The Patriot Post Digest
“The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” –James Madison
Government & Politics
Mitt Romney won Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary easily, followed by Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and the rest, but it wasn’t what led the news cycle. Rather, the news centered on the debate’s central theme, Romney’s record at Bain Capital and the attacks of his rivals upon that record. Perhaps that’s because Romney is ahead in South Carolina by a slim margin and way out in front in Florida, and his opponents feel they are running out of time to stop his Sunday afternoon drive to the nomination.
Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, therefore, found a common theme: Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. The three attacked the financial firm for its method of investing in companies to turn them around, sometimes leading to downsizing, layoffs and, in some cases, even bankruptcy — but that’s part of venture capitalism. Bain’s record was among the best in the business during Romney’s tenure as CEO, but his opponents cast it as destructive and not real capitalism. Combined with Romney’s comment that “I like being able to fire people” — granted, most of his opponents cut out the rest, “who provide me services” — he took it on the chin.
Gingrich called Bain’s model “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company,” while Perry called it “vulture capitalism.” Huntsman chimed in, “What is clear is [Mr. Romney] likes firing people. I like creating jobs.” Yet the issue is far more nuanced than the left-wing soundbites coming from Republicans.
Some think that Romney’s opponents are doing him a favor. If indeed Romney is the GOP nominee — and with just two small states checking in so far it’s certainly too soon to declare it so — he will undoubtedly face similar attacks from Barack Obama and his cadre, so the attacks now help him prepare. But that’s just the problem, isn’t it? Obama will almost certainly quote Gingrich, Perry and Huntsman assailing Romney and Bain, merely adding, “I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message.”
To their small credit, Gingrich and Perry seem to realize this, if the latter only acknowledges that it could be the case. In December when Gingrich attacked Romney along the same lines, he later recanted. Of course he did it again anyway, but word is he’s considering recanting all over again. Or not. Who knows? What we do know is that a Gingrich PAC has begun a full frontal assault against the King of Bain, a “predatory corporate raider.”
Gingrich has at least one valid point: Romney has centered his candidacy not on his term as Massachusetts governor (for good reason!) but on his time at Bain and his business acumen. That makes it fair game for criticism, and there is certainly room for it.
Romney himself provided some fodder by trying to defuse the situation, at the same time telegraphing his punches against Obama. “In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler — closed factories, closed dealerships, laid off thousands and thousands of workers. He did it to try to save the business.” Politically, that’s very clever. After all, how can Obama criticize Romney for causing layoffs and closures in an effort to save businesses when Obama did the same thing in the auto industry? (Then again, Democrats never met a hypocritical charge they couldn’t make.)
To be fair, Romney opposed the auto bailout at the time and isn’t making the case for it now. On top of that, Bain advised the Obama administration on the bailout. But for those seeking the Best GOP Candidate, this illustrates that Romney either doesn’t understand or doesn’t believe that there is a fundamental issue at stake. In Bain’s case, it was indeed free-market capitalism at work — a sometimes difficult, perhaps hard-to-defend version of it, but capitalism nonetheless. Conversely, what Obama did with the automakers was top-down government control of industry and nothing remotely like capitalism — in fact, it was more akin to fascism in the accurate definition of the word.
Bain’s record is, on balance, one of creating jobs and wealth; its enormous successes with Domino’s Pizza, Serta and Staples come to mind, along with the tens of thousands of jobs created. Obama’s record is one of destroying jobs and redistributing wealth. If Romney is to be the nominee and win over conservative support, he will need to improve greatly his ability to communicate that message. Besides, a few pink slips in the government are in order.
