Archive for June, 2011
June 23rd, 2011 at 9:06 am
Ramirez Cartoon: NLRB’s Assault on Jobs
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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.

June 22nd, 2011 at 4:40 pm
McCain Too Quick to Make Charges of Isolationism
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For John McCain — who has never met an evil anywhere on earth that doesn’t require Spartanesque military might from the U.S. — Republicans that question America’s role in Libya and the continued need for a large footprint in Afghanistan are part of a worrying trend. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

“There has always been an isolationist strain in the Republican Party,” McCain said on ABC’s “This Week,” “but now it seems to have moved more center stage…. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people all over the world.”

McCain is engaging here in the logic fallacy known as “hasty generalization”. Just because some Republicans question the utility of some military missions, it doesn’t follow that they have a principled and categorical objection to America acting overseas. Tony Blankley makes the point with his trademark gusto in his column in today’s Washington Times:

… Almost two years ago, I was one of the first GOP internationalist-oriented commentators or politicians to conclude that the Afghan war effort had served its initial purpose, but it was time to phase out the war. As a punitive raid against the regime that gave succor to Osama bin Laden, we removed the Taliban government and killed as many al Qaeda and Taliban as possible.

But as the purpose of that war turned into nation-building, even GOP internationalists have a duty to reassess whether, given the resources and strategy, such policy is likely to be effective (see about a dozen of my columns on Afghan war policy from 2009-10).

Now many others in the GOP and in the non-isolationist wing of the Democratic Party are likewise judging failure in Afghanistan to be almost inevitable. That is not a judgment driven by isolationism. Neither are we – along with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and almost the entire uniformed chain of command – isolationist when we see no national interest in Libya.

This is not isolationism. It is a rational effort at judging how best to advance American values and interests in an ever-more witheringly dangerous world. The charge of isolationism should be reserved for the genuine article. Such name-calling advances neither rational debate nor national interest.

Bravo to Blankley. McCain is an honorable man — but one who ought to be a little more careful when throwing around ideological labels.

June 21st, 2011 at 6:38 pm
Harry Reid Endorses Huntsman?
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A few weeks ago, as CFIF’s own Ashton Ellis was busy delineating the parade of horribles that is former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s record, he noted that one of the more chilling (and insightful) stories involving Huntsman in recent months was the quasi-endorsement offered to him by Jimmy Carter.

Well, Huntsman (who is an official GOP presidential candidate as of this morning) keeps bringing the hits. The latest comes from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. As CNN’s Political Ticker reports:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ventured into the 2012 presidential waiting game Tuesday, offering up his pick for the Republican presidential nomination.

“If I had a choice, I would favor Huntsman over Romney,” Reid told reporters after a meeting on Capitol Hill. “But I don’t have a choice in that race.”

Poor Harry. He’s been through a lot because of the declining influence of Democrats in Congress over the last year. And now he won’t even get one red cent for creating a pitch-perfect campaign ad for Mitt Romney.

As for Huntsman, he’s now earned the approval of President Obama, former President Carter, and Harry Reid. He’s one endorsement in The Nation away from being the next Democratic presidential nominee.

June 21st, 2011 at 11:54 am
Medicare Part D as a Model

Medicare Part D is a good model for the Ryan Medicare plan.

To be clear up front: Congress was wrong to pass Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program, without more broadly reforming Medicare. As a new entitlement, it is extremely costly, and has exacerbated the government’s debt problem.

That said, the free-market aspects of the plan — the private-sector competition part of it, without a government option — have worked beyond almost the wildest dreams of free marketers.  The liberals were so sure that costs to seniors and the government would rise astronomically without government there to “negotiate” premium” prices that they originally proposed to have government “set” the premium price at $35 with a built-in hike each year for inflation. Lo and behold, in the third year of the program it turned out that the average premium price was still down below $25, ten dollars less than what the libs had wanted to set as the base price. In other words, competition worked to keep prices about 30% lower than government planners had predicted.  What the libs wanted as a limit would instead have been a huge burden.  When the libs in 2007 tried desperately to append a government “negotiation” provision to the program, the attempt was filibustered to death in large part based on those amazing early results.  Thank goodness. Competition, as usual, had worked wonders, and it was not to be messed with — which is why the Dems made no serious attempts thereafter to force the government negotiation option back onto the table. Even four years later, the average premium still is $30, or five dollars below what the libs assumed could be achieved only by government intervention.

