Lying is not going to rebut Newt Gingrich's compelling understanding of America's energy policy and huge energy reserves.
In a speech that the Gingrich campaign has begun broadcasting around the country, and which is posted at Newt.org, Gingrich presents a unique new vision for a booming American economy. I think you will find it pathbreaking. It is so compelling that it drew Obama into a transcontinental debate with the former Speaker, the first exchange that Obama has decisively lost since he appeared on the national stage.
Gingrich began the explanation of his vision like this:
What if we had a program that enabled the American people to develop so much new energy that we were, in fact, no longer reliant on Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran. We didn't care what the Iranians did in the Strait of Hormuz because we were safe in national security terms.
What if that new energy program created well over a million new jobs, high-paying jobs, jobs that put Americans back to work and kept the money here at home that we had been sending overseas, giving us a dramatic improvement in our balance of payments, strengthening the dollar and giving us a chance to live much freer and more independently?
What if that very idea also meant that we'd also have dramatic increases in federal revenue… without a tax increase but that, in fact, the federal government would have literally an entire new stream of money?
And finally, what if that big new idea meant that you personally were better off because you are buying gasoline for $2.50 a gallon, not for $3.89 or $4 or what some people project by the summer could be could be $5 or more?
How is that possible, you ask? Well, that is what is exciting, and that is one of the reasons I am running for President.
Gingrich begins demonstrating the new vision by pointing to the Bakken geologic formation in North Dakota, which turns out to hold far, far more oil than the U.S. Geological Survey used to think, 25 times as much in fact, or 2,400 percent more. That Bakken breakthrough exists today "because it is on private land, and liberals weren't able to block us from developing it," Gingrich explains.
The result is that the official unemployment rate in North Dakota is 3.5 percent, with nearly 20,000 jobs paying $60,000 to $80,000 a year remaining unfilled for lack of sufficiently skilled applicants. Revenue from the booming growth is gushing into the North Dakota state government so fast that after seven consecutive tax cuts, the state enjoys a rainy day fund of several billion dollars, even though the entire state budget is only $2 billion.
Gingrich then projects, "If North Dakota has that much energy, how much do we think we have everywhere else? Turns out, we may have more oil in the United States today, given new science and technology, than we have actually pumped worldwide since 1870. We may, in fact, by one estimate have three times as much oil in the United States as there is in Saudi Arabia." Or as there ever was in Saudi Arabia.
Then there is a parallel revolution in natural gas. We have long known there was a lot of natural gas in shale, but we did not know how to get it out. As recently as 2000, people thought we had seven years of natural gas supply left in the United States. Investors began committing big funds to building facilities for importation of liquefied natural gas from the Middle East.
But then entrepreneurs began applying to shale rock formations the horizontal drilling techniques that had been developed for deep water ocean drilling, where the most had to be gotten out of one hole by drilling in every direction. Combine that with the long-time technique of fracking, breaking up the shale rock with steam, water and sand (supposedly so scary to "environmentalists"), and the net result, Gingrich elaborates, is that
[W]e now have in shale tremendous amounts of natural gas that is recoverable. In one short decade, we went from 7 years of supply to over a hundred years of supply because science and technology had improved so much. Furthermore, instead of us importing liquefied natural gas from the Middle East, there is now serious talk that we're going to build facilities in Houston… to ship liquefied natural gas to China.
But this is all just the beginning, because, as Gingrich adds, "in places like the Marcellus Shale in Western Pennsylvania, in eastern Ohio, cutting down along the Appalachians, all the way out to Dallas, Texas, there is formation after formation after formation."
What that means is what I reported last year in my book, America's Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb. America has the resources to be the world's number one oil producer, number one natural gas producer, number one coal producer, number one nuclear energy producer, even the number one alternative energy producer. The reason you never heard about this before, as Gingrich explains, is that "the politicians in Washington, the old-time establishment, the elite news media, the bureaucrats, don't have a clue what's possible, or in some cases, they have a clue and they are opposed to it."
"And the result is not just money for big oil," Gingrich continues, "but people who own the property, farmers." Gingrich recounts a conversation with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, "who just had run into a farmer who suddenly discovered that he had natural gas on his farm and he had been given an amazingly big check by the natural gas company." That same story is being replicated, or will be, from Texas to Tennessee across the Appalachians throughout Pennsylvania, to long impoverished upstate New York (if the liberals get out of the way there).
It means as well big money for our bankrupt federal government. As Gingrich reports, "One of the leading experts on North Dakota has suggested that we might well have over the next generation $18 trillion, not billion, $18 trillion in royalties… for the federal government with no tax increases." Note, that is more than the national debt.
But that is not all. Gingrich adds, "If you had $500 billion a year that was not going overseas, that was paying royalties in the U.S., paying landowners, paying people to go out and develop the oil, paying the pipeline builders, you would suddenly have a booming economy right here at home." What that means is that suddenly "We get a lot more jobs, people come off unemployment, food stamps, welfare, public housing, Medicaid. All that saves money. And they go to work taking care of their family and paying taxes. So government revenue goes up, government expenses go down…. Second, as we develop this, the companies are going to make more profit, so they are going to pay more taxes back."
And the economy gets a further boost because "Every time prices go up, they are the equivalent of a tax on working Americans and retired Americans." Similarly, every time gas prices go down, it is like a big tax cut boosting the economy, and lower energy prices are a big tax cut for energy intensive manufacturing in particular. Newt concludes, "Now $2.50 may sound like it is an impossible number, but that's baloney. When I was Speaker of the House, we paid $1.13 on average during the four years. When Barack Obama became President, we paid $1.89 that week."
Obama's Pondscum Vision President Obama felt compelled to respond to Newt and his campaign for $2.50 a gallon gas, in a speech in Miami February 23. Obama said regarding surging gas prices:
Now some politicians see this as a political opportunity…. You can bet that since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their 3-point plan for $2 gas. And I'll save you the suspense. Step one is to drill and step two is to drill. And then step 3 is to keep drilling. We heard the same line in 2007 when I was running for President. We hear the same thing every year. We've heard the same thing for 30 years.
Well, the American people aren't stupid. They know that's not a plan, especially since we are already drilling. You know there are no quick fixes to this problem. You know we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices. If we're going to take control of our energy future and start avoiding these annual gas price spikes that happen every year -- when the economy starts getting better, world demand starts increasing, turmoil in the Middle East or some other part of the world -- if we're going to avoid being at the mercy of these world events, we've got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.
And that's why under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years…. Over the last 3 years, my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada. And we've opened millions of acres for oil and gas exploration. All told we plan to make available more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.
But, exactly contrary to Gingrich's vision explained above, Obama contends, "But here's the thing -- it's not enough….The United States consumes more than a fifth of the world's oil -- more than 20% -- just us. But we only have 2% of the world's oil reserves. We consume 20; we've got 2….[A]nybody who tells you that we can drill our way out of this problem doesn't know what they're talking about, or just isn't telling you the truth."
So here is Obama's big answer, contrary to Newt's vision explained above:
We're making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that's actually made from a plant like substance -- algae. You've got a bunch of algae out here, right? (Laughter). If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we'll be doing all right. Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17% of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel we can grow right here in the United States. Now, none of the steps that I've talked about today is going to be a silver bullet. It's not going to bring down gas prices tomorrow. Remember, if anybody says they got a plan for that -- what?
AUDIENCE: They're lying.
Newt Slam Dunks Obama Two days later, in San Francisco, Gingrich gave his reply to Obama's Miami speech, slam dunking Obama, and his Obamabot audience. Gingrich said, "After I came out for a program to get to $2.50 a gallon gasoline, Obama decided he had to make a speech on energy. It is a very revealing speech. It is factually false, intellectually incoherent, deeply conflicted on policy and in some places just strange."
Gingrich began by providing context.
In 2007, as a Senator, Obama was the only sponsor of a bill which would have eliminated an inventory of offshore oil reserves. This is part of the Left's great problem today. They really believe in "Peak Energy." They really believe that we're going to run out. The government has to be in charge. Jimmy Carter was right. We ought to have gasoline rationing. We ought to make sure we don't use all this up.
And the problem is they are wrong. Now, their fear is if they actually show us how much energy we have, we will actually want the energy. So they want us to not see the energy because then we can't ask for it because we don't have it. And so he literally introduced a bill that was in favor of ignorance. And it is fascinating because what North Dakota has done is that it has blown apart their worldview."
Gingrich was discussing here proposed legislation Senator Obama introduced to terminate the federal government's inventory of offshore oil reserves.
Gingrich also recounted what Obama had said about his energy policy campaigning in 2008 to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board:
Under my plan of cap and trade, electricity prices will necessarily skyrocket and power plants, natural gas, you name it, wherever the plants were, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations and that will cost money and they will pass that money on to the consumers. So if someone wants to build a coal powered power plant, that will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged the huge amount for all that greenhouse gas that is being emitted.
Gingrich explains, "So it is really open. Higher prices are good. They are necessary. Companies will be bankrupt. This is the true Left."
Gingrich also noted what Obama told a constituent worried about the impact of high gas prices on his family: "If you are complaining about the price of gas and only getting 8 miles to the gallon (laughter) you may have a big family, but it is probably not that big." When he found out how many kids the guy had, Obama told him, "Well, you definitely need a hybrid."
Gingrich added that in February 2009, Obama appointed as "anti-energy" Secretary Berkeley Professor Steven Chu, who had said that America needs the same gas prices as in Europe, which are $9 a gallon or more. "So when they tell you this [the high price of gas] is all an accident, baloney. This is a deliberate strategy of the Left to punish the American people into driving the vehicles" the left and Obama want them to drive.
Gingrich responded to Obama's claim that we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices saying, "Well, let me give the President a brief history lesson. In 1976 gasoline had reached $2.46 a gallon. By 1980, with Jimmy Carter's failing economic policies, it had gotten to $3.30," despite Carter's heavy handed gas rationing. "The first Executive Order Ronald Reagan signed deregulated gasoline. The Left was panic stricken. The New York Times thought the prices would skyrocket. Within 6 months it collapsed. In fact, the collapsed oil price was a major factor in beating the Soviet Empire because it stripped them of hard currency. By 1988 it had dropped to $1.72" -- half the price of when Reagan was sworn in, the result of 8 years of drilling. The price of natural gas has also collapsed over the past couple of years in response to soaring drilling.
To Obama's boast that America is producing more oil today than any time in the last 8 years, Gingrich noted that the North Dakota boom was on private land. He reported in his earlier speech that "Under President Obama because he is so anti-American energy, we have actually had a 40% reduction in development of oil offshore, and we have had a 40% reduction in the development of oil on federal lands." In his San Francisco speech, Gingrich added: "So in the area he controls, production is down and the area that is hard at the free enterprise stuff where people get rich, production is up. So he is now claiming credit for the area he can't control in order to have us think he is actually for what he opposes."
Gingrich continued, "And let me give you an example of the depth of audacity" of Obama's dishonesty.
"He says quote, 'Over the last 3 years, my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including through Canada.' Now, Mr. President, you know how limited your respect for the intelligence of the American people must be. How could you possibly veto the only major pipeline that matters from Canada, the Keystone Pipeline, and turn around and suggest to us that the fact that we have approved dozens of tiny ones -- this is like saying, 'My Navy has 11 ships, they're all rowboats.' I mean how do you deal with a President who is this fundamentally out of touch with being honest? It would be one thing if he said, 'Yes, I vetoed the Keystone Pipeline and here is why.' But to come and say, "I have approved lots of pipelines, why are you mad at me? Well, because you did not approve the one that mattered. The Keystone Pipeline is worth 700,000 barrels a day when you use it…. This President is driving Canada into a partnership with China in order to build a pipeline due west to Vancouver to deliver the oil to China. It is a strategic disaster of the first order."
While Obama tells us, "We plan to make available more than 75% of our potential offshore oil and gas resources," Gingrich explained in response, "This is [Obama] letting you know he is a lawyer. He has carefully selected out a phrase, which is totally misleading and technically inaccurate…. He is now telling you that in the areas we currently know about that they want to make 75% available. What he didn't tell you is under this definition, 85% of the offshore acreage" will still not be available because we don't know anything about reserves in those areas. (Remember this is the guy who wanted to abolish the inventory of reserves.)
Gingrich added, "One more example that shows how fundamentally dishonest this President is. He says, quote, 'We only have two percent of the world's oil reserves.' And what he is referring to is proven current reserves. But…in 1980, our proven reserves were 30 million barrels. Since then, because of advancing technology, because of changing prices, because of entrepreneurship, we have produced 75 billion barrels out of the 30 billion-barrel reserve, and we have more reserves today than we had in 1980."
Indeed, proven reserves can only exist in areas where drilling has been allowed and permitted. They don't include anywhere near the 1.4 trillion barrels of potentially recoverable reserves in the United States, more than has been pumped worldwide since 1870, three times as much as in Saudi Arabia.
So now the President goes on to say, quote, "We are taking every possible action to develop safely a near hundred years supply of natural gas in this country." That is fundamentally misleading. They have a task force of 8 different agencies trying to figure out how to block fracking, which is the method by which we get natural gas. They are methodically trying to undermine and cripple the natural gas industry, and it is stunningly dishonest for this President to pretend that he favors something that his administration is actively working to undermine.
Gingrich exposed Obama's confusion regarding fracking, saying that Obama lives in this fantasy world of government subsidies. He says, quote, "It was public research dollars that over the years helped develop the technologies that companies are right now using to extract oil and natural gas." Just to set the record [straight], fracking began in Kansas in 1947 and it expands to Oklahoma in 1949. It's done in Canada in the 1950s. And George Mitchell and the private sector are regarded as the pioneers in the development of "fracking." This would be like suggesting that the Air Force invented the airplane and they don't know who these two Wright Brothers are because, after all, they were private sector guys who were just bicycle mechanics, and how could they have invented the airplane when actually it must have been the Air Force because everything that was good is done by the government. That is the Obama mindset.
Now, I am a scientific optimist. I have a friend at Texas A&M who is developing algae that eats municipal waste and then uses alcohol as a byproduct, and some point down the road, it will probably be useful. But this is like Solyndra. The President is for any fantasy that doesn't work today as opposed to any practical thing that works today so as to take your money to prop up something which well might work -- Solyndra might work in 30 years. Solyndra might even work in 10 years but it won't work now, and it is being given venture capital by the Department of Energy…. But what are the odds that you're going to ramp up to a commercial price gasoline from algae in the foreseeable future? Not very good. Now most of us live in the foreseeable future. What are the odds that if you actually allow people to drill and if you allow people to build refineries, you could get dramatically less expensive gas in the foreseeable future? Really, really high.
The last point I want to make about what he said, he says three or four times, "There are no silver bullets." There is a pen. Big difference. The Presidential pen could today sign approval of the Keystone Pipeline. That is 700,000 barrels a day. The Presidential pen could today sign approval to go back to the Gulf of Mexico, and that is about 400,000 barrels a day. The Presidential pen could today approve areas of Alaska that we know have oil. That's about a million, two hundred thousand barrels of oil a day. Three signatures we would have 2.3 million barrels of oil a day in the United States. So I should say we are not looking for silver bullets. We are looking for Presidential leadership.
At the end of his speech he says, quote, "We need to sustain all of the above strategy that develops every available source of American energy, yes, oil and gas, but also wind and solar and nuclear and biofuels and so on." Well, this is exactly what John Boehner has been campaigning on for four years. I hope the House Republicans in the near future will move an all-of-the-above energy bill. And we will see whether or not [Obama] really means this, which by the way he didn't, but it is a great line and it is exactly the Republican policy.
It is actually a poll-driven line by the President which, as Gingrich says, Obama transparently has no intention of following through on. It is just more Calculated Deception, to mislead the Bubbas.
This is a very revealing speech. You have an intellectual left winger who lives in a fantasy world in which he very cleverly uses language to say things that aren't true that sound good because he knows that if he tells you what he really wants to do, you will defeat him in a landslide. One of our jobs, of course, is to make sure that the American people understand what he really wants to do.
Our choice is between energy independence and never again bowing to a Saudi King and $2.50 gasoline and about $18 trillion in royalties over the next generation; enough you could literally pay off the national debt just with the royalties for the federal government from development with no tax increase, and at least a million new jobs. That is our side. His side is a series of fantasies in which your tax money is thrown away on products that are not commercially feasible, while you pay higher and higher prices, and are coerced into smaller and smaller and smaller vehicles. These are the two futures we are going to campaign on this year.
Isn't this the campaign that conservatives should want? Is there any doubt how that campaign would turn out? Conservatives need to recall after all the out of context misquotes or misunderstandings about what Gingrich has said in recent years, when he had political power, he governed as a Reaganite conservative, as someone who, in the words of Nancy Reagan, had the baton passed from Goldwater, to Reagan, to Gingrich.
The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.
Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.
“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”
Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
“When they talked to us, they did mention the option of healthcare exchanges under Obamacare. So it’s in their mind,” said a congressional aide involved in the issue.
Military personnel from several of the armed services voiced their opposition to a means-tested tier system for Tricare, prompting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to issue a statement Feb. 21.
Dempsey said the military is making tough choices in cutting defense spending. In addition to the $487 billion over 10 years, the Pentagon is facing automatic cuts that could push the total reductions to $1 trillion.
“I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we’ve heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for Tricare in retirement,” Dempsey said. “You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible.”
Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.
Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.
According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.
The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.
The changes are worrying some in the Pentagon who fear it will severely impact efforts to recruit and maintain a high-quality all-volunteer military force. Such benefits have been a key tool for recruiting qualified people and keeping them in uniform.
“Would you stay with a car insurance company that raised your premiums by 345 percent in five years? Probably not,” said the congressional aide. “Would anybody accept their taxes being raised 345 percent in five years? Probably not.”
A second congressional aide said the administration’s approach to the cuts shows a double standard that hurts the military.
“We all recognize that we are in a time of austerity,” this aide said. “But defense has made up to this point 50 percent of deficit reduction cuts that we agreed to, but is only 20 percent of the budget.”
The administration is asking troops to get by without the equipment and force levels needed for global missions. “And now they are going to them again and asking them to pay more for their health care when you’ve held the civilian workforce at DoD and across the federal government virtually harmless in all of these cuts. And it just doesn’t seem fair,” the second aide said.
Spokesmen for the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not respond to requests for comment on the Tricare increases.
The massive increases beginning next year appear timed to avoid upsetting military voters in a presidential election year, critics of the plan say.
Additionally, the critics said leaving civilian workers’ benefits unchanged while hitting the military reflect the administration’s effort to court labor unions, as government unions are the only segment of organized labor that has increased in recent years.
As part of the increased healthcare costs, the Pentagon also will impose an annual fee for a program called Tricare for Life, a new program that all military retirees automatically must join at age 65. Currently, to enroll in Tricare for Life, retirees pay the equivalent of a monthly Medicare premium.
Under the proposed Pentagon plan, retirees will be hit with an additional annual enrollment fee on top of the monthly premium.
Congressional aides said that despite unanimous support among the military chiefs for the current healthcare changes, some senior officials in the Pentagon are opposing the reforms, in particular the tiered system of healthcare.
“It doesn’t matter what the benefit is, whether it’s commissary, PX, or healthcare, or whatever … under the rationale that if you raise your hand and sign up to serve, you earn a base set of benefits, and it should have nothing to do with your rank when you served, and how much you’re making when you retire,” the first aide said.
Military service organizations are opposing the healthcare changes and say the Pentagon is “means-testing” benefits for service personnel as if they were a social program, and not something earned with 20 or more years of military service.
Retired Navy Capt. Kathryn M. Beasley, of the Military Officers Association of America, said the Military Coalition, 32 military service and veterans groups with an estimated 5 million members, is fighting the proposed healthcare increases, specifically the use of mean-testing for cost increases.
“We think it’s absolutely wrong,” Beasley told the Free Beacon. “This is a breach of faith” for both the active duty and retiree communities.
Congressional hearings are set for next month.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Feb. 23 called on all military personnel and the veterans’ community to block the healthcare increases.
“There is no military personnel issue more sacrosanct than pay and benefits,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, head of the 2 million-member VFW. “Any proposal that negatively impacts any quality of life program must be defeated, and that’s why the VFW is asking everyone to join the fight and send a united voice to Congress.”
Senior Air Force leaders are expected to be asked about the health care cost increases during a House Armed Services Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday.
Congress must pass all the proposed changes into law, as last year’s defense authorization bill preemptively limited how much the Pentagon could increase some Tricare fees, while other fees already were limited in law.
Tricare for Life, Tricare Prime, and Tricare Standard increases must be approved, as well as some of the pharmacy fee increases, congressional aides said.
Current law limits Tricare fee increases to cost of living increases in retirement pay.
nar·ra·tive [nar-uh-tiv] noun 1.a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.
A narrative is a story, true or not. The narrative of man made global warming was always, as the lawyers might say, based on facts not yet in evidence. The creation of that evidence has been one of the greatest scams and injustices in world history. Like all good stories the man made global warming theory was always based on a fact, this being that extra CO2 introduced into the atmosphere by industrialization was causing the Earth to warm. That is a fact which few serious people deny. Where the story became a narrative was when proponents of "catastrophic" global warming began to seek out and embellish reality in order to make the so called problem worse than it ever really was. is or ever will be.
Like the theory of the Chinese water torture, "a process in which water is slowly dripped onto a person's forehead, allegedly driving the restrained victim insane" the scientist, politicians, and media over the past two decades have dripped countless unproven assertions upon the psyche of mankind pushing a belief in something which is insane.
The narrative has become the foundation for the theory rather than the evidence.
Recently yet another aspect of this narrative has begun to untangle, the Himalaya glacier drip has sprung yet another leak. The first leak was a couple of years ago when it was revealed that the claims by the IPCC that the Himalaya glaciers would melt by 2035 was totally fabricated. The Daily mail pulls few punches in it's explaination
The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.
Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action. ‘It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in....’
This and subsequent revelations of the IPCC blatant misrepresentations, not to mention the two series of Climategate revelations should have destroyed this drag on human progress called climate science. but the torture of common sense and reason continued and continues.
Using just the Himalaya Glacier melting memeof the Global warming narrative foisted on society as an example, lets look back at some of the drips that were used to torture ...well... the truth.
Back in 2002 the once esteemed National Geographic Magazine informed a trusting world that:
Dozens of mountain lakes in Nepal and Bhutan are so swollen from melting glaciers that they could burst their seams in the next five years and devastate many Himalayan villages, warns a new report from the United Nations.
It's hardly news that the world's glaciers are melting—a phenomenon widely attributed to gradually rising global temperatures. But the possible consequences in terms of human deaths and loss of property have reached greater urgency in light of the findings of the new study.
There you have it back in 2002 due to global warming we were informed by reliable sources that:
Himalayas could experience intense flooding as mountain lakes overflow with water from melting glaciers and snowfields.
The lives of tens of thousands of people who live high in the mountains and in downstream communities could be at severe risk as the mud walls of the lakes collapse under the pressure of the extra water. Major loss of land and other property would aggravate poverty and hardship in the region.
And they knew this and the world believed them because trusted scientist said it was so and they had the goods to back it up:
based on three years of research involving site visits and studies of topographical maps, satellite images, and aerial photography. The scientists assessed the conditions of about 4,000 glaciers and 5,000 glacial lakes in Nepal and Bhutan.
Yes the glaciers are melting, lives are in danger, catastrophic consequences are not five years away, the scietist told us so.
In 2005 we learned from the always reliable BBC that it was even worse than was previously thought. After the flooding would come the droughts:
The world's highest mountains hide vast glaciers. Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people, the conservation group WWF has claimed.
In a report, the WWF says India, China and Nepal could experience floods followed by droughts in coming decades.
".... in a few decades this situation will change and the water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive eco and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal and northern India."
So after the floods come the droughts, "massive eco and environmental problems" are in the future or as the story points out in bold quotes half way through 'Catastrophe' awaits us. And how do we know this?
a study commissioned for the WWF indicated that the temperature of the Earth could rise by two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in a little over 20 years.
The Himalaya, the "Roof of the World", source of the seven largest rivers of Asia are,like other mountain chains, suffering the effects of global warming. To assess the extent of melting of its 33 000 km2 of glaciers, scientists have been using a process they have been pioneering for some years.
Throughout the article though, there is a sense of caution, perhaps because the Journal has the word science in it's masthead rather than just being a propaganda tool for the "cause", They inform us that the "study" though confirming what which we all should "believe" has some hurdles to conquer.
The technique is still experimental, but it has been validated in the Alps and could prove highly effective for watching over all the Himalayan glacier systems. However, the procedure for achieving a reliable estimate must overcome a number of sources of error and approximation inherent in satellite-based observations.
As pointed out earlier these concerns did not prevent the foremost science organization in the world dealing with climate change from releasing a report that boldly stated that:
Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.
Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometres by the year 2035
As pointed out, this was not only a mistake, it was a deliberate misrepresentation designed to intentionally to deceive policy makers "We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action." Knowing full well that what they were inserting into the report was not scientifically verifiable,‘We knew the WWF report with the 2035 date was “grey literature” [material not published in a peer-reviewed journal].
All of this would be bad enough and indeed in of itself reason for any thinking person to doubt the validity of anything coming from the IPCC in particular and the entire "climate change" community in general, but it is worse than that.
In the past month a new study has shown that all of these claims are not only exaggerated but simply not true.
New scientific analysis of satellite gravity measurements has shown that ice is melting from glaciers around the world much less quickly than had been thought. The new research is important as worldwide glacier melt is thought to be one of the main factors which could drive rising sea levels in future....
...In particular, it appears that glaciers in the high Asian mountain ranges - the Himalayas, the Pamir and the Tien Shan - have been losing much less ice than was previously thought. Researchers visiting the region on the ground have previously suggested that the Asian mountain ice was depleting at rates as high as 50 billion tons per year, but Wahr and his colleagues' results show losses in the area of just 4 billion tonnes annually. They give the error in this figure as plus-or-minus 20 billion tons, so this much the same as saying that the Asian mountain ice - the planet's "third pole" - was unaffected.
What? There is not going to be any flooding? Or droughts? Hundreds of thousands of people are not being jeopardized by catastrophic "eco and environmental problems" ? Well it would seem not based on current science. So what about those previous studies trumpeted over the past decade? They were either totally wrong or to be more accurate they were incomplete but "sold" as if they were authoritative, Why? Well because when a narrative is the foundation for science rather than facts it becomes totally acceptable to "rush to judgement" with "facts that are not yet in evidence." The narrative must be maintained because once the narrative is questioned the foundation begins to crumble and when billions of dollars at stake this is not an acceptable outcome for those with a vested interest.
