Thursday, January 31, 2013

Helpin' of course....

We're helping Dad!

Today was a sad day. Saying goodbye to co-workers who are now out of work. It is much harder to be left behind, I think, than to be the one leaving (I've been the one leaving before). They left early, this afternnoon, and I realized -- though I knew in my head that I'd be the only one left in our department -- how very alone I was going to be for a while. I'm used to bantering with them throughout the day, sharing funny or awful calls. More radio and Pandora I guess to fill in the vacuum.

I took the boys for a run after work. Just waiting now for Steve to get home, have dinner, watch The First 48 and then hopefully finish the Tremayne book.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - January 31, 2013

Hagel's Disastrous Hearing Ought to Make 'No' Vote a No-Brainer

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has vindicated his critics thus far today in his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Service Committee for the post of Secretary of Defense. He has stumbled in attempting to explain his positions on Iran, nuclear disarmament, Israel, the Iraq "surge," and the "Jewish lobby." He has failed to explain contradictions between his voting record and his past statements on the one hand, and the positions he professes today on the other. Even liberals and supporters of Hagel are openly lamenting his poor performance.

Democrats on the committee are doing their best to inflate Hagel's thin resumé (belatedly discovered by Politico) by mentioning his military service at every opportunity. But they cannot cover for Hagel's errors and evasions--and he has been ably pinned down by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and others. Hagel's performance has not only undermined faith in his views but faith in his competence. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), whose recent support for Hagel was seen as guaranteeing his success, must be reconsidering his vote.

It is clear that Hagel's success is critically important to the Obama administration, which seems to have guided his pre-hearing visits with Senate critics and Jewish organizations, and used the Pentagon to lobby hard for his confirmation. The opening statement by two former Senate Armed Services Committee chairs, the bipartisan duo of Sam Nunn (D-GA) and John Warner (R-VA), was well orchestrated--though Warner's prediction that Hagel's own opening statement would answer every objection may have set expectations he could not possibly meet.

It is precisely because this nomination is so important to the White House, and the radical foreign policy it wishes to assert, that Hagel is still likely to win confirmation. The vote will not be about Hagel; it will be about Obama, and the current crop of Democrats has shown little will to dissent from the presidential line. But there is no way, partisan loyalty aside, that any reasonable person could watch Hagel's performance and still vote "yes." His past service may qualify him for many high government positions. Secretary of Defense--clearly--is not one of them.

Hey, Media: Chicago Teen's Shooting Called Gang-War Mistake

Apparently, gun downed honor student Hadiya Pendleton was in the "wrong place at the wrong time." 

The Chicago teen who was killed days after performing in President Obama's inauguration may have simply been in the "wrong place at the wrong time." Chicago's superintend says, calling the shooting a matter of "mistaken identity." The shooting, police believe, was part of a turf war among gangs, but Hadiya Pendleton had no gang links--nor, it appears, did any of those with her that day. The gunman, however, seemed to confuse the group with gang members. 

This tragic story just got worse. But it's a story that can't be used to score political points by the gun-control fanatics in Congress and in the national press. So, the mainstream media that has virtually ignored the daily carnage in the city of Chicago can now go back to looking the other way.
PK'S NOTE: This isn't a "glitch". Trust me, this is intentional; they want everyone on the government's "plan."  Hey, why don't we repeal Obamacare and do it right - not the everyone-must-be-covered plan but the competitive-across-state-lines-insurance-that lowers-prices idea?

Some families to be priced out of health overhaul

Some families could get priced out of health insurance due to what's being called a glitch in President Barack Obama's overhaul law. IRS regulations issued Wednesday failed to fix the problem as liberal backers of the president's plan had hoped.

As a result, some families that can't afford the employer coverage that they are offered on the job will not be able to get financial assistance from the government to buy private health insurance on their own. How many people will be affected is unclear.

The Obama administration says its hands were tied by the way Congress wrote the law. Officials said the administration tried to mitigate the impact. Families that can't get coverage because of the glitch will not face a tax penalty for remaining uninsured, the IRS rules said.

"This is a very significant problem, and we have urged that it be fixed," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, an advocacy group that supported the overhaul from its early days. "It is clear that the only way this can be fixed is through legislation and not the regulatory process."

But there's not much hope for an immediate fix from Congress, since the House is controlled by Republicans who would still like to see the whole law repealed.

The affordability glitch is one of a series of problems coming into sharper focus as the law moves to full implementation.

Starting Oct. 1, many middle-class uninsured will be able to sign up for government-subsidized private coverage through new health care marketplaces known as exchanges. Coverage will be effective Jan. 1. Low-income people will be steered to expanded safety-net programs. At the same time, virtually all Americans will be required to carry health insurance, either through an employer, a government program, or by buying their own plan.

Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, an advocacy group for children, cited estimates that close to 500,000 children could remain uninsured because of the glitch. "The children's community is disappointed by the administration's decision to deny access to coverage for children based on a bogus definition of affordability," Lesley said in a statement.

The problem seems to be the way the law defined affordable.

Congress said affordable coverage can't cost more than 9.5 percent of family income. People with coverage the law considers affordable cannot get subsidies to go into the new insurance markets. The purpose of that restriction was to prevent a stampede away from employer coverage.

Congress went on to say that what counts as affordable is keyed to the cost of self-only coverage offered to an individual worker, not his or her family. A typical workplace plan costs about $5,600 for an individual worker. But the cost of family coverage is nearly three times higher, about $15,700, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

So if the employer isn't willing to chip in for family premiums _ as most big companies already do _ some families will be out of luck. They may not be able to afford the full premium on their own, and they'd be locked out of the subsidies in the health care overhaul law.

Employers are relieved that the Obama administration didn't try to put the cost of providing family coverage on them.

"They are bound by the law and cannot extend further than what the law provides," said Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation.

ATF Royally Screws Up, Again

You've probably heard the old joke about how the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms should be a convenience store not a federal agency, but the latest ATF screw up in Wisconsin proves they aren't even capable of doing that properly. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A store calling itself Fearless Distributing opened early last year on an out-of-the-way street in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood, offering designer clothes, athletic shoes, jewelry and drug paraphernalia.

Those working behind the counter, however, weren't interested in selling anything.

They were undercover agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives running a storefront sting aimed at busting criminal operations in the city by purchasing drugs and guns from felons.

But the effort to date has not snared any major dealers or taken down a gang. Instead, it resulted in a string of mistakes and failures, including an ATF military-style machine gun landing on the streets of Milwaukee and the agency having $35,000 in merchandise stolen from its store, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found.

