Archive for October, 2012
October 24th, 2012 at 8:17 pm
How to Lose a Close Election
Posted by Print

No, I’m not talking about the abortion dustup in Indiana’s U.S. Senate race , where I’m not sure the Republican candidate is as embattled as the media thinks (reason #1: members of the coastal media and members of the Indiana electorate might as well be from different species).

Rather, I’m referring to the U.S. Senate contest in Arizona, where Democrat Richard Carmona — a former Surgeon General in the administration of George W. Bush — has managed to run surprisingly close against Congressman Jeff Flake, a laudable champion of limited government. There’s been some mud thrown by both sides in recent weeks, but the newest development is a self-inflicted wound from Carmona. From a blog entry by Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard:

“Obesity is the terror within,” Carmona told a University of South Carolina audience in early 2006, according to a wire report from then. “Unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9-11 or any other terrorist attempt.”

Will Arizona — the state that gave us Barry Goldwater — really send a man to the U.S. Senate who regards the ice cream freezer of your local grocery store as more menacing than an Al Qaeda training camp? Count me skeptical.


October 24th, 2012 at 4:38 am
Bama Gov Weighs in on RESTORE Act

In light of yesterday’s column, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley helpfully weighs in on the RESTORE Act, here:

The Alabama Gulf Coast experienced significant environmental and economic harm from the BP oil spill. BP and the other responsible parties must be held accountable for those damages. The Restore Act gives state and local officials the power and the responsibility to use BP money to most effectively restore both the environmental and economic strength of our region. Governor Bentley supports and appreciates Congress’s desire to see these decisions made at the state and local level. While both NRDA and the Clean Water Act are critical tools for recovery from the BP oil spill, the Governor will oppose any effort by the federal government or by BP to undermine the principle of local control by artificially reducing the amount of money that flows through the Restore Act.

Tags: ,
October 23rd, 2012 at 5:56 pm
Want to Keep More of Your Income? Move to a Red State
Posted by Print

In keeping with my recent focus on the fruits of federalism — the divergence between states based on public policy — I thought I’d pass along the Tax Foundation’s newest numbers on state and local tax burdens. Here are the 10 most confiscatory locales in the nation (as reported by CNS News), represented in terms of the tax burden as a percentage of state income:

  1. New York, 12.8 percent
  2. New Jersey, 12.4 percent
  3. Connecticut, 12.3 percent
  4. California, 11.2 percent
  5. Wisconsin, 11.1 percent
  6. Rhode Island, 10.9 percent
  7. Minnesota, 10.8 percent
  8. Massachusetts, 10.4 percent
  9. Maine, 10.3 percent
  10. . Pennsylvania, 10.2 percent

And here are the 10 lowest:

  1. Alaska, 7.0 percent
  2. South Dakota, 7.6 percent
  3. Tennessee, 7.7 percent
  4. Louisiana, 7.8 percent
  5. Wyoming, 7.8 percent
  6. Texas, 7.9 percent
  7. New Hampshire, 8.1 percent
  8. Alabama, 8.2 percent
  9. Nevada, 8.2 percent
  10. . South Carolina, 8.4 percent

Notice a trend? All of the top 10 high-tax states are consistently blue (Wisconsin and — less likely — Pennsylvania may be in play this year, but those are exceptions to the historical trend). Meanwhile, all of the top 10 low-tax states are reliably red, with the two exceptions of New Hampshire and Nevada, both of which are in play this year, but both of which, regardless of party affiliations, also boast very libertarian political cultures.

The upshot: if you want to increase your take-home pay, move to a red state.

October 22nd, 2012 at 5:43 pm
Go West, Young Man … Just Stop Before You Hit the Ocean
Posted by Print

Take it from this Californian — the Golden State is no longer the destination du jour for starry-eyed dreamers looking to turn ambition into fortune. The rest of the west, however, looks pretty good. From the Daily Caller:

If you are looking to start a new business, Wyoming might be a place to consider moving. According to the Tax Foundation’s annual State Business Tax Climate report, Wyoming ranks first among the fifty states for most business-friendly tax code.