The rest of this particular article is interesting in that it ties this development to the even bigger climate change scare tactic of rising sea levels and explains how they are corrupted science as well.
The IPCC says that "no long-term acceleration of sea level has been identified using 20th-century data alone" but says that if limited 19th-century data is included then the rate of sea level rise can be shown to have started speeding up in 1870. However, recent research on tide-gauge readings indicates that the rate of rise is steady at the 20th-century rate of 1.7mm annually, or may even be decreasing slightly.
Since the early 1990s satellites have been used to monitor global sea levels. In contrast to tide gauges they have shown a steady, unchanged rate of rise of 3.2mm annually. This line is often added to the tide-gauge record up to 1990, showing a sharp upward curve.
If the rate of sea level rise remains steady at a few millimetres annually, there is probably no need to be much concerned about it: it would take centuries to rise by amounts comparable to the variations (tide, floods etc) which occur all the time anyway....
This may seem like mundane scientific squabbling over details, but it is far more than that. An entire generation has been subjected to this Chinese water torture. Drip,drip,drip these tales of impending doom have been inflicted upon us, not by some cartoon villains but rather inflicted upon us and our children by peoples and institutions that we ought to be able to trust.
But we can not.
They have shown themselves to be worthy of only scorn and the judgment of history on those who have perpetrated this fraud on mankind will be and should be one of absolute disdain.. ^^^^^^^^^^^ I wonder how many people know that every year hundreds of thousands of people (this year 4-500,0000 march on DC for the March for Life.
No reason to be embarrassed -- a plurality if not a majority of Americans support its positions.
Now let us speak of "social issues." Now let us show how extreme and antediluvian we are. Now let us be horribly insensitive. Now let us give "the vapors" to the coastal elites. Now let us drive the establishment media batty.
Now let us win an election while sticking to our well-considered principles.
In fact, now let us win an election because we stick to our well-considered principles. And then watch the heathens howl.
Okay, we should take back the word "heathens." That was just puckish alliteration. But the rest of the above litany should stand. The howling "elites" can bay at the moon all they want. We're right substantively, and we're right politically. Social conservatism is a winning philosophy.
Majorities of Americans (or in some polls, clear pluralities) call themselves "pro-life." Every state that has held a referendum on recognizing homosexual relationships as "marriages" has voted not to do so (or, more precisely, has voted to define marriage as being only between a man and woman). Wholesome movies regularly do better at the box office than sleazy ones do. Americans prefer being "tough on crime" to being lenient. Americans tend to like local control of schools, parental involvement and choice in education, and traditional curricula. Far more Americans feel strongly in favor of gun rights than in favor of gun control. Americans treasure families and neighborhoods, and oppose governmental intrusions into them. We don't like governmental racial preferences. We are deeply patriotic. We far prefer conservative judges to liberal ones. And we still are a faithful people, with churches and belief in God a very important part of most of our lives.
Also, we know deep down in our cores that candidates who draw a connection between family breakdown and out-of-wedlock births, on one hand, and cultural and economic ills like crime, delinquency, and lack of economic mobility, on the other, are absolutely right. Statistically, the case in favor of this argument is irrefutable. Psychologically, we know it is right. And we've known it is right for nearly half a century. We didn't even need a "conservative" to make that case for it; we relied, quite correctly, on the social-science findings of the politically liberal (or center-leftist) Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Finally, we believe with every fiber of our beings that voluntary associations, churches, and local associations are better at ameliorating social ills than are governments, especially the federal government. When we talk about cultural values and social concerns, we usually do not do so because we want government to impose our values on others through government programs; instead, we either want government to get out of the way of these intermediary institutions (or of the family), or else we want the government to do no more than make it easier for those institutions to act.
About the only issue on which we would indeed have government "interfere" is on abortion -- but that's only if one accepts the liberal line that it is only the mother's interest, not the child's, which is being interfered with. "Choice" is fine, of course, unless the choice involves taking a human life.
On one level, there is a simple and straightforward logic to protecting the child. If governments exist for no other reason, they exist to protect the innocent from external, physical harm. If the child in the womb is human (which, of course, it is, scientifically speaking), and if it is life (again, by definition it is), then it is irrefutably human life. The only questions involve concepts such as "viability," "ensoulment," and the value of human life at a pre-born stage. Those who want to forbid abortion are doing no less than protecting human life from what they regard as murder -- a job (stopping murder) which is a moral imperative for every legitimate government that ever existed.
Now this does not mean that the sympathies of pro-lifers can't be with the mothers affected. In fact, it is far easier to sympathize with the mother than with the less-than-physically developed, certainly not intellectually or emotionally developed (to say the least), accumulation of living tissue fully dependent for sustenance on the mother inside which it grows. And the mothers deserve our sympathies. The very trajectory of their lives is at issue. They have a right to be scared. They have a right to have doubts. More than that, they may well have legitimate moral concerns of their own. Not all mothers considering abortion are morally serious, but some are. It's just that their moral system of values puts more emphasis on quality of life than on "mere" existence of human life. That value system might itself be seen as immoral, but it is not an unserious or unconsidered position.
All of which is why the issue of abortion is so difficult -- and why the various positions on it merit more respect from all other positions, for all other positions, than just about any issue in the public realm today. It also means that it is incumbent on pro-lifers to do whatever is in our power to treat both mother and child humanely and to help ensure the best pre-natal care and the best post-birth opportunities for both of them. It would do pro-lifers good for us to express these concerns more openly, and to act in accord with them.
One big problem, though, is that the establishment media tends to show far less respect for us than we do for the mothers. Our entirely valid moral concerns are pilloried, belittled, and even treated as if those concerns are flat-out hateful. The "elites" often show no moral reflection at all, but rather a sneering and sometimes vicious set of double standards.
Newt Gingrich was absolutely right, indeed profoundly so, in Tuesday night's debate when he said this:
"I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. OK? So let's be clear here. If we're going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion. It is not the Republicans."
The lack of media attention to this bizarre and lonely "stand" of Obama's speaks volumes about media values. It makes the establishment media into moral reprobates for refusing even to understand that this is, or should be, an area of controversy.
Nonetheless, the lefty media has a big and powerful megaphone that is good at drowning us out. That's why it is admirable that Rick Santorum has never backed off from a discussion of social issues. He knows his words will be distorted, taken out of context, and harshly criticized by the media minions of the Left. Yet very little of what he says is, in full context, the slightest bit objectionable or "extreme."
Moreover, if the economy continues to improve, even slowly, so that its weakness no longer hobbles Barack Obama's re-election campaign, then conservatives need a presidential candidate who is willing to champion these issues and our values, and who knows how to turn his championing of them into votes. They are, after all, majority- or plurality-positions that we hold.
Some of us have usually been more squeamish than not about social issues. (For decades, I always mildly agreed with "socio-cons" but was driven far more by economics and defense needs than by social issues; and indeed as a college freshman I had the temerity to tell a conservative-movement leader that I agreed with Barry Goldwater that Jerry Falwell's moral hectoring merited a good "kick in the a$$" -- even though I supported Falwell's basic positions.) Some of us (myself included) would still prefer to talk about free-market economics and the virtues of limiting government. But none of us should fail to rise to the defense of our social-issue positions, because the only way we lose on them politically is if we act embarrassed by them and thus give credence to the leftist attacks.
It is the left that wants government to co-opt, or steamroll over, the mediating institutions we hold dear. It is they who seek to impose their values on us by force of law (and thus by force of the gun, wielded by the jailer) -- not we who seek to impose our values on them. Leave our families and churches and voluntary associations alone, and we'll all be fine no matter how the less-socially-conservative people want to conduct their own private affairs. Even if we are of the evangelizing (small "e") persuasion, our bailiwick is moral suasion in the open public square, not coercion. If this makes the leftists howl -- so what? While they are howling, we'll defeat them, fair and square.
Dr Peter Gleick provides more evidence that the supporters of the Cause will stop at nothing.
By Christopher Booker
What a very odd situation we find ourselves in, due to the extraordinary transformation in recent years of the so-called debate over global warming. Last week, The Sunday Telegraph reported that, as part of Britain’s overseas aid budget, the Department for International Development is well on the way to spending £1.5 billion on a mass of climate-related projects across the world. These range from helping Indian farmers to irrigate their fields with foot-powered pumps rather than diesel-fuelled ones, to preventing the authority of Kenyan “rainmakers” from being undermined by the onset of “extreme weather events”.
This is bizarre enough – and it might be added that, according to the World Resources Institute, Britain is now spending far more on this kind of nonsense, under the UN’s $28 billion Fast Start Climate Change programme, than any country in the world apart from Japan. But even this is only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of billions Britain is hoping to spend, as a consequence of our Government’s unique obsession with global warming, on everything from climate-related research in our universities to building the 32,000 useless windmills that Chris Huhne was babbling about, before he ignominiously left office. We cannot recall often enough that our Climate Change Act commits us to spending more than £700 billion between now and 2050 – far more than any other country in the world.
Yet while successive British governments have plunged headlong into this madness, the “science” supposedly used to justify it has been falling apart in all directions. Global temperatures have signally failed to rise as the computer models, upon which the whole scare was based, said they should. And an endless succession of scandals has engulfed the senior scientists who did more than anyone else to promote the scare. These began with the exposure of the notorious “hockey stick” graph and then the Climategate emails which showed how they fiddled their data and stopped at nothing to discredit anyone who challenged what they called “the Cause”. The scandals continued with the revelations that much of the work of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the supreme champion of the Cause – had not been based on science at all but on scare stories dreamed up by environmental activists.
All this has left the debate over climate change in a depressingly fetid state, as supporters of the orthodoxy lash out with increasing desperation, forlornly trying to defend their crumbling faith. A further example of this was the strange little scandal that erupted last week, with the release on the internet of various documents from the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think-tank long vilified by the warmists for organising conferences attended by hundreds of distinguished scientists from across the world who dare to be sceptical of the orthodoxy.
The documents were entirely innocuous except for one, which stood out from the rest because it purported to be a secret “strategy paper” that outlined Heartland’s plans to get the teaching of the science of climate change outlawed in America’s schools. This seemingly damning revelation aroused much excitement among warmists on both sides of the Atlantic. The Guardian published no less than nine separate items about it.
But the document’s peculiar phrasing, punctuation and other details soon led some observers to suggest that it looked suspiciously like the work of one Dr Peter Gleick, a prominent warmist and the head of a California-based institute which campaigns on climate change and on the need for “integrity in science”.
Within hours, the story was unravelling. Gleick confessed that he had obtained genuine Heartland documents under false pretences, in an attempt, he said, to verify that the “anonymous” strategy paper had come from the institute – the document that he himself was already suspected of faking. Though his statement made no admission in that regard, it unleashed mayhem. Gleick was reprimanded by his own Pacific Institute, and then requested a leave of absence. Heartland is threatening legal action in all directions – not least against all those journalists who were so eager to believe his hoax that they hadn’t bothered to check their facts.
When the history of the decline and fall of the world’s most damaging scare comes to be written, l’affaire Gleick will only be a brief footnote. But it does suggest how desperate those who wish to keep the scare alive have become.
More importantly, however, it should focus our attention once again on the fact that we are still being presented with by far the biggest bill in history, to counter a threat that never actually existed.
The bogeyman among right leaning voters reinforced by the left leaning media is that President Obama is so popular and the GOP candidates are so unappealing that come November our heroic young President, Osama slayer his own self, will rise from the ashes of the economic disaster he is presiding over and beat his inept challenger, whoever it is, at the polls. I say nonsense and I am going to do a few posts to show you why Obama is not only on thin ice, the ice is cracked, the sun is out and it won't set until he is defeated in November.
Things can change, things can always change. But despite the Left's hype and the Right's fear there is, as things stand now, very little chance that Barack Obama will be reelected. Let's look at some facts, across the spectrum of what really matters electorally.
The easiest way to do this is to look at the most recent elections and see how things look now. Though it may seem longer, it was only four years ago that the last Presidential election took place so as far as the make up of the electorate is concerned things have not changed all that much, and where it has it has gone against Obama being reelected.
The Census has changed the Electoral College vote It is often mentioned that if the 2008 election were repeated today, because of census reapportionment, Obama would receive six less electoral votes. While this is not a significant number considering how many electoral votes he won 365-173 in 2008, if the election is close it could make a big difference. Remember 2000?
In 2000 Bush eked out an electoral win 271-267 over Gore. That same electoral map with the 2010 reapportionment would be 285-253. in other words Bush could have stolen even more with the same effort. The 2004 election which Bush won 286-251 today would be 296-242. To show how important this could be consider this, the Republican candidate could loose Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, all states Bush won in 2004 and still win the election.
Turnout matters. To win a national election, especially a close one, turning out "the base" really matters. To give you an idea of how important this is in 2004 the voters were equally split between the parties, 37% of voters were Republican and 37% were Democrats with 26% Independents. Compare that to 2008 when the electorate was 32% Republican and 39% Democrats with 29% Independents.
In both elections 89% of Democrats voted for their party's candidates and 93% of Republicans voted for their party's candidate. But obviously 89% of 39% of the voters is far more than 93% of 32% of the voters. What did this turn out difference mean? Far more than you would think. Probably more important than Obama's advantage with the Independents was the low turn out of Republicans. Not since 1980 when Reagan changed everything by not only beating Carter but doing it with only 28% Republican participation, not since then has the Republican Party failed to have at least 35% voter participation in a presidential election. Even with Perot in 92 and 96 even with the "hanging chad" thriller in 2000 not once had Republicans cast less than 35% of the vote, until 2008. That little know and hardly mentioned detail was also an historic consequence of the 2008 election.
Since all that we have is the exit polling and total votes what follow can not not be precise but it is close enough to show how important turn out can be.
Considering the turn out difference I have pointed to above which gave Obama approximately 1.9 million more votes than if the turn out and vote ratio was the same as it was in 2004 and McCain received approximately 4.3 million less votes than if the turn out and vote ratio was the same as it was in 2004. A staggering 6.2 million vote difference. The number of Independents who voted for Obama over McCain was 3.1 million, So the turn out of base was twice as important as the difference in Independent's preference. To put it in actual numbers here is what the vote would have been in 2008 with the 2004 turnout ratio applied
McCain would have won by almost 3.7 million votes.
Since the Independents are considered such a big factor in the election let's assume that the 2008 vote stayed the same for Independents but the Republicans and Democrat turn out was the same as 2004. So we give Obama 52% of the Independents and McCain 44% which is what the exit polling shows. The balance as well as about 1% of the Republican vote having gone towards third party candidates,
If you leave the 2008 Independent percentages as it actually was in 2008 the results would be McCain 64,514,509 and Obama 63,879,394. So if Republicans and Democrats had shown up proportionality in 2008 as they had in 2004 even given Obama's larger percentage vote among Independents McCain would still have won, at least the popular vote.
This is all conjecture of course, for one thing since so few Republicans showed up to polls in 2008-32% compared to 39% for Democrats this meant the Independent vote made up the difference 29% in 2008 compared to 26% in 2004. However you look at it though, there is little doubt the bigger factor in Obama's win was the low turn out among Republicans not Obama's margin among Independents. Look at it this way if the 37% of Republican voters that turned out in 2004 had turned out in 2008 it would have added 4.3 million votes to McCain, exceeding the just over 3 million vote advantage that Obama had with Independents.
The question is, will this election be closer to a 2004 type turnout or more like a 2008? Remembering that 2008 was the lowest Republican turn out since 1980. The odds, based on not only the 2010 mid terms but party identification and party enthusiasm, that it is definitly headed towards a 2004 type turnout. Consider this article from Gallup earlier this month More States Move to GOP in 2011, Seventeen states solidly or leaning Republican, up from 10 in 2010
Democrats have lost their solid political party affiliation advantage in18 states since 2008, while Republicans have gained a solid advantage in 6 states. A total of 17 states were either solidly Republican or leaning Republican in their residents' party affiliation in 2011, up from 10 in 2010 and 5 in 2008. Meanwhile, 19 states including the District of Columbia showed a solid or leaningDemocratic orientation,down from 23 in 2010 and 36 in 2008. The remaining 15 states were relatively balanced politically, with neither party having a clear advantage.
That is beyond a political adjustment, that is the beginning of a political realignment. When you see those types of shifts you are seeing something that happens once or twice a century. So you can be clear about how dramatic this change is, here are those "15 states... relatively balanced politically "
By party affiliation those are what are now considered the "purple states". Georgia? Arizona? Arkansas? But everyone know that those state are really "Red" states. Also consider that since 2008 Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio have all become Republican dominated at the State level, meaning both their legislatures and governors are Republican, Florida and Arizona already were.
This change in the electoral make up of America since 2008, though significant, is just one small part of the mountain that Obama must climb to be reelected. I will post further on the "Slaying of the Boogeyman" in the days to come
So we should all be grateful that President Obama is just now coming out for a corporate tax rate cut? But does anyone really believe he's had a supply-side epiphany?
That this is an election year surely wouldn't have anything to do with his apparent change of heart, would it? He's been president for more than three years, and Republicans have been clamoring all that time for a reduction in the world's second-highest corporate tax rate. So don't you think that if Obama truly favored this, it would have happened long ago?
But there's something more cynical about Obama's new proposal. It wouldn't operate as advertised.
As we get closer to the 2012 general election campaign, Obama wants to be positioned to compete with the eventual nominee on this issue. Newt would cut the current 35 percent rate to 12.5 percent. Romney would reduce it to 25 percent. And Santorum would reduce it to 17.5 percent for all corporations except domestic manufacturers, which would be exempted from the tax.
Obama calls for a modest reduction, to 28 percent, which would still be reason to cheer coming from him, but it's not quite that simple. Underneath the smoke and to the side of the mirrors, we find it's just another ploy to empower Obama to pick the winners and losers.
He pretends he'd merely be leveling the playing field by "closing loopholes," which for him is code for eliminating legitimate deductions. So with one hand, he would extend corporations their tax rate reduction, but with the other -- the one donning the magician's white glove -- he'd grab it back by eliminating the deductions -- I mean sinister loopholes -- for the evil corporations he's made a practice of demonizing and bullying the past three years.
With his magician's sword, he would stick it to -- surprise -- the insurance demons, the oil and gas monsters, and those evil owners of private jets, as opposed to the ones he, his family and his dog fly -- sometimes separately, no less, in the interest of racking up their carbon footprint while ordering the reduction of everyone else's.
Who would be outside his sword's reach? Why, his green-energy cronies, of course, who would receive preferential tax incentives to encourage them to invest money in ways no non-subsidized entrepreneur would dare.
There will be no accounting for his most recent botched magic show, in which Solyndra and other clean-energy donees made off with goodies from his stash based on his bogus promise of creating permanent jobs and growing the economy. No, he will just pat himself on the back for his good intentions, expect us to forget that he created virtually no permanent jobs and that the ones that were created often cost millions of jobs apiece. Then he'll do it all over again, demanding we bow down and praise him for his monarchical largesse.
Obama also has something in his trick bag for multinational corporations located in the United States -- something they probably wouldn't like too much: He'd tax their foreign earnings more heavily, which could very well induce them to high-tail it out of the United States or just sell out to a foreign buyer, thus defeating the alleged purpose of raising more revenue.
Sen. Orrin Hatch said the president's plan is "a set of bullet points designed more for the campaign trail than an actual blueprint for fixing our tax code." That's being charitable. For though Obama is billing his plan as a corporate income tax reduction, it just so happens that he plans on it raising $250 billion of revenue over the next decade.
Lest you still believe Obama has become a tax cutter overnight, let me also remind you of his other little scheme to increase the tax rate on corporate dividends to 39.6 percent. When coupled with the phased-out deductions, the effective rate could reach 41 percent. And that's not counting a 3.8 percent investment surcharge from Obamacare, bringing the rate up to 44.8 percent -- nearly three times the current 15 percent rate.
As usual, Obama claims this tax hike would apply only to the wealthy, but as The Wall Street Journal's editors tell us, corporations have historically responded to these tax rates by increasing dividends when they're lowered and reducing them when they're increased. So in the name of punishing the rich, he would be trickling down the misery to those same people he claims are benefiting from his latest $40-a-month payroll tax extension. As I said, he gives with one hand and takes with the other -- all in the name of compassion and good intentions.
The promoters of the global warming hysteria never really recovered from Climategate, the release of e-mails and data which demonstrated that climate insiders were using questionable data, promoting misleading arguments, and conspiring to block dissenting views from the scientific literature. It was a fatal blow to the credibility of the warmists, and it has been followed by a steady stream of distinguished scientists standing up publicly to withdraw their backing from the global warming "consensus." The latest example is an op-ed by sixteen such scientists in the Wall Street Journal, followed up by a devastating response to their critics.
The global warming alarmists are losing the argument, and the latest scandal—James Delingpole calls it Fakegate—shows just how desperate they have become.
This was supposed to be a scandal that would undermine the global warming skeptics. In fact, it was supposed to be an exact parallel of Climategate, but this time discrediting the Heartland Institute, a pro-free-market think tank in Chicago that has been a leader in debunking the global warming hysteria.
Someone calling himself "Heartland Insider" released a series of internal documents from Heartland. On the whole, the documents were unremarkable. They revealed that a think tank which advocates the free market and is skeptical of global warming was raising money to, um, advocate the free market and promote skepticism of global warming. As Delingpole put it, "Run it next to the story about the Pope being caught worshipping regularly in Rome and the photograph of a bear pooping behind a tree."
But there was one document, a "confidential strategy memo" that provided more inflammatory material, including an admission that one of Heartland's programs is aimed at "dissuading teachers from teaching science." See, those evil global warming deniers really are anti-science!
But if you are an actual global warming skeptic, this is a big red flag, because we skeptics view ourselves as the defenders of science who are trying to protect it from corruption by an anti-capitalist political agenda. We never, in our own private discussions, refer to ourselves as discouraging the teaching of science. Quite the contrary.
This is the dead giveaway that the "confidential strategy memo" is a fake, and that is what the real scandal has become. The Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle helped break this open with an initial post raising questions, as well as a detailed follow-up. McArdle gets a little too far into the weeds of information technology, not to mention grammar and English usage, but the basic issue is that the "meta-data" in the Heartland files—data marking when the documents were created, on what machines, in what format, and in what time zone—don't match. Most of the documents were created directly as PDFs from a word-processing program, while the supposed "confidential strategy memo" was printed and then scanned. The genuine Heartland files were created weeks earlier in the central time zone, while the incriminating memo was created very shortly before the release of the documents and in the Pacific time zone. This corroborates Heartland's claim that the document is a fake.
McArdle also points out that the "confidential strategy memo" consists almost completely of facts and wording lifted from the other files, with the inflammatory quotes pasted in between in an inconsistent style. Moreover, some of the facts from the other files are used inaccurately. For example, the memo claims that money from the Koch brothers—central figures in any good leftist conspiracy theory—was being used to support Heartland's global warming programs, when it was actually earmarked for their health-care policy work. That's something a real Heartland insider would know; only a warmist creating a fake document would get it wrong.
So it was pretty obvious that the "confidential strategy memo" was not a Heartland document at all but a fraud pasted together after the fact by someone who wanted to discredit Heartland, but who didn't know enough about IT to cover his tracks.
Note one other thing: how this fraud self-consciously tries to recreate every aspect of the Climategate scandal, projecting those elements onto the climate skeptics. Climategate had: a) an insider who leaked information, b) private admissions of unscientific practices, like misrepresenting the data to "hide the decline" in global temperatures, and c) discussions of attempts to suppress opposing views. Further scandals that followed on from Climategate included one more element: d) using material from non-scientists in activist groups to pad out scientific reports for the UN.
The fake Heartland memo tried to re-create all of this. It was posted to the Web by someone who called himself "Heartland Insider." It contains admissions of things like opposing the teaching of science. It includes discussion of attempts to exclude global warming alarmists from the media, particularly an attempt to oust a fellow named Peter Gleick, described in the memo as a "high profile climate scientist," from his Forbes blog, because "This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out." And it describes a program to hire a "paid team of writers" to "undermine the official United Nation's [sic] IPCC reports." So this has all of the elements of Climategate, but in mirror image.
But it is all a lie. It took bloggers mere days to spot the document as a fake and less than a week to find the person who posted it and the other Heartland documents. He turns out to be...Peter Gleick, a climate scientist who is president of the left-leaning Pacific Institute. It's actually kind of pathetic, when you think about it. What gave Gleick away was the little touch of self-aggrandizement, the fact that he couldn't resist over-inflating the significance of his Forbes blog. In his own mind, clearly, he is the one man whose bold opposition keeps the Heartland leadership awake at nights.
So the "leaker" wasn't an insider, Heartland has not been exposed as anti-science, and it is not conspiring to silence opposing voices. In fact, days before the documents were posted, Heartland had asked Gleick to participate in a debate, and he refused the invitation. Oh, and those "paid writers" who were supposed to "undermine" the UN climate reports? They were actually a team of distinguished scientists who were compiling their own independent climate research.
After he was caught, Gleick confessed, but he's still trying the "modified limited hangout": confess to a small crime in the hope that this will mollify investigators and they won't dig up evidence of your big crime. So Gleick has confessed to obtaining the genuine Heartland documents through deceptive means. (He called Heartland posing as a member of the institute's board and talked a gullible junior staffer into sending him the handouts for an upcoming board meeting.) But he still maintains that the fake "confidential strategy memo" was sent to him by an anonymous source, and that he only obtained the Heartland documents in an attempt to verify the memo.
This won't hold up, because Gleick still doesn't understand the meta-data that tripped him up. The fake strategy memo was created about a day before the documents were released, which appears to be well after Gleick pilfered the genuine documents. That fits with McArdle's impression that the fake memo was created by cutting and pasting facts from the other documents. Which implies that Gleick was the forger.
All of this will come out, and in a much fuller way than in the Climategate scandal. With Climategate, the victim of the fraud was the public, which pays the salaries of the scientists who have been fudging the facts. But this means that the government and its scientific institutions were put in charge of the investigation, and they had a vested interest in whitewashing the story. In this case, the victims are Heartland and other independent scientists whose reputations were impugned by the forged document. They have a good criminal and civil case against Gleick for identity theft, fraud, and defamation, and they will be able to use the courts' subpoena power to dig into Gleick's computer records and get to the whole truth. So he's now going to suffer the same fate as John Edwards: admit part of his wrongdoing but cover up the rest, then be forced to admit more, then a little bit more. It's the most ignominious way to go down.
