Free Markets, Free People

federalism


How Republicans will lead again

What will the Republican Party look like when it retakes the lead in governing?  I’d bet it will be a coalition that identifies more with what Alex Castellanos is laying out at NewRepublican.org.

Some of it is new messaging for old ideas. Castellanos rebrands spontaneous order and subsidiarity as “open,” “natural,” “organic,” and “bottom-up.”  He tags statism, command economies and federal control as “closed,” “artificial,” and “top-down.”  Those are elegant ways to tell Whole Foods shoppers and Silicon Valley what we’re about without assigning them F.A. Hayek or a history of the Soviets.

Castellanos also stresses the superiority of private compassion over state welfare, but instead of getting trapped by placing charity in a bidding war with the welfare state, or quibbling over the definition of charity, he casts the state welfare agencies as “machine-like” or “factory-like” and “archaic,” and more importantly labeling them as “social mercenaries” that allow Americans to “distance ourselves from our responsibilities as human beings,” which involve “person-to-person” compassion.

That leads into a much more substantive change: redirecting social conservative energy to where it can actually accomplish something for itself and for the party, namely local and fulfilling private action instead of trying to seize the top and push down, which outsources to politicians and bureaucrats the promotion of our values.

Several items on the list of 67 beliefs of New Republicans (67!) deal with this:

4. We believe in freedom nationally and values locally.

6. We believe that when we allow big-government to enforce our values, we legitimize it to enforce other values, as well.

7. We believe in natural and organic ways of addressing social challenges, not political and artificial controls directed by Washington.

12. We believe Washington should stay out of our wallets, and out of our bedrooms.

39. We believe we are Republican for Everybody, and Republicans Everywhere.  We believe our principles are an indispensable force for good, needed now to alleviate poverty, misery, dependency, and family breakdown destroying American lives in our inner cities.

Social conservatives lost the battle to use federal levers to enforce family and religious values, and damaged the good reputation of those values in the attempt, but those beliefs are still popular in many states, towns, and households.  They can still gather a majority coalition with libertarians and moderates to carve out the space to practice their values and their faith without interference from the state, with more confidence and optimism than Paul Weyrich had in the late ’90s; if they revert to using top-down power, those potential allies will be embarrassed of their association with social conservatives.  That’s coalition politics.

The New Republicans will avoid being associated with Big Everything, including Big Business. What saps the Republican Party’s entrepreneurial spirit and daring to cut government and promote free markets is its reliance on forces that want the state to protect them against change and competition; Milton Friedman repeatedly observed that this makes business community a frequent enemy of free enterprise.  But the GOP need not be anti-business, just suspicious to the extent of keeping anything Big at arm’s length.

Chris Sansenbach / Flickr

Finally, Castellanos does stress a couple of times that New Republicans believe in “campaign[ing] for our solutions in the most benighted parts of America, from the barrio to the inner city.”  I’ve heard noises to that effect from Republicans for years, but that will only succeed if it’s a major, sustained effort; if we have nothing to say about urban problems beyond school choice, and we don’t learn how to assertively persuade people that we are absolutely superior at addressing poverty, we’re cooked.  These things require practice, trials and errors, and personal experience with the poor and with urban life.  We have to be able to win at least sometimes, electing mayors and city councils in major metro areas, to show that our way of governing works for the growing portion of the country living in cities.

I said at the beginning that this is how Republicans will think when they regain the lead in governing, and I chose those words instead of “winning elections” because it’s possible the GOP can temporarily get over 50% here and there by other means, but it won’t have the initiative until it accepts the challenge to persuade all of America that its principles are relevant to them. The party could and should also make gains by modernizing the way it learns and reorganizes itself, how it encourages and channels activism, its campaign tactics and strategy, and more.  But those things go naturally with a mindset that’s reflexively entrepreneurial and not only open to change but so hungry for it that we’re unafraid to stop doing what isn’t working.


Dear CO and WA – good luck with those marijuana legalization laws

The imperial “federal” government knows better than you what is good for “the people”:

“This is a symbolic victory for (legalization) advocates, but it will be short-lived,” Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the Obama administration’s drug czar, told reporters.

“They are facing an uphill battle with implementing this, in the face of … presidential opposition and in the face of federal enforcement opposition,” Sabet said.

Because everyone knows we are a country in which state’s rights exist and the people get to decide.   And we certainly know prohibition worked extraordinarly well in the 1920s.

Let freedom ring.

Forward.

~McQ


A pox on both parties

Gallup’s latest poll shows that at least in the universe of those polled, neither the GOP or the Democratic party are held in very high esteem.  It’s something that I and Billy Hollis have been trying to get across for some time. 

