Archive | August, 2012

Words of Wisdom from “Silent Cal”

31 Aug

In a piece by Charles C. Johnson in City Journal, Mr. Johnson pretty much devotes the essay to quotes and interpretations of Calvin Coolidge, about whom Johnson  is readying a book for publication.  Johnson is a researcher with Breitbart News and a writer with Revere Advisors.

 Coolidge may have been “a man of few words”, but the words replayed in this essay are truly on target, even prescient.

 The full essay can be found at http://www.city-journal.org/2012/eon0830cj.html

Excerpts:    [Bolding is mine]

Coolidge .  .  . emphasized the ideal of the common good. “A true citizen of a real Republic can not exist as a segregated, unattached fragment of selfishness,” he told the delegates, “but must live as a constituent part of the whole of society in which he can secure his own welfare only as he secures the welfare of his fellow men.” In other words, we’re all in this together. Promoting the general welfare—and not the selfish interests of a few—meant promoting American principles, but this didn’t mean embracing statism. In language that sounds much like Romney on the campaign trail, Coolidge announced his own first principles:

I believe in the American Constitution. I favor the American system of individual enterprise, and I am opposed to any general extension of Government ownership and control. I believe not only in advocating economy in public expenditure, but in its practical application and actual accomplishment.

With the newly created Budget Bureau, he set about putting the country’s fiscal house in order and became the last president actually to pay down the debt, shrinking the government.

He even confessed a “sort of obsession” with government economy. “I regard a good budget as among the noblest monuments of virtue,” he explained in words that could have been said by Paul Ryan. “We can only be relieved of our present private and public burdens by refraining from private and public extravagance.” Americans should reject expenses for which there is “no commensurate return.” Taxes, contrary to what Senate majority leader Harry Reid has argued, are “not a voluntary contribution. . . . They are a stern necessity.” But when the government spends less, “it grants everybody a life pension,” which they can use “to raise the standard of existence.” Taxing less “increases the value of everybody’s property and raises the scale of everybody’s wages.” Taxing corporations would simply see them pass those costs on to everyday people. The tax that is “theoretically best” interferes with business least.

While Coolidge’s critics ahistorically claim that he was a pawn of Wall Street, he—and his secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon—actually made the tax code far more progressive, while still reducing taxes for everyone and achieving the desired economic growth. “Taxes take from everyone a part of his earnings, and force everyone to work for a certain part of his time for the government,” Coolidge said. Take less from them and they will do more. Economic growth would average 7 percent a year over the course of Coolidge’s first full term. And while in Coolidge’s day “every student knows that excessive high rates defeat their own purpose,” President Obama has yet to learn what Coolidge’s “government of common sense” taught. “Whatever cry the demagogue may make about his ability to tax the rich, at the end of the year it will always be found that the people as a whole have paid the taxes.” Good taxation follows “the straight path of justice” by only taking what the government needs and no more.

Most of all, Coolidge had a sharp sense of the limits of what government could achieve. “We harbor no delusions about securing perfection. We know that mankind is finite,” he warned his fellow Republicans. This is a particularly important lesson for Romney, whose Mr. Fix-It attitude has at times recalled Herbert Hoover, to whom Coolidge referred dismissively as a “Wonder Boy.” There may be some problems that Romney-Ryan cannot fix.

[End of excerpts]

I can’t add anything to this — can you?

Should It Really Be “Game Over” for Akins?

30 Aug

I’d like to ask when it became more acceptable to vote for a liar and a thief (the essence of the charges against McCaskall) than to vote for someone who is simply ignorant in one particular subject area. 

What does it say about our society if the voters are less outraged by a significant lack of ethical behavior than by a display of ignorance about rape?  It’s not like Akins, as Senator, can single-handedly effect any change to the law of the land that will fit his [previous?] understanding of rape vs legitimate rape vs pregnancy odds, etc. 

 As long as Akins’ weird belief is buried in a body of 100 senators, I’m not too worried.  I’ll bet a lot of those jokers up there have some beliefs that would literally shock us. 

