Archives for July 2011

Myths of the Great Depression

Via Learn Liberty is a new video with Dr. Stephen Davies discussing three prevalent myths about the Great Depression, specifically that Herbert Hoover practiced laissez faire capitalism (this is one that, for some reason, is still debated today) and that the New Deal and/or World War II ended the the economic turmoil that the nation faced:

Debt limit debate is a leadership failure

The debt limit will be raised, if it’s not already up by the time this piece hits the net.  It seems like the pieces are aligning and the debt limit will increase, avoiding the alleged apocalypse that we’ve been hearing about for some time.  Lost is that someone once called the need to raise the debt limit a “leadership failure.”  That person argued that raising the debt limit put the burden for today’s choices on “backs of our children and grandchildren.  America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better”  I couldn’t agree more.

What’s so humorous is that those words come from then Senator Barack Obama.

In 2006, Obama argued quite eloquently against raising the debt ceiling.  He wasn’t wrong about what he said, there is a serious problem at work.  The fact that we need to keep raising the debt ceiling is a sign of a leadership failure.  It’s a sign that the national leadership won’t make the hard choices and recognize that if we can’t pay for more programs, then we need to start saying no to some thing that may sound like a good idea but we just can’t afford.

Throughout this country, there are families looking at their checkbooks, trying to figure out how to pay for electricity, rent, and food while still putting gas in their car.  They juggle money to make sure nothing gets cut off.  In many cases, they’ve already cut off their cable bill, and possibly toned back their phone bills as much as possible.  They’ve looked at what comes in and cut what goes out to match it as best they can.  It sucks.  I’ve lived like that more than once, so I know exactly how it goes.  But they do it.

Public Policy Polling: “Obama in perilous shape”

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, released new national numbers yesterday for President Barack Obama showing that 46% of voters approve of his job performance, but 48% disapprove. These are obviously not numbers that Obama’s campaign wants to see headed into an election year.

The numbers also show that Romney is now running even with Obama; with independents, voters that will be key if Republicans hope to boot the president, breaking 46/37 for the former Massachusetts Governor. Pawlenty is the only other candidate polled that even comes close to these numbers with independents.

Here is how Obama compares to the group of Republicans candidates tested against him (numbers with independents are off to the side).

Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney

  • Obama: 45% (37%)
  • Romney: 45% (46%)
  • Undecided: 10% (16%

Barack Obama v. Michele Bachmann

  • Obama: 48% (45%)
  • Bachmann: 41% (39%)
  • Undecided: 11% (17%)

Barack Obama v. Tim Pawlenty

  • Obama: 48% (42%)
  • Pawlenty: 39% (42%)
  • Undecided: 13% (17%)

Barack Obama v. Herman Cain

  • Obama: 48% (43%)
  • Cain: 36% (38%)
  • Undecided: 16% (20%)

Barack Obama v. Sarah Palin

  • Obama: 53% (51%)
  • Palin: 37% (38%)
  • Undecided: 9% (11%)

What happened to this Herman Cain?

Via Ta-Nehisi Coats at The Atlantic:

Coates says that “[t]he contrast between a man making an actual argument on math, and a man spouting tribal slogans (“class warfare” “sharia law” etc.) says a lot about the movement he represents.” While Islamophobia has crept its way in to some conservative circles, I disagree. Perhaps Herman Cain thinks that is what the movement has become about, but he’s wrong. This kind of rebuttal would likely get a standing ovation among conservative voters today while his anti-Islam rhetoric is only is only going to marginalize him as a candidate.

Michele Bachmann releases second ad in Iowa

With the Ames Straw Poll just a few weeks away, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has dropped her second ad in Iowa. In it Bachmann, who is facing inquiries as to whether her health would be a problem if she became president, explains that she voted against “Cut, Cap and Balance,” the deficit reduction plan offered by House Republicans, because it didn’t go far enough and reiterated her opposition to an increase in the debt ceiling:

Gang of Six gains some steam, but agreement far off

The Gang of Six spent most of Wednesday making the case for their deficit reducation plan to members of both parties and the media, but it seems that they’ve hit a snag as liberals in both chambers expressed opposition, not to mention that conservatives are less than thrilled over the revenue increases that the proposal would bring.

Others are expressing concern with the lack of details in the proposal. Chris Edwards, an economist with the Cato Institute, highlights this compared to the detail oriented plan separately put forward by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK):

The “Gang of Six” senators has released an outline of budget reforms that would supposedly reduce deficits by $3.7 trillion over 10 years. Revenues would rise by at least $1 trillion, while spending would be theoretically trimmed by various procedural mechanisms. The plan promises to “strengthen the safety net,” “maintain investments,” and “maintain the basic structure” of Medicare and Medicaid, which doesn’t sound very reform-minded to me.