It is true that some people have cherry-picked statistics to claim that premiums are skyrocketing, but that’s only because they pick the sorts of plans whose costs have risen, not the average of all plans. James Capretta explains it well today at NRO.

Meanwhile, as Capretta explains, the cost to government — meaning to you and I, Joe Taxpayers — is a whopping 31% less than had been projected. Now, granted, that’s still a ton of money that should not have been spent unless it was part of a larger Medicare overhaul that used competition to save money on the rest of the program as well, but even so, the overall lower costs are a tribute to the virtues of competition.

Moreover, as Rick Santorum explained in the GOP presidential debate last week, the Medicare reforms in Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal are based largely on the competitive aspects of Medicare Part D. They basically apply Part D’s system to all of Medicare — which means they could serve to produce a huge majority of seniors who are satisfied with the program, at a remarkably lower cost.

That’s why and how the Ryan plan can be politically sellable — because seniors happy with Part D can be expected to react at least somewhat favorably to a plan modeled on Part D, as long as the connection is made clear.

June 20th, 2011 at 11:45 pm
NPR Host: Taliban Isn’t a Threat to the U.S.
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Reasonable people disagree on the way forward in Afghanistan. Reasonable people, however, don’t tend to work at NPR.

That’s the conclusion we can take from remarks made by John Hockenberry, host of NPR’s “The Takeaway” (full disclosure: I’ve appeared on Hockenberry’s show before — not that it’s earning him any lenience). As the Daily Caller reports:

In an interview with Christine Fair, assistant professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Hockenberry challenged the notion of the Taliban being an enemy of the United States and declared that the idea it could again make Afghanistan a haven for terrorists “an absurdity.”

“I guess, Christine Fair, I’m wondering why this is even a debate,” Hockenberry said. “The Taliban has never been an enemy of the United States. They don’t love us in Afghanistan, but they’re not sending planes over to New York or to the Pentagon and it seems to me much more broadly that the debate needs to happen is what is the sort of multi-state strategy for dealing with rogue nations of all kinds. Yemen is about to fall apart. You’ve got Somalia problems. The idea that terrorists just go to Afghanistan and launch weapons at the United States it seems in 2011 is an absurdity.” 

I’m sure the monotone sophisticates of NPR don’t need any math lessons from out here on the right wing. But, Mr. Hockenberry, a quick review of the transitive property: The Taliban harbored Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. (by sending planes over to New York and to the Pentagon, as I recall). Thus the Taliban is a demonstrated enemy of the U.S.

You can keep the tote bag.

June 20th, 2011 at 10:51 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The State of U.S. Energy Policy
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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.

June 17th, 2011 at 12:45 pm
CFIF’s Weekly Liberty Update
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June 17th, 2011 at 11:05 am
Making Lemons From Lemonade

This story today is why so many Americans absolutely hate government. Montgomery County fined parents $500 because their children, just outside of the US Open at Congressional County Club, were selling lemonade without a permit. Several times a year a story like this pops up; it absolutely boggles the mind that bureaucrats can feel so threatened by children. Somebody should fine those bureaucrats $500 today for every time they drink a glass of water or a Coke or whatever. No, forget that; somebody should fire the bureaucrats for obnoxious officiousness — which perhaps should itself be a crime.

This is the sort of thing that Philip K. Howard of Common Good repeatedly warns about, including in his books The Death of Common Sense and Life Without Lawyers. We are a nation choked by laws, ruined by rules, cowered into inactivity by idiotic lawsuits. All levels of government are too intrusive, too abusive, and too obtuse. Shutting down lemonade stands is beyond the pale. For shame.

June 17th, 2011 at 10:12 am
Video: CFIF’s First Annual Lamestream Media Awards
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Renee Giachino reveals the winners of CFIF’s first annual Lamestream Media Awards, recognizing the most pathetic contributions of the liberal media to our national conversation.

June 17th, 2011 at 8:29 am
Podcast: The GOP Debate and Anthony Weiner Fallout
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David Freddoso, online opinion editor for The Washington Examiner and author of Gangster Government: Barack Obama and the New Washington Thugocracy, discusses the first GOP Debate, the Anthony Weiner fallout and offers a survival guide for morally corrupt Members of Congress.

Listen to the interview here.

June 16th, 2011 at 4:38 pm
A Very Good Start for Michele Bachmann

Hats off to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) for putting together a string of impressive wins in her just-begun presidential campaign.  Hiring veteran campaign consultant Ed Rollins elevated her profile with the Beltway set, and announcing her candidacy live at Monday’s debate was the perfect complement to her strong performance.

