GOP Dinosaurs

lindsey-graham-john-mccainConstitutionalists around the nation were thrilled to see the recent filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). He wanted an answer from representatives of the current presidential administration regarding their use of drones against US citizens. He couldn’t get that answer, so he took the bold step of staying at the Senate roster, on his feet, for hours. In the end his action probably assisted in putting some pressure on Eric Holder, head of the Justice Department. In direct questioning from Ted Cruz (R-TX), Holder admitted that “we absolutely do not have authority to kill Americans on US soil.”

It wasn’t much of a victory. Representatives of the Obama administration–and even the president himself–have made it clear that they’ll say just about anything necessary to advance their agenda. For them, reality isn’t “out there,” it’s in the mind of President Obama. It’s whatever he and his political allies say it is. He smiles. He speaks. He meets with Republicans. He talks the great talk of a statesman willing to compromise. All of that means nothing in terms of genuine dialogue. He will not compromise. He only speaks the language of compromise–he never walks the walk. Watch him carefully. He always finds a way to avoid compromise while preserving the illusion of compromise.

Add to this the fact that too many in the “mainstream” media are Obama’s willing accomplices and the ridiculous, shrill mantra that “to criticize Obama is to be a racist,” and you have a recipe for continued escalation of the war on constitutional liberties occurring every day in Washington, DC.

The greatest slap of all, of course, is the way that Old-Guard Republicans continue to play the Democrat game. Like poor Charlie Brown who forever falls for Lucy’s promises not to jerk the football away, they come to the table as if their political opponents really intend to bargain in good faith. They don’t. They come for absolute victory. They use scorched-earth tactics, and their intention is to walk away seeming to be the reasonable ones while Republicans are left looking like a bunch of greedy white men who hate women, minorities, immigrants, the poor and the elderly. Over and over they fall for this ploy.

This fact was confirmed this week by former Democrat pollster Pat Caddell, a political contributor to the Fox Network. Speaking as part of a panel at CPAC 2013 (the Conservative Political Action Committee), he showed why Democrats are so successful. It’s because they come to the table to win, not to compromise. “In my party we play to win. We play for life and death. You people play for a different kind of agenda ….”

Here’s a perfect example. While Rand Paul stood on his feet during his filibuster for freedom, establishment GOP senators were dining with President Obama. They included Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The event was hailed as an “outreach dinner,” arranged and personally paid for by President Barack Obama. Reportedly, GOP invitees were hand-picked by Obama and Graham. (How interesting it is that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz weren’t in the group.)

Hailed as a gesture of respect on the part of a generous and reasonable president, the event was nothing more than a gimmick. Obama will not compromise. He wants $600 billion in new taxes and he intends to get it. Taking the GOP dinosaurs to dinner was his way of covering his determination with the smoke of his seeming generosity and fake stance of political cooperation.

By referring to Graham and McCain as “dinosaurs,” I am not alluding to their age. I’m not an age bigot. Nor am I a racial bigot or a sexist bigot. But I am an unabashed bigot for the cause of freedom. I’m a partisan for liberty–not only mine, but that of every citizen in the nation. As Barry Goldwater once said, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

Senators McCain and Graham wrongly believe they are dealing with up-front Democrats as they may have done in the past. But the past is the past. The Democrat party of today is more extreme than it has ever been in its political liberality. It is a steamroller headed toward the Republican party and toward any other political entity that may stand in its way. This includes the Constitution. McCain and Graham, and all those of their camp, are political dinosaurs because they don’t recognize that. They sail in the mystifying fog of Washington make-believe, wrongly thinking that what they see among Democrats is real. Nothing could be further from the truth. What they perceive on the American political stage is crafted for their consumption and for the consumption of busy citizens who don’t have time to look deeper.

It’s bad enough that Charlie Brown allows Lucy to fool him every time. At least he never criticized the rest of the cartoon kids for refusing to fall for the trick. The same cannot be said for Graham and McCain. Each of them stood on the Senate floor to denounce the Rand Paul filibuster. Barack Obama certainly got his money’s worth for the dinosaur dinner.

Constitutionalists can only pray that Rand Paul has sparked a new fervor in the GOP. For my money, the only Republican worth his or her salt is a liberty-minded Republican. Obama and the Democrats are driving the steamroller; somebody needs to be constructing a blockade big enough to slow its momentum. That somebody isn’t John McCain, nor is it Lindsey Graham. Nor will it ever be. Obviously, it wasn’t Mitt Romney either. All three of these Republicans have spent too much time agreeing with Obama.

The presidential election of 2012 demonstrated just how demoralized Republican voters are these days. Millions fewer of them voted in 2012 than in 2008. Even I was fooled by how deep the dissatisfaction runs. Now I rejoice that it runs as deeply as it does. It may yet be the power strong enough to put GOP dinosaurs out to pasture.

