Saturday, February 23, 2013

op ed review 2/24



THIS WEEK’S NEWS
The recession has caused new retirees to be worse off financially than their parents when they finally leave the workforce. It is the first time since the Depression in the 1930s that America´s elderly have less to look forward to than earlier generations.

Universal Orlando plans to stop offering medical insurance to part-time employees beginning next year, a move the resort says has been forced by Obamacare.

“Here´s a trend you´ll be reading more about: part-time "job sharing," across different businesses. It´s already happening across the country at fast-food restaurants, as employers try to avoid being punished by Obamacare…..a local McDonalds has hired employees to operate the cash register or flip burgers for 20 hours a week and then the workers head to the nearby Burger King to log another 20 hours..”

“You knew it was coming. Scientific American — which often pushes cultural agendas as much as scientific ideas — has an article informing us that polyamorous people have so much to teach the rest of us about life.”

The Obama administration outlined its argument on Friday why the U.S. Supreme Court should strike down a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and woman.
President Obama called Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at approximately 10 p.m. on the night of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi…That was more than six hours after the attacks started…..about the same time that Clinton first released a statement linking the attacks to “inflammatory material posted on the Internet..”

Al Gore reached a new low at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock this week as he compared the U.S. building the Keystone pipeline to a junkie shooting up drugs. “Gore then told the audience that his speech was sponsored by the oil emirate of Qatar.”

“US tire boss mocks ‘crazy’ French unions.”  The head of US tire manufacturer Titan International told the French government Wednesday that his firm will not take over a loss-making Goodyear factory because the unions there are “crazy” and its employees “only work three hours a day”. “How stupid do you think we are?” “They get one hour for breaks and lunch, they talk for three and they work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!”

NBC and MSNBC announced that they hired President Obama´s senior strategist David Axelrod as a "senior political analyst" to appear exclusively on their networks.

Senator Marco Rubio recovers from the “catastrophic gaffe”.  “Sweating under the lights in a television studio, the darling of the party right suddenly bent down and reached over awkwardly to grab a bottle of water and take a desperate swig.”    But Rubio has now shown a canny political instinct in handling the crisis……After the speech was over he tweeted out a picture of the water bottle and then noted that he had attracted thousands of new followers…He poked fun at himself in interviews and even used the incident as a fundraising tool, offering to sell water bottles branded with his name for $25. "Send the liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you … he hydrates you too."

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

Firearms owners and gun rights advocates are heading to local coffee shops to celebrate “Gun Owners Support Starbucks Day.”

Teddy Turner wants Republican voters in South Carolina to know that it was actress Jane Fonda who turned his father, billionaire CNN founder Ted Turner, into a tree-hugging liberal. Turner, a 49-year-old high school economics teacher in Charleston, is currently running on a conservative platform for South Carolina´s 1st Congressional District.
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THIS WEEK’S FEATURED COLUMN
Thomas Sowell  2/15
A nation's choice between spending on military defense and spending on civilian goods has often been posed as "guns versus butter." But understanding the choices of many nations' political leaders might be helped by examining the contrast between their runaway spending on pensions while skimping on military defense.

Huge pensions for retired government workers can be found from small municipalities to national governments on both sides of the Atlantic. There is a reason. For elected officials, pensions are virtually the ideal thing to spend money on, politically speaking. Many kinds of spending of the taxpayers' money win votes from the recipients. But raising taxes to pay for this spending loses votes from the taxpayers. Pensions offer a way out of this dilemma for politicians. Creating pensions that offer generous retirement benefits wins votes in the present by promising spending in the future. Promises cost nothing in the short run — and elections are held in the short run, long before the pensions are due.

By contrast, private insurance companies that sell annuities are forced by law to set aside enough assets to cover the cost of the annuities they have promised to pay. But nobody can force the government to do that — and most governments do not. This means that it is only a matter of time before pensions are due to be paid and there is not enough money set aside to pay for them. This applies to Social Security and other government pensions here, as well as to all sorts of pensions in other countries overseas.

Eventually, the truth will come out that there is just not enough money in the till to pay what retirees were promised. But eventually can be a long time. A politician can win quite a few elections between now and eventually — and be living in comfortable retirement by the time it is somebody else's problem to cope with the impossibility of paying retirees the pensions they were promised. Inflating the currency and paying pensions in dollars that won't buy as much is just one of the ways for the government to seem to be keeping its promises, while in fact welshing on the deal.

The politics of military spending are just the opposite of the politics of pensions. In the short run, politicians can always cut military spending without any immediate harm being visible, however catastrophic the consequences may turn out to be down the road. Despite the huge increase in government spending on domestic programs during Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration in the 1930s, FDR cut back on military spending. On the eve of the Second World War, the United States had the 16th largest army in the world, right behind Portugal. Even this small military force was so inadequately supplied with equipment that its training was skimped. American soldiers went on maneuvers using trucks with "tank" painted on their sides, since there were not enough real tanks to go around.

