It’s Thursday, March 21st, 2013…but before we begin, a note of advice, inspired primarily by Ben Bernanke’s latest pronouncement intended to prop up the present Administration through 2014:
Bernanke: No sign of stock bubble
His confident grin notwithstanding, we find Bernanke’s Chip Diller exhortation far less persuasive…
…than the advice offered by Al Czervik:
Oh, everyone’s buying? Then sell, sell, sell!”
Keep in mind what our bestest buddy Art Santry observed: every massive market “correction” was immediately preceded by an historic high.
Now, here’s The Gouge!
First up, James Taranto opines on what he rightfully terms…
A Defeat for Demagogy
The failure of the “assault weapons” ban should make Americans proud.
“I don’t have the words to describe the cowardice of Congress or the depravity of the gun lobby, which conspired to kill the assault-weapons ban,” writes Ron Fournier of National Journal. We rate that statement PANTS ON FIRE, for Fournier turns out to be at anything but a loss for words.
“I can’t explain the apparent impotence of President Obama who vowed to ‘use whatever power this office holds’ to convert the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School into commonsense common good,” Fournier continues. Apparently Fournier needs a refresher course in the separation of powers.“I’m Just a Bill,” the “Schoolhouse Rock!” classic, is as pertinent today as it was 40 years ago.
The Founding Fathers established a separation of powers for a reason.
Fournier goes on to quote what he laughably describes as a “must-read column” by wannabe-pundit sportswriter Mike Lupica (Eat your heart out, Keith Olbermann!) of New York’s Daily News:
Any fool knows that [Adam] Lanza couldn’t possibly have killed as many children as quickly as he did on the morning of Dec. 14 without an assault weapon in his hands.(No…only a fool would make such an asinine claim.) So how does the president and any other big politician who allows the gun nuts from the National Rifle Association to win again answer the larger question about weapons that make killings like the elementary-school massacre ridiculously easy: If not now for a ban on these weapons, when?
The headline reads “Spineless Pols Spit on the Graves of Newtown Victims by Not Pushing for Assault Weapons Ban.” Hillel the Elder this guy ain’t.
This columnist takes considerable pleasure in these emotionally overwrought laments, which are a synecdoche for the failure of the entire post-Newtown gun-control effort. As Fournier puts it, Obama and his allies wished “to convert the tragedy . . . into commonsense common good.” We disagree on the merits and would put it this way: They cynically sought to exploit a horrific crime in order to promote dubious policies that they had long wished to impose but had refrained from pushing for fear of the political consequences.
There was never very much to the argument other than demagogic appeals to emotion. As we noted Friday, when Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein a (not especially difficult) question about the constitutional rationale for her proposed ban, she “responded viscerally,” as NPR put it, saying: “I was a mayor for nine years. I walked in–I saw people shot. (No; Dianne saw a, i.e., ONE person who had been shot, namely Harvey Milk. From the way she tells it, Feinstein was a medic at LZ-Xray…sorta like Hillary under fire in Bosnia!) I’ve looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. I’ve seen the bullets that implode. In Sandy Hook, youngsters were dismembered.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow turned up the emotional temperature even higher with what one enthusiast called an “epic rant” against Cruz. Maddow made much of the 1978 assassination of George Moscone, Feinstein’s predecessor as San Francisco mayor. Naturally, Maddow neglected to mention that Moscone’s murderer used a pistol, not an “assault rifle.” (And a revolver at that!)
Reason’s Jacob Sullum rightly celebrates the Feinstein proposal’s failure as “a victory not just for the Second Amendment but for rationality in lawmaking”:
The closer you looked at the bill, the less sense it made, a fact that Feinstein tried to paper over by encouraging people to conflate semi-automatic, military-style rifles with the machine guns carried by soldiers.. . . It was not enough to obscure the absurdity of Feinsten’s attempt to distinguish between good and evil guns by reference to irrelevant features such as barrel shrouds and adjustable stocks. With no evidence or arguments to offer, Feinstein despicably invoked dead, “dismembered” children in a transparent bid to short-circuit logical thought.(We note Feinstein doesn’t register the same concern for children dismembered during late-term abortions.)