When a Tea Party Conservative Fights Back

untitledHe has only been in the Senate for seven weeks, but the more I watch him, the more I like Ted Cruz (R-TX). This first-term senator is rattling the windows up in Washington. He refused to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling, he didn’t support John Kerry’s nomination to be Secretary of State, he voted against renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and he spoke out forcefully against the nomination of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Pointing to a potential cause of downfall for any high-profile member of the Defense Department, Cruz inquired of Hagel during his hearings if his bank account included any funds from Saudi Arabia or North Korea. He also brought up at the time the fact that Iran is in favor of Hagel’s nomination.

If you want to know what he’s up to, well, it’s fairly simple. He’s doing what he said he would do when he ran for office. Isn’t that refreshing? As he promised the people of Texas, he’s in DC “to shake up the status quo.” 

In response, a whole bunch of folks on the left aren’t happy with him. Pulling out an old favorite from the Democrat playbook, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) accused him of McCarthyism. “In this country we had a terrible experience with innuendo and inference when Joe McCarthy hung out in the United States Senate, and I just think we have to be more careful.” To her and to Chris Matthews at MSNBC, Cruz is just an extremist mistreating a patriot nominated to high office.

Jonathan Weisman at the New York Times bemoans the fact that Cruz is upsetting the sense of “comity,” or courtesy that normally marks relations between senators.  The Hill is a left-leaning tabloid that covers politics in DC and they have blasted Cruz as an embarrassment and a slanderer.  Ed Schultz, another MSNBC commentator, can’t understand why Republicans are filibustering a defense-secretary nominee “for the first time in a century.”   Cruz is painted by the Democrats as a joke at best, and possibly worse, because he’s supposedly endangering the nation’s security.

Politicians on the left don’t like it when Tea Party conservatives fight back, but the moral outrage on the left rings hollow. Is there any nasty political ploy that hasn’t been used by the Democrats in the last year? The truth is that they aren’t morally offended in the slightest.  They’re just shocked that a conservative Republican has decided to join in the fray and stand up for his values and the values of those who sent him to the Senate. Their words don’t come from their honest feelings–they are a script for public consumption. It works like this: they pretend to be offended, then they paint Cruz as an extremist nut job and a “teabagger,” and then wait for the left-leaning media to pick up the mantra.

Unfortunately, this methodology usually works. Why? Because so-called “moderate” Republicans like John McCain take their side and refuse to support the vocal conservatives trying to take the fight back to the Democrat front line.

Where was the moral outrage on the left when Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of being a felon and a tax dodger? There was no evidence whatsoever for the accusation (Reid said he had an “anonymous source”), yet at times it continues to be bandied about by Democrats even to this day. Unlike the Hagel situation, where a senator simply asked a question in a public forum with Hagel sitting before him, Reid made his accusation on the floor of the full Senate without Romney being present to defend himself. Where was Sen. McCaskill’s outrage then? Where was Democrat outrage when Nancy Pelosi said she could have GOP advisor Karl Rove arrested, or that she had dirt on former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich?

And let’s not forget the other hypocrisy being perpetrated on the left. Ted Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant by the name of Rafael Cruz. He should be a darling of the Democrats. But his crime, of course, is that he’s a conservative. Hispanics and immigrants are praised by the left only when they are liberals.

Keep it up, Ted. Take the ideological battle to the front lines. Stay on the offensive. The only way to falsely paint the Tea Party as a bunch of extremists is to allow the radical left to remain in the mainstream. Don’t give up an inch of territory. They aren’t mainstream at all–but those in that camp have seduced enough voters with their rhetoric against “the rich” and their promises of government benefits to retain power. Playing nice isn’t going to get us any closer to reclaiming our constitutional values.

Honestly, I praise Ted Cruz and I am thrilled with his leadership. At this point the GOP has little to lose–but America has much to lose if Republicans lose their spine.

It’s time to play a new game. Let’s call it “conservative hardball.” It should be played fearlessly, and with a bat of extra-large proportions. Suit up, Democrats. Ted Cruz isn’t the bad boy of the Senate. He’s a conservative Texan who’s tired of playing defense. He has switched to the game of offense and he’s lighting a fire in the halls of the political elites.

Oh, here’s another message for the Democrats: you can stop pretending to be outraged. The needle fell off your moral compass years ago.

Of Inaugurations and Irregularities

2013-01-20T170622Z_268443140_TB3E91K1BIGO2_RTRMADP_3_USA-INAUGURATIONToday many will turn their eyes to the United States for the inauguration of the second presidential term of Barack Hussein Obama.  Well, the world will be watching … but Mr. Obama has already been inaugurated for a second time.  The event took place yesterday just before noon, local time, during a brief ceremony in the White House.

