The Wall Street Journal and AFP weighs in on McDonnell’s transportation tax hike

January 16, 2013

The short version - they’re not happy: “Many states are grappling with road congestion and a scarcity of dollars for improvements. Let’s hope they aren’t tempted by the unfortunate financing plan released this month by Virginia’s Republican Governor Bob McDonnell.”

The longer version: they prefer the gas tax to a sales tax hike; they prefer congestion-pricing to the gas tax; they hate the Federally-dependent internet sales tax. Unfortunately, they’re not knowledgeable enough on Virginia policy to know about the state-funded subdivision road maintenance. Still, they make a nice point about the budget:

It’s especially unfortunate to see Mr. McDonnell take this tax turn in the last year of an otherwise successful tenure. One of his two Democratic predecessors passed a major tax increase that was supposed to ease gridlock but instead financed a new, higher general spending plateau. The state’s own audit commission reports that the budget swelled to $39 billion in 2011 from $23.5 billion in 2002, a 66% spending increase.

The editors also noted that about $300 million is slated for the Dulles Silver Line – which is, suffice to say, not particularly popular up there.

All in all, it’s good to see someone noticing that McDonnell’s plan is (a) a tax increase, and (b) a poor alternative to freeing up funds by reducing spending.

From a different perspective, Americans for Prosperity also commented on the plan. AFP was more favorable in general, but as Shaun Kenney noted on BD, they’re insisting on revenue neutrality (i.e., make sure it’s not a tax increase). Good for them.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon


This is why we should fear government: UK Edition

December 12, 2012

As a result of some decidely problematic media behavior, there is a clamor in Britain to regulate the press; there is a smaller boomlet for this in Australia as well. As one would expect, media being as unpopular as it is, their claim of concern for free speech has gone on deaf ears – despite the fact that such a concern is completely valid.

Luckily for all of us, a British political hack jumped the gun and revealed the worst-case scenario for all to see (Iain Martin, Telegraph):

As the Telegraph reports:

“When a reporter approached Mrs Miller’s office last Thursday, her special adviser, Joanna Hindley, pointed out that the Editor of The Telegraph was involved in meetings with the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary over implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson.

“Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about,” said Miss Hindley.

Miss Hindley also said the reporter should discuss the issue with “people a little higher up your organisation”.

Miss Hindley immediately contacted The Telegraph’s head of public affairs to raise concerns about the story.

You don’t even have to read between the lines here. It’s bold as brass: my boss knows your boss; she’s taking some big decisions which could impact on the publication you work for; watch your step sunshine, you are just a little reporter person; call someone more senior while I get on the phone to your public affairs people.

What is this if not proof that the political class should not be allowed within a mile of regulating the press? They are at it even before they have got oversight of regulation.

Indeed…and the fact that she is a Tory (the only party whose leader – PM David Cameron – specifically opposes regulation) says volumes about how no political faction can be trusted with power over the press.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon


After all that, Des Moines Register endorses Romney

October 28, 2012

Even after the president let his guard down and admitted to the DES Moines Register that he would push for a trillion-dollar-plus tax increase (always an MSM favorite), the paper endorses….Mitt Romney (NRO - The Corner).

Ouch!

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon


UK Independent reports US was warned two days before 9/11/12

September 14, 2012

If this is true, the Administration has a lot of explaining to do…

According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted.

Now, please note I said, “if.” This report comes from the Independent (UK) (had it been the Telegraph – which did report that the security was terrible in Benghazi, I’d be much more confident that it were true).

That said, the Administration did itself no favors with its reaction (Politico):

A U.S. official told POLITICO: “There’s no intelligence indicating that the attack in Benghazi was premeditated.”

Are they kidding? They’ve already leaked like a sieve to American media that the assassination of Ambassador Stevens was an al Qaeda operation. To suddenly deny that now makes the Indy look much more credible.

H/t to Rich Lowry for the Indy and Politico links.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon


Tom Friedman reminds us all how badly the New York Times needs to replace its copy editors

August 22, 2012

There are few columnists who can anger center-right and right-wing Americans as easily as Tom Friedman. Left or center-left arguments can be presented cogently; straw men can be lamented (and then debunked); even the ad hominem nonsense can be refuted. Friedman, however, is a special case, not only because he typifies the incapability of so many on the center-left to understand our view, but also because he gets his facts wrong with such consistency that one must wonder how on earth he still has a column.

Case in point is his latest peon to “a serious, thoughtful, credible 21st-century ‘conservative’ opposition to President Obama”. He probably wishes that Republicans would read it and wonder what ‘s wrong with their party. By contrast, I wonder what’s wrong with the New York Times copy editors.

