Saturday, April 30, 2011


From Steven Hayward at Powerline:

The Obama Administration is clearly the most anti-energy administration ever. Will Collier has a noteworthy item up today over at PajamasMedia on soaring gasoline prices and the Obama Administration's hypocritical policy of paying lip service to increased oil production at home while doing everything possible to hinder any real increase in domestic oil production. (For example, Greg Pollowitz notes over at NRO's Planet Gore that the Obama EPA has once again denied an operating permit for Shell Oil to begin drilling offshore in Alaska--where there is an estimated 27 billion barrels of crude to be had--on a lease where Shell has shelled out over $6 billion to get started.)
Collier points out that the last time world oil prices surged, to $145 a barrel in July 2008, President Bush ended the moratorium on additional offshore drilling by executive order, and oil prices began falling the next day. Coincidence? Collier thinks not, and makes a strong case.
But there's two other aspects of our current moment that bear noting. First, remember that Obama said that under his energy policy prices "would necessarily skyrocket." Okay, he was talking about electricity prices, but keep in mind that his Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu (who, we are always reminded is a Nobel Prize winner--almost as often as we're reminded that John Kerry served in Vietnam) said back in his earliest days for Obama that gasoline prices in the U.S. should rise to European levels. Well, now that we're getting closer to European price levels, what exactly is the problem?
Just this: high prices for energy are only fun, for a liberal, if they're the result of a tax. If they are the result of market forces (along with stupid government policy), then it's "speculation," or "price-gouging" by the oil companies, or even some dark conspiracy that is never borne out upon investigation. In other words, if the government slapped a $2 tax on gasoline, it would be "enlightened," but if supply and demand drives the price up, it's "gouging."
But that's only the beginning of liberal illiteracy on energy. Liberals have been wrong on energy for as long as I can remember. I recall in The Age of Reagan how liberals reacted to Reagan's decontrol of oil prices, executed on his first day in office:
The conventional wisdom was that oil prices would surely head higher as a result of Reagan's move. Democrats and liberal interest groups seemed to compete with each other for the most fulsome expression of economic illiteracy. In the annals of public policy prognostication it is difficult to find such a wide assembly of wrongheadedness. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio said took to the Senate floor the next day to predict that "we will see $1.50 gas this spring, and maybe before. And it is just a matter of time until the oil companies and their associates, the OPEC nations, will be driving gasoline pump prices up to $2 a gallon." Sen. Don Riegle of Michigan said that "It will hurt our people within a matter of days." Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas had previously predicted that "without rationing, gasoline will soon go to $3 a gallon," and now added that "Decontrol is designed to see how much we can squeeze out of the American people before they take to the streets." Maine's Sen. George Mitchell said "Every citizen and every family will find their living standards reduced by this decision." Democratic Congressman Ed Markey said "I believe that decontrol as a cure will prove to be worse than the disease of oil addiction." A Naderite advocacy group predicted that oil prices might go as high as $870 a barrel "under assumptions which many experts believe are realistic." Instead oil prices started falling almost immediately; from an average high of $1.41 in February 1981, pump prices fell steadily to a national average of 89 cents a gallon in the spring of 1986. Oil imports from OPEC fell by 2 million barrels a day by the end of 1982.
Keep this in mind the next time a liberal says more oil production in the U.S. won't do any good.

Hoosier Daddy?

Hoosier Daddy?

Insider says Mitch Daniels doesn't flaunt it, but quietly has accomplished much of his agenda

Read more:

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Keynesian Growth Discount

From the Wall Street Journal:

The results of our three- year economic experiment are in.

For three long years, the U.S. has been undertaking an experiment in economic policy. Could record levels of government spending, waves of new regulation and political credit allocation, and unprecedented monetary stimulus re-ignite growth? The results have been rolling in, and they represent what increasingly looks like an historic mistake that deserves to be called the Keynesian growth discount.