Today, Bachmann’s campaign announced that Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund will be assisting with her biography set to be released in the fall.  Fund’s attachment to the project means that the book has substance, and with his addition it is guaranteed to have style.

One more bright spot for Team Bachmann: A new Rasmussen poll finds her approval ratings second only to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

And she’s only been a candidate for four days.

June 16th, 2011 at 4:34 pm
Medi-Choice Can Be a Winner

At NRO today, Yuval Levin has an incredibly important analysis of a new poll on Medicare. The money paragraph is here:

At the very least, this suggests that at this point the Republican Medicare proposal is far less of a problem for Republicans than Obamacare is for Democrats. Like a slew of other polls, it also suggests that public opinion about Medicare reform is undefined and malleable. Maybe that means the Democrats will be able to work people up into a rage about premium support, but that certainly doesn’t seem all that clear so far.

But do read the whole thing.  It explains an incredibly important thing that I and a number of other conservative analysts have felt in our bones and sensed from the public: Medicare reform along the lines of Paul Ryan’s plan is not the surefire loser that the Democrats and the media seem to think it is, and there are even scenarios that could make it a slight net political winner. Even if it is a wash or very close to a wash, that means conservatives and Republicans should embrace it, because the country needs the reforms in order to remain solvent. In other words, doing right is also doing good, politically and ethically.

As I argued here the other day, taking the initiative by accurately redefining reform as “MediChoice” could really turn the tables politically and make it a winner. (Again, credit for this idea goes to former longtime Hill aide Jim Guirard, via columnist Deroy Murdock.)

FreedomWorks also has a good piece on how to sell Ryan’s plan. It’s one of those handy “10 Reasons” sort of lists.

Look, the cow is out of the barn.  All but four Republicans in the House had the guts to vote for Ryan’s budget. Republicans are now politically tied to it, hip to hip, for at least the next two years. On policy, they are right to be tied to it. If they can’t escape it, and they are right on policy anyway, they darn well ought to go out and sell it with every political skill and every bit of enthusiasm they’ve got. The only way to win a debate is to engage in it.

June 16th, 2011 at 1:30 pm
Palin’s Emails Show She’s Smarter than Critics Think

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has compiled the findings of two different analyses on Sarah Palin’s recently released emails from her time as Alaska’s governor.   Key finding: Palin’s emails indicate she has writing skills equal to an 8th grader.

If that doesn’t sound necessarily impressive, consider that Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is scored as 9th grade level, while Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is between 8th and 9th grade level.

And let’s not forget Palin’s sample came from emails she was dashing off to staff.  According to the analysts, Palin’s writing abilities exceed those of most Americans and most American CEOs.

Not bad for a Grizzly Mama unilaterally disdained for her lack of intellect.

June 16th, 2011 at 1:13 pm
Renewed Interest in the Gold Standard

Politico’s Ben Smith reports that Jeffrey Bell of American Principles in Action is engaged in a 19-stop bus tour of Iowa to drum up support for returning U.S. monetary policy to the gold standard.  According to Bell, focus groups of Tea Party activists in the Midwest were “astonishing” in their support for the issue.

Bell’s goal is to get the Republican presidential field to incorporate the gold standard into their platforms.  Politico’s Smith explains the issue’s allure:

Arguments over the gold standard date back more than a century, and their ideological charge is linked in part to the fact that making dollars convertible to gold would in theory limit the government’s capacity to act in the economy.

For that reason alone, putting a spotlight on the gold standard would be a good investment of time for American voters.

June 16th, 2011 at 10:18 am
London Likes Santorum

No, not London, England.  Herb London, one of the wisest and truest conservatives in the conservative movement, goes against the “Romney vs. Bachmann” storyline of the week to suggest that the man conservatives really should embrace for president is Rick Santorum: “I can assert with confidence that if he is the nominee, the Republican party flag will wave with pride. A genuine patriot and a fiscal conservative will give the faithful a real shot at winning the highest office in the land.”

Interesting perspective.

June 15th, 2011 at 4:59 pm
“Net Neutrality” At Six Months – FCC Still Hasn’t Published Order in Federal Registry
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Six months ago this coming Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its Chairman Julius Genachowski – Barack Obama’s old comrade and Harvard Law School classmate – hastily imposed the infamous and deceptively-named “Net Neutrality” regulations.  Just days before Christmas and fresh off the Administration’s effective takeover of the automobile, banking and healthcare sectors, Genachowski and his two fellow Democrat Commissioners rammed those regulations through against the wishes of (1) a solid majority of Americans, (2) a rare bipartisan Congressional majority and (3) a unanimous U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which declared the FCC’s “Net Neutrality” effort illegal mere months earlier.

