Archives for May 2012
When talking about so-called “social issues” in politics, the subjects of same-sex marriage and abortion are very frequently mentioned in the same breath. The assumption goes like this – if someone is on the conservative side, that person will both favor banning gay marriage and banning abortion; if that person is on the liberal side, he will support gay marriage and abortion rights. However, in reality there is no fundamental reason that the subjects need to be linked. It is entirely possible, and in fact quite common, for someone to be okay with gays marrying but find abortion to be objectionable.
And in fact, the polls show this to be the exact direction that Americans are moving. Most people now favor gay marriage rights, and the amount of Americans calling themselves “pro-choice” has shrunk while “pro-life” has gained share. This fact should not be the least bit surprising to anyone who understands the issues at hand. Gay marriage will naturally become more popular because it is a message of inclusion; the arguments against it are weak and becoming weaker as more people realize it will not hurt them in any way. And as for abortion, improved medical imaging, the survival of fetuses at increasingly earlier stages, and wider acceptance of contraception has rendered abortion less necessary and more morally questionable.
With a little over a week to go until the recall election in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, who has been targeted and unfairly maligned by labor unions over reasonable measures pushed to limit collective bargaining, is leading his Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, by a solid margin:
Embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) got more encouraging news Thursday with a new poll showing him continuing to hold a sizable lead ahead of his June 5 recall election.
Walker leads his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, 50-42 percent among likely voters, according to a Reason-Rupe poll released Thursday.
That’s an improvement for Walker over the six-point lead he posted in a Marquette poll last week, and further evidence that the incumbent governor seems likely to stave off his recall challenge.
[T]he poll showed that Wisconsin voters might be wary of union efforts. Only 35 percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of public-sector unions, versus 31 percent who said they had an unfavorable opinion. More than half of those surveyed also signaled support for increasing the amounts government employees contributed to their healthcare and pensions.
The poll found that 44 percent said public employee unions have too much power in negotiating their contracts, and a plurality said public-sector unions have done more to hurt than help local economies.
If you follow the blogosphere, you’ll know that bloggers who criticize left-wing activist and convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin have been harassed. While doing some research on Mr. Kimberlin, I discovered he runs a group called Justice Through Music, which has received money from Soros and other rich progressives. Looking on JTMP’s front page, I discovered this interesting little bit of information.
MAY 24, 2012 - JTMP has been a participant in the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Programfor 3 years now, where citizens from around the world involved in the arts get to come to America and visit to learn about the role of arts in the US. This year we had visitors that came from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia to see how Justice Through Music Project uses art to raise awareness on issues, and to bring about social change. This year’s contingent had musicians, playwrights, and people involved in art production. We gave them a presentation and showed them many of our musical art videos that deal with politics and issues, while we spoke about how we operate and produce our art videos. We then showed them how we use this art on our website and YouTube channel to raise awareness on an issue to help bring about positive social change.
Earlier this week, MarketWatch ran a piece by Rex Nutting claiming that President Barack Obama’s spending explosion that many of us often complain about never really happened. Nutting insists, however, that spending has grown at a slower rate under Obama than any president going as far back as Ronald Reagan.
As you might expect, Democrats have jumped on this, point to the column as “proof” that Obama has been “fiscally responsible.” But this doesn’t add up, as much as they want it to, and James Pethokouis sets the record straight:
[T]here were a few problems with Nutting’s numbers. Nutting’s methodology assumes spending in the first year of a presidential term should be credited to the previous president. OK, fine. But he attributed a $410 billion spending bill in March of 2009 to George W. Bush even though it was signed by Barack Obama. Nutting also didn’t use inflation adjusted numbers.
But I did both of those and got wildly different results from Nutting, as seen in the chart at the top of this post. (Note: I looked at absolute spending as opposed to the rate of increase.)
My numbers show that spending under the ’10-’13 Obama budgets far outstrips spending by a generation of presidential predecessors. This should not be surprising since spending as a share of GDP under Obama is the highest in U.S. history outside of World War II.
We can disagree about whether all of Obama’s massive spending is a good idea or not. But we can’t factually argue about whether it happened or not. It did.
The Obama spending binge really did happen.
Our friends at the Cato Institute, having previously published a study on botched drug raids and the paramilitarization of law enforcement, has launched the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, which hopes to track incidents of abuse of power and other issues with police misconduct around the country.
The website comes full of information, raging from maps with documented instances of police misconduct to various databases of statistics.
If this is an issue with which you are concerned, and you should be given the tools and paramilitarization of police, you really should check out what Cato’s new project has to offer. You can also follow the project on Twitter and Facebook.
Lately I’ve been wrestling over the intersection of two groups of people to which I belong: Christians and libertarians. On fiscal policy, there’s a lot of agreement between the two groups (on the surface, at least), but the great divide usually comes on the social issues.
On the social issues, Christians typically want government to enforce what is right (i.e. legislate morality), while the libertarians don’t want to be the coerced recipient of anyone’s morality, whether it’s good for them or not. As a member of both of these groups, I understand each viewpoint.
If the Christians’ goal were just to worship God freely, to share Him with those who will listen, and to set an example for others in the life they live, they could easily get along with libertarians. And if they really just want to be free to worship how they choose, they could even be libertarians.
