Reid opined, “You’ll find a number of states that are treated differently than other states.  That’s what legislating is all about.  It’s compromise.”

Buying off votes = compromise?  Selling a Senate seat = felony?

December 16th, 2009 at 3:03 pm
Update: Senate v. Tom Coburn
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The Senate can be a magical place sometimes. Taking advantage of a clever procedural tool, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has forced the upper chamber to read a 767-page amendment out loud.  (One has to feel sorry for the people reading the amendment.)

Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) introduced his single-payer amendment to the health care bill but Senators DeMint (R-SC) and Coburn put their foot down.  They are now using all available procedural tactics to kill the bill, even if they have to kill the voice of a few Senate staffers in the process (a worthy sacrifice).

Senator Coburn commented, “We’re going to understand what single-payer is all about and read the bill.”

If you’d like to understand more about socialist health care, click here or here.  More of CFIF on health care here.

***Update***

Senator Coburn did battle once again with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and the exchange was priceless.  Senator Coburn asked that Senators fully read and understand the bill before they voted.

Senator Baucus, we’ll say, was less than optimistic about the comprehension level of his colleagues. The video (one minute mark) displays our nation’s sad state of affairs.