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Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Real Donald Trump on Freedom Caucus: 'We must fight them'

That’s the headline at Fox News today based upon a tweet this morning by @realDonaldTrump which says:

 "The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”

I want to thank president Trump for clarifying who the “real” Donald Trump is for those who might not have been paying attention.  The Real Donald Trump has embraced the socialist-lite policies of establishment Republicans in the House and Party leadership, and The Real Donald Trump sees the Freedom Caucus as the enemy.   He’s pretty much threatened to use the power of his office to drive out The Freedom Caucus if they won’t get on board the Trump train. 

Needless to say I hope conservatives, whether initially Trump fans or not, are hearing alarms go off with the rhetoric that’s coming from Trump and his surrogates.  The word “loyalty” keeps popping up, as if House members with an “R” after their names are somehow now beholding to Donald Trump rather than to their constituents or to the Constitution.  I hate to invoke the Hitler analogy since it’s been so gratuitously and absurdly misused by the Left against Republicans, but personal loyalty to one man was no small part of Germany's problem.  How was the U.S., or the Democrat Party for that matter, served by personal loyalty to Barack Obama?  Let history teach us the proverbial lesson conservatives are always fondly preaching about by focusing loyalty where it rightly belongs:  to the people and the Constitution. 

I have a message for The Real Donald Trump.  I hopped aboard your train rather than face a head-on collision, but don’t think I’m going to sit quietly in my seat while you steer the train down the wrong track just because it’s the track of least resistance.  I don’t care about your legacy.  I care about the future of this nation and about preserving our Constitution for the welfare and freedom of my children and fellow citizens. 

Long live the Freedom Caucus.


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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rights vs. Policy and the Blame Game on the Failure of Trump-Care

There are certain friends with whom I keep political discussion to a minimum.  While I think it’s safe to say that none are flaming liberals, most don’t follow politics as closely as I do or take it as seriously.  If you want to have people to hang out with outside the blogosphere, sometimes it’s best not to share every thought when it comes to politics.  But when the election of 2016 took place I happen to be on a cruise with friends, so naturally it was with this group that I shared my first thoughts on the surprise victory of Donald Trump.  To varying degrees, all of us were relieved that Hillary Clinton lost.  In my case ecstatic jubilation would best describe it, and this helped to soften the disappointment of realizing that Donald Trump was now actually our president.  One friend, however, was a bit down in the dumps, and so to cheer him up I said, “Well, at least we’ll get rid of Obamacare,” to which he responded, “Obamacare is good in some ways.” 


I knew my friend wasn’t as conservative as I am but his fondness for Obamacare, albeit lukewarm, took me by surprise.  “Obamacare is socialized medicine,” I said, not bothering to disguise my annoyance very much (he was, after all, putting a damper on my ecstatic jubilation).  Now, I know that Obamacare is not socialized healthcare in the strictest sense, but certain aspects of it equate to socialism and its goal is to put us on that path so….  His response to me was:  “Yes, but there are some good things about socialized medicine.” 

“Such as what?” I asked, jubilation fading fast.  He then went on to describe how his elderly parents had to sell off their assets under the rules of Medicare, leaving them essentially destitute and causing him to need to help them financially.  People shouldn’t have to lose everything they own in order to afford healthcare, he said, so if socialized medicine makes it possible for them to get the care they need then that’s okay with him. 

At times like these, when conversations arise on subjects that I feel strongly about but neither the time nor place adequately lends itself to that sort of discussion (we were standing on a street corner in Jamaica, waiting for our tour group to assemble), I am frustrated to say the least.  How do I explain, in 30 seconds or less, what’s wrong with socialism?  I suggested to him that the socialization of the so-called healthcare “system” and government interference under the guise of helping us out were only serving to drive up costs to the point where no amount of spreading the costs around to everyone (i.e. socialization) could ever catch up to the problem, and in fact would only exacerbate it.  You cannot have sanity in a market where the consumer has neither the incentive nor the ability to act like a normal consumer (i.e. balance quality, quantity and cost).  Only the free market can do this, I stressed with perhaps a bit more passion than he was prepared for.

All he knows, he told me, is that the free market isn’t working so he thinks a socialized healthcare system is a better way. 

“Socialism is theft, pure and simple,” I told him, a bit of anger rising in my voice.

“Then I’m a thief,” he said cheerfully, but a bit uncomfortably.

