Archive for November, 2011
November 22nd, 2011 at 1:32 am
Super Committee: Able to Kick the Can Down the Road in a Single Bound
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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.

November 21st, 2011 at 9:03 pm
Restaurant Chain Jobs Contracting in Current Economy

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze reports on a highly visible casualty of the economic downturn that is costing Americans’ jobs and now memories: decades-old restaurant chains.

Here’s a list of the Top Ten restaurants that are contracting in today’s tight  economy:

(1)   Bennigan’s Grill and Tavern

(2)   Ground Round Grill & Bar

(3)   Baker’s Square

(4)   Damon’s Grill & Sports Bar

(5)   Don Pablo’s

(6)   Gloria Jean’s Coffees

(7)   Big Boy

(8)   Tony Roma’s

(9)   Country Kitchen

(10) Black Angus Steakhouse

These corporate losses are just another source of lost jobs and opportunities.  Mr. President and the “super” committee, are you listening?

November 21st, 2011 at 8:40 pm
GOP Voters Smarter than Kathleen Parker

Washington Post columnist and failed CNN host Kathleen Parker caused a stir this weekend with a piece claiming that the alleged ‘know-nothingness’ of Sarah Palin is infecting Republican primary voters.  The evidence, as Byron York of the Washington Examiner points out, points the opposite way.

So far, there have been three Republican candidates who rose and fell quickly in the polls: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Cain.  Each rose because voters liked some combination of his or her message, experience, and personal appeal.  But each fell mostly for one reason: Republican voters became concerned about whether they knew enough to be president.

Because the GOP base is conservative, and because the candidates each presented a strong conservative message, it’s hardly a surprise that each received a friendly response early in the game.  But once each candidate’s performance in debates or on the stump raised questions about whether he or she had a base of knowledge broad and deep enough to serve as president, Republican supporters began to peel away.  Bachmann now ranks sixth in the RealClearPolitics poll standings, while Perry is fourth.

The candidate who has consistently stayed near the top of Republican polls is Mitt Romney.  There are no questions about whether he knows enough to be president.   The candidate who is rising at the moment, as Parker points out, is Newt Gingrich, about whom the same is true.  And the candidate who has stayed around the middle tier of the race is Ron Paul, who, for whatever problems exist in some of his policy positions, has not faced questions about his knowledge of the issues.  At the bottom tier of the race, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman have also not faced such questions.

Somehow Parker styles all of this — informed candidates rising, uninformed candidates falling — as a “tide of know-nothingness” engulfing the Republican party.  If that were really the case, wouldn’t it be the other way around?

As J. Robert Smith of the American Thinker reasons, Parker’s position on Palin and the GOP is less about sound analysis, and a heckuva lot to do with her tack to the left as she’s ascended the media ladder from National Review to the Washington Post.  Parker might want to stop by the offices of George Will and Charles Krauthammer to hear how her fellow Post columnists kept their principles and their audience.  After all, conservatives don’t need another David Frum telling them how out-of-touch they are.

November 21st, 2011 at 8:30 pm
Michigan Union Siphoning Money Away from the Handicapped
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As if we needed further proof of union venality, get a load of this stomach-turning story out of the Wolverine State:

Remember this the next time you hear Big Labor claim to be standing up for the little guy.

h/t BreitbartTV

November 21st, 2011 at 6:04 pm
Proposed New Jersey Telecom Legislation Would Increase Bureaucracy and Regulation, Not Reduce It
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Under the false banner of “deregulation,” New Jersey state Senator Bob Smith (D) today introduced telecommunications legislation that would actually increase unnecessary and job-killing regulation over an industry critical to economic growth and jobs.

Smith claims that S-3062 relieves regulatory burdens, but it would in fact broaden regulatory authority for the Board of Public Utilities while heaping even more bureaucratic mandates and obligations upon telecom companies.  Among other things, the law would reinstate Board power over competitive services, even though such oversight was removed by the state legislature years ago.  The proposed bill would also mandate tariffs for services classified as competitive, while discriminatorily imposing filing requirements on some businesses but not others.  Moreover, the legislation would complicate and add uncertainty within the patchwork of overlapping federal and state regulations, and expand Board power in the video realm.

The fact that Sen. Smith attempted to characterize new regulatory proposals  as deregulatory shows that even he knows our current economic environment is not one in which the public desires even  more government interference.  Unfortunately, that’s what his bill would do.  What struggling New Jersey citizens need are more jobs and more telecom competition, not more bureaucracy.

November 21st, 2011 at 9:45 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Most Ethical Congress In History
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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.