Behind Wyoming are South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska, and Florida. Washington, New Hampshire, Montana, Texas and Utah rank in the top ten.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s eight of the top ten states for business located in the West. And if a pro-energy candidate wins the White House, expect the numbers from those states to become even more impressive, given the tremendous amount of resources in the region.

California has chosen gilded decline and reaped economic disaster. The rest of the west, however, has chosen freedom. And prosperity is following closely behind.

October 22nd, 2012 at 12:37 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Trust
Posted by 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.

October 20th, 2012 at 2:43 pm
HHS Mandate: It’s That Simple

An absolutely brilliant ad, in 15 seconds.

October 19th, 2012 at 7:06 pm
Obama Has Spent 56% More than Taxes Brought In

Larry Kudlow: “…reporter Jeffrey H. Anderson uses a Treasury Department study to chronicle the 7-Eleven presidency. In fiscal year 2012, ending September 30, the government spent nearly $11 for every $7 of revenues taken in. The exact figures are $2.5 trillion in tax revenues and $3.5 trillion in spending. In other words, it spent 44 percent more than it had coming in. Previous fiscal years look even worse: The government spent 56 percent more than revenues in fiscal year 2011 and 60 percent more in fiscal year 2010.

“All in all, according to Mr. Anderson, the government under the Obama administration received $6.8 trillion in taxes and spent $10.7 trillion — 56 percent more than it had available.”

Repeat after me: The government doesn’t have a revenue problem.  It has a spending problem.

October 19th, 2012 at 6:14 pm
Obamacare Failures in One Long, Hilarious Sentence

If you haven’t already seen it, the video of Illinois State Senate candidate Barbara Bellar’s single-sentence description of Obamacare is a hilariously accurate indictment of the Obama Administration that promoted it.

October 19th, 2012 at 12:29 pm
Smaller Government, Strong Economy

At the University of Mobile’s Center for Leadership, I review the record showing that limited government leads to stronger economies. There much more in the column than the following passage, but here’s a taste:

Indeed, historians are hard-pressed to show any time in American history when major domestic-discretionary spending growth actually generated a stronger economy. But when Reagan cut discretionary spending in the 1980s, combined with his tax cuts, the economy did superbly. When the Newt Gingrich Congress passed major spending cuts in 1995-96, the economy again boomed.

October 19th, 2012 at 11:30 am
This Week’s Liberty Update
Posted by Print

Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Lee:  Global Temperatures Stopped Rising 16 Years Ago, According to 2012 Data
Senik:  Obama’s Debate Performance: Fluent, But False
Hillyer:  Bush’s Successful “Policies of the Past”
Ellis:  The President’s Poster Children

Podcast:  Consumer Costs of Green Certification Monopolies
Jester’s Courtroom:  Stacking Up to be an Interesting Lawsuit

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

October 19th, 2012 at 9:52 am
Podcast: Consumer Costs of Green Certification Monopolies
Posted by Print

In an interview with CFIF, Steve Pociask, President of the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, discusses his organization’s new study, “The Monopolization of Forest Certification” and the consequences of “green certification” monopolies on consumer welfare.

Listen to the interview here.

October 18th, 2012 at 1:42 pm
Real Hope from Gallup
Posted by Print

From today’s installment of Ben Domenech’s The Transom:

The Gallup likely voter screen now has Mitt Romney leading President Obama 51-45.  No candidate who’s had a majority in the Gallup LV poll at this point has lost the election. Which means that if Romney does become the first to lose, it will be due to a late-breaking October surprise, or because Obama’s team outworks them on the ground in key swing states.

Buckle your seat belts, folks. The next few weeks are going to get very exciting.