When the 10-month operation was shut down after the burglary, agents and Milwaukee police officers who participated in the sting cleared out the store but left behind a sensitive document that listed names, vehicles and phone numbers of undercover agents.

And the agency remains locked in a battle with the building's owner, who says he is owed about $15,000 because of utility bills, holes in the walls, broken doors and damage from an overflowing toilet.

The sting resulted in charges being filed against about 30 people, most for low-level drug sales and gun possession counts. But agents had the wrong person in at least three cases. In one, they charged a man who was in prison - as a result of an earlier ATF case - at the time agents said he was selling drugs to them.

Other cases reveal that the agency's operation was paying such high prices that some defendants bought guns from stores such as Gander Mountain and sold them to the agents for a quick profit. The mistakes by agents are troubling and suggest a lack of planning and oversight, according to veterans of the ATF, who learned about the operation from the Journal Sentinel. The newspaper combed through police reports, court documents, social media and materials left behind by the ATF, all of which provide a rare view inside an undercover federal operation.
No wonder the Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. is telling people to learn how to protect themselves, after all, ATF just lost track of an automatic machine gun which ended up in the hands of criminals in a city where crime is a huge problem. It should be noted that for a regular citizen to own any type of automatic firearm lawfully, they must go through extensive background checks, pay a ton of fees, give up their Fourth Amendment rights so ATF can come to their home or business at any point to do an inspection and if they get approved (which many people do not), they must keep their registration papers for the firearm with them at all times.

ATF is the agency in charge of enforcing President Obama's 23 new executive actions and the people who will enforce any new gun control measures passed through Congress. What could go wrong? Oh just about everything.

After Operation Fast and Furious, the Department of Justice and ATF have zero credibility when it comes to enforcing gun laws and this situation just further proves that point. 

Complaint: Sebelius’ illegal campaign trip for Obama worse than we thought

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated federal law by campaigning for President Obama on the taxpayers’ dime, but now that initial violation has the Democratic National Committee and an HHS aide in the spotlight for related alleged infractions.

A nonprofit government watchdog filed a complaint alleging that the DNC violated campaign finance law by misreporting the money it spent to reimburse HHS for Sebelius’ trip in a way that masked the fact that the Hatch Act, a ban on political campaigning by government employees working in their official capacity, had been violated.

“The DNC described the purpose of the expenditure as simply as ‘travel,’ thereby avoiding any acknowledgement that the purpose of the expenditure was to reimburse the federal government for Secretary Sebelius’ Hatch Act violation,” Cause of Action explained in a complaint to the Federal Elections Commission.

If the DNC had described properly the expenditures, which were paid out in April and August of 2012, it would have implicitly admitted that the law had been broken even before the Office of Special Counsel concluded its investigation into Sebelius’ trip to North Carolina, where she spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Gala. Sebelius attended the gala on official business, but added extemporaneous remarks in support of President Obama and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

“Not only is it that the DNC is not being transparent about what it’s using its funds for reimbursement of, but it’s also violating the intent and letter of the Federal Elections Campaign Act,” Cause of Action’s Dan Epstein said in a phone interview with The Washington Examiner. “Whether it’s to cover up the Hatch Act violation or to just not properly report it, it’s very clear that it’s not properly reported — [for] the reason why, one would have to look into the minds of the lawyers at the DNC.”

Epstein floated the idea that the DNC reimbursed HHS (rather than the Treasury Department) and classified it as travel, rather than as a reimbursement for an independent expenditure in order to avoid the appearance that the Treasury Department had effectively loaned money to the Obama campaign for the trip (which would be another violation of federal law, he said).

Cause of Action also noted another wrinkle: HHS’ reclassification of the trip as a campaign trip means that A.J. Pearlman, the adviser who traveled to the event with Sebelius, also violated the Hatch Act.

“That assistant’s participation in the event in North Carolina would in fact be a Hatch Act violation,” Cause of Action said in another complaint to the Office of Special Counsel.

Cause of Action blamed Obama and Sebelius for compromising Pearlman. “The consequence here is that A.J. Pearlman is thrown under the bus by Sebelius. Sebelius asked the DNC to reimburse HHS for A.J. Pearlman’s activities, which basically [means] A.J. Pearlman violated the Hatch Act, which means A.J. Pearlman needs to be disciplined, most likely fired,” Epstein explained. “Even though she didn’t intend to engage in any political activity, she was just doing what she was told.”

An OSC spokesperson said it could not comment on the Hatch Act complaint, due to privacy laws.

PK'S NOTE: This is why the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional and needs to be removed:

Bernanke's cattle drives

 Ben Bernanke is arguably the most powerful man in the world.  He controls the cost of money.  When you control the cost of money, i.e. interest rates, you control the evaluation of all assets measured by that currency.

He has furthered his powers ala the emergency in the crisis of 2008.  He has ignored portions of the Federal Reserve mandate and created his own, all without concern or oversight from the elected representatives of the country.

What is often referred to as the "dual mandate" is actually three parts. 

#1 pursuit of maximum employment, #2 stable prices, and #3 moderate long-term interest rates

Mr. Bernanke has chosen to ignore the third mandate of moderate interest rates. That mandate was included in the mission statement for specific purposes. The wisdom of this guidance seems to have been ignored. Moderate interest rates give value to the currency thus defending its stature. Moderate interest rates encourage savings and thus buffer against bad times. A nation is not healthy when the majority of citizens are two pay checks away from broke.

Moderate rates also deter irresponsible borrowing and in the case of government, irresponsible spending.

His new self-authored mandate is to encourage inflation. 2.5% is the target.  Nowhere in the Federal Reserve mission statement is there a mention of inflation as a goal of the Federal Reserve.

Ronald Reagan once said " there is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program." Well Bernanke has added some weight to that observation.  Apparently there is nothing so permanent as a temporary monetary emergency action. Ask the Japanese. That which was first seen by the Fed as an emergency response to a financial crisis in '08 has now somehow become the fountain of wealth for the Wall Street crowd and a necessity. They have the nod and the wink from the Fed that the punch bowl will stay full.

Bernanke's fake rates have created fake evaluations and misallocations of capital. The cattle drive of the previous decade into real estate is vaguely similar to this stock market rise. The new cattle drive is to run to the market and secure that 2% dividend in lieu of lending money to the government at .015% short term and 2% for ten years. The folly here is that people and trading models will risk $100 in capital to secure $2 a year in return.

We now have computer models throwing money at the stock market to capture that modicum of dividend income. Bernanke has inadvertently set the trap. With interest rate artificially set via Fed support of weekly auctions and by monthly purchases of unwanted mortgage paper, interest rate levels are arguably 2.5% below historically market driven levels.