Which means, for us skeptics, that it's time to pass around the popcorn and enjoy the show.
Oh, and it gets better. Some global warming alarmists are lining up to defend Gleick. Judith Curry points to the blog where Gleick posted the fake memo, which is now declaring, "For his courage, his honor, and for performing a selfless act of public service, [Gleick] deserves our gratitude and applause." Another warmist adds that Gleick "is the hero and Heartland remains the villain. He will have many people lining up to support him."
I certainly hope so. A lot of people deserve to go down along with Gleick.
Even many of those who deplore Gleick's fraud are still willfully blind to its implications. In Time, Bryan Walsh laments that "Worst of all—at least for those who care about global warming—Gleick’s act will almost certainly produce a backlash against climate advocates at a politically sensitive moment. And if the money isn’t already rolling into the Heartland Institute, it will soon." So yet another warmist has been exposed as a fraud—and the worst thing that can happen is that this will reduce the credibility of the warmists? But they deserve to lose their credibility.
Fakegate shows us, with the precision of a scientific experiment, several key truths about the global warming movement. It shows that most warmists, both the scientists and the journalists, will embrace any claim that seems to bolster their cause, without bothering to check the facts or subject them to rigorous investigation. (Anthony Watts notes how few journalists bothered to contact him before reporting the claims about him that are made in the fake memo.) And it shows us that warmists like Gleick have no compunction about falsifying information to promote their agenda, and that many other warmists are willing to serve as accomplices after the fact, excusing Gleick's fraud on the grounds that he was acting in a "noble cause." It shows us that "hide the decline" dishonesty is a deeply ingrained part of the corporate culture of the global warming movement.
Gleick wasn't just an obscure, rogue operator in the climate debate. Before his exposure, his stock in trade was lecturing on "scientific integrity," and until a few days ago he was the chairman of the American Geophysical Union's Task Force on Scientific Ethics. So this scandal goes to the very top of the global warming establishment, and it compels honest observers to ask: if the warmists were willing to deceive us on this, what else have they been deceiving us about?
Between Climategate and Fakegate, the warmist establishment now has zero credibility, and we must call all of their claims into question.
///////// I once noted that I ceased to be a liberal when I realized that in order to be so I continually was having to justify positions and arguments that I knew or learned to be untrue. Since that awakening I live a much easier life, I need only look for the truth to guide me rather than living in a make believe world. The entire Liberal/Progressive establishment that has infested our institutions can be illustrated no better than this undeniable truth from the article. [Peter Gleick ] "...was the chairman of the American Geophysical Union's Task Force onScientific Ethics " and many in the scientific community are rushing to defend him.
We see this with continuing regularity, a person of the left is doing or saying something which by any previous standard would be considered shameful or even illegal and that person is either protected or defended by minions of self deceivers on the left. Whether it be Charlie Rangel who receives awards for lifetime service after being reprimanded for multiple ethics violations, John Edwards who is shielded from scandal as he runs for the Presidency or the fact that Reverand Jessie Jackson is held in such high regard by the left despite his many ethical and legal difficulties to name just a few. Consider the recent revelations of Saint John F Kennedy as a case in point.
My hope is that an ideology that is built on lies and maintained by liars will not stand forever, but on the other hand without the darkness what purpose has the light? ************************************************* ****
“If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting 8 miles a gallon . . . you might want to think about a trade-in.”
— President Obama, April 6, 2011
Now that you mention it, Mr. President, I am in the market for a trade-in. This November. And I’m definitely trading up.
As gasoline prices hit a record February high — on their way to $5 a gallon — I’m ready to trade in the first president since Jimmy Carter who thinks screwing the American driving public is a good thing.
Barack Obama may have been yukkin’ it up about “trade-ins” last April, the last time gas hit $3.70 a gallon (it was $1.80 when he took office), but working families in Massachusetts won’t be laughing this summer when filling their tanks for a trip to the Cape costs $100.
As a guy who used to work in politics, I am flabbergasted by a pol who is utterly unperturbed about sending our nation into $5-a-gallon territory. For a typical family, the first 5 percent of after-tax income goes into the gas tank. If that gets up to 10 percent, there isn’t enough left for “luxury” items — like food.
You’d think it’s time for some shameless pandering, or launching yet another bogus investigation of the oil industry. And yet here’s Obama, with energy costs threatening the entire economy, cheerily vetoing a massive pipeline project from Canada while complaining about the market volatility of oil from the Middle East.
Canada. The Middle East. Could someone please get our president a map?
Most people know the Keystone pipeline story, but there’s so much more to Obama’s war on your wallet.
Like the fact that the Obama administration decided not to hold offshore lease sales for energy production last year. We’ve gone from $10 billion in lease sale revenues in 2008 to zero in 2011, according to Louisiana Sen. David Vitter.
Or that the number of new permits to drill in the Gulf of Mexico has dropped 57 percent under Obama, according to the The Gulf Permit Index.
Yes it’s true that overall oil production is up under Obama, but thanks almost entirely to energy development on private property in places like North Dakota. While private energy development is surging, the White House has taken public onshore production from 2,416 new leases in 2008 down to 1,308 in 2010.
And, according to the House Natural Resources Committee, Obama’s own budget calls for revenue from energy leases to fall by 72 percent before he’s through.
Nobody’s arguing, as the White House contends, that there’s a “magic solution” to crippling gas prices. What we are arguing is that there’s a great way to ensure we get them: Stop leasing land, slow down the permits, discourage production and cancel the Keystone pipeline. These are all great strategies if you want energy costs to soar.
But who, you ask, would want gasoline above $5 a gallon?
“Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of [U.S.] gasoline to the levels in Europe.” That was Obama’s secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, back in 2008.
“I think I would prefer a gradual adjustment to higher gas prices. The fact that these prices are a shock to the American pocketbook is not a good thing.” That was candidate Obama in June 2008.
And when he was a Colorado senator, Ken Salazar — now Obama’s secretary of the Interior — famously said he would oppose expanded offshore drilling even if gas hits $10 a gallon.
Hey, Team Obama, be careful what you wish for. Angry voters will always have enough gas to get to the polls.
Isn't long past time that conservatives take a pitchfork in one hand and a flaming torch in the other, and then, after mustering up the like-minded, simply burn Frankenstein's castle down? Especially since as far back as 1942 George Orwell pointed out just how combustible the Left-Wing Liberal edifice really is?
After all, it isn't as if we haven't tried reasoned argument, but it's dismissed by the Left-Wing Liberal, often with vicious personal attacks. Evidence of the idiocy or unintended consequences of left-wing laws, regulations, and redistributions haven't mattered at all either. Neither have appeals to tradition, the Constitution, the concept of individual responsibility or rights. It's true that the left received a bloody nose in 1946, 1994, and 2010, while the Reagan years covered his aggressively pro-American foreign policy in glory, but ever since that long-ago Supreme Court wilted under FDR's animosity, government has continued to metastasize, individual rights have continued to shrink, and this once-magnificent Republic has continued to lose ever more substance and color.
So all in all, what choice do we have other than to go after the one individual whose horrible vulnerability Orwell pointed out? The one individual upon whom the entire Left-Wing Liberal movement depends, and must depend for its galvanic power -- the liberal intellectual?
And what is an intellectual?
Well, the dictionary definition is one thing, but what we commonly mean by the term isn't a Ph.D. in physics. And neither do we so call those highly educated in such disciplines such as engineering, math, chemistry, quantum mechanics, metallurgy, and medicine intellectuals. Instead, we usually hang the label on those really, really smart people who pursue advanced degrees in social work. Or, for that matter, art history, leftist helpless economics, women's studies, community studies, and education (I'm leaving a lot out here). Although it should be pointed out that David Mamet throws the net much wider with his "increasingly affluent and confused" definition, and "confused" is often a dead giveaway. However, with Jean-Paul Sartre, the famous French intellectual, once describing human history as "a long and arduous road which led to me," perhaps confusion accompanied by an exorbitant sense of self-importance might be a better rule of thumb.
Be that all as it may, almost the first thing we learn about intellectuals when we examine them a bit more closely is that they are not historically important. They didn't for example fight the American Revolution or write the Constitution. They also had little or maybe nothing at all to do with the Industrial Revolution or with English Common Law (except recently in its corruption). Left-Wing Liberal intellectuals didn't write Shakespeare, paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or teach us how to can peas.
They are, in point of fact, a relatively recent phenomenon in Western civilization which Paul Johnson wonderfully describes in his eye-opening book Intellectuals as:
... [a group of educated] men who arose to assert that they could diagnose the ills of society with their own unaided intellects: more, that they could devise formulas whereby not merely structure of society but the fundamental habits of human beings could be transformed for the better.
In this light, we can turn to the intellectual's intellectual, Karl Marx, for a more detailed illustration. A man who is to this day renowned by a vast fawning claque for his insights about capital and factory systems. But yet a man who, insofar as can be determined, never had a acquaintance or a source with any experience in the capital markets except an uncle he tried to borrow money from and never, again insofar as can be determined, ever once visited a factory, mill, shipyard, mine, or foundry in order to find out firsthand what was going on there.
Instead, Karl Marx spent a tantrum-laden lifetime relying on his "unaided intellect" to arrive at what conclusions he did about these things. Close to thirty years hidden in a library intellectualizing about how a rapidly industrializing society could and should be "transformed." (Not in the best humor, I might add, because he invariably screamed "I will annihilate you" at anybody who even timidly questioned one of his ideas.)
A man who raped (the actual term I'm interpreting here is "made her his mistress") the middle-aged, mentally challenged, and unpaid servant of his wife, whose two of three daughters committed suicide, who never supported his family other than by begging or running out when the rent was due and whose work product proved an absolute disaster for numerous peoples. Cost millions of them their lives and wrecked vast nations. Yet a man whose theories are lauded and applauded for their insight in hundreds of university faculty lounges across the world, including our own.
But, one might ask, Karl Marx is one thing -- we can all agree he was a nutcase (or at least we should) -- but don't any of these intellectual folk ever come up with a good idea? After all, there's an awful lot of them with an awful lot of ideas.
Both the short and long answer to that question are no. And the reason is because despite all of the propaganda about "scientific" socialism, few of the left-wing intellectuals practice the scientific method. They don't posit a hypothesis and a null hypothesis; their results can't be replicated by disinterested parties; in fact, they don't even have any results they want verified. Instead, what they want you to do is accept their insights without any tangible proof at all, and if you don't? Well, they might couch their response in somewhat different terms, but it boils down the same message Marx screamed at slackers: "I will annihilate you."
Of course, the use of the personal pronoun is misleading because while intellectuals might want to annihilate you, they're not exactly men of action themselves. Instead, like when Lenin called in the Letts to murder the sailors at Kronstadt or certain unnamed leaders of a certain unnamed political party called in SEIU things to beat up a black Tea Party vendor, they always have somebody else handle the wet work.
Indeed, intellectuals are so distant from the fray that they don't operate in the same world with the same rules as yours and mine. In an intellectual's magic mind, there isn't necessarily any force of gravity, any love which binds families together, any individual incentives -- no rights or obligations which can't be magically transformed to suit his visions. In fact, the intellectual complains, "but that's not the way we want it to be" (hat tip to David Mamet again) when forced to confront certain facts or facts of life.
Because, and this is very important, the intellectual honestly believes that he's smarter than all that. Smarter than the tidal pull of the moon, smarter than market forces, smarter than Ben Franklin, smarter than your mom.
And the reason why the intellectual is so blithely uncaring about the opinion of the untermenschen is because he also believes that once his theory is in force, you will change. Be transformed. You and your habits. Your loves and affections, your values and beliefs.
Hmmm? Change? Transform? Who does that remind you of?
Am I overstating the case about the truly awful hollowness of these people? I don't believe so -- indeed, I may be understating it, because some really bright people like Dr. Thomas Sowell make the same point in an even more sweeping manner (see An Ignored 'Disparity': Part II).
But then where is their weakness? Moreover, how could they possibly have any weaknesses when facts don't count, morality doesn't count, history doesn't count, and what the average person believes or wants or desires out of life doesn't count?
Which is our cue to turn to exactly what George Orwell wrote in 1942 in "H.G. Wells, Hitler and The World State 1941":
The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions -- racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war -- which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action.
And so here is the Left-Wing Liberal intellectual's weakness. His one horrible vulnerability: the fact that for all practical purposes the fairy castle in his mind is surrounded by a moat of extremely volatile liquid energy. The energy which "actually shapes the world" and which he pretends can't even see and certainly doesn't have any "power" over. Genuine emotion.
After all, consider what two emotions consistently hand the Left-Wing Liberal the occasional defeat he does suffer in America: religion and patriotism. The Evangelicals and the patriots almost all by themselves represent the only two forces the Left-Wing Liberal has no power against. Love of God and love of country. Two emotions destroyed so completely in Left-Wing Liberal intellectuals that they don't even understand them any longer. Can't explain them and, in truth, can only fear, ridicule, and try to marginalize them.
But is that it? Luckily, no, because there are any number of other emotions conservatives can unleash. Other pools of genuine emotion conservatives can out alight. Love of life. Love of place, fair play, and justice. Revulsion at vote-buying with your money, incompetence and arrogance in public education, character assassination. Fury at losing the ability even to choose a toilet or light bulb. Hatred of the judges and lawmakers who embrace social theories which release horrible criminals to prey on our sons and daughters. Umbrage at being talked down to. The list is endless in its specificity. In truth, there's an ocean of angst and rage and love and imagination on issue after issue out there on the hustings, more than sufficient.
All we have to do is put a match to them.
Even if an appeal to emotion seems counter-intuitive for the reasoning party. Even if we will inevitably be labeled a "bomb-thrower," a "racist," "homophobe," callous," "uncaring," "partisan," or "extreme."
So in that spirit I offer the following list of emotion-laden talking points and bumper stickers for the November election:
POVERTY IS A DECISION
HELP US STOP PLANNED PARENTHOOD FROM KILLING BLACK BABIES
TEACH GAY KIDS ABOUT STRAIGHT SEX
WHY WON'T THE OCCUPIERS OCCUPY THEIR OWN MINDS?
HIGHER SCHOOL TAXES EQUALS LOWER PROPERTY VALUES, MORE TEACHERS AND DUMBER KIDS
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS SOCIALISM'S MIGRANT DAY LABOR WELFARE RECIPIENTS CONTRIBUTE NOTHING TO SOCIETY EXCEPT A BODY TEMPERATURE OF 98.6
HE THAT DOESN'T WORK, NEITHER SHALL HE EAT
LIBERALS ARE BY DEFINITION ANTI-AMERICAN
THE NATIONAL DEBT EQUALS THE AMOUNT OF MONEY SPENT ON THE "POOR" SINCE 1964, SO MAKE THEM PAY IT
JESUS OFFERED INDIVIDUAL SALVATION NOT A UNION DEMANDING INCREASED BENEFITS
NANCY PELOSI CAME FOR YOUR TOILET BOWL AND LIGHTBULBS, NOW OBAMA WANTS YOUR TOILET PAPER AND FLASHLIGHT
REQUIRE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS TO PASS A LITERACY TEST YES THERE ARE TOO DEATH PANELS
TOO BAD THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION MADE LEFT-WING STUPIDITY CHEAPER AND MORE ABUNDANT TOO
BAN SOCIAL WORK
EVER MEET A PSYCHOLOGIST WHO DIDN'T HAVE BIG ISSUES HIMSELF? THINK ABOUT WHAT THAT MEANS
THE EPA HAS NO VISION OF THE FUTURE THAT INCLUDES ANY HUMAN BEINGS
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE LACKS INDIVIDUAL PRIDE
PRESERVE LIBERTY FOR OUR CHILDREN, NOT FOOD STAMPS
POSTURING LIBERALS ARE ONE THEORY SHORT OF A THOUGHT NO SAFETY NET, SOME PEOPLE NEED THE IMPACT
""We've slipped away from a true Republic. Now we're slipping into a fascist system where it's a combination of government and big business and authoritarian rule and the suppression of the individual rights of each and every American citizen.."
For those who may not know, today is not President's Day, there is no such holiday. Today is the day we celebrate George Washington's Birthday. President's Day is a manufactured holiday by retailers but officially this is George Washington's day. I for one say thanks George we couldn't have done it without you.
In the summer of 1755, 23-year-old George Washington galloped back and forth across a blood-soaked battlefield near present-day Pittsburgh, trying heroically but unsuccessfully to rally the panicked British force in which he served to withstand a withering attack by Britain’s French and Indian enemies in a war his own hotheadedness had ignited two years earlier. An Indian chief ordered his braves to shoot down the seemingly fearless six-footer, conspicuous not only for his height and daring but also for being, as Thomas Jefferson later marveled, “the best horseman of his age and the most graceful figure that could ever be seen on horseback.” The Indians fired volley after volley, putting four bullets through his coat and killing two horses out from under him, but he fought on unscathed. Fifteen years later, the same chief told him how vividly he remembered that day, which convinced him that the Great Spirit must have a brilliant future in store for the young officer whom his braves miraculously couldn’t kill no matter how hard they tried.
When Washington’s fellow delegates to the Second Continental Congress unanimously elected him commander in chief of the American armies on June 15, 1775, two months after the shots at Lexington and Concord had launched the American Revolution, he had a similar premonition. He wrote to his wife—“my dear Patcy”—to tell her that he was off to war, explaining that he couldn’t “refuse this appointment without exposing my Character to such censures as would have reflected dishonour upon myself, and . . . have lessend me considerably in my own esteem.” But he also felt that, “as it has been a kind of destiny that has thrown me upon this Service, I shall hope that, my undertaking of it, is designd to answer some good purpose. . . . I shall rely therefore, confidently, on that Providence which has heretofore preservd, & been bountiful to me, not doubting but I shall return safe to you in the fall.”
He was wrong about the timing—it was eight years before he came home—but right about the destiny. And it was in the next 19 months, mostly in New York and fleeing from it, that he knocked on the door of history and entered the pantheon of great men.
Washington loved the theater—Shakespeare, Sheridan, and, above all, Addison’s patriotic Roman tragedy of Cato—and a good thing, too, for running the war required adroit stagecraft. He became the master of appearance, the paragon of role-playing, a virtuoso actor who could move his audience to passion and to tears. And he loved dressing for a role. He designed his first coat, down to the fussiest detail, at 17 or 18; as a French and Indian War colonel, he bedecked himself with gilt buttons, a gold shoulder knot, and gold lace on his hat; and at the end of his life, he was still designing uniforms for himself, puzzling over whether to have embroidery or not, slash cuffs or not—but needing for sure “tasty Cockades (but not whimsically foolish),” incorporating silver eagles, for his hat.
The Battle of Bunker Hill blazed up as he headed toward Boston to take command of the army there. The British had marched 2,300 redcoats straight up the hill on June 17, intending to overawe the Americans by showing that “trained troops are invincible against any numbers or any position of undisciplined rabble,” as General John Burgoyne brayed. The shock and awe were on the other side, though, because the Americans, whom Colonel William Prescott had ordered not to fire “until you can see the whites of their eyes,” didn’t retreat until they had killed or wounded almost half the British, including 90 officers, compared with 430 American casualties out of some 1,200 men. It was a “dear bought victory,” mourned General Sir Henry Clinton; “another such would have ruined us.”
When Washington arrived in Massachusetts on July 2, the Continental Army had taken control both of Dorchester Neck between Boston and the rest of Massachusetts, and of Cambridge across the Charles River to the north, bottling up the sobered redcoats. Trouble was, the Americans had no ammunition for “Months together, with what will scarce be believed—not 30 rounds of Musket Cartridges a Man,” Washington wrote. Not only to make the British believe that they were in his power but also to keep his own men confident, the general had to pretend—convincingly, 24 hours a day, despite his own fear and frustration—that all was well, as he waited, like Mr. Micawber, for something to turn up. “I know that without Men, without Arms, without Ammunition, without any thing that is fit for the accomodation of a Soldier that little is to be done—and, which is mortifying; I know, that I cannot stand justified to the World without exposing my own Weakness & injuring the cause by declaring my wants,” he wrote. “[M]y Situation has been such that I have been obligd to use art to conceal it from my own Officers.” All this “produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in Sleep. . . . I have often thought, how much happier I should have been, if . . . I had taken my Musket upon my Shoulder & enterd the Ranks, or . . . had retir’d to the back Country, & lived in a Wig wam—If I should be able to rise superior to these, and many other difficulties, . . . I shall most religiously believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the Eyes of our Enemys.”
Nor was this all. For the first years of the war, Washington endured what his biographer Ron Chernow calls the “Sisyphean nightmare” of having his whole army evaporate on December 31, when their one-year hitches ended. By late November 1775, only 3,500 soldiers agreed to stay past their terms; by year-end, a paltry 9,650 untrained new recruits had signed on, half the number needed. “It takes you two or three Months to bring New men to any tolerable degree acquainted with their duty,” and even longer to bring independent-minded Americans to “such a subordinate way of thinking as is necessary for a Soldier,” Washington lamented. Then, as the end of their terms approaches, you try to cajole them to stay longer, so you “relax your discipline, in order as it were to curry favour with them”—meaning that “the latter part of your time is employed in undoing what the first was accomplishing.” Nevertheless, Washington crowed afterward, during those months “we have disbanded one Army & recruited another, within Musket Shot of two and Twenty Regimts, the Flower of the British Army.”
Meanwhile, Congress had written new roles for him and his army, and Washington had to establish them credibly in the eyes of the British commanders he faced, including General Thomas Gage, the commander in chief and governor of Massachusetts, who had served with him in the French and Indian War 20 years earlier. Little more than a month after taking command, Washington wrote Gage that he had heard reports that American soldiers captured at Bunker Hill, even “those of the most respectable Rank, when languishing with Wounds and Sickness,” had been “thrown indiscriminately, into a common Gaol appropriated for Felons.” Just be aware, he wrote, that we’ll treat British POWs exactly as you treat Americans. You choose: either “Severity, & Hardship” or “Kindness & Humanity.” Gage replied that of course he mixed up officers and enlisted men promiscuously, “for I acknowledge no rank not derived from the king.” This was the wrong response, especially to a newly minted commander in chief who, as a mere colonial officer two decades earlier, had resented having to defer to officers with less merit than he but with royal commissions.
“You affect, Sir, to despise all Rank not derived from the same Source with your own,” Washington thundered back, asserting a new, democratic understanding of legitimacy and worth. “I cannot conceive any more honourable, than that which flows from the uncorrupted Choice of a brave and free People—The purest Source & original Fountain of all Power.” Furthermore, you claim that you’ve shown “Clemency” by not hanging my men as rebels. But it remains to be seen “whether our virtuous Citizens whom the Hand of Tyranny has forced into Arms, to defend their Wives, their Children, & their Property; or the mercenary Instruments of lawless Domination, Avarice, and Revenge best deserve the Appellation of Rebels.” A higher authority than you will decide. “May that God to whom you then appealed, judge between America & you!”
Lord North, the prime minister, got the point, noting that “the war is now grown to such a height that it must be treated as a foreign war.” Others were slower on the uptake, and Washington had to assert his new character strenuously at least once more. When Admiral Lord Howe, the British naval commander, and his brother General William Howe, who had led the assault up Bunker Hill and then replaced Gage as commander in chief, wanted to negotiate with Washington in New York in July 1776, they sent an envoy with an invitation addressed to “George Washington Esq., etc. etc.” Washington’s aides wouldn’t take the letter, saying that “there was no such person in the Army,” and indeed, “all the world knew who Genl Washington was.” Some days later, the Howes sent another message addressed to “His Excellency, General Washington,” asking him to meet their envoy to discuss a parley. But when the envoy arrived at the meeting with the original, misaddressed letter, Washington refused it with frigid politeness, the gentlemanly savoir faire of which he underscored by inviting the ambassador “to partake of a small collation” before he dismissed him. “I would not upon any occasion sacrifice Essentials to Punctilio,” Washington reported to John Hancock, president of Congress, “but in this Instance . . . I deemed It a duty to my Country and my appointment to insist upon . . . respect.”
Good fortune as 1776 dawned finally gave Washington the means to stage a spectacular coup de théâtre in Boston. A month before Bunker Hill, Connecticut militia captain Benedict Arnold, along with Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, had rowed across Lake Champlain to the New York side and seized the lightly manned British Fort Ticonderoga, with its rich cache of arms and ammunition. In an almost superhuman feat, Colonel Henry Knox, a hulking, 300-pound, stentorian-voiced Boston bookseller who had taught himself gunnery from his shop’s stock of artillery manuals, had gone to Ticon- deroga on Washington’s orders and dragged 55 mortars and cannon, weighing some 120,000 pounds, on ox-drawn sleds through 300 miles of snowy mountains and frozen rivers, presenting them to Washington on January 17. He happily discovered that Washington had acquired 2,000 muskets and two tons of ammunition, separately captured in the meantime.
Washington crowned Knox’s feat with a suitably dramatic finale. Across a narrow strip of Boston Harbor and looking down upon the city from the south towered Dorchester Heights—sheer cliffs over 100 feet high (though now leveled and part of South Boston). The British had carelessly failed to occupy this territory, and if Washington could get Knox’s guns up there, he would command Boston in a military checkmate. But how to do it without the British overpowering him in the process?
Out of tree trunks, poles, baskets of earth, and hay bales, Washington built portable fortifications, like a stage set. On the night of March 2, he began a deafening cannonade of Boston from various places away from Dorchester Heights, and this diversion continued incessantly through the night of the 4th, when, as a bright moon shone on the Heights but unusual warmth swathed harbor and city in fog, oxen dragged the heavy weapons and prefabricated fortifications on straw-muffled wheels up a slope frozen firm, while the diversionary bombardment masked what little noise the operation made. When the British awoke on the morning of the 5th, they found themselves pinned down under the many guns of a fortress instantly conjured up, it seemed to one British officer, by “the Genii belonging to Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp.”
Both Washington and General Howe wanted to attack at once, but a fierce rainstorm and prudent second thoughts held them back. Seeing his position now untenable, Howe resolved to leave the city. He, too, tried the theatrics of a diversionary cannonade, but Washington glimpsed the “hurry, precipitation and confusion” of his preparations, and he gloated that when the British sailed away on March 17, they left behind £30,000 to £40,000 worth of cannon and provisions, he estimated, along with a wilderness of destroyed baggage wagons and artillery carriages drifting in the harbor. The town itself “has shared a much better Fate than was expected,” and Washington was pleased to write Hancock that his house had “receiv’d no damage worth mentioning” and that “the family pictures are all left entire and untouch’d.” As for Boston’s Loyalists: “no Electric Shock—no sudden Clap of thunder—in a word the last Trump” could have “Struck them with greater Consternation” than the thought of facing “their offended Countrymen.” Many fled by any vessel they could find; one or two committed suicide.