November 18th, 2011 at 7:08 pm
Ted Cruz is the Next Marco Rubio

In case you didn’t read the National Review cover story about him, the New York Times has a nicely condensed biographic piece on Ted Cruz, the former Texas Solicitor General running to be the state’s next U.S. Senator.  Here’s a sample of his background:

Mr. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, where his parents were working in the oil business. Back in Houston for high school, he entered speech contests run by the Free Enterprise Institute. Students learned the “Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom,” a government-out-of-the-economy manifesto based on the work of libertarian thinkers like Mr. Hayek, Frédéric Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman, then wrote and memorized 20-minute speeches about it. As one of the citywide winners for four years, Mr. Cruz traveled the state, speaking to civic groups for $50 or $100 a speech.

The institute then chose him to be one of its “Constitutional Collaborators,” who spent hundreds of hours debating the Constitution. Using a mnemonic device to memorize it, they toured the state, writing it out for audiences.

It made Mr. Cruz an early adopter of the worldview that now characterizes Tea Party politics, where federal involvement in health care or the economy (and many of the roles it has assumed since the New Deal) is socialism and an abuse of the Constitution. At Princeton, he wrote his thesis on the Ninth and 10th Amendments, the core of the states’ rights argument.

It also directed him toward politics. He graduated from Harvard Law School, then clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, and served in the Bush administration at the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department.

How many U.S. Senators do you know who could write out the Constitution from memory?  Perhaps the Lone Star State will give us at least one.

November 18th, 2011 at 6:47 pm
Welfare State Here to Stay?

Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute writes a thought-provoking piece for the fall edition of Breakthrough Journal.  In it, the conservative environmental expert and presidential historian discusses how to deal with three facts of modern political life:

(1)   Neither liberals nor conservatives will ever defeat the other side so decisively as to be able to govern without the consent of the other side

(2)   The divisions between Left and Right are fundamental and unbridgeable because each side has conflicting modes of moral reasoning that cannot be easily synthesized or bridged

(3)   The welfare state, or entitlement state, is here to stay

On this last point Hayward voices support for some of the reforms in Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget plan, and other conservative attempts to make social programs more fiscally sustainable by changing eligibility requirements.  Citing Ronald Reagan’s retreat from serious entitlement reform as a prime example of how unlikely it is for modern conservatives to simply do away with entitlements, Hayward offers a cautionary analysis against perennial cost-control proposals like “starve-the-beast” and balanced budget amendments.

As the GOP presidential voting gets underway in less than 50 days, this is a piece well worth reading, considering, and applying to those who would replace President Barack Obama.

November 18th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
Paul Ryan at Claremont

Recently, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the keynote address after receiving the Claremont Institute’s Churchill Award for Statesmanship.  The text of his remarks are available here, with the conclusion reminding us why Ryan will likely be the first name on any GOP Vice President list next summer:

Congresses are elected to promote the common good of our country. And Congress has the power to take control of our nation’s fate, and to reclaim popular trust in government.

We face a choice of two futures in this country. But I am optimistic that if we give Americans a clear choice, they will do the right thing. As Churchill put it, “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing… but only after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”

Look, Republicans didn’t always get it right as a party ourselves. But if there ever was a time to gather our political courage and reclaim our ideas, it is now. The country is facing a very precarious moment.

Your leaders owe you a real choice. Do you want the President’s path of debt, doubt and decline, where government goes from promoting equal opportunity to equalizing the results of our lives?

Or do you want the American idea: the opportunity society with the safety net, dedicated to liberty, equality of opportunity, and upward mobility?

It is our moral obligation, as elected representatives, to give the American people this choice.

And if we do our jobs right, then we will soon have the duty, and the privilege, to make that vision a reality.

Let it be said of us, as Churchill said of his people in their most difficult hour: “We ought to rejoice at the responsibilities with which destiny has honored us… and be proud that we are guardians of our country in an age when her life is at stake.”

November 18th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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November 18th, 2011 at 10:52 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Super-Committee
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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.

November 18th, 2011 at 8:11 am
Podcast: Iran, GOP Presidential Field, ObamaCare and More
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In an interview with CFIF, Ken Blackwell, American Civil Rights Union Senior Fellow and contributing editor for, discusses the potential for an Israeli strike against Iran, the strengths and weaknesses of GOP presidential candidates and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review ObamaCare.

Listen to the interview here.

November 17th, 2011 at 5:19 pm
As Government Centralizes Health Care Control, the Free Market Combats AIDS
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Though we’re still a few years away from full implementation of Obamacare, we all know the program’s general drift: greater government control of everything from what kinds of care health insurance policies must cover to which medical procedures or pharmaceuticals doctors can provide. Yet at the same time, we’re seeing how the remarkable power of freedom and voluntary collaboration — the exact opposite of the Washington model — can revolutionize our health. From a remarkable piece at Reason:

For more than 10 years, health researchers have been stumped by an enzyme that helps retroviral infections like AIDS reproduce. Biologists studying the enzyme were unable to model its shape, a crucial first step in figuring out how to beat it.