We left it at that, as he saw us off on our tour before he went sightseeing elsewhere.  I didn’t see him again for several hours, giving me time to wrestle with my thoughts.  I found our discussion to be profoundly disturbing, not just because we disagreed but because I could sense, as is almost always the case when an unplanned discussion on politics pops up with friends or acquaintances, that he couldn’t comprehend my passion/annoyance/anger.  It occurred to me then that it comes down to this: 

He sees the Obamacare debate as a matter of policy.  I see it as a matter of rights.

What right does the federal government have micromanaging what should be a free market healthcare system, thereby making it impossible for consumers to keep up with the game?  What right does the federal government have taxing Peter to subsidize Paul, with Peter having no say in how or on whom his hard-earned money is spent?   What gives one party in congress the right to establish a right/entitlement outside of the process prescribed in our Constitution?  That’s how I see this debate.

I bring this up all these months later because, in the wake of the Ryan/Trump repeal-replace-not really fiasco, the finger pointing has gone wild.  A whole lot of self-labeled “conservatives” are angry with the Republicans in the Freedom Caucus for refusing to “get on board” and go along with what is being falsely hailed as “the best plan we could get.”  (See: Liz Peek: Time for the Freedom Caucus to climb aboard the Trump train.  Read a few comments to get a good taste for the craziness).  Republicans who would rather debate about policy rather than about rights, hereinafter referred to as “the new socialists,” thought they could bully the real conservatives into going along with Obamacare-lite.  They were wrong.  I’d like to think that’s because at least some of the Freedom Caucus understands that this is a fight about rights, not about policy details.  I pray that I’m right.

In the past Republicans have caved in and gone along with liberal policies under the guise of at least putting their stamp on things that public momentum made impossible to stop.  With Trumpcare garnering the approval of just 17%, what is their excuse now?  Why capitulate, even in part, to the Left’s scheme of involving the federal government in the business of healthcare?  If only 17% of the people are going to be happy, you may as well go for broke and do the right thing.  That’s what a conservative deal maker would say, and – yes – I do mean that as a dig to Donald Trump.

The new socialists are strangely anguished over the great missed opportunity to transition from Obamacare to Obamacare-lite.  I’m sure they would argue over that characterization of their plan, but if it fails to fully repeal Obamacare (as so often promised) and keeps significant elements of Obamacare, which it does, then they have no argument to stand on.  It is Obamacare-lite, and why any self-described conservative would lose sleep trying to salvage it is a mystery to me.  Conservatives, on the other hand, are anguished over a much greater missed opportunity:  the opportunity to restore the boundaries of the federal government with respect to healthcare as well as the essential notion of personal responsibility, without which the Constitution cannot work.  You be the judge of whose mission is more worthy of the dramatic rhetoric we’re hearing.

When I saw my friend at the end of that day, I was a bit worried that our exchange from the morning would be hanging over us still, as so often happens.  He is a very nice guy and good friend, and even if he’s misguided about socialized medicine it would sadden me if our friendship was chilled as a consequence of our exchange, but as it turns out I need not have worried.  We didn’t speak of it again, but I know that if I wanted to discuss it, he’d listen with an open mind.  And I would do the same for him (even though he’s wrong, hee hee hee).  I’m good with that. 


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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Brief Conversation with a European Socialist

The other day I was outside watering flowers when a door-to-door salesman approached wanting to talk to me about solar energy products.  Ordinarily I would say, with a smile, “I wouldn’t want to waste your time,” but since he opened by asking if I wanted to help the environment I decided to play along and see where the conservation took us.  To the best of my recollection, the conversation went something like this:

Him:  “Hello!  Can I ask if you’ve ever thought about saving money and helping the environment with a solar energy system?  You know you could be saving money, right?”

Me:  “I’m not sure.  How much does it cost to install a solar energy system?”

Him:  “It doesn’t cost you anything.  It’s free!”

Me:  “Free?  How is that possible?”  As if I didn’t know….

Him, with a big smile:  “The government will pay you to put in a solar energy system.”

Me:  “Why would the government do that?”

Him: “To encourage people to switch to solar energy.”

Me:  “Why do people need the government to encourage them to switch?  Why don’t they want to do that on their own?”

Him (still smiling, but the eyes show that he’s wondering what he’s wondered into):  “Don’t you think that solar energy is a good thing?”

Me:  “Maybe, but if it’s a good thing why does the government have to pay me to do it?”

Him:  “Technological improvement is a good thing.”  He pulls out his smart phone as an example.  “Don’t you agree?”

