Currently viewing the category: "Politics"

Make fun of Rush Limbaugh all you want.

But this rant of his about government snooping and what he calls “the Obama Coup”  was spoken, not written, and it’s impressive.

Too bad Rushbo didn’t/doesn’t realize the government snooping problem is not just an Obama thing or a liberal Democrat thing.

It’s the result of the incredible power conservatives and liberals have given to the federal government and the way the federal government can be used by either party of assholes to do all kinds of bad stuff to individuals.

Too bad Rush and the other conservatives were in the tank for Bush for eight years.

And too bad Rush (and the NY Times and Fox and the WSJ and all the other media fucks who have no balls or brains) bought into the post-9/11 terrorism hysteria that has given the creeps in Washington the excuse to stomp on the Constitution and turn the country into a security state.

This bipartisan snooping by the assholes in DC is not new, just bigger and computerized.

This Sunday my good friends at the New York Times Sunday Book Review will be printing my letter about John Steinbeck’s efforts to spread some psychological dirt about Tricky Dick Nixon in the spring of 1960 that might have changed history.

Letter

Steinbeck vs. Nixon

Published: October 25, 2012

To the Editor:

John Steinbeck rejected the suggestion by Adlai Stevenson’s camp in 1958 that he write a novel intended to hurt Vice President Richard Nixon’s chances to become president, as described in Jim Arndorfer’s essay (“Nixon Protagonistes,” Oct. 14). But when it came to stopping Nixon, Steinbeck was willing to engage in some dirty tricks himself.

In the spring of 1960, Steinbeck sent a letter to Stevenson’s right-hand man, William McCormick Blair Jr., saying he knew of a talkative, snobbish “psychoanalyst” in New York who traveled three times a week to Washington to “put Dickie on the couch.” Steinbeck said this political bombshell, which could have prevented Nixon from getting the Republican nomination, “should be leaked and if you don’t leak it, I will.” Steinbeck added that it was “pleasant to know that Poor Richard is not happy. But this should be used.”

Steinbeck’s letter, now with Stevenson’s papers at Princeton, didn’t name a name. But Nixon’s secret shrink was Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker, who had been consulting with Nixon since the early 1950s. John F. Kennedy’s campaign didn’t discover Dr. Hutschnecker’s relationship with Nixon until early September, but — remarkably, given the dirtiness of the 1960 campaign — never used it.

BILL STEIGERWALD
Pittsburgh
The author has written a book, “Dogging Steinbeck,” about inaccuracies in Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley.”

 

My pal Peter Leo remarked that you don’t see too many stories where the intended victim was Nixon.

 

 

Watching the second Obama-Romney debate last week was like taking a trip back in political time.

Obama calling for more government jobs and cheaper education loans to lift us out of the recession.

Romney threatening to use tariffs against the Chinese if they don’t jack up their currency’s value so America can regain the manufacturing prowess we really haven’t lost.

Was I back in the recession of ’49 or ’53? What’s a “tariff” anyway?

And haven’t we heard that tough talk from Republicans about smaller government, fiscal responsibility, lower and simpler taxes and less regulations before? Like for the last five decades? Like $16 trillion ago?

Foreign policy sounded just as familiar.

The two men out-neo-conned each other on our interventionist Middle East policy, which has been a tragic and bloody bipartisan failure for 60 years. The final debate is going to be more of the same bi-stupidity.

Instead of questioning our aggressive presence in that backward region, they wasted their time arguing over whose fault it was our Libyan ambassador didn’t have the protection he needed, or who said the stupidest thing in the wake of that fiasco.

Their boasting and strutting and interrupting about who was going to do more to assure America’s energy independence sounded familiar too, only this time I think I heard one of them call it “energy security.”

Total energy independence for America — like bringing peace and civilized behavior to the Middle East — is an impossible and foolish promise that only the politicians who say it every four years think is not impossible and foolish.

In a global marketplace, worrying about energy independence is about as silly as saying we’ve got to achieve steel independence or chocolate independence. If the federal government got out of the business of limiting oil and gas production on the land it owns (which it shouldn’t own anyway), we’d have all the energy we need.

The longer the “debate” went on, the weirder it got. Obamney and Romma were dancing around on the stage so much I lost track of who was the Big Government guy and who was the Bigger Government guy.