For Washington, those countrymen had universal praise for a miraculous, morale-boosting achievement. To one who called him “the savior of your country,” the theatrical general replied by paraphrasing his favorite line from Addison’s Cato: “To obtain the applause of deserving men is a heartfelt satisfaction, to merit it is my highest wish.”
Correctly guessing that the British had sailed away to New York aiming to seize control of the Hudson River and cut off New England from the rest of the colonies, Washington hurried his army there. He had already sent his second-ranking general, Charles Lee—the beanpole-thin, warily hunched son of a British officer who had bought him the royal commission that Washington had never obtained—to get the city ready. A radical who had espoused the American cause and a loner who preferred his many dogs to human company—and whom Washington had disliked when they served together in the French and Indian War—Lee started fortifying New York and accurately assessed the military challenge: “What to do with the city, I own puzzles me; it is so encircl’d with deep navigable water, that whoever commands the sea must command the town.”
The Royal Navy, long the city’s shield, began sailing into the harbor as its invader in late June 1776, and by late August, half of all Britain’s warships and two-thirds of its army had arrived. It was an arrogant military, and rightly so; for, despite its by-the-book rigidity, its successes had made it feared around the world. Though its officers were aristocrats who had bought their commissions, they had risen in rank by battlefield achievement; most weren’t upper-class blunderers like the Crimean War generals. The Howe brothers—their mother was an illegitimate daughter of George I, and they had grown up at court with their cousin and friend George III—were a case in point. The elder, Richard—“Black Dick” to his admiring sailors—became England’s youngest admiral and invented ship-to-ship signaling by flag hoists, a communications revolution. William, the younger—“as brave and cool as Julius Caesar,” his enemies said—rose to the army’s command by his heroism in the final Canadian victories of the French and Indian War and then at Bunker Hill, though after the strange fortune of that battle, he became silent, overly cautious, and passionately addicted to games of chance by night. The brothers had long sat in Parliament as prominent Whigs; they loudly opposed the king’s American policy to his face, and went to America reluctantly and only because the king had asked them to and gave them hope that they might solve the conflict by peaceful negotiation—a hope that colonial secretary Lord George Germain soon dashed.
Charles Lee was right, of course: New York was indefensible, especially against the world’s mightiest navy. But Washington worried about how it would look to Congress and his fellow Americans—and to the French, whose support Congress wooed—if he just gave up a major city without a shot. He knew how crucial morale and public opinion were: citizens had to believe that their cause was just and their army resolute. Thomas Paine had given a boost to the first in January 1776 with his best-selling Common Sense, forcefully arguing that while “the constitution of England . . . was noble for the dark and slavish times in which it was erected,” nevertheless “it is the republican and not the monarchical part of [it] which Englishmen glory in,” and that, since the current “hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England” can “composedly sleep with [his people’s] blood upon his soul,” clearly “the independence of this continent . . . sooner or later must arrive” and is the only outcome “equal to the expense of blood and treasure we have been already put to.” In July, as the British fleet was still crowding into New York Harbor, the Declaration of Independence fulfilled Paine’s prophecy and justified the American cause in Jefferson’s eloquently indignant prose. Washington, who had called Common Sense “sound doctrine” and had known that independence was inevitable ever since Bunker Hill, had the Declaration read to his men on July 9, and told them that each man was “now in the service of a State, possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit, and advance him to the highest Honors of a free Country.”
As to proving the army determined, that was his job, and he set about strengthening the defenses that Charles Lee had begun, putting barricades at the water’s edge, placing cannon, sinking wrecks in the rivers to obstruct British warships, and building twin forts facing each other on either side of the Hudson, Fort Washington and Fort Lee, to bar the Royal Navy from control of the river. But on July 12, to show the futility of these flimsy preparations, two warships—the Phoenix and the Rose—blew through them effortlessly before “a brisk Wind & strong tide,” Washington reported, strafing the city for two hours with ceaseless cannon fire. As round shot rocketed down the smoke-filled streets and smashed through houses, New Yorkers panicked. The “Shrieks and Cries of these poor creatures running every way was truly distressing and I fear will have an unhappy effect on the Ears and Minds of our young and inexperienced Soldiery,” the general soberly wrote. Almost untouched by the American return fire—a British sailor provocatively sat at one masthead the entire time—the two ships then anchored in the Tappan Zee, “out of reach of Cannon Shot from either shore” and “having cut of[f] the Water Communication with Albany.”
Now followed three months of cat and mouse all around New York, as the British stalked and pounced, and the Americans scurried wildly just out of reach (for the most part). On August 22, General Howe’s troops came ashore at Brooklyn’s Gravesend Bay, at the southwestern tip of Long Island, whose farm produce the British needed for supply. Wrongly judging the maneuver a feint and expecting the main thrust against Manhattan, Washington countered the combined 22,000-man force of British regulars and Hessian mercenaries with 6,000 of his 19,000-man army, whom he stationed along Brooklyn Heights at Long Island’s northwestern tip. When he realized his mistake, the novice general added only 3,000 more, whom his subordinates ordered to hold the Heights of Guana (Gowanus Heights), a ridge farther south. Splitting their army into three parts, the British sent two north and the third, about 10,000 strong, on a long flanking loop to the northeast through the negligently unguarded Jamaica Pass. Surrounding the Americans on the ridge on August 27, the redcoats put them to flight when they burst out of the woods seemingly from everywhere, killing the rebels in cold blood and spitting some to trees with their bayonets. Four out of five Americans managed to sprint to Brooklyn Heights, though. With the rebels now squeezed up against the East River, and the Royal Navy poised to sail up behind them, General Howe thought the battle as good as won and, with what became habitual hesitation, decided to start tightening his siege in the morning and pluck his prize.
But as Howe dug his trenches closer and closer, the weather changed. The wind backed to the northeast, barring his brother the admiral from sailing into position behind the Americans. A cold rain began on the night of the 28th, soaking all the soldiers to the skin and spreading illness to one American in four. Worried that dividing his force had imprudently left his 10,000 men in Manhattan also vulnerable, Washington decided to act fast. On the 29th, as the storm, now a fierce nor’easter, howled down the river, he moved to get his men out of Brooklyn, in secret and silence.
The Continental Army had some vividly colorful units. There were the Baltimore Independent Cadets, “composed of gentlemen of honour, family and fortune” (their commander wrote), who dressed themselves in “the most macaroni cocked hat” and “most fashionably cut” scarlet coat with buff facings and gold buttons, but stripped down to fringed Indian hunting shirts when it came time to fight. There were the Philadelphia Associators, a quin- tessentially American, purely voluntary, self-financed militia, which Benjamin Franklin organized in 1747 to finesse Quaker Pennsylvania’s religious objection to an official military force. Mustered only in wartime and composed of all classes, they voted a uniform costing no more than ten shillings, to “level all distinctions,” and chose their officers by secret ballot, electing one of Philadelphia’s richest merchants, Colonel John Cadwalader, their commander, and painter Charles Willson Peale a company captain. But perhaps the most unforgettable unit of all was the Fourteenth Massachusetts, a regiment of oilskin-clad Marblehead fishermen and seamen—some of them Indians, some blacks (who ultimately composed 5 percent of the army). Under the taut command of their ship-owning colonel, John Glover, it was they who got Washington’s men to safety.
With Washington, on horseback, directing every moment of the embarkation, the troops mustered in strict silence on the Brooklyn shore after nightfall, communicating only by hand signals as they filed into a motley fleet of boats gathered under pretense to preserve secrecy. Myriad campfires blazed on Brooklyn Heights, a piece of theater aimed at making the army appear settled in for the night. With craft laden almost to the gunwales, Glover’s mariners struggled with muffled oars against the tricky currents and strong wind, making up to a dozen crossings each of the mile-wide river. As dawn neared on the 30th, “a very dense fog began to rise,” one officer recalled, so thick you could “scarcely discern a man at six yards’ distance”—a “providential occurrence,” the New Englanders concluded, shrouding the operation in invisibility until Washington stepped into the very last boat and followed his 9,000 men to the safety of Manhattan. So ended the Battle of Long Island, the first battle he had fought in 14 months as commander.
Two weeks later, Howe invaded Manhattan, sending 4,000 British and Hessians ashore at Kip’s Bay on the low East River shore, intending to cut the island in half. A thunderous hour-long cannonade terrified the few hundred green American defenders, who fled before the enemy advance—or tried to surrender, only to be shot in the head and, in one case, decapitated, his head impaled on a pike. Seeing the battle smoke from his hilltop headquarters in what is now the Morris-Jumel house-museum in Harlem, Washington leaped into the saddle and galloped downtown with his aides, shouting at the retreating soldiers furiously and cutting at them with his riding whip to stop their “most Shameful and disgraceful” flight, to no avail. “Good God!” he cried. “Have I got such troops as these?” Paralyzed with rage and vexation, he stood like an equestrian statue alone on the battlefield as 50 redcoats ran toward him, leveling their muskets, until one of his disconcerted aides grabbed his reins and galloped him away. But as Howe unaccountably failed to cut the island in half, Washington got most of his men back up toward Harlem. The next day, when 1,000 Americans bravely engaged the British in the Battle of Harlem Heights near present-day Columbia University, fought them back, and almost caught them in a trap, even as the redcoats taunted them with the hunting-horn call that means the fox is fleeing before the hounds, Washington’s spirits and his army’s morale rose again.
But he didn’t grasp how much danger he was in. Howe could trap him on Royal Navy–surrounded Manhattan Island by seizing King’s Bridge linking its northern end to the mainland. On October 12, four weeks after the Kip’s Bay invasion, Howe set out to do that, landing a force behind the Americans on Throg’s Neck on the mainland (now in the Bronx), just where the East River opens out into Long Island Sound. A marshy quasi-island, it was useless as a landing place, Howe found, but a storm stranded his men there for a week before they could seek a better one. Luckily, General Charles Lee returned to New York from defeating a bungled British invasion of Charleston, South Carolina, in the nick of time, grasped at once the peril Washington faced, and implored him to rush his army off Manhattan before Howe could take the bridge. Washington moved out on the 18th, while Colonel Glover’s doughty Massachusetts salts delayed the British with withering fire as they struggled ashore on a firmer beachhead.
Five days and 20 miles later, the Continentals reached White Plains in Westchester and waited for Howe on a well-chosen high ridge above the Bronx River. When Howe appeared on October 28, he threateningly displayed the fearsome might of his 13,000 British and Hessians in serried ranks and smart uniforms, the sun glittering on their bayonets, in a golden autumnal wheat field, before loosing a murderous artillery barrage and then sending the Hessians straight up a seemingly impregnable 180-foot “rocky height.” Both sides fought resolutely, until the Hessians found a weak spot and began pushing the no-longer-green defenders back. Washington retreated to safety; Howe hesitated, as usual; a cold autumn storm blew in, and when it passed on November 1, the Americans had vanished.
Except 3,000 men still held Fort Washington in northern Manhattan, which Washington had wanted to abandon as impotent against Lord Howe’s warships, but which Nathanael Greene—a tall, limping, brilliantly blue-eyed, hardworking Rhode Island Quaker who had learned military tactics from manuals that he had bought from Henry Knox’s bookshop before becoming Washington’s youngest (and favorite) general at 33—had persuaded him to hold. The commandant, Colonel Robert Magaw, blustered that his fort was impregnable and that he would “defend his post to the last extremity” and could easily escape across the Hudson if the unthinkable happened. All wrong. Washington watched through his telescope from Fort Lee on the opposite shore as Howe’s 13,000 troops battered the citadel with artillery from all sides on November 16. Surrounding the fort with cannon, they called on Magaw to surrender. For all his bravado, he saw that he had no chance and filed out with his men to captivity in Britain’s pestilential prison ships, as Washington turned his back and wept “with the tenderness of a child.”
Not long after his miraculous retreat from Brooklyn, Washington began to realize that “on our side the War should be defensive”—a “War of posts,” he called it, in which “we should on all occasions avoid a general Action or put anything to the risque unless compelled by a necessity into which we ought never to be drawn.” By the time he began his long retreat down New Jersey after the fall of Fort Washington and abandonment of Fort Lee, he fully understood that he was leading an insurgency and that he didn’t so much have to win the war as not lose it, while harassing, exhausting, and frustrating the enemy until the London authorities had had enough. His army could lose cities and melt into the interior, to emerge and fight again. “It is our arms, not defenseless towns, they have to subdue,” he wrote. Executing such a strategy meant that he had first to subdue his own impulses, since he preferred activity, initiative, glory.
Though New Jersey had its share of Loyalists, for the most part Washington fought among (and for) sympathetic countrymen, and he knew he depended on “the spirit and willingness of the people” for support, intelligence, and supplies. He stopped at nothing to win hearts and minds. When a court martial found three members of his own elite guard guilty of looting valuables from a New Jersey civilian’s house, Washington pointedly endorsed the death sentences it imposed, as “examples which will deter the boldest and most harden’d offenders” from “horrible villainies of this nature.” Moreover, he expected “that humanity and tenderness to women and children will distinguish brave Americans, contending for liberty, from infamous mercenary ravagers, whether British or Hessian.” When he chose Valley Forge as his winter quarters in 1777, he explained to his troops that he had purposely avoided anyplace to which the “virtuous citizens” of Philadelphia had fled from the British, “sacrificing their all,” so as not to compete with them for supplies. “To their distresses humanity forbids us to add.”
The Howes planned to fight a counterinsurgency, one colony at a time, starting by wooing New Jersey rebels by granting pardons to any who would swear allegiance to the king. And they would romance the Loyalists. “You are deceived if you suppose there are not many loyal and peaceable subjects in that country,” General Howe wrote. “I may safely assert that the insurgents are very few, in comparison of the whole people.” He, too, executed soldiers who mistreated civilians and stole or destroyed their property, and he condemned the terror tactics of his colleagues who earlier had torched the Massachusetts towns of Charlestown and Falmouth (later renamed Portland, Maine).
But he had a much harder task than Washington. His men saw the Americans as low-life “rebels,” not as countrymen, and treated them as such from the moment they came off Lord Howe’s ships onto New York’s Staten Island. As one aristocratic British captain there famously joked, “The fair nymphs of this isle are in wonderful tribulation, as the fresh meat that our men have got here has made them as riotous as satyrs. A girl cannot step into the bushes to pluck a rose without running the most imminent risk of being ravished, and they are so little accustomed to these vigorous methods that they don’t bear them with the proper resignation, and of consequence we have the most entertaining courts-martial every day.” As for Britain’s hired Hessian allies: theirs was entirely a for-profit enterprise, and plunder was of its essence. Hearts and minds were the last thing these career mercenaries cared to win.
New Jerseyites hedged their bets. Wanting to be in the winner’s good graces, many signed the British loyalty oath, however glumly, as they watched Howe’s commander in the New Jersey campaign, Lord Cornwallis—an experienced officer with Whig sympathies, who had amazed his aristocratic family by marrying for love—chase Washington’s cold and shrinking army across the bleak winter landscape for two weeks. The troops’ summer clothes turned to rags; they wrapped themselves in blankets. Their shoes disintegrated, and they trudged barefoot or tied rawhide to their feet. “No nation ever saw such a set of tatterdemalions,” a British officer scoffed, though the sick and hungry “Raggamuffins,” as Lord Howe’s secretary derided them, kept the pursuing enemy at a respectful distance by rearguard actions of spirited ferocity, with Washington always near them, a calming presence closest to the pursuers.
By the time they reached the Delaware River north of Trenton and began to cross into Pennsylvania on December 2, they seemed spectral wraiths out of Dante. Charles Willson Peale’s painterly eye glimpsed “the most hellish scene I ever beheld. All the shores were lighted up with large fires, boats continually passing and repassing, full of men, horses, artillery.” As if what he is describing sounds incredible even to him, he repeats it: “The Hollowing of hundreds of men in their difficulties of getting Horses and artillery out of the boats, made it rather the appearance of Hell than any earthly scene.” As the soldiers trudged by, “a man staggered out of line and came toward me. He had lost all his clothes. He was in an old dirty blanket jacket, his beard long and his face full of sores . . . which so disfigured him that he was not known by me on first sight. Only when he spoke did I recognize my brother James.”
Once across the river, here was Washington’s plight. His oft-defeated army, from illness, desertion, capture at Fort Washington, and some enlistments that ended on December 1, was down to fewer than 3,000 men. General Charles Lee, who had dawdled over bringing in reinforcements, had fallen into enemy hands, ignominiously captured at an inn, apart from his army—though Washington, who by mistake had just opened a letter of his filled with criticism of the commander in chief’s “fatal indecision of mind which in war is a much greater disqualification than stupidity or even want of personal courage,” took the loss of so disloyal and insubordinate an officer with equanimity. Lee’s strictures perhaps stung all the more because Washington had made every mistake in the book in the New York campaign. He had misread the enemy’s intentions; he had divided his forces in the face of superior numbers; he had provided no cavalry; he had hesitated almost fatally to get his army out of Manhattan once he grasped the folly of keeping it there; he had allowed Greene to persuade him against his better judgment to keep men in Fort Washington; he had allowed a wealth of precious tents, flour, ordnance, and ammunition at Forts Washington and Lee to fall into enemy hands. And now, on December 17, he had two weeks before the enlistments for most of the rest of his army expired. “Our only dependance now, is upon the Speedy Inlistment of a New Army,” he wrote Lund Washington, his cousin and trusted manager at Mount Vernon; “if this fails us, I think the game will be pretty well up, as from disaffection, and want of spirit & fortitude, the Inhabitants instead of resistance, are offering Submission, and taking protections from Genl Howe in Jersey.”
And now came one of history’s miraculous turning points, in which a handful of men transformed failure into triumph. Tom Paine heralded it with his magniloquent article “The American Crisis,” which he wrote on a drumhead by campfire light, retreating with the Philadelphia Associators, and which the troops huddled together to read aloud just days after it came out in the Pennsylvania Journal on December 19. “These are the times that try men’s souls,” Paine passionately proclaimed, telling his exhausted fellow troopers just what they hungered to hear. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Let’s not talk about “peace in my day” but think instead that, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” As for General Washington, he is one of those men who never appear “to full advantage but in difficulties and in action,” Paine assured them. “There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude.” Such is the general, blessed with “a mind that can even flourish upon care.”
And so it proved. In crossing to Pennsylvania, Washington had the foresight to gather every boat for 60 miles up and down the river, so that the British couldn’t follow, and he had them stashed in creeks and inlets on the Pennsylvania bank—just in case. But General Howe didn’t try to follow. He left Hessian regiments to guard the Delaware’s east bank, including three to hold Trenton, while he eased into a cozy New York winter, planning to take Philadelphia when the spring fighting season opened. Washington, his dwindling troops disheartened, and their enlistments nearly up, saw that without a “lucky blow,” he could never “rouse the spirits of the people, which are quite sunk by our misfortunes.” So when Charles Lee’s reinforcements finally turned up with some militia units on December 22, momentarily boosting his strength to 7,600 men—still too few to fill Madison Square Garden even halfway—he knew that he had to act at once, before his army melted away. He would attack Trenton on Christmas Day—a plan of such imaginative, unconventional audacity that no by-the-book English officer could ever dream it up.
His staff worried at the planning dinner on Christmas Eve: Could the men get across the river in just one night, as he planned, since it had taken five days to cross the other way? They were “not to be troubled about that,” Marblehead Colonel Glover imperturbably pledged, “as his boys could manage it.” On horseback and out front, as usual, Washington would lead the main force of 2,400, which would split into two columns on the opposite shore. Two other detachments would cross elsewhere, to multiply the chances of success. The revealingly desperate password for the operation: “Victory or Death.”
Once again, as at Brooklyn, Washington marshaled his men at the river’s edge in silence and secrecy on Christmas afternoon—only this time, their bare feet left bloody tracks in the snow. Once again, rain and sleet lashed them, which during the night turned to snow and became “a perfect hurricane,” one Boston fifer recalled. Washington crossed first, to take charge if the enemy appeared, and in groups of 40, the men squeezed onto flat-bottomed freight scows to cross the churning, ice-clogged river, while Glover’s mariners ferried horses and 400 tons of cannon across, too. The storm slowed them down, so Washington feared that he had lost the surprise of reaching Trenton before dawn, and it stymied the other two detachments altogether, so they didn’t cross. Even so, wrote Washington, “as I was certain there was no making a Retreat without being discovered, and harassed on repassing the River, I determined to push on at all Events.”
It was 3 AM on December 26 when the last man safely reached the Jersey side and 4 AM before the line of march formed up and set off, straight into driving snow and hail, with Washington galloping back and forth, exhorting and encouraging them, “in a deep & Solemn voice,” one soldier recalled, to “Press on, boys!” and marveling at how “they seemed to vie with the other” in doing what he asked, in a way that “reflects the highest honor upon them.” When the sky lightened at 6 AM, they’d gone only half the nine miles south to Trenton, and the storm had soaked their powder, leaving them to fight with bayonets alone. That they would catch the enemy sleeping off a Christmas drunk is a legend; the 1,500 Hessians, whose foraging parties American patrols constantly harried and whom Loyalist spies kept informed, had slept on their arms for three nights and were on rigid alert, even though most viewed American prowess with wry contempt and felt certain that the storm made an attack that day unlikely.
Before the Continentals reached Trenton shortly after 8, the wind had shifted, blowing the snow and hail into the Hessians’ faces, so that the Americans really did surprise them, coming at them from three directions, with Washington leading the main charge. Henry Knox fired his artillery straight down the town’s two streets with murderous effect, satisfied, he remarked with sober awe, that the “hurry, fright, and confusion of the enemy” that he had caused resembled “that which will be when the last trump shall sound.” When the Hessian commander tried to rally his troops to charge Washington, the general galloped to a group of Americans, cried “March on, my brave fellows, after me!” and headed him and his men off, wounding him mortally. In an hour, the Americans had won, killing or wounding 105 Hessians and taking almost 900 captive, as against two Continentals killed, plus four or five frozen to death on the march. “This is a glorious day for our country!” Washington congratulated his men, before turning to speak a word of comfort to the dying Hessian commander. But had these 2,400 failed, their revolution might well have died with them, obliterated in the Jersey snow. “It may be doubted,” summed up the eminent Whig statesman and historian Sir G. O. Trevelyan, “whether so small a number of men ever employed so short a space of time with greater and more lasting effects upon the history of the world.”
Sixty hours after they set out, Washington’s men had recrossed the river with their prisoners and trove of captured supplies and arms. “The General,” Washington told them on the morning of the 27th, rewarding them with cash and an extra tot of rum, “with the utmost sincerity and affection, thanks the officers and soldiers for their spirited and gallant behavior.” But that afternoon, he learned that they’d have to go back. Colonel Cadwalader and his 1,800 Philadelphia Associators, unable to negotiate the ice-treacherous river on Christmas, had finally made it across and, with their usual democracy, had voted to stay and fight. Washington would not leave the determined Pennsylvanians prey to the 8,000 British troops in southern New Jersey. He ordered his force across the river on December 29 in two groups. With the temperature plummeting, the first found the Delaware frozen enough to tiptoe gingerly across, though not enough to bear their artillery and tents; the second, with Washington at its head, had to wait until the 30th, and the guns couldn’t cross until New Year’s Eve.
Now what? Most of the troops’ enlistments would end when midnight tolled, and even Glover’s tars burned to get home to make their fortunes serving their country as privateers. The merchant-officers of the Philadelphia Associators told Washington that they had chipped in to offer a $10 bonus in hard money to any of their men who would stay on, and it worked. Impressed, the general called his troops together and made them the same offer, with no idea where he’d get the money. “The drums beat for volunteers,” one soldier recounted, “but not a man turned out.” Washington, as a sergeant never forgot, “wheeled his horse about, rode in front of the regiment,” and said: “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected; but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with the fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you probably can never do under any other circumstances.”
The drummers drummed; the men spoke low to one another; a few stepped forward, and then nearly all did. The choice cost almost half of them their lives. An officer asked if he should enroll them in writing. No need, Washington replied. In his new ethic, a man with the merit of a gentleman was a gentleman, and his word of honor was enough. These were men whom 16 months earlier Washington had described as “exceeding dirty & nasty people.” Now he knew them better. “A people unused to restraint,” he wrote a couple of weeks later, “must be led; they will not be drove.” And he had used the magic American word with them: consent.
With the vengeful enemy barreling toward him—the enraged Hessians had orders to take no prisoners—Washington remembered a high knoll south of Assunpink Creek in Trenton, ideal for defense, and he ranged his army there, with artillery aimed at the bridge and possible fords. When the British thundered into Trenton toward dusk on January 2, 1777, the American advance guard struggled to get back over the bridge before the enemy cut them down. Washington raced to the stone span with a troop to protect them. One private, squeezed up against Washington’s horse and boot during the skirmish, left an oft-quoted evocation of the quasi-mythical stature that the general was now acquiring in his soldiers’ eyes: “The noble horse of Gen. Washington stood with his breast pressed close against the end of the west rail of the bridge, and the firm, composed, and majestic countenance of the General inspired confidence and assurance in a moment so important and critical. . . . The horse stood as firm as the rider, and seemed to understand that he was not to quit his post and station.” The British tried bravely three times to force their way across the bridge, until it “looked red as blood, with their killed and wounded and red coats,” a sergeant wrote. The enemy corpses, perhaps 365 in all (as against 50 Americans), “lay thicker and closer together,” another soldier recalled, “than I ever beheld sheaves of wheat lying in a field which the reapers had just passed.”
Still, the British outnumbered the Continentals by more than five to four. “We’ve got the Old Fox safe now,” Cornwallis assured his staff as they met that night. “We’ll go over and bag him in the morning.”
Washington could figure the odds, too, and he knew that his position, though strong, had vulnerabilities that Cornwallis’s greater numbers could exploit by getting to his rear, a peril that insurgencies shun. He wanted to get his men to safety, without damping “popular opinion.” The army’s morale was soaring, and Jerseyites now flocked to the militia and harassed the British continually, so whatever he did had to “give reputation to our arms,” maintaining the initiative and pressing on. By an inspiration of genius, he gave vent to his inner Washington, all boldness and enterprise, and turned a withdrawal into an attack. Seizing on information that Colonel Cadwalader had heard from “a very intelligent young gentleman” just come from Prince- ton that no sentries guarded the wide-open east end of the little college town, Washington decided to strike there. “One thing I was sure of,” he recalled, “was that it would avoid the appearance of a retreat, which was of consequence.”