The problem comes when the scope of Christians’ efforts expands to impede the freedom of others. I think everyone should be in church on Sunday, but it would be wrong for me to force people to spend their Sundays as I choose to spend mine. The same logic applies to every socially conservative issue Christians champion.
There are Christians – good, well-intentioned people, I might add – who support political issues that they agree with personally. For example, they’d never vote for a tax increase unless it was a “sin tax” issue. They’d support bans on things ranging from foul language to homosexuality because it’s part of their personal moral code.
I’m reminded of the people I’ve seen on street corners screaming at people telling them they should give their lives to God. While it would be great to see those people turn to God, I’ve never found screaming at people to be a very effective means of communication.
Memorial Day is a holiday that most Americans take for granted. They enjoy the unofficial start of summer by making their first pilgrimage to the beach or by celebrating in the backyard with a barbecue. It is a joyous occasion where people relax, eat, drink, soak up the sun and hang out with friends. But the majority of Americans don’t even realize why they have the day off from work.
A few Americans actually follow the spirit of the federal holiday and remember those who have died “defending” their freedom in wars waged by the U.S. Government. Unfortunately, the list who have died fighting and dying at the behest of politicians is still growing longer everyday. Those names of the dead and maimed are continually added to the over 1.3 million who’ve already died and to the other 1.5 million who have been wounded fighting under the banner of Old Glory.
But does any citizen really understand why the 2.8 million fellow Americans were killed or wounded fighting in wars waged by the U.S. Government? Most people believe that all the wars the U.S. has fought have been to make the “world (including the U.S. homeland) safe for Democracy? But when you delve deeper beyond the patriotic propaganda of why the wars were truly waged in the past and continue to be waged in the present you begin to find a disturbing pattern of why the United States Government goes to war. We should all remember on this Memorial Day that the wars that the United States of America has waged, have been waged not to protect our freedom but to enrich a very few at the expense of the very many.
Facing perhaps the biggest fight of his political career, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) managed to get to endorsements last year from prominent conservative talk show hosts, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. The hope was that the 35-year Senator could build up enough support to avoid a primary challenger from the right.
Political pressure kept Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) from running, but State Sen. Dan Liljenquist managed to push Hatch into a primary last month after the latter was unable to gain enough support at the Utah GOP convention. Hatch knows he has an advantage, which is why he’s been avoiding debates with Liljenquist — a point Glenn Beck brought up recently on his show, offering to host a forum for the two.
Based on what I’ve heard from friends in DC, they’re managing expectations, choosing instead to focus their efforts on Ted Cruz in Texas and elsewhere. This may have been brought home yesterday when Sarah Palin endorsed Hatch over Liljenquist:
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has endorsed Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is facing a Tea Party challenge from former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist (R).
“I want him to win. I join Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and other conservatives who would like to see Mr. Balanced Budget return to Washington,” Palin said on Fox News on Tuesday night. “He wants to apply that common-sense economic principle of balanced-budget fiscal responsibility, and I want to see him reelected.”
President Barack Obama’s recent support of gay marriage, an issue where his opinion has “evolved,” has been statistically insignificant in the polls, which you could take as a statement from voters that they aren’t overly concerned with the issue in the upcoming election with everything else going on in the country:
Several weeks after President Obama‘s completed “evolution” on gay marriage, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, to be released later today, shows that the announcement seems to have had very little effect on voters.
NBC reports that the poll shows a combined 17 percent say the president’s announcement makes them “much more likely” or “somewhat more likely” to vote for him in November. That’s compared with a combined 20 percent who say they are now more likely to vote for staunchly anti-gay marriage Republican Mitt Romney.
The NBC report continues: “Perhaps more importantly, 62 percent say the president’s support for gay marriage doesn’t make a difference in their vote — including 75 percent of independents, 76 percent of moderates, 81 percent of African Americans, and 65 percent of residents in the Midwest.”
The poll also reportedly finds that 54 percent of Americans would support a state law legalizing same-sex marriage. A combined 40 percent say they would oppose such a law.
While President Barack Obama’s re-election strategy is focused on class warfare and attacking private capital, the Congressional Budget Office is warning that the coming “Taxmageddon” at the beginning of the year would send the economy reeling back into a recession:
Tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in January would suck $607 billion out of the economy next year, plunging the nation at least briefly back into recession, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.
Unless lawmakers act, the economy is likely to contract in the first half of 2013 at an annualized rate of 1.3 percent, the CBO said, before returning to 2.3 percent growth later in the year.
Canceling those tax and spending policies would protect the recovery in the short run and encourage more vibrant growth, around 4.4 percent, in 2013, the CBO said. However, unless lawmakers adopt policies that would reduce budget deficits by a comparable amount down the road, the CBO said, the national debt would continue to climb, imperiling future economic growth.
The report, “Economic Effects of Reducing the Fiscal Restraint That Is Scheduled to Occur in 2013,” comes as policymakers are bracing for the most consequential battle over government tax and spending policies in years. The George W. Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire on Dec. 31, along with a payroll tax cut proposed by President Obama. Meanwhile, sharp cuts are scheduled to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies to meet a deal cut during last summer’s showdown over the nation’s debt limit.