Friday, October 30, 2009

ObamaCare and the War over the Welfare State

For Republicans and conservatives ObamaCare is like a Halloween nightmare.

Everything we hate about liberalism is contained in the 1,000 page monstrosities being dragged through the Congress by its liberal leaders: more taxes, more bureaucracy, more mandates, more price controls, more compulsion.

How can the Democrats be proposing this madness? Surely they can't believe that the monstrous Pelosi bill, a 1,990 page behemoth, will solve anything? Pessimists like Mark Steyn say that government health care is a path of no return. Once people get "free" health care you can never get them to live like free men and women: paying for what they get.

Steyn may be right. But it seems to me that there is no avoiding the climactic battle to decide the war. I am not necessarily talking about the Clausewitzian decisive battle. That notion is tied up with the Prussian need, as a small nation, to beat its enemies swiftly before a conflict turns into a war of attrition.

What we are seeing, in this desperate Democratic gamble, is more like the Ludendorff offensives in early 1918. The Germans threw everything they had against the British in Picardy and more or less destroyed the British Fifth Army. Then they turned south and drove the French back toward Rheims. But the offensives petered out; the breakthrough didn't occur, and the Allied defense held. After that, the German retreated, step by step, until the Armistice in November.

We are in a similar situation. The Democrats are making one last desperate gamble to impose their administrative, compulsory, universal welfare state on the United States. It is the last moment that anyone can pretend that the bureaucratic method can deliver social services, or indeed anything except a police force or an armed service.

There is no way that we can avoid this climactic moment, the high water mark at the end of a vast tide of the welfare state. We must fight against it, bravely and truthfully as the Loyal Opposition. We must have faith that, one fine day, the American people will turn from the meaningless and degrading world of the welfare state, which makes adults into adult teenagers.

The last time that the Democrats tried this the American people upchucked and we got the election of 1994. If anything, the opposition to the Democratic agenda seems to be forming faster and more effectively than in the Year of the Angry White Male.

There is a simple way of understanding what conservatism is all about. You can call it the Affirmation of Ordinary Life. If you take away the tasks and the challenges of ordinary life--work, marriage, children, family, and the many struggles and sacrifices that accompany it--then you strip life of its meaning.

Which may explain why studies show that liberals are less happy, less generous, and less honest than conservatives.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

CNN's Conventional Wisdom on Palin

There's one good reason at least to read the MSM: to get the conventional wisdom. So Alexander Mooney's CNN piece on "Palin's high risk, high-rewards strategy" is helpful.

We learn that Palin is too hot to handle for the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia, because it will rile up the left and turn off the moderates. We learn that Palin's poll numbers have gone down in the last year, except with the conservative base.

But the conventional Mooney admits that there's an upside to the Palin strategy. By endorsing Doug Hoffman in NY-23 and challenging the GOP establishment she is staking out a Tea Party strategy. She may not appeal to moderates; people may not think she is ready to be commander-in-chief. But the Republican base loves her. And then there is this:

Moreover, as the Tea Party movement has made clear, a passionate grassroots movement now exists, ready to embrace a leader.

Now let's see. Let's think back to a presidential candidate that was written off by the conventional wisdom of the time as too lightweight, too divisive: couldn't appeal to moderates.

I remember well attending a Republican presidential caucus in 1980. I entered the caucus a Bush supporter, but the dogged enthusiasm of the down-market Reagan supporters, people that looked like blue-collar Democrats, made me into a Reagan supporter by the end of the evening.

Why was I a Bush supporter? Because he was the safe choice. Because I believed the MSM poison about Reagan the extremist, Reagan the lightweight.

The thing about a charismatic politician like a Reagan or a Palin is that once nominated, they can talk over the heads of the MSM directly to the American people.

And they can demonstrate to the American people that they are not at all the caricature created by Democratic activists and their bribed apologists in the mainstream media.

Maybe in 2012 the American people will be exhausted by the Obama administration's lies and failures. Maybe they will want a safe pair of hands. If that is so, then there will be plenty of insiders qualified for the job.

But maybe they will want someone with a record of standing up the the corrupt establishment, a candidate with the courage to take on the old guard and win.

If that is what the voters want, then they will be looking for someone very much like Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Palin Hits the Independent Spot

Michael Barone writes today that voters are expressing their frustration with the Obama administration but they aren't at all sure they can trust the Republicans as an alternative.

As William Galston points out in his New Republic blog, during Obama's presidency voters have been growing more conservative but remain disdainful of Republicans.

Now, supposing you were a politician wanting to take advantage of this situation. What would you do? Why, you'd probably endorse Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman in NY-23, as Sarah Palin has done. You'd say, on your Facebook page, that Doug Hoffman is a good conservative who stands for "smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty." You'd take the NY Republican Party to task for nominating a candidate so liberal that "there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race." Then you'd finish with something like this:

Republicans and conservatives around the country are sending an important message to the Republican establishment in their outstanding grassroots support for Doug Hoffman: no more politics as usual.

A few weeks ago I wondered about the title of Palin's upcoming book: Going Rogue. Now I understand. Going rogue means running against the Republican establishment when running for Governor of Alaska. It means working around the Washington establishment and aiming for the sweet spot in the post-Obama electorate. It means not being a good follower but acting as an outsider willing to disturb the status quo and willing to risk the long shot.

A few weeks ago, when Palin ignited the "death panels" flap Pat Buchanan noted that Palin certainly knew how to frame an issue. It was the respect that one professional gives to another.

Liberals all think, after the 2008 campaign, that Palin is a lightweight.

But if there is one thing you should never do in politics, it is this: Never underestimate the opposition.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't Worry About NY-23

Some people are getting too worried about "losing" NY-23. We are talking about the special congressional election next week in New York's 23rd District, in which NY voters are electing a successor to John McHugh (R), nominated to be Secretary of the Army.

OK. It's true that some Republican leaders have endorsed the offical Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, and other have endorsed the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman. Oh No, some people are worrying. That will split the conservative vote and elect a Democrat.

Seriously, we have more important fish to fry. And the elections of 2009 give conservatives a free pass on deciding what it will take to win elections in 2010 and beyond.

The GOP leaders nominated Scozzafava on the assumption that a nice non-controversial moderate Republican was the safest choice to retain the NY-23 seat in the (R) column. It looks like they were wrong. Dead wrong. But hey, everyone makes mistakes. The trick is not to repeat the same mistake over and over again.

