Socialist-in-Chief

From Jay Nordlinger:

Some people have called Obama a socialist, and that has other people all shaken up — even “all wee-weed up,” as the president himself might say. I have a couple cents to add to this discussion — and whether these cents are sense, I don’t know.

For some years — starting long, long before Obama — I’ve played a little game. It goes like this: “If Politician X were not an American, but a politician in some other country, what party would he belong to? If his views and outlook were exactly as they are now — if it were merely a question of nationality, or venue — what party would he belong to?”

Well, let’s play with Obama: If he were a Frenchman, what party would he belong to? What would be his natural political home? And if Italian? Why, in either case, he’d be with the Socialists, right? I mean, he certainly wouldn’t be a Conservative or a Christian Democrat. What if he were German? SDP, right?

And take the countries whose main socialist party is a Labor party: Britain, Israel, Norway, etc. (Kind of funny to think of Obama as an Israeli, isn’t it?) What party would he belong to? He’d be a Laborite, right? I mean, no doubt.

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“Socialist” is a heavy charge in America, causing the wee to flow. But that’s a little weird. Most of the world’s democrats are socialists, don’t you think? I mean, free-marketeers — genuine free-economy people — are always in the minority. Some portion of the world’s people are democrats — let’s hope it’s a majority, and a big one. And most of those are surely socialist: certainly more than they are Friedmanite (as in Milton) — or Reaganite, or Goldwaterian.

In America, just about everyone on the left — just about everyone who leans toward statism — is in the Democratic party. If your inclinations are socialist, you are probably a Democrat, or vote Democratic. We are a two-party system: with two big ol’ parties. Bella Abzug was a Democrat; Ike Skelton is a Democrat. Kind of a funny system we have.

[...]

I’ve just checked out the website for the Socialist International — slogan, “Progressive Politics for a Fairer World.” Does it make me a total McCarthyite to say that sounds just like our Democrats? A partial McCarthyite? Well, doesn’t it sound like them, exactly?

And check out the names on the Presidium: The president is George Papandreou (of Greece, needless to say). (Nice job there, by the way!) Vice presidents include Bachelet (Chile), Barak (Israel), Brown (Great Britain), and Zapatero (Spain). Are those politicians so different from Obama? From Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, and scads of other Democrats? Really? Of course not. It’s just that, in America, when someone says “socialist,” we all go, “Eek, a mouse.”

Someone was saying the other day that Kerry might become secretary of state, in a second Obama term. As far as I’m concerned, that’d be pretty much exactly like Joschka Fischer becoming foreign minister. Kerry and Fischer: They are cut from the same philosophical, political, and attitudinal cloth, aren’t they?

I believe that President Obama, and his closest allies, would like the United States to be a lot more like European social democracies. Is that such an outlandish statement? I think Obama et al. probably think that Norway is fundamentally more just than the United States. Remember the Socialist International slogan: “Progressive Politics for a Fairer World.” That’s the ticket.

The Norwegians gave Obama their most precious gift, the Nobel Peace Prize. Why do I say “the Norwegians”? Well, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is composed of five men and women who were appointed by the Norwegian parliament, the Storting. The committee is therefore a reflection of the country’s political culture. The chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, is a major Laborite, and a former vice president of the Socialist International. Obama is a president after his heart, and the committee’s heart. He is a soulmate of theirs. They share an outlook, a worldview.

[...]

Some years ago, just before he left the Senate, I interviewed Phil Gramm — the old econ prof. And I asked him whether the Democratic party was, in effect, socialist. (This is long before Obama, mind you.) He said it was, “if by ‘socialist’ you mean the redistribution of wealth, more decisions made by the central government — no question about it. My grandmother thought of the Democrats as the party of the people. What they are is the party of government.” Tell it, Phil.

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Repeal Amendment

From Randy E. Barnett and William J. Powell:

On Sept. 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed. The celebration of Constitution Day this year takes on renewed significance as millions of Americans are objecting to a federal government that has bailed out or taken over banks, car companies and student loans while it prepares to take charge of the practice of medicine. Unfortunately, because there is no single cause for this growth of federal power, there is no single solution.

One cause is political, with elected officials promising solutions to social problems that are beyond their power to deliver. Another is judicial, with federal judges who have allowed the Congress to exceed its enumerated powers for so long that they no longer entertain even the possibility of enforcing the text of the Constitution.