Record low interest rates. Record high stock prices

"All asset evaluations are false when the cost of money is false." (Anonymous)

If rates revert back to reality, the dividend players will pay dearly.

Bernanke seems to intentionally disregard his mandate of moderate interest rates. Zero and record lows are not moderate by any definition. He is mandated, just as he is to maximize employment, to also maintain moderate (read fair) return on money.

When the cost of money is artificial, all that is measured by that money is also artificial.  A few more down ticks in the dollar and Bernanke will be seen in a different light.

 Obama Operatives Training Media How to Sell Obamacare

The Old Media is getting a little help from team Obama on how to report about Obamacare the "correct" way. 

To achieve that goal, Obama operatives are setting up propaganda symposiums for journalists and giving large cash donations to journalism associations to help spread Obama's word. 

This Obamacare propaganda campaign seriously blurs the line between government and "journalism" and seems to be a blatant attempt by team Obama to write the media's Obamacare stories for them. 

Rusty Weiss recently discussed a series of large donations made to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), the latest of which was donated expressly for the purpose of relaying the left-wing agenda on Obamacare. 

The donation, a $15,000 grant, was made by the Commonwealth Fund, a group now headed by former Obama operative David Blumenthal, who served as the national coordinator for Obama's Health Information Technology effort. 

The Commonwealth Fund has long been a backer of Obamacare and is staffed by Obama operatives. The organization has been cited for repeatedly downplaying any ills that Obama's healthcare proposals might cause and playing up only the positive aspects of the law. 

Despite its complete obeisance to Obama's policies, we see a "journalist" organization taking money from the group in order to push the group's Obamacare propaganda. 

Not all journalists are so taken with the whole effort, though. When earlier donations From Commonwealth Fund to the SABEW came to light in 2010, one journalist expressed his shock, saying, "I may be wrong, but this sounds like a program to teach reporters to write supportive stories about the health care reform law."
Pursuant to satisfying the latest Obamacare-pushing grant, the SABEW sponsored a symposium meant to "help" journalists "understand" how Obamacare should be written about for public consumption. 

The symposium was targeted to a select group of  journalists from such news outlets as Reuters, Money Magazine, MarketWatch, the Dallas Morning News, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 

The event began with an address by former Obama administration member Sherry Glied. Completely erasing any pretense that the event was impartial, the SABEW also stocked its discussion panels with members of Commonwealth Fund and other Obama operatives. 

The symposium had such helpful presentations as one that helped reporters with "targeting messages." Then there was Rachel Klein's PowerPoint presentation that told reporters that uninsured Americans "don't know the health reform law will help them." She went on to inform reporters on how great Obamacare was for Americans. 

Klein is the executive director of a left-wing group called Enroll America, a group whose main purpose is to "enroll" people in Obamacare. Klein's group also proudly counts as its close advisers the National Council of La Raza, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and others. 

The symposium was all so blatant that even former SABEW president Rob Reuteman was forced to admit that it was all a bit too cosy, if not entirely unethical, to have Obama's operatives instructing the media on how they should "report" on Obamacare. 

With all this hand-in-hand cooperation going on, it is odd indeed that President Obama recently claimed that the media isn't liberal enough for him.

A Blow to Obama's Imperial Presidency

President Obama has gone around Congress in as many ways as he can find. One way is by abusing the presidential power to make appointments to government positions during a Senate recess—to avoid having the Senate confirm the nominees.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt quite a blow: It ruled that a number of President Obama’s “recess appointments” were invalid.

As Todd Gaziano, director of Heritage’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, said: “Our unilateral president must take his unilateral medicine.”

Heritage’s James Gattuso explains:
To sidestep opposition in the Senate, the President declared these to be “recess” appointments, invoking his prerogative to fill vacancies without Senate confirmation when that body is not in session. The action was roundly criticized on the grounds that although the Senate was not actively conducting legislative business, it was formally still in session.
The judges said that President Obama made the appointments during an invalid “recess,” and that recess appointments cannot be made unless the position becomes vacant during the Senate’s valid recess. This brings up huge questions for all the appointees who have now been declared invalid—and the regulations they have created during their time in office.

There’s the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which had two members appointed in this way. Gaziano notes that “13 months’ worth of rulings, regulations, and other actions by the NLRB are now in question, because without the illegal recess appointments the NLRB lacked a quorum to act during all that time.”

And then there’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), whose director, Richard Cordray, was another of these invalid appointments. The bureau has been regulating away for the past year, but Gattuso writes that “the new rules adopted by the CFPB under Cordray will likely be invalidated.”

Gattuso describes the CFPB as “perhaps the least accountable entity in the federal government”
—so this is good news.
The odds are that this imbroglio will stall the CFPB’s regulatory agenda for some time. That, however, is no bad thing for consumers. The rules adopted by the CFPB, by limiting lender activity, decrease options for consumers and increase costs for mortgages and other loans. Reining them in could actually be a boon for consumer welfare.
There’s a reason the Senate is supposed to confirm these nominees—and in the case of the CFPB, the agency itself merits closer scrutiny. The judges’ decision is a welcome check on Obama’s abuses of power.


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Its Non-Director: What Now? by James L. Gattuso

The New Rules for Radicals

Here’s a list of rules for the GOP to consider if it wants to win another presidency in the 21st century, according to S.E. Cupp.

Republicans still reeling from the November elections and fiscal cliff negotiations that left them with a bruising 43:1 ratio of revenue to the cuts they sought might be in the mood for some payback.

But before they prepare to go to the mattresses, it might behoove GOP leadership to take a moment to look inward. There’s a reason President Obama won re-election despite a sputtering economy and a failed record of broken promises. And, there’s a reason the Republican brand has suffered. It has little if nothing to do with our ideas: conservative values—like limited government, gun rights and life—are still very popular.

But if we want to win another presidency in the 21st century, I suggest we consider the following new rules going forward:

Democrats aren’t the Visigoths. We won’t attract voters by convincing them liberals are terrible people. Conservatism has an uplifting message that we need to articulate, explain and promote at every opportunity. And smile more often—voters will be far less terrified of us if we don’t look like we want to eat their children.

Banish the “O” word. Conservatives must stop explaining conservatism based on everything Obama is not. Our policies exist apart from the president and apart from Democrats. Let’s try to explain them without referencing the Left.

Disregard the shiny object. Celebrities are fun, sure. But they’re also, for the most part, morons. Clint Eastwood, Jon Voight and whomever else offers to help our cause will not be foisted on the American people as spokespeople for the movement. Except in very rare cases, they’re reckless, they’re unserious, and they’re bad communicators.

Don’t endorse stupid. The Todd Akins of the party cannot be coddled, excused or funded. Strong opinions on abortion, gay marriage and other social issues are welcome, but junk science is not.