What you’re seeing out there among the teeming masses isn’t necessarily a movement (I’m talking the Tea Party, etc) that wants to put the GOP in power.  It is a movement that is sick and tired of the way the country has been run and at the moment Republicans are considered to be slightly better because of their fiscal principles.

But, as Lisa Murkowski can tell you, not even all of them are acceptable.

I’m not speaking for the Tea Party, I’m not sure anyone can, but it appears to me to be mostly driven by a desire for fiscal conservatism and a return to Constitutional/limited government.  I don’t think it is much more complex than that, although with any mass movement you’ll see other minor movements with different causes try to attach themselves and claim to be mainstream in that movement.

But for the most part fiscal conservatism and limited government best characterize the Tea Party in my eyes.  And I’ve spoken frequently about how the “wrong track” poll – i.e. the fact that a huge majority of Americans, in the 60 percentile range, think the country is on the wrong track and have thought so for at least the last two administrations – speaks to the fact that they’re not happy with either party.

Gallup’s poll simply validates that point:

Americans’ frustration with Congress is directed at both sides of the aisle — with job approval ratings of 33% for the Democrats in Congress and 32% for the Republicans in Congress.

Interestingly those ratings are considerably higher than Congress’s approval rating (somewhere down around 11%) which I attribute to this specific Congress.   Americans don’t like the way Congress as a whole this session has done business and blame the Democrats for that, since they’re the majority party.  But in general, and for some time, they’ve not at all happy with the two parties (in fact, the cited poll numbers probably reflect approval by mostly partisan members of each party).

So here we are on the eve of  a mid-term with the GOP poised to make a return to power, at least in the House, and it is clear that they are nothing more than a “lesser of two evils” pick because, unfortunately, there are only two viable parties.

That is part of the frustration Americans are going through right now.  Movements like the Tea Party are trying to shape that a bit with its support of candidates that are much closer to the ideal they prefer.  And they’re having some success.

Of course the point is that the GOP shouldn’t think that there’s been a sudden mass acceptance of their brand or that they suddenly have some sort of mandate (the mistake the Democrats made and the result of that will be seen this November).  Instead they should understand that they’re grudgingly being given another chance to prove themselves, that the people that are supporting them have been very clear what they want, and if they don’t perform, they now have a movement that can find  – and back – someone who will. 

That’s quite a change from previous years, and who knows, if the Tea Party survives in some manner or form, it might be something that can indeed help us back along the road to fiscal conservancy and limited government.

~McQ


“Stimulus” an expensive bust

The so-called "stimulus", upon closer examination, looks like most government spending – excessive, poorly targeted, poorly monitored and not at all accomplishing what was intended.

Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain have issued a report that details some of the most dubious "stimulus" spending. That’s over and above the money that just disappeared after being sent to non-existent congressional districts and zip codes.

For instance:

$700,000 for a researcher to study improvised music. For a project on interactive dance, 44 percent of the money goes to "overhead."

The $1.9 million spent to photograph ants in foreign countries has created two jobs created so far. That’s better than other ant research stimulus projects: $451,000 has created one job,

$276,000 spent on another created six one-hundredths of a job, and the $800,000 spent on a different one created no jobs.

The $144,000 spent to study the behavior of monkeys on cocaine created four-tenths of a job. To study why monkeys respond to unfairness cost $677,000 – and has created no jobs yet – except maybe for the monkeys.

And my guess is that they will find that monkeys react to cocaine much the same way humans do. Of course the White House claims, most likely through some model in which they plug in a factor (something like x number of jobs are created when y dollars are spent), that 3 million jobs have been "created or saved". But at what cost? Note the amounts spent above to "create" each job. And then there’s the ironic side of the story:

In the state of Washington, another stimulus project may be hurting those it was designed to help. Construction began one year ago today in front of the Archery Bistro Restaurant. The owner says it’s shut off business like a fly in a bowl of soup. He’s had to stop serving lunch, close two days a week and, ironically, lay off 12 workers.

The "stimulus" has been an expensive bust.

What positions have been “created” are temporary at best and will disappear when the tax dollars run out.  Additionally, much of the money is consumed in bureaucratic overhead – certainly “saving” and perhaps expanding those non-productive jobs.

But as for “stimulating” the economy – well, look around.  As my mom used to say, “the proof is in the pudding”.

~McQ

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AZ immigration law – "preserving the status quo…"

A very interesting sentence in the judge’s injunction against the Arizona immigration law caught my eye yesterday. In her ruling, which voided much of the law, Judge Susan Bolton said:

“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,” she said.

Of course the real status quo is federal non-enforcement of immigration laws – thereby driving the state of Arizona and other states to take matters into their own hands.