Not only did the effort fail, it wasn’t even close. Despite the Democrats’ 55-seat majority, it didn’t take a Senate filibuster to sink the Feinstein proposal, which wasn’t even close to majority support. Politico.com quoted Majority Leader Harry Reid as saying that “her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes.” (It’s not clear if he meant “optimistic” from the viewpoint of supporters or opponents.)
Demagogy is a hazard of democracy; one reason we have a bill of rights is to protect individuals against the political temptation to offer up scapegoats to satisfy their constituents’ emotions. (See yesterday’s column for another example.) But this effort failed notwithstanding the undeniable emotional pull of a horrific crime against children. Americans should be proud whenever our political system proves this resistant to unreason.
Not to mention utter ignorance. But we report, you decide; after viewing the following videos, you tell us whose personal experience…
…should be afforded the greater weight.
Next, Thomas Sowell offers his thoughts on the only practical plan for actually draining the swamp:
A Real Term Limit
The main thing wrong with the term limits movement is the “s” at the end of the word “limit.” What are advocates of term limits trying to accomplish? If they are trying to keep government from being run by career politicians, whose top priority is getting themselves reelected, then term limits on given jobs fail to do that.
When someone reaches the limit of how long one can spend as a county supervisor, then it is just a question of finding another political office to run for, such as a member of the state legislature. And when the limit on terms there is reached, it is time to look around for another political job — perhaps as a mayor or a member of Congress.
Instead of always making reelection in an existing political post the top priority, in the last term in a given office the top priority will be doing things that will make it easier to get elected or appointed to the next political post. But in no term is doing what is right for the people likely to be the top priority.Those who favor term limits are right to try to stop the same old politicians from staying in the same old offices for decades. But having the same career politicians circulating around in the same set of offices, like musical chairs, is not very different.
In either case, we can expect the same short-sighted policies, looking no further than the next election, and the same cynical arts of deception and log-rolling to get reelected at all costs. There are undoubtedly some high-minded people who go into politics to serve their community or the nation. But, in the corrupting atmosphere of politics, there are too many who “came to do good and stayed to do well” — especially if they stayed too long.
Recently, California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein gave a graphic demonstration of what can happen when you have been in office too long. During a discussion of Senator Feinstein’s proposed legislation on gun control, Texas’ freshman Senator Ted Cruz quietly and politely asked “the senior Senator from California” whether she would treat the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment the same way her gun control bill was treating the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms.
Senator Feinstein never addressed that question. Instead, she became testy and told Senator Cruz how long she had been in Congress and how much she knew. Watching her get up on her high horse to put him in his place, recalled the words of Cromwell to Members of Parliament: “You have sat too long for any good that you have been doing lately. … In the name of God, go!”
Those who oppose term limits express fears of having government run by amateurs, rather than by people with long experience in politics. But this country was created by people who were not career politicians, but who put aside their own private careers to serve in office during a critical time. When President George Washington was told by one of his advisors that an action he planned to take might prevent him from being reelected, he exploded in anger, telling his advisor that he didn’t come here to get reelected.
As for the loss of experience and expertise if there were no career politicians, much — if not most — of that is experience and expertise in the arts of evasion, effrontery, deceit and chicanery. None of that serves the interest of the people.
If we want term limits to achieve their goals, we have to make the limit one term, with a long interval prescribed before the same person can hold any government office again. In short, we need to make political careers virtually impossible.
There are many patriotic Americans who would put aside their own private careers to serve in office, if the cost to them and their families were not ruinous, and if they had some realistic hope of advancing the interests of the country and its people without being obstructed by career politicians.