Recently scientists turned the problem over to an unusual team of collaborators: video gamers. Using Foldit, a free online protein folding game developed at the University of Washington in 2008, those gamers competed to see who could produce the most accurate virtual model of the real-life enzyme.

In just three weeks, gamers accomplished what scientists had been unable to do for more than a decade—no special scientific under- standing required.

An ingenious marriage of technology and creativity. Does anyone expect to see more of this when Washington is in the driver’s seat?

November 16th, 2011 at 5:50 pm
Michelle Malkin Blasts Growing Siga Scandal

Michelle Malkin takes no prisoners with her analysis of the newest example of Obama’s crony capitalism gone wild.  As I wrote about yesterday, the $433 million taxpayer giveaway to the politically connected pharmaceutical firm Siga Technologies will rival the $535 debt incurred thanks to Solyndra going belly-up.  When you tack on an additional $115 billion in R&D the feds gave Siga to create the drug they’re selling to HHS, these two scandals combined have cost American taxpayers over $1 trillion.

When will any of the GOP presidential candidates make this a theme of their campaign?

November 16th, 2011 at 5:29 pm
State Department Creates Energy Bureau, Redundancy

The Wall Street Journal reports that Hillary Clinton’s State Department is opening a brand new “Bureau of Energy Resources” today.  Amid the bureaucrat gushing about a “six-fold increase in personnel,” perhaps it’s worth considering just how unnecessary is this new office since its mandate seems to overlap substantially with other agencies.  Here are the “new” duties according to the article:

  • Shore up stable supplies of affordable energy for the U.S.
  • Promote clean energy and changes in markets to make alternative-energy technology more competitive
  • Manage the geopolitics of the energy world
  • Unabashedly support the export of U.S. technology, working with countries to put in a level playing field so U.S. goods can compete internationally
  • Direct the development of the shale gas revolution in the U.S.

If you thought all of these mandates already apply to other entities, you’re right.  Someone should alert the Department of Energy, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Commerce – as well as a host of smaller outfits known only to the industries they regulate – that yet another federal agency is open and ready to do business harm.

November 16th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
Louisiana vs. Holder’s Justice

Our DoJ whistleblowing friend J. Christian Adams speaks at Tulane University tonight, about a fight between Louisiana and the Obama InJustice Department. Note, please, the amazing percentages of people registered to vote in LA, but the Obamites don’t care. (Hint: It is literally impossible for more than 100% of residents to be registered to vote!) The otherwise rotten Sen. David Vitter, to his credit, has weighed in on this issue as well, and he is on target. Outside of Louisiana, meanwhile, just about every week brings more examples of how voter fraud is a real problem, even though the left claims otherwise.

November 16th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
Supercommittee One Week Away From Implosion
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Begin the countdown. November 23 — one week from today — is the deadline for the bipartisan, bicameral congressional “supercommittee” to deliver its plan to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit. Only problem? No one expects it to happen. From today’s Washington Post:

White House officials are quietly bracing for “supercommittee” failure, with advisers privately saying they are pessimistic that the 12-member Congressional panel will find a way to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit as required…

Obama has stopped short of issuing a blanket veto threat if the committee tries to undo the severe cuts that would take effect in 2013 if an agreement is not reached. Obama has simply said that Congress “must not shirk its responsibilities” and, in a news conference from Hawaii, said he would not comment on the potential for a veto.

Oh, so now it’s Congress that’s shirking its responsibilities? Where was President Obama’s veto pen when more than $4.2 trillion was being added to the federal debt under his watch (more than the total federal debt from George Washington to George H.W. Bush)? And if the role of Congress is so important, why leave the task of debt reduction to a dozen congressmen out of a body of 535? And why keep members from being able to so much as amend the proposal, making the compromise that will be necessary for such a grand bargain that much harder to ascertain?

The answer, of course, is that this process has been intended all along to grease the skids for tax increases. And by threatening the welfare of the men and women of the U.S. military (failing to pass a plan would result in automatic cuts to the Pentagon’s budget that could add up to over $1 trillion), liberals are hoping they can force conservatives’ hand.

The supecommittee process deserves to end in failure. The automatic spending cuts deserve to be overridden by Congress, as does any veto that President Obama may subsequently issue. And every member of the legislative branch who helped midwife the president’s record-breaking debt deserves a one-way ticket home.

November 15th, 2011 at 6:32 pm
Perry Comes Alive
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Rick Perry got some (admittedly earned) grief last week after a cringe-worthy moment at the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate in Michigan, when he couldn’t recall the third of three cabinet departments he wants to abolish (for the record, they were the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, and — the one he blanked on — the Department of Energy).

