The Intransigent Conservative
Thursday, February 7, 2013
View the story "Thursday's Thoughts (2/7/13)" on Storify
Thursday's Thoughts (2/7/13)
· Thu, Feb 07 2013 17:18:19
Ben Shapiro argues against the stated goals of Karl Rove’s new
Conservative Victory Project
group. The establishment should focus on assisting the candidates endorsed by the grassroots activists instead of abandoning conservative principle.
“During the 2012 election cycle, Tea Partiers were told by their supposed betters that their ignorance of everyday politics meant that they should take a back seat to the Republican Party establishment. Brandishing the so-called Buckley Rule with quasi-religious fervor --
the notion that Republicans should run the most conservative candidate who can win
-- the establishment GOP proclaimed that the only presidential candidate who could win was Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.”
“But despite their 2012 losses, the establishment has decided that the problem in 2012 wasn't their own incompetence --
it was the dastardly Tea Party, which in its zealotry for conservatism has ignored the need for victory
“Why didn't Rove and company tell the Times that they were interested in training conservative candidates in media fluency? Why didn't they approach the Tea Party instead, and offer their get-out-the-vote services and electoral strategies?... Because, at root,
there is a clash at the heart of today's Republican Party
. The Tea Party wants to change tactics.
The establishment wants to discard principle
This divide doesn't have to continue
. The establishment GOP could seek to rectify the breach with the Tea Party by embracing their enthusiasm for basic conservative principle and offering their expertise -- whatever expertise they have -- in helping them achieve victory.”
Rove Vs. the Tea Party - Ben Shapiro - Page 1 http://townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2013/02/06/rove-vs-the-tea-party-n1505961 via @townhallcomBen Shapiro
Following a survey at the beginning of February, Rasmussen Reports advises that Americans tend to consider a sales tax the fairest kind of tax.
“A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that
43% of American Adults
, when given four chief types of taxation,
view a sales tax as the one that is most fair
. Twenty-six percent (26%) rate an income tax as fairest, while six percent (6%) feel that way about property taxes and 5% consider a payroll tax the most fair. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.”
Forty-five percent (45%) of Americans
favor a proposal to eliminate the federal income tax and replace it with a national sales tax.”
Men and married adults favor sales taxes over income taxes
more strongly than women and those who are not married.”
43% View Sales Tax As Fairest Kind of #Tax... http://tinyurl.com/ag9bpdnScott Rasmussen
The FairTax Plan
: The Fair Tax Act of 2013 is sponsored by
Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall
, and cosponsored by 59 other Representatives,
including 9 of the 17 House Republicans from Florida
“The FairTax is a national sales tax that treats every person equally and allows American businesses to thrive, while generating the same tax revenue as the current four-million-word-plus word tax code. Under the FairTax, every person living in the United States pays a sales tax on purchases of new goods and services, excluding necessities due to the prebate.
The FairTax rate after necessities is 23%
and equal to the lowest current income tax bracket (15%) combined with employee payroll taxes (7.65%), both of which will be eliminated.”
FairTax: Fire Up Our Economic Engine (Official HD)FairTaxOfficial
Lee Smith (fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies) reviews Elliott Abrams’s new book: “
Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Mr. Abrams's book is the definitive history of the last Republican president's considerable accomplishments in the Levant
. This detailed record of meetings, documents and agreements demonstrates that the Palestinian question is of interest primarily because of its emotional resonance, for Americans as well as for Israelis and Arabs. It is more than just another issue; it is a broad and epic story featuring the full range of human passions and emotions.”
“Mr. Abrams joined the U.S. National Security Council staff in June 2001, first as a deputy assistant to the president and later as deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy. Until 2005 his boss was Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's closest confidante and the book's most fascinating figure. Mr. Abrams clearly respects and admires her but—as the narrative unwinds and Ms. Rice veers from the policies of the president she is supposed to serve—
he also unflinchingly recounts her stubbornness, pride and ultimate ineffectiveness
“The Bush presidency marked a momentous time in Israeli-Palestinian affairs—a fact that seems to have escaped many, including Mr. Bush's successor…
American engagement with the Jewish state and the Palestinians was more fruitful than ever before—or since
“In retrospect, it is easy to see that Bush administration diplomacy had at least two things going for it. First, it was conducted before Israel faced war on two borders from which it had withdrawn, southern Lebanon and Gaza, after which Israelis became rightly wary of exchanging more land for peace. Second, there was Mr. Sharon, a larger than life figure from Israel's generation of founding patriarchs who wanted out of Gaza not because he liked or trusted the Palestinian Authority but because he wanted to disentangle the people he had spent a lifetime protecting from their nemesis, the Palestinians.”
