Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa
Perhaps one of the best stories this year was Scott Walker’s victory in his recall election. That election was prompted by Wisconsin passing a law that limited collective bargaining for some public-sector unions (most government employees, minus police and firefighters) and forced them to contribute more to their pensions.
Naturally, public unions threw a hissy fit at the thought that they would have to pay for their own benefits rather than forcing other people to pay for them—you know, government-backed robbery. They forced the recall election, but lost badly, and in the end it was perceived as a major blow to labor unions around the country. Not only did it deplete the Wisconsin unions’ coffers, it also damaged their image as a credible threat, and gave strength to more governors to fix their awful state budgets.
In retrospect, though, perhaps the big winner was Lawrence O’Donnell. Immediately after the results came in, O’Donnell proclaimed that the winner of the Wisconsin recall election was, bizarrely, Barack Obama. I derided him at the time, yet it turned out he was correct: Obama went on to win the 2012 presidential election, and took Wisconsin by 52% to Romney’s 46%.
Despite that, though, Walker’s recall victory was a major victory for free market advocates and libertarians everywhere. Let’s hope we can continue the fight under Obama’s second term.
Sunday, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre went on NBC’s Meet The Press to talk about gun control with David Gregory, which is a pretty hostile environment for that sort of interview. As Kevin Boyd noted, LaPierre is essentially acting like he’s drunk, following an abysmal NRA press conference last Friday that left everything to be desired. But it may be that David Gregory will be paying the price, as the Washington Post reports:
NBC News asked D.C. police for permission to use a high-capacity ammunition clip as a prop on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” show, a request District authorities said Wednesday they denied.
But host David Gregory appears to have used one anyway — and then displayed it on national television. Now D.C. police say they’re investigating whether the District’s gun laws were violated in the incident.
Josh Margolin over at the New York Post has some startlingly news, if true:
The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.
The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.
The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.
State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post., adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”
Last week, the four officials had apparently resigned over the disaster that was Benghazi, when an American consulate was attacked and four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were murdered by Libyan militants. Not only was that grounds for a massive public outrage, but it was compounded when for weeks the Obama Administration blamed it on a really stupid, poorly made “anti-Muslim” video, instead of paying attention to actual militant groups in the country.
I’m sorry for the clunky title, but I was honestly unsure how to title this one—and besides, it sounds like it belongs right in the pages of Foreign Policy magazine. For those of you not in the loop, Japan has had a new election, and the incoming Prime Minister is a bit more, shall we say, “hawkish” than his predecessors:
TOKYO (AP) - Imagine that North Korea launched a missile at Japan. Tokyo could - and would certainly try to - shoot it down. But if the missile were flying overhead toward Hawaii or the continental United States, Japan would have to sit idly by.
Japan’s military is kept on a very short leash under a war-renouncing constitution written by U.S. officials whose main concern was keeping Japan from rearming soon after World War II. But if Japan’s soon-to-be prime minister Shinzo Abe has his way, the status quo may be in for some change.
Abe, set to take office for a second time after leading his conservative party to victory in elections last Sunday, has vowed a fundamental review of Japan’s taboo-ridden postwar security policies and proposed ideas that range from changing the name of the military - now called the Japan Self-Defense Forces - to revising the constitution itself.
Most of all, he wants to open the door to what the Japanese call “collective defense,” which would allow Japan’s troops to fight alongside their allies - especially the U.S. troops who are obliged to defend Japan - if either comes under direct attack. The United States has about 50,000 troops in Japan, including its largest air base in Asia.
Right now, if Japan’s current standoff with China over a group of disputed islands got physical, and U.S. Navy ships coming to Japan’s assistance took enemy fire, Japan wouldn’t be able to help them.
Much hash has been made lately over Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, from his organization, Americans for Tax Reform. The Pledge forces anyone who signs it to not vote for tax increases, unless there is reduction in taxes elsewhere (for instance, voting to raise excise taxes but cutting income taxes, though don’t quote me on that.) It’s also been in the news because some Republicans have backed away from the pledge, not wanting to be feel like they’re in a straight jacket while engaged in fiscal cliff negotiations.
Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, writes in National Review that while Grover’s push is admirable, it’s not entirely sufficient:
For years, Grover Norquist and Republicans have tried “starving the beast” of the federal government by capping taxes. While they’ve been highly successful at preventing tax increases, they have been less effective at addressing one problematic aspect of fiscal policy: the ability of the Federal Reserve and Treasury to borrow more and more to finance massive spending, as they have done under the Bush and Obama administrations. It’s simple: Borrowing today means a higher tax burden tomorrow when the debt comes due. True fiscal responsibility, then, requires us to curb spending in addition to limiting tax rates.
Question: What’s the difference between conservative foreign policy and liberal foreign policy?
That’s the way it looks to me, noting a few stories in the media. First, US military supplies and troops are going to Turkey:
The United States and Germany are sending Patriot missiles and troops to the Turkish border, a warning to Syria’s besieged President Bashar al-Assad.