Meanwhile in Virginia the conservative Republican candidate, Bob McDonnell, seems to be running away from the Democrat Creigh Deede.

In New Jersey, the moderate Republican Chris Christie is only level-pegging against incumbent Democratic billionaire Jon Corzine, with independent Chris Daggett creating a stir.

What will be the result? Well, whatever it is, it will tell the political professionals, and also you and me, a lot about what it will take to win in 2010.

The fact is that, with Obama in the White House and the Tea Party movement entering the arena, we don't know what will move the needle. Is it a centrist GOP? Is it a hard-right GOP, purged of the RINOs? Or is it a moderately conservative GOP that can attract the Tea Partiers?

And what, exactly, do the Tea Partiers want?

My guess is that a week from now we will start to get a feel for what the 40 percent of Americans who call themselves conservatives, and the 35 percent of Americans who call themselves moderates or independents, really want.

Liberals, a mere 20 percent of Americans, need not apply. You chaps better get what you can, while you can. Because politics is going to be different after Obama.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Realigning Election in Britain?

In the US the Noughties is associated with George W. Bush and Iraq. In Britain it was once associated with the brilliant political wizardry of Tony Blair.

But now the voters in Britain think of the clunking failure of Gordon Brown. It's not just that his decade-old boast of "ending Tory boom and bust" has come crashing down around his ears. It has now become utterly obvious that Labour's welfare state is utterly failing the poor. Nothing remarkable here. We all know on the right that the welfare state utterly fails the poor, in its dependency culture and its rotten inner-city schools.

In Britain, the Conservative Party is doing something about it. Former party leader Iain Duncan Smith now heads up an organization called the Center for Social Justice. It is proposing radical changes in welfare, basically emulating the US welfare-to-work strategy that President Obama is busily dismantling.

Then there's a proposed school reform being led by Michael Gove that amounts to a mega-charter program on the Swedish model. that basically allows any sensible group to set up a charter school free of the local education blob.

All this is discussed in a think piece today at Conservative Home by Tim Montgomerie. He calls it "The plan to turn Britain blue [i.e. Conservative] for a generation."

The plan is anchored in the Conservative education and welfare strategies, but also aims to win the support of centrist "values voters." This means, I suspect, nice middle-class women who want a greener, kinder society.

The very simple political idea is that there are an increasing number of people out there who see their vote as an ethical responsibility as well as an act of self-interest. These 'values voters' deserted the Conservatives in 1997 because they were uneasy at aspects of the nation created by the Thatcher-Major years even though they had benefited from them. They - to use Iain Duncan Smith's borrowed expression - wanted to vote for a party that wasn't just 'good for them' but was also 'good for their neighbour'.

In 1997 the Labour Party successfully defined the Conservatives as the selfish "nasty party." Many voters didn't want to be thought of as nasty. They left the Tory party and voted for the centrist party, the Liberal Democrats. A major initiative of party leader David Cameron has been to "love bomb" the Lib Dems and bring them back.

It is monstrous, of course, to consider conservatives as "nasty." If you want nasty, then how about the party that has demolished the culture of the working class and its institutions and corralled the remnants into crime-ridden public housing estates and barracked their children in dreadful schools.

The trick, of course, is to redefine conservatives as the nice party, and Labour as the nasty party, just as conservatives in the US are working on presenting the Obamites as Chicago thugs and Tea Partiers as patriotic Americans.

When that has been accomplished the next task is to rebuild the civil society of "little platoons" and "mediating institutions" and show these values voters how the conservative way is better than the top-down, government program way of the left.

This is a big educational task. Most centrist people of good will in Britain and the US dutifully think that it is government's job to provide the safety net and do all the "nice" charitable things to make society caring and compassionate. They do not yet "get" Cameron's central message: "There is such a thing as society. It's just not the same thing as the state." Nor do they get that government is always and everywhere about power, and not about caring and compassion.

But the time to start is now. And if anyone can do it, David Cameron is the man to do it.

US conservative politicians will be watching Cameron closely. For those of us that Hope for Change, there is the dream of repeating the Reagan-Thatcher partnership with a ???-Cameron partnership. Who will that ??? be? A Sarah Palin? A Bobby Jindal? A Mitch Daniels? Even a Mitt Romney?

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Worse Than a Crime

I seem to be dragging the Talleyrand quote out a little too much. But it applies to so much of the Obama administration's policies that I just can't help myself. So let's tell it like it is.

The Obama administration's policy on demonizing its enemies, which clearly comes right from the top, is worse than a crime, it's a blunder. And that comes through loud and clear in Krauthammer's Friday column about the Obamites' war on their opponents, particularly FoxNews. He paraphrases Madison:

Madison argued that the safety of a great republic, its defense against tyranny, requires the contest between factions or interests... They would help guarantee liberty by checking and balancing and restraining each other -- and an otherwise imperious government.

Let's sharpen his analysis. To adapt another European thinker, Clausewitz: Politics is civil war by other means. Each side of the partisan divide, deep down, wonders what the other side would do when push comes to shove. Liberals were paranoid about Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. They worried about what Dick Cheney was doing behind the scenes.

That's why it's important for the president to work hard at seeming to be fair with his opponents. It keeps the paranoid fears down to a low rumble. And, liberals, despite what your leaders told you, George W. Bush worked pretty hard at that.

President Obama is working on seeming fair to his opponents. In fact he is clearly targeting his opponents with the full power of the US government. The problem with that, as with any all-out offensive, is what do you do for an encore? Suppose President Obama manages to cow the opposition and the economy still goes south? Suppose that the war in Afghanistan continues to spiral downwards? How do you deal with your opponents when you have already unleashed the full power of the government against them?

With politics as with armies, you only really get one chance, because once you commit your army to battle you use it up. You come out of the battle with an army that is much weaker than what you started out with.

Here we are after nine months of the Obama administration and already the Obama agenda is busted. Americans are divided on health care. They are "green" but not if it means sharply higher energy costs. They stood by when the Obama administration passed a "stimulus" bill that mostly stimulated its supporters, but they didn't like it. The fact is that after a mere nine months, the Obama mandate is busted.

So we go back to the correlation of presential election forces.

Republican Margin of Victory/Defeat: Selected Demographic Groups -- 1996-2008
White Men+9+24+25+16
White Women-5+1+11+7
African Americans-72-81-77-95

We can already start to imagine what the numbers will look like in 2012. White men will be back to +25, or maybe more. White women will be up to +15. African Americans will be at +90 but theturnout will be way down.

