Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Left’s Secret Debating Weapon: Shallowness

While the conservative assembles focused logic and facts, the Leftist sprays vacuous clichés in all directions.

I’ve finally figured out the Left’s most effective not-so-secret weapon: shallowness. Their arguments are so empty that they invite reams of countervailing logic and facts. But in a live debate, who has time for that? So while the conservative is thoroughly dissecting and refuting the Leftist’s last empty assertion, the latter has moved on to his next shallow but emotionally triumphant point. The Leftist ‘wins’ the argument!
I have written 2 complete articles (The Madness of a Twisted Faith and It's the Over-Regulation, Stupid!) detailing just a few of the defects in the logic of The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel’s article An Undeserved Win for the GOP, published in the Wall Street Journal on November 5. Having therefore lost the argument from the economy-of-words and emotional impact standpoints, let me attempt to redeem my failure by taking on her main points using fewer words than she.

“Conservatives in both parties who claim the vote represented an ideological shift to the right are plain wrong.”
It is Obama, Reid and Pelosi who misread the 2008 election as a mandate to shift hard Left.

“For 30 years, these Americans have seen their incomes stagnate as the top 1% accrued a staggering percentage of the nation's wealth.”
Incomes have not stagnated, but they would do a lot better if politicians would stop assaulting the people who create jobs.

“The absence of a clear explanation about how conservative policies have failed in the past and will continue to fail allowed a right-wing narrative of empty slogans to gain traction.”
Conservative policies didn’t fail; excessive government growth, spending and interference (including under the Bush administration) did. One man’s empty slogan is another’s simple truth.

“Mr. Obama abandoned his smart argument about building a new foundation for the economy, embracing deficit reduction instead. This only left voters confused about the White House's recovery plan.”
Agreed, Obama’s argument that the health care plan would cover 30 million more people while reducing the deficit was ludicrous. The only thing confusing was Obama’s ‘smart’ arguments.

“Going forward, Mr. Obama would be wise to lay out a bold plan to create jobs. He should take the advice of the more than 300 economists, including former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich…”
Obama should allow jobs to be created by not punishing job-creators who succeed. He should take the advice of economists like Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman and Adam Smith.

“The federal government could help by expanding existing federal loan guarantees by $300 billion”.
Artificial credit expansion distorts entire economies and engenders crises like the mortgage market meltdown.

“Meanwhile, excess cash reserves held by banks—now estimated at an unprecedented $1.1 trillion in Federal Reserve accounts—should be taxed an initial 1%-2%.”
Punishing people for managing their own resources in their own best interest solves nothing. The income tax also started small.

“Common ground … means investments in people and deteriorating infrastructure; ending a wasteful and futile war in Afghanistan; and enacting ethics and campaign finance reform that levels the playing field so ordinary Americans' voices aren't drowned out by covert political money.”
McCain-Feingold’s result was that ordinary American’s voices are more drowned out than ever. Throw Afghan women back to their burkas under the Taliban? If you want infrastructure, stop diverting fossil-fuel tax revenue to pet non-infrastructure projects.

“If this sensible agenda is met with Republican obstruction… Mr. Obama should channel Harry Truman and come out fighting against a know-nothing, do-nothing GOP.”
You mean the president who made no bones about his decision to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki, saving millions of American GI’s lives? OK.

“Common ground and common sense also demand that the president listen to and remobilize the base that is the heart of his party. An empowered Democratic electorate—the young, Latinos, African-Americans, single women, union folks—will be an effective counterweight to the assaults of the GOP and its corporate funders.”
Maybe the young, Latinos, etc. decided they don’t want to be mascots for the Democratic party and don’t believe the clichés about the GOP and ‘corporate funders’ anymore, for good reason.

“More than 20 million Americans are out of work or underemployed… They will not find [real solutions] with a GOP committed to slashing billions from key domestic programs even as they make tax cuts for the rich permanent.” The most-needed ‘domestic programs’ right now are private initiatives that create products, services, jobs and investment opportunities. It’s the Left that is stifling the productive sector of the economy.

“All of this presents an opportunity for Mr. Obama to show he stands with working people and the middle class.”
I couldn’t agree more.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A Well-Deserved Defeat for Leftism, Part II: It's the Over-regulation, Stupid!