 And what about all the seniors out there who still believe that a Romney-Ryan administration will take away their Medicare?  Are they being any less ignorant than Akins?  It seems there is plenty of ignorance to go around – including my own, no doubt.

 It’s also kind of like Romney and Mormonism.  A lot of “ignorant” people say they will not vote for a Mormon, and most people are completely ignorant of what Mormonism really is – including those who won’t vote for one.  On the other hand, most of us realize that even if we can’t support Mormonism as a mainstream Christian faith (not that they want to be considered mainstream), a President Romney would not have the power to try to convert America to Mormonism from the White House.

By the way, I saw where one essayist asked a “fair and balanced” question in an anti-Akins piece:  If the probability of pregnancy is basically the same when raped as when consensually having sex, why do doctors recommend that women who are having trouble conceiving try to relax more during intercourse?  Are those doctors nearly as ignorant as Akins?

Are We Even ABLE to Be Rational about Entitlements?

29 Aug

Thomas Sowell’s latest column, titled simply “Entitlement Reforms”, carries a more troubling sub-message regarding the rationality of human beings.  I interpret the message to be that either we are easily duped (not as smart as we think we are), or not nearly the rational thinkers we perceive ourselves to be.

 Dr. Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. 

 The full column can be found at http://www.creators.com/conservative/thomas-sowell.html

 Excerpts:   [Bolding is mine]

For those of us who like to believe that human beings are rational, trying to explain what happens in politics can be a real challenge.

For example, that segment of the population that has the least to fear from a reform of Medicare or Social Security is the most fearful — namely, those already receiving Medicare or Social Security benefits.

It is understandable that people heavily dependent on these programs would fear losing their benefits, especially after a lifetime of paying into these programs. But nobody in his right mind has even proposed taking away the benefits of those who are already receiving them.

Yet opponents of reforming these programs have managed repeatedly to scare the daylights out of seniors with wild claims and television ads such as one showing someone — who looks somewhat like Paul Ryan — pushing an elderly lady in a wheelchair toward a cliff and then dumping her over.

There are people who take seriously such statements as those by President Barack Obama that Republicans want to “end Medicare as we know it.”

Let’s stop and think, if only for the novelty of it. If you make any change in anything, you are ending it “as we know it.” Does that mean that everything in the status quo should be considered to be set in concrete forever?

If there were not a single Republican, or none who got elected to any office, arithmetic would still end “Medicare as we know it,” for the simple reason that the money in the till is not enough to keep paying for it. The same is true of Social Security. 

.  .  .   .

It is today’s young people who are going to be left holding the bag when they reach retirement age and discover that all the money they paid in is long gone. It is today’s young people who are going to be dumped over a cliff when they reach retirement age, if nothing is done to reform entitlements.

Yet the young seem not to be nearly as alarmed as the elderly, who have no real reason to fear. Try reconciling that with the belief that human beings are rational.

 

Will Republicans Ever Get the Message Right for Minorities?

29 Aug

Here’s an excerpt from a piece by David Brooks from August of 2000.   It is pulled from “Pabulum with a Purpose”, appearing in The Weekly Standard.  It goes to demonstrate that the search by Republicans for the right connection to minority groups has been going on for some time.  These minorities remain oppressed by [largely] Democratic-Party-inspired programs, but still see Democrats as their real benefactors.

 [Excerpt}

 “It started on Monday with a Hispanic girl singing the national anthem, a black Baptist minister preaching by video from the pulpit of his church, an Asian-American woman celebrating the virtues of voluntarism, and a black retired general defending affirmative action. It concluded on Thursday with a California politician delivering a speech in Spanish, a Mexican dancer in a big sombrero crooning Latin tunes that were clichés back in the day of Ricky Ricardo, and the African-American singer Chaka Khan singing a final number as the delegates walked out into the night. This wasn’t a normal political convention. This was reparative therapy for Caucasians. The people in the stands were mostly white, while the people performing were mostly minority, just like at a Utah Jazz basketball game.