The big question will be Hispanics. I'd guess that Obama will be lucky to get -25.

So why would President Obama and his troops be out there making enemies? I always thought that the #1 priority of a politician was: Don't make enemies. President Obama seems to be awfully careless about this. Maybe it didn't matter in the one-party city of Chicago.

But what do I know? But my guess is that the Obama all-out campaign against its opponents is worse than a crime, it's a blunder.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Obama's Scapegoat of the Week

It really goes beyond irony. Here we have the president who ran on post-partisan politics, getting beyond the petty squabbles in Washington DC.

Yet surely no president in modern memory has used polarization and scapegoating as consistently and routinely.

Never mind the tired Blame-it-on-Bush tactic. Just think of all the others he has accused of wickedness.

Yesterday it was the bankers. The federal pay czar demanded that companies taking money from the TARP fund should reduce their compensation--by as much as 90 percent.

Before that it was the insurance companies, whose search for profits, as everyone knows, is the reason that health care costs are so high.

Now the president is threatening three special interests in what Mark Tapscott calls:

Barack Obama and his White House capos muscling recalcitrant opponents and promising to crush those who don't get in line.

They are muscling the US Chamber of Commerce:

Now the White House actively encourages an exodus of high-profile firms from the nation's most prominent voice for business, with the prospect of billions of dollars of "green industry" subsidies being a prominent lure.

There are the doctors:

If the doctors would drop their demand for medical malpractice lawsuit reforms and support Obamacare, Reid would quickly move the $247 billion bill to spare them from scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursement.

Otherwise their Medicare reimbursements would fall sharply. (Stop press: Reid failed in a test vote to move the bill forward yesterday).

Then, of course, there is the war against FoxNews. Heigh ho.

Let us raise all this to the dignity of a Law of Political Scapegoats. "The last refuge of a political scoundrel is the scapegoat."

There are some politicians who reach for a scapegoat as their first refuge, but they are beyond the pale.

There's nothing wrong with scapegoating, per se. It's obviously a necessary part of human society. When things go wrong, you need to load all the guilt and the failure on a convenient victim and cast him out--hopefully with all the guilt and failure--so you can make a fresh start. In a democracy, this process is called an election.

But there must be a limit to this. And I suggest that, for a politician, the limit on scapegoating should be this: the scapegoat must be another politician.

In other words, if President Obama wants to blame someone for everything going wrong, it must be another elected politician. No fair blaming the doctors or the insurance companies.

Why does everyone hate the insurance companies? Because government policy has put them in an untenable position. They are expected to deliver unlimited medical care in return for a fixed monthly premium. Who can do business under those conditions? What happens when they try to limit their costs? They are pilloried as corporate monsters.

Or the bankers. The government keeps playing games with money and credit. For instance, it decided that more people should be able to buy homes, and bullied the banks into lending more money to sub-prime borrowers. After home prices soared and then collapsed when the sub-prime borrowers couldn't service their loans, the politicians blamed the bankers, their reckless lending practices, and their bonuses.

It's up to We the People to do something about this. Whenever a politician hauls a scapegoat onto the political stage for ritual humiliation, we must avert our eyes from the public execution and start looking for the man behind the curtain.

Meanwhile, here's some advice to President Obama.

Mr President, I have a feeling that there is a natural limit to the scapegoating that a politician can get away with, a point at which the people stop falling for the scapegoat play. And I think you are getting close to that limit.

Just a word of advice from one American to another.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obama in Trouble

It's too easy to keep your head down and get distracted by the he-said-she-said of the daily political show.

You know how it goes: Will the administration succeed in quarantining FoxNews? Will the "public option" get into the final health bill? When will the president make a decision on Afghanistan? Will the Democrats allow a vote on subpoenaing the records of Countrywide Financial?

All this tactical noise drowns out the greater strategic question. And that question is: Just how deep in trouble is President Obama?

My guess is: deeper than we know. Deeper than we can imagine. That's why we are seeing all the desperation flapping around and crude strong-arming.

It's always hard to see the future. Heck, the future doesn't even know the future. But it is clear that the political plates are shifting. As Jonah Goldberg writes, recalling the stories of the Indonesian tsunami in 2004:

Before the tidal wave crashed on shore, beachgoers stood around and idly gaped as the water drastically receded. Bewildered, they didn't realize they were looking at the prelude to a calamity.

That's what is happening right now. The tide is going out. Something is about to happen. Politicians are still going about their normal business, buying and selling votes as they always do, but there is a eerie stillness that makes everyone look at each other with a questioning look.

Everything the administration is doing is wrong. Its stimulus program should have been an emergency tax cut on the payroll tax, not a giveaway to Democratic voters. The cap and trade should have enabled nuclear power and hydrocarbon drilling, not taxes and green-energy subsidies. The health care reform should be increasing transparency and market responsiveness, not creating more subsidies for slacker liberals.

If the economy is to recover quickly and effectively it needs to be freed up from the weight of government, at least for a while. It seems that President Obama and his advisers don't get that. Why would they? They are all liberals, and have lived all their lives in the liberal bubble.

It's the American people that will have to pay for all this. As they start to grasp the enormity of the situation, they will start to become very angry. They will demand new leaders, and they will make sure that they get them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dividing America

President Clinton's response to the Monica Lewinsky affair in early 1998 was to get Dick Morris to conduct a poll, the Washington Post reported.

When Morris reported that Americans would favor his impeachment or resignation if he lied under oath, he says Clinton replied: "Well, we'll just have to win, then."

That started the highly partisan conflict with the Republican Congress that ended in Clinton's impeachment in the House and trial in the US Senate. Arguably, it started the 50-50 Red-state/Blue state division that has dominated US politics down to the present.

The divide certainly hasn't really helped Republicans. But the rage against Bush certainly helped Democrats win in 2006 and 2008.

Now the Obama administration, with its popularity waning, has decided to take a highly partisan tone with its opponents. It has decided to argue that FoxNews is not a real news network, but an arm of the Republican Party.

Well, FoxNews certainly features a number of conservative commentators. And it certainly does feature news that is embarrassing to the administration. But the combative Obama response, David Limbaugh writes, is troubling.

Instead of selling its agenda the old-fashioned way -- by convincing the unconvinced -- it attacks those who dare to articulate and air the opposing point of view.