That’s not the status quo Judge Bolton is talking about, but it is the reality of immigration enforcement in this country.

This obviously isn’t the end of the road for the law, but I’d guess it’s on life support as the appeals process goes forward. Bolton’s ruling is likely to reflect how the other levels of the federal judiciary will rule on the law.

I have to admit to being a bit surprised that she ruled against law enforcement checking immigration status while processing someone for a different reason and left intact the portion of the law making it a crime to stop a vehicle in traffic or block traffic to hire someone off the street. However she did block a provision that barred illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.

On the political side of things, AZ’s Democratic Attorney General, a possible candidate for governor, thinks he has a winner:

Terry Goddard, the Arizona attorney general who opposed the law and is a possible Democratic opponent to Ms. Brewer, was quick to condemn her for signing it. “Jan Brewer played politics with immigration, and she lost,” he said in a statement.

Brewer can only hope he keeps saying that until the election, because I’d guess – as much of a hot button as this is in AZ and because of the overwhelming support of the AZ voters – it’s really a loser for Goddard and the Democrats.

Even John McCain and Jon Kyle weighed in on the ruling:

“Instead of wasting taxpayer resources filing a lawsuit against Arizona and complaining that the law would be burdensome,” Mr. McCain said in a joint statement with Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, “the Obama administration should have focused its efforts on working with Congress to provide the necessary resources to support the state in its efforts to act where the federal government has failed to take responsibility.”

But of course, the failure of the administration to take responsibility is the ‘status quo’, and it appears, unfortunately, that it will be “preserved”.

~McQ

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Massachusetts Senate passes amendment cracking down on illegal immigration

The Massachusetts Senate delivered another message yesterday about illegal immigration and demonstrates, again, why I think it is the Democrats who are in hot water on this issue, not the GOP:

The measure, which passed on a 28-10 vote as an amendment to the budget, would bar the state from doing business with any company found to break federal laws barring illegal immigrant hiring. It would also toughen penalties for creating or using fake identification documents, and explicitly deny in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants.

The amendment would also require the state’s public health insurance program to verify residency through the Department of Homeland Security, and would require the state to give legal residents priority for subsidized housing.

Why, you wonder, would deeply blue MA pass anything like that?  Why would Democrats there go along?  Here’s why:

Democrats had resisted such a sweeping proposal, but spent last evening negotiating today’s measure, shortly after a new polled showed 84 percent of the liberal-leaning state’s voters supported tough immigration rules barring state services to illegal immigrants.

Taxpayers are dead freakin’ tired of paying for services for people who have entered the country illegally.  They’re dead freakin’ tired of watch the laws of the land being ignored.  And they’re especially dead freakin’ tired of those doing the ignoring.

You’re going to see more and more states do this until they force the Federal government and the Obama administration into doing its job.

~McQ


Cap-and-tax: The game plan to make it a reality

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided it has waited long enough for Congress to do something about greenhouse gasses (GHG).  So the unelected bureaucracy has decided it will take matters into its own hands and regulate GHG itself:

Starting in July 2011, new sources of at least 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year and any existing plants that increase emissions by 75,000 tons will have to seek permits, the agency said.

In the first two years, the E.P.A. expects the rule to affect about 15,550 sources, including coal-fired plants, refineries, cement manufacturers, solid waste landfills and other large polluters, said Gina McCarthy, the agency’s assistant administrator.

She said the rule would apply to sites accounting for about 70 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. “We think this is smart rule-making, and we think it’s good government,” she said.

Now you can call it “smart rule-making” or “permitting” or any of a number of nifty things, but in reality the cost of regulatory compliance and the cost of permitting will increase the cost of operation – a cost that will be passed on to the consumer.

Of course, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the unelected administrator making this decision, is pretty sure that this is a wonderful way to “spark clean technology innovation” and save the planet “for the children”:

“After extensive study, debate and hundreds of thousands of public comments, EPA has set common-sense thresholds for greenhouse gases that will spark clean technology innovation and protect small businesses and farms,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “There is no denying our responsibility to protect the planet for our children and grandchildren. It’s long past time we unleashed our American ingenuity and started building the efficient, prosperous clean energy economy of the future.”

Question: Does anyone think “American ingenuity” hasn’t been “unleashed” on the clean energy problem?  With the potential payoff, obviously it has.  Instead, what this does is what the President said he wanted to do prior to taking office during an interview – it begins the process of raising conventional power generation to a cost level that makes “clean power” seem less expensive by comparison.  And if Congress won’t do it, hey, that’s what activists turned “administrators” are for – interpret the Clean Air Act as it has never been interpreted before and serve the agenda.

