Saturday, August 27, 2011

NPR, The Tea Party, and Race

Last week, Brent Bozell wrote a column examining the ever fertile subject of media bias at NPR. He gave the following example.

Let's just take one show, the Aug. 22 evening newscast "All Things Considered," perhaps one of the most ill named programs in the history of radio. Conservatism is never considered. It is only besmirched, assaulted and rhetorically dismembered.
NPR anchor Robert Siegel was covering the new Martin Luther King memorial statue on the National Mall in Washington D.C. So in order to consider all things, he asked black wacko-leftist Julian Bond if Tea Party activists were racist.
Siegel threw this softball at Bond: "Some people read into the Tea Party's almost neuralgic reaction to government spending, a sense that white people figure black people benefit disproportionately from federal programs. Do you suspect a racial subtext to that whole argument?" Bond said, "absolutely," "there is a racial animus there."

Only a card carrying liberal (part of an NPR correspondent's job description) could make the association between an MLK memorial unveiling and the Tea Party. However, any opportunity to attack the Tea Party, no matter how flimsy, is too precious to waste, and playing the race card is much easier than going through the contortions of putting a positive spin on government hyperspending. So Siegel makes his speech and a designated crony nods his assent, and propounded is the ludicrous idea that those expressing alarm over the unconscionable explosion of the nation’s debt must be racists.
This is what passes for “journalism” at NPR. A responsible practitioner of journalism would have provided an antagonist to counter Siegel’s position – a Michele Bachman or, even better, a black tea party advocate like Allen West. Or, better yet, sticking with the interviewer's theme of anti-black discrimination and political parties, he might challenge Bond with the following:

Mr. Bond, I would like you to comment on two favorite policy prescriptions of progressives – the minimum wage and welfare. First, bear with me for a moment as I read to you a passage from Economist Thomas Sowell’s book, “Basic Economics”.

Even though 1949 – the year before a series of minimum wage escalations began – was a recession year, black teenage male unemployment that year was lower than it was to be at any time during the later boom years of the 1960s. The wide gap between the unemployment rates of black and white teenagers dates from the escalation of the minimum wage and the spread of its coverage in the 1950s. The usual explanations of high unemployment among black teenagers – inexperience, less education, lack of skills, racism – cannot explain their rising unemployment, since all these things were worse during the earlier period when black teenage unemployment was much lower.
Taking the more normal year of 1948 as a basis for comparison, black male teenage unemployment then was less than half of what it would be at any time during the decade of the 1960s and less than one third of what it would be in the 1970s.
Unemployment among 16 and 17-year-old black males was no higher than among white males of the same age in 1948. It was only after a series of minimum wage escalations began that black male teenage unemployment not only skyrocketed but became more than double the unemployment rates among white male teenagers. In the early 21st century, the unemployment rate for black teenagers exceeded 30%. After the American economy turned down in the wake of the housing and financial crises, unemployment among black teenagers reached 40%.

Numbers like that support Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman's assertion that the minimum wage is the most anti-black law on the nation's books.*

Now, welfare.

In his book, "The Politically Incorrect Guide To Capitalism”, Robert P. Murphy quotes welfare policy expert Robert Rector,

The welfare system that has existed for the past 30 years may best be conceptualized as a system that offered each single mother with two children a “paycheck” of combined benefits worth an average of between $8500 and $15,000, depending on the state. The mother had a contract with the government. She would continue to receive her “paycheck” as long as she fulfilled two conditions: 1. She must not work. 2. She must not marry an employed male.

Economist Walter Williams points out the results of this policy -

In 1940, 86 percent of black children were born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate among blacks was about 15 percent. Today, only 35 percent of black children are born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate hovers around 70 percent.

Even as late as 1963, just before LBJ began his ”War On Poverty”, 77% of black children were born to families with both a father and a mother.

As Mr. Sowell has noted, the war on poverty has been able to accomplish what slavery, Jim Crow Laws, and other forms of discrimination has not: it has largely destroyed the black family.

So, Mr. Bond, given that Democrats overwhelmingly support a steadily increasing minimum wage and an ongoing expansion of welfare payments – one might say they have an almost neuralgic reaction to attempts to limit them – and, seeing the destructive effect that these policies have had on the black community, do you suspect that the Party is acting to purposely create and perpetuate a permanent black underclass dependent on government largesse?