What does Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor of The Nation magazine) mean by ‘failing to place demands on [banks]’? Is she blind to the government's increasingly intrusive micromanagement of the last 30 years?
God help you if you don't do with your money what the Left thinks you ought.
Read the full article on Front Page Mag:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Well-Deserved Defeat for Leftism, Part I

Those of us who let our subscription to The Nation lapse 20 years ago would do well to read that magazine’s editor Katrina vanden Heuvel’s article ‘An Undeserved Win for the GOP’, published in the Wall Street Journal Friday, November 5. It’s a refreshing reminder of all of the economic illiteracy that the Left is capable of.
Read the full article at

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bankruptcy: The Salvation of Califrancia

The bad news is that California is bankrupt. The good news is that California is bankrupt. More on this in a moment.
One of the great virtues of the capitalist free market is that the inevitable failures have a tendency to be revealed and resolved rapidly, before they metastasize into society-wide disasters. It is only with the intervention of government – imposing wage and price controls, propping up politically favored firms or classes of people at the expense of others, manipulating interest rates and even the value of the currency itself, forecasting revenue based on optimistic political methods – that the information signaling impending failure can be suppressed and distorted for so long as to allow problems grow orders of magnitude greater than they would otherwise have gotten before an inevitable collapse.
California’s total debt is somewhere around $78 billion (compared to an $87 billion budget), and the unfunded public employee pension liabilities reach above $500 billion. Now it turns out that this year’s deficit will be at least $6 billion greater than previously reported, over $25 billion. Some people are surprised by this. Other people understand that there are natural, immutable laws of economics that politicians cannot overrule any more than they can the physical laws of gravity.
The coming bankruptcy of California is inevitable as long as the Sacramento government machine continues to suppress the productive sector, raise tax rates, impose increasingly irrational regulatory burdens on unfavored businesses, protect state monopolies like education, and bind children, grandchildren, unborn fetuses, frozen embryos and gleams in their parents’ eyes to unsustainable (to say nothing of unconscionable) contracts of liability that they are not competent to read, much less sign.
So what can we – citizens without political power -- do? The worst-case scenario is that the inevitable day gets postponed so long that the compound increase in liabilities grows to a yet greater order of magnitude. Our task is to act to make the day of reckoning come as soon as it can, the sooner to resolve it with the least pain.
Productive citizens and residents should simply act in their own rational self-interest, seeking to pay the least taxes possible and avoid being subject to the most onerous regulations, taking care of their own families, churches, mosques and synagogues as best they can. Those who find opportunities beckoning beyond our borders should take them and move out, sooner rather than later.
A capital strike – physical, financial and intellectual – will accelerate the decline in tax revenue to Sacramento. The reflexive reaction of the political class, especially the current one-left-party regime, will be to double down on higher taxes and more micromanagement. If the voters still go along with the politicians, revenue will plummet again and the debt-to-assets ratio will become increasingly acute. Sooner or later, a critical mass of citizens and officials will be forced to recognize that a fundamental shift of direction is required.
The word bankruptcy invokes negative connotations. But in fact, bankruptcy is a brilliant invention of Western civilization, permitting debtors to get a second chance and creditors to be fairly compensated within the constraints of circumstances. The founders of the United States were wise to incorporate it into the Constitution (Article I, Section 8).
Consider the alternative: debtor’s prisons! And if you think that’s just a joke, look up Dubai; some supposedly modern and ‘capitalist’ countries don’t have bankruptcy laws, and indeed do incarcerate people who can’t pay their debts.
So let’s all get over our bankruptcy-phobia. It’s a golden opportunity to void out unsustainable promises and start over clean.
Bankruptcy can be avoided if our elected (and unelected) officials recognize the counter-productive nature of hiring unionized teachers at a rate faster than the growth of student enrollment, and promising unmatched defined-benefit pension plans to public employees without regard to portfolio performance.
But if bankruptcy must come, let it come before the entitlement culture turns us into France, where the youth unemployment rate among the children of immigrants is triple the already high general rate and unions paralyze the country and hold the citizens hostage at the mere suggestion that the retirement age be raised from 60 to 62.
There are many challenges to making this work, not the least of which is getting politicians to acknowledge that there’s a problem that politics-as-usual won’t fix, and then to act without prejudice (see: takeover of GM by the Obama Administration) to resolve it.
Put another way, California is not (yet) bankrupt, and that’s both the good and the bad news.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

FPM: Is There Hope for Califrancia?