The FCC’s maneuver move marked the first time in history that the federal government appointed itself authority to micromanage how Internet service providers operating in the ostensibly free market could and could not operate their own private networks.  Never mind, of course, the years and hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment required to build out and maintain those private networks – desperately-needed investment that continues to create rapid innovation and well-paying jobs.

The FCC’s illegal and unwise “Net Neutrality” regulations immediately jeopardized those billions of investment dollars, and will continue to do so should they somehow withstand judicial scrutiny.

Now, making things even worse, as the bare one-person Democratic majority moves full speed ahead with unnecessary and counterproductive Internet regulations on both wired and wireless Internet networks, Chairman Genachowski appears to be playing games by dragging his feet in order to obstruct the lawsuits and legislation to repeal the FCC’s unauthorized “Net Neutrality” rules.  Specifically, Chairman Genachowski appears to be delaying the publication of the FCC’s order in the Federal Registry to go forum-shopping and avoid the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit where the FCC lost last year and will likely lose again.

Thus, just like Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the FCC has become a rogue government agency willing to act beyond its statutory authority to commandeer both the wired and wireless Internet.  As our economy and employment market continue to struggle, now is the time for us to stop the Obama FCC’s rogue effort via the courts and Congress.

June 14th, 2011 at 6:06 pm
MediChoice, not “Premium Support”

Deroy Murdock has a great column up this week. He credits my wise friend Jim Guirard, veteran of many a battle on Capitol Hill, for proposing better marketing language for Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal (or variations thereof).

Jim Guirard, long-time chief of staff to the late Sen. Russell Long (D., La.), runs the TrueSpeak Institute ( He advises the GOP to market “MediChoice.” Unlike the head-scratching that “premium support” inspires, MediChoice signals that Republicans would give seniors choice in medical coverage. Just as the GI Bill helps veterans pay tuition at schools that match their interests, MediChoice would help future Medicare recipients (now 54 or younger) buy coverage that suits their circumstances.

Guirard urges Republicans to call today’s Medicare system “MediCrash.” The Democrats’ policy — snatching $520 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare and pretending that the program is the platonic form of fiscal health — invites financial catastrophe. By Sept. 30, 2020, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts, Medicare’s Trust Fund will be “exhausted.” Republicans should reiterate that Democrats — not the greedy, granny-killing GOP — perpetrated a half-trillion-dollar heist against Medicare’s coffers to underwrite Obamacare. Democrats pitifully refuse to do anything to prevent this calamity. What will their negligence yield in just over nine years? The CBO predicts: MediCrash.

Note, in the Murdock column, his photo at the bottom of a potential MediChoice notice that every senior citizen would receive.  Talk about bringing home to them the essential idea that THEY and nobody else controls their choice of a health-care plan!  Great idea.

In the debate last night, Rick Santorum made the excellent point that what Ryan proposes is what ALREADY is working, in popular fashion, in the otherwise problematic Medicare Part D.  If seniors can make such an individual-option plan work for prescription drugs, why not for their whole health-care coverage?

I noted the same analogy here, back on May 5. As I also explained:

[B]ecause of very similar, consumer-based, market-oriented provisions, has cost the government far less money than projected while costing consumers remarkably less in premiums than even the most optimistic number-crunchers expected. In short, the experience of Medicare Part D suggests that Ryan is hardly being outlandish to say that giving control back to consumers in a market-based system can save money without harming benefits – and thus preserve Medicare for future generations.

Now, back to Murdock. As he noted, Ryan’s plan is hardly radical:

Republicans should remind mewling Democrats that economists in liberal thinks tanks came up with the idea in the first place. The Brookings Institution’s Henry J. Aaron and the Urban Institute’s Robert Reischauer fathered “premium support” in 1995.

Former senator John Breaux (D., La.) promoted this reform as co-chairman of President Clinton’s bipartisan Medicare-overhaul commission…. Former senator Bob Kerrey (D., Neb.) echoed Breaux. As he told Reuters in May 1999: “You’re much better off letting 50 million people make decisions on their own than having [Washington] decide things from the top down.”

