Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Too Many Bureaucrats to Count

This past weekend at the Federalist Society National Convention in Washington, I became aware that some (who knows how many?) political appointees from the Bush administration are still on the government payroll.

One man, who works for one those cabinet-level departments that many conservatives would abolish, was appointed as Schedule C political appointee. After Obama's inauguration, this Republican expected that someone would thank him for his service and show him the door.

It never happened.

Four years later, the Obama appointees assume that he is a fellow "progressive" -- because he has been there so long.  Consequently, he hears candid discussions among Democrat political appointees.   For example, he knew, in advance, that the labor statistics before the Election would understate unemployment by not counting California's numbers.

That's the back-drop for the Fiscal Cliff negotiations:  we have so many people on the Federal payroll that people can get lost, for years.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Post Mortem

It is one week since the re-election of Barack Obama and an increase of Democrat numbers in both houses of Congress.  While many seemed shocked at the result, many of us knew in our gut that Mitt Romney and other Republicans did not stand a chance.  It does not take a political genius to figure out the cause of the defeat: the allure of European socialism was just too great for a majority of the electorate.

The notion that a beneficent government will protect us from all hazards of life, financial or otherwise, is an appealing one.  It is especially appealing to those of limited resources or opportunity, and those having greater resources and opportunities need to understand that appeal.  With its many and growing entitlement programs, the country has been trending in the direction of European socialism for decades, but in the last few years that trajectory has accelerated.  The people have spoken and they like that trend.

The tragedy of course is that  a government can only tax or borrow so much in an attempt to provide the protections that socialism pretends to provide.  Once the money is gone, the populace will face far more hardship and poverty than they would have with a more limited, less "compassionate" government.  Europe provides a textbook example of the failure of socialism.  Unfortunately, we have a significantly large portion of our population whose greatest concerns are saving money for a new tattoo or catching the next reality TV show.  Such people have little concern for social or economic history.

America is still a rich country and it will take awhile to kill the golden goose of limited government and free enterprise, but the goose may get to the oven sooner than we think.

Many dream of a European vacation.  Save your money, Europe is coming to you!

Kentucky Secession Signatures Double Since Yesterday

Yesterday, we noted that 4,573 Kentuckians had signed a petition to secede from the United States.  The petition, at Whitehouse.gov, now has 12,656 signatures.  It's half-way to the point where the White House will respond  to the petition, under its own rules. Voters from a growing number of other states, meanwhile, are filing their own petitions.

Here's the link if you want to sign.

At this rate, there will be enough signatures to require a White House response by the end of the week. What form might that response take?  I am reminded of when my son wrote to Obama last year with serious concerns about the amount of federal debt that the administration is saddling his generation with.

Obama's response:  a photograph of his dog, Bo.

All you signatories of the secession petition should be on the lookout for something similar, paid for with your tax dollars.

Still, the beauty of the secession petition is to give a grassroots, organic reminder to the Obama administration that despite reelection, it has no mandate.

No Worries About McConnell Going Wobbly

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell gave a must-read interview to Stephen Moore from the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board over the weekend. It is blistering. Some of McConnell's tone might be attributed to a bad week, first the election and then his beloved Cards love to Syracuse. The interview is well-worth reading as the closest thing we have to a crystal ball on how the next two years will play out -- particularly for your taxes.

Some highlights, quoting McConnell:

  • "Let me put it very clearly," says the five-term Republican senator from Kentucky. "I am not willing to raise taxes to turn off the sequester. Period." 

  •  The smart way forward, Mr. McConnell says, "is pretty simple. Let's extend the current rates for another year for everyone—a bridge—and get busy working on the comprehensive tax reform that we need to do. There's bipartisan support for that."

  • "The speaker and I spent an endless amount of time in the first half of 2011 trying to get the president to do what we all know has to be done if we're going to save the country," Mr. McConnell says. "Until we adjust the entitlement programs to fit the demographics of today's America, you can't fix the problem. You can't tax your way out of it. You can't cut health-care providers as a way out of it. But Democrats laughed at those ideas even when we offered a quarter-trillion of higher revenues largely taken from high-income people."

  • The senator's top priority is long-term entitlement reform. "Changing the eligibility for entitlements is the only thing that can possibly fix the country long term." He wants means-testing for programs like Medicare. "Warren Buffett's always complaining about not paying enough in taxes," he says. "What really irritates me is I'm paying for his Medicare."