This was done in faithfulness to the twentieth amendment to the US Constitution which requires presidents to be sworn in on the 20th day of January following their election.  It’s quite ironic.  The president who seems intent on dismantling the Constitution piecemeal has obediently fulfilled its instruction regarding inauguration. There are only four years left and still so much of America must be remade. No use giving those ridiculous constitutionalists one more issue to whine about.

Much will be made about the fact that an American president of African origins has begun his second term, ostensibly on the day that memorializes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his struggle for civil rights.  Anyone who is aware of our torturous national history regarding slavery and the lynching of the innocent for nothing more than the color of their skin must realize the significance.  For me it merely confirms something I already knew: Americans are quite capable of rising above the problems of their past.

Yet the inauguration of any elected official finds its legitimacy based only upon the guarantee of free and honest elections in which the will of the people is gauged accurately and instituted effectively.  Given what I experienced on election day, it raises my concern to the level of alarm. Sadly, many Americans are becoming far too comfortable with excessive government meddling in their lives. With so much at stake and an electorate so divided as ours, the need for honest election results may be greater than ever.

Let us be mindful that the official tally of presidential votes gave the victory to Obama by a margin just under 5 million votes, or 4.9%.  Less than 60% of eligible voters turned out. Still, in our political system, the state-by-state numbers are more important.  Under our Constitution the president is elected by the people as they are arranged in their sovereign states, not by popular vote.  This affects election strategies–and for those intent on winning at all costs (even fraud), it also affects their planning.

The best way to prevent voter fraud is to prevent those occurrences known as “voter irregularities” (actions, situations, or policies that prevent standard voting procedures).  In signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson reminded us that “the vote is the most powerful instrument devised … for breaking down injustice.”  The law was intended to halt irregularities that discouraged voting by citizens of African descent or preventing their votes from being counted.  To be genuinely effective, everyone who may legally vote must be allowed to do so once, without coercion, and every vote cast must be properly tallied.

Voter irregularities can cast grave doubt upon any election’s outcome.  Given the existence of our electoral college and the importance of swing states that so greatly influence presidential elections, irregularities have far-reaching consequences for the validity of any such election. This remains true even when the mainstream press offers little or no coverage of the matter because of its own bias. As the electoral map demonstrates, it only takes successful campaigns of voter fraud in a couple of the big swing states to turn a presidential election.

It’s not just the actual vote fraud that robs us. Even credible hints of fraud are liable to erode away voter participation. This is why every aspect of an election must be handled with accountability, soberness, and in strict accordance with regulations.  Poll workers (the officials running the precinct) must be diligent for the rights of all and poll watchers for the political parties and candidates must be able to confirm stringent adherence to election law. Anything less may throw a shadow upon results. Confirming the identity of voters is crucial. States need to enact voter ID laws.

What I experienced on election day was nothing less than shocking. More than two months later I’m still disturbed by it. In fact, I’m haunted by it. I’ve been voting since 1978; never have I seen such chaos as on election day 2012. In that chaos there were disturbing irregularities.

On November 6, 2012 I served as a poll watcher (unofficial observer) for the Republican party.  At approximately 2:30 in the afternoon I arrived at my appointed polling location, the Mac McGinty Civic Center located at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Pascagoula, Mississippi. As I entered the building I was overwhelmed by the noise and lack of order. People were everywhere. They crowded the tables of precinct officials in a scene that resembled a post-holiday sale at Wal-Mart.  Since the poll opened at 7:00 am, I can only presume that this had been taking place for much of the day. For whatever reason, the Republican poll watchers already on duty did not seem as concerned as I. Perhaps they were overwhelmed.

It did not take long for my concern to turn into action.

The purpose of allowing poll watchers is to guarantee proper elections. They are especially important when a precinct votes overwhelmingly in favor of one political party. No matter how a vote turns out, if representatives of both parties agree that the election was fairly run and properly managed, political conflict and legal challenges can be minimized. Poll watchers in Mississippi have no legal authority but they can point out irregularities to those who do have authority. The first place to begin is with the precinct manager, known by law as an election bailiff.

Watching the activity from the seats designated for party poll watchers, I noticed a man going from one voter to another as they stood in front of voting machines. As he approached each voter, he made sure to stand in such a way that I could not clearly see what he was doing. By studying his movement I finally determined that he was speaking to voters as they cast their votes. Mississippi law allows poll workers to assist a voter who asks for help without being prompted to do so, but this clearly was not the case in what I was seeing. I confronted the bailiff and was told that the man was a representative of the Democrat party! As soon as I pointed out that this was improper, the bailiff gently asked the man to depart from the voting area.

I soon noted another disturbing irregularity. In order to cast votes, a voter must secure a key card from an authorized poll worker. It has an appearance similar to a credit card and it unlocks the voting machine to allow voting to take place. It also prevents the voter from voting more than once. After each use it is returned to the proper poll worker and it must be reset for each voter. This is done by the poll worker who uses a small machine into which the key card is placed. This action reprograms the card for use by the next voter.