Of course you don’t have to “question the timing” at all – consider it all part of the orchestration plan for providing the impetus necessary to pass the Kerry-Lieberman.  Manufacture a “crisis”, provide a government solution:

Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and one of the two sponsors of the climate bill, seized on Thursday’s announcement to argue for the urgency of passing it. “Today we went from ‘wake-up call’ to ‘last call,’ ” he warned in a statement.

Heh … nothing obvious about this at all. Make the case that the EPA is usurping the prerogative of Congress and you’re sure to attract bi-partisan support on that. But, of course, that can’t mean just passing simple legislation stripping the EPA of that power can it? Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has actually introduced a disapproval resolution to do that, but with 35 Republican and only 3 Democrats, it has little chance of passing.

Murkowski says this will cause “an economic train wreck” if allowed to go into effect. With it targeting what’s left of “big manufacturing” and, of course, the majority of conventional power generation – in the middle of a deep recession – it’s hard to argue she’s incorrect.

More of your government at work trying to lessen the economic impact of the recession and create more jobs. /sarc

~McQ


Department Of Interior SWAT Teams Dispatched To The Gulf?

A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has prompted a large coordinated response from the owner of the rig, BP, and the U.S. government. President Obama addressed the issue in a short speech yesterday where he said:

Earlier today, DHS Secretary Napolitano announced that this incident is of national significance and the Department of Interior has announced that they will be sending SWAT teams to the Gulf to inspect all platforms and rigs. And I have ordered the Secretaries of Interior and Homeland Security as well as Administrator Lisa Jackson of the Environmental Protection Agency to visit the site on Friday to ensure that BP and the entire U.S. government is doing everything possible, not just to respond to this incident, but also to determine its cause.

I was immediately puzzled when I first heard this yesterday. Why on Earth would the DOI have SWAT (“S”pecial “W”eapons “A”nd “T”actics) Teams? What exactly would they need them for, and why would they be dispatched to “inspect” oil rigs in the middle of the Gulf? I was not alone in my puzzlement:

In an odd turn, Obama announced he’d be sending SWAT teams out to all oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf to inspect them, as pointed out by RealClearPolitics. We’re not sure what a Special Weapons And Tactics team is going to do on an oil rig but we’re pretty sure it’ll make good fodder for Tom Clancy’s next book.

I have to believe that Obama was being colorful in his language instead of literal. I checked the DOI website and could find no announcement about “SWAT teams” or any mention of such teams whatsoever. So, it must be the case that the man whose speeches cause tingles to run down the legs of newscasters, oceans to recede, and Nobel Prizes to fall from the sky simply misspoke.

One interesting thing to note is that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s declaration of the oil spill as an incident of “national significance” brings the whole mess within her Department’s purview. That of course allows all sorts of resources not otherwise available (i.e. money) to be employed in the cleanup, but it also raises the question as to what exactly the limits of the DHS are. Apparently they are quite willing to spend gobs of money and effort (and possible deploy SWAT teams!) to tackle an invasion of viscous minerals upon our southern shores, but are completely uninterested in doing anything about an invasion of vicious criminals upon our southern border, other than to challenge the right of individual States to defend themselves. Perhaps Arizona should spill a bunch of oil along the border and see what happens.


Quote Of The Day

This is usually Bruce’s department, but I thought this was too good to pass up. Here’s Jazz Shaw relating what’s he’s discovered about the Tea Party movement by actually meeting Tea Partiers:

The point is, meeting with tea party supporters has been a surprising experience. It’s not politics as usual and the old rules about Red vs. Blue and D vs. R don’t apply. Like any large gathering, you’ll find a couple of people with some more fringe outlooks, and that seems to be who the television cameras focus on. (We had one couple at a recent meeting who were obviously birthers and wanted to ask about Obama’s birth certificate, but they were quickly shushed by the rest of the crowd.) But for the most part, each group seems to carry its own distinct flavor and topics of interest. The one thing they seem to have in common is that they are unhappy with the current leadership in D.C. and they have come to play a serious game. If you think you already know the tea party movement, there’s a good chance you don’t. It’s kind of like trying to say you know the ocean. It’s big, it’s powerful, it’s rarely the same twice, and you never know exactly what it’s going to do next.

I bolded that one sentence just because it really stood out for me as crystallizing the movement as a whole. The Tea Party is all about constituents finally paying very close attention to what their representatives in Washington are doing. I’ve said before that when Americans really start to pay attention to someplace (e.g. the Middle East) or something (Federal Government), they tend to radically change it forever. That’s the “serious game” I see being played all across the country. And I think that is an unalloyed good.

BTW, read the whole thing.

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