American warplanes were not updated to match the latest warplanes of Nazi Germany or imperial Japan. After World War II broke out, American soldiers stationed in the Philippines were fighting for their lives using rifles left over from the Spanish-American war, decades earlier. The hand grenades they threw at the Japanese invaders were so old that they often failed to explode. At the battle of Midway, of 82 Americans who flew into combat in obsolete torpedo planes, only 12 returned alive. In Europe, our best tanks were never as good as the Germans' best tanks, which destroyed several times as many American tanks as the Germans lost in tank battles.
Fortunately, the quality of American warplanes eventually caught up with and surpassed the best that the Germans and Japanese had. But a lot of American pilots lost their lives needlessly in outdated planes before that happened.

These were among the many prices paid for skimping on military spending in the years leading up to World War II. But, politically, the path of least resistance is to cut military spending in the short run and let the long run take care of itself. In a nuclear age, we may not have time to recover from our short-sighted policies, as we did in World War II.


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FROM OTHER COLUMNS
“Here's what we know: The Congress and the President are incapable of cutting anything from any program, ever. If the only way to reduce spending is by instituting automatic cuts, then I am for allowing the sequester to take effect and see what happens."
                          -Rich Galen

"[T]he emotional heart of the State of the Union comprised three issues: immigration reform, climate change and gun control. ... How can it be springtime for liberalism when liberalism's top priorities aren't the public's top priorities? The remainder of Obama's agenda was fairly pathetic boilerplate. Hike the minimum wage! Redesign America's schools! Manufacturing hubs! Make-work programs! This is supposed to be liberalism reborn? Lame ideas cribbed from a playbook with 60 years of dust on it? Slogans hatched by pols who needed a few more nouns to round out Obama's sentences? Legislative initiatives that will cost Democrats seats in 2014 and beyond? Obama's State of the Union had the lowest ratings in 13 years for a reason -- and it's not that America is excited for a new golden age of liberalism. The momentum Obama feels is the pull of gravity, as he starts his fall."
                              -Jonah Goldberg
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BOOKS, FILM
“Zero Dark Thirty,” the best- reviewed film of 2012, has probably lost out on an Oscar because of a political backlash in left-leaning Hollywood over its depiction of torture in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

"Argo" claims to be a broadly accurate retelling of real events in the Iranian hostage crisis. But it´s historic revisionism masquerading as revelation. And that revisionism, carried out by Democrat activists Ben Affleck and co-producer George Clooney, conveniently makes the Democrat laughingstock of the crisis, former President Carter, look good. The more we learn about the project, the more it smells like a bad Hollywood plot to rehab Carter´s legacy as one of the worst presidents in history. It turns out that Carter quietly collaborated on the film…..
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LEFTIST WATCH
What kind of person would want to do harm to America? Well, besides Islamists there are people that believe that "The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States." That quote is from George Soros, who is using his billions to create a global "open society" (more correctly called a global Marxist police state). But Soros is just one of many who hold the same negative beliefs about America…..These utopianists, more commonly known today as progressives, who have been active in both of our two major political parties, are really just renamed Marxists who seek to weaken America in every possible way in order to hasten its collapse, and some of them have infiltrated our government at the highest levels.
Environmental groups gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Sunday and marched on the White House for a climate change rally largely aimed at pressuring President Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.  They picked a day when the wind chill in Wash DC was 16F.
The liberal media has mounted a campaign to destroy Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). He’s a high priority target because he goes against everything the media has said about the Tea Party, and conservatism in general. For all the talk about the Tea Party’s anti-intellectualism, Cruz received his B.A. at Princeton University, and his Juris Doctor at Harvard University. He also clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist. As George Will wrote back in June of 2011, “By the time Ted Cruz was 13, he was winning speech contests sponsored by a Houston free-enterprise group that gave contestants assigned readings by Frederic Bastiat, Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. In his early teens he traveled around Texas and out of state giving speeches. At Princeton, he finished first in the 1992 U.S. National Debate Championship and North American Debate Championship….”
Apparently, the Washington Post and New York Times don’t like the idea of a non-white U.S. Senator acting all uppity.  It’s fine for the lily-white Elizabeth Warren to immediately come out guns blazing, but over the past couple of days both news outlets ripped into in Texas Senator Ted Cruz for not knowing his place.

´I am a Socialist,´ Hitler told Otto Strasser in 1930, ´and a very different kind of Socialist from your rich friend, Count Reventlow´. No one at the time would have regarded it as a controversial statement. The Nazis could hardly have been more open in their socialism, describing themselves with the same terminology as our own SWP….Almost everyone in those days accepted that fascism had emerged from the revolutionary Left.
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ARTICLES
The case for Carson:   The buzz surrounding Dr. Ben Carson is loud and growing...but is it merited? (Short answer, yes!)