  • The other unresolved mega-issue is what to do about the scheduled sequester cuts of $110 billion for 2013, half coming from defense and half from discretionary domestic programs. Much like the president, he wants to shut it off, but with a caveat: "I don't think we should just forget about the spending reductions we promised. We ought to achieve exactly the same amount of spending reductions," with targeted cuts that the two parties have already agreed to. When pressed on whether he could live with the sequester, as some Republican budget hawks have suggested, the senator dismisses that drive-off-the-cliff option as "Thelma and Louise economics."

  • But don't Messrs. Obama and Reid think they've just been given a mandate to raise those tax rates? "Yes, well, we Republicans in the House and Senate think we have a voter mandate not to raise taxes."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sign Your Kentucky Secession Petition?

The Daily Caller reports that citizens from 20 states -- including Kentucky -- have launched  secession petitions on the White House's web-site.

It gets even more bizarre:  as of this writing 5,373 people have signed the Kentucky petition -- since November 10.

That leaves 19,627 signatures needed before the petition triggers an "official response" from the White House, and only one month to compile the signatures.  This is not a constitutional provision but rather something that the White House web site "We the People" program invented. (Hey, this administration invented a fake presidential seal in 2008, so coming up with rules for seceding from the Union is nothing.)

The text of the Kentucky petition essentially tracks the Declaration of Independence.

It seems you cannot sign the petition without creating a Whitehouse.gov account, which I declined to do for fear that unmanned drones would start circling my house.

 I could not see who had signed the Kentucky petition. If someone wants to sign it and let me know whether you can view who else signed, let me know. The website apparently does not reveal last names, but we're a small state, we can figure out who's who.

We need to make sure that people from other states aren't signing our petition for us, to get rid of us! That could be how California and New York finally escape their mortifying association with  us flyover states, although frankly, it would be their loss.

Sure, many of us are disappointed with the election. But I'm not so certain that Kentucky should secede.  If we do, who will pick up the tab when our state pension plan goes bust?

It's Subpoena Time

House Republicans initially requested David Petreaus and Hillary Clinton to testify before Congress voluntarily. It is clear that they will not come voluntarily, but no matter:  Congress has the authority to issue subpoenas, and should do so here.

That's the only way the public has a chance of learning the truth about what happened in Benghazi.  And even with the testimony, under oath of Petraeus and Clinton we may still never know the entire truth.

The Petraeus affair is giving rise to all sorts of conspiracy theories. I do not think that Petraeus was falling on his sword for the administration by resigning.  To the contrary, he has more freedom to speak the truth about Benghazi now that he has admitted to the affair.  Had he not, he could have been subject to blackmail.  We know that the FBI has been investigating this for months, and if the information had made it to Eric Cantor, it probably made its way to various people in the administration, as well.

The timing is, to say the least, peculiarly coincidental.

Regardless of his testimony about Benghazi, Petraeus and his family need our prayers. He has served his country brilliantly for many years, like another David who lived three thousand years ago and fell subject to the same sin.

I'm not condoning the affair, but just putting it in context,  He is a patriot.  He deserves our thanks, particularly on Veteran's Day.

But he really needs our prayers.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's Not All Bad

Andy Barr won; that's a good thing.  I found him to be smart yet humble, and he is a true conservative.  He will be a great addition to the Congress. And the House of Representatives has never been more important; it will save us from God knows what.

Republicans picked up five seats in the State House.  That, plus the exit of David Williams, give us an opportunity to accomplish some things that could really improve the standard of living for Kentuckians.  We can revisit gaming, and perhaps stop losing out on tax revenue that now flows to every state surrounding us.  We can simplify the tax code so that we stop missing out on companies relocating here. We can reform state pensions before it's too late.

Kentucky Democrats, meanwhile, are on the ropes. It's hard to see how they can survive another four years with Obama as their titular head.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chris Christie is Toast

Chris Christie did more to reelect Barack Obama than even Bill Clinton's help on the campaign trail. We saw a peek of this side of Chris Christie in the convention:  it was all about Chris Christie.  The man's ego, and self-absorption, interferes with his ability to play nicely with others in the Republican Party.