The security of these key cards is vitally important–as is their correct use. They are not to be reprogrammed unless a voter has be confirmed on the voter roll and after the voter has placed a signature on the sign-in book.

On this day at this precinct the process was not being followed. The bailiff was constantly holding a handful of programmed cards, sometimes even a pocketful of them. At one point he gave several to another poll worker who was moving about near the voting machines. Key cards were being handled and exchanged in multiple ways and I was unable to ascertain exactly what was happening.

Once again–with all the politeness I possess–I spoke with the bailiff. He stammered a bit, almost as if he were surprised to be questioned on this matter. He informed me that it was very busy and he was doing his best to help voters. He also said that sometimes the key cards don’t work when inserted into voting machines. Cards must then be reprogrammed or a new card given.

From my vantage point these explanations seemed inadequate. It is true that if a key card fails to allow a voter to vote, that voter should receive a working card. But a poll worker should confirm the problem before distributing a new card. Otherwise there is no guarantee that a voter only votes once. When he realized that I was watching him closely, the bailiff began checking machines when told of card errors.  Prior to this he did not always do so.

At some point after my arrival I was delighted to see members of the Jackson County Election Commission as they looked closely at the situation. They seemed concerned but they left quickly. It soon became clear that they had contacted the chairman of the commission. Upon his arrival he demanded that more order be brought to the polling environment. His quick action improved the situation but by then the voting hours were more than half over.

I spoke to the  chairman and expressed concern about the irregularities I had seen. He informed me that his power was limited by law. As it turns out, there are five voting districts in Jackson County. Each district has an elected commissioner whose authority is limited to his or her own district. The Fairgrounds precinct is located in District Two where, I was told, the commissioner was a firm Democrat who hired only her fellow Democrats as poll workers. In a perverse and disturbing way, the irregularities I had seen that afternoon suddenly began to make sense.

At that point the commissioner of District Two was pointed out to me. I wondered if it would do any good to speak to her. I realized that it would not, since she was huddled with another lady whom I learned to be chairwoman of the Democrat party for Jackson County. As the District Two commissioner looked on, the Democrat leader inserted herself into the business of the poll workers as if she were a poll worker herself. She even “assisted” voters at voting machines (so she explained to me when she saw me watching closely).

Clearly, a line had been crossed. Primaries are run by parties as they choose candidates but this should not be the case with general elections. Although I count myself among the realists of the world who understand its moral failures, I confess that a sense of hopelessness began to fall upon me at that moment. If several members of the election commission (including the chairman) couldn’t stop these irregularities, how could I?

Did I witness any voter fraud that day? I cannot say that I did. I have no accusations to make with that regard. What I did see, however, was a list of voter irregularities that took place without any hesitancy–almost as if they were understood to be part of the way things are in parts of my county. In some cases my complaints appeared to end the irregularities. In other cases they did not.

Democrat? Republican? Libertarian? Any other party? Your vote should count if you are properly registered and legally eligible. Every such citizen has the right to cast that vote in an environment that is orderly and transparent. Whether they end up in fraudulent votes or not, voting irregularities destroy the trust of citizens for the process.  This erosion is the unfortunate, untold story behind the inauguration of a president or any other elected official.

Democrat vs. Republican: Which is Better for the Economy?

In a recent post I suggested that we should pay attention to the market downturn that took place on the day after Barack Obama was elected to a second term.  I didn’t mean to suggest that we can judge his entire presidency by a day or two of economic activity, but only to suggest that there is something to be learned.  A friend whom I cherish questioned that post by stating that “the market has tended to perform better under Democratic administrations than Republican ones.”  Believing this statement to be correct, he wondered what the markets are telling us about Obama’s administration.

No source was cited for the statement, but it is an assertion I’ve heard before.  So I decided to do some research.  You, dear readers, are the beneficiaries of that research.

Let’s begin with a warning and some insight to the meaning of free markets.  To understand how politics affects market activity we must realize that politics isn’t the lone issue to be analyzed.  Quite literally, there are unlimited affects on markets.  Global affairs, national events, regional weather patterns, corporate decisions, and consumer choices all have an affect on what the markets do.  Taking one issue out of context and analyzing it separately from all other affects is a bad investment that will only provide poor returns if we’re looking for the truth.

I’m happy to admit that my original statement about the 200-point plunge in the stock market on the day after the election is easily misunderstood.  We can’t put too much emphasis on this single event, but I do believe we can draw one small conclusion:  the re-election of President Obama made the markets a bit jittery.  The reason is simple. Markets don’t function well in an atmosphere of uncertainty.