Quote of the Week
“Bain Capital shouldn’t be demonized. It may not even deserve to be criticized. But in laying out a way forward, conservatives might remember that Bain Capital isn’t capitalism, that capitalism by itself isn’t freedom, and that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the Gospel of Wealth.” –The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol
“Wall Street has its share of miscreants, and they should be recognized as such when appropriate. But to abominate Mitt Romney for having been a success at the business of investing in struggling American companies, connecting entrepreneurs with capital and producers with markets, is foolish and destructive. Republicans ought to know better, and the fact that Gingrich et al. apparently do not is the most disturbing commentary on the state of the primary field so far.” –National Review
News From the Swamp: Debt Increase Submitted
The Obama administration has officially requested an increase of $1.2 trillion in the debt ceiling. The increase was expected as part of last summer’s debt-limit deal between Congress and the White House. According to the Treasury Department, the U.S. reached the $15.194 trillion debt limit on Jan. 4. The House is expected to vote next week, where many Republicans will oppose it. Still, even if both House and Senate reject it, the president can veto and raise it anyway. Never-ending debt increases — same as it ever was.
From the Left: White House Staff and Fundraisers
White House Chief of Staff William Daley announced his resignation this week after a shaky year on the job. Daley, a lifelong member of the Chicago Democrat machine, replaced Rahm Emanuel, also an alumnus of the machine, last January so that the combative former chief of staff could run for mayor of the Windy City. The year that Daley spent in the position didn’t live up to the expectations placed upon him by the Obama administration and the media, but he also didn’t have the policy or advisory access to the president that other chiefs of staff have enjoyed. Obama more frequently turned to longtime aides and campaign staffers in the hyper-charged partisan atmosphere of the White House. Congressional Democrats reportedly often felt slighted by Daley, and his day-to-day role shrank significantly as time passed. He will remain on board until after Obama’s State of the Union speech on Jan. 24. Jacob Lew, current budget director and longtime Washington insider, will then replace him.
Barack Obama may not even need a chief of staff since he will be doing nothing but campaigning for re-election between now and Nov. 6. His nonstop quest for a second term featured back-to-back fundraisers last Monday. One event was open to the media, and Obama bragged about how he brought about change by killing Osama bin Laden. Naturally, his remarks didn’t include a tip of the hat to the hard intelligence work of his predecessor, who put him in position to give the order on bin Laden in the first place, or the outstanding work of the SEAL Team that did the job.
As for the fundraiser ticket price, 700 supporters were charged a minimum of $100 per ticket. The other event that evening pulled in $45,000 per head, but the White House refused to release the names of the 1 Percenters who attended either event. There was no public airing of the president’s remarks from the big-ticket dinner since the press was barred from attending. The administration noted that because the president was not making formal remarks, there was no need to accommodate the media. Obama the open and accountable candidate railed against this sort of behavior when George W. Bush was president, but Obama seems to believe that he’s above such demands.
Around the Nation: Texas Holder ‘Em
The Supreme Court heard arguments this week on Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department challenge to Texas’s congressional redistricting plan. The State of Texas added four new districts to its map after the 2010 Census, but majority Republicans maintained the 10 minority districts that currently exist. Thanks to an outdated provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Texas is one of nine states that must pre-clear changes in its election law with either a federal court or the Justice Department to prevent racist election rules.
While the new map was under review by a federal court in Washington, Democrats there and in Austin conspired to run roughshod over the process by redrawing the map in their favor. Now political hack Holder is insisting that the new districts should be minority based to reflect the growth of the Hispanic population. He is under the assumption that swinging the districts toward minorities will give Democrats an advantage in a strong Republican state. This obvious partisan power grab of gerrymandering districts to reflect a particular racial outcome negates and makes a mockery of the very concept of racial integration that led to the Voting Rights Act in the first place.
This Week’s ‘Braying Jenny’ Award
Remarking on last weekend’s one-year anniversary of the mass shooting in Tucson, DNC Chairwoman and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had this conciliatory message:
“We need to make sure that we tone things down, particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy from a year ago, where my very good friend, Gabby Giffords — who is doing really well, by the way — [was shot]. The discourse in America, the discourse in Congress in particular … has really changed, I’ll tell you. I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn towards edginess and lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement.”
When Republicans took umbrage — and rightly so against the party that perfects vitriolic rhetoric — Wasserman Schultz Tweeted, “I’d NEVER politicize Tucson.”
We’ll give her one thing: She is remarkable consistent in spinning things exactly backwards.
Hope ‘n’ Change: The Medical ATM?
Barack Obama can be quite the Luddite when it comes to job creation. Remember when he pontificated, “If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs and the Internet”? More likely, they were replaced by workers who required a higher skill level, thus commanding a better wage and benefiting the economy.