“As secretary of state, Ms. Rice was so determined to leave her mark as peacemaker that she seems to have viewed Israel's second Lebanon war
as a personal affront
. She unconscionably adopted Hezbollah talking points, like demanding that Israel return the Shebaa Farms, a small plot of land in the Golan Heights, to Lebanon,
a move that implicitly justified Hezbollah terrorism against the Jewish state
Unlikely Peacemakers -- Lee Smith on "Tested by Zion" by Elliott Abrams: http://on.wsj.com/Yv1m3IWSJ Books Section
Benjamin Weinthal (research fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies) reports on the Israeli air force’s destruction of a convoy last week, which included Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles intended for delivery to Hezbollah, the Shiite terror organization and Iran’s chief ally in Lebanon.
“According to Mideast security expert estimates,
Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of 60,000 rockets
. As my FDD colleague Jonathan Schanzer highlights, ‘Until now, with troubling news coming out of Iran, Syria, Gaza, and elsewhere, the Lebanon front has been largely ignored.
But beware. A new conflict with Israel and Lebanon may be looming. And this conflict could erupt in a flash
“Prior to al-Qaeda’s mass murder of Americans on 9/11,
Hezbollah had killed the most Americans in acts of terror
, including hundreds of U.S. military personnel in the early 1980s.”
“The question mark over the second Obama administration is whether his new national defense team will twist the arms of reluctant European leaders to outlaw Hezbollah. The U.S. designated Hezbollah as a terrorist entity in the 1990s… The EU, however,
appears to be running scared of Hezbollah
and showing no appetite to protect its citizens against terrorism.”
It is long-overdue that the EU replicates the U.S. government’s terror listing of Hezbollah
. The elimination of Hezbollah’s fundraising and organizational activities within the EU would advance U.S. interests as well as security for the Middle East region.”
Re-upping my NRO blog on Hezbollah's war on the U.S. and Israel.#Hezbollah #Iranhttp://www.nationalreview.com/corner/339592/hezbollah-s-war-israel-and-us-benjamin-weinthalBenjamin Weinthal
Here is a short video produced by the
Emergency Committee for Israel
, which asks if we can afford a Secretary of Defense like nominee Chuck Hagel, who is so confused about Iran’s nuclear program?
Is it too much to ask that Hagel knows Obama’s policy on Iran?
There are no second and third takes at the Pentagon.
Jay Cost writes that Obama knows how to lose friends and alienate Congress, and the lessons of his first term suggest that he will not be very successful at persuading the legislative branch to do what he wants in his second term.
“The recent inaugural festivities would have seemed more than a little strange to the Framers of the Constitution, had they been on hand to see the show. After all, here was their ‘republic’ unified in celebration of vast executive powers being vested in a single human being.
Did they not wage a bloody war to overcome such 17th-century notions?
“The presidency has come to mean much more than the measly powers granted its occupant by the Constitution; the job of the modern president is to fill the spaces left between the various articles and sections and clauses of the founding document. What our system disperses among branches, states, localities, parties, and interest groups,
the president brings together, coordinating their efforts for the national good
“But presidential power—the ability to persuade—has many sources, some external, some internal.
The external sources are all reducible to ‘the political context.’
How many seats does the president’s party control in Congress? What is the status of the opposition party? What was the relative strength of the president and his party in the last election? What is his job approval rating? And so on. All of these factors set the boundaries for how easily the president can persuade others.”
The internal sources of strength are the president’s political skills
, which he deploys in particular circumstances. So the question becomes: How good is he at persuading others, given the political context? If political context is the science of presidential power, quantifiable in electoral results and congressional voting scores,
persuasive skill is the art
“Obama is notable in that he has mastered some vital skills better than any recent predecessor,
but he exhibits virtually no facility with others
“This president does not have a solid congressional outreach program, does not have a steady grasp of the expectations of legislators in either party, and does a notably poor job of communicating to them what he expects. Thus, a drifting and listless policy process,
finally given direction by some power player outside the White House
, often acting to avert imminent disaster, has marked almost every major deal during his tenure.”
“The ideal modern president, to borrow a phrase from Theodore Roosevelt, is one
‘actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.’
President Obama does not much care for the arena, and his successes came despite this distaste, not because of it.”
’Insisting’ that Congress do something
is a good way to make sure nothing happens. Instead, as Harry Truman once said, the president must spend his time ‘flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.’
Barack Obama does not do this. He thinks it beneath him.
After four years in office, he still fails to grasp the essence of modern presidential power.”
My latest column for the Weekly Standard | "Obama The Bargainer" http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/obama-bargainer_699205.htmlJay Cost
The Dow is up 15.3%, the S&P 500 is up 17.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite is up 14.1% for the last eight months.
George Melloan (former deputy editor of the WSJ editorial page) writes that stock-market winners who have benefited from Fed policy should remember what happened to those who cashed in gains for more debt before 2008.
