Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Tea Party, the most serious challenge to the American way of life

“The modern Tea Party doesn’t understand history, so it can’t be expected to appreciate irony.  It is a mongrel movement, its leaders self-proclaimed, its agenda by turns unfathomable and incoherent, its philosophy grounded in vehemence.  So how can it possibly be dangerous?  Here, in no particular order, are my four Rs of the Tea Party,” writes someone named Mike Appleton, a guest blogger on a site hosted by law professor and legal analyst Jonathon Turley. First, it is racist, he states, and it is a religionist movement that is revisionist and repressive.

He is not alone in his disdain for the Tea Party. Florida 9th District Democrat Representative Alan Grayson compared the Tea Party’s popularity to that of the Ku Klux Klan, and used a burning cross to replace the T in “Tea” in an email he sent out last week.

New York Democrat Representative Charlie Rangel told the Daily Beast: “It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police."

West Virginia Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller said a while back that they are "People who will do absolutely extraordinarily bad things that are extraordinarily bad for the country and not care about it." He added he believes some members of the Tea Party are "extremists" who have "hijacked" the Republican Party.

Many Republicans also sharply criticized the Tea Party faction’s behavior, including the party leadership in both the House and the Senate.

The Tea Party has been blamed for the government shut down earlier this month, and during and after Congressional wrangling over raising the debt limit to prevent the shut down, the Republicans and Tea Party were called “arsonists,” “terrorists,” “extremists” and “anarchists,” accused of “waging a War on Women,” compared to Thelma and Louise, and have been blamed for’s failed rollout, as well as for Standard & Poor's downgrading the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time, and the non-existent recovery from the 2008 recession.

Such power. No wonder most Democrats and establishment Republicans fear the Tea Party.

However, after months of digging into documents in the National Archives and elsewhere a research firm has discovered that the Tea Party was also responsible for the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Fast and Furious, the Benghazi terrorist attack, as well as Eve’s temptation of Adam, the Edsel, the Black Sox scandal, New Coke, and choosing the name of the Washington Redskins, although there is a strong argument that most of these things were really Bush’s fault.

It won’t come as a shock to all those blaming the Tea Party for destroying the country that there is no such thing as “the Tea Party,” per se.

Several organizations use the words “Tea Party” in their name, but “Tea Party” signifies a movement, not a formal organization. It is a loose affiliation of national and local groups that independently set their own agendas, based upon a broad set of principles.

The original form of the name was TEA Party, for “Taxed Enough Already” Party, obviously opposing existing high taxation and proposed new taxes and higher rates on existing ones.

The broad goals of the movement are to advance the principles of limited federal government, individual freedoms, personal responsibility, free markets, and returning political power to the states and the people.

Radical stuff, that.

These are essentially the same principles sought by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution 220-odd years ago. It says more about the Tea Party critics than about the Tea Party movement itself that the critics attack the founding principles as extreme.

The Republicans/Tea Partiers who opposed Obamacare and tried to repeal or defund or delay it earned themselves the enmity of Democrats because it interfered with their strong desire to control the healthcare of every American, and also of establishment Republicans because the political price of what they did was thought to be very high for Republicans.

There may be a high political price to be paid, but that remains to be seen. However, the Tea Partiers weren’t playing politics – and in Washington, DC not playing politics may be the worst sin of all. They were standing for a principle: that Obamacare, which cedes control of 18 percent of the economy to government, is bad for the country from its dishonorable smoky backroom origins, to its passage with only Democrat support, to the idiotic “that depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” acrobatics of Chief Justice John Roberts to find it constitutional.

With only control of the House of Representatives, the Tea Partiers had no chance at repealing Obamacare and their efforts earned them great anger, though now delay seems the smart thing to do. But the decision to try to repeal, or defund, or delay was a decision based on a principle, whereas the decision not to try is a political decision.

If elected officials make a mistake, wouldn’t we rather they did so supporting a founding principle than considering political repercussions?

