Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Cult of Liberalism

Religions are largely kept together by the faith of the followers as opposed to proof. Whether it’s Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any other religion, it’s not science or empirical evidence that keeps millions or billions of people believing, it’s faith. Indeed, religions are full of claims that our current scientific knowledge would say are impossible, but nonetheless, faith persists. Given horrific events that seem to fly in the face of what one would expect from a compassionate or just God, faith still persists. Believers believe, and they interpret events in their lives and the world in a way that comports with their religion. At the end of the day, religion is about faith, period.

By the above measure, liberalism is a religion. How else would it be possible that in the face of a history of demonstrable failure that there are those who continue to believe? Liberalism, in the form of outright Communism failed miserably everywhere from the Soviet Union to Cuba and a multitude of places in between. Yet the faith remains. Liberalism in the form of socialism has failed miserably across Europe as practically the entire continent is floundering in mounting debt, double digit unemployment and depressingly low growth rates. Yet the faith remains. Liberalism in the form of Democrat party policies have destroyed wide swaths of America’s landscape, from cities like Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia to black families that suffer from unprecedented rates of unemployment, unwed motherhood and tragically high rates of crime. Yet the faith remains.

Add willfully blind faith to presence of an anointed one among us and you get a cult. Which is exactly what liberalism and the virtual worship of Barack Obama has become:

Obamacare: Every day seems to bring new information that only adds to the understanding that Obamacare is a disaster of epic proportions. Yet faith remains.

Economic Growth: Barack Obama’s “recovery” has been the worst since the Great Depression and incomes have fallen over $4,000 per household since he took office. Yet the faith remains.

Welfare: Welfare has become so generous that in 35 states, it’s actually more profitable to sit at home and collect welfare benefits than it is to go out and find a job. In Hawaii the pretax wage equivalent of welfare benefits is $60,590 per year. In Washington DC it’s $50,820 while in Massachusetts it’s $50,540. Those are dollars that have to be paid for by taxes on those working. Yet the faith remains.

Race: In less than 50 years from the day Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial the United States elected a black man as president, twice! Yet race relations in the United States are worse than they have been in decades. Yet the faith remains.

On virtually every single empirically measurable measure, from education to economic growth as well as simple observable measures such as regulation and freedom, liberalism has been a failure in general and particularly so under Barack Obama. Yet, despite the fact that the consequences of this failure hurts the very people it's supposed to help, the faith remains.  

While the 1st Amendment enshrines the notion of freedom of religion, today the United States is being governed by the cult of liberalism, which seems more like a religion than many of the mainstream religions in the world.

It demands subservience to its policies and is willing to use the police power of the state to impose them while nonbelieving infidels must be marginalized. Speak critically of the Messiah and you are a racist. Disagree with gay marriage you’re a homophobe. Suggest that its culture and unwed motherhood that are ravaging black families and again you’re a racist. Advocate for limited government or state’s rights and you’re an extremist. Promote school choice and you don’t care about children. Advocate for lower taxes and you’re greedy. Champion free markets and you’re a selfish capitalist. Question man made global warming and you’re anti-science. Disagree and you must be discredited and vilified.

Liberals often champion a wall of separation between church and state. This may be the one time they might actually be right about something. However it isn’t Christianity that the country needs to be saved from, it’s the secular religion of Liberalism with Barack Obama as its messiah.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The road from Republic to Dictatorship is paved with "good" intentions, like Obama's Obamacare delays...

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a watershed piece of legislation in American history. Based on the 15th Amendment, it outlawed discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious and gender criteria.

You probably don’t realize it, but it’s likely that you encounter aspects of the Civil Rights Act on a regular basis. When you apply for a job, a mortgage, join a club, stay in a hotel room, or buy something online you are often presented with a page of text with a bunch of legalese that you probably don’t read. That text usually says something about non-discrimination, terms and conditions and various other policies. All of that appears because non-discrimination is the law of the land. That means that if a business or group discriminates based on one of those factors, they could be prosecuted by the government. That text you don’t read basically acknowledges as much.

Although Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, it does not enforce it. That is the President’s job. If someone breaks the rules, the Justice Department or the US Civil Rights Commission will most likely be the one that sues them, not some House or Senate committee. It’s the president’s job to execute the laws. That’s because Article II Section 3 states that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”.

But what if he didn’t want to do it? Let’s say a president was elected and decided that 50 years was enough and that we didn’t need to focus on discrimination anymore. There would be howls from virtually every quarter of the country. “That’s unconstitutional!”