Why do I want the Times‘ copy editors fired? Take a look at his discussion on taxes and the budget:

Imagine if the G.O.P.’s position on debt was set by Senator Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who has challenged the no-tax lunacy of Grover Norquist and served on the Simpson-Bowles commission and voted for its final plan (unlike Ryan). That plan included both increased tax revenues and spending cuts as the only way to fix our long-term fiscal imbalances. Give me a Republican Party that says we have to put real tax revenues and spending cuts on the table to solve this problem, and you’ll get a deal with Obama, who has already offered both, although not at the scale we need. True conservatives know that both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush used both tax revenue and spending cuts to fix budget shortfalls.

For starters, the Simpson-Bowles plan actually failed to “fix our long-term fiscal imbalances.” As I’ve explained before, it projected a revenue stream that is much higher than the historical average (in fact, it’s a revenue stream that has never actually come to fruition in American history). In plain English, Simpson-Bowles would lead to deficits of over $900 billion, in perpetuity.

Then we get to the Bush the Elder and Reagan references, which sound quite reasonable. Except that neither Reagan nor Bush the Elder were ever able to get spending cuts out of their multiple budget agreements (1982, 1984, 1987, 1990), and the shortfalls were never “fixed.” In fact, the deficit rose in the aftermath of three of the four aforementioned deals, and the last one (1990) lead to a record-breaking deficit in Bush the Elder’s final budget year. Only one budget plan has ever actually balanced the budget (1997), and that had tax reductions, not increases. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again; tax increases do not balance budgets.

Now, the rest of my complaints with Friedman are genuine opinion differences. I don’t consider carbon emissions a “cost”; I think asking an Australian-born media mogul about immigration policy is folly when voters the land of his birth take a decidedly different view from him; I am dumbstruck by his pushing of Jeb Bush’s attempts at education reform after watching the entire center-left attack Jeb’s brother for trying the same thing. Those are unfortunate but usual disagreements.

The tax discussion, by contrast, is flat out incorrect, and somebody at the Times should know enough recent history to notice. That nobody did says all we need to know about Friedman, his editors, and his readers.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift


Missing the Point with Soledad O’Brien (Part 2)

August 14, 2012

Yesterday, I mentioned how CNN’s Soledad O’Brien – in her desperate attempt to smear Paul Ryan – thoroughly missed the point on entitlements reform. As it turns out, Newsbusters discovered the probable reason why:

While filling in for Anderson Cooper, O’Brien was actually caught on screen looking at an article from the far-left website Talking Points Memo to assist her in a heated debate with Romney campaign senior adviser Barbara Comstock . . .

NB has a video of the exchange.

If Ms. O’Brien is relying on the TPM folks to inform her worldview, “Missing the Point” could be a long-running series.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift


Missing the Point with Soledad O’Brien

August 13, 2012

Soledad O’Brien used her Starting Point show (CNN) to fire the usual talking points about Paul Ryan at Governor McDonnell today. As one would expect, McDonnell handled it rather well – and also pointed to why Ms. O’Brien’s meme is so way off:

O’BRIEN: You know, if you look at a poll, here is a question, CNN/ORC poll the first week in August. Romney cares about the rich and 64 percent agreed with that statement, the middle class 27 percent agreed, the poor only 2 percent. And some of that, of course, I think, is success from the Democrats who have been messaging hard on that.

How is a Paul Ryan pick — how does a Paul Ryan pick help you with that when you look especially at the budget which, you know, looks really closely and rips out a lot of the entitlement spending which will affect the middle class. I think that could be potentially a big problem, wouldn’t it?

MCDONNELL: Well, but first, you’ve got to look at leadership. I mean, this president has had no budget for 3 1/2 years. Harry Reid won’t take up a budget. The president’s budget would have increased the debt to $25 trillion by 2021. He couldn’t get one vote for it in the United States Congress.

I mean, Soledad, we are in a difficult time for the greatest country on earth and the president is talking about issues that really don’t resonate with the people. And I think what Paul Ryan brings to the ticket is now a serious conversation about debt, taxes, spending, energy, entitlement reform. These are the things that will determine what kind of country we’ve got for our kids and our grandkids. They need to be talked about and Paul Ryan is a good guy to do it.

So I think independent voters when they realize that we have these serious problems will say, yes, we do need to make some changes and this is the team to do it because the status quo with Biden and Obama is unacceptable.

Of course, O’Brien is your typical MSM anchor, but this is about more than simple left-wing bias. While O’Brien wanted to focus on class as the dividing line, McDonnell understands it’s about generations.