October 17th, 2012 at 6:18 pm
Another Take on This Week’s Debate
Posted by Print

I have a slightly different take on last night’s debate than Quin. Like my colleague, I thought that Romney’s performance was serviceable, though I won’t go so far as to say he ‘won.’ Truth be told, I don’t think either candidate did much to improve their standing with the small slice of the electorate that still remains undecided, as that group tends to prize style over substance and the constant sniping between the two candidates probably left the swing voters cold to the political process as a whole (that tendency also worked at cross-purposes with both campaigns’ efforts to win over female voters, who are notoriously averse to that kind of incivility).

I also saw a missed opportunity last night, but it wasn’t Obamacare (where I think Romney is unavoidably uncomfortable); it was Libya, where he completely botched an opportunity to call Obama out on his administration’s meandering, thumbless response to the attack in Benghazi (damage that was compounded by moderator Candy Crowley inappropriately — and incorrectly — intervening to agree with Obama that he had framed the assault as a terrorist attack from the beginning).

After the first debate, sources inside the Romney campaign made it known that they had encouraged the candidate to speak in a natural tone — as if he were addressing a group of investors — rather than memorizing sound bites and talking points. It worked for Romney as long as the topic was the economy, where he is in his element. But I hope that the team in Boston encourages a little more thoughtful planning as we head towards Monday night’s foreign policy debate.

Romney has never shown a particularly deep interest in — or understanding of — foreign policy, a trait which I’ve noted in the past could be a potential liability (though his instincts are, of course, far preferable to Obama’s). While I think next week’s debate will easily be the least consequential of the three (both because it’s last chronologically, and because foreign policy will not be a central issue of this campaign), Romney still can’t afford to be as lost at sea as he was at the end of last night’s town hall. Time to hit the briefing books.

October 17th, 2012 at 6:13 pm
Crowley’s Libya Gaffe Keeps Obama Missteps in the News

Robert Stacy McCain: “By highlighting the Libyan issue and adding a new element of controversy, however, Crowley inadvertently ensured that the administration’s failure in Benghazi will be the focus of post-debate news coverage — which is unlikely to improve Obama’s re-election chances.”

Indeed, every news site covering the presidential campaign has at least one entry mentioning the Libya story – none of it favorable to the Obama campaign.

And even though some are prone to think Mitt Romney missed his one great opportunity to skewer President Obama with the Libya debacle, Romney gets another chance.  The next and last debate is focused solely on foreign policy.

Wanna bet Mitt will be ready next time?

October 17th, 2012 at 9:54 am
Political Malpractice

I agreed with multiple focus groups last night, and not with the narrow margins pro-Obama in the straight polls, that Romney emerged from the debate last night in a slightly better position than he went in.

In short, he won. He is now in decent shape to eke out a victory.

That said, I think he and his campaign have committed serious political malpractice by not repeatedly and effectively attacking Obama on ObamaCare, either in the debates or in commercials or in TV interviews. It should be especially easy to blast the dozen-plus taxes on the middle class within ObamaCare (including the quasi-tax of the individual mandate, which remains deeply unpopular) — and not just easy but downright simple to blast him on the medical device tax, to which I keep referring in multiple posts and columns here and elsewhere. Of the many, many, many, many opportunities and issues the Romney campaign has left lying on the table, unused, this is the one with the least complications, the most levels of upside, and the least (meaning zero) downside.

Again, I do think Romney has won both debates. I do think he has a slightly better chance now than Obama does to win this election (my last “forced count” had him at 272 electoral votes to 266 for Obama, but that changes every other day). I think his campaign overall is far sharper than it was a month ago.

But Lord Almighty, how can he fail to take advantage of such a big Obama weakness?

Repeat after me: “ObamaCare puts a major punitive tax on pacemakers, asthma inhalers, insulin pumps, and prosthetic limbs like those that make such a difference to our wounded warriors. Even former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh has written that the tax already is costing hundreds of jobs, not to mention all of the negative health effects on people the tax will hurt. Where’s the compassion in that?”