And of course those howling would be right. Today however, to very few howls, we have the exact same thing, only instead of the Civil Rights Act it’s The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

President Obama has unilaterally decided that large swaths of his signature legislation will simply not be implemented as the law requires. “But he has good reason though…” one might say. Or “He has to, it’s not quite ready”. One could come up with any one of a dozen good reasons for the president to delay the employer mandate or the out-of-pockets caps. It is, after all, the single worst piece of legislation ever to be signed into law in the United States.

The problem however, is that the legislation does not give the President that option. The law doesn’t say the employer mandate, which requires all businesses with over 50 employees to provide health insurance to their staffs or face fines up to $3,000 per employee, can be implemented when the market is ready. It says they will begin in 2014. The law doesn’t say that the cost caps, which limit annual deductibles to $2,000 per individual and $4,000 per family, can go into place when the President is ready to implement them. It says they go into effect in 2014.

But that has not stopped President Obama from delaying both and other aspects of that highly dysfunctional Obamacare, including exempting Congress and its staff from the law… something else the President does not have the power to do.

“So what!” one might say. “The president is saving us from having to operate under a system that is unworkable for another year until he can fix it.” As reasonable as that might sound at first blush, that is a recipe for tyranny. How? Simple. The United Sates is a nation of laws. Congress passes bills (ostensibly) based on its power afforded under the Constitution and the president either signs them into law or vetoes them. Once they are laws, the president has the responsibility to enforce them.

He does not have the right to enforce only those he likes. His role is not to decide what laws – or what aspects of laws – he is willing to enforce. His job is to enforce the laws as they are written. If he does not like pending legislation he has the option of seeking to influence is writing in Congress before it reaches his desk. Once signed, or for a law signed by a predecessor, a president has the option of seeking to change the law via congressional action which will result in a new law replacing or amending the current law.

What he does not have the right to do is unilaterally change the law. If he did, what would stop a president from simply stopping to enforce Civil Rights Act against employers who only discriminate against blacks? What would stop a president from delaying Social Security checks because the IRS hasn’t collected enough in taxes this year? What would stop the president from enforcing the FDA’s testing regime on drug manufacturers? What would stop the president from giving a $1 million tax break to anyone who bundled $500,000 or more to his campaign? The answer to all of these is the same: Nothing.

If the president can pick and choose the laws he will enforce, then the Constitution is simply dead. If he can ignore the responsibilities it demands of him then so too can he ignore the limitations it puts on him. Habeas Corpus? Gone. Term limits? Gone. Freedom of Speech? Gone. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures? Gone. Unrestrained absolute power? Hello!

Obamacare is by any measure, bad legislation. Many people were saying that from the start, long before Nancy Pelosi famously said: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it." Nonetheless the monstrosity that is Obamacare passed into law and the Supreme Court contorted common sense to declare it Constitutional. Nonetheless, in order to protect those responsible for this abomination from voter’s wrath the President has chosen to unlawfully delay some of the most onerous parts of the law. From a political perspective that makes perfect sense. The problem is, it’s simply unlawful. If Barack Obama gets away with this, the presidency is no longer simply first among equals in the Republic formed by our Constitution. It will have literally become a dictatorship. One man choosing what the laws are and to whom they apply. Now that is what I call “Fundamentally transforming the United States”… and not, I would suggest, in a good way.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ted Cruz and what the GOP establishment can learn from Osama Bin Laden...

In 1975 & 76 the United States was experiencing a crisis of confidence. Unemployment was at 8.5%, our allies in South Vietnam, who 58,000 American servicemen gave their lives to defend, had just been overrun and the reverberations of an OPEC embargo were sending oil prices from $15 a barrel to $100. At the same time Paul Ehrlich was warning about overpopulation and starvation, Newsweek was telling of a coming ice age and many thought we were conceding Eastern Europe to the Soviets.

It was into this emotional and economic morass stepped Ronald Wilson Reagan with a message of hope. He took clear aim at Gerald Ford and fought him all the way to the convention floor. He did so against the wishes of GOP party barons. He did so despite warnings that he would irreparably damage Gerald Ford and give the election to the Democrats. Reagan held firm, and indeed Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, who took an economic malaise and turned it into a full blown economic disaster. Interestingly, after Reagan’s speech at the convention many delegates left wondering if they had made the wrong choice…

If that’s where the story ended, it would indeed be a cautionary tale. But as we all know, the story didn’t end there. In 1980 Ronald Reagan picked up where he left off and eventually beat Carter in a landslide, taking 44 states and the Senate with him, the first GOP Senate majority in a quarter century.