Also responsible are two “progressive” constitutional amendments adopted in 1913. Both dramatically increased the power of the federal government at the expense of the states, creating a constitutional imbalance that needs to be corrected.

The 16th Amendment gave Congress the power to impose an income tax, allowing it to tax and spend to a degree previously unimaginable. This amendment enabled Congress to evade the constitutional limits placed on its own power by effectively bribing states. Once states are “hooked” on receiving federal funds, they can be coerced to obey federal dictates or lose the revenue.

The 17th Amendment provided for the direct election of U.S. senators by the voters of each state. Under the original Constitution they were selected by state legislatures and could be expected to restrain federal power. Whatever that amendment’s democratic benefits, the loss of this check on the federal government has been costly.

In its next session beginning in January, the legislature of Virginia will consider proposing a constitutional “Repeal Amendment.” The Repeal Amendment would give two-thirds of the states the power to repeal any federal law or regulation. Its text is simple:

“Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.”

At present, the only way for states to contest a federal law or regulation is to bring a constitutional challenge in federal court or seek an amendment to the Constitution. A state repeal power provides a targeted way to reverse particular congressional acts and administrative regulations without relying on federal judges or permanently amending the text of the Constitution to correct a specific abuse.

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The Road to Serfdom

If this proposal comes to fruition, the United Kingdom is well on its way:

The UK’s tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.

The proposal by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stresses the need for employers to provide real-time information to the government so that it can monitor all payments and make a better assessment of whether the correct tax is being paid.

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The rise of the Tea Party

From Peggy Noonan:

So far, the Tea Party is not a wing of the GOP but a critique of it. This was demonstrated in spectacular fashion when GOP operatives dismissed Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. The Republican establishment is “the reason we even have the Tea Party movement,” shot back columnist and Tea Party enthusiast Andrea Tantaros in the New York Daily News. It was the Bush administration that “ran up deficits” and gave us “open borders” and “Medicare Part D and busted budgets.”

Everyone has an explanation for the Tea Party that is actually not an explanation but a description. They’re “angry.” They’re “antiestablishment,” “populist,” “anti-elite.” All to varying degrees true. But as a network television executive said this week, “They should be fed up. Our institutions have failed.”

I see two central reasons for the Tea Party’s rise. The first is the yardstick, and the second is the clock. First, the yardstick. Imagine that over at the 36-inch end you’ve got pure liberal thinking—more and larger government programs, a bigger government that costs more in the many ways that cost can be calculated. Over at the other end you’ve got conservative thinking—a government that is growing smaller and less demanding and is less expensive. You assume that when the two major parties are negotiating bills in Washington, they sort of lay down the yardstick and begin negotiations at the 18-inch line. Each party pulls in the direction it wants, and the dominant party moves the government a few inches in their direction.

But if you look at the past half century or so you have to think: How come even when Republicans are in charge, even when they’re dominant, government has always gotten larger and more expensive? It’s always grown! It’s as if something inexorable in our political reality—with those who think in liberal terms dominating the establishment, the media, the academy—has always tilted the starting point in negotiations away from 18 inches, and always toward liberalism, toward the 36-inch point.

Democrats on the Hill or in the White House try to pull it up to 30, Republicans try to pull it back to 25. A deal is struck at 28. Washington Republicans call it victory: “Hey, it coulda been 29!” But regular conservative-minded or Republican voters see yet another loss. They could live with 18. They’d like 8. Instead it’s 28.

For conservatives on the ground, it has often felt as if Democrats (and moderate Republicans) were always saying, “We should spend a trillion dollars,” and the Republican Party would respond, “No, too costly. How about $700 billion?” Conservatives on the ground are thinking, “How about nothing? How about we don’t spend more money but finally start cutting.”

What they want is representatives who’ll begin the negotiations at 18 inches and tug the final bill toward 5 inches. And they believe Tea Party candidates will do that.

The second thing is the clock. Here is a great virtue of the Tea Party: They know what time it is. It’s getting late. If we don’t get the size and cost of government in line now, we won’t be able to. We’re teetering on the brink of some vast, dark new world—states and cities on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government too. The issue isn’t “big spending” anymore. It’s ruinous spending that they fear will end America as we know it, as they promised it to their children.