Come to think of it, maybe the wounded warrior aspect of this will give Romney an opening in the “foreign policy” debate……

October 16th, 2012 at 6:26 pm
An Obama Ally Previews the Coming ObamaCare Disaster
Posted by Print

Remember Darden Restaurants? As I blogged last year, they’re the parent company of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and LongHorn Steakhouse that decided to codify Michelle Obama’s recommendations about nutrition in the menus of their franchises. But their latest change in corporate policy has far more ominous implications for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. From the Orlando Sentinel:

In an experiment apparently aimed at keeping down the cost of health-care reform, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants has stopped offering full-time schedules to many hourly workers in at least a few Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters and LongHorn Steakhouses.

Darden said the test is taking place in “a select number” of restaurants in four markets, including Central Florida, but would not give details. The company said there has been no decision made about expanding it.

In an emailed statement, Darden said staffing changes are “just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business. There are still many unanswered questions regarding the health care regulations and we simply do not have enough information to make any decisions at this time.”

Analysts say many other companies, including the White Castle hamburger chain, are considering employing fewer full-timers because of key features of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to go into effect in 2014. Under that law, large companies must provide affordable health insurance to employees working an average of at least 30 hours per week.

If they do not, the companies can face fines of up to $3,000 for each employee who then turns to an exchange — an online marketplace— for insurance.

So in the course of a year, the Obama Administration has cost me my Olive Garden breadsticks and Darden employees a sizable chunk of their livelihood. I’ll be honest: the first one verges on an impeachable offense in my book. But the second one is inexcusable. It’s underemployment by legislative fiat.

So remember this fact when you hear Barack Obama tout himself as a champion of the middle class in tonight’s debate: the Darden example is representative — working Americans without healthcare and with smaller paychecks.

October 16th, 2012 at 6:01 pm
5 Points Romney Should Make in Tonight’s Debate

The Heritage Foundation tees up five issues that so far haven’t been mentioned in the Romney-Obama or Ryan-Biden matchups:

1)      Welfare Reform

2)      Trade

3)      Medicaid

4)      Federal Spending and Debt

5)      American-Produced Energy

Each of these is not only critical to American prosperity, but also conveniently is attached to a disastrous policy decision by the Obama Administration.

This summer Obama’s HHS gutted the work requirement for receiving welfare checks that was the hallmark of the mid-1990’s reform.

The President and his fellow liberals in Congress held hostage free trade agreements negotiated by the Bush Administration as a favor to labor unions, and in the process damaged our international standing.

Obamacare is scheduled to hit Medicaid doctors with a 19 percent pay cut starting in 2014.

This is the fourth consecutive year of $1 trillion budget deficits presided over by President Obama, and there is no indication the incumbent will do anything differently if reelected.

As for domestic energy production, Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline angered not only consumers paying high gasoline prices, but also the unionized labor that stood to benefit from short- and long-term job creation.

Mitt Romney should look for ways to insert these failures of leadership into his answers during tonight’s townhall debate with Barack Obama.  People need to be reminded that the President’s kneejerk liberalism is bankrupting the country.

October 16th, 2012 at 8:56 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Liar Part II
Posted by 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.

October 15th, 2012 at 7:06 pm
Atlas Stands

Good news and bad news about the movie Atlas Shrugged II. The bad news first.  Samantha Mathis is, alas, nowhere near as good a Dagny Taggart as Taylor Schilling was in part one of the movie saga. Mathis tries hard, but she just doesn’t come off as tough enough, as angular enough, as enough of a force of nature, as Dagny needs to be. Schilling, in the first flick, got it pretty darn well, although she wasn’t perfect. Jason Beghe is okay in the new one as Hank Rearden, although not quite as good as the very, very good Grant Bowler in the first one. And so on down the line, with all the actors in the second not quite living up to (or badly failing to live up to in a few cases) what were surprisingly decent performances in the first, and with the plot not moving anywhere near as insistently or smartly as the plot in the first. (One note: While the actor playing the evil Wesley Mouch in the second doesn’t quite fit the book’s version of Mouch the way the first actor did, he DOES add a useful dimension: Take away the gray, and he has looks remarkably similar to Tom Perez, the dishonesty and ill-motivated head of the civil rights division in the corrupt Obama/Holder Justice Department. He also is believable a bad, bad dude. It’s sort of creepy.)