And what does it say about our country when taking a stand for one of America’s fundamental principles is considered radical or extreme?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Random thoughts on the passing scene

Some of those who think the American health care system needed to be trashed and reformed in the image of the Canadian system might be interested in the opinion of Bacchus Barua, a senior economist with Canada's Fraser Institute.

"Healthcare in Canada is anything but free," he states, noting that the average family of four pays more than $11,000 a year in taxes for hospital and physician care. However, he explains in an article for The American "surely such expenditure is justified if Canadians receive a stellar healthcare system in return for their tax dollars. Unfortunately, that simply isn't the case."

Specifically, he lists some problems with his country’s system:
** Canada has fewer physicians, hospital beds, and diagnostic imaging scanners, and performs fewer medical interventions than its American and European counterparts.
** Canada has one of the lowest physician-to-population ratios in the developed world.
** A recent survey found that Canadians must wait an average of about 4 1/2 months for medically necessary elective procedures after referral from a general practitioner.
** The wait for diagnostic imaging technologies like MRIs is over two months on average.
** Patients in Canada are likely to wait two months or more to see a specialist, six days or more to see a doctor when sick or needing care, and four hours or more in the emergency room.
** Due to the lengthy waits, about 40,000 Canadians leave the country for treatment elsewhere each year [like the U.S.].
** Public drug plans covered only about a quarter of the new drugs approved for sale in Canada between 2004 and 2010.

He concludes: "These realities serve to dismiss the mythical notion that a Canadian-style healthcare system" is highly desirable.

We are headed in that direction.


During the mortgage banking crisis the federal government pressured large banks like JPMorgan Chase to take over the bad mortgage loans sold by failing banks Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns. Now the government is fining JPMorgan $13 billion for helping the feds deal with the crisis. Can you say “shakedown?”


Planned Parenthood involves itself with topics other than planning parenthood on its Facebook page, discussing topics like why some types of sexual activity are painful, transgender issues, and promoting Obamacare. Not exactly family planning.

An article on the Internet site reports that on Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page for teens it answers the question: “Is promiscuity a bad thing?” and that the organization defended doing so with the statement, “there’s nothing bad or unhealthy about having a big number of sexual partners.”

Isn’t this the mentality that has led to 40 percent of our babies being born out of wedlock, and males with multiple children from multiple “baby mamas?”

This “advice,” such as it is, increases the likelihood of HPV and cervical cancer among females, in addition to STDs. “Even the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, considered ‘a person to be at direct risk for STDs if he or she had had two or more partners during the 12 months preceding the interview’ during one of their research studies,” Big Health Report said.

The article notes “a person with low self-esteem has been shown to engage in sexual relations earlier, and engage in riskier, unprotected sex with multiple partners.” Does that sound like “nothing bad or unhealthy” to you?

Seriously? This is what we get for $542 million in federal subsidies?


The “government shut down” really amounted to about 17 percent of the government being “shut down,” and that is somewhat like going to a mall that has 100 stores and finding only 83 that are open for business. So, while things were uncomfortable for some folks, it bore no resemblance whatsoever to the government actually shutting down.

Of course, if the mall management blocked off stores that otherwise would be open, things would be more uncomfortable. No sensible businessperson would do that, but a petty, politics-dominated administration would, and did.


The emotional push to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour for those working the least skilled jobs in the fast food industry puts the spotlight on a fundamental misunderstanding of basic economics.

Advocates think the wage ought to be based upon concerns totally unrelated to the job and the business the job is a part of. “I flip burgers at Burger King, and can’t support my family on what I make, so raise the minimum wage,” is the mentality behind this ill-advised movement. In their mind, if a PhD. in English, mathematics, biochemistry, or any other field somehow ended up ringing up Happy Meals at MacDonald’s, the wage ought to be based upon his/her training, or some arbitrary “living wage” concept.