What in heaven’s name does that mean?  Simple.  Markets aren’t hard to understand if you understand people.  And the fact is that people don’t invest as quickly, or they don’t keep investing, when they are uncertain about what the political power players are up to. Investors have been nervous about Obama for some time now because of his rhetoric regarding the wealthy (the economically successful) and his tendency to pick corporate winners and losers by the way he doles out federal stimulus money. In other words, he uses the power of centralized planning to affect markets in ways that aren’t natural to the markets.  That makes investors nervous.  It’s tough enough to bet on the unpredictable markets.  It’s even worse when you add unpredictable politicians to the mix.

There is always someone in government looking for access to more of someone else’s money.  Both parties are guilty of this.  It was federal spending that chased me out of the Republican party during the administration of George W. Bush (though I returned a couple of years ago in the hope of pushing a constitutionalist reform agenda).  If I may use a homespun metaphor, the Democrats and Republicans are two irresponsible and out-of-control children with their their hands in the wallets of their parents.  No two children are alike–not even bad children.  And in the case of this metaphor, the Democrats are much more dangerous to the economy than Republicans.

The historical data is clear to me:  Republicans are better for the overall economy than Democrats–especially when we have a divided government.

By now you may be tempted to abandon this post.  Please don’t.  I promise to present this as simply as possible and without recourse to all sorts of technical economic jargon that even I probably wouldn’t understand!  Feel free to click on the links provided that take the reader to appropriate graphs, or skip that part if you prefer.

To understand the data, we have to make an important distinction between the presidency and Congress.  Of these two political entities, I would argue that Congress has a greater influence upon markets because it is the source for financial and economic control as enshrined in federal law.  Thousands of pages of laws are passed each year.  Nonetheless, as chief federal executive, the nation’s president has great leeway in how he and his administration approach the enforcement of those regulations.  When it comes to the economy, I believe that most of what our federal officials do is more harmful than helpful. For markets, the best situation is probably a deadlocked government that prevents excessive economic meddling by officials eager to seize more cash.

In analyzing the question at hand, most people probably take the easy route by asking who controls the White House during times of strong economic performance.  Corey Rosenbloom is a Chartered Market Technician with lots of stock-market experience.  He specializes in helping those who’ve been burned by previous investments.  He has developed a webpage that analyzes the presidential administrations since Jimmy Carter and how the markets have responded.  To see his data, click HERE.  His study leaves us wondering.  It’s inconclusive.  Markets have done well and have done poorly under Democrat presidents as well as Republicans.

So where do we go now?  Easy.  Let’s take a look at which party controlled Congress during particular periods of strong markets.  For this exercise we can use the data of Landon Swan from 1945-2009.  To see his information, click HERE.  As Swan shows us, in those years the average stock-market gain under a Democrat-controlled Congress was 9.8%. Under Republican control it was 30.1%.  Other statistics are interesting as well.

Gain under Democrat president and Democrat Congress:  13.2%
Gain under Democrat president with Republican Congress:  32.6%

Gain under Republican president and Democrat Congress:  6.6%
Gain under Republican president with Republican Congress:  25.3%

Seeing these numbers, some may argue that they prove the fact that Republicans are business “fat cats” who line the pockets of their wealthy donors.  That’s a stereotype–one that the Democrat party carefully manages to its benefit.  The real fact is that there are wealthy patrons on both sides of the aisle who benefit from the work of those to whom they grant their patronage.  The people they support in Congress, with their insider knowledge, are becoming very wealthy.

As my readers know, I’m a constitutionalist.  That doesn’t mean I believe that government is evil.  Far from it.  I believe government can be a positive good within the constraints of its social charter.  If government truly is “of the people,” then the people must establish boundaries for the operations of that government.

Governments are established because people must be protected.  Not just certain groups of people, but all the people.  Certain evils must be prevented, or punished when perpetrated. These include fraud, abuse, misrepresentation, and arbitrary abrogation of binding contracts.  Government has a vital role to play in these affairs and its involvement should be as impartial and broad as possible so that it neither gives advantage to one group nor destroys the moral incentive of another. That is what is missing among today’s powerful political elites who use taxes to punish, benefits to reward particular constituencies, and federal investment to gain political support from unions.

What do the statistics tell us about Democrats, Republicans, and the markets?  They tell us that markets are more comfortable under Republican control of Congress than Democrat. But those same markets are most comfortable when Republicans have Congress and a Democrat sits in the White House.

Why is this so?  Again, the answer is simple:  control.  When politicians spend most of their time arguing between parties, they have less time to think of ways to rob the successful citizens who make the nation run.  When those citizens make economic choices about spending money, hiring workers, adding inventory, taking financial risks or expanding a business, they are exercising freedom.

Free markets are nothing more than free people making such economic choices.  Let’s let them do it.  We’ll all be better off for it.

Elections Have Consequences

Two weeks and a day.  That’s how long it has been since America made its presidential choice for the next four years.  The prediction of Michelle Obama will continue to unfold as the country’s Democrat leadership works to “change our traditions, our history,” and as we “move into a different place as a nation.”