Or to put it more succinctly, Mr. Bond, isn’t the Democratic Party racist?


*For a short video of Friedman discussing the negative effects of the minimum wage see

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Obama Dodges A Bullet

...with the announcement that Paul Ryan will not be his opponent in 2012.

From an editorial in today's WSJ -

Among the current crop of candidates, none has managed to articulate free-market principles and policies with Mr. Ryan's fluency or conviction.

A couple of days ago, before Ryan announced his intention not to run, Mona Charen wrote the following,

All of the Republican candidates talk about spending and debt, but Paul Ryan is the acknowledged master of the subject, not just in Congress but also in the entire Republican party. It is the Ryan budget that has come to define a party willing to make dramatic and politically risky cuts in the name of saving the country from bankruptcy. Ironically, it is the Ryan budget that would save Medicare — not the blinkered denial that passes for the Democrats’ plan. It is Ryan, with his mastery of detail combined with a sincerity rarely found among elected officials, who is best able to explain it.

He is, additionally, the most knowledgeable and articulate antagonist to Obamacare in the party — one who has reduced the president to sputtering incoherence in a direct confrontation. In February 2010, during the health-care debate, Ryan was among the Republican leaders who met with the president and Democratic leadership. In a six-minute presentation, Ryan eviscerated and embalmed Obamacare. The statistics rolled off his tongue with easy fluidity. He was direct and unflinching without being rude or needlessly aggressive. If that was a foreshadowing of what a presidential debate would look like, President Obama would be profoundly overmatched on this most critical issue.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why Ryan

All Republicans running for office have a significant handicap to overcome – the comfortspeak of the left. As Jeane Kirkpatrick once explained on William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line” program, socialism has achieved its undeserved political success mainly due to its soothing rhetoric. Words like “fairness”, “sharing”, “equality” and “community” pervade socialist and left-wing language. Conservative talking points seem cold by comparison – “free-markets”, "individual responsibility”, “private property rights”. Even the words “freedom” and “liberty” can have a negative connotation, suggesting that, “you’re on your own” (as Democrats invariably accuse Republicans of telling the downtrodden).

Michael Barone recently observed that, “The problem for Republicans is that it’s impossible to foresee exactly how free-market policies will improve people’s lives”.
I remember reading a few years ago some liberal columnist (I'm thinking Anna Quindlen?), mocking President G. W. Bush for speaking of the double taxation of dividends as some sort of a moral crime. Well, it is, since it impedes capital investment which in turn restricts economic growth and job creation. Increased poverty results.

In politics, intentions often trump results. For instance, it is nothing short of criminal how “progressive” policies such as the minimum wage, rent control, restricted school choice, and unrestrained welfare (e.g. - Aid To Dependent Children) have devastated the black community. Yet, somehow, Republicans are portrayed as “racists” for opposing those policies.

As I was searching online for a reference to Kirkpatrick’s comments, I came across the transcript of an excellent and spirited talk given by Jay Nordlinger a decade ago. Nordlinger spoke of the unwarranted timidity with which Republicans defend their beliefs, ideas, and even their identity as Conservatives. He urged Conservatives to “straighten their backs” and aggressively promote their superior ideology.

With the importance of the upcoming 2012 presidential race, it is essential that Republicans nominate someone who will heed Nordlinger’s exhortations. Paul Ryan meets that criterion.
Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard reported Tuesday that Ryan is now seriously considering running. Hayes reports that Ryan isn’t impressed with any of the announced GOP candidates. And he understands that the stakes are high.

“…the way I see 2012 – we owe it to the country to let them choose the path they want our country to take. And I just have yet to see a strong and principled articulation of the kind of limited government, opportunity society path that we would provide as an alternative to the Obama cradle to grave welfare state.”

If Ryan does run it will be due to his sense of obligation and not because of ambition. Cynics would deride that statement, but at 41 Ryan would be better off waiting at least until 2016 for his initial shot at the presidency. He seems happy where he is now, heading the House Budget Committee where he wields considerable influence. It’s only the urgency of the moment that would compel him to act now.