The media fixation on the gaffe overshadowed a bigger point: Rick Perry is proposing some of the most dramatic reforms to the federal government of any presidential candidate in decades. At a speech in Iowa earlier today, the Texas governor laid out an agenda that makes clear that the cabinet proposals were far from an aberration. Check out this list of proposals from the remarks:

  • Term-limiting federal judges
  • Converting Congress into a part-time legislature, with half the salary and half the staff
  • Tying legislative pay to balancing the budget
  • Bringing federal spending down to 18 percent of GDP
  • Passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution
  • Privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • Privatizing the TSA
  • Dramatically scaling down and repurposing the EPA
  • Performing a full audit of the federal government
  • Creating an across-the-board moratorium on new federal regulations and auditing all regulations from the past five years
  • Freezing federal salaries (Except for military and law enforcement) and cutting the president’s salary in half until there is a balanced budget.

Perry may be faltering in the polls, but this list reminds us why he was a contender in the first place. At the very least, let’s hope that the eventual Republican nominee has the good sense to co-opt this agenda.

November 15th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Which One Is Closer to 99% of America?
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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.

November 15th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
Obama Favors the Big Guys

Fred Barnes has a hugely important column out at The Weekly Standard, about how the leader of Occupy the Oval Office (my title, not Barnes’) has a long-running habit of favoring large interests over small groups and individuals. He sets the theme right here:

[T]he winners in the nearly three years of Obama’s presidency are the big guys​—​big business, big labor, and big government. Corporate profits have reached record levels. The influence of the biggest labor unions has surged in Washington, where it matters most. The federal government has grown in size and reach. Meanwhile, the weak economy has hurt small business, the country’s number one job creator. Temporary tax breaks haven’t helped, and the threat of new taxes and a fresh barrage of regulations have put a crimp in expansion and hiring.

Barnes is absolutely right.

Now, I don’t want to ascribe these next thoughts to Fred Barnes, because he probably wouldn’t want to be associated with their connotations even if the analysis on a factual basis is fair and in context. But this same favoritism for the big guys was part and parcel of my argument in the single most controversial column I’ve ever written, one that made Chris Matthews start sputtering on air (and that caused Tony Blankley to pile on rather than defend me) about how obscenely over-the-top I was. The columns was called “Il Duce, Redux,” and it very carefully outlined the ways in which Barack Obama’s economic approach, and some of his organizational/self-hagriographical tactics, followed the same path as Benito Mussolini.

I carefully distinguished my point from the facile tactic of using a Nazi boogeyman as a straw man:

To be clear, none of this is to even come close to equating the Obama administration with Nazism. The conflation of Nazism with fascism is a gross misunderstanding of history; the original fascism and Nazism are entirely different breeds of vipers, with the latter being far more deadly.

No matter: Some of the media went ape, as if I had used incendiary rhetoric even though I was making a a valid historical point while taking pains to keep the rhetoric down. It is worth noting, again, that my major point of comparison came from Wikipedia’s description of economic fascism:

Trying to handle the crisis, the Fascist government nationalized the holdings of large banks which had accrued significant industrial securities. The government also issued new securities to provide a source of credit for the banks and began enlisting the help of various cartels…. The government offered recognition and support to these organizations in exchange for promises that they would manipulate prices in accordance with government priorities. A number of mixed entities were formed… whose purpose it was to bring together representatives of the government and of the major businesses.… This economic model based on a partnership between government and business was soon extended to the political sphere, in what came to be known as corporatism….

Back to Barnes:

“If you are big in today’s Washington, you lead a charmed life,” Washington consultant David Smick says.

In Obama’s case, there’s more to the gap between what he professes and what his administration has produced than meets the eye. Yes, his hypocrisy is breathtaking. But it represents the way he prefers to govern. Dealing with a few big institutions, even if they are dinosaurs, is easier than consulting more widely. So is relying on government to remedy every national ill, rather than letting markets, private groups, and individuals play pivotal roles.

“What an irony for an administration that claims populist roots,” Smick says. “Policy prescriptions for the most part use the top-down approach. Bring out the GE guy and various big labor bosses to deal with the jobless nightmare when the bulk of the solution involves fostering small business start-ups.”

Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s CEO, happens to be chairman of Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. GE is famous for having paid no corporate income taxes in 2009 and 2010 and shipping thousands of jobs overseas. The council’s membership consists of 23 corporate chiefs, two labor leaders, one economist, one biologist, and zero representatives of small business.

For contributions to his reelection campaign, Obama has tapped the segment of big business he’s referred to as “fat cat bankers”: Wall Street. According to the Washington Post, he has raised more from financiers and bankers than all of the Republican presidential candidates combined. He’s raised more at Bain Capital than Mitt Romney, who cofounded the firm.

Whether or not one wants to compare this approach to the economics of Italian fascism, it certainly should be worrisome for all of us.