While I was wrong about how the voting would turn out on November 6th, there were some things I got right.  I wondered aloud back in February if “Anybody But Obama” was enough to defeat the sitting president.  The GOP tried to be excited about this contest, but I’m not convinced that most Republican voters were that enthused about Mitt Romney. Their energy was aimed at removing Obama from the White House rather than putting Romney into it.  That wasn’t enough.

If you compare the electoral maps of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, you’ll see that very little has changed in terms of how the state electoral votes will actually be cast on December 17th.  Romney garnered a few more electoral numbers than McCain (206 to 173), but the overall pool of nationwide voters was down.  Approximately five and a half million fewer voters turned out for this election than in 2008.

One of the biggest mistakes that Romney made in his campaign was to present the economic issue as “us vs. them.”  As I have often pointed out here, the tide of those who receive government benefits is growing rapidly while the number of taxpayers is shrinking. That isn’t the combination for a successful economy; it’s bad news for the future.  But it’s understandable that people vote to keep their benefits coming.  Mitt Romney was right to point this out, but he did a poor job of explaining why it’s such a dangerous situation to be in.

It’s not “us vs. them.”  Nor is it really “the makers vs. the takers” or anything else like that.  It’s about us–all of us.  By describing the free market in a way that divides us (as Democrats often do) we misrepresent its communal nature and we allow ourselves to be duped by the rhetoric of the left.  Simply put, Republicans must make the case for why our current spending is a path of destruction–not for the rich but for the poor and the middle class.  Romney was painted as the wealthy guy who resents the poor and the working classes.  I don’t for a moment think that hey believes that, but the Democrats did a good job of making it appear that he does.

How high will spending go?  Will it get to $20 trillion?  Perhaps $24 trillion?  Economic bubbles eventually burst.  That includes monetary bubbles.  Maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to avoid a complete meltdown.  But must we take the chance?  Can we awaken from this dreamworld of never-ending spending that our political leaders have led us into? The one good thing about Obama’s re-election is that if the double-dip recession does become a reality, there won’t be a Republican in the White House for the Democrats to blame, though they’ll undoubtedly try to blame the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.  (Given the timid nature of Speaker John Boehner and his merry band of big-spending Republicans, that will be especially ironic.)

By the way, that predicted double dip is now a reality in Europe.  We can expect it to move our way in the near future.  As it does, the economic darlings of the left will continue to push for more spending and higher taxes.  This includes the intractable Paul Krugman.  In a recent column he sang the praises of 91% federal taxation.  That’s right.  He seems to like the idea that a wasteful, bloated, overspending federal government should be allowed to return to the days of taking nearly all the money of the very wealthy.  He wants them to pay their fair share.  We hear that often these days, don’t we?  How much is fair?  If they take 100%, will that finally be fair?

As author Dustin Siggins points out, the top 1% of earners make fifty times the amount of money made by the bottom 20% of earners.  But they pay 1500 times the taxes!  It’s not enough to talk about what’s fair–we have to talk about what’s just, what makes sense, and what is hurting everyone.

In the midst of all this, it appears that the GOP has lost its soul.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got to take a ride on Marine One (the president’s helicopter) and to speak to Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen while they rode on Air Force One.  Who knows?  Maybe he even voted for Obama.  Now he has made his debut on Saturday Night Live.  His constituents probably enjoyed seeing their governor on TV.  Well, those who have electricity anyway.  These are unfortunate signs of the time.

Don’t look for genuine leadership from most of the GOP.  Instead, you should expect them to stomp their feet and to talk a good game.  All the while they’ll do only what they have to do in order to appear to oppose Obama.  Our nation’s capital is a stage on which the players perform.  Perception is everything.

Even I was surprised on November 6th, but now I’m listening more attentively.  As Republican leaders argue about turning further left and becoming even more like their Democrat counterparts, I wonder if we really have a two-party system anymore.  The Democrats kept the White House and the Senate.  The Republicans kept the House.  The electoral map has barely changed.  That speaks more to me of apathy than an energetic mandate.

Republicans, take note.  Becoming more like Democrats is the wrong lesson to take from this election.  Drinking their Kool-Aid is intoxicating, but it makes you lean left.  It doesn’t look good on you.  Give the voters an alternative vision, one that is inspired by the constitutional values and free-market inventiveness that made this country great.

This vision might be a hard thing to sell to voters who have been poorly educated in these truly American values, but acting more like liberal Democrats isn’t winning the GOP any friends.  In fact, it appears to be losing them the few that they already have.

Every Bill Eventually Comes Due

I’m occasionally accused of being too gloomy when it comes to America’s future.  That certainly isn’t my intention.  There is some melodrama to my personality, but those who know me well recognize that I’m an optimist at heart.  It was my optimism that blinded me to the strength of the Obama campaign and its victory over Mitt Romney.