Ryan is unquestionably the most important Republican today. Even if he doesn’t run, it will be the Ryan domestic agenda that the GOP nominee will carry into the campaign. Few other than Ryan himself have the knowledge and conviction to do this effectively. Republican Jane Corwin had neither the knowledge nor the conviction and she lost the special election in New York’s 26th Congressional district last May. It’s not rocket science. Even lacking Ryan’s expertise, all she had to say was that Ryan’s plan saves Medicare, the status quo destroys it. Corwin’s failure must not be repeated on a national scale.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Passing Thoughts

In an editorial Tuesday (8/9) in the WSJ, Bret Stephens asks, politely, "Is Obama Smart?" (The less polite version would pose the same question with an antonym of smart). Stephens' answer - no.

One piece of evidence that Obama is intellectually challenged is his confusion of wealth and income. He (and most liberals) want to increase taxes on, not the wealthy – millionaires and billionaires in Obamaspeak – but, high earners – actually, not very high - individuals making over $200,000 (couples over $250,000). This group is collectively our most productive. They create wealth. They may or may not be wealthy, but their talent and energy is essential to rejuvenate our economy. Punishing them by confiscating their earnings is stupid.

Three years after the fact I still can't get over that someone closely associated with anti-American radicals could ever be seriously considered for the presidency, much less get elected. Norman Podhoretz in Saturday's WSJ tries to explain this astounding phenomenon.

To be sure, no white candidate who had close associations with an outspoken hater of America like Jeremiah Wright and an unrepentant terrorist like Bill Ayers would have lasted a single day. But because Mr. Obama was black, and therefore entitled in the eyes of liberaldom to have hung out with protesters against various American injustices, even if they were a bit extreme, he was given a pass.

OK, that explains liberaldom. What about the rest of us?
Podhoretz's piece is a response to a New York Times column by Drew Westen which asks "What Happened To Obama?". In his column, Podhoretz addresses the issue of Obama's long-held and fervent anti-Americanism. own answer to the question, "What Happened to Obama?" is that nothing happened to him. He is still the same anti-American leftist he was before becoming our president, and it is this rather than inexperience or incompetence or weakness or stupidity that accounts for the richly deserved failure both at home and abroad of the policies stemming from that reprehensible cast of mind.

Obama has been criticized recently for not canceling his vacation plans during the latest spate of bad economic news. Even lefty Maureen Dowd recently urged the president to stick around and give the country a "pep talk". (His latest pep talk on Monday caused the Dow to drop an additional 200 points beyond the 400 it had already lost). Even normally docile, Obamaphilic reporters are demanding to know why the president isn't doing more to "create jobs". (This ignores the fact that the government can't create jobs. It can only impede job creation. And its performance in that area has been first rate lately).
Wanting Obama to skip his vacation and work at cleaning up the mess he's made reminds me of the old Jewish joke - The food is bad. Yeah, and such small portions. Obama's doing a lousy job as president and he's not on the job enough.
He should be encouraged to stay away.

Democrats in the House and Senate have not produced a budget for two and a half years. The president proposed a joke of a budget in February that was so unserious it was rejected by the Senate, controlled by his party, unanimously (97-0). (That has to be unprecedented). The only budget that currently has legislative approval is the Ryan budget, passed by the House a mere three months after Republicans regained control. Aside from the loopy leftist ideology, Democrats can't manage even the most fundamental activities of governance.

So, Barack, how's that Muslim reachout program going for ya? When cowboy G. W. Bush was in the White House, 9% of Egyptians had a favorable impression of the U.S. With President Obama it's 5% and Obama's overall ratings in the Arab world are now lower than Bush's were.

When Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot by a lunatic last January, the left and the media (redundant, I know) virtually accused Sarah Palin of pulling the trigger because she had used the word "target" to urge the defeat of specific Democrats, including Giffords, in elections. Now the Politico website quotes a prominent Democratic strategist as follows.

Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,”

Think there will be outrage on the left about this?

Speaking of lunatics - It says a lot about the defensiveness and paranoia of the Obama White House that in its campaign to demonize Fox News it called anchorman Bret Baier a lunatic. Bret Baier? You have to be a lunatic to call Baier one.