You can understand why the frustrated Obamites might think they need to up the ante on their opponents. They are political fighters and political fighting is what they do. But viewing this long term, it can do nothing but hurt their cause.

Let's count the ways that this will hurt the administration:

  1. It will elevate FoxNews as the official opposition to Obama.
  2. It will encourage anyone that has a beef with the administration to watch FoxNews.
  3. It will encourage fence-sitters to take a look at FoxNews to find out what is going on.
  4. It will energize the opposition.
  5. It will lead to more and more political thuggery as the Obama administration tries harder and harder to gain traction.

There's a reason why political tradition requires that the political parties bury the hatchet after an election. It is that government becomes almost impossible when everyone is all mobilized to fight on every single issue. That's why politicians typically try to pass legislation that has a large bipartisan majority. If you pass something on strictly a partisan basis, then the other side will mobilize to reverse it at the first opportunity,

Let's look at the Bush tax cuts to see how this works. In the 2001-02 recession the Bush administration wanted to cut tax rates to stimulate economic recovery. But Democrats were opposed. It was impossible to obtain a bipartisan consensus.

So, to get the economy moving and to win the next election, the Bushies pushed their tax cuts through on a partisan budget vote, needing only 51 votes in the Senate instead of a filibuster-proof 60 votes. The tax cuts are set to expire at the end of 2010. Democrats have been salivating ever since to get at the revenue that the tax cuts for the rich took away.

But when President Bush wanted to reform Social Security he understood that budget shenanigans were inappropriate. He needed a bipartisan majority. Democrats were opposed to his plan and it was clear that a bipartisan majority wasn't possible. So Bush accepted defeat, and Social Security didn't get reformed,

The Obama administration clearly doesn't believe in that sort of politics. They seem to be intent upon a huge change to health care without creating a national consensus and a bipartisan majority in Congress. They seem to be determined to get something, anything, as long as they win.

This is a strategic error of monumental proportions. Nothing but tears will come of a close-fought partisan victory on health care.

The problem facing the Obama administration is not that FoxNews is an arm of the Republican Party (Thank goodness it isn't!) . The problem is that Obama campaigned as a moderate and he is governing as a liberal. The problem is that his program is broadly unpopular with the American people, and the more they learn about his agenda, the less they like it.

As I said. The Obama administration is just creating trouble for itself. How much, nobody can tell. That's why we have federal elections every two years.

Monday, October 19, 2009

TSA is the New DMV

Critics of the president's health care plan like to ask whether you want your health care run by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

We all know why. The Department of Motor Vehicles is the only government agency that most people ever interface with as a customer. It's the only time they get ordered around by rude, uneducated, overweight dolts. And these are dolts that cannot be fired. It's the only time when they experience the eternal constant of governance: How not to do it.

On Sunday, Lady Marjorie encountered the new DMV, the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) the creation of 9/11. Marjorie was selected for a random search. This meant being ordered into a glass cage, barked at, ordered out of the glass cage, having her belongings spilled on the floor, being ordered around, and generally treated as though she was applying for a drivers license at the DMV.

You'll recall that on the insistence of Democrats in the Senate, airport security checks were to be performed by uniformed government employees rather than the contract personnel, as previously. They must have thought that they had scored a real coup by creating a new special interest that would be good for votes and contributions in the years ahead.

But I think they may have made a strategic mistake. It used to be that Americans didn't come into contact with the federal government too much, except to talk to the friendly ranger at a National Park. But now they have to suffer the ministrations of a new Circumlocution Office, well practiced in the arts of How not to do it, every time that they fly.

At least you only have to deal with the DMV once every five years.

I admit it. I hate the security checks at the airport, absolutely hate them. It is just wrong for a free people to be subject to such routine policing and manhandling by the government. As time goes by, I expect that I will project my distaste more and more upon the unfortunate TSA employees manning the security checkpoint.

I expect that many Americans will come to feel the same. Democrats will find out that there will be political repercussions to this.

It will mean that critics of glorious new government progams will ask, in future: Do you really want your health care run by the TSA?

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Not the Lies, It's the Meanness

Hey, Rush Limbaugh is a public figure, right? He signed on for the big leagues, so you can figure that he'd better be man enough to take the hits. So if the boys get a bit rough with him about a fake racist comment, well, politics ain't beanbag.

Actually, Limbaugh can take the heat, including the snide little hit from the Today Show infobabe, asking him why the private Rush is so gentle and polite. Compared to the public Rush.Link

Hey, anyone can fabricate racist quotes from the IP of a New York law firm, as suggested in The American Thinker. Anyone can sicc the Justice Brothers, Reverends Jackson and Sharpton, on Rush. Anyone can gin up the head of the NFL players union, DeMaurice Smith, who "served as counsel to Attorney General Eric Holder and was a member of Barack Obama’s transition team," according to The American Thinker to say that the NFL players would play for a team with Rush as an owner.

But it's the meanness that gets to me. Rush Limbaugh had the chance to own a share in an NFL team, probably the one thing that this modest man would like in all the world.

And the Obama political machine decided to take him down on it. Because they could.

Here's my advice to the Obama guys. If I were you, I'd keep my eye on the ball. I reckon you chaps have about three months to reverse your economic policy, and reverse your legislative agenda. After that, it's pretty well baked in the pie that we'll have big unemployment going right through till the 2012 election. It's pretty well baked in that we'll have serious inflation. It's pretty well baked in that the American people are going to be mad as hell and are going to want to take it out on Democrats at every opportunity.

Sooner or later you chaps are going to have to start cutting spending and lowering taxes on job-creating businesses.

So these Chicago politics power plays aren't going to move anyone. In fact, they will disgust the white moderate women without whose votes Democrats don't have a prayer of winning anything.

It's not the lies. It's the meanness.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We Need Rules for Race-Hustlers

Well, now we know. When it comes to ownership in the National Football League, outspoken conservatives need not apply. But it is OK for an outspoken and divisive liberal like Keith Olbermann to be an NFL broadcaster. That's different.

For Rush Limbaugh to belong to a syndicate aiming to buy a majority interest in the St. Louis Rams is beyond the pale. That's because, you see, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, reported in the Washington Post he is too divisive:

"I've said many times before we're all held to a high standard here, and I think divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about," Goodell said at an NFL owners' meeting.

What was the problem? Just some made up racist quotes dredged up from Wikipedia and retailed by people like St. Louis Post Dispatch sportswriter Bryan Burwell.