Vet like we mean it. You don’t get to run for office (with the full support of the party) just because you exist. The party needs to vet candidates more thoroughly and with the express understanding that even small state campaigns are national opportunities.

Populate the airwaves. All of them. Conservatives can’t keep talking in a vacuum on Fox News and right-wing radio. We need fresh, new voices to articulate our messages on MSNBC, CNN, “The Daily Show,” Bill Maher, “The View” and everywhere else. Young, diverse thought leaders who are media savvy and watchable should be booked on unorthodox outlets, not just the ones deemed safe and friendly.

Get a new ruler. The question isn’t do we move further to the Right or toward the center. We need to represent both ends of the conservative spectrum and everything in between. We will not leave social conservatives without a party, nor will we kick the moderates and libertarians out. At every opportunity, we will gleefully boast to voters that we are an intellectually diverse coalition.

Show and Tell. (But mostly Show). It isn’t enough to merely tell people that conservative policies are better. We have to show them. We need to look for microcosmic examples of conservatism in action—a successful charter school; an entrepreneur with private-sector solutions to public-sector problems; a philanthropic group solving a community concern. These are our success stories. Make them famous.

Get out of the Beltway. The same tired, old establishment voices have been crafting party messaging for decades, and what worked 30 years ago may not work today. Step outside once in a while, leave D.C., invite younger thought leaders to the table and consider unorthodox ideas. (Unless they are Newt Gingrich’s.)

Do not malign aggrieved parties. Minorities, women, gays, immigrants and anyone else who didn’t vote for us this year aren’t the enemy. They’re opportunities. Calling them ignorant and lazy won’t endear them to us. Show them how conservative ideas can make their lives better, not how they are making our lives worse.

Unicorns aren’t real, but bipartisanship is. Treating agreement like it’s a mythical creature is an opportunity squandered. We should look for bipartisan solutions to poverty, education and immigration, and remember that solving problems is the point of politics. Political argument is not an end in itself.

These new rules might be painful to read, and they will be hard to implement, but our party made some serious missteps over the past four years. Let’s not repeat them.

Obama's Thunderdome Strategy

Few are the men and women in American public life who haven't heard Mr. Dooley's famous aphorism: "Politics ain't beanbag." John Boehner, currently serving out his community service as speaker of the House, appears to have been meditating on Mr. Dooley's cautionary wisdom. At the Ripon Society last week he said the Obama administration was trying "to annihilate the Republican Party."

Better late than never, Speaker Boehner now sees that Barack Obama's notion of political competition is Mad Max inside the Thunderdome: "Two men enter, one man leaves.

"Last week during the president's second inaugural address, if one can employ that hallowed phrase to describe this speech, Mr. Obama used the occasion to defend entitlement programs by whacking his defeated presidential opponent: "They do not make us a nation of takers."


This was the second time Mr. Obama used a traditionally elevated forum to take down his opposition. His 2010 State of the Union speech will be remembered in history for nothing other than an attack on members of the Supreme Court seated before him. Justice Samuel Alito's whispered "Not true" would prove a prophetic comment on the Obama modus operandi.

Subsequent targets of the president's contempt have included the members of Congress's deficit-reduction supercommittee, the Ryan budget ("antithetical to our entire history"), repeated attacks on the "well off" and bankers, and famously a $100 million dump-truck of vilification on Mitt Romney.

When he won, the rationalization was that it was all a shrewd if brutal campaign strategy. But it kept coming. What is striking about the Obama technique is that it's not so much criticism as something closer to political obliteration, driving his opposition out of the political arena altogether. 

After the inaugural speech, Obama communications director Dan Pfeiffer said that Democrats don't have "an opposition party worthy of the opportunity." Even among the president's supporters, one is hard put now to find anyone who doesn't recognize that Mr. Obama's original appeal to hope and change has given way to search and destroy. 

Conventional wisdom holds that these unorthodox tactics are a mistake, that he's going to need GOP support on immigration and such. And by now it's conventional wisdom that when our smiling president transforms into Mr. Hyde he is merely channeling Saul Alinsky, deploying the tactics of community-organizing campaigns, the only operational world he knew before this. 

The real pedigree, though, is a lot heavier than community organizing in Chicago. 

Speaking last Saturday, Rep. Paul Ryan said that for Barack Obama to achieve his goals, "he needs to delegitimize the Republican Party." Annihilate, delegitimize—it's the same thing. The good news is that John Boehner and Paul Ryan recognize that their relationship with this White House is not as partners in anything. They are prey. 

Back in 1965, when American politics watched the emergence of the New Left movement—rebranded today as "progressives"—a famous movement philosopher said the political left should be "liberated" from tolerating the opinions of the opposition:"Liberating tolerance would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left." 

That efficient strategy was the work of Herbert Marcuse, the political theorist whose ideas are generally credited with creating the basis for campus speech codes. Marcuse said, "Certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed." Marcuse created political correctness. 

But let's talk about Marcuse in the here and now. He also proposed the withdrawal of toleration "from groups and movements . . . which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc."
Barack Obama in his "gloves-off" news conference Jan. 14: "They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research."

Marcuse called this "the systematic withdrawal of tolerance toward regressive and repressive opinions." That, clearly, is what President Obama—across his first term, the presidential campaign and now—has been doing to anyone who won't line up behind his progressivism. Delegitimize their ideas and opinions. 

A Marcusian world of political intolerance became a reality on U.S. campuses. With relentless pushing from the president, why couldn't it happen in American political life? Welcome to the Thunderdome. 

The original argument for the Obama presidency was that this was a new, open-minded and liberal man intent on elevating the common good. No one believes that now. This will be a second term of imposition. As he said in the inaugural: "Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action." That is Marcusian.

If the opposition is looking for one word to shape its role now, it would be this: Dissent. 

Trusting Your Own Government (or Not)

Earlier this month, Geraldo Rivera asked a caller: "How could you not trust your own government?"

Putting aside big and little episodes of untrustworthy government in the history of this country like the Trail of Tears, the internment of Americans of Japanese descent, Kent State, Waco, Fast and Furious, and the Benghazi Coverup, Rivera implies the burden of proof lies with the skeptical citizen when it comes to trust. But his question only diverts our attention. The issue isn't the relative peace in the body politic at this instant. The question Geraldo asks really goes to the heart of the very nature of our government.

History is full of governments that ran sufficiently amok that they become a mortal danger to their own citizens. Such governments did not last. Indeed, the last century was so full of episodes of different governments murdering their own citizens by deliberate official policy that it spawned a new word: democide.