Is any of this likely today? No! But neither the Reagan revolution nor the New Deal under FDR would have seemed likely three years before it happened. The whole point of presenting new ideas is to start a process that can make their realization possible in later years.
Tom DeLay, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and John McCain, not to mention Mark Sanford’s comeback candidacy, only serve to confirm the problem’s endemic on both sides of the aisle.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Jonah Goldberg suggests Libertarians and Conservatives stop warring with each other and bury the hatchet…squarely in the back the Republic’s real enemy, the Dimocratic Party:
Fusion power on the right
Conservatives and libertarians have always been more in agreement than they think. Fusing the two has been an ongoing process.
“At CPAC, the Future Looks Libertarian,” read a dispatch on Time magazine’s website. “CPAC: Rand Paul’s Big Moment,” proclaimed the Week magazine. Meanwhile, the New York Times headlined its story about the annual conservative political action conference “GOP divisions fester at conservative retreat.”
George Will, a man who actually knows a thing or two about conservatism, responded to the NYT’s use of the word “fester” on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Festering: an infected wound, it’s awful. I guarantee you, if there were a liberal conclave comparable to this, and there were vigorous debates going on there, the New York Times’ headline would be ‘Healthy diversity flourishes at the liberal conclave.'”Will went on to note that social conservatives and libertarian free-market conservatives in the GOP have been arguing “since the 1950s, when the National Review was founded on the idea of the fusion of the two. It has worked before with Ronald Reagan. It can work again.”
Will was right as far as he went, but I would go further. Fusionism was an idea hatched by Frank Meyer, a brilliant intellectual and editor at National Review. An ex-communist Christian libertarian, Meyer argued that freedom was a prerequisite for virtue and therefore a virtuous society must be a free society. (If I force you to do the right thing against your will, you cannot claim to have acted virtuously.) Philosophically, the idea took fire from all sides. But as a uniting principle, fusionism worked well. It provided a rationale for most libertarians and most social conservatives to fight side by side against communism abroad and big government at home.
Fusion: after all, shouldn’t the focus be the effective fight against the common foe we still face at home?
What often gets left out in discussions of the American right is that fusionism isn’t merely an alliance, it is an alloy. Fusionism runs through the conservative heart. William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement, often called himself a “libertarian journalist.” Asked about that in a 1993 interview, he told CSPAN’s Brian Lamb that the question “Does this augment or diminish human liberty?” informed most of what he wrote.
Most pure libertarians and the tiny number of truly statist social conservatives live along the outer edge of the Venn diagram that is the American right. Most self-identified conservatives reside in the vast overlapping terrain between the two sides.
Just look at where libertarianism has had its greatest impact: economics. There simply isn’t a conservative economics that is distinct from a libertarian one.Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, James M. Buchanan & Co. are gods of the libertarian and conservative pantheons alike.
Libertarian and conservative critiques of Obamacare, the stimulus and other Democratic policies are indistinguishable from one another. On trade, taxes, property rights, energy, the environment, intellectual property and other issues, I’d be hard-pressed to tell you the difference, if any, between the conservative and libertarian positions.
On the Constitution, there are some interesting debates, but both factions are united in rejecting a “living Constitution.”The debate on the right is over what the Constitution says, not what liberals think it should say.
When Jim DeMint resigned from the Senate, the pro-life libertarian journalist Timothy Carney wrote for the Washington Examiner, “For libertarians, Christian conservative pro-lifer Jim DeMint was the best thing to come through the Senate in decades.” DeMint had a 93% rating from the National Taxpayers Union and a perfect 100% from the libertarian Club for Growth.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), according to most media accounts, represents a new, younger, more libertarian approach. But at CPAC, Paul also announced that he would be introducing the “Life at Conception Act.” On gay marriage, Paul’s position is that it should be left to the states.
Libertarianism has a better brand name than conservatism these days, particularly among young people. Conservatives shouldn’t be freaking out about this any more than libertarians should start a victory dance. The agreements between the two sides remain far greater than the differences.