Me:  “Did anyone have to pay you to get a smart phone?”

Him (the smile now seems forced):  “Well, no.  Don’t you agree that solar energy is better for the environment?”

Me:  “Not necessarily.”

Him (disbelieving):  “What?”

Me:  “What does it cost in terms of energy to produce, install and maintain solar panels? What is the relative energy efficiency of solar compared to other energy sources?  I don’t think it’s all that simple.”

Him:  “You sound like you’ve thought about these things.  Are you an educator?”

Me:  “No.”  Ha!  As if!

Him:  “You Americans have different ideas about energy and the environment and things.  I’m from Europe and it’s different.”

Me:  “I don’t want my tax dollars subsidizing my neighbor’s solar energy, that’s all.  If they want solar, let them pay for it themselves.”

Him:  “But it’s your own taxes that pay for your solar.”

Me:  “Not if I don’t get solar.  If my neighbor does and I don’t, I’m subsidizing him – according to you.”

Him:  “Well, the government is merciful.  At the end of the year, they send me a check.”

Me (disbelieving):  “That’s not merciful government.  If you get a refund that’s your own money, not the government’s.”  Because we’ve never gotten a “refund” for money we didn’t pay in it didn’t occur to me in that moment to think that he may have gotten a wealth transfer payment.  Lucky for him.

Him (clearly seeing he wasn’t going to make a sale but disapproving of my unenlightened American values), as he looks up and down the street:  “So am I safe here?”

Me:  “What do you mean?”  I live in what I would call a relatively upscale neighborhood. 

Him:  “You Americans like your guns.  People in Europe rarely own guns.  My wife would divorce me if I came home with a gun.”  Meaning:  as a black man, he might not be safe in this predominantly white neighborhood full of redneck racists.

Me:  I looked at him for a moment, contemplating the irony of his feigned fear.  I live on the outskirts of Houston, and compared to every other place I’ve lived the crime here is high, but the incidents I read about typically don’t involve the white population.  I thought of answering his obvious dig by saying, “Just stay away from the gang areas and you’ll be alright.”  But it was clear to me that this man was so brainwashed by the liberal, European stereotype ideas about Americans that he would take any honest answer to his question as proof of the racism he expected.  “To each his own,” I responded.

Him:  “God protects people,” he lectured me.  “They don’t need guns.”

Me (keeping in mind that I read about victims of violence every day):  “Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t.  Some people don’t want to take that chance.  That’s their choice.”
Him, astonished:  “What??” 

I regret not thinking to ask him, “If you’re confident God will protect you, why are you asking me if you’re safe here?”  Alas, I didn’t think of it at the time.

The exchange petered out from there.  We shook hands and wished each other a nice day.   I would have loved to have invited him to come and sit down and talk about the narrow-minded stereotypes that seem to characterize a population which ironically prides itself on being open-minded, but I can’t undo 35 years of European socialist brain-washing in a 10-minute exchange standing on the front lawn, and he wanted to get on with the business of selling his solar energy products to my less hostile neighbors. 

Still, if the opening of a mind starts by challenging a person’s precious prejudices, maybe the door was opened just a bit.  Sometimes that’s the best we can do.


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Friday, March 17, 2017

I Want Reparations from Liberals

The ongoing attempts by the race hustlers on the Left and in the black community to commit massive theft in the name of reparations for slavery got me thinking about the costs we suffer as a consequence of the policies and practices brought about by our fellow citizens.  While there are no longer any slaves or even children of slaves left, nor slave masters or children of slave masters that would legitimize the hustlers’ dreams of race reparations, there is a group of people who are even now routinely victimized by another group at a cost that is nearly incalculable.  For the sake of restoring what’s been stolen, and since a very good lawyer can always translate the “nearly incalculable” into recoverable dollars and cents, I think we should take a hard look at what the policies and practices of liberalism have cost that segment of Americans who’ve been forced to pay for their schemes.  Here are just a few of the costs that spring to mind:

The Left’s “War on Poverty” and the lost productivity of the welfare class

In 2014 Rachel Sheffield and Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation issued a stunning report on the costs of the Left’s “War on Poverty” to mark the 50th anniversary of this great boondoggle.  What did it cost U.S. taxpayers to reduce the instance of poverty in this nation from 17% down to 14% (per the Census Bureau) over 50 years?  A mere 22 TRILLION dollars, that’s all.  That’s the total, in 2012 dollars, of what’s been spent on anti-poverty programs in the U.S.  Per the report, “Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution.”  That sort of puts the scope of this scam in perspective, eh?

