Author Archives: Alex Kauffman

Newt Gingrich's Record: Uncomfortable But True

I’m going to say something uncomfortable to many of you, but it has to be said:

Newt Gingrich has a history of flip-flopping on issues which rivals that of Mitt Romney.

There, I said it. I’m not the only one to say it, either.

Let’s look at Gingrich’s record:

On global warming: He supported government sponsoring of alternative energy programs. He supported cap-and-trade. He supported ethanol subsidies. “Green” was the fad, people were spellbound by it, and Newt being the clever politician he is, he got behind it, too.

And then there’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When asked about his lobbying efforts on their behalf, he lied. He claimed he never lobbied for them. When proof of payment from them to him was made public, he claimed he worked for them as an historian. Do people seriously believe this? A financial institution hires an historian about as often as the Marine Corps hires an interior decorator.

And then there’s the substance of the “historical analysis” he allegedly gave them (from the National Review link two paragraphs below):

It wasn’t obvious until 2007… Initially, it wasn’t Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Initially, it was things like Countrywide, but the minute you started getting people who could buy houses with no credit, no money down, I mean, these things are insane. And I was cheerfully saying that in my public speeches.

Gingrich contradicts himself here: It certainly was obvious, long before 2007, that a policy of government guarantee of loans without proof of the borrower’s ability to repay was a bad idea (and defies basic common sense). The existence of this program was well-known within government circles and by “policy wonks” (such as yours truly), but largely ignored by the media and the public at large. I have also criticized Herman Cain for the same failure of common sense in this regard.

On government-run medicine, Gingrich’s record rivals that of many prominent Democrats. He was an early champion of the individual mandate, more than a decade before Romneycare. He now excuses himself from the criticism Romney recieves, claiming that his endorsement of an individual mandate was an effort “to block Hillarycare“. Let’s state this another way: Gingrich’s response to a massive government healthcare initiative was to offer a slightly less-massive initiative of his own.

Gingrich was also one of the minds behind Medicare Part D. Newt again excuses himself from criticism for this multi-trillion-dollar giveaway, claiming that it helped reduce the cost of government-provided health care by subsidizing medicines in lieu of more-expensive surgeries, ignoring one of the basic principles of government interference in the market: Subsidizing a product makes it more expensive in the long-run. If the government gives people a dollar to buy an apple, the cost of an apple goes up by a dollar.

Gingrich, in keeping with his long-standing record of favoring greater government intervention in the health care industry, described Paul Ryan’s proposal to convert Medicare into a premium support plan as “right-wing social engineering“. Of course, Gingrich changed his tune when he caught flak for saying this, and has spent the last six months crafting an “alternative history” of his 17+ year record of supporting socialized medicine.

Jacob Sullum from Reason made an excellent point on this topic: Gingrich’s rhetoric actually endangers real reforms while giving the public a painless-sounding but totally ineffective placebo of “cutting waste, fraud and abuse”- a rhetoric he (along with numerous Democrats) also applies to other areas of government spending by advocating ‘modernization’, rather than actual cutbacks, as his primary concept for controlling the cost of big-government programs, as if new computers will make big government acceptable.

In sum: I’m frankly disturbed by the recent fascination with Gingrich and the amnesia regarding his record. Somehow, conservatives have developed a belief that intellectualism and con artistry are mutually exclusive. Voters have been lulled by the superficially-impressive nature of his speeches.

This means the Tea Party effort to push out slick salesmen in favor of principled, fiscally-minded, small-government representatives is failing. And “slick salesman” is an apt description of Gingrich’s career: People wanted free medication for Grandma and Grandpa, and Newt delivered. People wanted a house they couldn’t afford, and Newt delivered. Gingrich will give the public whatever they want, and sound convincingly principled while doing it. The fact that Newt also participated in welfare reform and budget balancing isn’t a demonstration of his bona fides, it’s merely another thing the public asked for and got (for a brief period).