You know what I think. I think it is time to establish some rules for race-baiters, particularly journalists operating in the mainstream media. If you don't follow these rules then your statements make you liable under the rules of libel: having a reckless disregard for the truth.

  1. A charge of racism is the most serious charge you can make against an American.
  2. A charge of racism must be supported by a primary source.
  3. A primary source is a video, an audio, a transcript, s sworn statement.
  4. A primary source is not Wikipedia, Wikiquote, a blogger, or an unsourced quote in a book.

If you haven't met these rules then you must expect to pay damages for your reckless speech.

Then there is the NFL. I think the NFL needs to understand that 40 percent of Americans are conservative, and that the NFL needs to keep friends in both political parties if it expects to maintain its anti-trust privileges as a national institution. It may be that the NFL needs a sharp blow upside the head before it "gets it."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Gasping Strangled Death of a Lie

Don't say you weren't warned. What we are witnessing this Fall, as Democrats flail away trying to create a bill out of the morass of lies they call health care reform, is a watershed moment, a tipping point.

It is more than the death of an ill-thought legislative measure, an attempt to conjure up an image of low-cost universal health care with makeup, lighting, and a winning stage presence in the leading man. It is the end of an era. It is the end of the pretense that you can satisfy the basic wants and needs of humans with a bureaucratic government program.

Let us just look at just one of the crazed ideas in the Baucus bill. It is the luxury tax on excessively generous insurance plans. Notice what is going on here. First of all, government encourages the luxuriant growth of health insurance by making it into a tax-free employee benefit. The whole thing started, you will recall, in World War II as a way of evading war-time wage and price controls.

So now, in order to deal with the inevitable effect of such a subsidy, the solons propose to set up a penalty to stop health insurance from getting too luxuriant!

This sort of thing is so commonplace in the modern social democratic world that we even have a law to explain it: the law of unintended consequences.

But the whole thing is madness anyway, as Tony Blankley explains.

[T]he same Congress and president who want to stop the banks from taking too much risk cannot stop themselves from ever more deficits. Indeed, so intoxicated -- nay, hypnotized! -- by debt is the current government that it is not even proposing to try to cut back.

Yes! Even before the Baucus bill the Congressional Budget Office reports that "The federal budget is on an unsustainable path[.]" Why is that? Because "Rising costs for health care and the aging of the U.S. population will cause federal spending to increase rapidly."

Does President Obama propose a radical program of bringing the federal budget back to reality? No. He proposes to double down.

The ideology of the progressive educated class has always been a lie. It was a lie when Marx proposed the "immiseration" of the working class. It was a lie when the Prussians enacted the social insurance model that paid for the workers' social benefits out of the hide of the middle class. It was a lie when FDR enacted the cruel Wagner Act that cartelized Big Labor and Big Business. It was a lie when he passed Social Security in 1935, sent Publishers Clearing House letters to every voter in 1936 that they might already have won a pension, and then started the taxes in 1937--after the election. It was a lie when LBJ lied about the future costs of Medicare in 1965.

And it is still a lie as Democrats propose to force America, in a strictly partisan effort, to pay for the health care of slacker liberals, now and forever.

Well, it's not working. And even if some form of health reform passes, it will not stand. Democrats are heading straight for disaster, generational disaster. They are going into a reverse like Stalingrad or the Battle of Kursk. The health bill is like the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, extending slavery to Kansas and Nebraska in the moment between the fall of the Whig Party and the rise of the Republican Party. It is setting up the casus belli for a great civil war. It is the one last lie that will collapse onto and demolish all the other lies that we have been forced to believe on penalty of being labeled a racist, a sexist, an exploiter, or a homophobe.

As usual, of course, it will be the poor who will suffer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Who Do You Trust on Healthcare Estimates?

Who do you trust to tell you the truth? That's what it comes down to as the Obama administration rushes its health care reform through Congress.

There are, of course, a lot of people who believe that government can make things work. I was talking to a gentleman recently who was satisfied that the Postal Service was an efficient organization.

But those of us with suspicions about all large and powerful organizations don't buy that. We expect government programs to slowly wind down, becoming less and less efficient, and more and more devoted to the convenience of managers and special interests. And most important of all, the politican's need for reelection.

Now that the insurance industry has finally woken up to the fact that the Obama plan will eat them for lunch they have taken the time and money to get an analysis out of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

What does the analysis say? It's pretty straight forward. Health reform will make health insurance more expensive. It's about what you would expect. Government doesn't do anything to make things efficient. What is does is shift costs from favored interests to less favored interests. So, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Obama plan will increase insurance premiums due to four principal factors: insurance market reforms, a tax on high-cost plans, cost-shifting from Medicare cuts, and new taxes on the medical industry.

Overall, the study says health care costs will increase:

79 percent between 2009 and 2019 under the current system and by 111 percent during this same period if these four provisions are implemented.

So that's all right then. Reform will only increase costs by 40 percent!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Costs of the Healthcare Jam-down

Have the Democrats really stopped to think what they are doing with this health care jam-down?

The so-called Baucus bill (which is not a bill but "conceptual language") was clearly written to game the CBO scoring system. In other words, it was written to make it seem that the government takeover of health care would cost under a trillion dollars over ten years.

But it won't. We know it won't.

The excellent Michael Barone has a telling article about this, and about the special deals that Senators Reid (D-NV) and Schumer (D-NY) have written into the bill to help their states.

Lyndon Johnson reportedly ignored the advice of his economists back in 1965 when he was costing out Medicare. He just lied about the estimated costs and got his Medicare passed.

Maybe Democrats think that they can get away with it again.

But I think they are fooling themselves. I think that if they pass this bill they will reap a generation of rage. I think that this bill gets us to the Tipping Point on government spending. I think it will power up a new generation of conservative activism which will truly redeem President Reagan's boast that "you ain't seen nothin' yet." Here's why.

  • Government health care stops the market from seeking out new procedures and new economies. It maintains health care as expensive, cartelized crony capitalism.
  • Government health care reverses the reward for prudence. It rewards people who don't take care of themselves and their families.
  • Government health care will turn into rationing. It has to, because there is an almost unlimited demand for free or subsidized health care.
  • Government health care will force Americans to fight each other. That's what happens in education, according to Andrew Coulson in Market Education. Government always selects one way to do everything. That means that people that want another way have to fight.
  • Government health care puts politicians at the center of power and society. It means that politics will decide issues rather than economics or compassion or caring. The only thing that matters is whether you can scare or bribe a politician.