By now, he had the theatrics down pat. Cloth muffled the wagon wheels, watch fires sparkled with brighter than usual cheer, trenching tools crunched as noisily as if hundreds were auditioning for the part of the grave digger in Hamlet. So silently did Washington slip away after midnight that “many of his own sentinels never missed him,” an officer chuckled. Roads that the British had labored along “halfleg deep” in mud had now frozen hard and smooth as the exhausted Americans virtually sleepwalked the 16-mile byroad to Princeton, leaving it “literally marked with the blood of soldiers feet,” a sergeant noticed. In the icy, crystalline-bright dawn, two British regiments galloping to Cornwallis’s aid in Trenton literally ran into the Americans and “were as much astonished as if an army had dropped perpendicularly down upon them,” General Knox quipped.
No less astonished by the ferocity of the immediate British charge, the Americans fell back in panic. Just then, Washington materialized among the Associators, waving his tricorne. “Parade with us, my brave fellows!” he urged. “There is but a handful of the enemy, and we will have them directly.” The general led his men straight into the British fire, with such defiant courage that one of his aides clenched his eyes shut, unable to watch his commander’s all but certain death. “Away, my dear colonel, and bring up the troops,” Washington said to him when the smoke cleared. “The day is our own!” A couple of hundred British took cover in the college’s Nassau Hall, only to be cannonaded into surrender by artillery commander Alexander Hamilton, just about to turn 22. “The achievements of Washington and his little band of compatriots between the 25th of December and the 4th of January, a space of 10 days,” pronounced one of the era’s foremost generals, Frederick the Great, “were the most brilliant of any recorded in the annals of military achievements.”
Experience as you live it never feels the way it looks in retrospect; and though the war dragged on for four and a half miserable years before Washington and his French allies beat the British at York- town—and even then didn’t know that it meant the war was over—those fateful days after Christmas 1776 marked the Revolution’s decisive turning point. It was then that a shocked Britain realized that it might well lose its American empire and that George Washington proved to himself, his troops, and the world his inspirational brilliance as a leader, and became the unifying embodiment of the new nation. ************************************************* ****
While running for president, Barack Obama promised the American voters that he would change the way things were done in Washington.
Well, he's kept his promise—though not perhaps in the way many people who voted for him had in mind. Under his leadership, the federal budget has exploded dramatically, leading to record deficits and bringing total federal indebtedness to a level equal to just about one year's U.S. gross domestic product.
Under his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013, released earlier this week, the trends not only continue, they accelerate. Over the 10 year period FY 2012 and FY 2022, Obama's budget proposes an astounding $8.011 trillion in new deficit spending, with the deficit for FY 2013 being the fourth trillion-dollar deficit in a row. And that's only the beginning.
According to an analysis prepared by the House Republican Study Committee, if Obama's budget for FY 2013 is adopted as written, the federal budget "would never balance again."
"The president's budget does not just propose large deficits in the short-term, but they actually start increasing again from 2018 to 2022. Beyond that point, the president's proposal to keep entitlement spending unreformed would ensure that the long-term budget outlook is worse," the committee said.
The Obama budget would also increase the total tax burden from 15.4 percent of U.S. GDP in 2011 to 20.11 percent of U.S. GDP by 2022. Over the 10-year period contemplated by the budget document, revenues would average almost 19 percent of U.S. GDP which, the committee said, is notably above the 40-year average of 18 percent despite the large deficits.
Obama's budget furthers the orgy of spending upon which he embarked as soon as he came into office, with proposed federal spending at 24.3 percent of GDP, almost a full percentage point higher than the previous peacetime record of 23.5 percent set in 1983. And that's on top of a 27.5 percent hike in federal spending since FY 2008, from $2.98 trillion to $3.82 trillion.
It's doubtful the president's budget will be enacted as is. Under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's leadership, the U.S. Senate has gone more than 1,000 days without approving a budget—probably because Reid does not want to force his fellow Democrats to go on record in favor of all the spending Obama wants. Nevertheless, with numbers like these it is no wonder that the American electorate is up in arms about federal spending. The budget is simply too big to keep pace with the ability of a weak economy to generate the revenues needed to support it. What is needed now, more than anything, is a focus on economic growth, not Washington subsidies. It's true that Obama has committed to "spread the wealth around" but, in order for him to be able to do that, the wealth has to exist. Instead, the president's budget seems to be a commitment to wiping it out altogether.
“What we’re getting from the White House on this conscience issue, it’s not an issue about contraception, it’s an issue that reveals a political philosophy the president is showing that basically treats our constitutional rights as if they were revocable privileges from our government, not inalienable rights from our creator.”
A universal birth-control mandate is a curious priority for a dying republic.
By Mark Steyn
Have you seen the official White House version of what the New York Times headline writers call “A Responsible Budget”? My favorite bit is Chart 5-1 on page 58 of their 500-page appendix on “Analytical Perspectives.” This is entitled “Publicly Held Debt Under 2013 Budget Policy Projections.” It’s a straight lin e going straight up before disappearing off the top right-hand corner of the graph in the year 2084 and continuing northeast straight through your eye socket, out the back of your skull, and zooming up to rendezvous with Newt’s space colony on the moon circa 2100. Just to emphasize, this isn’t the doom-laden dystopian fancy of a right-wing apocalyptic loon like me; it’s the official Oval Office version of where America’s headed. In the New York Times–approved “responsible budget” there is no attempt even to pretend to bend the debt curve into something approaching reentry with reality.
As for us doom-mongers, at the House Budget Committee on Thursday, Chairman Paul Ryan produced another chart, this time from the Congressional Budget Office, with an even steeper straight line showing debt rising to 900 percent of GDP and rocketing off the graph circa 2075. America’s treasury secretary, Timmy Geithner the TurboTax Kid, thought the chart would have been even more hilarious if they’d run the numbers into the next millennium: “You could have taken it out to 3000 or to 4000” he chortled, to supportive titters from his aides. Has total societal collapse ever been such a non-stop laugh riot?
“Yeah, right.” replied Ryan. “We cut it off at the end of the century because the economy, according to the CBO, shuts down in 2027 on this path.” The U.S. economy shuts down in 2027? Had you heard about that? It’s like the ultimate Presidents’ Day sale: Everything must go — literally! At such a moment, it may seem odd to find the political class embroiled in a bitter argument about the Obama administration’s determination to force Catholic institutions (and, indeed, my company and your company, if you’re foolish enough still to be in business in the United States) to provide free prophylactics to their employees. The received wisdom among media cynics is that Obama has engaged in an ingenious bit of misdirection by seizing on a pop-culture caricature of Republicans and inviting them to live up to it: Those uptight squares with the hang-ups about fornication have decided to force you to lead the same cheerless sex lives as them. I notice that in their coverage NPR and the evening news shows generally refer to the controversy as being about “contraception,” discreetly avoiding mention of sterilization and pharmacological abortion, as if the GOP have finally jumped the shark in order to prevent you jumping anything at all.
It may well be that the Democrats succeed in establishing this narrative. But anyone who falls for it is a sap. In fact, these two issues — the Obama condoms-for-clunkers giveaway and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 900 percent by 2075 — are not unconnected. In Greece, 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren — i.e., an upside-down family tree. As I wrote in this space a few weeks ago, “If 100 geezers run up a bazillion dollars’ worth of debt, is it likely that 42 youngsters will ever be able to pay it off?” Most analysts know the answer to that question: Greece is demographically insolvent. So it’s looking to Germany to continue bankrolling its First World lifestyle.
But the Germans are also demographically exhausted: They have the highest proportion of childless women in Europe. One in three fräulein have checked out of the motherhood business entirely. A nation that did without having kids of its own is in no mood to maintain Greece as the ingrate slacker who never moves out of the house. As the European debt crisis staggers on, these two countries loathe each other ever more nakedly: The Greek president brings up his war record against the German bullies, and Athenian commentators warn of the new Fourth Reich. The Germans, for their part, would rather cut the Greeks loose. In a post-prosperity West, social solidarity — i.e., socioeconomic fictions such as “Europe” — are the first to disappear.
The United States faces a mildly less daunting arithmetic. Nevertheless, the Baby Boomers did not have enough children to maintain mid-20th-century social programs. As a result, the children they did have will end their lives in a poorer, uglier, sicker, more divided, and more violent society. How to avert this fate? In 2009 Nancy Pelosi called for free contraceptives as a form of economic stimulus. Ten thousand Americans retire every day, and leave insufficient progeny to pick up the slack. In effect, Nancy has rolled a giant condom over the entire American economy.
Testifying before Congress, Timmy Geithner referred only to “demographic challenges” — an oblique allusion to the fact that the U.S. economy is about to be terminally clobbered by $100 trillion of entitlement obligations it can never meet. And, as Chart 5-1 on page 58 of the official Obama budget “Analytical Perspectives” makes plain, your feckless, decadent rulers have no plans to do anything about it. Instead, the Democrats shriek, Ooh, Republican prudes who can’t get any action want to shut down your sex life! According to CBO projections, by mid-century mere interest payments on the debt will exceed federal revenues. For purposes of comparison, by 1788 Louis XVI’s government in France was spending a mere 60 percent of revenues on debt service, and we know how that worked out for His Majesty shortly thereafter. Not to worry, says Barry Antoinette. Let them eat condoms. This is a very curious priority for a dying republic. “Birth control” is accessible, indeed ubiquitous, and, by comparison with anything from a gallon of gas to basic cable, one of the cheapest expenses in the average budget. Not even Rick Santorum, that notorious scourge of the sexually liberated, wishes to restrain the individual right to contraception.
But where is the compelling societal interest in the state prioritizing and subsidizing it? Especially when you’re already the Brokest Nation in History. Elsewhere around the developed world, prudent politicians are advocating natalist policies designed to restock their empty maternity wards. A few years ago, announcing tax incentives for three-child families, Peter Costello, formerly Timmy Geithner’s counterpart Down Under, put it this way: “Have one for Mum, one for Dad, and one for Australia.” But in America an oblivious political class, led by a president who characterizes young motherhood as a “punishment,” prefers to offer solutions to problems that don’t exist rather than the ones that are all too real. I think this is what they call handing out condoms on the Titanic.
Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, distills the current hysteria thus: “It’s as if we passed a law requiring mosques to sell bacon and then, when people objected, responded by saying ‘What’s wrong with bacon? You’re trying to ban bacon!!!!’”
Americans foolish enough to fall for the Democrats’ crude bit of misdirection can hardly complain about their rendezvous with the sharp end of that page-58 budget graph. People are free to buy bacon, and free to buy condoms. But the state has no compelling interest to force either down your throat. The notion that an all-powerful government would distract from its looming bankruptcy by introducing a universal contraceptive mandate would strike most novelists as almost too pat in its symbolism. It’s like something out of Brave New World. Except that it’s cowardly, and, like so much else about the sexual revolution, very old and wrinkled. ************************************************* ****
President Obama’s recent activities have that schizophrenic quality one associates with romantic relationships on the brink of collapse. There was, for example, his hypocritical reversal on Super PACs; his not-quite U-turn on contraception, which was meant to appease the religious left; his stuffing the FY2013 budget proposal with handouts to construction and teachers unions; and his self-pitying yet lucrative fundraising trip to the West Coast.
The economy may be on the upswing—the stock market certainly is. But tensions inside the Obama coalition are beginning to emerge. Obama has reached the point of diminishing returns. He simply cannot please all of the elements of his coalition at once.
The problem with Chicago style politics is that every favor one pays to one group ends up alienating another. Mandating free contraceptives in health care may please the pro-choice activists, but it will also mobilize conservative Catholics and defenders of religious liberty. Trying to please the green lobby by killing the Keystone Pipeline ends up angering construction unions without guaranteeing environmentalists’ support. Donors such as Susie Tompkins Buell, the millionaire San Francisco clothes designer, are still saying they “can’t” donate to Obama’s campaign because he has not been “vocal enough” on climate change. There is simply no pleasing these people. Gavin Newsome, the lieutenant governor of California, says Buell’s decision is “extraordinary.” Meanwhile, the president has been reduced to wooing his financiers with love songs.
But many wealthy rent-seekers may have decided to stop throwing good money after bad. Consider energy policy. The Washington Post published a blockbuster report Tuesday describing the regulatory capture that took place in 2009. Obama raised millions from venture capital firms during his presidential campaign, the Post reported, twice as much as John McCain. At first the industry’s investment in Obama seemed to pay off: The $787 billion stimulus bill earmarked $80 billion for non-carbon energy “investments.” Clients of the Wilson Sonsini law firm, for instance, which employs the wife of former Energy Department official and Obama donor Steven J. Spinner, received $2.75 billion in federal money, according to the Post.
But government-inflated asset bubbles have a tendency to pop. Spinner’s pitiable boosting of the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra was enough to get the president to visit the company’s Fremont, Calif., campus, but it could not prevent Solyndra’s collapse. Indeed, Solyndra was only the beginning. There are now four bankrupt solar companies that received government assistance at the direction of venture capitalists who donated to Obama. Meanwhile, the administration’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year allocates no new money to the DOE loan program that brought us Solyndra. The taxpayers whose money this administration bet long on clean energy lost big. The private sector dollars that have poured into the shale oil boom in the Midwest without federal intervention? They are seeing all the returns.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was another example of one member of the Obama coalition not getting what it paid for. Here were two industries—Hollywood and Silicon Valley—that supported Obama in huge numbers but have differing regulatory interests. Seventy percent of the entertainment industry’s political giving in the 2012 cycle has gone to Democrats. What Hollywood wants from Washington most of all is protection of its intellectual property. Further up the Golden State Freeway, meanwhile, Silicon giants like Google—which has given 56 percent of its contributions to Democrats this cycle—want to keep the Internet free from regulation.
When Obama found himself caught in the middle of this clash between two key backers, he dumped MPAA chief (and former Democratic senator) Christopher Dodd and his Hollywood cronies overboard and sided with what Joel Kotkin calls “the new digital elite”: Google, Facebook, eBay, Wikipedia. His decision was understandable. The tech companies easily could decide to switch their partisan affiliation. But Hollywood’s support for Democrats is unbreakable. There is nothing that Obama could do that would send the blissfully ignorant actors of Hollywood into the arms of Rick Santorum.
The most sensational case of Obama’s allies not getting their money’s worth, however, has got to be the stunning collapse of telecom LightSquared’s proposal for a new wireless broadband network. This was the baby of Philip Falcone, the billionaire money manager and Obama supporter who invested a fortune in LightSquared only to have the Federal Communications Commission, chaired by the president’s law school classmate Julius Genachowski, deny approval on Wednesday on the grounds that the wireless network would interfere with the U.S. military’s global positioning systems.
Falcone, who is under investigation for tax and preferential trading issues, has seen his bank account and reputation implode thanks to the fickle nature of the regulatory state. Even more ironic: It is Obama bundler, hedge fund manager, and Center for American Progress board member Tom Steyer’s Farallon Capital Management that is selling LightSquared’s debt to investors such as Carl Icahn. So I suppose one cannot say that LightSquared has been a total waste for Obama’s pals.
“Hope and change,” “progress,” “clean energy,” “fairness,” “Internet freedom” — in every case, Obama’s slogan masks the pursuit of gain through the merger of financial and political interests. Politicians may have always sought to reward donors with such favors, but Obama has elevated clientelism to a science.
Even the most devoted machine politician, however, will run up against the institutional, Constitutional, and factional walls that the Founders built into the American system to protect republican government from itself. These barriers are why Obama has been so apologetic in his appearances before his funders. They are why his majority is so unstable. And they are why he will have to sing his way through the entire Al Green catalog before he can even hope to repair the fissures in his coalition.
As the article points out but what many people do not recognize is that much of Obamacare is not actually legislated but rather determined by the phrase "As the Secretary shall determine". The recent "ruling" on free contraception being a good example. There is nothing about insurers being required to provide free contraception written in the Obamacare bill, the Secretary just "ruled" it so. Now even if Obama should win reelection, what do people think will happen in 2016 when a President Ryan or Rubio takes office? Do they not think that much of this will be undone by that Administration? The same is true in all these giant bureaucracies in the Federal Government that have attained so much power over our freedoms and liberties, what one administration imposes another can remove. This is why it is so important that we get back to the rule of law rather than this ever growing leviathan of executive power dictate.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is also Obamacare's deadly enforcer and leading Democratic operative.
Behind every powerful health care mandate under Obamacare is a power-hungry woman named Kathleen Sebelius. As the Health and Human Services Secretary, she has unprecedented power under Obamacare to control health care decisions, the approval of medical products and the national biomedical research agenda. The Secretary is not only the key player; she is the only one on the field. "The Secretary shall…" is mentioned more than 1000 times in the new health care law.
Sebelius is using that power to promote a liberal agenda and Obama's re-election.
She pushed the contraception edict. Her staff wrote the rules that decided Catholic hospitals and charities are not religious institutions. And she was the one who came up the with the "accommodation" in response to resistance to the mandate: just make the health plans pay for it even if the customers of the plan don't want it.
It is clear Sebelius cares only about imposing a worldview and policies to win support for Obamacare. A reporter asked Sebelius: "If a Catholic nonprofit is paying for your insurance coverage, isn't it paying for contraception if you are getting the coverage through that same insurer?"
Sebelius: "The federal employees health plan… costed this as no cost, free, no cost, because adding contraception and having some employees take advantage of that coverage lowers the overall cost of the health plan."
Free? She will tell insurers to suck up the cost and still force religious organization to offer the benefit. Or else.
This is not an aberration. It is quintessential Kathy: She rules by fiat and if you cross her she will crush you. And when she rebukes and bullies, Sebelius, like Nurse Ratched, claims she is doing so for our own good. As the Big Nurse said: "We do not impose certain rules and restrictions on you without a great deal of thought about their therapeutic value."
In 2002 Sebelius was the insurance commissioner in Kansas and campaigning for governor. She blocked the sale of Blue Cross Blue Shield to Anthem Health because she "thought" doing so would raise premiums. In 2003 when Sebelius was elected, Anthem decided against the merger. (Meanwhile, from 2000-2009 premiums in Kansas rose nearly 100 percent.)
Her use of power during the last days before a congressional vote on Obamacare was also Ratched-like in nature: Sebelius told the Association of Health Insurance Plans: "You can choose to continue your opposition to reform. If you do and reform goes down in defeat, we know what will happen." She threatened insurers that if they continued to blame their rate increases on the new health overhaul they could be excluded from health insurance exchanges.
Sebelius subsequently hauled in health plan execs in 2010 to explain why premiums were going up by 10-20 percent in certain states. And she tried to censor one health plan altogether when it sent a letter to Medicare customers about premium increases. She explained she was only doing this in ensure everyone gets basic care. Or a Nurse Ratched would say: "I tell you this hoping you will understand that it is entirely for your own good that we enforce discipline and order."
Last year Sebelius appeared at several fundraisers for Democrat congressional candidates and the 2012 re-election effort. Sebelius broke all campaign spending records in the 2006 re-election bid and she is regarded as a fundraising machine. In part this is due to the fact that the used the power of her office to punish enemies and reward pals. As HHS Secretary she has the power to mandate coverage, exclude health plans, reject payment for new technologies. She has shown she's not afraid to use this power to shake down and intimidate groups holding views contrary to her own and reward her allies. And since the Independent Payment Advisory Commission reports to her, she has absolute control over what Medicare and Medicaid will pay for in the years ahead.
Which is why Sebelius (who attacked Super PACs in 2010) is one of Obama's most important surrogates in the effort to raise outside money for his re-election. She has spoken at Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League events. Sebelius has attended fundraisers for several politicians over the past two years. And in the process she will use Obamacare as both carrot and stick to get her way. ************************************************* ****
"...the Republican value of minimizing government dependence is particularly beneficial to the poorest among us. Conversely, the Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today, and it does not promote economic freedom."
The US Government continues actions that will result in its own demise. That might seem fitting, except that its failure will seriously harm the citizenry.
Government decisions and actions have assured an economic collapse that will result in another depression. Federal debts and promises are too large to be honored, a conclusion based not on economics but on simple arithmetic.
The government collapse will likely trigger the economic collapse, although the order could be reversed. Arguably, we are already in a depression which has been disguised by juicing GDP via excessive government spending. This spending has been funded increased government debt in magnitudes never seen before. To put matters into perspective, by the end of President Obama's first four years, he will have added more to the federal debt than all 43 Presidents who preceded him.
The economic collapse, as a result of this borrowing and stimulus, will be terrifying and worse than it needed be. Whether it is preceded by hyperinflation or goes directly into a deflationary collapse is moot and immaterial regarding an ultimate depression. Resulting conditions will be worse than those experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
As frightening as the economic event will be, it will be superseded by the political damage. Given the state of our economy and the state of our government, there is a high probability that we lose our form of government. The confluence of the horrific economic events coupled with what H. L. Mencken foresaw long ago brings the very survival of freedom and liberty into question:
As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright moron.
Mencken's "great and glorious day" is upon us. We have found our "moron," not that he is the first or only one. His intent "to transform America" suggests that his actions will not be limited to methods considered appropriate by his predecessors.
In a recent article on American Thinker Steve McCann expressed his concerns that Obama is following in the footsteps of Twentieth Century despots:
... Barack Obama is the most corrupt, dictatorial, and ideologically driven president in American history? That his entire being and psyche are devoted to transforming the country not only into a socialist utopia, but into a nation permanently governed by a radical oligarchy?
Other observers share McCann's opinion, and many do so in less complimentary terms.
What Made This Country Great?
America became great not because it consisted of great men (even though there were many). Our system of governance encouraged laissez-faire capitalism and the freedom and opportunity that allowed ordinary men to do great things. Greatness did not come from electing great leaders. They may have helped, but they were neither necessary nor sufficient for the country to succeed.
The Founding Fathers provide a framework and an "operating system" which allowed the country to prosper. These hearty men were wise, courageous and noble. They understood the nature of man and the danger of power. They established a system designed to protect people from both. They designed a form of governance to accommodate imperfect and less than honorable men. Their primary focus was on limiting the role and power of the federal government.
Under such an arrangement the energy and creativity of people pursuing their own self-interests quickly transformed America into a dynamo unlike anything seen before. In less than a century, the US grew from a backwoods society to one of the most powerful, prosperous nations in the world. Along the way the country elected its share of idiots and morons, perhaps not in a clinical sense but in terms of the gap between their abilities and the abilities required for their offices. The limited role of government restricted the damage that could be imposed on the citizenry. Imperfect men were constrained by a nearly perfect Constitution.
Sadly, the citizenry is no longer protected by the institutional constraints established by the Founders. Over time, continued attacks on the Constitution by the power hungry elite weakened the document. Today, it is more an interesting historical artifact than the basis of law and government limitations for which it was created. That is the problem, not the current occupant of the White House. The deterioration in government constraints enabled fools, hucksters and charlatans to exploit the country. The decline of the Constitution led to the decline of America.
Where We Are Now?
The government has now grown to Leviathan proportions. It is into everything from light bulbs to toilets and every other aspect of our lives. No business is immune from inane and arbitrary bureaucratic regulations, most of which make no economic, environmental or occupational sense. Faceless bureaucrats now run your life and your business, believing they are more knowledgeable and trustworthy than you. Via force they have slowly crippled the productivity of American workers and companies. In doing so, they raise the cost of living for all citizens. Their hubris and ideology supersedes any need for cost-benefit analyses. When they "know" something is "right," they will make you conform.
This country is approaching the fascist state which ran the economy of Nazi Germany. Government has removed decisions from the board room and delegated them to the mindless bureaucracy. As a result, productivity has declined and uncertainty has increased. Investment has declined and much of it has been driven to more welcoming places overseas. Human capital is fleeing and the rate of outflow will likely accelerate if conditions continue to be unfavorable. Jobs are scarce and educational results are disgraceful. Everything the government has run is either bankrupt or soon to be. In short, we are in one big economic mess, all of which can be traced back to the relaxation/elimination of constitutional constraints. When government broke its chains, we began our descent into toward the dustbin of history.
Much of the emasculation of the Constitution happened surreptitiously and slowly over many years. No amendments were added or overruled. An implicit agreement among the political class seems to have been struck. Both parties apparently considered their work too important to be constrained by some old document. Court decisions soon reflected this political attitude. The judiciary, while a separate branch of the government by law, has always been de facto cognizant of and bent with the political winds. The notion that justice is blind or even consistent is questionable when judges are appointed based on political and legal ideology. Republican law says the Constitution is fixed and to be interpreted by original intent. Democrat law says the Constitution is a living document, subject to change to meet the needs of a changing society.
Blame for the destruction of much of the Constitutional constraints is bi-partisan. Both political parties had incentives to increase their power, only achievable by relaxing the legal limitations on government. Both chose to ignore or violate the Constitution when it served their purposes. After a century of this behavior, the Constitution is a shell of its original self. Unfortunately, that thin piece of parchment is all that stands between us and tyranny. It has been the difference between the development of the United States and the rest of the world. Now it is gone.
What Can Be Done?
Let us return to the beginning, or at least the McCann quote:
... Barack Obama is the most corrupt, dictatorial, and ideologically driven president in American history? That his entire being and psyche are devoted to transforming the country not only into a socialist utopia, but into a nation permanently governed by a radical oligarchy?
Read that quote again, slowly. Now read the second half of it again. I am not offended by the characterization of Obama or even its accuracy. What galls me is the presumption that one man, Democrat or Republican, believes he has the authority to change the governance model of this country. That notion is antithetical to everything this country was based upon and everything that enabled it to become so prosperous. It conflicts with all of our traditions, customs and laws. The mere thought implies that we are no longer a country subject to the Rule of Law but subject to the whims of whoever the current ruler might be. This is the governing principle of countries like North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and the old Soviet Union. If this is acceptable, then we are truly doomed as a country.
Do the masses believe that a president has such power? Have they become so dumbed-down that they don't understand the consequences? Has our country fallen this far so fast? If so, totalitarianism is just a matter of time. If Obama doesn't achieve his objectives, then some successor will. America is over if mob rule (democracy) has replaced the Constitution and the Rule of Law.