Perhaps you’ve been out to a nice dinner lately.  Is it a doomsday prophecy to know that at the end of the meal a bill will be presented?  If you spend on your credit card, is it pessimism or gloom to realize that you must have a plan for paying that charge when the statement comes in the mail?  Of course not.  These are simple economic realities.

I spent years in Catholic seminaries.  From 1983-1986 I studied in Rome, Italy, and resided at the preparatory residence established there by the American bishops of the Catholic Church. It is known as the North American College.  At the time there was a terrible economic situation in Ethiopia.  Because of historic colonial ties, many Ethiopians were immigrating to Italy in search of a better way of life.  Some of my seminary brothers were engaged in ministries to assist them.

A few of those brothers who were particularly justice-minded proposed that some empty rooms in our residence be turned over to a few of the refugees.  They developed a plan for the accommodation of our proposed guests, including their dining and personal-care needs, how they would travel to and from work, and how they would interact with the seminary community.

Then the seminary rector called a mandatory meeting of the entire student body.  I’ll never forget his speech to us.  As we sat there with wide eyes and laudable goals, he began by thanking the community for its commitment to justice.  He recognized the planning committee for its work and he expressed support for their goals of helping the immigrants in need.

Then he asked a simple but demanding question, one that we must also ask.  For affect, he used the native language of the Italian people.  Firmly, but with a gentle tone, he looked at us from his rector’s podium and he asked:  Chi paga?

Whether you put it in Italian or English, it’s just two words:  Chi paga?  Who pays?

The wise among the student body got it.  In our zeal to reach out to those in need, we idealistic seminarians were putting all the burden on the institution.  We expected it to provide free rooms to the needy, and free board as well.  We were talking about spending money belonging to someone else rather than taking on responsibility ourselves.

Another example comes to mind from my childhood.  My brother had friends who liked to work on motors:  cars, lawnmowers, or whatever.  He was always lending my father’s tools to his friends.  That wasn’t a problem except for one thing.  He usually never secured the return of the items that had been lent!  On many a day off, Dad went to the tool box to find that a needed item for a household chore was missing.  “Where is my crescent wrench?” he would ask.  My brother would sheepishly admit that he had lent it to a friend some time back and that it had never been returned.

How easy it is to be careless with the things that we don’t pay for.  How quick we are to demand that the money and efforts of others be spent as we see fit, or worse, that they be spent on us.

This is exactly where we Americans find ourselves at this moment in our national history. Slightly more than half the voters on Tuesday chose to ignore the fiscal insanity of our federal leadership–including more than $16 Trillion of growing debt and the failure to even pass a budget.  Our credit rating has suffered and been cut repeatedly (even as recently as September), yet the debt continues to sore and most of the media give President Obama a pass on the matter.  It is widely expected that in Obama’s second term the debt will reach at least $20 Trillion, and White House data appears to support that expectation.

Half the country has set the course for the other half.  It won’t be a pleasant journey.

Two things seem self-evident.

1.  The trillions of tax dollars spent by Obama and his fellow Democrats were an investment in his re-election.  Millions of Americans voted on Tuesday to keep the benefits coming.  Though I find their thinking to be short-sighted and economically dangerous, I understand why they did it.  49% of us pay no federal income tax.  47% of us live in a household where someone is receiving a government benefit.  The presidential election should have been about long-term economic recovery and the salvaging of American prestige on the international scene.  Instead, it was a vote to keep the presents coming from the Democrats.  The major problem with this particular holiday story is that instead of elves who make toys, Obama Claus pays for his gifts on the backs of the people and businesses that could rescue our economy if given a chance.  They won’t get that chance for four more years.  I see no reason that Obama won’t continue to retard economic expansion with his political extortion.  He will do this by securing the cooperation of the Democrats of the Senate and by making the Republican-controlled House of Representatives look selfish.

2.  Despite the talk of pending disaster when we go over a “fiscal cliff” on January 1st (if the “Bush tax cuts” expire), the fact is that we went over the cliff three days ago.  Ron Paul agrees.  Remember the old saying:  it’s not the fall that kills you–it’s the sudden stop.  We have been racing toward the cliff’s edge for years.  It began under George W. Bush and it has accelerated to frightening proportions in Obama’s first term.  Voting to continue  that dangerous momentum this week, a slim majority of Americans tipped the balance as we sat on the precipice.  We went over the edge and we’re now engaged in a rapid descent.  When we hit rock bottom you won’t have to ask if this is the time or not.  You’ll know.

One way or the other, the bill must always be paid.  Just because government is large, convoluted, and serpentine doesn’t mean that it’s exempt from the laws of economics.  Money today is nothing more than an idea propped upon a hope.  It is created daily by the Federal Reserve and the banks of the nation.  It has more to do with electronic data than with anything of concrete value.