Both swore allegiance to the Second Amendment. But neither said a peep about actually shrinking the welfare/warfare beast in Washington. They just tried to come up with cleverer ways to tax people they don’t like so they can keep spending more on their pet expenditures — college loans and more union teachers for Obama, more aircraft carriers for Romney.

There was no talk from either man about slashing federal spending. No talk about making income taxes flatter or fairer or nonexistent. No talk about getting the federal government totally out of education, health care, energy and 99 percent of all the other things it does to make our lives less free, more expensive and more annoying.

And how about those questions Candy Crowley chose from our fellow citizens, whose participation in the democratic process is so vital to our choosing the president who’s going to mess up the next four years? One word comes to mind — pathetic.

Of course they’re undecided voters. Not one had a clue about what’s wrong or right about the country or what role government should or should not play in the lives of an allegedly free people.

Didn’t one Long Islander wonder what Romney or Obama thinks about the horrible damage done to America by the bipartisan drug war? Or domestic drones? Or the TSA? Their questions could have come from a bunch of third graders — or the White House press pool.

After enduring Wednesday night’s duet in big-government bipartisanship, the average Ron Paul libertarian was, as usual, left somewhere between depressed and suicidal.

There was no choice, not even a lesser evil. Obama’s been a disaster with his warmed up New Deal ideas. Romney sounds like Nelson Rockefeller with better family values. Either way, unless an alien spaceship arrives in time to install Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party in the Oval Office, it’s four more years of the same crapola.

People wonder why libertarians say they can’t tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats. It’s because there really isn’t any.

Big Government George

George McGovern was still a Big Government liberal — and still proud of it – when I got him on the phone in the 2004.

Then 82, he was still anti-war, still trying to dethrone a Republican president and still pushing retro-New Deal programs such as “free” Medicare for all ages.

The 2004 election was only months away and the Democrats were preparing to nominate John Kerry in Boston. I talked to him about the coming election, the war in Iraq, the role of government and his new book, “The Essential America: Our Founders and the Liberal Tradition.”

Thirty-two years after being obliterated by Richard Nixon, 49 states to 1, the World War II war hero, ex-college professor and former U.S. senator of South Dakota had not moved one moderate inch off his spot on the left end of the political spectrum.

There was only one time when McGovern didn’t sound like a textbook George McGovern liberal.

When he complained about the difficulties he had had dealing with government regulations when he tried to run his own hotel business, he sounded more like Steve Forbes — or me.

Here’s a shortened version of my Q&A with McGovern, who talked to me from his summer house near Missoula.

Q: What’s your new book, “The Essential America,” about?
A: It’s a plea for us to revisit the Founding Fathers and look at their wisdom, both on domestic government and foreign policy. I’m saying that Jefferson, Washington, Madison and Hamilton all have much to give us in guiding us today, just as they did 225 years ago.

Q: What is your definition of the liberal tradition that the Founders gave us?
A: They didn’t use words like “liberal” and “conservative.” That came in much later. But they believed that government should be dedicated to the public interest, to the ordinary citizen. One of the things they feared was government dominated by special interests, especially by the rich and powerful. And that’s what liberalism seeks to do: It seeks to put the government at the service of ordinary people.

Q: How does your definition square with the Founders’ belief in a small, limited government?
A: Whether government is small or big is not the key question. The key question is, “Who does that government serve? Does it serve the rank-and-file citizenry or does it serve only the most powerful and wealthy?” The actual size of the government is secondary, in my opinion.

Q: You are very critical of the Bush administration in your book. What is its most grievous sin?
A: From the beginning until today, it has placed the power of the United States government at the service of the people who least need favors from the government without moving ahead on health insurance for (those) who don’t have it, without doing anything significant to provide jobs for the unemployed, without a strong environmental or energy policy.

In short, it neglects those things that would help the greatest number of Americans, and it pushes hard for those things that would favor the people at the top of the income scale. I’m not against people being rich. I’m not even against the government helping them. But when that becomes the exclusive concern of the government and these other problems are neglected, that’s when I go into action.

