For Memorial Day

A letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby from Abraham Lincoln:

Executive Mansion, Washington,

Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,–

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Where Obama wants to take us

From Victor Davis Hanson:

What worries me about Obama is not the specifics of the nationalization of GM and Chrysler, the government rescue of the United Auto Workers, the effort to take over college financing, proposed universal health care, massive deficits and tax increases, although they are worrisome and only the beginning, but the attendant culture of ‘inflate your tires’ and ‘wash your hands’ paternalism. I think we are entering an age in which the federal government will increasingly guide our thoughts into what is deemed correct-the sort of car we must drive, the type of salary we should make, the sort of job we should have, even the type of thoughts we are to express, and all in the name of collective brotherhood. The slavish manner in which the media lock stepped into Bush the near fascist for tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, Patriot Act, Iraq, and Guantanamo, followed by choruses of Obama the sensitive, anguished overseer of tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, Patriot Act, Iraq, and Guantanamo was one of the most frightening things I‘ve seen in a free society in 50 years.

Entire marvelous essay here

California

From Mark Steyn:

Over and Out

Following California’s “tax revolt” and the usual editorials from a dying media sneering at the electorate as tantrum-throwing kindergartners, we now move on to the swimsuit round, in which the Golden State’s woes are federalized and redistributed to the nation at large. In the states’ version of the Obama model for everything from mortgages to credit cards, the feckless will have their pathologies rewarded and the prudent will get stuck with the tab. The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle cuts to the chase:

California is completely, totally, irreparably hosed.

Up next: New York.

As Miss McArdle notes, whether you bail out states “too big to fail” or let them go bankrupt, it will cause pain to taxpayers. But the pain of the latter is relatively short-term. Passing Sacramento’s buck to Washington will accelerate the centralizing pull in American politics and eventually eliminate any advantage to voting with your feet.

Not to be too gloomy, but the country feels like it’s seizing up. It’s as if California and New York have burst their bodices like two corpulent gin-soaked trollops and rolled over the fruited plain to rub bellies at the Mississippi. If you’re underneath, it’s not going to be fun.

From Victor Davis Hanson:

California on the Horizon

It is generally known that Americans want it both ways — green giddiness and plenty of oil and gas for their cars and homes; lots of government services and low taxes; a big military but spasms of isolationism. But now California is where the rubber meets the road, and we just saw the big government side of the equation dissolve. With the highest income taxes, highest sales taxes, and biggest deficits, Californians finally said “no mas,” and let the cutting begin. Of course, we have expanded government to such a degree that “radical” cuts will only get us back to about 2005-sized government, and “tax cutting” in this loopy state will mean holding firm at a 9% sales tax and 10%-plus income tax. But one must begin somewhere.

One would hope this is wake-up time for Obama. His proposals will put the federal government a year or two away from a California-style reckoning. For now, the slash and burn tax approach to “them” (the top 5%) has assured the people that they can spend all this borrowed money on health care, education, cap and trade, and free this and free that. But in about a year’s time, as the deficits and interest rates mount, the fed will start looking everywhere for cash, and Obama’s “95% of you will get a tax credit” will go the inoperative way of military tribunals and rendition, and we will start to see a real pushback against taxes.

The Republican candidate who can demonstrate that tax cuts will increase aggregate revenue, and, when coupled with substantial spending cuts, will balance budgets, will be put in the driver’s seat. In about a year’s time, those gurus who were “disappointed” because Obama’s “stimulus” only led to a $1.7 trillion deficit when much bigger borrowing was needed, will be seen as unhinged as they really are.

Soak the rich

From Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore:

With states facing nearly $100 billion in combined budget deficits this year, we’re seeing more governors than ever proposing the Barack Obama solution to balancing the budget: Soak the rich. Lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon want to raise income tax rates on the top 1% or 2% or 5% of their citizens. New Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn wants a 50% increase in the income tax rate on the wealthy because this is the “fair” way to close his state’s gaping deficit.

Mr. Quinn and other tax-raising governors have been emboldened by recent studies by left-wing groups like the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that suggest that “tax increases, particularly tax increases on higher-income families, may be the best available option.” A recent letter to New York Gov. David Paterson signed by 100 economists advises the Empire State to “raise tax rates for high income families right away.”

Here’s the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile: They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states.

Entire essay here

Unreal

I wonder if Obama has actually somehow reconciled what he says with what he has done.

From Bloomberg:

May 14 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama, calling current deficit spending “unsustainable,” warned of skyrocketing interest rates for consumers if the U.S. continues to finance government by borrowing from other countries.

“We can’t keep on just borrowing from China,” Obama said at a town-hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. “We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.”

Holders of U.S. debt will eventually “get tired” of buying it, causing interest rates on everything from auto loans to home mortgages to increase, Obama said. “It will have a dampening effect on our economy.”

From Robert J. Samuelson:

Just how much government debt does a president have to endorse before he’s labeled “irresponsible”? Well, apparently much more than the massive amounts envisioned by President Obama. The final version of his 2010 budget, released last week, is a case study in political expediency and economic gambling.

Let’s see. From 2010 to 2019, Obama projects annual deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that’s atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009. By 2019, the ratio of publicly held federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP, or the economy) would reach 70 percent, up from 41 percent in 2008. That would be the highest since 1950 (80 percent). The Congressional Budget Office, using less optimistic economic forecasts, raises these estimates. The 2010-19 deficits would total $9.3 trillion; the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2019 would be 82 percent.

Entire essay here