Ironically, a provision of ObamaCare requires the conversion to all-electronic medical records by 2014, and in the process of procuring expensive systems that will meet the requirement, many doctors and hospitals are cutting back on other areas — such as staffing. Two recent examples are the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which let go 115 workers and will leave 90 other positions vacant, and the Nassau University Medical Center and its associated sites that axed 175 jobs in New York.
Not only do these medical practices need to select a health-records software provider — one of the largest companies is, not surprisingly, headed by a large Obama donor — but they also fret about declining Medicare reimbursements that will affect the bottom line negatively. While the new e-record mandates come with a promise to streamline patient care, it’s those people who actually do the work that a medical facility needs most to do its job. Fewer employees could mean worse outcomes for those unfortunate enough to need inpatient care.
In an era where the prospect of “death panels” and long waiting lines for care are deemed inevitable, this further intrusion of government into health care won’t be popular, but it is without question costly for all of us.
Regulatory Commissars: Restricting Uranium Mining and Other Nonsense
While the president gives lip service to economic growth, jobs, and energy independence, his administration just took another step backward in these areas. The Washington Post reports that on Monday Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a 20-year ban on uranium mining on more than a million acres of land near the Grand Canyon. Uranium indirectly supplies about 20 percent of America’s electricity, and as much as 40 percent of the nation’s known uranium deposits lie near the Canyon. Indeed, tapping into this rich natural resource could have created not only energy but also hundreds of jobs. Unfortunately, catering to environmental groups means more to this administration than jobs, growth, or energy independence. At least somewhere a tree is happy.
In other environmental news, The New York Times reports that motor fuel companies this year will pay the government approximately $6.8 million in penalties for not mixing cellulosic biofuel into their product, as mandated by law. The catch-22? Sufficient supply of said biofuel does not exist. The Times notes, “The law, aimed at reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, its reliance on oil imported from hostile places and the export of dollars to pay for it, includes provisions to increase the efficiency of vehicles as well as incorporate renewable energy sources into gasoline and diesel.” However, what the government mandated, it could not produce, and companies are left with the tab.
Income Redistribution: A Subsidy for the 1 Percent
Last week we informed you of the estimated $250,000 subsidy taxpayers were dropping into each of the roughly 7,700 Chevy Volts that were sold last year. Expand that to include handouts for battery makers and other necessary components, and Americans are on the hook for around $3 billion. On top of that, GM is considering scaling back production of the Volt to an “as-needed” inventory basis, meaning a longer time to recoup the “investment.”
Who benefits from these massive subsidies? Obviously the union employees at GM do, but so do Volt buyers. According to industry figures, those who purchase the car and pick up the tax credit already do well already, with an average income of $170,000 a year. That’s not quite the proverbial 1 percent but it’s often comfortable. Those who buy more specialized electric models such as the Finnish-made Fisker Karma or Tesla Model S — both of which also benefit from government largesse — would, on average, be targets of Obama’s desired tax hikes on the “wealthy.”
Supply-side economics says those who have money should be able to spend it as they see fit, benefiting those on other rungs of the economic ladder through job creation and so forth. Then there are those who yammer about helping the “middle class” by making sure the “rich” pay their “fair share.” The latter are now subsidizing the ones they demagogue. We suppose feeling green trumps all other considerations.
Spinning the TARP
The Government Accountability Office reported that the Obama administration shockingly deviated from its dogma of transparency and honesty when it cooked its press release books and withheld truthful information for numerous money-losing Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout recipients. Apparently, the goal was similar to that of Chip Diller in “Animal House” – to make it seem amidst the chaos as if “all is well.” In the real world, if anyone but Democrats falsely reported fiscal stability, it would be considered fraud, followed by endless investigations, breathless press coverage and lengthy prosecutions. In Obama World, since it’s Democrats who were caught, the Leftmedia made nary a peep.