The latest evidence is yesterday's disappointing report of 1.8% in first quarter GDP. At this stage of recovery after a deep recession, the economy is typically growing by 4% or more as consumer confidence returns and businesses accelerate investment as their profits revive. Yet in this recovery consumers are still cautious and business investment remains weak.
Some of the first quarter's growth slump is due to seasonal factors such as bad weather and weaker defense spending. In the silver lining department, the private economy grew faster than the overall GDP figure because government spending declined. But even maintaining the 2.9% growth rate of 2010 would mark an historic underachievement for a recovery after a recession that was as deep as the one from late 2007 to mid-2009.
The most recent recession of comparable depth and job loss was in 1981-1982, when unemployment hit 10.8%. Huge chunks of industrial America shut down and never re-opened. Yet once the recovery began in earnest in the first quarter of 1983, the economy boomed. As the nearby table shows, growth exceeded 7.1% for five consecutive quarters, and it kept growing at nearly a 4% pace for another two years. Growth didn't dip below 2% in any quarter until the second three months of 1986. This was the Reagan boom.
Now look at the first seven quarters of the current recovery. Only briefly has growth hit 5%, in the fourth quarter of 2009 as businesses rebuilt inventories that had been pared to the bone. Growth has been mediocre ever since, sputtering to a near-stall in the middle of last year, accelerating modestly late last year, and now slowing again. This recovery is as weak as the much-maligned "jobless recovery" of the last decade, which followed a mild recession and at least gained speed after the tax cut of 2003.
Most striking is that this weak growth follows everything that the Keynesian playbook said politicians should throw at the economy. First came $168 billion in one-time tax rebates in February 2008 under George W. Bush, then $814 billion more in spending spread over 2009-2010, cash for clunkers, the $8,000 home buyer tax credit, Hamp to prevent home foreclosures, the Detroit auto bailouts, billions for green jobs, a payroll tax cut for 2011, and of course near-zero interest rates for 28 months buttressed by quantitative easing I and II. We're probably forgetting something.
Imagine if President Obama had introduced his original stimulus in February 2009 with the vow that, 26 months later, GDP would be growing by 1.8% and the jobless rate would be 8.8%. Does anyone think it would have passed?
Associated Press
Shoppers on 34th Street in New York.
Liberal economists will blame this latest slowdown on spending cuts across all levels of government, and government spending did fall in the first quarter. But those modest declines follow the biggest government spending binge since World War II that was supposed to kick start the economy and then stop. Remember former White House chief economist Larry Summers's mantra that stimulus spending should be timely, targeted and temporary?
With deficits this year estimated to hit $1.65 trillion, are we really supposed to believe that more deficit spending will produce faster growth? Would $2 trillion do the trick, or how about $3 trillion? Two years after the stimulus debate began, the critics who said all of this spending would provide at most a temporary lift to GDP while saddling the economy with record deficits have been proven right.
The good news is that the private economy seems to have enough momentum to avoid a recession in the near term, but the danger is that growth will continue to be subpar. The evidence is that the combination of spendthrift fiscal policy and a wave of new regulatory costs and mandates are restraining business expansion and hiring.
Then there's the threat of higher tax rates on investment and business that we dodged for two years after the GOP won Congress but that President Obama has now promised for 2013 if he is re-elected. This too deters the animal spirits necessary for robust growth. The great risk is stagflation, a la the 1970s, when easy money tried to compensate for bad fiscal and regulatory policy, which led to sluggish growth, rising prices and declines in real wages.


The contrast in results between the current recovery and the Reagan years is instructive because the policy mix was so different. In the 1980s, the policy goals were to cut tax rates, reduce regulatory costs and uncertainty, let the private economy allocate capital free of political direction, and focus monetary policy on price stability rather than on reducing unemployment. This is the policy mix we need to rediscover if we are going to escape our current malaise and stop suffering from the Keynesian discount.

Insane rap throwdown: Keynes vs. Hayek

At Hot Air:

Everyone’s seen the first one and, within a day or so, everyone will have seen this one too. Don’t be daunted by the length: It’s ten minutes long but brilliant from start to finish. Easily the most entertaining video you’ll watch today, unless Obama decides to release some more documents and then call another press conference to yell at the media.
Our guy may not look fierce but he’s got mad flow, a winningly bratty Eminem-ish style, and a major beef with spending. He’s Chris Christie, basically, but with a funky ‘stache.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The First Adult -- AWOL

From Robert Samuelson at RealClearPolitics:

WASHINGTON -- If you've wondered why it's so hard to subdue budget deficits, you should consult a new study from the Congressional Budget Office called "Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options" (free at You'll learn from its 240 pages that the deficits definitely can be curbed. The CBO presents 105 policies (it doesn't endorse them) that would shrink deficits by trillions of dollars over the next decade. You'll also learn -- surprise! -- that most choices are political poison.
Suppose we increased the federal gasoline tax by 25 cents a gallon, from 18.4 cents to 43.4 cents. That would raise $291 billion over the decade from 2012 to 2021, estimates the CBO. Or we could advance the ages for early and full Social Security benefits; one suggestion is to raise them (now 62 and 66) by two months a year until reaching predetermined targets (say, 64 and 70). The CBO reckons the decade's savings at about $264 billion. How about slowly moving Medicare's eligibility age from 65 to 67. The savings: $125 billion.