It also occurred to me, when reading the Heritage report, to wonder what the cost was to this nation for all of the lost productivity resulting from the inaptly-named “War on Poverty.”  When you dis-incentivize able-bodied people from working by rewarding them for not working, you not only cost Americans the amount spent on their welfare but you also lose the value to the economy of what that person might have otherwise produced.  It would entail a lot of analysis to put a dollar figure on this but I think it would be reasonable to estimate that the cost of lost productivity was at least as much as the amount spent on anti-poverty programs.  Cha-ching!

And what about the cost to taxpayers for all of the government bureaucrats we’ve paid to manage our useless anti-poverty programs?  How much insult did that add to our injury?

Cost of incarcerating criminals produced by war on poverty and other liberal policies

A CBS News report from 2014 puts the annual price tag for incarceration of criminals at 80 BILLION dollars and, as we’ve heard ad nauseam, blacks and Hispanics account for a disproportionately high number of the incarcerated.  From a liberal perspective (i.e. absent truth and normal logic) the higher incarceration rates of blacks, in particular, is owed to the drug wars and the fact that every person involved in the American justice system is a red-necked racist.  This lie is why the problem can never be solved, which makes liberals doubly responsible. 

The rest of us know the truth.  The liberals’ “War on Poverty” not only failed to end poverty in any meaningful way it also made poverty – and the culture of crime that goes with it - a way of life for many blacks, and that includes selling drugs to enjoy the things that are otherwise elusive in the cycle of poverty. 

Once again we must consider not just the billions of dollars spent every year to incarcerate the criminals produced by decades of liberal policy and suppression of truth but also the lost productivity to this nation as millions of young, black men have wasted time in prison.  See this piece in Prison Policy Initiative for a chart showing what incarceration does to a person’s earning potential in life.

Costs of Encouraging illegal immigration

The cost of harboring illegal immigrants in the United States is a staggering $113 billion a year -- an average of $1,117 for every “native-headed” household in America -- according to a study conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).”, July 2, 2010.

The burden of illegals on the American welfare system is confirmed by Judicial Watch, which found: 

“Census Bureau data reveals that most U.S. families headed by illegal immigrants use taxpayer-funded welfare programs on behalf of their American-born anchor babies.  Even before the recession, immigrant households with children used welfare programs at consistently higher rates than natives, according to the extensive census data collected and analyzed by a nonpartisan Washington D.C. group dedicated to researching legal and illegal immigration in the U.S.”

While much of these costs might be duplicated in the summary of liberal anti-poverty policy addressed above, the Fox News piece also noted that, The single largest cost to the government of illegal immigration, according to the report, is an estimated $52 billion spent on schooling the children of illegals. ‘Nearly all those costs are absorbed by state and local governments.’”

“The most important finding of the study is the enormous cost to state and local governments due to lack of enforcement of our immigration laws,” Martin wrote.

Liberals have predictably disputed these numbers over the years, claiming that illegal immigrants add more to the economy than they cost, but the proof is in the pudding my friends.  If illegals were truly adding a net benefit to the U.S. economy in the billions of dollars, Mexico and other Latin countries would be fighting us to keep them on their side of the border.  The reality, though, is that they make little to no effort to assist the U.S. with border enforcement because they get a financial boon in the form of remittances sent back by illegals to family members back home without the economic burden of caring for them.  Reality has a way of revealing the truth even when people try to obscure it.

Regulation, regulation and more regulation

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is out with its annual report that estimates that the U.S. economy was hit by $1.88 trillion in 2014 from the cost of complying with federal regulations and higher prices. It argues the cost of complying with federal regulations extends beyond taxes, deficits and borrowing.  ‘Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations affect the economy by hundreds of billions of dollars annually,’ CEI Vice President Clyde Crews said. The government, in a sense, does create jobs in the private sector—a massive vegetative, unproductive universe of workers dedicated to dealing with federal rules.”  FoxBusiness, 5/13/15

Various analysts have broken the cost of over-regulation down by household and it equates to thousands of dollars for every American every year.  What might we have done with that money?  There are regulations that are necessary to a free and functioning society, and then there are those that advance the pet projects and insatiable egos of the Left at the unnecessary expense of ordinary Americans, many of whom are struggling just to get by.  Let’s demand to be made whole for that.