Democrats in favor of what is happening should realize the implications. Just because your man is assuming these extra Constitutional powers today doesn't mean the next in that office will be so pleasing. Remember how you felt about George Bush when you saw some of his actions as unconstitutional? How would you feel if he came back to office with expanded power? Or, how about a reincarnation of Richard Nixon? How would you feel about Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh or whomever your worst nightmare might be in office with virtually unlimited power? Hopefully, you understand the danger. It is not the man, it is the power. No man can be trusted with excessive power!
I see no reason for optimism regarding any solution to this problem. We no longer have politicians with conscience or integrity. Why have Democrats and Republicans not stepped forward to admonish Obama for his extra-Constitutional acts? Why has someone not issued a cease and desist order backed up by the threat of impeachment hearings? Why do these elected fools stand by and watch the destruction of their country? Does no one have courage? Do principles not matter?
Sadly, I think the answers to most of these questions are obvious. Both political parties participated in the destruction of the Constitution because they believed it to be in their personal self-interest. Strengthening government strengthens themselves. If both parties didn't willingly participate in this destruction, we could never have moved so far off course.
Now we are close to going over a cliff from which there is no return. That would result in a substantial loss of our remaining freedoms, our prosperity and our country. The siren song of our Socialist in Chief does not explain this problem. We know how socialism works -- it doesn't! It steals freedom, impoverishes people (except the ruling elite) and ultimately results in the collapse of governments, economies and civilizations. The data on these claims are irrefutable. Socialism, even in theory, does not work. In practice it is worse; it is death, destruction and suffering.
I do not blame Obama for seeking to increase his power, control or even the pursuit of a dictatorship. Blaming him is like blaming a shark because it preys on other creatures. It is in the nature of sharks and politicians. That is what they do.
What I am outraged over is that he can so blatantly commit transgressions without a meaningful peep from either political party. That is clear indication of how corrupt our political system is. The 500 plus elected peacocks that strut around looking for TV cameras to impress us with how smart, important and necessary they are, are the problem. Republicans and Democrats alike ignore this blatant violation of the law and the anger of the public.
Obama is a problem on many levels. But he is merely a product of the corrupt system. Both parties have lost their will to do what is right and what they are legally obligated to do. They are different wings of the same predatory bird. Their behavior is indistinguishable from that two organized crime syndicates who have cut a deal. Rather than act on principles, they agreed not to fight other than at the ballot box. So long as neither party exposes the other, the plunder and pillage of the population can continue. The two mob bosses apparently have seen cooperation as a better solution than fighting. Some years the Bloods will be in charge and other years the Crips. No matter who is in charge, there is plenty of loot to divvy up. Better to share the scam than to jeopardize its continuance.
Congress is clearly in violation of their oath of office to defend and uphold the Constitution. Impeachment proceedings should be brought against this president. They will not be and our country will be lost. The selfishness and greed of the political class is best served in such a fashion.
Unless meaning is put back into the Constitution, it will not matter who wins or loses the next election. Elections no longer matter! We think we are voting for change and can achieve such by changing horses. That is exactly what they want you to believe. If you were to recognize that you no longer have any control over what is happening, then the myth of government has been exploded.
I have no solution to this problem other than to Impeach Them All. That is the correct solution, but not a practical one.
Thus we are left waiting for the collapse. Perhaps in rebuilding from the ashes a Constitutional Republic that worked and we wasted, can be re-instituted. But a collapse of the economy, the government and much of society is very dangerous and opens the door for a demagogue to assume power. That was the recipe used by Hitler.
Although Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States, he is by no means unique, except for his complexion. He follows in the footsteps of other presidents with a similar vision, the vision at the heart of the Progressive movement that flourished a hundred years ago.
Many of the trends, problems and disasters of our time are a legacy of that era. We can only imagine how many future generations will be paying the price — and not just in money — for the bright ideas and clever rhetoric of our current administration.
The two giants of the Progressive era — Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson — clashed a century ago, in the three-way election of 1912. With the Republican vote split between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt's newly created Progressive Party, Woodrow Wilson was elected president, so that the Democrats' version of Progressivism became dominant for eight years.
What Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had in common, and what attracts some of today's Republicans and Democrats, respectively, who claim to be following in their footsteps, was a vision of an expanded role of the federal government in the economy and a reduced role for the Constitution of the United States.
Like other Progressives, Theodore Roosevelt was a critic and foe of big business. In this he was not inhibited by any knowledge of economics, and his own business ventures lost money.
Rhetoric was T.R.'s strong suit. He denounced "the mighty industrial overlords" and "the tyranny of mere wealth."
Just what specifically this "tyranny" consisted of was not spelled out. This was indeed an era of the rise of businesses to unprecedented size in industry after industry — and of prices falling rapidly, as a result of economies of scale that cut production costs and allowed larger profits to be made from lower prices that attracted more customers.
It was easy to stir up hysteria over a rapidly changing economic landscape and the rise of new businessmen like John D. Rockefeller to wealth and prominence. They were called "robber barons," but those who put this label on them failed to specify just who they robbed.
Like other Progressives, T.R. wanted an income tax to siphon off some of the earnings of the rich. Since the Constitution of the United States forbade such a tax, to the Progressives that simply meant that the Constitution should be changed.
After the 16th Amendment was passed, a very low income-tax rate was levied, as an entering wedge for rates that rapidly escalated up to 73% on the highest incomes during the Woodrow Wilson administration.
One of the criticisms of the Constitution by the Progressives, and one still heard today, is that the Constitution is so hard to amend that judges have to loosen its restrictions on the power of the federal government by judicial reinterpretations. Judicial activism is one of the enduring legacies of the Progressive era.
In reality, the Constitution was amended four times in eight years during the Progressive era. But facts carried no more weight with crusading Progressives then than they do today.
Theodore Roosevelt interpreted the Constitution to mean that the president of the United States could exercise any powers not explicitly forbidden to him. This stood the 10th Amendment on its head, for that amendment explicitly gave the federal government only the powers specifically spelled out, and reserved all other powers to the states or to the people.
Woodrow Wilson attacked the Constitution in his writings as an academic before he became president. Once in power, his administration so restricted freedom of speech that this led to landmark Supreme Court decisions restoring that fundamental right.
Whatever the vision or rhetoric of the Progressive era, its practice was a never-ending expansion of the arbitrary powers of the federal government. The problems they created so discredited Progressives that they started calling themselves "liberals" — and after they discredited themselves again, they went back to calling themselves "Progressives," now that people no longer remembered how Progressives had discredited themselves before.
Obama's rhetoric of "change" is in fact a restoration of discredited ideas that originated a hundred years ago.
Part Two: Progressives' Obsession With Fairness, War On Profit
'Often wrong but never in doubt" is a phrase that summarizes much of what was done by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the two giants of the Progressive era, a century ago.
Their legacy is very much alive today, both in their mindset — including government picking winners and losers in the economy and interventionism in foreign countries — as well as specific institutions created during the Progressive era, such as the income tax and the Federal Reserve System.
Like so many Progressives today, Theodore Roosevelt felt no need to study economics before intervening in the economy. He said of "economic issues" that "I am not deeply interested in them, my problems are moral problems." For example, he found it "unfair" that railroads charged different rates to different shippers, reaching the moral conclusion that these rates were discriminatory and should be forbidden "in every shape and form."
It never seemed to occur to TR that there could be valid economic reasons for the railroads to charge the Standard Oil Company lower rates for shipping their oil. At a time when others shipped their oil in barrels, Standard Oil shipped theirs in tank cars — which required a lot less work by the railroads than loading and unloading the same amount of oil in barrels.
Theodore Roosevelt was also morally offended by the fact that Standard Oil created "enormous fortunes" for its owners "at the expense of business rivals." How a business can offer consumers lower prices without taking customers away from businesses that charge higher prices is a mystery still unsolved to the present day, when the very same arguments are used against Wal-Mart.
The same preoccupation with being "fair" to high-cost producers who were losing customers to low-cost producers has turned anti-trust law on its head, for generations after the Progressive era. Although anti-trust laws and policies have been rationalized as ways of keeping monopolies from raising prices to consumers, the actual thrust of anti-trust activity has more often been against businesses that charged lower prices than their competitors.
Theodore Roosevelt's anti-trust attacks on low-price businesses in his time were echoed in later "fair trade" laws, and in attacks against "unfair" competition by the Federal Trade Commission, another agency spawned in the Progressive era.
Woodrow Wilson's Progressivism was very much in the same mindset. Government intervention in the economy was justified on grounds that "society is the senior partner in all business."
The rhetorical transformation of government into "society" is a verbal sleight-of-hand trick that endures to this day. So is the notion that money earned in the form of profits requires politicians' benediction to be legitimate, while money earned under other names apparently does not.
Thus Woodrow Wilson declared: "If private profits are to be legitimized, private fortunes made honorable, these great forces which play upon the modern field must, both individually and collectively, be accommodated to a common purpose."
And just who will decide what this common purpose is and how it is to be achieved? "Politics," according to Wilson, "has to deal with and harmonize" these various forces.
In other words, the government — politicians, bureaucrats and judges — are to intervene, second-guess and pick winners and losers, in a complex economic process of which they are often uninformed, if not misinformed, and a process in which they pay no price for being wrong, regardless of how high a price will be paid by the economy.
If this headstrong, busybody approach seems familiar because it is similar to what is happening today, that is because it is based on fundamentally the same vision, the same presumptions of superior wisdom, and the same kind of lofty rhetoric we hear today about "fairness." Wilson even used the phrase "social justice."
Woodrow Wilson also won a Nobel Prize for peace, like the current president — and it was just as undeserved. Wilson's "war to end wars" in fact set the stage for an even bigger, bloodier and more devastating Second World War.
But, then as now, those with noble-sounding rhetoric are seldom judged by what consequences actually follow.
Part Three: Liberals And Their Appetite For Foreign Intervention
The same presumptions of superior wisdom and virtue behind the interventionism of Progressive Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the domestic economy also led them to be interventionists in other countries. Theodore Roosevelt was so determined that the U.S. should intervene against Spain's suppression of an uprising in Cuba that he quit his post as assistant secretary of the Navy to organize his own private military force — called Rough Riders — to fight in what became the Spanish-American War.
The spark that set off this war was an explosion that destroyed an American battleship anchored in Havana harbor. There was no proof that Spain had anything to do with it, and a study decades later suggested that the explosion originated inside the ship itself.
But Roosevelt and others were hot for intervention before the explosion, which simply gave them the excuse they needed to go to war against Spain, seizing Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
Although it was a Republican administration that did this, Democrat Woodrow Wilson justified it. Progressive principles of imposing superior wisdom and virtue on others were invoked.
Wilson saw the indigenous peoples brought under American control as beneficiaries of progress. He said, "they are children and we are men in these deep matters of government and justice."
If that sounds racist, it is perfectly consistent with President Wilson's policies at home. The Wilson administration introduced racial segregation in Washington government agencies where it did not exist when Wilson took office.
Woodrow Wilson also invited various dignitaries to the White House to watch a showing of the film "The Birth of a Nation," which glorified the Ku Klux Klan — and which Wilson praised.
All of this was consistent with the Progressive era in general, when supposedly "scientific" theories of racial superiority and inferiority were at their zenith. Theodore Roosevelt was the exception, rather than the rule, among Progressives when he did not agree with these theories.
Consistent with President Wilson's belief in racial superiority as a basis for intervening in other countries, he launched military interventions in various Latin American countries, before his intervention in the First World War.
Woodrow Wilson was also a precursor of later Progressives in assuming that the overthrow of an autocratic and despotic government means an advance toward democracy. In 1917, President Wilson spoke of "heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia."
What was "heartening" to Wilson was the overthrow of the czars. What it led to in fact was the rise of a totalitarian tyranny that killed more political prisoners in a year than the czars had killed in more than 90 years. Although Wilson proclaimed that the First World War was being fought because "The world must be made safe for democracy," in reality the overthrow of autocratic rule in Germany and Italy also led to totalitarian regimes that were far worse. Those today who assume that the overthrow of authoritarian governments in Egypt and Libya is a movement toward democracy are following in Wilson's footsteps.
The ultimate hubris of Woodrow Wilson was in promoting the carving up of whole empires after the First World War, in the name of "the self-determination of peoples." But, in reality, it was not the peoples who did the carving but Wilson, French Premier Georges Clemenceau and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Walter Lippmann saw what a reckless undertaking this was. He said, "We are feeding on maps, talking of populations as if they were abstract lumps." He was struck by the ignorance of those who were reshaping whole nations and the lives of millions of people.
He said of this nation-building effort: "When you consider what a mystery the East Side of New York is to the West Side, the business of arranging the world to the satisfaction of the people in it may be seen in something like its true proportions."
But Progressives, especially intellectuals, are the least likely to suspect that they are in fact ignorant of the things they are intervening in, whether back in the Progressive era or today.
I would doubt that few people realize how recent a development the US not being on a gold standard (in any form) is. Like the income tax they just assume it has always been, but much of what ails this nation is not a century old, the lack of a gold standard far less so.
Ron Paul and Lewis Lehrman have been right all along, never more so than in this age of massive debt.
The futile search for El Dorado, the city of gold, is the stuff of legends, among them a sardonic poem by Edgar Allen Poe about a knight who wasted his life in that pursuit. At first glance, the quest for something far more substantial, an international gold monetary standard, might seem equally Quixotic in today's world where those who govern are disdainful of standards of any kind, including those laid down by the United States Constitution.
But first glances can deceive. The popular pressure for serious monetary reform is building as consumers see their buying power eroded by the sinking value of the dollar. Congressman Ron Paul, despite his naïve foreign policy views, is doing well on the presidential campaign trail on the strength of his demand for abolition of the Federal Reserve Board and a return to sound money. His message is getting a surprisingly receptive response from young audiences on college campuses.
The November 2011 Cato Institute monetary conference in Washington assembled a number of first-rate economists even more critical of fiat currencies than Congressman Paul, if that is possible. Kevin Dowd, a monetary specialist currently teaching at London's City University, warned that, "if the Fed persists along its declared path, the prognosis is accelerating inflation leading ultimately to hyperinflation and economic meltdown." That path, which Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has taken few pains to conceal, is toward inflating away the debt and deficits the Obama administration and congressional Democrats have racked up over the last three years as they have pursued their goal of putting the federal government in charge of all economic behavior.
Speakers at the conference used words like "immoral" to describe an inflationary policy that robs the poor, destroys the savings of the elderly, erodes the middle class as living standards fall even for people with jobs, and accommodates government profligacy that enriches the politically connected (think Solyndra).
The conference marked a change from many past monetary discussions in that the conferees had lost all fear of uttering that naughty word, "gold." Indeed, the consensus view seemed to be that in these parlous times a return to the gold standard might very well be the only way to restore order in the bawdy house Washington has become.
PAST SHYNESS ABOUT mentioning gold in polite company was a result of what might be called the disinformation campaign, highly successful, that the political left has conducted since FDR nationalized monetary gold and launched the New Deal in 1933. The left has blamed the "gold standard"—with breathtaking over-simplification—for the 1929 Crash, saying it starved the economy of money. The causes of the Crash were far more complex, and if anything, quite the opposite. First of all, the classical gold standard didn't exist in the 1920s, but had been replaced by a far looser "gold exchange" standard, which allowed greater manipulation of monetary policy by the Fed. The central bank at that time had been in business only 16 years and badly mismanaged its new experiments in controlling the money supply.
At any rate, the subsequent Depression wasn't caused by the Crash—the market actually was recovering nicely in 1930. Rather, it was caused by the muddle-headed federal policies that followed the Crash. Herbert Hoover raised taxes and tariffs, bless his heart. FDR, after winning election in 1932 with some reasonable ideas, declared war on private business. Private investment plummeted.
The left's clamor for tax increases and its traditional business baiting—now taking the form of stifling over-regulation—is once again much in vogue among the political classmates of Barack Obama. And it is having effects not unlike those of the Great Depression as both business and consumer confidence is dampened by uncertainty.
As part of the gold standard disinformation campaign, left-wing "progressives" liked to quote their favorite economist, John Maynard Keynes, in his description of gold as a "barbarous relic." In fact, the prolix Keynes had many opinions, and frequently reversed himself, actually praising the gold standard long after his "barbarous relic" remark uttered just after World War I as he argued, quite correctly, against the harsh reparations forced on Germany by the allies. In April 1922, in the Manchester Guardian, he argued that a reintroduction of the gold standard "would promote trade and production like nothing else," and lead to more efficient capital allocation.
That doesn't sound like he thought gold "barbarous." Quite the contrary. But leftists and statists are marvelously selective in choosing only those Keynesianisms that fit well with their agenda of expanding the power and scope of government. The gold standard, when it existed, was a barrier to such aims, which is why advocacy of a return sends them into such hysterics.
IN FACT, gold has served as a reliable form of money through most of history. The Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century stole what they could from American aborigines to turn Spain into perhaps the wealthiest and most powerful colonial power of that era. Throughout monetary history, it is not gold that has been the exception to the rule, but the absence of gold. Totally "fiat" currencies, having no backing other than limited credibility of political regimes, are strictly a modern creation, if you exclude periods like the Revolutionary and Civil wars, when paper was used to pay the troops and suppliers. The old expression "not worth a continental" was derived from the short half-life of the paper issued by the colonies to finance the Revolution.
The return to those dubious greenback experiments occurred in August 1971, when President Richard M. Nixon "closed the gold window" and put paid to the post-World War II Bretton Woods international monetary system. Prior to then, gold had had some role in lending credibility to the U.S. dollar for most of the country's history. Under Bretton Woods, the link was somewhat tenuous—too tenuous to keep the system alive, as it turned out—but it was there. The system specified that the U.S. dollar would be the international standard to which other currencies would be fixed. The dollar, in turn, would be exchangeable for gold among national central banks at a fixed rate. It wasn't exactly iron discipline imposed on the world's politicians, but it functioned reasonably well for 27 years until it was scuttled by the U.S. itself.
The downfall of Bretton Woods began when the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson indulged in spending excesses trying to launch a big social program (Medicare, etc.) at the same time the U.S. was spending heavily to try to contain Communist expansionism in Vietnam. Nixon, acting on political advice not much better than Johnson's, administered the coup de grâce.
The real gold standard was far more durable. Great Britain operated a true gold standard, meaning that the pound was freely exchangeable for gold by anyone, for 200 years. It was blown apart, along with much of Europe, by the huge costs in lives and treasure of World War I. The British standard was established by the famous scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, when he was director of the mint, and carried forward by the Bank of England, which started life as a private bank with a government charter to supply legal tender. The British Empire, one might say, was built on the solidity and reliability of the British pound sterling. As its reputation for soundness spread to all corners of the globe, willing trade partners signed up. And the empire was built on trade, not military conquest.
The U.S. adopted a true gold standard in 1879, and it lasted until 1914 as well, when it too fell victim to the cataclysm in Europe. Prices during that 25-year period were the most stable of any sustained period in U.S. history and the U.S. prospered. Far from being a restriction on real economic growth, the gold standard was a boon. Confidence in the future value of money spurs long-term investment.
THE IDEA THAT the liquidity of fiat currencies fuels growth is a myth. Quite the opposite has proved true when the record since 1971 is compared with that turn-of-the-century period when the U.S. operated under a gold standard.
Much of this history and argument is covered in a new book by Lewis E. Lehrman, a scholar, philanthropist, and longtime student of monetary policy. Titled The True Gold Standard, it is being published by his own Lehrman Institute in New York, a public policy foundation. Independently wealthy (the Rite Aid drugstore fortune), Mr. Lehrman has been a student of public policy for many years. He ran for governor of New York in 1982, losing in a tight race to Democrat Mario Cuomo. Among his many endeavors was his service on Ronald Reagan's Gold Commission in 1981. He collaborated on the minority report titled, "The Case for Gold."
That report might have made a bigger impact had it been issued two years earlier. Beset by the great inflation of the late 1970s, which cast early doubt on the future of the fiat dollar, Jimmy Carter acknowledged his existential political problem by hiring banker Paul Volcker as Fed chairman with instructions to restore order. That he did at the cost of a sharp but short recession. His necessary bloodletting was firmly supported by Mr. Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan.
The Volcker fix lasted for 20 years and it looked like the fiat dollar might serve after all. But then came the big asset inflation of the 2000s, followed by the 2008 bust. This put the progressives back in power and instead of fixing the dollar, they embarked on a new social spending binge—Obamacare et al.—and ran up the government deficit to its present astronomical level. The dollar is again shaky, with inflation at times nearing the rate it was running, just over 4 percent, when Bretton Woods crashed.
Gold pretty much dropped out of the monetary debate during the 20-year dollar hiatus, but it is back now with a vengeance as prices rise and securities markets are roiled by the massive global overhang of sovereign debt.
The time is ripe for Mr. Lehrman's new book. That's because it goes well beyond making a persuasive case for a return to the gold standard and provides a detailed road map for how to get there. When the time comes for a new U.S. administration and Congress to seriously consider monetary reform—and it will come sooner rather than later if the Fed pursues its current course—Mr. Lehrman's book will serve as a valuable guide.
"I submit this urgent proposal to my fellow Americans and our friends abroad because the historical evidence of the early 20th Century compels me to believe that contemporary international monetary disorder, national currency wars and inflationary impoverishment of working people the world over has again led to violent social disorder, revolutionary civil strife and vicious deflationary consequences," Mr. Lehrman writes.
Those words might well strike a chord with Americans trying to fathom the reasons for their current mood of unease that goes beyond the obvious concerns about inflation and unemployment. The time is ripe for a reconsideration of the gold standard.
MR. LEHRMAN QUICKLY dispels the notion that there isn't enough gold above ground to operate a true gold standard. The global stock of gold today, some 5 to 6 billion ounces, roughly approximates global population, as it has for centuries. But at any rate, nothing like the entire stock of gold is needed to operate a gold standard. That's because individuals prefer the convenience of paper (or electronic) currency over lugging around gold coins. You don't have to mint a huge amount of gold coins to operate a gold standard. It works this way: If the price of gold in paper money goes up, the gold standard automatically reduces emissions of paper. Conversely when the price of gold falls, more paper is emitted by the monetary authority. These adjustments maintain the value of paper, without requiring a vast supply of gold.
It is, of course, important to get the initial exchange rate between paper and gold right. The British gold standard broke down after World War I because the Bank of England tried to return to the prewar parity and thereby set the price of gold too low. It failed to take into account wartime inflation.
Mr. Lehrman's detailed road map for a return to gold requires that the U.S. lead the way by announcing a date certain on which the U.S. dollar would be convertible to gold. Before that date, the U.S. would announce the conversion rate. This is an intricate process, particularly after the sharp run-up in the world market price of gold that has accompanied the abuse of the dollar by the Obama administration and its co-conspirators at the Fed. But Mr. Lehrman believes it is manageable and the success of past gold standards supports that belief.
To implement the standard internationally, Mr. Lehrman proposes an International Monetary Conference to work out a system of exchange rates, much along the lines of the old Bretton Woods system. The crucial difference would be that, unlike with Bretton Woods, the currencies of the conferee states would also be convertible to gold.
It is at this point, that Mr. Lehrman's road map may get to be a bit too intricate. Rather than trying to set parities among national currencies, à la Bretton Woods, it might be better to let them do as they wished, fixing to the dollar as they come to recognize such fixing as a source of stability, just as some countries, China, for example, have with the present dollar.
Of course, that might lead to arguments such as the ones raging today over whether this or that country tried to gain competitive advantage by fixing too low. But that argument is a bit spurious, because it is by no means clear that fixing exchange rates too low yields any long-term advantages. Rather, it would appear that the U.S., not China, has been the main beneficiary of any rigging that China has done on behalf of its export industries. China's goods have been a bargain for American consumers and China has financed the American government's debts. During the heyday of the U.S.-China trade, the U.S. enjoyed near-full employment. The rise in U.S. unemployment occurred when a nontradable good, housing, went sour.
IT MIGHT BE SAID that a simpler approach than Mr. Lehrman's might be the most likely way to get back to a gold standard. The Ron Paul strategy is more direct, but at the same time more subtle. In early 2011, the Texas Congressman introduced H.R. 1098, a refreshingly short (three pages) bill which he called "The Free Competition in Currency Act of 2011." It would repeal the legal tender laws of the United State Code which give the Federal Reserve a legal monopoly on money creation.
The Congressman says that his bill would "reinforce the Constitutional mandate in Article 1, Section 10, that forbids states from making anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts." In other words, H.R. 1098 would make Federal Reserve notes subject to domestic competition. Should it become law, who knows what would happen, but most likely Americans would gravitate toward a more reliable form of money, quite likely based on a precious metal.
The progressives now in power in Washington will move heaven and earth to prevent any such thing from happening. The compliant Fed with its monopoly on money creation is at the center of their game plan. But that game plan is wearing thin with the American people as the economic malaise it has caused spreads across the nation to everywhere except booming Washington itself. A return to gold-based money would solve a lot of problems.
Paul's presidential campaign, win or lose, has brought the sad state of the dollar into the public debate, much against the wishes of all those political players who want to pursue business as usual. Lew Lehrman has fleshed out the debate with his road map on how to get back to sound money. It will become harder and harder as we near the 2012 election to dismiss their warnings as merely a new outcry from "gold bugs." The objective reality of an America in decline argues otherwise.
Most people do not realize that the nation that was to be the "Arab" Palestine is in fact the nation of Jordan. If in fact there is a legitimate Palestinian Arab "nation" being occupied, it is being done so by Jordan.
Please forget one of the great fallacies of our time: Israel did not steal Palestinian land. It's not Palestinians' land; it's never been their land; it will never be their land. This land was given to the Jewish people, as stated in the Bible, by the Creator, and will remain the homeland of the Jewish people in perpetuity. Despite 27 invasions of Judea and Samaria (erroneously called the West Bank), conquests by many, forced conversions, exiles, massive oppression, generations of Diaspora, and cowardly acquiescence by a cadre of 5th-column Jews themselves, Jews have not only survived in what's known in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael (Israel), but they've taken a desert wasteland and turned it into a powerful little democracy, the envy of the world.
To her detractors, of whom there are many worldwide, the mantra remains the same, ad nauseam. "Israel is complicit in doing this."
"She omitted doing that." "We respect Judaism but are against Zionism." Attempting to mask their anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism, Israel's enemies propagandize the most vile accusations in such numbers that much of it sticks. To cite just a few:
Myth: "Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens."