The Gang of Six plan is a grander version of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s recent debt-limit proposal, which was aimed at putting off any spending cuts. The Gang outline has a few specific cuts, but the document mainly consists of promises to restrain spending and raise taxes in the future.

Education not just overhyped, but over charged

A while back, I wrote a post asking the question of whether college was over-hyped.  This was based on a John Stossel column and it really deserves some consideration.  After all, many very successfully people never went to college, and some college educated people are sleeping on park benches in this country.  Well, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey isn’t ready to say they’re over-hyped, but she seems to think they’re definitely overcharged:

My niece loves most of her academic classes at grad school, but found that some living legends of her department are only there because of reputation rather than teaching skills and put in minimal effort or appearances.

“Ultimately, the faculty are really what makes a school,” says Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For.”

“They have the most long-term effect on campus atmosphere and student’s educational experience,” she says. “Students on campuses come and go, but faculty are there forever in many cases.”

In her book, Riley deconstructs the cause of such faculty longevity, taking on one of the most cherished perks of high education, tenure.

She asks whether the awarding of jobs for life, often as a result of a professor’s research and publication in rarefied journals, leads to some faculty staying too long at schools and doing too little of what ought to matter most — teaching.

Tenure, she contends, is dragging colleges away from their original and most important mission, and stifling the young, innovative professors, in addition to cheating students of the education they deserve.

Congrats, Adam and Pete!

While we haven’t covered this at all here, I do want to congratulate Adam Mueller and Pete Eyre of Liberty on Tour, who were acquitted of all charges related to an incident last year in Greenfield, Massachusetts:

It took a Greenfield District Court jury about two hours on Tuesday to acquit a pair of New Hampshire men accused of illegally filming at the Franklin County Jail last summer.

“We can put this behind us and move on with our other projects,” said defendant Pete Eyre, who along with Adam Mueller had been charged with unlawfully filming law enforcement officials at the Greenfield jail last July.
The pair were arrested on July 1, 2010, after attempting to film the process of bailing out their friends, who were being held on charges at the jail.

Eyre and Mueller initially were granted permission to film the bail process, but later were forbidden by jail officials from recording the procedure. When they continued to digitally recording their encounter with jail officials, they were arrested by Greenfield police.

A jury of six people and two alternates listened to testimony in the two-day trial, which began Monday and ended with closing arguments Tuesday morning.

Adam and Pete are great guys that I’ve been able to meet along the way. Pete has actually done a podcast with us before and a guest post awhile back. Liberty and common sense rarely win, so this is great news.

Herman Cain and the First Amendment

Herman Cain doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of the First Amendment.  While I recognize that not everyone shares my expansive view of what freedom of religion entails, I tend to believe we all generally accept a few things as fact.  One is that banning religion and religious centers is wrong, even if we disagree with everything that religion teachers.  Presidential Candidate Herman Cain?  Not so much.

After once saying that he disagreed with the opening of a mosque in Tennessee, describing it as “It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion,” he now says that communities should be able to ban mosques.

In an exchange on “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican presidential contender said that he sided with some in a town near Nashville who were trying to prevent Muslims from worshiping in their community.

“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” he said. “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”

Asked by host Chris Wallace if any community could ban a mosque if it wanted to, Cain said: “They have a right to do that.”

First, the existence of Islam in this nation doesn’t violate the separation of church and state.  Sharia law, if enforced by the courts, would but that’s not happening.  Instead, a group of people in Tennessee (and of course Herman Cain) are using the force of the state to ban a religion.  That is a violation of the separation of church and state.

Another Tea Party favorite implodes

Considering that a good number of Tea Party supporters are relatively new to politics, I’ve been more forgiving of some poor judgment the movement has demonstrated.  For example, all but the most hard-core devotees now realize that Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were disasters.  Yet again and again, Tea Party favorites have shown themselves to be people who lack any seriousness or class.  The list is big and constantly growing - Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann have proven to be embarrassments, and now another favorite, Allen West, has imploded.

In the case of Representative West, this implosion has come in the form of a nasty, childish email sent to fellow House member and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  In this tirade, West goes off on a rant against Wasserman Schultz, calling her “not a Lady” and describing her as “vile” and “despicable”.  And this was in response to a relatively tame speech that Wasserman Schultz gave on the House floor, reiterating nothing more than standard Democrat talking points.  The trigger, it seems, was that West was specifically mentioned.  That apparently caused West to fly off the handle.

The whole display is, quite frankly, disgraceful.  While I’m certainly aware that Congressmen routinely engage in overheated rhetoric, this is a personal attack that ought to be out of bounds for a Member of Congress.  It is the sort of thing that would be roundly condemned by conservatives had it come from a Democrat to, say, Eric Cantor.  And it simply must be condemned across the board if one is to maintain credibility.  We’ve got to hold our Representatives to some standard of maturity and decency.  And this type of response demonstrates a severe lack of judgment and restraint.

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