Are we finished? Nowhere near. At most, these crowd pleasers would make noticeable dents. Recall that the deficits total almost $10 trillion over the next decade under President Obama's original 2012 budget. That's the point: even discounting the effects of the deep recession, prospective deficits are so large that they can't be cured by tinkering. We should be asking basic questions:
-- How big a government do we want? For four decades, federal spending has averaged 21 percent of gross domestic product. An aging population and high health costs mean that average spending, as a share of GDP, will rise by a third or more in the next 10 to 15 years if today's programs simply continue.
-- Who deserves government subsidies and how much? About 55 percent of spending goes to individuals, including the elderly, veterans, farmers, students, the disabled and the poor.
-- How much, if at all, should social spending be allowed to squeeze national defense?
-- If taxes rise, how much and on whom? What taxes would least hurt economic growth?
We aren't having this debate, and President Obama is mainly to blame. His recent budget speech at George Washington University was a telling model of evasion, contradiction and deception. He warned that by 2025 present tax levels would suffice only to pay for "Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the interest we owe on our debt. ... Every other national priority -- education, transportation, even our national security -- will (be paid) with borrowed money." He noted that businesses may not invest in a country that seems "unable to balance its books."
Fine. But Obama has no plan to balance the budget -- ever. He asserted "every kind of spending (is) on the table." But every kind of spending is not on the table. He virtually ruled out cutting Social Security, the government's biggest program (2011 spending: $727 billion). For example, Social Security is excluded from a proposed "trigger" that would automatically reduce spending and raise taxes if certain deficit targets weren't met. He also put Medicare (2011 spending: $572 billion) largely off-limits.
The president keeps promoting an "adult conversation" about the budget, but that can't happen if the First Adult doesn't play his part. Obama is eager to be all things to all people. He's against the debt and its adverse consequences, but he's for preserving Social Security and Medicare without major changes. He's for "tough cuts," but he's against saying what they are and defending them. He pronounces ambitious goals without saying how they'd be reached. Mainly, he's for scoring political points against Republicans.
Deficit politics are inherently unpopular. One way -- maybe the only way -- to break today's deadlock is to alter public opinion so that some government benefits are seen as unnecessary or illegitimate and some taxes are seen as fair burden-sharing.
Given better health, longer life expectancy and wealthier elderly, why shouldn't Social Security and Medicare eligibility ages be raised and means-testing broadened? The president doesn't broach this debate. Farmers receive about $15 billion a year in crop subsidies to help offset the insecurities of weather and fluctuating prices. Considering that volatile markets impose similar insecurities on many Americans, why do farmers deserve special protection? The president doesn't engage that debate. Might not a higher gasoline tax reduce budget deficits and oil imports? Obama is silent there, too.
All this may be politically shrewd. Voters disdain hard choices. Liberal pundits loved Obama's speech. But another audience is less impressed -- global money managers. The Financial Times' respected columnist Gillian Tett recently asked whether the administration's "reassuring patter on debt" could be believed. Not entirely, she concluded. Shortly thereafter, Standard & Poor's warned that it might downgrade U.S. government debt. Obama is flirting with trouble, even if he doesn't realize it.

Government Creates Poverty

From John Stossel at RealClearPolitics:

The U.S. government has "helped" no group more than it has "helped" the American Indians. It stuns me when President Obama appears before Indian groups and says things like, "Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans."
Ignored? Are you kidding me? They should be so lucky. The government has made most Indian tribes wards of the state. Government manages their land, provides their health care, and pays for housing and child care. Twenty different departments and agencies have special "native American" programs. The result? Indians have the highest poverty rate, nearly 25 percent, and the lowest life expectancy of any group in America. Sixty-six percent are born to single mothers.