The surface-to-air interceptors would be “dealing with threats that come out of Syria,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Threats would include Syrian strikes inside Turkey and fighting between the government and rebels that extends into Turkey.
Errant Syrian artillery shells struck the Turkish border town of Akcakale and killed five Turkish civilians in October.
“We can’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether that pisses off Syria,” said Panetta after signing the order Friday. He spoke after arriving Friday at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, a U.S. Air Force installation about 80 miles from Syria’s border.
Despite the prospect of U.S. missiles on Al-Assad’s doorstep and a weakening regime, U.S. intelligence officials said the Syrian leader is showing no signs of giving up.
It is now official: the official blog of POS hipsters everywhere has crossed a line. Gawker blogger Max Read has said, in response to the video of Fox News comedian Steven Crowder being punched in the face by a union thug:
Steven, stop whining, take your licks, and accept that getting hit in the face is a hazard of inserting yourself in the middle of an argument between billionaire-funded know-nothing ideologues and people whose livelihoods and stability are being threatened by the insatiable greed of the super-rich and the blind extremism of their wooden-headed political allies. In exchange, liberals will buy you a band-aid for the cut on your forehead and re-iterate that Punching Is Bad. Sound good? Send your answer on Twitter.
So let me get this straight, Max—because Steven was on the other side, promoting free markets and the right for individuals to choose whether to join a union or not, he should have expected to get punched in the face?
Okay, then, Max. Going by your logic, because you’re on the other side, promoting union thugs forcing people to join their union and pay union dues—you know, kidnapping, stealing, extortion, that sort of thing—you should expect to be punched in the face.
In fact, I say we make this happen. I want to see this Max come out to a protest and get decked in the face. I want to see a meaty fist smash into his precious little nose and see how he likes it. And if he ever bitches about it, he agrees to pay $50 per word in his blog post to United Liberty, and an additional $100 per word to Steven Crowder.
Watching the footage and hearing the stories of what happened in Michigan yesterday was disheartening. Here we have people who are supposedly adults—supposedly, role models to young children out there—turning to violence when then don’t get what they want politically. This is the “grown-up,” “adult” equivalent of a five-year old stamping his feet and pouting when his parents don’t give him the candy he spied on the supermarket shelf.
We’ve seen this violence before. We saw it with the longshoremen during the OWS-type protests last year. LaborUnionReport.com has a entire category of stories of union violence. Heck, even last year ABC News ran a story headlined “How Nasty Can Union Violence Get And Still Be Legal?”
Clearly, a lot. And I think one reason we sadly tolerate this is because, somehow, Americans still think unions are looking out for the poor and downtrodden worker, who is being abused by the big corporate executives. That they’re still American, still with us, we just disagree. But as these and other stories show, they’re not. Unions are not helping America.
They’re fighting a war against us.
I have a new op-ed up on the blaze, the news website of Glenn Beck. In it, I focus on policies that conservatives and libertarians can push for to help out the poor:
Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan visited the Jack Kemp Foundation and gave an amazing speech. It was a speech that appeared aimed at Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark, which many commentators felt alienated the party from the poor in America. It was a speech about his concern for the “40 percent of all children born into the lowest quintile” who “never rise above it.” It is heartening to hear a Republican say such things. For far too long conservative Republicans have avoided this issue, letting liberals beat them insensate on it. They will always win on emotions to help the poor (versus not helping), yet their poverty programs don’t help the poor; they are always traps. A true free market approach, on the other hand, will bring enormous prosperity to those at the bottom of the ladder, as the 20th century showed. Regrettably, the Republican Party hasn’t always taken a true free market approach.
Can it be done? Can Republicans articulate a strong free market message that simultaneously looks out for the poor? Absolutely. Heres five suggestions:
You didn’t think I was going to post the whole thing here, do you? I have to get people to read it on the site! But I can give you a quick list:
I think I may have finally found the most bothersome, noxious piece of information of all time, thanks to the editors at Townhall.com. The emphasis in the next quote is mine:
It’s official. Taxpayers are no longer simply helping the poor, they’re subsidizing the lives of welfare recipients at a better rate than their own. The Senate Budget Committee has released a report showing households living below the poverty line and receiving welfare payments are raking in the equivalent of $168 per day in benefits which come in the form of food stamps, housing, childcare, healthcare and more. The median household income in 2011 was $50,054, totaling $137.13 per day. The worst part? Welfare payments are equivalent to making $30 per hour for 40 hours a week. The median wage for non-welfare recipients is $25 per hour but because they pay taxes, unlike welfare recipients, the wage is bumped down to $21 per hour.
When I read this, I threw up a bit.
I’m going to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about my personal life, which I don’t typically do in the pages of United Liberty. And I certainly don’t want to start a pity party over me. But here’s the facts: I currently have a paying job, but not a great one. I’m an intern in DC. I make $30 a day. Let me repeat that: I make thirty dollars a day. Yet even though I work hard, create value, and do my damndest to support myself without forcing others to support me, the average welfare recipient receives 5.6 times what I make, paid for with my tax dollars.