MSM and the president will see (and paint) Republicans’ efforts to reform entitlements as some sort of attack on the “middle class.” However, as Ryan himself has noted repeatedly, the reform efforts would only affect Americans under 55 – and for them, it’s the status quo that’s the problem.

Gallup asked Americans two years ago if they thought Social Security would be able to pay benefits when they retire. Most over 55 said, yes; over two-thirds of those under 55 said no.

Even a majority of current retirees assumed their benefits will be cut – something neither, Ryan, Romney, nor any Republican has proposed.

In short, the traditional entitlement scare tactics run by the Democrats are losing their allure because middle-age and younger voters know entitlements are unsustainable. It’s the equivalent Hollywood releasing a horror movie where everyone dies of old age. You can’t be shocked by what you already know.

Will the American people conclude that Republican efforts to reform entitlements are better than simply letting them collapse? We’ll find that out in November. We already know, however, that the scare tactics of old are falling on increasingly deaf ears.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift


Politifact Virginia’s boss offers fact-free defense

August 8, 2012

Yesterday, Riley detailed the voting history of Politifact Viginia Editor Warren Fiske - a voting history which skewed heavily to the Democrats. It turns out the folks at the Richmond Times-Dispatch pay attention to VV, because RTD editor Daniel Finnegan whipped up a defense of Fiske.

The only problem is that Finnegan’s defense of Fiske wouldn’t pass muster on an unbiased version of Fiske’s sit, because Finnegan himself dropped three whoppers of what Churchill once called “terminological inexactitude.”

Finnegan was kind enough to put all of his errors in the second paragraph, which reads as follows:

First, Warren has not voted in a primary since taking this position. Second, according to Henrico County voting records, Warren has voted in five primaries, four Democratic and one Republican, since 2004, which is far back as the county records go. During that time, however, the Republican Party of Virginia held only two primaries. Warren voted in the 2005 GOP primary for Governor, bypassing a same-day Democratic primary for the two lesser statewide offices (Lt. Governor and Attorney General). The only other year he faced a choice was in 2008, when he voted in the Democratic presidential primary instead of the GOP primary. It is worth noting that Mitt Romney suspended his campaign right before the 2008 Virginia primary, so the Democratic primary was the competitive race.

Well, if you take Finnegan at his word, that would certainly sound less problematic for Fiske’s readership. Only you can’t take him at his word, and here’s why.

Henrico County had more than two Republican primaries since 2004:Most of the county witnessed the Stosch-Blackburn State Senate primary of 2007. Is it possible that Fiske wasn’t in that section? Yes, but that would mean he was almost certainly in the part of Henrico that had the equally compelling McEachin-Lambert race on the Democrats’ side. Yet Finnegan says Fiske voted in only four primaries for the Democrats, which would mean either he missed a statewide primary (2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009), was completely tone deaf to the McEachin-Lambert race, or (most likely) he was actually in the 12th district but chose not to vote in the GOP primary that year. We don’t know, because Finnegan either forgot 2007 or is hoping we would.

Meanwhile, there was only one primary for the Democrats in 2005, not two.The Attorney General nomination was not on the ballot in June of 2005. There were two competitive Republican primaries that year (for LG and AG).

Last. but most, the Republican presidental primary in 2008 was the more competitive primary, contrary to Finnegan’s assertion. While Mitt Romney withdrew for the field before Primary Day in Virginia, Mike Huckabee – the winner of the Iowa caucuses – did not. Thus the Virginia GOP primary was big news (the first serious McCain-Huckabee two-way fight), whereas the Virginia race for the Democrats was a foregone conclusion (Hillary Clinton largely ignored “the Potomac Primary”). In fact, Barack Obama won his Virginia primary by 28 points, whereas McCain carried his by less than 10.

Given this paragraph of horrors, Finnegan’s insistence that his goal is “to improve the political discourse” is laughable dreck.

Better luck next time, Danny Boy.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon


MSM notices the CCP’s hideous “one child policy”

July 25, 2012

Truth be told, the USA Today piece is a very good sketch on the forced abortion scheme – and the web of corruption that preserves it and profits from it.

The hideous chemical burning of Pan Chunyan’s child (“because the whole body was black and the skin on the face had peeled”) would be enough for outrage, but this little gem of info should not go unnoticed:

Another reason why the policy will probably remain is the army of family planner bureaucrats nationwide who depend on its collateral benefit: It boosts their salaries. Authorities across China collect more than $3 billion a year from “out-of-policy” pregnancies, according to China Economic Weekly magazine. Many Chinese say that money winds up in the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats.

Wu Liangjie raised the $8,640 fee before his wife’s forced abortion, but his payment was not distributed in time to the several government agencies expecting a cut, he says. Since the child was never born, Wu is eligible for a refund, but only if he is sterilized.