At the end of the day, the 1980 election had something the Ford Carter contest four year before didn’t – a clear cut contest of ideas, with Carter suggesting the solution to the nation’s problems could be found in government action while Reagan felt government was the problem. The American people were faced with the starkest contrast since LBJ beat Barry Goldwater in 1964. Faced with that contrast and with conservative principals clearly articulated by Reagan the contest wasn’t even close.

The point to be drawn from 1976 & 1980 is not that one shouldn’t buck the establishment, but rather that when Americans are presented with a clearly articulated conservative candidate, conservatism wins and the establishment will eventually get on board… if only to avoid being left out in the cold. The Goldwater loss was unique in that it occurred in the shadow of JFK’s assassination.

Today we are faced with a somewhat similar scenario, where a number of “Wacko Bird” conservatives, with Ted Cruz leading the pack, are bucking the GOP establishment. While it’s not in a presidential campaign (yet) the lines are just as stark as they were a quarter century ago and the stakes just as high. Cruz, along with Mike Lee and few friends are suggesting that a government shutdown is preferable – although not necessary – to the American people getting the hook of Obamacare subsidies set in their wallets, because everyone knows that once an entitlement is in place it’s next to impossible to repeal. The barons of the party, from Boehner and McConnell to Rove and Krauthammer, suggest that the backlash from a stoppage will come back to bite the GOP at the polls in 2014. That isn’t a compelling argument in the first place, but it’s particularly feeble given the recent dire warnings – albeit from the president – but little actual blowback for the GOP from the sequester kicking in.

Cruz and co. have also come out strongly against Marco Rubio’s wretched immigration bill. Seemingly the entire GOP establishment is braying that if the House doesn’t pass this monstrosity that the GOP will go the way of the Whigs. The reality is that this bill will not only not accomplish what the establishment Pooh-Bahs claim, but it may well bring about the very outcome they claim fear, eviscerating support for the GOP, only in this case from conservatives fed up with a party that plays pander politics just like the Democrats. Indeed, conservatives constantly harangue liberals for their ignoring the facts in favor of fanciful claims that never come true. In this case the GOP barons need only look back to Ronald Reagan’s faulty 1986 immigration reform to recognize what failure looks like and understand that the Gang of Eight’s abomination is simply a replay that will have even worse results.

The bottom line is that Cruz should not only carry on, but he should draw bright lines in the sand or on the Capitol Hill steps or anywhere else he can get an audience. The Obama agenda in general and these two pieces of legislation in particular are going to be keys to the destruction of the GOP and the nation. At some point creating a national majority of dependant voters will have permanent negative consequences for a party that claims to champion freedom and opportunity. If Ronald Reagan demonstrated anything in 1980 it is that Americans respond to clear lines. In 2008 & 2012 the GOP establishment produced highly flawed candidates whose lack of conservative bona fides caused millions of voters to simply stay home rather than actually go to the polls… and this is despite the fact that the opponent was Barack Obama, and they hate that guy!

The GOP establishment can whine as much as they want about Cruz et. al scaring away middle class voters and minorities by digging in against pandering legislation, but the reality is that since 1992 the establishment has delivered five popular vote defeats and one modest victory. In the Electoral College they’ve delivered more than half the states just twice. Compare that to Ronald Reagan’s three victories (as Bush I’s first campaign was a referendum on Reagan’s policies) where the he delivered popular vote victories of 10%, 18% and 8% and Electoral advantages of 38, 48 and 30 states.

The lesson to be learned is not that the GOP should seek to out pander Democrats, but rather, they should make a strong stand for conservative principals and give the voters a clear choice rather than forcing them to choose between the lesser of two evils. In what is no doubt the only time in my life I’ll ever quote Osama Bin Laden in a positive context, he was unquestionably right when he said: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” Ted Cruz is just such a strong horse and he should continue to buck the GOP establishment and in the process demonstrate exactly what it means to stand for something. If he does that, my guess is that voters will respond positively to a 2016 run. The question is, are there enough “Wacko Birds” in and out of Congress willing to pick up their shields and emulate him in order to make 2014 look more like 2010 than 2006? For the country and the GOP’s sake, let’s hope so.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My rather lopsided love/hate relationship with Barack Obama…

Some time ago I was talking with a guy I know and the issue of politics came up followed soon thereafter by the mention of Barack Obama. I instantly said “I hate that guy!” Afterward I wondered if that was really an accurate statement… after some introspection I have to admit, it's kinda true.