Guess what. People don't like that stuff. And conservatives are going to have an open line to moderate women. We are going to be able to say: Democrats don't care about you and your family. They just care about power and about special interests.

Liberals and Democrats better understand what they are doing here. They are visiting a monstrous injustice on the American people and they will pay dearly for their arrogance and their pride.

Well, it's about time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

After Nobel Comes the Whirlwind

I wouldn't want to be a liberal right now. Because any liberal with any sense must see that a perfect storm is brewing.

We wish President Obama well, and we congratulate him on winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in diplomacy.

The trouble for the president is that this award probably will be remembered as an inflection point. After today, things will start going downhill for the president, and I predict that they will go down fast.

Let's look at all the issues that are combining, like weather disturbances, into the perfect storm.

  1. The dollar. The Obama administration has done nothing to adjust to the fact that, after the Crash of 2008, the nation is poorer. That means it can afford less government. That means that it must revive the economy by--get this--reviving the private sector. That means it is going to have to defend the dollar or see massive inflation. But instead the Obama administration has governed as if nothing had changed. The US consumer and the US creditor aren't going to like this.
  2. Government Spending. The Obama administration spent about a trillion dollars on a "stimulus" bill. Actually the bill was not a stimulus but a payoff to Democratic voters. It won't stimulate the economy. This is going to result in higher unemployment in 2010 and 2012 than otherwise. The US voter isn't going to like this.
  3. War on Terror. In the Oughties, Democrats said that the Iraq War was a mistake and a distraction. The real war was in Afghanistan, and how come we haven't captured Bin Laden yet? Of course, as Charles Krauthammer makes clear, the only reason the Dems talked about Afghanistan was that it was a way to criticize President Bush while neutralizing the Democratic reputation for being soft on defense. "Bush Lied," they said. Well, you ain't seen nothing yet. The American people aren't going to like this.
  4. Health Care. The Obama administration proposes to spend at least a trillion dollars on extending health care subsidies to their supporters. Probably this is a gross underestimate. This additional burden on the private sector will make the economy weaker.
  5. Cap and Trade. The Obama administration is proposing to raise energy taxes by trillions of dollars in order to "save the planet." Leaving aside the science of global warming, and leaving aside whether carbon reduction is the appropriate response, Americans just don't want to pay more in taxes, especially in the middle of a recession.

Of course, there is more stuff that the American people don't like. They don't like the corruption; they don't like the regulation of the blogosphere; they don't like the use of the "race card." And on and on.

When all these issues combine together, we are going to see a perfect storm. It will transform the US economy, and it will transform US politics.

There is no way to tell what all the ramifications of the storm will be. In any storm, the damage will be horrific, but it will be impossible to tell, before the storm, what will survive and what will be utterly destroyed.

But I will make this prediction. After the storm has passed, and after the American people have viewed the wreckage, and taken in the scale of the disaster, our liberal friends will be utterly discredited.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cameron Takes Fight to Labour

David Cameron, the leader of Britain's Conservative Party, delivered a barn-burner speech (PDF) to his party's conference, taking the fight directly to Britain's lefty Labour Party.

With an election about seven months away, and Labour discredited with massive deficits and swelling unemployment, Cameron's party is proposing major reforms to government education and government welfare. But that is not all. He is blaming Labour directly for failing to educate children and failing to give the poor a hand up.

Who made the poorest poorer? Who left youth unemployment higher? Who made inequality greater? No, not the wicked Tories… you, Labour: you’re the ones that did this to our society. So don’t you dare lecture us about poverty. You have failed and it falls to us, the modern Conservative Party to fight for the poorest who you have let down.

I wonder if a GOP presidential candidate will be saying that to a roaring Republican National Convention in 2012 after a disastrous Obama term in office when the economy fails to respond to "stimulus" and fails to generate jobs.

Cameron's peroration is one for the ages.

I can look you in the eye and tell you that in a Conservative Britain: If you put in the effort to bring in a wage, you will be better off. If you save money your whole life, you’ll be rewarded. If you start your own business, we’ll be right behind you. If you want to raise a family, we’ll support you. If you’re frightened, we’ll protect you. If you risk your safety to stop a crime, we’ll stand by you. If you risk your life to fight for your country, we will honour you. Ask me what a Conservative government stands for and the answer is this, we will reward those who take responsibility, and care for those who can’t.

Who says that conservative is dead, or brain dead, or losing its way? I predict that you ain't seen nothing yet. And we will see in the US, in 2010 and in 2012 such an explosion of generous, patriotic, optimistic conservatism as you never imagined was possible.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Problem, Our Opportunity

Three conservative pundits lead off today with end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it pieces.

Michael Medved tells the third party enthusiasts: "The Only Way to Beat Obamanism: Elect More Republicans." Unless we elect more Republicans, the liberals in Congress will keep passing more legislation to concentrate more power in the government. Street protest, funny hats, and cute slogans on placards won't do it. Only a Republican Congress and a Republican President will do it.

John Stossel tells freedom lovers that we deal with the unavoidable truth that government is a "Transfer Machine" in which politicians inevitably use the nation's wealth to win office and pension their supporters. And today the nation is evenly split between transferees and transferers.

Walter Williams rehearses the bloody record of "Elites and Tyranny." As long as we are pursuing "social justice" we are going to end up with bloodied elites pushing people around, and chaps who are good at it, like Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, rising to the leadership positions for which they are so qualified by ruthless temperament and experience.

Things really look black, don't they? The tide of big government seems unstoppable.

Maybe it is. But maybe it isn't. When the tide comes in particularly high, then there is often a good opportunity to turn it back. It is when an invading army is fully extended that the best opportunity for counter-attack occurs. The battle of Stalingrad occurred after the German Army had flooded across southern Russia up to the foothills of the Caucasus. It was when the German Army was all strung out that the Red Army counterattacked on the neck of a great salient and forced the Germans into an epic retreat.

Now let's look at the advantages that conservatives have in the months ahead.