“In a 1996 speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan famously warned about the dangers when
fueled asset inflation. By that he meant that rising values of stocks and real estate might reflect only a cheapened dollar,
not an increase in their real worth
“We've learned a lot about asset inflation since that speech, but maybe not enough. The nearly 2,000-point rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since last June no doubt at least partly reflects asset inflation,
since there has been very little in the economic or political outlook to justify it
“Urged on by his soon-to-be successor, Ben Bernanke, Mr. Greenspan would hold interest rates down too long, setting off a mid-2000s credit binge that sent assets soaring, home prices in particular.
Congress developed a blasé attitude toward huge budget deficits, simply because Fed policy made them easy to finance.
State and local governments overleveraged themselves. This was ‘irrational exuberance’ indeed.”
“At least Chairman Greenspan understood the risks. It is not clear that Chairman Bernanke is aware that he has now set the Fed's asset-inflation machine on automatic pilot by promising near-zero interest rates well out into the future. The longer the policy continues, the greater the difficulty in climbing down from the debt mountain it is creating,
particularly the rapidly rising national debt
“Mr. Bernanke will have great difficulty letting go of the near-zero interest rate policy without severe consequences for both the Fed and the economy. The Fed's own economists recently warned that
the Fed itself could lose as much as $100 billion
on its vast portfolio when bond prices finally fall from their artificially elevated levels. Meanwhile, higher interest rates will cause
the cost of financing government debt to skyrocket
The ‘wealth illusion’ of asset inflation is seductive
, which is why central banks in charge of a fiat currency and subject to no external disciplines so often drift in that direction. Politicians smile in satisfaction and powerful Washington lobbies cry for more…
But an economy built on an illusion is hardly a sound structure
. We may be doomed to learn that lesson once again before long.”
George Melloan: The Fed's Asset-Inflation Machine http://on.wsj.com/VF02J9Opinion & Commentary
David M. Walker (U.S. Comptroller General and head of the GAO from 1998-2008) writes that back in February 2001 he testified to the Senate Finance Committee with “professional, nonpartisan and nonideological advice” to balance our fiscal risks that went largely unheeded by both political parties.
We are still paying the price for their bipartisan irresponsibility over the last twelve years.
“Back in February 2001, the United States had just experienced its first true operating budget surplus (excluding the Social Security surplus) and had actually paid down some of its public debt for the first time in decades. The country was also facing projected budget surpluses for the next 10 years and the possibility of paying off all outstanding public debt within that period. Washington was concerned about what to do with the budget surplus and the prospect of being debt-free.”
Fiscal policy decisions should balance the wants and needs of today with the fiscal realities of tomorrow
. The most prudent action 12 years ago would have been to pay down debt, providing a tangible benefit then and more fiscal flexibility later. I also noted then that the most imprudent actions would be to expand ‘entitlement benefits’ or engage in permanent tax cuts.”
“Since 2000, we have been experiencing
a recurring case of Democratic big-spending policies and Republican low-tax policies
, combined with additional spending for a range of contingencies. The result has been huge deficits, rapidly mounting debt, and
a total liability and unfunded debt burden of $71.2 trillion
, up from $20.6 trillion at the end of fiscal 2000, and growing by $8.2 million a minute. Considering all of these developments, what fiscal grade do the Congresses and the presidents of both parties who have held power since 2001 deserve?
In my view, they deserve an F
“We need to engage in a range of reforms that will result in
a reduction of debt-to-gross domestic product to about 60 percent by 2024
. Moreover, we need to do so in a manner that is
pro-growth, pro-opportunity, fiscally responsible and socially equitable
WALKER: Uncle Sam gets an F in money management - Washington Times: http://wtim.es/YTcawoWashington Times Op
George F. Will recommends a constitutional balanced budget amendment specifically to bind the habitual spenders looking to maximize their power, despite the various arguments against it. The one sufficient argument for this amendment comes from the late Nobel laureate economist James Buchanan, who pioneered
the “public choice” school of analysis
“Public choice theory applies economic analysis —
essentially, the study of how incentives influence behavior
— to politics… Public choice theory demystified politics by puncturing the grand illusion that nourishes government growth. It is the fiction that elected politicians and government administrators are more nobly motivated, unselfish and disinterested than are persons acting in the private sector.”
“Buchanan extended the idea of the profit motive to the behavior of politicians and bureaucrats,
two groups seeking to maximize power the way many people in the private sector maximize monetary profits
“The political class is incorrigible because
it is composed of — let us say the worst — human beings
. They respond to incentives of self-interest.
Their acquisitiveness is not for money but for the currency of power, which they act to retain and enlarge
. This class can be constrained, if at all, not by exhorting them to become disinterested but by binding them with a constitutional amendment.”
Shackling the spenders:http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-an-amendment-to-bind-the-spenders/2013/02/06/c93fda9c-6fc7-11e2-8b8d-e0b59a1b8e2a_story.html?wprss=rss_george-willGeorge F. Will
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