Because it was outed, the Treasury Department agreed henceforth to include loss estimates for all TARP programs in its press releases. Remember Democrats’ solemn promise to run the most transparent government in history? So far the only thing transparent about these leftists is their obvious motive to paint themselves in a better light as we approach Election Day.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Jihadi Plot Thwarted in Florida
This week, a 25-year-old man was arrested in Florida over an alleged plot to attack crowded areas around Tampa. The U.S. Department of Justice said Sami Osmakac, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the former Yugoslavia, was arrested last Saturday after months of surveillance that began last September after authorities received a phone call from an unidentified informant, who said Osmakac came into his store wishing to buy an al-Qa’ida flag. Osmakac then asked the informant for help getting firearms and explosives. The informant then put Osmakac in touch with an undercover FBI agent. Osmakac was recorded saying he wanted to buy guns such as Uzis and AK-47s, high-capacity magazines, grenades, and that height of Islamist style, the explosives belt. Osmakac put $500 down on his items and further told the undercover agent that he wanted to strike busy locations, as well as detonate car bombs and destroy a bridge between Tampa and Pinellas County, Florida.
Osmakac’s targets were, in his own words, the “kuffar,” Arabic for infidels. “I want to do something terrifying,” he said, further clarifying his Islamic motivation by adding, “We all have to die, so why not die the Islamic way?” It appears that both the informant and the FBI did exemplary work on this case, and we can all be thankful that another adherent of the Religion of Peace™ is now safely behind bars.
Iran: Marine Sentenced, Scientist Killed and U.S. Carriers Deployed
Things remain tense in the Persian Gulf, with Iran at the center of the vortex, as usual. On Tuesday, Iran sentenced to death Amir Hekmati, an Iranian-American citizen and former U.S. Marine, on the charge of spying for the CIA. Hekmati’s case calls to mind the 2007 incarceration of then-67-year-old academic Haleh Esfandiari on similar trumped up charges, or the eight-year prison term handed to American journalist Roxana Saberi in 2009. Both women were ludicrously charged with espionage but eventually released. Hekmati’s case is more complicated, following recent Hezbollah arrests of dozens of alleged U.S. spies in Lebanon. Nonetheless, we expect Iran will exploit his case for political gain to the fullest extent before releasing him. Executing Americans on fraudulent charges is a dangerous practice, as even the fanatics in Tehran must realize.
In other news, another Iranian nuclear scientist met his 72 virgins on Wednesday after being blown up in Tehran by assailants on a motorcycle. The method of attack, involving a magnetic bomb thrown onto the victim’s car, is the same as previous fatal attacks on Iranian scientists. Given the recent string of assassinations, explosions at nuclear facilities, and the Stuxnet virus that temporarily disabled Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, one might suspect that a foreign nation’s covert operations branch is behind the attacks — Israel’s Mossad? It’s not out of the question, however, that the Iranian dissident group Jundullah is behind the assassinations. Among numerous other attacks, Jundullah has exploded a bomb during a 2005 public appearance by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that killed four bodyguards. The group has also killed several senior Guard Corps leaders in recent years.
Lastly, no fewer than three U.S. Navy aircraft carriers are or will shortly be in the CENTCOM area. USS Stennis is currently supporting Coalition operations in Afghanistan. USS Vinson has just entered the area from the Pacific, while USS Lincoln has just concluded a visit to Thailand before continuing toward the Arabian Gulf. The Stennis will soon depart for home — after twice rescuing Iranian fishermen in distress in the last two weeks. The Vinson and Lincoln will remain in theater to keep a wary eye on Iran and to protect the interests of the free world.
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Lt. Nick Vogt
For Veterans Day 2010, Mark Alexander profiled the next generation of Patriot veterans. One of those, then a cadet at West Point, is now the youngest honorary member of our National Advisory Committee. 2 Lt. Lee Miller contacted us this week with the story of a close friend and West Point classmate, Lt. Nick Vogt, who lost both legs to an IED explosion while on patrol in Afghanistan in November. Vogt should be dead, his doctors later told him, because he lost a significant amount of blood and his heart stopped several times during operations. He is alive not only because of the efforts of those surgeons, but also because of the treatment he received in the field from Spc. Thomas Underhill, a medic. Several soldiers on base gave blood to save his life, as well.