A job is worth whatever the employer says it is worth. Anyone who doesn’t like the wage is free to not take the job, or to look for a better one. If the employer can’t find people to work at the selected wage, he or she will have to raise it. Anyone who tries to find a better job, but can’t, needs to pipe down and do the job the employer allowed them to have until they can find a better one.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The scare mongering continues on the debt ceiling and default

There is great wailing and gnashing of teeth over the potential for catastrophe if the debt ceiling is not raised, but whether the ceiling is raised or not, the underlying problem will remain to be reckoned with yet again.

We are warned against defaulting on the national debt, which President Barack Obama tells us will have the most dire consequences. However, default really isn’t an issue, as economist and former long-time Federal Reserve System Chairman Alan Greenspan explained: “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default.”

While Mr. Greenspan’s statement is technically true, printing even more money to pay the nation’s debts has its own set of economic problems, and heaven knows we have enough of those already.

Another reason paying our debt service isn’t a problem is that even if the debt ceiling isn’t raised so that the government can borrow more money, there is more than enough money coming into the treasury each month to pay the interest on the debt multiple times over, although that has its problems, too.

But the best reason is contained in Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which directs, in no uncertain terms, that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." The Constitution commands the president to make good the debts of the United States, and that includes both what our nation owes to bondholders, and the sums promised in legislation to those receiving pensions set by law, according to legal scholar Garrett Epps.

What that means is that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised President Obama will be forced to make some tough decisions on what won’t receive funding so those mandated payments can be made, and since much of Mr. Obama’s popularity comes from spending money, there could be some uncomfortable and long days in the White House.

However, the scare mongering about the catastrophe facing the nation and the resulting public outrage will likely force an increase in the debt ceiling for the 80th time since 1940.

President Obama tells us this won’t increase spending, but since it does increase the limit on spending, does anyone really doubt that spending will soon increase, and before long the politicians will want yet another debt ceiling increase.

Sometimes there are compelling reasons for deficit spending, like WWII, the 9-11 attacks, and the banking crisis that threw the country’s economic system into crisis, but most times it is just a bail out from fiscal irresponsibility. Sometimes the ceiling has been raised by a small amount, other times by a large amount, and sometimes it’s been raised temporarily with provisions for a "snap-back" to a lower level.

“Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions – and the way most businesses make decisions if they want to stay in business,” says the eminent economist Dr. Thomas Sowell. “Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.”

And that is the crux of the problem. People who are elected to represent the interests of the citizenry do not use common sense and basic economics when making decisions we pay them to make.

Trying to obtain benefits without considering either the cost or the likelihood of success not infrequently produces bad programs, and bad programs breed and multiply in Washington, DC, and live forever.

The federal government is simply too big, too powerful, too intrusive, too expensive, and too undisciplined, and as a result there are dozens of duplicate programs, and more than a few programs that do not, and never have, achieved success, but are still being funded. And there are billions going to fraud and abuse.

Attempts to reign in waste, fraud and abuse have mostly lacked serious action, and efforts to cut spending to match income likewise have accomplished little.

And atop that lackluster record we have the biggest deficit producer in history in the White House.

At the end of FY2000, four months before George W. Bush took office, the national debt totaled $5.67 trillion. At the end of the fiscal year that Barack Obama took office it had risen to $11.91 trillion. That number is skewed higher due to the $151 billion TARP program President Bush implemented, $147 billion of which was repaid after Mr. Obama took office.

At the end of FY2013 the debt stood just short of $17 trillion. Excluding FY2009, when both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama held the White House, the president and the mostly-Democrat-controlled Congress added more than $5 trillion to the national debt, with average deficits of $1.163 trillion from FY2010 – FY2013.

It is way past time that government face up to reality and live within its means. The president and Congress must get rid of unproductive programs; eliminate, or at least significantly reduce, fraud, waste and abuse; shut down or downsize federal departments; and implement business-like fiscal standards. In short: do their job.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The five disgusting Ps of the Obama/Reid Government Shutdown

We are led to believe the government shutdown is one of the worst things to afflict the country since … well, pick something.