Many in the media and academia who largely reject American Exceptionalism want us to believe instead that our government is exceptional in light of the history of governments. In how easily they dismiss the Second Amendment as being obsolete, they are telling us that there are no circumstances whatsoever in which some future American government would ever turn feral. They are willing to stake the lives of their children and grandchildren on that assertion.

Certainly people want a trustworthy and competent government. But it concerns me that more than one member of the president's inner circle has publicly praised China's Mao, a man responsible for the brutal deaths of over 40 million Chinese citizens. I am shocked that a close advisor to the president has favorably quoted Mao's warning that [political] power comes from the barrel of a gun. It is chilling to see a Mao-themed ornament on a White House Christmas tree, or the number of supporters of this administration who also voice approval of the murderous Che Guevara. It is incongruous that a man who was a leader of a group of radical socialists who contemplated murdering 25 million Americans should they reject postrevolutionary ideological reeducation is now a frequent visitor to the White House.

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security is busy stockpiling two billion rounds of hollow point pistol ammunition. The very government that Geraldo implies we must trust is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a contingency plan that cannot be explained by any current trends. The shocking implied question is not only who does DHS intent to shoot, but under what circumstances? Even if this plan devoted 100 rounds to each anticipated target, two billion rounds implies violent action by government against 20 million of its 310 million citizens. Is this the same 20 or so million the Weather Underground leader who now visits the White House anticipated needing to eliminate?

How should we rationally evaluate these facts? As disconnected random coincidences or as a glimpse of the plans of those in power and those who cheer them on? As long as the relationship between public servants and the public they serve is healthy, then we all can enjoy the blessings of liberty, which was the core reason the federal government was formed over 200 years ago.

But what happens when the public servant starts to think he is the public master instead?

Nobody can predict how a future government might endanger our own descendants by running amok. For example, what social, political, or legal forces exist today that would stop another Trail of Tears that were not sufficient to stop it the first time? Certainly firearms aren't the answer to every outrage, or even most. Even though we are all civilized and strive to be peaceful and polite to everyone, we cannot allow the precious right to keep and bear arms to be crippled with my generation, any more than we could allow the right of free speech to be crippled. Our future grandchildren might curse us for neglecting to preserve the very tools they might need most during some urgent crisis in their lives, even though no learned member of the news media could possibly envision such a thing at this moment.

The philosopher Karl Popper offers us some guidance. In Volume 2 of his The Open Society and Its Enemies, he wrote:

"...the use of violence is justified only under a tyranny which makes reforms without violence impossible, and it should have only one aim, that is, to bring about a state of affairs which make reforms without violence possible."

Can a government whose bureaucracy carefully hoards 2 billion rounds of ammunition in a country of some 310 million citizens be trusted to plan to implement "reforms" without violence?  Only oppressive socialist governments attempt such agendas. It is more commonly called "reeducation." How does Geraldo's question relate to such a plan, indeed to a government potentially with this manner of plan? Because it is not the duty of any democratic government to reform citizens, is the rational "contingency" being planned for that too many citizens will refuse to comply with government edicts that are yet to be made public?

Americans reached this point at one time in the history of the land they settled when the edicts of the government of England became too injurious and offensive at too many levels. Are we, who always put on our seat belts lest we have a crash, and avoid trans-fats lest we get clogged arteries, who always brush and floss, and who always do so many other things to avoid all the little and rare risks of life, are we not going to think for one moment that the government we depend upon to do its job competently, will never acquire a different attitude about what its job is and who is in charge? That government could never have an authoritarian seizure, or tell us one thing when its leaders intend on something entirely different, or even decide that it had the power to sterilize or assassinate its own citizens, or just take their children away for flimsy reasons or think it actually needed to use some of those rounds it is stockpiling -- that this could never, ever happen in all history to come?

I find it ironic that a British subject, in the form of a smug CNN anchor, is artfully scolding and lecturing American guests on his show about their support for the right to keep and bear arms. I recall a time when the finest award-winning journalists of their time, like the New York Time's own Walter Duranty, could not bring themselves to report that Stalin was deliberately starving millions of Ukrainian farmers to death as an act of government policy. Did Duranty and the Times choose to dissemble because they believed they were serving a higher cause at the time?  Do members of the media lie about firearms because they are serving a higher cause today? And when some future government they support runs wild and thousands (or millions) die, how will the media report it? The same way they glowingly talk about the exploits of Che Guevara or Bill Ayers, whom they tell us is just a neighbor of the current president?

In related news, the UK Telegraph carried a story on January 25, 2013 concerning Google Earth satellite photos of North Korea's vast system of political prison camps and prison cities. The paper reports, "Inmates -- who can be imprisoned for life, along with three generations of their families, for anything deemed to be critical of the regime -- are forced to survive by eating rats and picking corn kernels out of animal waste..."

And Israel National News reports that a new exhibit opened at Yad Vashem to mark 2013 Holocaust Memorial Day: "...the exhibit represents only an example of more than 71,000 items donated by thousands of people over the last two years as a way of perpetuating the memory of relatives who perished during the Holocaust...."

Also Reads:

Why Left Says Opposing Illegal Immigration is Racist

"The idea that enforcing the law is racist has become a pervasive pattern in liberal America. The most obvious example is the left’s bullying take on illegal immigration, in which they label anyone who wants to police the southern border a bigot. Now, obviously there’s nothing racist about opposing illegal immigration. For the love of God, it’s illegal immigration. You can have a ton of sympathy for the poor unfortunates who risk their lives to cross the American border—I fully understand and sympathize with people who simply want to escape the current drug cartel regime cesspool in favor of the beacon of hope that is America. But that doesn’t mean that the United States can afford to continue to usher across its borders people who don’t pay into the system yet do reap the benefits of our generous social services."

Sen. Rand Paul Amendment: No F-16s to Egypt

'At approximately 12:15 p.m. today, the Senate will vote on Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky) amendment stopping the "sale, lease, transfer, re-transfer, or delivery of F-16 aircraft, M1 tanks, and similar military equipment to the Egyptian government."'

The Path to Saving the Republic: Just Say 'No'

"Our nation is in crisis. The Obama administration is centralizing power at a level unmatched in American history with grave consequences for our future liberty and freedom. Of that there is not much debate among conservatives. Conservatives, however, are always waiting for the next Ronald Reagan, wondering if Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan or someone will win in 2016 and save the country from Obama. This is a fool's errand. Rubio and Ryan are fine men, good leaders and very important for our cause. But they can't save our Republic. There is no "one" and we need to stop looking to the next federal election to solve our problems."