So there’s a sense that dramatic action is needed, and a sense of profound urgency. Add drama to urgency and you get the victory of a Tea Party-backed candidate.

That is the context. Local Tea Parties seem—so far—not to be falling in love with the particular talents or background of their candidates. It’s more detached than that. They don’t say their candidates will be reflective, skilled in negotiations, a great senator, a Paul Douglas or Pat Moynihan or a sturdy Scoop Jackson. These qualities are not what they think are urgently needed. What they want is someone who will walk in, put her foot on the conservative end of the yardstick, and make everything slip down in that direction.

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The Vision of the Anointed

From Walter E. Williams:

While America’s liberal elite have not reached the depths of tyrants such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler, they share a common vision and, as such, differ only in degree but not kind. Both denounce free markets and voluntary exchange. They are for control and coercion by the state. They believe they have superior wisdom to the masses and they have been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. They, like any other tyrant, have what they see as good reasons for restricting the freedom of others.

Their agenda calls for the elimination or attenuation of the market. Why? Free markets imply voluntary exchange. Tyrants do not trust that people behaving voluntarily will do what the tyrants think they should do. Therefore, they seek to replace the market with economic planning control and regulation.

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Forgive us, for we know not what we do

From VDH:

In just 20 months, President Obama’s polls have crashed. From near 70 percent approval, they have fallen to well below 50 percent. Over 70 percent of the public disapproves of the Democratically controlled Congress. Hundreds of thousands of angry voters flocked to hear Glenn Beck & Co. on the Washington Mall. Indeed, things have gotten so bad that the cherubic Mormon Beck might outdraw Barack Obama himself on any given Sunday.

All this was not supposed to be — and it has evoked a lot of anger.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson thunders, “The American people are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.”

You see, hoi polloi want “easy solutions” — like trying to close an open border, cut federal spending, and balance the budget. Instead, they should be manning up to pay more for gas, more in taxes, and more for entitlements for more to come across the border.

Worse still, the uninformed voter cannot seem to appreciate the brilliance of Barack Obama, who has deigned to suffer on our behalf, in offering only unpopular but necessary solutions. Obama has tried his best to prepare an immature nation for amnesty, borrowing at record levels, cap and trade, and additional trillions of national debt — the castor oil that the obese and now constipated public for some reason just won’t swallow.

Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution chimes in with the thought that Neanderthal Americans can’t really distinguish between cause and effect. So in clueless fashion, they blame big deficits, big spending, and high unemployment on Obama, when what they’re really afraid of is the “browning of America.” In other words, we remain a nation of primitives resisting the future. “Successful black and brown professionals have had to learn to be comfortable in a sea of white faces, but most white Americans have not experienced the reverse. And many are not eager to have that experience. While some prognosticators were naïve enough to believe that Obama’s election signaled the beginning of a post-racial era, it prompted something altogether different: a backlash against the browning of America.”

[...]

Americans, and even liberal New Yorkers, poll over 70 percent opposed to the so-called Ground Zero mosque — even after our president gave a courageous standing-ovation pep talk to a group of anguished Muslims at a White House Ramadan dinner. “New Yorkers,” the Times scoffed, “like other Americans, have a way to go.” My god, you would have thought that we had given a discount to moveon.org to run a slanderous “General Betray Us” ad, as an American general came back from the front to Washington to save a war.

The president himself is grieved by these polls and the Beck-led protests. Indeed, he derides it all as the “silly season.” He does not mean “silly” as in Michelle Obama’s Marbella–to–Martha’s Vineyard odyssey, or his own mini-recession summits on the golf links. Instead, like Robinson and Tucker, he is bewildered that millions don’t appreciate that our godhead is “making decisions that are not necessarily good for the nightly news and not good for the next election, but for the next generations.” I suppose here the president means that he is on schedule to add more debt than all previous presidents combined — just the sort of bravery that the “next generations” who will pay for it will appreciate.

In the case of Obama worship, the tone is always set at the top. So we are back to 2008, when candidate Obama likewise attributed any rejection to the inability of yokel America to appreciate his inspired leadership — “it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

In short, a frustrated America has let the liberal elite down. And it is all the more disheartening when you think that just two years ago we proved sort of redeemable by electing Barack Obama — amid the hysteria following the financial panic of September 2008, the lackluster campaign of John McCain, Obama’s own faux-centrist veneer, the glow of electing America’s first African-American president, and the first orphaned election since 1952 when no incumbent of either party was running.