Democratic politicians in California may be breathing a sigh of relief, but it will be short-lived. Yes, they still have the power, but it is the illusory power of a Doctor Frankenstein over his monster. The Golden State is still bankrupt...
Read the full article at

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Defending Felipe Calderón

Felipe Calderón is the George W. Bush of Mexico
Conservatives are roundly denouncing the words of the Mexican President, spoken in the well of the House of Representatives to the standing applause of the Speaker, the Vice President and other Democrats, that he strongly disagrees with the recently adopted immigration law in Arizona.
We can debate whether we agree with this position, or whether it is appropriate for a foreign head of state to criticize legislation duly and constitutionally enacted by the citizens of a state, particularly a law that does little beyond affirm federal law and express a determination to enforce it (what exactly were those leaders of the federal government applauding? Criticism of a state law that acknowledges the letter of the statute of which they are the guardians?).
Even so, there is a bigger picture that conservatives who sincerely wish to be seen by the electorate as the mature grown-ups in politics (as opposed to the irresponsible teenagers now driving the family car drunk over the cliff) should be mindful of.
Felipe Calderón is the George W. Bush of Mexico; the center-right leader whom the Left lampoons mercilessly and the Right finds plenty of room to criticize, but who will be sorely missed once he gone and his rivals take over.  Recall that in 2006, Calderón won election in a squeaker that made the 2000 Bush-Gore fiasco look like a Boy Scout jamboree. To this day, Andres Manuel López-Obrador, or AMLO as he is affectionately known, has not recognized Calderón’s legitimacy and openly agitates as the shadow government of Mexico. Moreover, for years now Mexico has been besieged by civil war that is far more bloody for Mexico in proportion to Iraq for the United States; a war which has as its driving force the economic demand for illegal drugs in the United States. If collective guilt is legitimate in the debate over illegal immigration, it is equally a two-way street for other purposes. 
Mexico deals very harshly with illegal immigrants into its own territory from places like Guatemala and El Salvador, so Calderón’s words smack of more than a bit of hypocrisy. But conservatives can have a gentleman’s disagreement while still recognizing that Calderón is a priceless partner in our common destiny, a decent and rational man with whom we can work for the common good. To do less would be irresponsible and self-defeating.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Republicans and the Immigration Trap