The notion that Gingrich is the ideal “not-Romney” candidate is wholly misguided: Newt Gingrich is Mitt Romney without running shoes.

It's Settled: Cain Is No Friend Of Gun Owners

I have been arguing for some time that Herman Cain is no friend of gun owners.

At this Saturday’s Thanksgiving Family Forum, Cain made some comments on the nature of government authority and individual rights which, I believe, cement my arguments about his stance on gun rights.

Frank Luntz asks Cain to clarify his bizarre Tenth Amendment stance. Watch Cain stumble through his definition of the word “wrong” (these videos are pre-set to play at the correct time):

So, a federal mandate to overturn segregation was acceptable because segregation was “wrong” (and I agree, it absolutely was). But a federal mandate to remove barriers to gun ownership doesn’t meet Cain’s “wrongness” test?

Now watch Cain explain his definition of equal treatment:

Cain believes that an acceptable use of federal authority is to ensure “the common good” and to “level the playing field” and promote “fairness and respect” (these terms make me cringe, as they are collectivist buzzwords, but that’s beside the point). However, equal treatment of individual rights apparently doesn’t include equal treatment of a person’s right of self-defense, in Cain’s opinion.

Now watch Cain describe the justification for using force:

He believes that a person has a right to use force in self-defense, which is terrific, but since (in Cain’s opinion) a state may deny the individual the tools to engage in lawful self-defense, the right is rendered meaningless.

There are two possible ways to interpret Cain’s conflicting messages:

1) Cain doesn’t really understand the legal and political issues involved in gun ownership, and so he falls back on “states’ rights” rhetoric; or,

2) Cain is lukewarm (at best) on private gun ownership.

This certainly wouldn’t be the first time Cain has tried to use two diametrically-opposed sets of rhetoric (and failed miserably at it). He did so with his comments on abortion- trying to use both the “life begins at conception” and the “woman’s choice” talking points.

However, Cain’s stance on abortion was already well-known and crystal clear. He made the “woman’s choice” remark once, and it was clearly a case of him trying to use incompatible rhetoric.

On gun rights, however, it hasn’t been “just once”. He’s used the “states’ rights” rhetoric multiple times, and he continues to stick to it.

Now watch this video: Cain is directly asked about his “states’ rights” argument and gun rights:

Question: “Do you support states’ rights to regulate firearms?”

Cain: “That’s a loaded question.”

Excuse me? It’s a “loaded question” to ask for a definite yes-or-no?

So, let’s review:

Herman Cain doesn’t support National Right-To-Carry.

Herman Cain doesn’t support “federal mandates” to ensure gun rights, because state gun laws are not “wrong”.

Herman Cain supports allowing states to make whatever gun laws they choose.

Herman Cain uses tough rhetoric on gun ownership and self-defense, but resists answering detailed questions on gun ownership (reference the video above, the Wolf Blitzer interview, the New Hampshire question, etc.)

Herman Cain has been using the totally incorrect “states’ rights” rhetoric for at least eight months now, and has had numerous opportunities to clarify his position on gun rights- but has not availed himself of any of these opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, given these facts, it’s time to put this one to bed: Herman Cain does not support your right to keep and bear arms in any meaningful way. He clearly enjoys his own right to do so (as he said in New Hampshire, “I have six (guns)… and that ain’t enough”), and for those who provide his protection. But not yours or mine. In this regard, he’s no better than Mitt Romney.

THERE ARE NO CUTS! – The Fallacy of Baseline Budgeting

From thehill.com

I almost have to laugh at the old car commercials with the loud salesmen and the blinking graphics, “Come in today and save $5,000!!”  You have to know that this type of advertising works because it is still being used.  Ergo, there must still be idiots out there that think they are really saving $5,000 by spending $25,000 on a car that has a $30,000 price tag on it.  So it is with baseline budgeting and “Washington” speak.