It is intuitive to assume that, when people struggle, government "help" is the answer. The opposite is true. American groups who are helped the most, do the worst.Nevertheless, Indian activists want more government "help."
Consider the Lumbees of Robeson County, N.C. -- a tribe not recognized as sovereign by the government and therefore ineligible for most of the "help" given other tribes. The Lumbees do much better than those recognized tribes.
Lumbees own their homes and succeed in business. They include real estate developer Jim Thomas, who used to own the Sacramento Kings, and Jack Lowery, who helped start the Cracker Barrel Restaurants. Lumbees started the first Indian-owned bank, which now has 12 branches.
The Lumbees' wealth is not from casino money.
"We don't have any casinos. We have 12 banks," says Ben Chavis, another successful Lumbee businessman. He also points out that Robeson County looks different from most Indian reservations.
"There's mansions. They look like English manors. I can take you to one neighborhood where my people are from and show you nicer homes than the whole Sioux reservation."
Despite this success, professional "victims" activists want Congress to make the Lumbees dependent -- like other tribes. U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., has introduced the Lumbee Recognition Act, which would give the Lumbees the same "help" other tribes get -- about $80 million a year. Some members of the tribe support the bill.
Of course they do. People like to freeload.
Lawyer Elizabeth Homer, who used to be the U.S. Interior Department's director of Indian land trusts, say the Lumbees ought to get federal recognition.
"The Lumbees have been neglected and left out of the system, and have been petitioning for 100 years. ... They're entitled, by the way."
People like Homer will never get it. Lumbees do well because they've divorced themselves from government handouts. Washington's neglect was a godsend.
Some Lumbees don't want the handout.
"We shouldn't take it!" Chavis said. He says if federal money comes, members of his tribe "are going to become welfare cases. It's going to stifle creativity. On the reservations, they haven't trained to be capitalists. They've been trained to be communists."
Tribal governments and the Bureau of Indian Affairs manage most Indian land. Indians compete to serve on tribal councils because they can give out the government's money. Instead of seeking to become entrepreneurs, members of tribes aspire to become bureaucrats.
"You can help your girlfriend; you can help your girlfriend's mama. It's a great program!" Chavis said sarcastically.
Because a government trust controls most Indian property, individuals rarely build nice homes or businesses. "No individual on the reservation owns the land. So they can't develop it," Chavis added. "Look at my tribe. We have title and deeds to our land. That's the secret. I raise cattle. I can do what I want to because it's my private property."
I did a TV segment on the Lumbees that I included in a special called "Freeloaders." That won me the predictable vitriol. Apparently, I'm ignorant of history and a racist.
The criticism misses the point. Yes, many years ago white people stole the Indians' land and caused great misery. And yes, the government signed treaties with the tribes that make Indians "special." But that "specialness" has brought the Indians socialism. It's what keeps them dependent and poor.
On the other hand, because the U.S. government never signed a treaty with the Lumbees, they aren't so "special" in its eyes. That left them mostly free.
Freedom lets them prosper.

Daniels for President?

From Katrina Trinko at NRO:

It’s a hard slog to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but many Republicans hope he’ll hit the trail.

Is Mitch Daniels running for president?

Right now, if Indiana Republicans had to gamble, they would say yes — but they wouldn’t put all their chips on the table.

Daniels has long said that he will announce his decision after Indiana’s legislative session ends, and he is nearing the crucial moment. The session is slated to end this Friday, and if Daniels is serious about running, he needs to begin soon assembling a campaign staff, attracting donors, and visiting early primary states. Furthermore, the news that Mississippi governor Haley Barbour won’t run spares Daniels from having to factor into his decision the question whether he wants to run against a good friend.

“If I had to bet, I’d say I think he will run,” says Chris Chocola, president of Club for Growth and a former Indiana congressman. “I think he is running in a sense — he’s doing things he probably wouldn’t do if he weren’t strongly considering it.”

One such thing is Daniels’s decision to give a major address on education reform at the American Enterprise Institute in early May, signaling a desire to maintain a national presence. “Daniels is making the right moves to position himself for a presidential campaign — delivering high-profile Washington speeches, appearing on the Sunday-morning programs, contributing op-ed columns with regularity,” comments Robert Schmuhl, a professor of American studies at Notre Dame. “He’s even got a book coming out in the fall.”