What was particularly upsetting about his bromance with Obama, and his endorsement of Obama's handling of the hurricane, is that Romney had been campaigning for weeks on bipartisanship, based on his record as governor of Massachusetts.  The strategy was working ; Romney was closing the gender gap.  Until Chris Christie undid all that hard work, all those inroads, with strolling arm and arm with Barack Obama down the beach. (Kind of reminded me of Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford in The Way We Were.)

 He is a traitor.

He is also up for reelection this coming year, one of the very few national elections in 2013.

Chris Christie needs a primary challenger. And I will donate to whoever steps forward to take on that role.  Frankly, I don't care if this means that Republicans lose the governor's race in New Jersey, because Chris Christie is no Republican.

Let the Impeachment Hearings Begin

The one silver lining in Obama's reelection is that he will now be held accountable, as a sitting president, for Benghazi.

Obama lied, people died.

The CBS tape proves that Obama lied to the American people, on the stump and in the debates.  The fact that CBS sat on the tape until the Sunday before the election shows that we can no longer count on  the media -- with the exception of Fox and Foreign Policy magazine  -- to get to the truth of what the administration knew and when it knew it.

Look for Hillary Clinton to stick around as Secretary of State just to do damage control.

Our military is entitled to know if their Commander in Chief has their back. And by the way, if he truly does, in addition to answering their cries for help, how about delivering their ballots in a timely manner so they can have a say in picking their Commander in Chief?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Just Voted For Love of Country

And now we pray.  No one knows what is going to happen. My best guess is 52 percent for Romney, 311 electoral votes.

Peggy Noonan makes a great point -- that the polls have distracted us from the reality of the yard signs, crowd size and even the demeanor of the candidates.  Romney looks peaceful and happy; Obama looks angry and exhausted.

I'm betting on the joyful campaign.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Andy Barr Will Win

Andy Barr is getting national attention; RedState and Fox News's Dana Perino predict he will unseat Ben Candler, who Eric Erickson described as one of the last "Blue Dog phonies."

Given that Kentucky's polls are among the first in the nation to close, this race will be heralded as a bellwether to measure the length of Romney's coat tails.

Barr will win despite the attempts to gerrymander the district to ensconce Chandler. And the key issue -- coal -- will similarly propel Romney to victories in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chris Christie Robocalls for Brooks Wicker

The only Robocall that could have been worse for a Republican is Michael "hold the trans fats" Bloomberg.

I feel so sorry for Brooks Wicker. They guy is running a campaign on no money, and he takes what little he has to Robocall with Chris Christie, right after the guy man hugs Obama.  We all get that Christie needs federal money for New Jersey.  Still, the bromance was enough to make a conservative retch.

By praising the president this close to the election, Christie has disqualified himself from national office.

I only wish Christie had really been on the phone so I could tell him off.

Of course, none of this is Brooks Wicker's fault. Republicans owe him gratitude for running in a district where he is so out-registered as to have no chance. It is essential for the strength of the party that we field a candidate for every contest, even where the odds are this long. Thank you, Brooks, for taking on this Herculean task.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cables From Benghazi Put Administration On Notice

Fox News should -- but won't -- win a Pulitzer for its reporting on Benghazi. Today's Fox exclusive details cables that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi sent to the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One cable, sent an entire month before the attack, notifies the administration that:

  • al Qaeda had ten (10) training camps in Benghazi. (While Obama simultaneously told voters on the stump that "al Qaeda is on the run").
  • the Consulate did not have enough security to fend off a coordinated attack, "due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound," according to the cable.
  • the Libyan government had lost control, so its security forces and police could not be counted on to protect the Consulate.
Fox also reports:

While the administration’s public statements have suggested that the attack came without warning, the Aug. 16 cable seems to undercut those claims. It was a direct warning to the State Department that the Benghazi consulate was vulnerable to attack, that it could not be defended and that the presence of anti-U.S. militias and Al Qaeda was well-known to the U.S. intelligence community.

In a three-page cable on Sept 11, the day Stevens and the three other Americans were killed, Stevens wrote about “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” with the security forces and Libyan police. The ambassador saw both as “too weak to keep the country secure.”

 Fox News asked the State Department to respond to a series of questions about the Aug. 16 cable, including who was specifically charged with reviewing it and whether action was taken by Washington or Tripoli. Fox News also asked, given the specific warnings and the detailed intelligence laid out in the cable, whether the State Department considered extra measures for the consulate in light of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks – and if no action was taken, who made that call.

The State Department press office declined to answer specific questions, citing the classified nature of the cable.