  • Obama is a weak leader. He may not even be a very good campaigner. He just had the good fortune to run when Republicans were utterly discredited.
  • Forty percent of Americans identify as conservatives and 40 percent identify as moderates. RIght now moderates are in the middle of cognitive dissonance. They thought they were getting a moderate, post-partisan president. Because that is how Obama sold himself to them. Ninety-fice percent of Americans would get a tax cut, they thought. It will take a while before they are fully convinced that they have been had.
  • Americans hate the things that the Obamites are doing. They hated the porkulus, they hate the cap and trade, they hate the government mucking around with their health care.
  • Conservative Americans are really getting riled up. That is the necessary foundation for a tidal change in politics. Trust that the leaders will emerge. Trust that the issues will get defined. Trust that the money will be there. But first of all you have to have enthusiasm.

You can argue that it doesn't really make any difference, that government will keep getting larger, that, as some wag said years ago, nothing ever changes until Attila the Hun rides over the horizon. All true.

But we did put the kings out to pasture. We did stop slavery. We did revolutionize life expectancy. We did create a Constitution. We did win World War II against the German Nazis and the Japanese militarists. We did win the Cold War against the Soviet Union. We did persuade the Chinese, by "soft power" rather than military might, that the future was capitalism not socialism.

Now we have the one great opportunity in a generation to turn the American people from the adolescent meaningless of the welfare state and inspire them with the vision of a sociable state.

What is a "sociable state?" It is a state where the vital work of health, education, and welfare is done by free people in sociable cooperation rather than through the compulsion of beetling government compulsion and power.

What three things is America are a mess today? Exactly. The health system, the education system, and the welfare system. Then there's the finance system as well. What is the common problem with all these messes? The government controls them in almost every detail, and it makes a complete mess of them.

The truth is inescapable. Government is hopeless and the social and compassionate work of health care, of preparing children for adulthood, and relieving the poor. There has to be a better way.

Candidate Obama promised Hope and Change. He has delivered precious little of either. How could he? Government is not the vehicle of hope and change. Government is the vehicle of force and compulsion.

But the city on a hill is still there, for America is "still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Barney Frank Pours Oil on Fire

Remember the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977? That's the wizard wheeze behind the housing bubble.

Back in 1977 there was a problem. Low income people and people living in run-down neighborhoods couldn't get mortgages. Red-lining, it was called. And the banks were to blame.

So the Dems came up with a cool idea. Why not force the banks to lend in low-income areas by imposing government regulation, and why not sicc non-partisan activist groups with no ties to unions or to the Democratic Party, i.e. ACORN, on the banks to apply a little encouragement?

Why is it that the only thing that politicians deal in is force?

Then in the 1990s they updated the act and made it tougher. Pretty soon, a bank couldn't open bank branches or do a merger without a signoff from a non-partisan activist group. Usually this signoff could only be obtained with a bit of a non-partisan contribution to the activist group, i.e. ACORN.

Well, we know what happened next. By the peak of the housing bubble, Fannie and Freddie were issuing so many "sub-prime" mortgages that they amounted to over 40 percent of all mortgages bought and securitized by the mortgage giants. The banks were making sub-prime mortgages, as required by the Community Reinvestment Act, and they were selling the mortgages to Fannie and Freddie.

And now, according to reports, Barney Frank (D-MA) wants to extend the powers of the government to meddle in consumer lending with the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009. Writes Byron York:

It would extend CRA's strict lending requirements to non-bank institutions like credit unions, insurance companies, and mortgage lenders.

Oh great. Back in the Oughties, Democrats were unanimous in sneering at the stupidity of President George W. Bush. All that Bush wanted to do was to restart the economy and fight against Islamofascism. But this takes the cake.

However. I do not think that Barney Frank is stupid. I think he is very clever. But I think that he just doesn't care if he wrecks the whole credit system with his handouts and his subsidies. For him, it's all about power. The only thing that matters to him is helping his friends and supporters with other peoples' money. Because that's what liberal politicians do. They call it compassion.

At least these people aren't fooled by Barney Frank.

Monday, October 5, 2009

How to Stimulate the Economy

When you are in the middle of a recession and people are losing their jobs left and right, what do you do?

In the nineteenth century, the answer was simple. Nothing. The government was not expected to manipulate the business cycle. It was expected to maintain the value of the currency. However, the history of the 19th century shows that much of the economic turmoil was due to politicians mucking around with the credit system. Think Andrew Jackson and the Second United States Bank. Think the deflation after the Civil War when the government deliberately worked to increase the value of the dollar back up to its prewar level. Think free silver.

In the first great crash of the 20th century, the Crash of 1907, J.P. Morgan brought the wealthiest men in America together to organize a bailout. They conducted a triage operation on ailing companies. They refused to bail out companies that they judged would survive the crash anyway. They refused to bail out the companies that they judged would fail anyway. They decided to bail out the companies that they judged would survive if loaned some money.

The 1907 crash occurred before the creation of the Federal Reserve Board. So it's not surprising that when the first big financial crisis hit in 1929 the Fed botched the job. You'd expect that with a new government program. The Federal Reserve, set up as a lender of last resort, let thousands of banks fail. The money supply contracted sharply and the credit system ground to a halt. Millions were thrown out of work, and unemployment went over 20 percent.

In the 1930s, British economist john Maynard Keynes wrote The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. It actually wasn't much of a general theory, but it did propose a policy for getting out of the Great Depression. The policy was to ramp up government spending on useful projects, like infrastructure--roads and bridges. This would create a "multiplier" effect that would stimulate other economic activity and so get the economy out of the slump.

In the event, the US economy finally recovered with the war spending of World War II.

The problem with the Keynesian stimulus policy is that the projects the government chooses to fund may not in fact be economically beneficial projects that stimulate other economic activity. They might be bridges to nowhere. Or they might be bailing out companies, like General Motors, that probably cannot be saved anyway. In other words, government chooses based on political considerations, while bankers like J.P. Morgan choose based on economic considerations.

That's the situation we are in the present time. The Democrats, inspired by Keynes, have enacted a huge stimulus program to stimulate the economy. But it has turned out that the stimulus program is not full of economically beneficial projects but political payoffs. It is designed to help Democrats and Democratic constituencies weather the recession. It is not designed to encourage economically beneficial activities.

Of course, if you want to turn the economy around, then you need to encourage people to do things that will start a a new economic expansion. You want to direct credit towards those activities that will deliver the most profit, understanding profit as a surplus of benefit over cost. If you think that then you will be inclined to reduce tax rates on employment, such as the FICA tax. Or you might want to reduce tax rates on small businessmen, who are the primary generators of new ideas and new employment.