Benghazi Footnote

"Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is hopeful that the American people will demand accountability by this administration and force them to find those responsible. Unfortunately, as Clinton showed during her Congressional testimony, this administration appears to be getting away with murder. The bottom line is that Benghazi represented gross negligence, a lack of leadership within the State Department, and the denial of available resources. Why? Because they chose to tout their narrative that terrorism is under control, misleading the American people who have pivoted from this incident."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Now there's a look you shouldn't get from a pet

Do You Ever Think of People and Just... Nope

My first call of the day was returning a voice mail from probably last evening. I called shortly after 8 and asked for the patient .... and was informed she had died this morning. Only in her 40s. That put a wonk on the day.

I had a dermatology appointment for my psoriasis outbreak. New goop to use. Oh boy. Have a checkup in two weeks.

It started snowing this afternoon ... it is slicker than snot out there. I wish Steve didn't have to be at the gun range tonight. But it is supposed to be in the 40s on Friday.

I'm having a cuppa tea right now and will head in soon to read in bed. Tomorrow is the last day for over 30 employees at work. I'm sure it will be a little weird.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - January 30, 2013

Negative Growth: Economy Tanks in Fourth Quarter

Yesterday, Breitbart News reported that consumer confidence had dropped to its lowest level in almost two years. Much of the media spun the number as the result of a payroll tax increase that hit millions who were repeatedly told by Obama that only the rich would see their taxes increase. Surprise! But the spin didn't explain why consumer confidence had steadily dropped during the months prior. Well, now we know: The American economy has taken a nosedive.
For the first time in over three years, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product shrank. Between October and December of 2012, the GDP had a negative growth of 0.1. And let's remember that this is the same quarter where we saw the media go into hyper-drive to spin Obama's anemic job and GDP growth into a repeat of the Roaring Twenties.
The problem with the American economy is that Obama and his media can't fool it. Happy talk and spin and distractions about contraception don’t create jobs or growth. You might be able to fool legions of people into voting a certain way, but you can't fool them into spending and hiring and investing.
Apparently, though, the media and Obama have managed to fool themselves. Even the Wall Street Journal calls today's news "unexpected." And anyone who watched Obama's Inauguration speech knows that his failed economy and the millions suffering in it are either not on his radar or of no concern whatsoever. Obama spoke of many things, but not the economy. He's in a war to win the culture, not to win anyone a job to lift them out of poverty.
The media is just as bad. The biggest story in our country today should be the increase in poverty and an unemployment crisis so dire our labor force has shrunk to thirty-year lows. But neither will speak of it. We do, however, know all about some idiot and his phony girlfriend. We know all about a "heckle'' that didn’t happen. One wonders which is the bread and which is the circus.
The pickle both Obama and the media have put themselves in, though, is this: If either makes the economy a priority, that's an admission Obama's economy is in trouble. And so we find ourselves in a situation we've seen in other countries where the state and media have aligned -- a situation where we're told a bad economy is a good economy, and the victims of this propaganda are those suffering in a bad economy no one wants to admit exists.
Already the media's spinning this GDP report in a way that says our economy tanked because the government didn’t spend enough. That's right, annual trillion dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see, but the media push to protect the State from blame and to use this terrible news as a way to further grow the State, is already on.
NBC's Chief White House Correspondent, Chuck Todd, just assured America this was a one-time economic anomaly and that prosperity is right around the corner. If a job had been created every time a member of Obama's media said this, we'd have full employment today.
We live in interesting and dangerous times. 
Obama’s Economy: The Excuses Begin

Blame everything, except the government's policies.

 Just days after the November presidential and congressional elections which gave President Barack Obama a non-mandate of 50.6% of the popular vote and the demonstrated supported of less than 27% of all U.S. adults, NBC’s Brian Williams actually told viewers:
With the election now over, it is once again safe to talk about the economy and jobs. Now that it is not a campaign issue, it’s back to reality.
Still in Democrat-supportive campaign mode, Williams then introduced a report by correspondent Harry Smith about how “the idea that manufacturing in America is dead … is an outright falsehood.” Mary Andringa, president and CEO of Iowa manufacturer Vermeer Corporation and then-board chair at the National Association of Manufacturers, told Smith:
What’s really outstanding is the fact that in 2010, the U.S. had an output of $4.8 trillion of manufactured goods. That was up from $4.1 (trillion) in 2000 — and we’ve been through two recessions in the past decade.
That is undoubtedly an impressive achievement which should not be discounted. But then Smith delivered the kicker:
Five million manufacturing jobs were lost in the U.S. in the last decade. But new jobs have been created too, and believe it or not, many manufacturers in the U.S. are looking for help.
This highlights two problems. The first, which is that our educational system and culture are not preparing enough people for the jobs which need to be filled, is self-evident to anyone with open eyes.

The second, despite the unfilled positions just noted, is even more important: unlike what occurred after every other post-World War II downturn, not enough new jobs are currently being created to make up for the ones being lost. The new companies and entire industries which have always emerged and generated enough new jobs to replace those lost as a result of increased productivity in existing industries aren’t appearing at a rate necessary to reduce unemployment to an acceptable level.

Why not?

At the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, the post-election search for an explanation clearly had two important constraints. First: do not blame the Obama administration or the federal government for anything. Second: find something to blame which appears to be plausible and can’t be immediately refuted.

Surprised? U.S. Economy Shrinks — and See What the White House Blames

For its part, the White House says the downturn is because of — wait for it — Hurricane Sandy, because apparently that’s still an excuse.

“Both international trade flows and inventory accumulation could have been affected by disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy, although a precise estimate of the effect of the hurricane on GDP is not available,” said Alan B. Krueger, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in a statement.

“Nonetheless, the BEA reported that Hurricane Sandy destroyed $44 billion worth of fixed capital, which indicates one of the storm’s significant economic effects,” he adds.

He said spending cuts are also to blame for the decrease.

“A likely explanation for the sharp decline in Federal defense spending is uncertainty concerning the automatic spending cuts that were scheduled to take effect in January, and are currently scheduled to take effect on March 1st,” he said.

“The decline in government spending across all levels reduced real GDP by 1.33 percentage points in the quarter,” he adds.

Final Thought (via AEI’s James Pethokoukis):
As recently as its 2011 econ forecast, WH predicted 4.0% GDP growth in 2012, 4.5% in 2013, 4.2% in 2014.

PK'S NOTE: But wait, there's more. Ok, WHO'S been the president for the last FOUR YEARS? They NEVER take responsibility for a blessed thing.

White House: GOP responsible for economic slowdown

White House press secretary Jay Carney laid the blame for a surprise economic contraction squarely at the feet of congressional Republicans Wednesday, saying economic threats during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations had prevented important defense spending.