Santorum was right to take up the gantlet on this issue last night (and earlier), and Newt Gingrich is incredibly wrongheaded to run away from it.  Meanwhile, with some smart use of language, as per Jim Guirard, MediChoice might be a real political winner.

June 13th, 2011 at 10:30 pm
Jon Huntsman = State Department’s Candidate for President?
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Conservatives who’ve spent much time in Washington often grow weary of the professional class at the State Department. Though the Foreign Service’s job is to represent the United States abroad, its members often end up doing precisely the opposite. They too often practice the mantra of “blame America first” and view the U.S. as culturally inferior to wherever they’re posted.

That’s galling enough when it comes from workaday public servants, but even worse when it comes from our Ambassador Corps. Now one of those international diplomats is back stateside and about to launch a presidential campaign. But someone needs to tell Jon Huntsman (our recently-returned Ambassador to China) to keep his Embassyitis overseas. This is the lede the Washington Post managed to bury this weekend, placing it near the bottom of a lengthy profile:

On the campaign trail, Huntsman often dwells on how America is viewed from abroad. “From 10,000 miles away, folks, let me just tell you that we lack humanity, we lack civility, we lack basic respect for which this country should be known,” Huntsman told one crowd.

There hasn’t been a campaign in recent history where the notion of American Exceptionalism has been more important on the right. Into that fray rides Jon Huntsman, a man who tells us that the butchers of Tiananmen Square think us insufficiently humane. We’ve got a great consolation prize waiting for you, Jon.

June 13th, 2011 at 7:32 pm
‘Major Problem’ for Dems being Serious about the Budget

Former DNC Chairman Tim Kaine (D-VA) is having to face reality and run from his party in hi quest to be the next U.S. Senator from Virginia.  Kaine, a former governor, agreed during an interview that the Democratic-controlled Senate’s complete failure to pass a budget for over a year is a “major problem” for the party.

It’s also a major problem for candidates like Kaine trying to convince voters that the party of profligate spending, special favors for unions and – yes – crony capitalism – is serious about fiscal matters when it can’t muster the courage to pass a budget.  The failure to pass a budget is to fail at the most basic aspect of governing.  Either Senate Democrats need to get serious about passing a budget – and the debate that goes with it – or they should adjourn until further notice.  At least that would save taxpayers money for keeping a spate of non-working buildings running.

June 13th, 2011 at 7:22 pm
GM’s Misguided ‘Culture of Excellence’

If last week’s column about the cluelessness of General Motors’ management got you in the mood for some “how did we get here” info, former GM and Chrysler executive Bob Lutz has an app…er, book for that.

The book is titled Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business.” Lutz’s experiences have been the subject of superb interviews in The Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal.  In both, Lutz describes how an overreliance on metrics – in particular, counting the wrong things like volume instead of profit – over time destroyed the creativity and dominance of the American auto industry.

All of the hyperlinks are worth reading, but here is the funniest – and saddest – story I’ve read so far:

The Outside Speaker Effective Analysis Group

A revealing window into GM’s misfiring “culture of excellence” in the second half of the 20th century came by way of my late friend David E. Davis Jr., dean of automotive writers, lecturer, author, pioneering writer at Car and Driver, and founder of Automobile magazine. A sought-after speaker highly knowledgeable about our industry, David told this anecdote in the mid-1980s when speaking about GM.

Sometime in the early ’80s, he’d accepted a gig as speaker to a large group of GM executives. The speech appeared to go well, and the applause felt genuine. David went home pleased and thought no more about it until he received the following letter:

Dear David:
You asked for feedback on your remarks at our recent conference. The data is just now available.

The rating scale was zero to ten with ten being “best.” The five non-GM speakers had scores ranging from zero to ten. Yours ranged from three to ten. The five “outside speakers'” average scores ranged from 5.25 to 8.25.

Your average was 7.35.

Two speakers had higher scores than yours. Your standard deviation from the mean was 1.719 and ranked second among the variances, showing that most people had a similar opinion about your remarks.

I personally enjoyed your remarks very much. Your refreshing candor, coupled with your broad understanding of people, product, and the market, gave us exactly what we asked you for—”widened competitive awareness.”

Thank you for your participation.

Outside Speaker Effective Analysis Group

An “outside speaker effective analysis group”? This was the result of too much money and too many overly educated, almost academically oriented people focusing their ray guns of unbridled excellence on targets of complete irrelevance.

That last paragraph almost sounds like a gaggle of bureaucrats, doesn’t it?  Of course, nobody in D.C. could be accused of wasting time and money on inappropriate expenditures, right?