But politicians don't think that way. They do not get elected by helping unknown business startups in unknown garages. They get elected by helping established special interests that have the money to support their campaigns and the influence to bend their ears and threaten bad things if they don't get what they want.

In the United States, marginal rates on business taxes are already high. The corporate income tax rate hits 34 percent for income over $75,000 and then bobbles around, hitting 39 percent before settling down at 35 percent for corporate income over $18,333,333.

Guess what. In Europe corporate income taxes are in the 25 percent range. In Japan there is not capital gains tax at all. So US businesses are at a disadvantage.

Next year, 2010, the Bush tax cuts will expire and individual income tax rates will go up.

The issue really is this. Do you think that politicians and their staffs are best at figuring out what projects are best for the economy? Or do you think that individual businessmen are best?

The answer is important. About 10 million people have lost their jobs in the last two years. They want to get back to work.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Conservatism Brain-Dead?

I can't quite decide if Steven F. Hayward is serious in asking the question "Is Conservatism Brain-dead?" Because I can't help feeling that his article in The Washington Post is Straussian. That is: it reads one way to the uninitiated and another way to those in the know.

Officially, Hayward is bemoaning that we have nothing like the weighty bestsellers of yesteryear:

The bestseller list used to be crowded with the likes of Friedman's "Free to Choose," [1962] George Gilder's "Wealth and Poverty," [1981] Paul Johnson's "Modern Times," [1983] Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind," [1987] Charles Murray's "Losing Ground" [1984] and "The Bell Curve," [1994] and Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History and the Last Man." [1992]

I have sneakily added in the publication date each book. Notice anything interesting? These books weren't crowding together. They were spaced out over 30 years! Admittedly, a lot of them crowded into the 1980s. But that was after the Reagan Revolution. The heavy lifting had been done years earlier.

No. I think that conservatism is in the cat-bird seat. And my big thing is the rise of the "chick-cons." Yes, if you look at the lists they are crowded with titles by conservative women: Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit, Smart Sex by Jennifer Roeback Morse, Domestic Tranquility by Carolyn Graglia, The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers, What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us by Danielle Crittenden. And let's not forget The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes, which is not strictly chick-con but a history of the 1930s.

Now if we descend to include important titles by men, there's the stand out Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg. That's a real bestseller. But of course there is a lot of heavy lifting going on below the radar. I'm thinking of Rodney Stark with his raft of books on the sociology of religion. There's From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State by David T. Beito and A Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark. There's Market Education by Andrew Coulson and The Beautiful Tree by James Tooley, both on education reform. Not to mention the standout works by Peruvian Hernando De Soto including The Mystery of Capital.

My feeling is that the books below the radar are more important than the best-sellers. The best-sellers tend to come, like the conservative best-sellers of the 1980s, when it's all over bar shouting, as my grandfather used to say.

But let us get down to activism. The chick-cons are really busy networking and organizing, as you'd expect. There's NeW, the Network of enlightened Women, an organization of conservative women college students that are reading chick-con books together and doing activism. There's Smart Girl Nation. They are the ladies that first got the Tea Parties going.

I'm still not sure whether Steven F. Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan, was serious about conservatism being brain dead, or whether he was trying to fool the liberals at The Washington Post.

Doesn't matter. Conservatism ain't brain dead. It's so alive that it's scary.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Moderates Don't Like Dems

The Gallup Poll has just found that Americans want the government to promote "traditional values." Dog bites man, you'll say. But that's not the whole story.

According to Byron York, the poll shows that Americans trended away from the idea that the government should support traditional values in the 2005-2008 time. That was the time when President Bush and Republicans were very unpopular. So Americans weren't so sure they wanted Bush and the Republicans as the arbiters of national values.

Now all of a sudden, after six months of the Obama administration, the American people have decided that they do too want the government to promote "traditional values" by 53 to 42 percent. Republicans haven't changed their minds. Democrats haven't change. But Independents have.

Last year, independents were overwhelmingly in favor, by 55 percent to 37 percent, of the government not favoring any set of values. In the new survey, those numbers are almost reversed, with 54 percent saying the government should promote traditional values and 40 percent saying it should not.

I have a different take on the Bush popularity explanation and the sudden change in the opinion of independents. In the Bush years, it wasn't so much that Bush was unpopular as that liberals and Democrats were determined to make him unpopular. With their daily vitriol they made the "compassionate conservative" into a hard-right theocrat. They made the moderate bumbling by all levels of government during Hurricane Katrina into a specific failure of Bush. They did everything they could to run Bush down. They succeeded.

Well, when you do that, you are likely to bring moderates and independents along with you. Studies show repeatedly that moderates and independents are less knowledgeable about politics and less interested in political issues. They just go with the Zeitgeist.

The Democrats were suggesting in their attacks on Bush that it didn't have to be that way. Democratic government would be moderate and centrist, especially when compared to the hard-right cowboy politics of Bush.

What the independents and moderates have got is clearly a hard-left government that is trying to jam down everything in the liberal agenda, using every trick in the book, before the American people wake up and upchuck them.

Let us leave aside the profoundly immoral and unjust nature of this project. The whole point of civil government is to try to do things as much as possible by consensus. Because government is force, and force works both ways. The whole idea of laws and rules is to limit the use of force and make politics run within the rules, rather than break the bounds of civility, and ultimately, peace.

When you break the rules, you'd better remember Al Davis' famous line: "Just win baby."

I'm predicting that the Democrats are making a gigantic strategic mistake. I think that the outcome of the present Democratic jam-down will be a staggering backlash.

Liberals and the MSM and their activist talking heads create a narrative every day that they tell and retell to the American people. It is that the American people need all the vast expense and structure of big government. Otherwise children would go hungry and illiterate, mothers would die in childbirth, and the unemployed would live in shanty-towns. Government is a measure of our compassion.

It's just not true. Humans are social animals; they create society wherever they go. And the purpose of all social relations is precisely to care for children, to raise them to useful work, and to help the unfortunate. Without government, this society would be brimming with social relations and compassion.

When you have government do all this, it gets done badly. Because government is force. You don't use force to do things that need compassion.

So the liberal effort to effect the complete takeover by liberals of all social relations is bound to fail. Because the more that government does, the more it does badly. And the more it forces, the more it forces compassion out of society.

If the American people get a notion that all this government is just a waste, a corrupt bargain that just funnels money to liberals so they can boss everyone around, and if some populist leader arises who can articulate such a message, then we could see real hope and real change. For a change.