"Our economy is facing a major headwinds, and that's Republicans in Congress," Carney said.The Commerce Department projected Wednesday the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Carney said that was partially attributable to the threat of sequestration, which would implement across-the-board spending cuts if a long-term deficit deal is not reached.

"This is political brinksmanship that results in one primary victim. That's American taxpayers and the American middle class," Carney said.

Carney said economic observers were "rightly appalled" by the threat of sequestration or default to drive a debt deal, and charged that Republicans were harming the economy to the benefit of the wealthiest Americans.

"It can't be we'll let sequester kick in because we insist tax loopholes remain in place for corporate jet-owners," Carney said.

Republicans have argued that dire threats are necessary to force Democrats to agree to entitlement reforms and spending cuts. The Republican National Committee on Wednesday circulated a document labeling Obama "President -0.1%" and argued the GDP numbers were evidence the president's stimulus plan had not worked.

The unexpected dip was the first time the economy shrank since the 2009 economic depression, and came as a surprise to economists, who had projected modest growth. 

In a statement posted Wednesday morning, Alan Krueger, Chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers said that reduced government spending from the sequester and economic uncertainty stemming from the "fiscal cliff" negotiations was likely to blame. Krueger also said Hurricane Sandy likely disrupted significant economic activity.

"Although GDP is the broadest measure of economic activity, other indicators of economic performance suggest that the economy continued to recover in the fourth quarter, despite the impact of Hurricane Sandy and uncertainty surrounding fiscal issues," Krueger said.

Krueger and other economic advisers pointed to a boost in personal income, disposable income, and worker-hours to argue that the economy was likely outperforming the initial estimate and would be revised upward.

"Moreover, as the Administration stresses with each economic report, indicators of economic performance can be volatile and are subject to substantial revision," Krueger said. "The average absolute revision from the 'advance' estimate of real GDP growth to the most current data is 1.3 percentage points."

The decline also drew new questions about the decision to delay, rather than eliminate, sequestration in the "fiscal cliff" deal struck earlier this month. But despite that delay, defense spending was cut to its lowest level in 40 years — evidence that uncertainty over an eventual deal was preventing spending on new projects. 
With the sequester delayed just two months, that drag threatens to bleed into a second consecutive fiscal quarter.

The White House has maintained that it wants to avoid the sequester. But when asked Monday on whether the president was planning specific meetings or events to address the topic, Carney said said he did not have "any specifics" to provide.

"We believe that the right course of action is to take steps to make sure that sequester doesn’t happen because it’s bad for the economy and bad overall for the effort to reduce our deficits in a reasonable way," Carney said Monday.

Judge: Immigration Agents Suing Obama Can Move Forward

A federal judge ruled that nearly a dozen federal immigration agents can move forward with their lawsuit against their own bosses and even President Obama over change in enforcement policy that the agents argue prevent them from doing their jobs.

Federal Judge Reed O'Conner ruled on Friday Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents' case has legal merit. They argue their bosses essentially have forced them to look the other way and not enforce the law --  thus overstepping Congress by changing laws through directives rather than legislation. 

The state of Mississippi joined the lawsuit against the administration but judge O'Conner dismissed the state from the lawsuit on Friday in the 35-page opinion.

The agents filed the lawsuit in October against the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and ICE Director John Morton, to ask the courts to overturn last year's directive by Obama to suspend deportation proceedings and offer temporary work authorization to some immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

“We are very pleased with this ruling," said Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who's representing the agents and is also widely known as the author of strict immigration laws in Arizona and Kansas. 

"It appears that the Obama Administration had hoped that no court would ever review the legality of its executive amnesty," Kobach said.  

Chris Crane, the president of ICE agents' union that initiated the legal fight, accused the Obama administration of not even consulting with agents when he made his policy change.

“We’ve repeatedly tried to work with the administration and they’ve just excluded us from everything since day one,” Crane said on a conference call with reporters announcing the lawsuit.

Crane went on to say that the new guidelines left agents powerless to enforce immigration law because they had no way to distinguish who qualifies for deferred deportation.

“The alien has no burden of proof to establish that claim,” Crane said. “So we’re not enforcing the law anymore, we’re not enforcing the policy. It’s pretty much just let everyone go.”

OWS is exposed: Rich, white, educated and working

It seems those Occupy Wall Streeters were a lot closer to the 1 percent than they would like to admit.
A new study of the OWS movement in New York found that many of the protesters were highly educated and not nearly as down on their luck as they portrayed. 

A third of protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York lived in households earning more than $100,000 and more than two- thirds were employed professionals, according to the study from CUNY’s Joseph A. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.

The study also showed the movement was mostly organized by experienced political operatives and nearly all of those involved — 76 percent — were college educated. 

Of those, half had graduate degrees and among those with bachelor’s degrees, and 28 percent had attended elite universities. 

“Occupy Wall Street was not a spontaneous eruption but rather an action carefully planned by committed activists,” the study concluded.

Additionally, the study found that the protesters were also disproportionately men — 55 percent — and many were white.

“It’s a pretty affluent demographic and highly educated,” said Professor Ruth Milkman, one of the study’s authors. “Many were the children of the elite, if you will.”

While they weren’t all homeless, many of the under-30 crowd who participated in the movement were recently laid off or underemployed, with nearly a quarter saying they work fewer than 35 hours a week.

“Most OWS activists and supporters were deeply skeptical of the mainstream political system as an effective vehicle for social change,” the study found. 

About 750 protesters were surveyed for the study, which took about six months.

A123 Sale Approved
Chinese firm buys bankrupt DOE-grant recipient, reportedly looking at Fisker
The sale of bankrupt electric-car battery maker A123 Systems to Chinese firm Wanxiang America has been approved by the necessary interagency panel.
The Hill reports:
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved Wanxiang America’s purchase of A123 Systems’ automotive, energy storage, commercial and government operations for $256.6 million.
“The future is bright for A123. It is a company with exceptional talent and potential, and Wanxiang America is committed to its long-term success and the continuance of its U.S. operations,” Pin Ni, president of Wanxiang America, said in a statement.
CFIUS, an interagency panel led by the Treasury Department, has the power to negate deals with foreign firms if they harm national security. Some GOP lawmakers worried that was the case with the bid for Waltham, Mass.-based A123, and they lobbied CFIUS to block the transaction.
Long troubled, A123 filed for bankruptcy in October 2012. The company had received $133 million of a $249 million grant from the Department of Energy, and received $1 million from the federal government the day it filed for bankruptcy. After security concerns arose among some Republicans about the sale, A123 sought a lobbying firm earlier this month while securing the sale to Wanxiang.

The effects of A123′s bankruptcy and sale are not isolated.