“The Philadelphia convention, in other words, was unlike any other in party history. The Democratic view of it is that the Republicans built a Potemkin image of multicultural inclusiveness to mask what is still a white, intolerant party. And it’s true that the convention program did not reflect the party as it really exists. The GOP is not intolerant; still, normal party gatherings don’t look and feel like this. But the more generous interpretation is that the televised show represented the party of George W. Bush’s aspirations. In other words, he’s trying to transform the party to make it fit the happy multi-hued image that we saw up on stage.”

Why Do I Feel So Bummed Out?

29 Aug

 I can’t watch the live, or near-live, coverage of the Republican National Convention.   And I certainly won’t watch the Democratic National Convention.  It’s almost more than I can bear to just watch the highlights.  Why is that?  I am highly concerned about the direction this nation is taking – you name the issue.  Is ANYthing going really well?

 So I should be excited about the Republican offensive against the president, the Democrats, and the Administration, right? 

 I suppose so, except that 1) we don’t know that our guys are giving us the truth any more than the liberals are, 2) even if they are, we can’t really know that they are, and 3) even if “the good guys” win, will they actually step forward and undertake solutions to the serious financial, moral, and economic problems faced by America, or will they just continue to hunker down to protect their jobs?

 I am so weary of, ashamed of, and disappointed in, the constant flow of lies and exaggerations flowing out of politicians and commentators these days that it takes a real effort even to watch the news, be it Fox News, the MSM, CNN, whatever.

 Oh, I still have my favorite essayists and commentators, people I consider to provide more of a rational viewpoint than the common group of liars – people like Thomas Sowell, Linda Chavez, John Stossel, Walter Williams, Mona Charen, Michael Barone, and a few others.  Sometimes, though, even my favorites seem to crawl into the gutter.

 While I am writing this — just this very moment —  I had to click off the TV as Boehner was being broadcast making yet another attack on Obama based on the president’s gaffe, “you didn’t build that” – which really does refer back to the roads and bridges, not to the small businesses.  Obama’s statement still was wrong (after all, whose money built the roads and bridges, if not the money of the taxpayers, which includes small-business owners), but it’s also wrong to blatantly misrepresent what the president was trying to say.  And, of course, Ann Romney used the gaffe in her otherwise-excellent speech, as well [saw it on the “highlights”.].

 I hate it.  A profession that requires a practitioner to depend on lies, illusions, exaggerations, obfuscations, twisted statistics, and personal attacks in order to be successful has to be inherently evil.

 Doesn’t it?

Hey — How’s Our Investment in GM Doing, Anyway?

29 Aug

Michael Barone recently wrote an essay titled “GM Goes From Bad to Worse Despite Obama Bailout”, in which he points out the difference in thinking between Obama and conservatives regarding the success of this bailout.  It also portends what Obama will feel free to do if he is re-elected.  You can find the full essay at

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_michael_barone/gm_goes_from_bad_to_worse_despite_obama_bailout

Mr.  Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

Excerpts:   [Bolding is mine; content in brackets [ ] is mine]

.  .  .  .

“When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse,” Obama told a campaign event audience in Colorado earlier this month, “I said, let’s bet on America’s workers. And we got management and workers to come together, making cars better than ever, and now GM is No. 1 again and the American auto industry has come roaring back.”

His conclusion: “So now I want to say that what we did with the auto industry, we can do in manufacturing across America. .  .  .

Obama talks about the auto bailout frequently, since it’s one of the few things in his record that gets positive responses in the polls. But .  .  .  the GM bailout is not at all the success he claims.

GM has been selling cars in the U.S. at deep discount and, while it’s making money in China — and is outsourcing operations there and elsewhere — it’s bleeding losses in Europe.  .  .  .  

It botched the launch of its new Chevrolet Malibu by starting with the green-friendly Eco version, which pleased its government shareholders, but which got lousy reviews. And it’s selling only about 10,000 electric-powered Chevy Volts a year, a puny contribution toward Obama’s goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

“GM is going from bad to worse,” reads the headline on Automotive News Editor in Chief Keith Crain’s analysis. That’s certainly true of its stock price.

The government [the taxpayers] still owns 500 million shares of GM, 26 percent of the total. It needs to sell them for $53 a share to recover its $49.5 billion bailout. But the stock price is around $20 a share, and the Treasury now estimates that the government [the taxpayers] will lose more than $25 billion if and when it sells.  .  .  .