This blood-money scheme was what Joe Biden claimed he “fully understood.”

Thankfully, there is a presidential candidate who truly understands this dangerous tyranny.

Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby and Bearing Drift


Elections matter – even in 2012

March 6, 2012

The Washington Post is writing in public what most conservatives have heard from some of their brethren in private (except in George Will’s case, where he also went public): better to write off the presidential election this November and move on to 2016. Granted what Will says publicly (focus on flipping the Senate and holding the House) and what the unnamed sources are telling Chris Cillizza privately (better to crash and burn now for a complete rebuild later) are not quite the same things, but I would humbly submit that neither should be entertained.

Both Will and insert-consultants-bending-Cillizza’s-ear-here cite the election of 1964, which has been stunningly rewritten as a “victorious defeat” reminiscent of the Republicans’ first ever effort to win the presidency (1856). The consultants see the ’64 race as a time when the party just hit rock-bottom and then . . .

Four years later, Republicans — showing their lesson learned — nominated establishment favorite and political pragmatist Richard Nixon. (Nixon had been defeated by John Kennedy in 1960 and declined to run in 1964.) Nixon ended eight years of Democratic control of the White House when he beat Vice President Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 election.

This analogy has so many problems that I can only assume none of Cillizza’s sources actually lived through the 1960s. Admittedly, I didn’t either, but I have reviewed the accounts of several who did, and it tells a very different story of 1968.

For one, the “pragmatic” moderates and liberals in the GOP did not want Richard Nixon as their candidate. Nelson Rockefeller was their man, without question. It was the conservatives in the party (John Tower, Strom Thurmond, and others) who pushed for Nixon to come out of his self-induced, post-1962 retirement. The 1960s equivalent of the consultants whispering in Cillizza’s ear were terrified of Nixon being nominated (he had, after all, lost the nearly unlosable election for Governor of California in 1962). We remember Ronald Reagan as the conservatives’ choice in 1968, but Reagan was a “favorite son” of California until the day the convention opened. For much of the campaign, it was the Nixon and the conservatives against Rockefeller and the moderates.

Secondly, Richard Nixon hardly helped the Republican recovery – and probably damaged it. With the exception of Zachary Taylor, no president-elect in American history ever provided less support to his fellow party nominees in the year he won. Nixon’s 1968 vote (43%) was the lowest of any president-elect in over a century. Even as he won his 1972 re-election in a massive landslide, he became the only president to never deliver even one house of Congress to his party. By the time his second term expired (without him) in 1977, the Republicans were in worse shape than they were in 1968.

Finally, the Democrats used Johnson’s full term to dramatically expand government. Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965, two-thirds of the entitlement monster that threatens to devour us (while the former has become the Democrats’ “model” for their health care end-state). This dovetails with Will’s assertion that the right might be better off letting the White House go in 2012. Johnson’s 1964 campaign made little mention of the massive expansion of government he was planning, but that didn’t stop him from doing it anyway.

Now, one could say that Obama – faced with a GOP Congress – could do less damage. However, two of the biggest government encroachments of the “aughts” – in campaign finance and Medicare Part D – began as talking points used by Clinton to brow-beat Republican Congressional majorities.

All of this is just in the domestic realm. We have said nothing of the foreign policy consequences. After romping to victory in 1964, Johnson moved forward on Vietnam in a manner so confusing, limited, and hamstrung that the entire GOP was united against him (even Rockefeller was more hawkish than LBJ). Meanwhile, as the 1970s progressed toward the event that in Will’s mind supposedly justified the ’64 drubbing (the election of 1980), Vietnam fell to the Communists, Cambodia was bled white by Pol Pot, Central America was sucked into the Cold War (with devastating consequences), and long-time ally Iran was abandoned by the Carter Administration and seized by a radical Shiite cleric who imprisoned his own people and built a regime that is still the scourge of the region.

Is that really the model we want to follow?

I understand the frustration so many on the right have with the current field. It was one of the reasons I waited so long to make a decision myself. However, just because the nominee won’t be perfect, or the campaign may become difficult, doesn’t mean you discount the importance of an election. An elected President Ford might have made the history of Iran – and by extension, the rest of the Middle East - very different. A re-elected President Bush the Elder might have put more focus on Afghanistan as the Taliban first stretched its muscles. President McCain would have reacted very differently to the 2009 Iranian protests and Hamid Karzai’s blatant election theft that same year; dramatically rewriting recent history in both places.

So, as fashionable as it may be to think or say otherwise, elections always matter. If they didn’t, no one would miss them.

This one matters, too.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon


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