 

The ignorant on both side of the aisle are decrying the failure of the “Stuper-Committee” (NO, I didn’t spell that wrong) as the next man-caused disaster.  With weeping and gnashing of teeth, they rent their garments and wail at the moon, giving a performance that only Chicken Little could only appreciate.  Now, because 12 of the most partisan people on the hill couldn’t come to an agreement as to what to order for lunch, let alone the deficit, the debt ceiling legislation passed in August will kick in “draconian” cuts to both domestic and defense spending.  Only, there’s one little problem….

 

THERE ARE NO CUTS!!!

 

They only thing ever cut in D.C. is a ribbon in front of yet another government program designed to make out lives easier – that is as soon as someone actually reads the legislation that created it!!  What baseline budgeting does is to set the next year’s budget “based” on the previous year’s expenditures, but then tacking on a 20% increase in spending per year.  Then someone comes along, spends only half of that increase and calls it a cut.

 

NO, IT’S NOT!

 

You STILL spent 10% more than last year!  If you did that in your own household, you wouldn’t call it a cut, but Washington does.

 

Here’s an interesting fact.  If the federal government froze spending today, and for the next 10 years – aka, they literally didn’t spend one more dime for the next 10 budgest than they do now, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would score that as a NINE TRILLION dollar cut!  Remember we have been overspending an average of about 1.5 TRILLION dollars more than we take in for the past 3 years.  For you and me, this means going from the measly 15 TRILLION dollar debt we have now to 30 TRILLION dollars by 2022!!  And Capitol Hill calls that a CUT!!

 

This is like barreling towards the cliff in your car at 100 MPH, talking your foot slightly off the gas and declaring that you are now going in reverse!  YOU ARE STILL HEADING OFF THE CLIFF, YOU MORON!!

 

Until we are really prepared to put Jabba-the-Congress on a real diet, we will continue to hurdle headlong toward the cliff.  Probably the most shameful thing about this latest Washington debacle is that none of these so-called leaders – one both sides – will ever have to pay this back.  It’ll be their grandchildren, and yours, and mine.  Remember that next November.

Herman Cain's Libya Gaffe: Let's Examine The Video


I heard a lot about Herman Cain’s “Libya” video yesterday.  It always works out like this; I’m in no position to sit down and watch a video, and everyone’s talking about it.  I heard it was really bad, and the snippets I saw on the news made it look pretty bad also, so I was expecting a train wreck of epic proportions.  Well, I hate to tell you, but I was disappointed.  It wasn’t as much of a train wreck as I’d been led to believe.  It was more like watching someone struggle to parallel park a car, so they circle the block in frustration, and then they find a new space has opened up just as they’ve come back around around the block.  It was awkward and sad, but train wreck it was not.  I actually felt compelled to annotate the video with my thoughts.  Check it out below.

So that’s pretty much it.  It looks like they woke him up on the bus, threw some clothes on him, and shoved him in the interview.  He seems to be progressively waking up throughout the conversation, and by the halfway point, he seems to know what he’s doing.  I don’t know about you, but it didn’t seem like that much of a train wreck upon viewing the whole video.

What do you guys think?  Was he just sleepy?  Was some “special” liquid in that bottle of “water”?  Or was it a total flame-out train wreck, after all?

Let us know what you guys think in the comments below.  And as always, resist we much.

Attorney Accusing Cain Has History of Litigating Trivial Employment Cases

Joel P. Bennett, the lawyer who has accused Herman Cain of “sexual harassment” without providing a shred of evidence of any kind, nor producing the name of Mr. Cain’s accuser, has a history of filing employment discrimination cases that are without merit, or so the findings of both lower and appellate courts would certainly lead us to believe.

In CURRIER v. POSTMASTER GENERAL, No. 01-5248, Argued Sept. 5, 2002. — October 04, 2002 the Appellate court dismissed Kenneth Currier’s claim alleging employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In his original pleading Currier claimed that he was reassigned to a “materially lower position with materially lower duties.”   But by his own admission, the job he held immediately before the 1995 Reduction In Force was a “do nothing position.”  After the RIF he became a manager for legislative support in government relations. He had general budget duties for an office and supervised up to a dozen workers. He thus went from a position before the RIF with no duties to a position after the RIF with some duties.