The facts show otherwise. Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. Out of a population of 6.7 million, 1.1 million are Muslims, 130,000 are Christians, and 100,000 are Druze. All have equal voting rights -- Israel is one of a very few place where Arab women have the right to vote, and Arabs currently hold 14 seats in the Knesset.
Following a five-year trial, in a landmark decision for women's rights, an Arab judge, Salim Joubran, sentenced the former president of Israel, Moshe Katsav, to seven years in prison for rape. In what Muslim country do Jews have such rights? How many seats do Jews hold in the Saudi government or Jordan? Can anyone recall a Jewish judge sentencing a prominent Arab in Egypt? More to the point, has anyone even heard of a Jewish judge in Egypt?
Myth: "The Palestinian Authority protects Jewish holy sites."
If only that were true. Then one important element blocking a sincere peace would be eliminated, but the facts speak otherwise. Just in the years between 1996-2000:
In Septemer 1996, Palestinian rioters destroyed a synagogue at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.
Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem has been repeatedly attacked since 1996.
In October 2000, Joseph's Tomb was torched after the Israeli garrison guarding it was temporarily withdrawn. It was subsequently rebuilt as a mosque.
In October 2000, the ancient synagogue in Jericho was destroyed by arson, and a second historic synagogue was damaged.
Forget about protecting these sites -- in textbooks, speech, and daily life, the Palestinians and their supporters absurdly deny any Jewish connection at all to these ancient landmarks. This all occurs under nominal Israeli control of these areas; one can only imagine the fate of Jewish holy sites left to Palestinian stewardship.
This brings us to the greatest canard of them all, the foundation on which every pro-Palestinian lie is based: "The Jews are building settlements on Palestinian land."
This grand daddy of all fabrications makes great copy for the media and is excellent for denigrators of Israel, but it lacks any basis in historical fact. There is no Palestinian land, plain and simple. If there were, when would it have been founded, and by whom? What would its borders have been, and what about the name of its capital? What would its major cities have been? What would have constituted the basis of its economy? What form of government would it have lived under?
Was Palestine ever recognized as an entity by another country? By whom? What was the language of the country called Palestine? What was Palestine's religion? What was the name of its currency? Since there is no such country today, what caused her demise?
These questions were posed by a Japanese writer, Yashiko Sagamori. Only the most revisionist adherent of the Palestinian narrative could even attempt to answer her queries. Pose these same questions regarding Israel and Jewish connection to this land, and except for the willfully blind and delusional -- of which, admittedly, there are many, each can be factually answered.
At no time in history has there ever been a nation called Palestine. During the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from 1299-1922 CE, the land dubbed by the Romans as Palestine was controlled by the Turks; there was never an outcry for a Palestinian State then. During the illegal annexation of Judea and Samaria by the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan subsequent to the 1949 Armistice and prior to 1967, there was never talk of "occupied territory" or a Palestinian State. Why did the dynamic change subsequent to Israel's glorious victory in the Six-Day War -- a conflict unprovoked by Israel?
Search as you will -- throughout the annals of history, Israel is the only nation victorious in war on successive occasions and then expected by the vanquished and the world at large to sue for peace, to cede land she reclaimed that was historically hers to begin with. It raises the question: which of the "Quartet" cajoling Israel to acquiesce to Palestinian demands should be allowed land won in conflict?
The Russians? It's beyond the scope of this essay to delve into their inglorious, extensive imperialist history and their oppression of native peoples, but as one example, isn't it time they relinquish the Kuril Islands to the Japanese? The Second World War has been over for 67 years.
The same holds true for my favorite imperialists, the British, who never miss an opportunity to castigate the Jewish State but somehow fail to look at their own sordid history. Just this past week, they proudly announced sending a sophisticated warship 7,700 miles into the South Atlantic to dissuade Argentina from re-establishing sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, which lie just 250 miles off Argentina's coast. Why are the Falkland Islands controlled by the British to begin with? Historically, doesn't Argentina, which controlled these islands until 1830, have a greater claim to them?
For that matter, when will the British finally relinquish Gibraltar to its "rightful owner," Spain?
Likewise, if not for hundreds of years of British tyranny and greater military strength, wouldn't Northern Ireland be part of the Republic of Ireland?
What about the United States? Let's face it: if they had more sticks and stones than we do, wouldn't Mexico wrest back the American Southwest and all its resources? Basically, wasn't all this land stolen by the harsh dictates of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo? Why is there such uproar over illegal immigration in the United States? After all, when Mexicans sneak across the border, in effect, aren't they just practicing "the right of return"?
Unquestionably, with the exception of the United States, it was from countries like these that Jews in Diaspora were forced to escape repression and rejoin their coreligionists who maintained a three-thousand-year continuous existence in Judea, Samaria, and the outlying areas.
Does might make right? With exceptions made against Israel, it seems to. The Jewish people were driven out of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria by the Babylonians. They returned to their homeland and rebuilt the Second Temple only to have it burned again, this time by Romans, and to be once again exiled from their land.
Despite 27 invasions and conquests subsequent to the Grand Monarchy of Kings David and Solomon, Jews have always had a contiguous connection to this land. Only in the minds of the disparaging and the uninitiated did she ever relinquish it. If not the land of Israel, where are Jews from? Poland? The Ukraine? Russia? Only hateful revisionists such as Helen Thomas, Mel Gibson, Oliver Stone, and some sanctimonious loonies with Ph.D.s inculcating our kids with venom believe that.
As to the other detractors of Israel in the EU and the U.N., I ask the following questions. Who legitimately owns Alsace-Lorraine -- the Germans or the French? It's changed hands so many times over the past five hundred years that no one has a clue. What's Turkey doing in Northern Cyprus? Where is the world uproar over China's occupation of Tibet, East Turkestan, Inner Mongolia, and Manchuria?
We can go on and on and on with this. Certainly the Jewish people have at least as great a legitimate claim to their historic homeland than any of these other nations, and certainly more so than the so-called Palestinian Arabs do.
Why are the rules of international relations being changed for Israel? Is it because after thousands of years, the world at large can't bear to see the Jewish people once again in charge of their own land and their own destiny?
Announcing his support for Commissar Sebelius' edicts on contraception, sterilization, and pharmacological abortion, that noted theologian the Most Reverend Al Sharpton explained: "If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we're going to have a separation of church and state."
Thanks for clarifying that. The church model the young American state wished to separate from was that of the British monarch, who remains to this day Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This convenient arrangement dates from the 1534 Act of Supremacy. The title of the law gives you the general upshot, but, just in case you're a bit slow on the uptake, the text proclaims "the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England." That's to say, the sovereign is "the only supreme head on earth of the Church" and he shall enjoy "all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities to the said dignity," not to mention His Majesty "shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts and enormities, whatsoever they be."
The president of the United States has decided to go Henry VIII on the Church's medieval ass. Whatever religious institutions might profess to believe in the matter of "women's health," their pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities and immunities are now subordinate to a one-and-only supreme head on earth determined to repress, redress, restrain and amend their heresies. One wouldn't wish to overextend the analogy: For one thing, the Catholic Church in America has been pathetically accommodating of Beltway bigwigs' ravenous appetite for marital annulments in a way that Pope Clement VII was disinclined to be vis-� -vis the English king and Catherine of Aragon. But where'd all the pandering get them? In essence, President Obama has embarked on the same usurpation of church authority as Henry VIII: as his Friday morning faux-compromise confirms, the continued existence of a "faith-based institution" depends on submission to the doctrinal supremacy of the state.
"We will soon learn," wrote Dr. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, "just how much faith is left in faith-based institutions." Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's vicar on earth, has sportingly offered to maintain religious liberty for those institutions engaged in explicit religious instruction to a largely believing clientele. So we're not talking about mandatory condom dispensers next to the pulpit at St. Pat's – not yet. But that is not what it means to be a Christian: The mission of a Catholic hospital is to minister to the sick. When a guy shows up in Emergency, bleeding all over the floor, the nurse does not first establish whether he is Episcopalian or Muslim; when an indigent is in line at the soup kitchen the volunteer does not pause the ladle until she has determined whether he is a card-carrying Papist. The government has redefined religion as equivalent to your Sunday best: You can take it out for an hour to go to church, but you gotta mothball it in the closet the rest of the week. So Catholic institutions cannot comply with Commissar Sebelius and still be in any meaningful sense Catholic.
If you're an atheist or one of America's ever more lapsed Catholics, you're probably shrugging: what's the big deal? But the new Act of Supremacy doesn't stop with religious institutions. As Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it: "If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I'd be covered by this mandate." And so would any of his burrito boys who object to being forced to make "health care" arrangements at odds with their conscience.
None of this should come as a surprise. As Philip Klein pointed out in the American Spectator two years ago, the Obamacare bill contained 700 references to the Secretary "shall," another 200 to the Secretary "may," and 139 to the Secretary "determines." So the Secretary may and shall determine pretty much anything she wants, as the Obamaphile rubes among the Catholic hierarchy are belatedly discovering. His Majesty King Barack "shall have full power and authority to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts and enormities whatsoever they be." In my latest book, I cite my personal favorite among the epic sweep of Commissar Sebelius' jurisdictional authority:
"The Secretary shall develop oral healthcare components that shall include tooth-level surveillance."
Before Obama's Act of Supremacy did the English language ever have need for such a phrase? "Tooth-level surveillance": From the Declaration of Independence to dentured servitude in a mere quarter-millennium.
Henry VIII lacked the technological wherewithal to conduct tooth-level surveillance. In my friskier days, I dated a girl from an eminent English Catholic family whose ancestral home, like many of the period, had a priest's hiding hole built into the wall behind an upstairs fireplace. These were a last desperate refuge for clerics who declined to subordinate their conscience to state authority. In my time, we liked to go in there and make out. Bit of a squeeze, but it all adds to the fun – as long as you don't have to spend weeks, months and years back there. In an age of tooth-level surveillance, tyranny is subtler, incremental but eminently enforceable: regulatory penalties, denial of licenses, frozen bank accounts. Will the Church muster the will to resist? Or (as Archbishop Dolan's pitifully naïve remarks suggest) will this merely be one more faint bleat lost in what Matthew Arnold called the "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" of the Sea of Faith?
In England, those who dissented from the strictures of the state church came to be known as Nonconformists. That's a good way of looking at it: The English Parliament passed various "Acts of Uniformity." Why? Because they could. Obamacare, which governmentalizes one-sixth of the U.S. economy and microregulates both body and conscience, is the ultimate Act of Uniformity. Is there anyone who needs contraception who can't get it? Taxpayers give half-a-billion dollars to Planned Parenthood, which shovels out IUDs like aspirin. Colleges hand out free condoms, and the Washington Post quotes middle-aged student "T Squalls, 30" approving his university's decision to upgrade to the Trojan "super-size Magnum."
But there's still one or two Nonconformists out there, and they have to be forced into ideological compliance. "Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment," Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post offered to Chris Matthews on MSNBC. At the National Press Club, young Catholics argued that the overwhelming majority of their co-religionists disregard the Church's teachings on contraception, so let's bring the vox Dei into alignment with the vox populi. Get with the program, get with the Act of Uniformity.
The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else: First, other pillars of civil society are crowded out of the public space; then, the individual gets crowded out, even in his most private, tooth-level space. President Obama, Commissar Sebelius and many others believe in one-size-fits all national government – uniformity, conformity, supremacy from Maine to Hawaii, for all but favored cronies. It is a doomed experiment – and on the morning after it will take a lot more than a morning-after pill to make it all go away
The deformed heart of monstrous Obamacare is sick and secularist social engineering.
Modern liberalism is willfulness writ large -- a godless ideology that rests upon the caprice of central planners. Under it, the fluctuating and often frightening desires of corrupt men, rather than the changeless will of a caring God, form the shaky measure of "good government." As the grim chapters of recent history show -- chapters written in the blood of millions of unborn children and other "undesirables" -- taking God out of "goodness" drains the term of any coherent meaning, leaving mankind at the mercy of power-seeking ideologues.
Pope Benedict XVI calls modern liberalism the "dictatorship of relativism," a phrase that neatly summarizes the Obama administration as it moves to crush the freedom of Americans through such monstrosities as the HHS mandate.
On one level, Obama is nothing more than a glib and empty pol, who careens from focus group to pollster. But on another level, buried deep within his cold and rootless personality, he is a man of perverse tenacity, a convinced socialist and secularist who was trained long ago to run the ball into the end zone for radicalism.
For all his joshing and superficial charm, he remains the creepy child of post-Enlightenment liberalism -- the infant demigod presented between sets of oversized and plastic Greek columns at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, who as the proceedings concluded crawled back into the shadows to watch mutely the adoring crowds below.
Such a deluded Democratic president was bound to overreach disastrously. Obamacare is a "big f -- king deal," Joe Biden whispered into his ear. And it is -- an unconstitutional coup disguised as altruistic legislation that was rammed through Congress by reckless partisan hacks who hadn't even read it.
But the central planners and social engineers from Planned Parenthood had pored over the bill carefully. The passage of the legislation left them giddy with excitement, as they knew its unread provisions would soon turn into nooses for their religious enemies on the right.
The future casts its shadow backwards, said the late British writer Malcolm Muggeridge. Obama, red in tooth and clause, saw the devilish flicker of those shadows in his triumph of social engineering. "Darn tooting," he declared to his most militant supporters -- pro-abortion feminists who demanded to know from him during a campaign stop last fall if he was going to make good on his promise to manhandle the Catholic Church over contraception and abortifacients.
The raffish Greg Gutfeld, who, despite his screwing around on the set, remains Fox's deepest and most perceptive observer of politics and culture, made the valuable point on "The Five" recently that one of the sick motivations behind the HHS mandate is a form of eugenics and ironic class warfare: Obama does not want the poor to procreate.
To put the point even more directly, Obama does not want the Catholic poor to procreate. Like Planned Parenthood's twisted foundress, Margaret Sanger, Obama is a chilly eugenicist at heart who fears a backwards America "punished" by the babies of unenlightened breeders. China boasts a one-child policy; Obama's is more like a zero-child one. Without a universally subsidized right to sterilization, contraception, and abortion via Obamacare, his Brave New World would falter and fail to materialize.
The brutal logic of these bogus rights, as Obama hints in his mumbles about "access" as the trumping value in this debate, is that everyone must recognize them. Who cares if the Church objects to financing the sins of her employees? The Church is wrong, and error has no rights, hiss feminists. The dogmatism of which Obama routinely accuses the religious is on far starker display in his own ideology, a species of raw social engineering that depends for its fulfillment upon bullying conscientious objectors at the point of a government gun.
This is a historic moment in the culture war -- a crystallizing flashpoint in which the totalitarianism and bigotry long implicit in secularism rises to the surface and becomes explicit for all to see.
In the Senate, it is still the "Year of the Womyn." Barbara Boxer, barreling up to the cameras on Wednesday, unloaded all of the despicable propaganda of Planned Parenthood. At once rude and kittenish, Boxer purred that Obama deeply respects religious freedom. That's why he established a religious exemption for wholly sectarian organizations, she said. Never mind that feminist colleagues across the way on the House side were openly complaining about that "compromise." In other words, left to their own unchecked secularist devices, they wouldn't even grant that insultingly narrow exemption to the Church.
Here's how the Hill put it: "Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said there's no need for the White House to adopt a wider religious exemption. Carving out churches and other strictly religious employers 'was in itself a compromise,' she said, noting that eight states have contraception mandates without religious exemptions."
The essential character of secularism is totalitarian. For all of its chatter about religion as a "private" matter, for all of its nonsense about the "privacy of the bedroom," nothing under secularism in the end is actually private. The social engineers of Obamacare will determine the birth control methods of the unwashed. They will dictate the terms of man's beginning through eugenic abortion and his end through death panels. And to gratify the bloodlust of bigots, they will leave the stained bill for the reviled religious to pay.
"I think we ought to be personally responsible. I think if you can take care of yourself, and then maybe try to take care of someone else, that's sort of how you're supposed to live.
"It's not a question of asking other people for help or being rescued or anything like that,I think we've sort of gotten used to someone looking out for us, and I don't think any other person is necessarily going to be counted on to look out for us."
Bill Murray-The Actor ***
"If the idea of government-granted rights wins out, government will own you"
This health hazard and social menace is what the Left regards as America's next great political cause?
WASHINGTON -- As the tents were coming down at McPherson Square, the dead rats and mice being retrieved, the urine and feces and filthy bedding disposed of by District of Columbia employees dressed in hazardous-materials suits like their contemporaries at Fukushima, I thought of the left-wing press. You see, I read the left-wing press. Not the urban throwaway rags, but I read the Nation, the Progressive, the American Prospect, and more -- I read them all. They have been raving for months about the exciting prospect of a great wave of reform coming out of the Occupiers' Movement. It was here to stay, and for a while silly old me took them seriously.
Not the "Masturbate for Peace" movement, which made its rude appearance in Madison, Wisconsin, nor the "Urinate and Defecate Against World Hunger" crowd, who occasionally made headlines in Manhattan. Rather, I mean the-out-of-work Ph.D.s in Romance Languages or the mild mannered, middle-class schoolteachers, who the left-wing press kept coming across midst the delusional rabble. The left-wing journalists interviewed them. To read their reports one would think that this Occupy Movement really was sweeping America, rather than on its last legs and being shut down. Their end was coming for very good reasons, I might add. The Occupy Movement was a health hazard, occasionally a serious crime scene -- rape, robbery, and mayhem -- and in most places throughout the country it was in contravention of simple laws against vagrancy.
Illustrious names from journalism's past -- even the New York Review of Books -- were showing themselves to be utterly out of touch with the way things are in America today with budgets so out of balance and economic growth so slight. Even President Barack Obama and other eminentoes from the Democratic Party sided with the Occupiers long after the Occupiers had discredited themselves. Now for the most part the Occupiers are no more. Yet the left-wing press raves on, and I suppose the mainstream media is complicit. This movement was more degenerate than they reported.
In the Progressive someone by the name of Naomi Klein attests, "I've never seen anything like this in my life. Every day, new occupations [sic] are growing, not just in this country. People are so excited to have a new tent in which to meet, and the possibility of it expanding limitlessly. Political courage is contagious." So, apparently, is hysteria.
Some of it was very funny? Did former Senator George McGovern make an appearance at Zuccotti Park? The New York Review of Books reports, "A bedraggled man who had arrived that day from Hawaii announced his candidacy for president and asked for the movement's blessing." I did not know George was in Hawaii. Yet some of it demonstrated just how dismissive of the truth the American left really is. There was this from the Nation in January, "The Occupation encampments that enlivened approximately 1,400 cities this fall provided a vivid template for the 99 percent's growing sense of unity. Here were thousands of people -- we may never know the exact numbers -- from all walks of life, living outdoors in the streets and parks…. The 99 percent, which might have seemed to be a purely aspirational category just a few month ago, began to will itself into existence." Ninety-nine percent? Does that include me? Does it include the 40 percent of the country that usually polls conservative, and the almost equally large percentage that polls independent? Who is deluding whom, and remember the entire left-wing press bought into this garbagespiel, most probably along with much of the major media.
I have been saying for some time that Liberalism is dead. I shall even be coming out with a book on the subject in a couple of months. That the hitherto respectable magazines of the left would push such nonsense is to be included in my diagnosis. There was a day when the Liberals would argue according to some standards of objectivity. They would not push a line that was absolute flapdoodle. Yet Liberalism is dead. The Occupation hysteria adopted by every single journal on the left is but another proof of it. Those who read the left-wing press ought to demand their money back. They could have been killed at McPherson Square or Zuccotti Park, or at least have been robbed or raped.
If there was ever any doubt about one of the Obama Administration's key philosophical commitments, it was dispelled on Jan. 20 when the Department of Health and Human Services informed the Catholic Church that most of its agencies will be required to provide employees with insurance-coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs: i.e., products, procedures, and chemicals used to facilitate acts which the Church and plenty of others consider intrinsically evil.
Alas, it's not a question of the administration being tragically "tone deaf," as one American Jesuit claimed, to specifically Catholic concerns. Nor is the bedrock of President Obama's position, in the end, a commitment to "women's health." Outside the ghoulish world of Planned Parenthood, pregnancy does not qualify as a disease. A fertile womb is no threat to human life.
No, this is all about the absolutization of choice for the sake of choice. It's also about creating a society in which any discussion of the actual ends we choose is considered unacceptable in public debates about law and morality.
Modern liberalism has a long history of trying to exclude consideration of the proper ends of human action from public discourse in the name of tolerance. But neither liberalism nor secularism are as neutral about such matters as they pretend.
Self-identified modern liberals (and secularists more generally) typically insist that justice and tolerance demand that governments shouldn't privilege any conception of morality, religious or secular, in framing its laws. Unfortunately for liberals, this position -- outlined in excruciating detail by the seer of modern secular liberalism, the late John Rawls -- is self-refuting. Why? Because it, ahem, privileges a legal and political commitment to relativity about moral questions. It's the same absurdity underlying the philosophical skeptic's claim that there's no truth -- except for the truth that there is no truth.
These little internal inconsistencies, however, don't stop the use of such conceptions of tolerance and justice as weapons for terminating any contribution to public debate that's informed by the propositions that moral truth exists, that we can know it through revelation and/or reason, and that it is unjust to cordon off these truths from the public square.
And here we come face-to-face with the essence of what a certain Joseph Ratzinger famously described in an April 2005 homily as "the dictatorship of relativism." Most people think of tyrannies as involving the imposition of a defined set of ideas upon free citizens. Benedict XVI's point was that the coercion at the heart of the dictatorship of relativism derives precisely from the fact that it "does not recognize anything as definitive."
In this world, tolerance no longer creates the safety for us to express our views about the nature of good and evil and its implications for law and public morality. Instead, it serves to banish the truth as the reference point against which all of us must test our ideas and beliefs. The objective is to reduce everyone to modern Pontius Pilates who, whatever their private beliefs, wash their hands in the face of obvious injustices, such as what the Obama administration has just inflicted upon not only Catholics, but anyone whose convictions about the truth requires them to abstain from cooperating in acts they regard as evil per se.
Of course, modern liberals do have their preferred ends, which (despite all their endless chatter about reason) reflect their profoundly cramped vision of man's intellect. Here they follow the eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher David Hume. He argued that "reason ought to be the slave of the passions." Reason's role, in other words, is not to identify what is rational for people to choose. Instead, reason is reduced to merely devising the means for realizing whatever goals that people, following the profound moral reasoning of a five year-old, "just feel like" choosing.
On this basis, utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham concluded that life was really about nothing more than the experience of sensations. Hence, the goal was to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. But having repeatedly failed to construct a coherent hedonistic calculus of utility (even Rawls concluded it was a doomed endeavor), the "ultimate goal" of modern liberalism and secularism now "consists," as Benedict noted in 2005, "solely of one's own ego and desires."
That in turn reduces life and my choices to ensuring that I am among those who are (1) powerful enough to get to indulge my ego and my desires, (2) sophistical enough to produce rationalizations (otherwise known as consequentialist ethics) for doing so, and (3) strong enough to trample over anyone whose existence or beliefs might limit my ability to do whatever I just happen to "feel like" doing.
Here modern liberalism's essentially illiberal nature reveals its true face. Because if your theological or philosophical convictions get in the way of your employee's desire to neuter his spouse at your expense in order to avoid the "disease" of pregnancy, then tough luck. Desire plus autonomy -- the calling-cards of secularist fundamentalism -- trump all (except, apparently, when it comes to the distribution of wealth, climate change, and smoking).
The Catholic Church -- and its teachings about good and evil -- goes back 2,000 years. Since that time, it's weathered the savage persecutions of the Roman Empire, the terrorism of the French Revolution, the systematic harassment of National Socialism, and the all-out assault of Marxism-Leninism. And, perhaps most telling of all, it's managed to survive the many, often terrible sins and faithlessness of its own members. The Church will be around long after the not-so-New Atheists have gone to their eternal reward.
The Church's struggle with the dictatorship of relativism may, however, prove one of its most difficult challenges. That's partly because it's a subtle form of oppression that trades off words like "choice" that strongly resonate in Western societies -- the same societies in which many secularists all-too-quickly equate any religion's claim to teach the truth with murderers who fly planes into buildings.
In the span of human history, the Obama Administration is just a blip, however much it considers itself, like all progressivists, to be on history's cutting edge. But be warned: the Catholic Church's fight -- in fact, the fight of anyone, believer or non-believer, who recognizes secularist fundamentalism as a danger to freedom -- against the despotism of "there-is-no-moral-truth-and-Rawls-is-his-prophet" is only just beginning. ////////////////////
Speaking from the U.S. Capitol, President Barack Obama laid out his vision for the future during his State of the Union address. In a curious, perhaps unintentional, manner the president offered his position for a progressive course for the nation with the emphasis on fairness. “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules,” he noted.
But what does fairness mean and how does it influence the future course of events? Will the government be placed in the position of adjudicating fairness? Will fairness emerge from bureaucratic coercion? And is the casualty of fairness limitations on liberty?
Traditionally, fairness to the extent it was a precedent in our history was tied inextricably to opportunity, creating those conditions that give all people from any background a chance to succeed. Very often this claim existed more in the breach than in reality, but it was part of a vision that brought millions of immigrants to our shores and accounted for the success of uncounted citizens.
Occasionally the government played a role in this matter when arbitrary obstacles were placed in the way of opportunity, e.g., Jim Crow laws. But more often than not the heavy hand of government was unnecessary as long as the freedom of the individual was preserved. Freedom means, in effect, the ability to rise and to fail, the chance to seize the moment or let it slip by.
If one relies on government in order to achieve fairness — a somewhat dubious concept in the first place — a class of bureaucrats will enforce the rules of economic engagement. These people will decide who gets and who gives. Power will be centralized and absolute. Moreover, the tax system becomes an instrument for imposing redistribution arrangements.
Obviously the rich will pay more than the poor when it comes to taxes. That is self-evident. But how much more should they pay and how progressive should the system be? At the moment, the top one percent pay more than 40 percent of federal taxes. That is certainly disproportionate. Is it fair? Who is to say? And how much more would make it fair? It is also obvious that extortionate rates will drive many out of our tax system as they seek more reasonable rates abroad.
Abraham Lincoln once argued that you cannot make a poor man rich by making a rich man poor. This axiomatic position seems to be lost on President Obama, who continually quotes Lincoln in his speeches. The hope for the national future cannot rest on a powerful and intrusive government manipulating the economy in the name of egalitarianism. In fact, the road to serfdom begins with the belief you can overcome natural differences to create a tie at the finish line of life.