The company’s bankruptcy disrupted the production of DOE loan recipient and battery-powered carmaker Fisker Automotive, which used A123′s batteries. Fisker received $193 million in DOE loans; the original package was for $529 million, but was frozen by DOE in 2011.

Fisker leadership is reportedly considering a sale of the company, and is seeking investors to either improve the prospects of that sale or continue operation. Wanxiang is currently in talks with Fisker to become an investor, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Fmr. Tester Staffer Heads to Pro-Tester Consultancy

A secretive Democratic consultancy is hiring one of Sen. Jon Tester’s (D., Mont.) top campaign staffers after using a web of affiliated groups to attack Tester’s 2012 challenger.

Hilltop Public Solutions, which has refused to answer questions about its ties to a number of liberal political groups, will hire Aaron Murphy, a long-time Tester staffer and his 2012 campaign’s communications director, according to an emailed statement from Hilltop partner Barrett Kaiser.

“Murphy was a top adviser to Tester for nearly seven years as the senator’s communications director, chief spokesman and speechwriter,” Kaiser’s email said. “In 2011 and 2012, Murphy oversaw communications, press and social media on Tester’s successful and highly regarded U.S. Senate campaign.”

Kaiser is Hilltop’s director of western operations, and works out of the firm’s Billings, Mont., office. He is a former staffer for Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), and consulted for Tester’s 2006 campaign.

The move deepens the consultancy’s ties to the sitting Montana senator. Hilltop actively engaged in Tester’s reelection fight through a handful of AstroTurf groups. Kaiser himself filed Federal Election Commission paperwork for Montana Hunters and Anglers Action!, the activist arm of a group credited with tipping the race in Tester’s favor by backing a spoiler Libertarian candidate.

Montana Hunters and Anglers, the group’s affiliated political action committee, listed Hilltop associate Joe Splinter as its treasurer.

The group ran at least two television ads hitting Rep. Denny Rehberg, Tester’s 2012 opponent, for supporting legislation that would give the Department of Homeland Security some authority over public land in the state.

Hilltop partner Jeremy Van Ess is listed as an officer of another group that was active in the Montana Senate race: the Citizens for Strength and Security Fund. That group ran at least three television ads and two radio ads attacking Rehberg.

Tester’s campaign echoed many of the attacks from both the Hunters and Anglers and Citizens for Strength and Security Fund ads, including charges that Rehberg violated a pledge to refuse pay raises, voted to give the Department of Homeland Security control over Montana land, and voted for the Patriot Act and Real ID immigration legislation.

Murphy did not respond to requests for comment.

The Lupine Socialist Dream

"A society of sheep begets a government of wolves."  -- Bertrand de Jouvenel 

In his short but profound work, The Ethics of Redistribution, the 20th Century French Philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel uncovered the ontological core of collectivism's ideological precepts. In the process, he succeeded in ripping off the mask of altruism that accompanies all economic structures that ultimately infringe upon human initiative and freedom in service to a "benevolent and promethean" reordering of human affairs. On the surface, it appears that confiscatory taxation and the distribution of its proceeds are consistent with a theory of justice that elevates "fairness" and demonizes the inequalities that arise from unfettered markets. Yet Jouvenel, with stunning clarity, draws our attention to the true locus of intent that a systematic revolution of economics portends for societies that place their faith in collectivist schemes. Thus, he writes:

The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State.

It then becomes apparent that the state worshipping eye, occupied with the misdirection of trumpeted social justice platitudes and the self-interested anticipatory largesse secured through brigandage of the wealthier nodes of society, does not apprehend the subterranean institutions that a regime must set into motion for the mechanics of redistribution to occur. Nor does it readily comprehend that a society's understanding of liberty, along with its attendant theory of property, necessarily dissolves as the regime accrues power in its own name's sake.

The expansionist state methodically grows in scope and power into unanticipated nooks and crannies of the private sphere and ultimately metastasizes into a structure where equality not only eclipses negative freedom, but government assumes the gravitas of an avenging angel that rewrites the codes of morality and eventually becomes the arbiter of both success and failure by virtue of its laws, regulatory schemes, and patronage.

As republics inexorably begin their death swoons into full democracies, that great magnetic pull towards equality in all of its forms becomes culturally irresistible, and this degraded form of regime, warned of by Plato and Aristotle, eventually acts as a leveling agent for society. It is but a few small steps from egalitarian collectivist economics to ideological homogeneity. This is not to say that humanity will assume a common face, but that as the incrementally empowered regime reaches its full bloom and ascendency, it by necessity becomes the sole arbiter of moral questions. Since philosophy and the search for transcendent truths are both relegated to a defunct history, the state will countenance and tolerate various modes of being as long as these do not either question the sovereign authority of the regime or declare that their own political expression is categorically superior to the others. It is there that its tolerance bluntly terminates. Jouvenel characterizes the full blown character of the democratic descent:

Democracy, then, in the centralizing, pattern-making, absolutist shape which we have given to it is, it is clear, the time of tyranny's incubation.

It matters not if the tyranny is of the character of Stalin or of a softened rule of technocrats and managers. Once the rights and liberties of a people fall into disuse or are traded for the pledge of economic security, the people's envy of all distinctions becomes an internal leveler that the regime gives full moral sanction to. This effectively sounds the death knell for individuation, entrepreneurship, and the classical virtues -- in effect, the traditional mores of the American dream that are founded in self-sacrifice, industriousness, and self sufficiency apart from the cloying arms of the collective. The transition from citizen to subject proceeds apace as the quality of a Socialist-defined existence grows meager and life itself loses its enchantment and luster while men and women grow smaller.

When the decrepit Twentieth Century dinosaurs of Marxism met their inglorious ends, it was left to the Progressives and Keynesians to soften the gaze of the collectives' Stalinist façade; and by jettisoning sound fiscal and monetary policy, a clever political elite could spend profligately while postponing the Day of Reckoning. That day is perhaps at hand for the West, and all we have to show for our labors is a gargantuan debt and an edifice of government institutionally entrenched in nearly every aspect of our lives. In retrospect, Jouvenel was prescient in that he foresaw redistribution as the velvet manacles that ushered in an irresistible state power -- but he left out one detail. We have not merely sold our own birthrights for boiled cabbage, but we have passed on this crushing debt to our sons and daughters as we have become profligates of the lowest order. And long after we are dead, should America survive so long, those same children will be tied to the burden we ourselves could not face on our own, having lived so lavishly at their expense.

Is there any doubt that our heirs will be facing a bleak and impoverished future as we pass on our very own special incarnation of the Lupine American Dream: having taken every lamb for our own ravenous appetites, while spitting out the bones and scraps for our young cubs to fight over?