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey delivered the opening keynote address for the International Students for Liberty Conference this weekend. Mackey stressed that capitalism has the power to eradicate poverty in the next century, expressed concern over capitalism’s “branding problem”, and maintained that “self-interest” alone is an insufficient moral foundation for the system. “Business Has Been Hated by the Intellectuals and Elites for All Time”

VDH:  There are not just the rich and poor any more, but now the “good rich” (e.g., athletes, rappers, Hollywood stars, Silicon Valley grandees, Democratic senators, liberal philanthropists, etc.) and the “bad rich” (e.g., oil companies, CEOs, doctors, the Koch brothers, etc.). The correct-thinking nomenklatura and the dutiful apparat versus the kulaks and enemies of the people. The president in his State of the Union damns the “billionaires with high-powered accountants,” as a friendly Facebook pays no state or federal taxes, as a George Soros walks away with $1.2B in speculation profits (in three months, no less!) by betting against the Japanese yen, and as Jesse Jackson, Jr. gets caught stealing from a campaign fund to buy a $43,000 Rolex. I thought Soros at his age knew when he had made enough money? We shrug at all this. A president who thunders to the nation that we must be on guard against the “well-off and well-connected” heads south to Palm Beach to meet his $1,000-an-hour golf pro, while Michelle and the family go west to hit the slopes at Aspen, where no one accepts that they’ve reached a point where they’ve made enough money, or that there was any time when it was not good to profit. Something strange has insidiously happened to the old notion of hypocrisy. Does it even exist any longer?
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CONSERVATIVE STRATEGY
These days, Republican political professionals seem to feel rather like Mikhail Gorbachev did in 1983 when he toured farms in Canada two years before he would become premier of the Soviet Union. Stunned by how productive a certain agribusiness was, Gorbachev asked how many farmhands had brought in the crop. “None,” came the answer; the farm was entirely mechanized.  From this one conversation, Gorbachev instantly understood the depths of the Soviet crisis and the desperate need for a new approach. For Republicans, the November 2012 election proved their technical inferiority in exactly the same way — it all came home to them in one day, Nov. 6, as President Obama’s campaign demonstrated a degree of technological superiority above the GOP’s efforts as shocking in its way as the mechanized agribusiness was to the hidebound ways of Soviet agriculture.

“Karl Rove Dismisses Tea Party Backlash: We Need ‘Fewer Christine O’Donnells And More Rand Pauls’”

"I am unalterably opposed to a bunch of billionaires financing a boss to pick candidates in 50 states. This is the opposite of the Republican tradition of freedom and grassroots small town conservatism. No one person is smart enough nor do they have the moral right to buy nominations across the country. That is the system of Tammany Hall and the Chicago machine. It should be repugnant to every conservative and every Republican."
                           -Newt Gingrich, commenting on Karl Rove's new PAC

“There is in fact an argument for close examination of potential candidates to avoid another Akin -- that is, a candidate selected and supported by liberal Democrats for the sole purpose of undercutting the GOP. But that's not how Rove chose to put it. With his customary combination of perspicacity and class, he instead portrayed himself as the last man on the establishment ramparts, defending traditional blue-blazer Republicanism from the unwashed hordes in their NASCAR ballcaps. With his rhetoric, his posturing, and his choice of a media platform (that conservative stalwart the New York Times), Rove could not have done more to provoke the Republican rank and file. A political technician of good will would have reached out to the tea parties, called a conference, gone over the problem, and presented alternative solutions acceptable to all sides of the conservative coalition. Rove did none of those things in favor of something on the order of a nuclear first strike carried out with the help of left-wing media allies. Unfortunately for him, most of his missiles seem to have exploded in their silos.
Welcome to the scorched-earth phase of the Democrats’ “war on women” campaign, and the beginning of a ruthless offensive to hold their Senate majority, and possibly to retake the House, in 2014. Democrats have nearly perfected the following exercise in cynical electioneering: 1) introduce legislation; 2) title it something that appeals to the vast majority of Americans who have no interest in learning what is actually in the bill, e.g., the “Violence Against Women Act”; 3) make sure it is sufficiently noxious to the GOP that few Republicans will support it; 4) vote, and await headlines such as “[GOP Lawmaker] Votes No On Violence Against Women Act”; 5) clip and use headline in 30-second campaign ad; and 6) repeat.

Politico writers Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen are on to something with their feature published today about President Obama’s mastery of the mainstream media. Their conclusion that the president and his staff have broken new ground in manipulating journalists and shaping favorable coverage of the administration is so obvious that it is almost inarguable. As I have argued several times over the past four years, no president since John F. Kennedy has enjoyed the sort of advantage or lack of serious scrutiny that the president has received.
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NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES
20 Of The Most Embarrassing Moments In The History Of The Democrat Party
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LATE NITE
Leno:  Over the weekend, President Obama played golf with Tiger Woods. Tiger said the president was a very good golfer for a guy who plays only five days a week…….Actually, you know what the president's handicap is? He doesn't understand economics…..Scientists at the University of Maryland say they have found a chemical that causes women to talk more than men. It's called red wine…….According to the new study, women talk almost three times as much as men. Well, you know why? Because they know men aren't listening the first two times.
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WISE WORDS
"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt."
                            -Thomas Jefferson

"The more rules and regulations, the more thieves and robbers there will be."
                             -Lao-Tzu
 Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

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