But that’s just more exaggeration from the left in Washington and in the media. The vast majority of Americans would not notice the shut down absent the barrage of horror stories we’ve been treated to, and one other factor.

Shutdowns aren’t that unusual. Since 1976 there have been 17. Six occurred during the Carter administration, 8 during the Reagan administration, one during the elder Bush administration, and 2 during the Clinton administration.

Most lasted less than a week, but in the Carter administration 4 lasted 10 days or more, and the longest of all those shutdowns in 1996 lasted 21 days. On average, government shutdowns last about 6.5 days. There has been a lag in shutdowns since 1997 in the second Clinton term, through the George W. Bush administration, and through the first Obama term.

There is obvious discomfort among furloughed federal workers. However, the House of Representatives voted Saturday to fund back pay, which is what usually happens in shut downs. So, the real pain will be felt by some of the American people, due to the aforementioned “other factor.”

Three things are true about this shutdown: First, the Republican-led House passed three bills to restore government funding. Second, each House measure also sought to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And third, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to act on the House measures and President Barack Obama threatened to veto them.

From this we see: a) House Republicans want to reopen the government and passed three measures to do so, and also wanted to save the American people from the ACA with its broken promises, serious problems, and goodies given to large employers and Members of Congress and their staffs. And b), to Sen. Reid and President Obama, putting the furloughed employees back to work, activating the inactive government functions and opening closed facilities are far less important than implementing the highly flawed ACA.

Mr. Obama is comfortable in his “It’s good to be the king” self-indulgence. But, he’s not “the” king, or even “a” king; he is merely the President of the United States, which is certainly an important and powerful position, but the Executive Branch of which he’s the head is just one-third of our government.

Those who took civics or other classes in American government know that among the ingenious features of the U.S. Constitution are the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, which were designed to prevent any one branch from acquiring more power than the other two.

Mr. Obama – who was reportedly a constitutional law lecturer – believes that the president is the most important figure in the government, ignoring the Constitutional prohibition of any branch gaining the degree of power and control he desires.

Democrats hold this perspective about the ACA:
*It was passed by Congress and signed by the president.
*The Supreme Court found it constitutional.
*There was an election that confirmed the country’s support for Obamacare.
*Thus, the matter is settled: the ACA is the law of the land. End of discussion.

This scenario is rife with weaknesses. Every Republican in the House also won election in 2012, and nothing prevents a law being repealed or amended. And remember that at one time slavery was the “law of the land,” and Congress made a huge error in abolishing the sale of alcohol through the 18th Amendment.

Congress can right wrongs in the law, as it did with slavery; it can repeal bad laws, as it did with the 18th Amendment. And, it can repeal, defund, or amend the error-ridden ACA.

Because Republicans did not lie down and let the Democrats have their way, we have been treated to the aforementioned “other factor,” the 5 Ps: the petulant, peevish, petty, and punkish political behavior that characterizes the shut down.

Faced with an obstinate opposition party, President Obama convened his strategy team from a nearby elementary school, where members of the third grade gathered on the playground to formulate a plan.

Noting that monuments and memorials were not closed during previous shutdowns, they recommended this tactic to cause pain: Close national parks and monuments, as well as some facilities that receive no federal funds and are not federally owned, like Mount Vernon. Close Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay to commercial fishing. Place barriers to block the World War II Memorial that has no gates and is wide open to visitors. Tell people who rent slips for their live-on boats or own homes on Lake Mead they can’t stay there. Block scenic overlooks, like at Mt. Rushmore, by placing traffic cones that prevent drivers from pulling over to view the monuments. Perfect third grade strategy.

Wesley Pruden, writing in The Washington Times, quoted an angry Park Service Ranger, who confirmed that attitude: “It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” he said. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

You see, if the shutdown doesn’t hurt people, it doesn’t help the Democrats.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Happy “Deficit Day,“ America! The fiscal precipice grows closer

Each year the US Treasury Department collects trillions of dollars  taxes. Last year that amount was $2.449 trillion, and this year it is projected to bring in $2.902 trillion.