Q: How have your personal politics shifted or changed since 1972?
A: I suppose that I haven’t changed in a fundamental way since ’72, but I do have greater tolerance for honest-to-goodness conservatives than I might have had at an earlier time in my life. For example, Bob Dole and I have become very good friends since both of us left politics. I’m not sure that would have been as easy to happen 35 years ago as it is today.
Q: Someone mentioned to me that you tried to open up a bed-and-breakfast, and you ran into a lot of rules and regulations that made being a small businessman difficult. Can you talk about that?
A: I had a 140-room hotel in Stamford, Connecticut, for about three years, and it just didn’t work. You know, the hotel business may be the most difficult place in the world to make a living unless you happen to own the Waldorf-Astoria. It was not a success.

I got sued a couple times by people who had accidents, one out in the parking lot of the hotel and one leaving the restaurant. I saw all the difficulties — record-keeping, keeping track of the tax applications, paying the help. It gave me a new appreciation for the problems of small businesses.
Q: Someone like me would argue that many of those problems are a result of too many government rules, regulations, mandates.
A: It’s possible that small business should be exempted from some of those things. Who can be against anything called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration? But maybe some of the requirements should be eased off a little bit.

He’s more like a fascist.

(The great Thomas Sowell)

It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.”

He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots, but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, so that he no longer has to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.

Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be

blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies.The same principle, or lack of principle, applies to many other privately owned businesses. It is a very successful political ploy that can be adapted to all sorts of situations.

One of the reasons why both pro-Obama and anti-Obama observers may be reluctant to see him as fascist is that both tend to accept the prevailing notion that fascism is on the political right, while it is obvious that Obama is on the political left.

Back in the 1920s, however, when fascism was a new political development, it was widely — and correctly — regarded as being on the political left. Jonah Goldberg’s great book Liberal Fascism cites overwhelming evidence of the fascists’ consistent pursuit of the goals of the Left, and of the Left’s embrace of the fascists during the 1920s.

Mussolini, the originator of fascism, was lionized by the Left, both in Europe and in America, during the 1920s. Even Hitler, who adopted fascist ideas in the 1920s, was seen by some, including W. E. B. Du Bois, as a man of the Left.

It was in the 1930s, when ugly internal and international actions by Hitler and Mussolini repelled the world, that the Left distanced itself from fascism and its Nazi offshoot — and verbally transferred these totalitarian dictatorships to the Right, saddling their opponents with these pariahs.

What socialism, fascism, and other ideologies of the Left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people — like themselves — need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, i.e., the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.

The vision of those of the Left is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves as superior beings pursuing superior ends. In the United States, however, this vision conflicts with a Constitution that begins, “We, the People . . . ”

That is why the Left has for more than a century been trying to get the Constitution’s limitations on government loosened or evaded by judges’ new interpretations, based on notions of “a living Constitution” that will take decisions out of the hands of “We, the People,” and transfer those decisions to our betters.

The self-flattery of the vision of the Left also gives its true believers a huge ego stake in that vision, which means that mere facts are unlikely to make them reconsider — regardless of what evidence piles up against the vision of the Left, and regardless of its disastrous consequences.

Only our own awareness of the huge stakes involved can save us from the rampaging presumptions of our betters, whether they are called socialists or fascists. So long as we buy their heady rhetoric, we are selling our birthright of freedom.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2012 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

It was only a matter of time before someone in government called for the banning of high school football.

And it was inevitable that it would be a woman or an effeminate man.

“Comparing high school football to the gladiator fights of ancient times, Council Rock school board member Patty Sexton has called for banning the sport at the high school level.

Sexton, also a Philadelphia public school teacher, made her comments late at Thursday night’s Council Rock board meeting.

She said continuing the sport at schools funded by the general taxpayer base is inappropriate. It has become too dangerous and carries too much of a risk of lasting effects from injuries, especially concussions, Sexton said.

“It’s no longer appropriate for public institutions to fund gladiators,” she said. “I am very, very concerned about putting these student-athletes in the position of getting a concussion. Football has gotten faster, harder and more dangerous with each passing year. I’m extremely scared we will eventually be sued over injuries suffered in sports.”

It doesn’t make sense for publicly funded educational institutions to continue offering a sport that by its very nature includes physical and often violent contact on every play, Sexton said.”

Not surprising at all that we would get this kind of hysterical response, but it’s another signal to the NFL  that it’s time to seriously address the causes of concussions. Shrinking the players by seriously going after PED users would be the best place to start.