The Wasteful and Unconstitutional spending of our BIG federal government

Must I go on?  You’ve all seen these yearly lists that inspire lots of outrage but little or no action.  Virtually all of the serious studies and reports on waste and fraud and frivolous spending in the federal government are done by conservative groups, while liberal Democrats fight tooth and nail against any suggestion of spending cuts except when it comes from the one function that the federal government must perform and that’s national defense.  The federal government has grown so big and unruly that it can’t police itself when it comes to spending, and that’s courtesy of liberals both Republican and Democrat.

While the sin of slavery in the U.S. ended long ago, the crime of liberalism is still going strong and we pay the price for it every day.  What did it cost local residents when the liberal race-baiters encouraged rioting in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson?  What’s happened to costs at our universities since the Left has co-opted our institutions of higher learning?  What’s happened to the costs of healthcare with the introduction of liberal mandates and policies?  What price do we assign to the lives lost from liberal policies on abortion or liberal leniency towards violent criminals who are let back on the streets to hurt and kill again?  

Even the most calculating of lawyers might have trouble wrapping their minds around the true cost of liberalism upon this nation but I know this:  If anyone is entitled to reparations, we are.


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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Will You Settle for Obamacare-lite?

Pop quiz:  When is it a good idea to free people from taking responsibility for their own needs?

Answer:  Never

The Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is out there now and it doesn’t fail to disappoint this conservative.  I don’t know all of the details of what’s contained in the bill, but I know this much:  it contains “refundable tax credits” to help lower income people buy health insurance and this is unacceptable to me, as it should be to anyone who calls him/herself a conservative.

Refundable tax credits are just the Republican version of the Obamacare subsidies, which means that the great, long-awaited Republican plan leaves in place the most communistic feature of Obamacare.

From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.

Sound familiar?  That’s what a “refundable tax credit” is all about.   Taking from those who have, with or without their consent, and giving to those who don’t have.  It’s the infamous Marxist creed.  This wonderful plan looks like it has the fingerprints of Paul “Means-Testing” Ryan all over it, and that’s scary.

In the many years I’ve been blogging now I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen the famous Margaret Thatcher quote, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money,” invoked by conservatives.   Now, I happen to think that the problem with socialism is that it’s wrong to take other peoples’ money against their will regardless of whether it runs out or not, but be that as it may it will be interesting to see how many conservatives will remember Thatcher’s words when they are called upon to support this stupid bill.

“What’s so wrong about making everyone chip in to help the “less fortunate” buy healthcare, CW?”

Let’s start with the fact that while RINOs like Paul Ryan love to talk about means-testing none of them ever talks about needs-testing.  By that I mean that all of their clever plans and schemes to help “the poor” never take into consideration the reasons some people are poor.  The failure to do so means that someone who invested four or more years and a lot of money to get a college degree so that they could enjoy a higher standard of living must now subsidize the guy who dropped out of school because he preferred doing drugs and, as a consequence, has a lower-paying job.  It means that the self-made entrepreneur who sacrificed having fun in his younger years to build a business for his family must, when his hard work finally pays off, subsidize the surfer bum who works part-time at 7-11.  It means that the young woman who resisted temptation and waited for the right man and the right time, financially, to start her family must now subsidize another young woman who made the wrong choice and became a single parent when she wasn’t prepared to take on that financial responsibility.  Isn’t it funny how the liberals that are ostensibly obsessed with “fairness” never see the unfairness in any of this?

THAT’s what’s wrong with socialism and “refundable tax credits.”  We have no say about who gets to benefit from our hard-earned tax money.

I’ll say it once again for anyone who’ll listen:  The way you “fix” the healthcare crisis is to remove artificial (i.e. government imposed) barriers to affordable healthcare so that everyone can afford to take  responsibility for themselves and their children as long as they’re willing to step up and do so.  All bets are off when you take personal responsibility out of the equation.

I know that political pundits like Charles Krauthammer, whom I usually admire, are saying that it would be political suicide for Republicans not to provide a substitute for the Obamacare subsidies because the entitlement now exists, thanks to Obama.  This was the scheme all along, of course.  But here’s my question for Dr. Krauthammer and everyone else who wants to reward this scheme:  How is it any less suicidal for Republicans – supposedly the party of liberty, the Constitution and the free market system – to become enablers of the Left’s Marxist scheme?  We win nothing by becoming the lighter version of Barack Obama, and if you gave money, as I did, to help elect or re-elect Republicans to fight the evil empire of socialism you can’t be happy with their plan.

Please contact your senators and house representatives and implore them not to vote for Obamacare-lite. 


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