The next 2 elections are too important to sacrifice over illegal gardeners.
Americans are understandably upset by the failure of the federal government to implement and enforce an unambiguous legal standard with respect to the border and unlawful immigration, especially where this has permitted violent crimes to occur and go unpunished. Republicans in particular are incensed by Democrat’s pandering to hispanics for votes by handing out taxpayer-financed goodies to their favored groups, including illegal aliens. ObamaCare has poured gasoline on the fire by acting as a giant magnet for fraud in addition to the merely destructive but still ‘legal’ aspects of socialized health care.
Fairly or unfairly, it falls to Republicans to deal with this challenge intelligently and objectively, and not fall over themselves in their eagerness to step into the political traps so obviously set for them by Democrats.
There are at least two major threats to Republican’s hopes of success this November and in 2012, failing which ObamaCare and other nationalizations will take permanent root in our society, and America’s decline into a European-style socialist has-been nation, governed from Belgium and the UN, may be irreversible. The first is that in spite of an abysmal economic record, ObamaReidPelosi will succeed in getting so many more people dependent upon government for whatever they have, that not enough free Americans will remain with the courage to rock the boat back to liberty. This strategy was brilliantly successful for FDR, delivering to him 3 re-elections during this nation’s Great Depression. The second is that Democrats will successfully (note I didn’t say fairly) paint Republicans as reactionary, bigoted racists, and take from them what little share they have left of the Hispanic vote. At the very least, we must not make this easy for them.
It is fitting and proper for Republicans to stand on principle and oppose bad policy. But we cannot win if we are perceived as being against people; in opposition to a huge cross-section of our society, simply for being who they are. Illegal immigrants didn’t cause the Great Recession. Immigration as a proportion of population is about a third of what it was in the peak years of the early 20th century. Contrary to public perception and anecdotal outrages, increased immigration is associated with lower, not higher crime rates overall. The greatest threats to our liberty and prosperity come from Washington itself (and Sacramento … and City Hall in the case of my beloved Los Angeles), followed by Academia, the mainstream media and Hollywood. Republicans need to contain their anger, refrain from foaming at the mouth whenever the subject of illegal immigration comes up, and go on positive offense.
That positive offense can take the form of a series of small legislative proposals – not everything has to be done by sensational, sweeping, grandiose, corrupt, pork-laden omnibus comprehensive bills that make headlines for years on end – to fix the most acute problems in the system. Each bill can stand alone, that is, be proposed, debated and voted on on its own merits; it doesn’t have to be bundled with a hundred others. The good news is that even as we alternate restrictions with concessions, the latter should permit more effective use of law enforcement resources while making it harder for the criminal element to hide among the innocent population.
For example:
• Focus law enforcement on felony criminal activity like murder, rape, assault, grand theft auto, arms and drug trafficking. Stop pursuing illegals whose only crime is being here without permission.
• Build and patrol the border fence.
• Deny (or delay for 10 years) citizenship to anyone who cannot prove that they entered the country through legal channels.
• Stop printing official government election materials in foreign languages at taxpayer expense. We are an English-speaking nation.
• Offer a relatively painless path to legal residency status (not citizenship) to people already here.
• Strengthen standards for knowledge of the English language and American civic institutions, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as a requirement for citizenship.
• Offer accelerated citizenship to persons who serve honorably in the US armed services.
• Amend the US Constitution such that babies born in the US to foreign parents do not automatically become American citizens. No more ‘anchor babies’ (news flash: slavery was abolished 150 years ago).
• Increase or abolish H1-B visa quotas. It makes no sense to educate foreigners in our universities and then chase them away when they are ready to produce wealth and jobs in the USA.
• Relax restrictions on immigrants who come through proper border crossings who openly state their intention to seek work, whether permanently or seasonally. Photograph them, fingerprint them, register them in a nationwide database and test them for infectious disease as necessary, but let them through with legal residency (not citizen) status. Collect from each a payment for catastrophic health insurance coverage that is substantially less than illegal ‘coyote’ smuggling fees. By making it easier for honest workers to come through the front door, law enforcement can focus limited resources on criminal activity coming through the back door.
• Allow/require state and local law enforcement to investigate the legal or immigration status of all criminal suspects, persons of interest or defendants. No ‘sanctuary city’ or any other policies should be permitted to serve as cover for criminals and their activities.
• Stop conducting raids on commercial businesses which are intended to root out illegal workers, unless there is specific, probable cause of felony criminal activity. The drug traffickers are not cutting up chickens for $4/hour. Offering and accepting employment at mutually agreeable terms is not fundamentally a crime (if it were, it would still be the least of any immigration problems).

I’m sure you can think of more of you own. Even if not a single one of these gets a hearing in Nancy Pelosi’s Congress, if Republicans introduce one per week from here to November, Americans will recognize who the grown-ups are who are serious, responsible and really trying to help. We can take the political advantage away from the Democrats and make them play defense.
Even if you think some of these proposals are too lenient, liberal, or slouching toward ‘amnesty’, that judgment has to be balanced against the larger picture of what’s at stake. Do you want to win the argument or the war?
Don’t take the bait; take the initiative.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vote Singh for Congress for California's 27th district

To my readers -
I haven't posted here in a while because I've been volunteering to support a congressional campaign and much of my research and writing energy has been dedicated to that.
Navraj Singh is an immigrant from India who came here 36 years ago with nothing and made himself into a successful businessman. He has created many jobs with his own money, unlike too many career politicians in Washington. I'm supporting his effort to unseat Brad Sherman from his 7-term stranglehold on California's 27th district, where I live.
35 articles and counting!
Best regards,
Howard Hyde