I know in a world of political correctness I should maybe not say that… but I feel as if I must, if for no other reason that explain why. Although I don’t actually know Barack Obama personally, that is exactly how I feel. On a personal level he might be a great guy. He’s certainly personable, he might be a great guy to have a beer with, he appears to be a good father and he would probably make a great guest on SportsCenter. Nonetheless, the dictionary defines hate thus: “To dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest.” That seems about right.

How is it even possible that I might have such a strong feeling towards someone I’ve never met? Charlie Rangel and MSNBC and the rest of the fabulists - about all things conservative and Tea Party related - would suggest it’s because he’s black, obviously. That’s their right, but nothing could be farther from the truth. While I despise Barack Obama, it has nothing to do with his skin color. Frankly I feel exactly the same about Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi as well… and the last time I checked neither of them was black.

No, I hate Barack Obama because it is his goal is to destroy that thing I hold most dear: the United States. The United States is indeed an imperfect place, but so too is every other place on this planet. It has however created more prosperity and improved the condition of man more than any other nation in human history. And the biggest part of that success was the driven by the free market system – imperfect as it may be – and its companion individual freedoms.

The United States is not just a geographic land mass sitting between two oceans. There are 200 plus other countries around the world that can be defined by lines on a map. None of them is anything like the United States. They may share some traits with us, but America is a different animal altogether. While you may very well hear someone saying they want to move to France or Germany, you don’t hear them saying “I want to become French” or “I want to become German”. They can move to France, they can become a French citizen… but they can’t become “French”. That has never been the case with the United States. For centuries people have dreamed of coming to America and becoming an American. That is because for most of our history the world understood that America was a place where, regardless of where you came from or what you started with, with hard work, they could achieve spectacular success, however they wanted to define it. For outsiders looking in and those born here, the American Dream was something of consequence, something to strive for, something worth sacrificing for. People like Cyrus McCormick, Andrew Carnegie, Levi Strauss and Madam C. J. Walker knew it long ago while people like Sara Blakely, Daymond John, John Schnatter, Cesar Millan and Mark Cuban know it today.

Unfortunately Barack Obama doesn’t understand any of that. While he talks about an American Dream, his American Dream is one where the nanny state of government swaddles the nation, suckles the citizens, gets to decide who wins and who loses in virtually everything, gets to arbitrarily define the rules, and gets to keep its thumb on every scale. At its foundations that is a misunderstanding of what made America more than just a geographic entity in the first place. America is not great because of government, it is great because of its freedom… economic and otherwise. America was not made great by agencies like the ICC or the SEC or the FDA, the IRS, the EPA or even NASA for that matter. No, America was made great by companies like GE and Ford and Carnegie Steel and International Harvester and Standard Oil and Rockwell, and Intel and IBM and Merck and Kelloggs and J.P Morgan and Sears and Delta Airlines and Microsoft and Disney and Turner and millions of other companies started by entrepreneurs and investors who risked much, and sometimes everything to do something worth doing and earn a profit while doing it.

But Barack Obama doesn’t understand that. He fundamentally misunderstands how and why businesses function – and truth be told… so do most liberals. He believes that businesses exist to provide jobs to employees. He believes businesses exist to provide tax revenue to the government. He believes that businesses exist to further his social agenda. He simply doesn’t understand that while businesses may do any or all of those things, in a free market businesses exist to generate profits for entrepreneurs and investors.

It is that disconnect that makes Barack Obama worthy of being hated. Not because he misunderstands the basic element of free market economics, but because he feels it’s his right to use the police power of the United States to wreck the most prosperous and powerful economic ecosystem the world has ever seen. From green energy boondoggles to stultifying regulation to excessive taxes to seemingly boundless spending on social programs, Barack Obama is systematically strangling the goose that has laid the golden eggs for over 200 years.

If you think the word hate is too strong, what else might you call it when you see a man who is leading the charge to push the United States into an economic tailspin from which we might never recover? America becoming an economic basket case the likes of Greece or Detroit would create a worldwide catastrophe, economic and otherwise that would destroy the lives of hundreds of millions of people, both at home and abroad. A man who is working to inflict that level of destruction on a nation is indeed worthy of being hated.

That doesn’t mean that I wish him ill however. On the contrary, I hope he lives another 50 years after he leaves office. If we’re lucky that will be long enough to allow him to observe how his imperious anti capitalist reign caused (hopefully) a reawakening of the American people to the fragility of freedom and prosperity, resulting in a wholesale dismantling of the regulatory leviathan he has championed. Now that would be a great reason to love him.