America is broke.  Like people who are broke, that doesn’t mean we can’t get our hands on money.  We can always fool someone into giving us credit.  At this point Americans are just fooling themselves.  Even the wisest spendthrift eventually gets caught.  His credit is cut off and his debt must be addressed.

We don’t have to slam the poor.  We don’t have to abandon a strong military.  We simply have to get serious about fiscal responsibility.  In Washington, they don’t want to do that because it will anger somebody and cost them votes.  This move has been in the political play book a long time.  A slim majority of us fell for it again on Tuesday.

When the bill comes due and the credit card is cut in half, Americans will be forced into fiscal maturity.  It will hurt a great deal more at that time then it would have hurt now.

Even the strongest of pack animals cannot bear all the weight of the world.  Our economy cannot sustain the increased strain being placed upon it by redistribution schemes and taxes.  The pony’s back will eventually break.  It’s no wonder that so many have suggested such a goal from the beginning of the Obama administration.  This idea has a name.  It’s called the Cloward-Piven Strategy and it was first proposed in the 1960s by two ultra-liberal academics.  The idea is to overwhelm the welfare system until it collapses.  Afterward, a system of guaranteed income will be set in its place.  In other words, the socialism that failed in the USSR and Eastern Europe.

While addressing his campaign staff on Wednesday, Obama wept.  They may be tears of joy as well as disbelief.  Who could have imagined that any single president could do so much damage and still be re-elected to a second term?

Obama’s dream of the “fundamental transformation of America” is only half finished.  Even he is probably shocked that he gets four more years to bring it to completion.

With Another Four Years, Obama Plans to “Perfect Our Union”

This morning’s early reports indicate that by the slimmest of margins in the popular vote, Barack Obama has managed to be re-elected to the presidency.  Drudge is reporting the numbers as 59,532,820 for Obama and 56,931,709 for Romney.  With such a small lead, is there any question that every votes counts?  Is there any question why voter fraud and intimidation are such detestable practices?

Though my election predictions have been exploded by reality, I’m too worried about the state of our nation to fret about any possible loss of personal prestige.  In formulating my expectations for yesterday’s elections, I leaned heavily upon the insights of other, more experienced commentators like Scott Rasmussen and Michael Barone.  Though I was wrong, state-by-state analysis demonstrates that the race was so tight that minor differences in results would have given us a Romney presidency quite easily.

Still, I was wrong.  And for that I am sorry.

Probably my greatest handicap in formulating predictions was my own hope that America had awakened from the “Benefits-R-Us” dreamland into which it has ventured over the last few decades.  That hope blinded me.  Millions turned out to vote in person yesterday and in early voting during the preceding weeks and for far too many, the turnout was inspired by the hope of keeping the government spigot of cash turned on.  They prefer a bit of comfort now to the long-term stability that can protect their futures and those of their children.

Make no mistake about it:  that future is in peril.  With $16 Trillion of debt (the total we owe as a nation), massive deficit (the loss taken by the federal government because it’s paying out more than it’s taking in), the loss of religious freedom, uniformed thugs standing in front of polling places, foreign policy in shambles inflation on the rise, and government misrepresentation of economic realities, one wonders just how bad it has to get before more of us wake up.

Is the promise of big government and its cash benefits enough to buy us off?  It would seem that in the contemporary American political arena, the “good guys” are the ones who keep the government benefits coming for individuals as well as particular corporations. The “bad guys” are the ones who prophetically remind us that national debt like ours is a monster that will not wait forever to be paid.

As commentator Charles Hurt wrote early this morning, “politicians simply tax those who do not support them and give the money to those who do.  Or give the money to those they would like to have support them.”  He fears that it’s “the end of the line.  Game over.”

“Thou shall not steal,” they say, unless of course it’s by majority vote.  I suspect we turned a corner yesterday in America.  It may be one to which we will never return.  Newly re-elected, President Obama said in his victory speech last night that he intends to help America “perfect its union.”  In light of his work over the last four years and his recent campaign, we can only imagine that Obama’s version of perfection will be more of the same stuff that is robbing us of our liberties and holding back economic growth.

Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises warned us of this folly when he saw the same actions taking place in Europe.  History seems to be repeating itself and the words of Mises are as vital today as they were then. “Government spending cannot create additional jobs,” he wrote in his 1947 book Planned Chaos. “If the government provides the funds required by taxing the citizens or by borrowing from the public, it abolishes on the one hand as many jobs as it creates on the other.”

Unless Obama and the Democrat majority in the Senate work with congressional Republicans to slash spending and increase business confidence, we can expect more bad news in the coming months.  As if they were sending us a warning, markets opened this morning with a 200-point plunge.  People don’t just talk with their votes.  They talk with their spending.  We must listen to the markets because they tell us a great deal about the future.

Constitutionalists are needed now more than ever, but I’ll stand by my promise.  I give myself a grade of “F” for my presidential election predictions, and I invite my readers to reply (below) and vote on whether or not to keep writing.