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that GM is bleeding money because of decisions made by a management eager to please its political masters — and by the terms of the bankruptcy arranged by Obama car czars Ron Bloom and Steven Rattner.

Rattner himself admitted late last year, in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club: “We should have asked the UAW (the United Auto Workers union) to do a bit more. We did not ask any UAW member to take a cut in their pay.” Non-union employees of GM spinoff Delphi lost their pensions. UAW members didn’t.

The UAW got their political payoff. And GM, according to Forbes writer Louis Woodhill, is headed to bankruptcy again.

Is this really what Obama wants to do for all manufacturing across America? Let’s hope not.

[End of excerpts]

 

 

More on Obama’s Damaging New Education Initiative

15 Aug

More words of wisdom from Walter Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, and a well-known black conservative.  Dr. Williams has written a column on the state of black education in America, entitled “Obama’s Educational Excellence Initiative”.  Ironically, I just posted an item referring to Heather MacDonald’s expose of this same initiative.  This is serious stuff.  I have excerpted Dr. Williams’ column below, but you can find the complete column at

 http://www.creators.com/opinion/walter-williams/obama-s-educational-excellence-initiative.html

 Excerpts:    [Bolding is mine]

President Barack Obama recently wrote an executive order that established a White House initiative on educational excellence for black Americans that will be housed in the Department of Education.  .  .  .  Though black education is in desperate straits, the president’s executive order will accomplish absolutely nothing to improve black education. The reason is that it does not address the root causes of educational rot among black Americans.  .  .  .

The president’s initiative contains not one word about rampant inner-city school violence, which makes educational excellence impossible. During the past five years, Philadelphia’s 268 schools had 30,000 serious criminal incidents, including assaults — 4,000 of which were on teachers — robberies and rapes.  .  .  . Similar stories of street and school violence can be told in other large, predominantly black cities, such as Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland and Newark.

If rampant school crime is not eliminated, academic excellence will be unachievable. If anything, the president’s initiative will help undermine school discipline .  .  .  .  [F]or example, if black students are suspended or expelled at greater rates than, say, Asian students, it’s a “disparate use of disciplinary tools.” Thus, even if blacks are causing a disproportionate part of disciplinary problems, they cannot be disciplined disproportionately.

Whether a student is black, white, orange or polka-dot and whether he’s poor or rich, there are some minimum requirements that must be met in order to do well in school. Someone must make the student do his homework, see to it that he gets a good night’s rest, fix a breakfast, make sure he gets to school on time and make sure he respects and obeys his teachers.

 

 

Here’s my question: Which one of those requirements can be accomplished by a presidential executive order, a congressional mandate or the edict of a mayor? If those minimal requirements aren’t met, whatever else is done is for naught.

Spending more money on education cannot replace poor parenting. If it could, black academic achievement wouldn’t be a problem. Washington, D.C., for example, spends .  .  . more than any state, but comes in dead last in terms of student achievement. Paul Laurence Dunbar High School was established in 1870 in Washington, D.C., as the nation’s first black public high school. From 1870 to 1955, most of its graduates went off to college .  .  .  . During this era of high achievement, there was no school violence. It wasn’t racially integrated. It didn’t have a big budget. It didn’t even have a lunchroom or all those other things that today’s education establishment says are necessary for black academic achievement.

Numerous studies show that children raised in stable two-parent households do far better educationally and otherwise than those raised in single-parent households. Historically, black families have been relatively stable. From 1880 to 1960, the proportion of black children raised in two-parent families held steady at about 70 percent .  .  .  .Today only 33 percent of black children benefit from two-parent families. In 1940, black illegitimacy was 19 percent; today it’s 72 percent.

Too many young blacks have become virtually useless in an increasingly high-tech economy. The only bright outlook is the trickle of more and more black parents realizing this and taking their children out of public schools. The president’s initiative will help enrich the education establishment but do nothing for black youngsters in desperate educational need.

[End of Excerpts]

 This emphasis on preserving the legacy of racism by the current administration is really disturbing.