Our Future (Continued)

The recent riots in Britain so perfectly fits the narrative that Mark Steyn has been making for so long - the decline and impending collapse of Western civilization due, in large part, to the alienation of unassimilated masses of citizens, many of them immigrants, disaffected because national leaders lack the pride and backbone to promote and defend the culture and values of that civilization.
So, naturally, Steyn's weekly NRO column deals with Britain's malaise. And he opens with a couple of "I told you so's."

The trick in this business is not to be right too early...


As it happens, Chapter Five of my book is called “The New Britannia: The Depraved City.” You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat me to Western civilization’s descent into barbarism.

No Steyn column is complete with at least one riotous bon mot. Noting that a 21 year old British man with learning disabilities was allowed to fly to Amsterdam to have sex with a prostitute at taxpayer expense, Steyn asks,

Why do they need a Dutch hooker? Just another hardworking foreigner doing the jobs Britons won’t do? Given the reputation of English womanhood, you’d have thought this would be the one gig that wouldn’t have to be outsourced overseas.

Much of Steyn's coumn is deadly serious though and should be read by anyone foolish enough to be enraptured by the fantasy of beneficent and benign "big government".

This is the logical dead end of the Nanny State. When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the British welfare regime in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want” to be accomplished by “co-operation between the State and the individual.” In attempting to insulate the citizenry from life’s vicissitudes, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. ...Want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity. The United Kingdom has the highest drug use in Europe, the highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, the highest number of single mothers, the highest abortion rate. Marriage is all but defunct, except for William and Kate, fellow toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims.

Big Government means small citizens: It corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically. Within living memory, the city in flames on our TV screens every night governed a fifth of the earth’s surface and a quarter of its population. When you’re imperialists on that scale, there are bound to be a few mishaps along the way. But nothing the British Empire did to its subject peoples has been as total and catastrophic as what a post-great Britain did to its own.

In Peggy Noonan's WSJ column today, she quotes a British journalist, Max Hastings, who concurs with Steyn's vision.

"The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. . . . Nobody has ever dared suggest to them that they need feel any allegiance to anything, least of all Britain or their community. . . . Not only do they know nothing of Britain's past, they care nothing for its present."

A similar tone is struck by Ann Coulter. Louis XVI, British authorities are paralyzed by their indifference to their own civilization. A half-century of berating themselves for the crime of being British has left them morally defenseless. They see nothing about England worth saving, certainly not worth fighting for -- which is fortunate since most of their cops don't have guns.




Monday, August 8, 2011

Bush Did It

Here is an excerpt from a Yahoo news story on the Standard and Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt from AAA to AA+.

S&P on Aug. 5 lowered the U.S. one level to AA+ while keeping the outlook at “negative” as it becomes less confident Congress will end Bush-era tax cuts or tackle entitlements.

Reading this, one would surmise that one of S&P's primary concerns, vis-a-vis the U.S. debt rating, was Congress' unwillingness to raise taxes. Here is what the S&P report actually said.

“Standard & Poor’s takes no position on the mix of spending and revenue measures that Congress and the Administration might conclude is appropriate for putting the U.S.’s finances on a sustainable footing...The (debt-ceiling increase) plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability.”

So, in reality, the agency explained the downgrade solely as a reaction to Congress' failure to address the issue of entitlements, "the key to long-term fiscal sustainability". Regarding ending the "Bush-era" (or any other era) tax cuts ("revenue measures"), S&P "takes no position".
Now, one might argue that S&P was wrong to downgrade U.S. debt, or that its reason for doing so was mistaken, but the fact is the agency specifically pinpointed lack of entitlement reform as that reason. Yet, the Yahoo news report couldn't resist the opportunity to associate the word "Bush" with the downgrade. This misinformation, whether its source is Reuters or AP or some other major organization, has now been widely disseminated.

It's the seeemingly minor, yet frequent and pervasive lies and distortions, like the one above, that makes media bias so damaging.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Our Future?

Stanley Kurtz (NRO) presents a nice synopsis of the origins of the financial meltdown, spotlighting the key roles played by Fannie Mae, ACORN and, yes, President Obama. This is a grossly under-reported story and had the press done its job in 2008, we would have probably been spared the ongoing disaster of this presidency.

As America teeters on the brink of a second financial crisis, I think back to 2008, and the irony of a suprime mortgage fiasco propelling to the presidency a man who’d spent a career abetting the folks who’d caused the crisis to begin with.