Apparently the liberal elite did not consider that perfect storm of events that elected a northern liberal in a way that had been impossible with George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry. Instead, they really believed that Obama’s election was proof that at last America had shed its odious -isms and -ologies. America was now ready for an updated FDR New Deal — as if, after seven decades, America had never tasted Social Security, unemployment and disability insurance, a 40-hour work week, and trillions in unfunded pensions and entitlements. In this “never let a crisis go to waste” teachable moment, the cognitive elite was convinced that America had at last crossed the liberal threshold and so evolved from the passé equality of opportunity to the promised equality of result.

But now a grouchy elite and a petulant president see that they were sorely mistaken about us, and Mr. Obama’s election was more flukish than predestined. Americans were given government takeovers of business, multi-trillion-dollar deficits, promised higher taxes, a path to socialized medicine, and an end to building the odious border fence — with, to top it all off, accusations from the likes of Van Jones and Eric Holder, apologies and bows abroad, and the beer summit. And yet the rustic ingrates are rejecting both the benefactor and his munificence.

Forgive us, Barack Obama, for we know not what we do.

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University diversity

In, as George Will wrote, everything but thought.

From Fox News:

A longtime professor at UCLA, told that he would not be rehired because his “research is not aligned with the academic mission” of his department, says he’s being fired after 36 years at the prestigious school because his scientific beliefs are “politically incorrect.” But UCLA says Dr. James Enstrom’s politics have nothing to do with its decision.

Enstrom, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s School of Public Health, has a history of running against the grain. In 2003 he wrote a study, published in the British Medical Journal, in which he found no causal relationship between secondhand smoke and tobacco-related death – a conclusion that drew fire both because it was contrary to popular scientific belief and because it was funded by Philip Morris.

Now Enstrom says his studies show no causal link between diesel soot and death in California – findings that once again set him far apart from the pack and put him in direct conflict with the California Air Resources Board, which says its new standards on diesel emissions will save 9,400 lives between 2011 and 2025 and will reduce health care costs by as much as $68 billion in the state.

The expected benefits of the new standards have been used to justify their estimated $5.5 billion price tag, which opponents say will cripple the California trucking industry at a time when the state can least afford it. The new standards, the critics warn, also could set the stage for national regulations.

Enstrom questions the science behind the new emissions standards, and he has raised concerns about the two key reports on which they were based – exposing the author of one study as having faked his credentials and the panel that issued the other study as having violated its term limits.

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Enstrom also expressed concerns that the review panel “is supposed to have term limits of up to three years” to keep the panel from being dominated by one school of thought, yet “many of them had been in their posts for over 20 years.”

He said he voiced those concerns in 2008 to CARB, former UC President Robert Dynes, and current UC President Mark Yudof. The UC president is charged with making nominations for the Scientific Review Panel.

At least five of the nine panel members have since been replaced.

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nstrom also blew the whistle on a CARB staffer, Hien Tran, who authored a report that was central to the legislation – after faking his credentials.

“He said he had a Ph.D. from UC Davis. Turns out he had bought his Ph.D. online for $1,000,” Enstrom said.

Tran was demoted, but his report was still used to “set the context for the health benefits of reducing diesel emissions” when the board voted on the trucking regulations, CARB spokesman Stanley Young told FoxNews.com.

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Marxian slip

From Mary Katherine Ham:

Uncertain whether the last 18 months of dismal health-care speeches and rallies had entirely destroyed the myth of the Obama administration as gifted, uplifting message mavens, Kathleen Sebelius bravely ventured into the rhetorical orchards and brought forth this rotten fruit:

“Unfortunately, there still is a great deal of confusion about what is in [the reform law] and what isn’t,” Sebelius told ABC News Radio in an interview Monday.

“So, we have a lot of reeducation to do,” Sebelius said.

Cult of competence, I believe they were once called.

One is left wondering if this will be a standard PSA-style push or something more along the lines of a camp environment. This Healthcare.gov video offers a pretty clear look at the end result of reeducation efforts. Start studying, keep the eyes vacant, the accent regionally neutral, and the tone uniformly, creepily pleasant while repeating your Obama talking points, folks.

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