“I think he wants to run,” says one GOP source close to Daniels. “The question is: Will his family support that decision?” Daniels and his wife, Cheri, have four adult daughters.

The Washington Post reported this week that Daniels “got quiet” when asked about his family’s willingness. He said that it was “a very important factor.” But there are hopeful indicators for those cheering on a Daniels run: Cheri Daniels threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians on opening day earlier this month, and she will be the keynote speaker at a GOP fundraising dinner May 12.

“She has not been an extremely visible first lady in our state,” says Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute. “Recently, these two things she’s done make me think she’s at least checking out what a more public life might mean.”

“She has been reluctant for him to be a candidate for president,” Smith adds. “Campaigning is a thankless kind of thing.” He notes that the Danielses had a “rocky time in their marriage.” Rocky indeed: In 1993, after 15 years of marriage, Cheri divorced Mitch and married another man. Four years later she returned to (and remarried) Mitch. The only public comment Daniels has ever made on the topic is telling the Indianapolis Star, “If you like happy endings, you’ll love our story.” Still, it’s understandable that the couple might dread media (and possibly opponents’) focus on that period.

James Bopp, an RNC committee member, agrees that familial considerations will ultimately determine Daniels’s decision. “I think he’s more likely to run than not,” Bopp says. He cites Daniels’s impressive gubernatorial record before acknowledging the personal factors that will play a role in his decision. “Campaigning does put a lot of demands not only on the candidate — and that affects his family life — but also on the family directly. For someone to run, the family has to be on board with it. So I assume he will only run if they are.”

Cheri Daniels’s chief of staff, Julie Aud, has tried to quash speculation that Mrs. Daniels’s keynote speech is any kind of test for a 2012 run. Aud told the Associated Press that Mrs. Daniels had told her that she had decided to give the speech in order to showcase her work in Indiana during her husband’s two terms and that it “didn’t really have anything to do” with a possible presidential run.

On the other side of the ledger is the continued interest in Governor Daniels expressed by Republicans far and wide. “There may have been a time when he or others thought interest in him would fade over time,” says one GOP official close to Daniels, “but just the opposite has occurred. His approach to governing and what’s he getting done here are noticed around the country, far outside Indiana’s borders, and so he’s serious when he says he’s considering it.”

The reason for that continued interest may be that, as crowded as the field of possible GOP contenders is, there’s no Daniels duplicate in the mix. With voters likely to remain focused on the national budget and debt as 2012 rolls around, Daniels’s budget-wonk reputation and his past as an OMB director (under George W. Bush) give him credibility. He can also point to an enthusiastic recommendation from House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, who told The Weekly Standard last year that Daniels “would be a great president,” and that Daniels understood the principles behind Ryan’s famed Roadmap and the necessity of implementing it.

“He’s the thinking man’s candidate,” says Chocola. “I think he will be viewed as kind of the moderate in the race. That will be where the media and maybe even his own campaign would try to position him, but his service has been relatively conservative.”

A number of grassroots groups have emerged urging Daniels to run. Those groups include Switch2Mitch, Americans for Mitch, and Students for Daniels, a band of young adults who have even run a few commercials in support of a Daniels candidacy. There is also the overall discontent with the existing crop of GOP candidates: Only 43 percent of Republicans are satisfied with the current field, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, making it clear that there’s ample room for newcomers.

Of course, Daniels would still face plenty of obstacles. In national polls of Republican voters, he currently wins about 3 percent of the vote. His call for a truce on social issues has made social conservatives uneasy. And while voters in 2012 may not place as high a premium on charm and celebrity as voters did during the last presidential election, some observers wonder if any year can generate sufficient voter enthusiasm for a plain-looking, short man whose overall vibe is more accountant than hotshot CEO.

“I guess it’s, Stay tuned,” says Mike O’Brien, a former legislative director for Daniels. “All indications are to just stay tuned until after the legislative session. From a political standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world for him to wait until after the session, when he has education reform, another balanced budget, and the other issues he’s pushing under his belt.”
— Katrina Trinko is an NRO staff reporter.