Read the whole thing.

Well, we can't undo that first mistake but there's still hope we can prevent a second. I saw Marco Rubio speak for the first time recently and I agree with Bill Kristol that he would make a very impressive national candidate. And I also agree with Kristol when he suggests that (Paul) Ryan-Rubio (or its reverse) is as good a ticket as the GOP (and thus the nation) could come up with. Both are smart, knowledgeable, young and attractive and Rubio has the further benefit of neutralizing, if not reversing, the Dems advantage among Hispanics. Both Ryan (Wisconsin) and Rubio (Florida) are from swing states - another plus. But most important, unlike many Republicans and all Democrats, they have innovative ideas that address our most serious issues - economic growth (and all the good things that go with it - job creation, higher revenues, less poverty), entitlement reform, and tax reform. Crucially, Ryan and Rubio are convincing and forceful advocates. They won't get squishy when challenged.

It seems like every presidential election is declared to be an existential contest, but 2012 certainly appears to be that. So why not go with the best we have. And if, somehow, the electorate still chooses the same radical dunce for its leader, then it deserves the resulting catastrophe.

[Mark Steyn, always the optimist, gives us until mid-decade to turn things around and prevent armageddon - see column link below. And if you think that's an exaggeration, check out these photos of Detroit, (link below) a city that hasn't had a Republican mayor or city council member since the sixties. Not one. (Republican Louis Miriani's mayoral term ended January, 1962 and he may have been the last GOP council member, exiting in 1966. For this he deserves a statue)].


Friday, August 5, 2011

Two Schools Of Thought

NRO on Friday (8/5) featured a surprising column praising two female celebrities of conservative opinion, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham. The surprise is that it was written by Conrad Black, a member of the Analytical School of conservative thinkers. For Analysts, a group that includes George Will, Charles Krauthammer and Ramesh Ponnuru, rational argument is paramount. Derisive put-downs are secondary, though in the hands of the sharp-witted Will, Krauthammer, Black and others, very effective.

Coulter and Ingraham belong to the Incendiary School. This group includes the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Incendiary-ists also utilize persuasive logic, (Coulter is particularly good at this, as Black points out), though merely as a vehicle for ad hominem attacks. They live to insult and enrage.

Rarely does either group have much to do with the other. Indeed, National Review, generally an Analytical publication, banished Coulter from its pages when, shortly after 9/11, she recommended converting all Muslims to Christianity.

Black understands that Coulter's outrageousness is carefully calculated to disturb all the right people.

The mindless reflexiveness with which the soft Left responds to Coulter, especially, is premeditated by her and is a vastly entertaining send-up of the boring, high-minded liberals that she can turn on like a spigot at will, to her own amusement and profit.

Black, in summarizing Coulter's and Ingraham's philosophy, provides a concise manifesto of American conservatism.

Most conservative commentators attack high taxes, meddlesome government, deficit spending, and foreign adventurism, and leave it at that. They are essentially Coolidgeists: laissez-faire, individualistic, agnostic isolationists. Ingraham and Coulter share most of that ambition to roll back the state and the depredations of taxes, but they are not unrealistic about the great world largely full of countries and people that do not wish America well. And they know that the backbone of this civilization is composed of the Judeo-Christian ethos and belief, the spirit of enterprise, the notion of service to the nation, the pursuit of literacy in all things, a carefully directed martial capability and spirit, and the rule of law (which they do not confuse with the racketeering of gonzo prosecutors, and the national addiction to frivolous and vexatious litigation).

Coulter's characterization of FDR as a socialist draws criticism from Black who is a rare conservative admirer of the New Deal and its author. Otherwise, he is unabashedly enthusiastic about her and Ingraham.

There is nothing like them in other countries, nor much like them in this one...They are outstanding bearers of that timeless message that has reprehensibly few public champions, certainly not including the incumbent president.

Speaking of FDR, here's a quote by Henry Morgenthau, his Secretary of the Treasury.

"We are spending more money than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started and an enormous debt to boot."

At least one current Democrat agrees. This from former Clinton and Obama economic team member, Larry Summers.

"...if Hitler had not come along, Franklin Roosevelt would have left office in 1941 with an unemployment rate in excess of 15 percent and an economic recovery strategy that had basically failed.”