American success came from and continues to rely on entrepreneurial activity, an activity that requires incentive, both financial and emotional. If you remove those incentives by taking away the fruits of one’s labor or you treat success and failure as merely conditions of chance, entrepreneurship will die as it has in every socialist nation that attempted to impose equality on its population.
Sure, it sounds good for everyone to get his fair share. It has the rhetorical ring of good faith. Rarely do people ask, what is my fair share and, even if defined, how is it achieved? From an Orwellian perspective, “fairness” is a way to cloak the basic premise of the Obama presidency — class warfare. In doing so, President Obama is not calling for unity, but disunity. He is not proposing new economic initiatives, but old failed ones. And he is not advocating for a revitalized economy, but instead is committed to exacerbating debilitating economic prospects ************************************************* ****
"Run on your record. Explain your conservative credentials. Tell us how you'll save this country. If you have a core it is time to reveal it. But stop your poisonous attack dogs and ads. You're just pissing us off!"
Last Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder was called to testify before Congress. His attitude toward his questioners was by any measure unbecoming of his office. At one point he actually demanded he be “given some credit” for his performance as attorney general. Though, bad as that outburst was, it was slightly less petulant than the earlier insinuation that his critics are racist.
One hopes Holder isn’t expecting kudos for his handling of the Fast and Furious scandal—the reason for his latest testimony. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was once again seeking an explanation for the gun-running operation under which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) transferred some 2,000 weapons to Mexican criminal gangs, including weapons later used in the killing of at least one American, a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Ostensibly, the purpose was to trace the organizational networks of narcotraffickers, but little effort was made to keep track of the guns, and many have not been recovered. There’s simply no law enforcement rationale for the scheme that makes any sense.
Just six days before Holder’s testimony, the Justice Department made yet another Friday night document dump. A series of emails revealed that Holder’s deputy chief of staff had informed the attorney general of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder on the day it happened, December 14, 2010. The deputy was further informed that Terry had been killed with a gun that was part of the Fast and Furious operation.
It seems highly unlikely that Holder’s deputy chief of staff would apprise the attorney general of Terry’s death, but not of the crucial information about the weapon used. This suggests Holder may have lied in sworn testimony to Congress last May, when he said he’d heard about the operation for the first time a “few weeks” before. (Holder has already walked back that statement to a “few months.”) Previous Justice Department memos addressed to Holder containing detailed information about Fast and Furious had been released by the oversight committee. Holder improbably claims he did not read them, and this latest revelation only pokes more holes in those protestations of ignorance.
But not only does it appear Holder is not telling the truth about Fast and Furious, he is fighting any attempt to compel him to do so. Of the 80,000 documents the Justice Department has identified as being relevant to Fast and Furious, it has released only 6,000. Of the 70 Justice Department officials identified as being involved with Fast and Furious, Holder is denying congressional investigators access to 48. (Recall that last July 4, Kenneth Melson, former acting head of the ATF, defied Holder and testified in secret to the House Oversight Committee with his personal lawyer present.)
But the capstone to all of this is that Holder defended his unwillingness to come clean Thursday by invoking an expansive definition of executive privilege as covering all communications by executive branch personnel that relate to congressional investigations. This was the same tactic that made liberals apoplectic when the Bush administration used it—only Holder bizarrely went a step further by insisting that this benefited Congress.
Of course, if Holder is feeling a bit defensive and beleaguered, perhaps it’s because in the wake of his latest congressional testimony people are now saying things such as this about him:
Mr. Holder. How come you can never say my son’s name. You never have. All I ever hear you say is “I didn’t find out or I can’t say.” I’m actually tired of hearing your double talk in answering questions. What a joke you are. You know my son was a real AMERICAN, a WARRIOR, and a HERO, who was also protecting COWARD POLITICIANS like you. Hope you remember that.
If you haven’t figured it out already, that stinging missive was signed “PROUD MOM OF BRIAN A. TERRY.” The anguished message of Terry’s mother was posted on her Facebook page, presumably because no reporter bothered to ask her how much credit Holder deserves.
Holder’s testimony was not reported by a single national news program that evening, though NBC News did manage to cover Michelle Obama’s appearance on Ellen. Nor did it make the front page of the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, or USA Today the following day.
More surprising, the Fast and Furious scandal has been briefly discussed only once during the 18 Republican debates so far. Perhaps the only way Holder and those responsible for Fast and Furious will be held accountable is if the scandal becomes an election issue. If, unlike Barack Obama, GOP hopefuls do seek justice and want to earn the votes of America’s bitter clingers, they might consider giving Brian Terry’s mother a call. ************************************************* ****
So, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta just told told the Washington Post’s  David Ignatius that his biggest worry right now is that Israel will attack Iran in the next few months. Panetta then spelled out that the likeliest window for an Israeli attack would be April, May or June, before Iran stores enough enriched uranium deep enough underground so that only the U.S. would have the ability to stop the bomb-making. Perhaps Iran should send him a thank you note for the information?
Let’s hope that Panetta had some brilliant hidden agenda in talking like this to the press; perhaps a secret plan for imminent American air strikes that would render an Israeli attack unnecessary, or cover for an Israeli plan to attack tonight. But more likely Panetta simply meant what he said, and he meant to say it. In other words, while Iran keeps building the bomb, his biggest worry is how to stop Israel from acting in its own defense.
That’s fine if you’re dead certain that within the next few months Iran’s regime is either going to collapse, or throw wide open its nuclear program — a la Qaddafi — and invite the U.S. in to pick up the entire nuclear kit and haul it off to be examined at leisure in Tennessee. Does anyone believe that? The immediate collapse of the Tehran regime is a long shot. The notion of the Tehran regime amiably surrendering its nuclear program is utterly improbable, especially after the NATO-assisted demise of Qaddafi — who, had he held on to his nuclear kit, in the manner of North Korea, might have avoided being killed like a rat near a Libyan drainpipe. (Note: Qaddafi survived for years under sanctions. What persuaded him to give up his nuclear program was fear of suffering the fate of Saddam Hussein. What finally brought him down was use of force.)
Ignatius, in his column on Panetta’s big worry, writes that “President Obama and Panetta are said to have cautioned the Israelis that the United States opposes an attack, believing it would derail an increasingly successful international economic sanctions program and other non-military efforts to stop Iran from crossing the [nuclear] threshold.” And if sanctions are helpful, but not sufficient, then what? It can’t be reassuring to Israelis to read, in the same Ignatius column on Panetta, that administration officials do insist that “if Israel’s population centers were hit, the United States would feel obliged to come to Israel’s defense.” If Israel’s population centers were hit… ? That would be more than a tad too late.
The reality is that sanctions are hurting the Iran regime, which is all to the good — but years of sanctions haven’t brought it down, and they are not stopping its nuclear program. And while U.S. and European Union sanctions on Iran are becoming ever more extensive, Iran keeps finding ways to adapt. On balance, this is costing Iran, but it it is not costing Iran’s regime enough. Iran’s oil provides a lot of people with a lot of incentives to help violate sanctions, or at least look the other way. Meantime, Panetta himself just told CBS’s 60 Minutes that Iran, if it wants to make a nuclear bomb, is probably one year away from doing it. To be sure, Panetta added that it could take Tehran another year or two to fit a warhead on a delivery vehicle. But there’s not a lot of safety margin in these probabilities, especially if you consider that Iran has business pals, such as North Korea, helpfully working on the logistics of such projects.
If the U.S. administration wants to stop Israel from attacking Iran, the way to do it is not to block the Israelis, but to preempt them — with American strikes. Former CIA chief James Woolsey is urging  that the U.S. begin military preparations for strikes specifically targeting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, which he says is “at the heart of this regime,” running the Basij militia, “the nuclear, space and ballistic missiles program, as well as the Quds Force.” Now there’s an idea; and if Panetta’s biggest worry is how to persuade Israel to stand down, U.S. strikes on the IRGC would be much more effective than giving interviews to the Washington Post.
Obama's the man leading the Occupy the Oval Office movement.
The Republican presidential campaign thus far has been so bizarre and, frankly, depressing, that some of us have failed to adequately cover worrisome developments on a number of other important fronts. By ineptness and, worse, by deliberate design, Barack Obama daily makes this nation weaker abroad, less free (and more authoritarian) at home, economically more feeble, and in the civic realm more bitterly divided than ever. Meanwhile, ominous developments crowd the world stage. In short, we're in a big heap of trouble.
The recent litany of Obama's odiousness begins with his growing, unambiguous war against traditional Christianity. He has now left no room for any pretense otherwise to be believed. Right on the heels of a unanimous Supreme Court, including his own two appointees, smacking down his administration's attempt to kill the "ministerial exemption" for employment practices of faith-based institutions, an unchastened Obama has decided that even faith-based organizations must provide insurance that covers contraception -- even including abortifacients.
This is not just a narrow policy disagreement; it is, as Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh wrote, the president's way of saying "To Hell With You" to people of faith -- "To hell with your religious beliefs. To hell with your religious liberty. To hell with your freedom of conscience." Zubik continued: "This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone -- not only Catholics; not only people of all religion. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens."
Obama's broadsides, plural, against religious liberty are only a part of his radical transgressions against the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives are rightly up in arms about Obama's illegal recess appointments. Obamacare, of course, contains several anti-Constitutional abominations, including the "individual mandate" and the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Meanwhile, his administration is flagrantly violating precedent by trying to force explicit hiring quotas on the Fire Department of New York, in a case in which a key amicus brief was filed on January 24 at the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
And so on.
Abroad, this man leading the Occupy the Oval Office movement is even worse. He threw away a clear victory in Iraq and may be doing the same in Afghanistan. His fecklessness regarding Iran, perfectly in line with his long record of favoring Shia interests, is now leading to a crisis of the first order. His strange mishandling of the Egyptian revolution has left the United States with very little leverage in a country that for more than three decades was a major American ally, and has left Coptic Christians scared to death. He long ago insulted allies such as Israel and Great Britain, repeatedly and with malice aforethought. He seems to have no real relationship of any positive nature with any allied foreign leader, perhaps with the exception of those in Brazil, whose oil exploration he subsidizes while blocking tens of thousands of jobs that would come from domestic energy production he has snuffed out. And he seems hell-bent on a mission to starve the American armed forces to dangerous thinness.
Killing the private college-loan industry. Hobbling private for-profit colleges. Illegally seizing auto companies. Whoring for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Turning public policy over to thuggish union bosses and destroying jobs in South Carolina to do so. Turning the Justice Department into a thoroughly corrupt, lawless, racialist, hyper-politicized, gun-running, vote-fraud-enabling, bullying arm of the left wing of the Democratic Party. Regulating the life out of almost every aspect of the economy. Buying political support by funneling taxpayer money to failing private alternative-energy companies. Lying with the Supreme Court sitting in front of him about what they decided in the Citizens United case. Lying about so many things that one loses count. Roiling racial tensions every chance he gets.
This is a man who has no interest in serving the United States that most of us know and love. Instead, he's a man who, by hook and definitely by crook, serves the despicable vision of the utterly foreign America he wants to impose on us.
Four more years of this guy in power, and we are doomed. He is a menace, and, by every legal means possible, he must be stopped -- and his maladministration reversed and thoroughly buried.
The GOP is so tone death they do not even see this as a possibility, as in much else they are wrong. I doubt this will come into play this year but it is a very real possibility after Obama is defeated and almost definitely so if Romney is nominated and looses.
In 1831, Henry Clay formed a new political party. He called it the Whig Party. His goal was to ensure Jeffersonian democracy and fight President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat. Over the course of the next 20 years, the Whig Party achieved several presidential victories. But as slavery assumed more and more national importance in the political debate, the Whig Party began to shatter. Southern Whigs were slave owners; Northern Whigs were industrial gurus who hated slavery. In 1849, the Illinois Whig leader, one Abraham Lincoln, quit politics completely in frustration with the party's inability to come together. With the Compromise of 1850, in which Whig leaders strengthened the Fugitive Slave Act on the one hand and admitted California as a free state on the other, the Whig Party was fractured beyond repair.
In 1852, the anti-slavery faction of the Whig Party prevented the nomination of the incumbent, controversial president, Millard Fillmore; the party settled on a compromise choice, the bland, boring and elderly Gen. Winfield Scott. He lost in dramatic fashion to the handsome, young cipher Franklin Pierce. In 1854, with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Whigs were irrevocably split. Northern Whigs joined the Republican Party. Southern Whigs vanished.
By 1860, Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States -- as a Republican.
Why tell this story? Because the party of Lincoln seems about to splinter the same way its predecessor did.
The center of the Republican Party cannot hold. With Mitt Romney's victory in the Florida primary, it's clear that large swaths of the Republican establishment have rejected the Tea Party; it's similarly clear that the Tea Party has largely rejected Romney and his backers. While Republicans hope that the party will unite behind Romney in opposition to President Obama, that hope seems strained. Democrats, optimists think, fought a brutal Hillary vs. Obama battle in 2008, then united to defeat Republicans. They forget, however, that the Hillary vs. Obama battle was not so much a battle over message as a battle over messenger. More than anything, it was a fight over whether to push for the first black president or the first female president. When it came to ideology, however, Obama and Hillary were virtually identical.
The same is not true within the Republican Party. On what basis will the party unite? On fiscal responsibility? Romney and his cohorts have said nothing about serious entitlement reform; the Tea Party, meanwhile, calls for it daily. On taxation? Romney has a 59-point plan that smacks of class warfare; the Tea Party wants broad tax cuts across the board. On health care? Romney and much of the establishment aren't against the individual mandate in principle; the Tea Party despises the individual mandate as a violation of Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties. On foreign policy? Paleoconservatives want a Ron Paul-like isolationism; neoconservatives want a George W. Bush-like interventionism; realists want something in between.
There is the very real potential for the Republican Party to spin apart in the near future. It could easily become a set of regional parties knit together by opposition to extreme liberalism. Chris Christie and his followers don't have all that much in common with Rick Perry and his followers. Never has that chasm been so obvious.
The Republican Party is like a bed of nails. It works so long as the nails are relatively close together -- but as the nails are moved further apart, the chances of winding up spiked from head to toe grow. Right now, the nails are too far apart. The Republican Party is about to be cut to shreds, even as the establishment declares victory over those redneck insurgents from the Tea Party. Romney's victory may very well end up being pyrrhic for the GOP in the end.
He thinks you're really stupid. But Paul Ryan has his number.
Calculated deception as a central public manipulation strategy practiced by President Obama involves the President taking advantage of what he thinks the average person doesn't know and won't be told by a compliant media. Such calculated deception was central to last week's State of the Union Address. That address is useful only as an outline of the President's reelection strategy.
A powerful practical answer will come at the end of March in the form of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's 2013 budget proposal, which will be passed by the Republican-controlled House. That budget, which all the Republicans will run on, and the President's State of the Union Address will frame the 2012 election debate.
He Thinks You're Stupid
The Obama SOTU exhibited again Obama's core "progressive" conviction that the average American is hopelessly stupid. Obama bemoans America as "a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by." You may identify with that statement, as it correctly applies to Obama's America today. But not to Reagan's America, or my America.
As Henry R. Nau explained in the January 26 Wall Street Journal, "the U.S. grew by more than 3% per year [in real terms] from 1980 to 2007, and created more than 50 million new jobs, massively expanding a middle class of working women, African-Americans and legal as well as illegal immigrants. Per capita income increased by 65%, and household income went up substantially in all income categories."
But Obama continued last week, "Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores." Mr. Obama, let me introduce you to Mr. Nau, who, unlike you, is a real professor. The 25-year Reagan boom from 1982 to 2007 added 50 million jobs. The recession began in December, 2007, and it is your policies that have prevented America from recovering from it.
Obama recalled, "[T]he basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement." He said, "The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important."
Actually, that debate is over, Barack. Reagan already showed us how to do it. As Professor Nau also explained:
Yes, "the middle class has shrunk," as Mr. Obama said while campaigning last month. But not because it's getting poorer, but because it's getting richer. According to Stephen Rose of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, fewer people live today in middle-class households with incomes between $35,000 and $105,000, while the percentage of households making less than $35,000 has remained the same. Where did the missing households go? They became richer. In the past three decades [1980 to 2007], the percentage of households making more than $105,000 in inflation adjusted dollars doubled to 24% from 11%.
Where were you from 1980 to 2007, Mr. Obama? Sleeping? In Indonesia? In an ideologically induced stupor?
But Obama continued to drone on with his fairy tale bedtime stories in the SOTU. He proclaimed, "But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on the economic crisis in the first place." One of Obama's top fairy tales is the calculated deception that he has been trying so hard to get the economy to recover, but he has been "obstructed" by the "Republican Congress."
But there is no "Republican Congress." Obama is certain that you are too stupid to know that while the House of Representatives is firmly in Republican control, the Democrats still hold a majority in the Senate. Moreover, that Republican House has been busily passing good legislation that would help to restore the economy, from the repeal of Obamacare on day one, to the Ryan 2012 budget, that would cut $6.2 trillion in federal spending in the first 10 years alone, balancing the budget, and ultimately actually paying off the national debt, if continued long enough.
Moreover, the Ryan 2012 budget would do that while slashing income tax rates to 10% for those making less than $100,000 per year, and 25% for those making above, with the federal corporate tax rate slashed to 25% as well, which along with Reagan monetary and regulatory policies would restore the Reagan economic boom.
But the Democrat Senate has refused to even take up any of this legislation passed by the Republican House. Indeed, the Democrat Senate has refused to even pass any budget for 2 years, in violation of federal law. Which raises the question, if Harry Reid and his Senate Democrats don't have to obey the law, why should the rest of us have to?
Moreover, Obama is also certain that you, or at least your friends and neighbors, are too stupid to know that during the first two of his three years in office, the Congress was completely controlled by Democrat supermajorities that were able to give Obama anything he wanted. Congressional Republicans during those years were reduced to hapless bystanders, which is how Obamacare was passed.
Fairy Tale Bedtime Stories
But let us not pass over Obama's staunch opposition "to the very same policies that brought on the economic crisis in the first place." Obama's second biggest tall tale is that the financial crisis of 2008 was caused by the Reaganomics policies of deregulation and tax rate cuts begun 30 years ago.
But as readers of this column know, the real causes of the financial crisis were government policies of overregulation and cheap dollar monetary policy, as thoroughly documented in such books as Paul Sperry's The Great American Bank Robbery: The Unauthorized Report About What Really Caused the Financial Crisis (Thomas Nelson, 2011), Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner's Reckless Endangerment (Times Books, 2011), John B. Taylor's Getting Off Track (Hoover Institution Press, 2009), and my own book, America's Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb (HarperCollins, 2011). The minimal interest rate, cheap dollar monetary policy of the Fed pumped up the housing bubble. Overregulation mandated the looting of the banks, forcing them to trash traditional lending standards because they were "discriminatory" to the poor who couldn't afford their own home, which further pumped up the housing bubble and ensured that the banks were maximally vulnerable to the bubble. Government backing for the securitization of these toxic mortgages by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ensured this vulnerability was spread throughout the financial community of the U.S., and the entire world.
These policies of overregulation and cheap dollar monetary expansion were the opposite of Reaganomics. For years, the ultra-leftist Obama himself had been promoting precisely these very policies at the root of the crisis. The opposite policies of Reaganomics, opposed in detail by Obama, were the causes of the Reagan boom discussed above. As Professor Nau explains,
What were the policy trends that produced this Great Expansion? Precisely the free-market policies of deregulation and lower marginal income-tax rates that Mr. Obama decries. President Reagan's decision to reverse the high tax, loose-money, and interventionist government policies of the 1970s brought an end to the painful "stagflation of that decade….Sadly, [Obama's] policies resemble those that brought on the stagflation of the 1970s, not those that ignited the Great Expansion.
But the all time whopper of calculated deception that Obama tells is the fable of the Great Hustler Warren Buffett. As Obama regaled us in the SOTU, "Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary….Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes."
The picture of America's tax policy that Obama paints is the opposite of reality, and the American people will suffer the loss of the American Dream if they fall for it. In 2007, before President Obama was even elected, the top 1% of income earners paid 40.4% of all federal income taxes, about twice their share of income. In fact, the top 1% of income earners paid more in federal income taxes than the bottom 95% combined! This is all as reported in official IRS data. This was after nearly 40 years of the policies of Reaganomics!
Moreover, this does not count the burdens of the corporate income tax, which is how not only Obama but dishonest liberal Democrats across the board create the phony statistic about Buffett and his secretary. They just ignore the existence of the federal corporate income tax entirely, with its 35% rate. The Wall Street Journal reported the actual facts on January 26, saying, "In fact, the Congressional Budget Office notes that the effective income tax rate of the richest 1% is about 29.5% when including all federal taxes such as the distribution of corporate taxes, or about twice the 15.1% paid by middle class families."
The capital gains tax is paid on top of the corporate income tax, not instead of it. Investment income is taxed once by the corporate income tax, and then by the capital gains or dividends tax when it is passed through to the individual. That makes for a total effective rate on investment income of 45%. Bringing it down to the 30% of Obama's Buffett Rule would require further tax rate cuts.
But what Obama is proposing would actually double the capital gains tax rate to 30%, leaving America with the third highest capital gains rate in the developed world. That would be on top of the second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. And it would be on top of all the tax rate increases already scheduled to go into effect next year under current law, with the Obamacare taxes becoming effective, and the Bush tax cuts scheduled to expire. Obama calculates that the average American doesn't know anything about that.
Obama and the Democrats play-acting as if they don't understand the corporate income tax leaves America uncompetitive and falling behind in the world. It means fewer jobs and declining income for you and your friends and neighbors. But they don't care as long as their calculated deception can trick enough voters to get them past the next election.
As for Mr. Buffett, a higher capital gains rate will not affect the tax shelter fund that has made him a billionaire. It would only make it more attractive as a tax shelter alternative. So he prospers by calling for higher taxes and a reduced standard of living for the rest of us. In fact, he is lionized in the leftist media and by President Obama as a result. The wily, 82-year old coot will be hustling America until his dying day.
Is This Fair?
Obama proclaimed in his SOTU that his goal is "to restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." Everyone would play under the same set of rules under a flat tax, where Warren Buffett would precisely pay the same tax rate as his secretary.
But that is not what Obama is for. He is for the nation's small businesses, job creators, and investors paying almost all of the federal income taxes, and his supporters in his political machine paying nothing. That would be the result of adding still further tax increases on disfavored taxpayers.
But are the results of Obama's policies really fair? The recession started in December 2007. Since the Great Depression recessions in America have previously lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest previously lasting 16 months. When President Obama entered office in January 2009, the recession was already in its 13th month. His responsibility was to manage a timely robust recovery to get America back on track again.
Supposedly a forward-looking progressive, Obama proved to be America's first backward-looking regressive. His first act was to increase federal spending, borrowing, deficits, and the national debt by nearly a trillion dollars to finance a supposed "stimulus" package, based on the proven failed Keynesian theory left for dead 30 years ago holding that increased government spending, deficits, and debt are what promotes economic growth and recovery.
As should have been long expected, Obama's trillion dollar Keynesian stimulus did nothing to promote recovery and growth, and almost surely delayed it. That is because borrowing a trillion dollars out of the economy to spend a trillion back into it does nothing to promote the economy on net. Indeed, it is a net drag on the economy, because the private sector spends the money more productively and efficiently than the public sector.
After the stimulus, Obama veered steadily left. Through Obamacare, he increased future federal taxes and spending by trillions more, adopting or wildly expanding three entitlement programs, on top of the entitlement crisis America already suffers. Through the EPA, Dodd-Frank, and other regulatory expansions, he wildly rocketed up regulatory costs, burdens, and barriers. He has already enacted in current law increases in the top tax rates of virtually every major federal tax for next year. And as in the SOTU, every time he speaks he calls for and threatens still more tax increases, especially on the nation's job creators and investors.
The National Bureau of Economic Research scored the recession as ending in June 2009, the longest on record. Yet, today, in the 49th month since the recession started, there has still been no real recovery, not like recoveries from previous recessions in America.
Unemployment actually rose after June 2009 and did not fall back down below that level until 18 months later in December 2010. Instead of a recovery, America suffered the longest period of unemployment near 9% or above since the Great Depression. Even today, 49 months after the recession started, the U6 unemployment rate counting the unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers is still 15.2%. And that doesn't include all the workers who have fled the workforce under Obama's economic oppression. The unemployment rate with the full measure of discouraged workers is reported at www.shadowstats.com as a depression level 23%. Is this fair, Mr. Obama?
Today, more than four years since the recession started, there are still almost 25 million Americans unemployed or underemployed. That includes 5.6 million who are long-term unemployed for 27 weeks, or more than six months. Under President Obama, America has suffered the longest period with so many in such long-term unemployment since the Great Depression. Is this fair?
Indeed, African Americans have already long been suffering another depression under Obama, with unemployment today, 49 months after the recession started, still at 15.8%. Black unemployment has been over 15% for two and a half years under Obama. Black teenage unemployment today is over 40%, where it has persisted for over two years as well.
Hispanics have also been suffering a depression under Obama, with unemployment today still in double digits at 11%. Hispanic unemployment has been in double digits for three years under President Obama. Over one-fourth of Hispanic youths remain unemployed today, which also has persisted for years. Is this fair?
The Census Bureau reported in September that more Americans are in poverty today than at any time in the entire history of Census tracking poverty. Americans dependent on food stamps are at an all-time high as well. Real wages and incomes have been falling so steadily under Obama and his confused, throwback, Keynesian/neo-Marxist Obamanomics, that the Census Bureau also reported that real median family income in America has fallen all the way back to 1996 levels. Is this fair, Mr. Obama?
Obama apologists cannot argue that this is because the recession was so bad, because the historical record in America is that the worse the recession the stronger the recovery. Based on historical precedent, we should at worst be finishing the second year of a booming recovery by now.
In March, Paul Ryan will again propose to restore traditional, American, world-leading prosperity and growth, with a budget that will cut federal spending by trillions over the next 10 years, leading to a balanced budget, and sharply reduced national debt. Like last year, that budget will again include tax reform, reducing rates to restore prosperity, and long-term entitlement reform. With restored Reagan regulatory and monetary policies, this would reignite the Reagan boom.
And that is what the election this year will be all about. Do we want the traditional, real America, with world leading economic growth and prosperity? Or do we want to trash all that for Obama's neo-Marxist vision of robbing from job creators and investors to buy votes through still more government dependency, resulting in the fairness of the equal sharing of misery, and the decline of America to become just another country?