Vogt aspired to go to Army Medical school, but opted to serve as an Infantry Platoon Leader for two years before doing so. He said that when he treated wounded soldiers in the future, he wanted to know first-hand what they had been through. He has a long road of recovery ahead as he fights infections and seeks to regain motor skills. We offer him our thanks and our prayers.
Judicial Benchmarks: A Win for Religious Liberty
In October, we reported a case before the Supreme Court dealing with religious liberty. To recap, the case is that of Cheryl Perich, a “commissioned minister” and “called teacher” at Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Michigan. After being diagnosed with narcolepsy in 2004, she was granted leave by the school, which eventually had to hire another teacher and sought to “peacefully release” her. Perich, however, demanded to be reinstated and threatened legal action if the school failed to do so. She was then fired because taking such matters to secular court is against church teaching.
The Obama Justice Department backed her suit, but on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the First Amendment protects religious institutions from government meddling in such decisions as to who should serve as ministers, leaders and teachers. Courts have routinely held this to be true, but for some reason the Obama administration argued just the opposite. As we have argued often in these pages, the concept of separation of church and state is not meant to force religion from the public square. Rather it is to protect the church from the heavy hand of the state. In this case, it worked.
Village Academic Curriculum: DC Teachers’ Pay Raise Far Outstrips Inflation
The Occupy Movement has been criticized for many things — among them not having a cohesive message. Indeed, it has become a Petri dish for all things Left, including the American Federation of Teachers. The AFT has voiced its support for Occupy openly, applauding its work to ensure that teachers and students “are not forgotten.”
The teachers of our nation’s capital, however, don’t seem to need any help in that regard. While teachers in other urban areas such as New York City were facing massive pay cuts and lay-offs, the Washington, DC, Teachers’ Union was negotiating one of the most lucrative contracts in the field. Now, in addition to a large increase in base salary, DC teachers will receive merit-based bonuses that can boost their yearly income into the six-figure range. Under the Impact Plus program, educators who are rated “highly effective” will get an extra $2,400 to $25,000 for the year. Those who get that rating for two years in a row will be eligible for permanent salary increases, enabling them to earn more than colleagues with five years’ experience and advanced degrees. We support merit-based pay, but true to the Left’s tradition of hypocrisy, these teachers are showing their support for the “99 percent” even as they vote themselves enormous increases — far above inflation or cost of living — on the taxpayers’ dime.
Meanwhile, DC’s teachers showed up at a Nov. 17 Occupy rally with blankets and other provisions. Perhaps they should have brought an exterminator with them. According to the DC Health Department, there has been an “explosion” in the rat population at the city’s two Occupy camps. The disease-carrying rodents are frolicking freely in the area, no doubt attracted to both the protesters’ hay-stuffed bedding as well as the refuse they generate. Both sites also had kitchens, but the McPherson Square site closed theirs after health inspectors noted the unsanitary conditions.
The Director of the Health Department, Mohammed Akhter, was reluctant to disparage the group, but he did say that he would recommend that the federal government evict them, or do it himself, if their safety were at risk. Akhter, a native of Pakistan, also pointed out that the Occupy sites reminded him of the refugee camps he has seen in the Middle East and Africa, with one very important distinction: The Occupiers are creating and choosing to live in these conditions.
One moment Al Gore and the climate gorons are warning breathlessly about melting polar ice caps and drowning polar bears due to global warming due to your SUV. The next moment, it’s the opposite. Either way, Gore laments, “Not a single question was asked about climate in any of the numerous, multitudinous debates that these candidates have had.” He added that neglecting the issue means the future of civilization is “at risk.” Substitute “my profits” for “civilization,” and he’s right.
As for the latest, Cambridge University researchers have concluded in a study that carbon dioxide emissions are actually helping stave off the next ice age. The BBC reports, “Researchers used data on the Earth’s orbit and other things to find the historical warm interglacial period that looks most like the current one. In the journal Nature Geoscience, they write that the next Ice Age would begin within 1,500 years — but emissions have been so high that it will not.” Whew, that’s a relief! We guess it’s back to the attic with that extra mammoth pelt.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
(Please pray for our Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families — especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)
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