If we look at federal spending on the conventional Gregorian calendar instead of the fiscal calendar, as of last Wednesday the federal government had already spent all of this year’s income, and every dollar spent after Wednesday is money it doesn’t have and has to be borrowed. That is called deficit spending and Wednesday was Deficit Day, the day after which every government action is performed on borrowed money.

Since there was at the time more than three months left in the year, between last Wednesday and December 31 the federal government will spend about $10 billion each day that it doesn’t have, adding $900 billion more to the national debt. This is another year of profligate spending that bloats our already bloated national debt still further, pushing the total near the $17 trillion mark.

The Heritage Foundation created an example that puts our federal government’s fiscal irresponsibility in perspective: The median family income in the US is $52,000 this year. If the median family spent money the way the government does, it will spend $64,000 this year, meaning it would put $12,000 on a credit card, without any regard for the $312,000 in existing debt the family already has accumulated. Other than many politicians and bureaucrats, who thinks this makes any sense at all?

Our government has so much debt that it breaks down to just slightly less per American citizen than the aforementioned median family’s annual income.

President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress demand yet another increase in the debt ceiling, opening the way for even more debt, although they want you to believe it’s only for paying existing bills.

A recent Bloomberg poll shows that 60 percent of the participants believe Congress should require spending cuts before raising the debt ceiling, even if that puts the nation at risk of default, while only 28 percent think the increase should be granted without conditions.

But Congressional Democrats want no restrictions on spending, either now or in the future. That is the source of their influence with voters, hence their power to impose asinine laws like the Affordable Care Act on the American people, despite the people’s dislike for that law.

However, if spending limits do come about, projects like the $27 million to teach Moroccans to make pottery would have to go. And the highly important half-million dollar project to create a video game called “Prom Week” to enable Americans the relive their high school prom would be sacrificed. Maybe we don’t really need a $376 million renovation of the White House, and we will no longer be able to pay unemployment benefits to those 1,000 prisoners who collected weekly benefits over a four-month period, costing taxpayers $7 million.

You may argue that those examples of foolish spending and waste amount to pocket change, but the complete list contains many more examples, and we must remember that pennies here and there add up to dollars, and millions of dollars here and there add up to billions of dollars. More importantly: The government has no business doing any of these things, at any cost, ever.

And, with the end of the fiscal year upon them, federal departments, agencies and offices have been busy spending whatever is left in their budgets, fearing that if they don’t spend it all, they will get less next time.

Some examples from The Washington Post: “the Veterans Affairs Department spent more than a half million dollars for artwork, the Coast Guard spent nearly $200,000 on ‘cubicle furniture rehab,’ and the Agriculture Department spent $140,000 on toner cartridges in just one day.”

And, according to Fox News, “federal agencies last week spent money on junkets for Chinese wine connoisseurs, Christmas tree initiatives, radio ads promoting New Jersey blueberries, a maple syrup recipe contest and produced a YouTube video to instruct on the proper handling of watermelons.” 

So much for putting the interests of the taxpayers first. 

Raising the debt ceiling is tied to a government shut down: raise the debt ceiling and everything is fine. Don’t raise it and the government shuts down. By the time you read this, government either will or won’t have been shut down. Either way, the term “shut down” is so far from accurate that it’s dishonest to use it. The government will “slow down,” not shut down. Sure, it will be hard on some, and the longer it lasts the harder it will be, but it’s not the crisis the Democrats and the media want us to think it is.

But in order to make everyone think it will be the end of the world, they have sacrificed their elitist façade of “tolerance” in favor of name-calling. The same people who cringe at calling terrorists and jihadists “terrorists” and “jihadists” have no problem calling Republicans and conservatives terrorists and jihadists, as well as hostage-takers, extremists, anarchists, arsonists and racists. 

It should be no surprise that yet again politics has elbowed out integrity and service.