Matter of fact, in rewatching the first one the night before I watched part II, I found it remarkably effective.

But, on to Part II: As in the first flick, part II does a superb job of attacking statism. So much of what it portrays, with remarkable faithfulness to Ayn Rand’s novel, is frighteningly similar to things we see these days from Obama Land. It is easy to imagine a “State Science Institute” under Obama with outsized and illicit power. It is easy to see Obama’s team pushing various pieces of legislation outlawing forms of economic competition, freezing wages and prices and even job status, and doing all sorts of other things the bad guys do in Atlas Shrugged II. So much of the rhetoric from the statists in the fictional account is so similar to the rhetoric from statists in real life in the United States that one cannot help but see the slope down into tyranny as a very real possibility.

I don’t think a lot of Americans will see the movie, but anybody who does see it who isn’t already convinced of the evils of statism should come away from the movie with a newfound appreciation for liberty. And while the movie isn’t a thrill a minute, it does definitely hold one’s interest and does definitely provide decent entertainment value. Indeed, my wife and I both found it more entertaining, more worth seeing, than the vast majority of what Hollywood turns out these days.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am no Randian. I do not come anywhere near her in terms of faith: I am a devout Christian; she is an atheist. I utterly reject her rejection of philanthropy, compassion, etcetera. I do not worship the dollar, or even make a fetish of it. I find a great deal of her philosophy to border on being monstrous. And I utterly reject her idea of people of talent going “on strike” in order to let the world collapse and then pick up the pieces.

In short, I do not agree with many of Rand’s prescriptions. But I DO agree, wholeheartedly, with many of her diagnoses of statist ills, dangers, and evils. Her version of a dystopia is far too close to today’s emerging realities to be comfortable. Her warnings are well worth hearing, even if she then prescribes snake oil rather than the best, most effective medicine.

All of which is a diversion from the main point of this post: First, please do go rent part one of Atlas Shrugged, the movie. Then go to the theater to see Atlas Shrugged II, and bring a “swing voter” friend or two.

All of you will enjoy it, and your friends might be swayed in the direction of freedom.

October 15th, 2012 at 4:39 pm
In Iran, a Blueprint for Chaos
Posted by Print

Der Spiegel today carries a chilling profile of General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, that includes this provocative piece of intelligence:

… [Amongst Iranian hardliners] Jafari, 55, is seen being particularly unyielding. In 2009, for example, he declared that Iran would fire missiles at Israel’s nuclear research center in Dimona if the Israelis attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities — knowing full well that such an attack would result in several thousand deaths on both sides.

Now Jafari and his supporters are allegedly preparing new potential horrors. Western intelligence agencies have acquired a plan marked “top secret” and code-named “Murky Water.” Together with Ali Fadawi, an admiral in the Pasdaran, Jafari is thought to have proposed a senseless act of sabotage: to intentionally cause an environmental catastrophe in the Strait of Hormuz.

The goal of the plan seems to be that of contaminating the strait so as to temporarily close the important shipping route for international oil tankers, thereby “punishing” the Arab countries that are hostile to Iran and forcing the West to join Iran in a large-scale cleanup operation — one that might require the temporary suspension of sanctions against Tehran.

I don’t know which is the more disturbing thought: that a senior official in the Iranian military would be willing to consider such gratuitous environmental destruction — or that it might be the only thing that gets the left interested in the evils of the Iranian regime.