Gov. Haley's advice to GOP presidential hopefuls: Change your message

At The Hill:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said Monday she is not satisfied with the message that the crop of GOP presidential hopefuls has brought to her state. 
Haley — a rising star in the party and governor of a key early primary state — said that potential presidential candidates should craft a more positive message rather than just laying out the case against President Obama or describing their path to victory. 
"A lot of what bothers me with where the presidential politics right now is that I don't want to hear about how awful President Obama is right now," she said on conservative talker Laura Ingraham's radio show. "I want to hear what they are going to do different."
The Tea Party favorite's comments are a rare warning from a GOP governor against the group of potential candidates, especially considering that some of them are Haley's gubernatorial colleagues. 
Several potential GOP candidates have visited the Palmetto State during the early stages of the campaign and the state will host the first GOP presidential primary debate next week, featuring former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer. 
Haley had a piece of advice for the candidates in advance of the debate. 
"There is a group … that has come through South Carolina. They are trying to tell me how they are going to win. I don't care how they are going to win, I want to know how they are going to fix our country."

The complete conservative

From Matt Barber at The Daily Caller:

What is the Tea Party? Who is the Tea Party? Big media types and the larger left have their demagogic spin: Tea Partiers are racist, backwoods, anti-government dunderheads with a predisposition toward domestic terrorism. In a word, they’re “extremists.”
This disingenuous political packaging was recently divulged as an official Democratic talking point in a gaffe by the ever-loquacious Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. During a super-secret conference call with reporters, he explained that, while referencing the Tea Party, “I always use the word ‘extreme.’ That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”
This characterization, of course, is twaddle and liberals know it. But when called out on what constitutes genuine extremism, the ad hominem attack remains the “progressive” device of choice for those endeavoring to “fundamentally transform” America. It’s impossible to make a secular-socialist omelet without breaking a few constitutionalist eggs.
Rule 13 of “community organizer” Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” presents the budding provocateur with a template: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
And so “progressive” ideologues like Chris Matthews, Sen. Harry Reid and the backbiting hate merchants over at the Southern Poverty Law Center busily paint self-serving swastikas across Tea Party Granny’s Ol’ Glory sweater. It’s dishonest, it’s tired and America isn’t biting. The more they do it, in fact, the greater the backlash.
Still, the truth is that one can more easily nail Jell-O to a wall than precisely characterize the Tea Party demographic. Its membership crosses racial, generational and party lines. The Tea Party is not so much defined by “who” as it is by “what.”
I recently attended the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration hosted by the Republican Party of Virginia. It was co-sponsored by, among others, the Ronald Reagan Institute for Conservative Leadership. Michael Reagan, the oldest child of the man widely considered our greatest modern president, was the keynote speaker.
Mr. Reagan said something that I think concisely sums up the core values shared by the ragtag millions who comprise the Tea Party movement. “People often ask me if Ronald Reagan would have supported the Tea Party,” he said. “Ronald Reagan was the Tea Party.”
About three-quarters of the 1,500 or so in attendance erupted into enthusiastic applause. Those who did not responded, instead, with scowls of pragmatic disapproval. These hushed naysayers represent, I think, the dwindling minority of liberal-leaning RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) within the establishment GOP. Yes, Republicans can be elitist, too.
How true, I thought. Tea Party conservatives are simply Reagan conservatives by another name: same values, different decade.
I’ve said it before. Ronald Reagan often spoke of a “three-legged stool” that undergirds what I call “complete conservatism.” The legs symbolize a strong national defense, strong free-market principles and strong traditional social values. For the stool to remain upright, it must be supported by all three legs. If you snap off even one leg, the stool collapses under its own weight.
A Republican, for instance, who is conservative on social and national defense issues but liberal on fiscal issues is not a complete conservative. He is a quasi-conservative socialist.
A Republican who is conservative on fiscal and social issues but liberal on national defense issues is not a complete conservative. He is a quasi-conservative dove.
By the same token, a Republican who is conservative on fiscal and national defense issues but liberal on social issues — such as abortion, homosexual rights or the Second Amendment — is not a complete conservative. He is a socio-liberal libertarian.
I was discussing Reagan’s three-legged stool the other day with my friend Mark Lloyd, chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation and president of the aforementioned Ronald Reagan Institute.
“What do you suppose holds together those three legs of the stool?” he asked. “Do tell,” I replied. “The seat,” he said. “And the seat, which is sustained by all three legs — a strong defense, the free market and traditional social values — is where we as Americans can rest steady.”
“What does the seat signify?” I asked. “The seat represents those certain unalienable rights granted by our creator, addressed in the Declaration of Independence and enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. The seat is our individual life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, bound together by faith in God and love of country,” he concluded.
Indeed, the ongoing Tea Party uprising is a monumental grassroots clamoring for a national return to Reagan conservatism. Reagan conservatism is merely an extension of the fundamental principles held near and dear by our Founding Fathers.
The die is cast and the cast is clear. In today’s revolution King George and the Redcoats are channeled by Barack Obama and his like-minded “progressive” lackeys in the media and elsewhere. “Taxation without representation” signifies the larger secular-socialist agenda they seek to impose.
But that’s fine. When spurred by the cause of freedom, “right-wing extremists” — like those who pledged lives, fortunes and sacred honor in order “to form a more perfect union” — have never backed down from a good fight.
For those wishful thinking “progressives” and lukewarm RINOs who imagine that the Reagan revolution is over, I say it’s only just begun.
Matt Barber ( is an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. He serves as Vice President of Liberty Counsel ActionFacebook/jmattbarber / Twitter/@jmattbarber (This information is provided for identification purposes only.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Obama’s Trump Card