In CZEKALSKI v. LaHOOD Loni Czekalski sued the Department of Transportation (DOT), alleging that her supervisor at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) discriminated against her on the basis of sex by reassigning her to an inferior position. The FAA contended that her re-assignment was due to her “failure to provide direction and support,” “allowing a program to languish” and a general lack of “leadership qualities.” Her new position was to serve as Program Manager for the Year 2000(Y2K) Project. This position turned out to be “probably the single most significant office in the entire agency” according to an FAA employee. In the end, the lower court dismissed Ms. Czekalski’s case and the appellate court agreed.

In CATHY S. NEUREN v. ADDUCI, MASTRIANI, MEEKS & SCHILL, et al., Mr. Bennett argued successfully against the plaintiff in a sexual discrimination suit. Ms. Neuren claimed that she was dismissed due to sexual discrimination, and the law firm for whom she worked argued that she was dismissed for cause. The lower court found for the law firm and the appellate court agreed.

There are many other examples.

Mr. Joel P. Bennett has been actively involved in litigation on both sides of the employment practices field for most of his career, and it would seem, at least from his lack of any presentation of any confirm-able facts of any kind, that he is simply the kind of attorney who will take whatever case comes his way, regardless of the facts, if he sees a material benefit to his law firm.

To make these kind of allegations, especially given Mr. Bennett’s history of trying trivial cases, against the leader of the GOP Presidential field is worse than irresponsible, and for supposed journalists to report unfounded allegations such as these without documentation, sources, or anything even remotely resembling confirmation, borders on criminal.

It seems perfectly reasonable for the Cain campaign to refuse to answer any more questions about this matter, unless or until the media or the ambulance chaser come up with an actual named witness who will come forward, or some actual documentation. After all, our constitution guarantees the right to face one’s accuser, and further, contrary to the national media’s bent these days, presumes innocence until proven guilty.

So Politico, NBC, CBS, ABC, all other National Media, and Joel P. Bennett, put up or shut up!

11,000 Freed from Bonds of Despotic Employment by Occupy Oakland

Occupy Oakland is continuing to show how dedicated they are to peacefully exercising their right to protest. Who wouldn’t want to stand in solidarity with these martyrs? They’ve already shown how impassioned they are about liberating the 99% from the tyranny of oppressive corporations. Why else would they be breaking the windows of small businesses and setting fire in the streets? And the nerve of the police to respond to the mere exercising of their civil liberties by tear gassing them and shooting rubber bullets!

And in their latest act of rebellion against ‘the man’, they’ve closed down the port of Oakland! This selfless act has managed to liberate 11,000 people from the bonds of despotic employment, and cost an estimated loss of four million dollars to the already struggling port. Another victory against the evils of capitalism! Wouldn’t it be great if now we could just shut down all the ports? Let’s envision that for a moment. Shutting down ports like those in Oakland is a strategy highly indicative of Cloward and Piven- overwhelm the system, in this case by shutting down shipping and forcing it elsewhere, to the point where it can no longer handle the pressure and collapses. Then someone like George Soros can step in and institute an open society- sound free and just to you?.

But do the protestors realize the full implications of this? Shutting down the ports and forcing business away means no more imports. Which means no more exotic products, like the coffee beans used to make those expensive lattes the anti-corporation protestors love so much. (Yes Starbucks, this hurts your profit margins!) And by the way, does Starbucks, who is introducing a new cup with a Nutcracker whose face is the Guy Fawkes mask that the group Anonymous and other Occupy groups have been sporting, realize it’s the kind of giant multi-national corporation that these people want to shut down and eat the CEO’s of?

John Galt, if you’re reading this: I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask any other man to live for mine.