What the great Benjamin Franklin so accurately observed at the onset of the first American Revolution…
…remains just as true today.
And in the Education Section, as Todd Starnes reports, a Volunteer State…
University Could be Defunded Over Sex Week
Not yet…but it’s only a matter of time.
A group of Tennessee lawmakers is preparing to issue an ultimatum to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville – either defund the first-ever “Sex Week” or they will defund the university. Lawmakers, alumni, and taxpayers are furious that the university allocated nearly $20,000 to fund a week-long salute to sex that included a poetry-reading lesbian bondage expert, a campus-wide condom scavenger hunt and seminars on—among other things – oral sex and lesbian erotica.
“We should be teaching these children what is important to learn so they can get jobs,” state Sen. Stacey Campfield told Fox News. “I don’t know what jobs they plan on getting if they’re having seminars on oral sex and bondage. I don’t see how that will help someone in their professional career – unless they plan on becoming a porn star.”
Your tax dollars at work…along with the study of fat, drunken lesbians!
…A university spokesperson confirmed to Fox News that the nearly $20,000 event is being funded by student fees and university money. The nearly $20,000 cost was covered by money given from specific academic programs “who see a common interest – from law, from sociology and from history.” “The university is providing funding for this workshop because it covers a wide range of issues that are beneficial to our students,” the spokesperson said. “It’s tackling important topics related to sexual health, sexual identity, preventing sexual assault, gender roles and religion.”
State Sen. Stacey Campfield told Fox News he is beyond outraged. “They’ve been trying to say it’s about safety and birth control,” he said. “These kids are supposed to be some of the smartest kids out there – and they don’t know where to buy condoms?” Campfield called Sex Week “completely ridiculous.” “If they can’t figure out where to buy condoms, I question whether they need to be in college in the first place – if they’re that stupid.”
Campfield has summoned university officials to the state capitol to explain why they signed off on the event. And he’s also going to try and withhold the university’s budget until they get answers. “The university always cries poor-mouth, that they don’t have any money and yet they seem to have plenty of money to do this kind of stuff,” he said.“We’re going to try and hold their budget until it gets squared away.” “This is not what tax dollars should be supporting,” he said.
To which we can only add a hearty “AMEN”!
On the Lighter Side…
Then there’s these two bar graphs, inextricably interrelated because any American watching MSDNC is totally unaware of the first…
…because of the second:
We can only assume Pew didn’t bother tracking the percentage of opinion on network “news” because they switched over from hard reporting to pure opining decades ago.
Finally, in News of the Bizarre, it appears there can indeed by too much of a good thing:
US still making payments to relatives of Civil War veterans, analysis finds
If history is any judge, the U.S. government will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next century as service members and their families grapple with the sacrifices of combat. An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records found that the government is still making monthly payments to relatives of Civil War veterans — 148 years after the conflict ended.
At the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, more than $40 billion a year are going to compensate veterans and survivors from the Spanish-American War from 1898, World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the two Iraq campaigns and the Afghanistan conflict. And those costs are rising rapidly.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said such expenses should remind the nation about war’s long-lasting financial toll.“When we decide to go to war, we have to consciously be also thinking about the cost,” said Murray, D-Wash., adding that her WWII-veteran father’s disability benefits helped feed their family.
Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator and veteran who co-chaired President Barack Obama’s deficit committee in 2010, said government leaders working to limit the national debt should make sure that survivors of veterans need the money they are receiving. “Without question, I would affluence-test all of those people,” Simpson said.
Look, we’re second to none in our support of disabled veterans and their families; but any product needs an expiration date. And while the support of an actual disabled vet is one thing, there absolutely needs to be an expectation their wives (dependent of course on reasonable standards of age and infirmity), and particularly their children, should at some stage be expected to rely on the fruits of their own labor.