The damage the Donald can do

From Thomas Sowell at NRO:

The boomlet for Donald Trump as a Republican nominee for president of the United States ought to be 
a wake-up call for Republican candidates and Republican party leaders alike.

Why has Trump surged ahead of other Republican candidates and potential candidates in the polls? It is not likely that his resurrection of the issue of Barack Obama’s birth certificate has aroused all this support.
The birth-certificate issue does more political damage to Obama’s critics than to the president himself, because it enables the media to paint those critics as kooks. Nor are Donald Trump’s political positions such as to create a stampede to his cause.

Radio-talk-show host Mark Levin has rebroadcast Trump’s varied and mutually contradictory statements on political issues and personalities over the years. It was a devastating revelation of Trump’s “versatility of convictions,” to use a phrase coined long ago by Thorstein Veblen.

So then what is Donald Trump’s appeal? And why should it concern Republican leaders in general?
Trump has what so many other Republicans are so painfully lacking: the ability and the willingness to articulate arguments clearly, forcefully, and in plain English. Too many Republicans talk like the actor of whom a critic once said, “he played the king like he was afraid that someone else was going to play the ace.”

What electrified so many Republicans about Sarah Palin in the 2008 election campaign was that her speeches offered such a contrast to the usual mealy-mouthed talk common among other Republican candidates, including Sen. John McCain. Whether you agreed or disagreed with her position on the issues, you didn’t have to wave your hand in front of her eyes to see if she was awake.

Donald Trump is dangerous in at least two senses. If, by some tragic miracle, he should become the Republicans’ candidate for president in 2012, that would be the closest thing to an iron-clad guarantee of a second term in the White House for Barack Obama.

That would be a huge setback for the Republicans — and, far more important — a historic catastrophe for this country.

What seems more likely is that Donald Trump as a candidate for the Republican nomination would use his superior articulation skills — not to mention brash irresponsibility — to trash all the other Republican candidates for that nomination, leaving them damaged goods in the eyes of the public, and therefore less able to gather the votes needed to prevent the reelection of Obama.

Why Republicans seem not to understand the crucial importance of putting the same time and attention into articulating their positions as the Democrats do is one of the enduring mysteries of American politics.
It was obvious that the Democrats coordinated their talking points and catch-phrases — “social justice,” “tax cuts for the rich,” etc. — even before the overheard and recorded statements of Sen. Chuck Schumer about Democrats’ plans to repeatedly use the word “extreme” to characterize Republicans.

But how many Republican catch phrases can you remember? Republican rhetoric tends to range from low key to no key.

Nor is there much evidence that Republicans have asked themselves how the left wing of the Democratic party gained such ascendancy in recent years, in a country where millions more people identify themselves as conservative than as liberals.

In short, there is little or no evidence that most Republicans see any need to fundamentally change their approach to the public. But if they think that they can rely on Obama’s declining popularity to win the 2012 election, they may be in for a rude shock. Worse yet, the whole future of this country and of Western civilization will be in jeopardy — in a world where the likes of Iran and North Korea become nuclear powers while we engage in empty talk at the U.N.

Barack Obama’s declining support in public-opinion polls makes some conservatives feel that his reelection hopes are doomed. But Donald Trump can be Barack Obama’s secret weapon in his fight to remain in the White House. The Donald can be his Trump card.