Friday, November 30, 2012

Immigrant Welfare: The New Colossus

Here’s a perplexing pair of statistics: Compared with native-born Americans, immigrants are more likely to start a business — and they’re also more likely to depend on welfare.
These dissonant data are even more irksome considering the state of the U.S. economy. Government social-aid programs consume an ever-growing portion of the federal budget, surpassing a trillion dollars even before Medicare and Social Security are factored in. And entrepreneurial activity is slowing. Census Bureau statistics show that start-ups accounted for 12 percent of American businesses in 1980 but less than 8 percent today. And earlier this fall, the Hudson Institute found that under the Obama administration, we’ve averaged 7.8 start-up jobs per 1,000 people. During the Bush years, it was 10.8, and during Clinton’s years in office, it was 11.2.

The question then becomes how to devise an immigration policy that encourages entrepreneurship and discourages government dependency.
First, the facts. Already, immigrants make a significant contribution to the American economy. Earlier this year, a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that immigrants account for 18 percent of all small-business owners, even though they make up only 13 percent of the overall population. These immigrant-owned businesses provide around 4.7 million jobs. And the Department of Labor reported that, last year, foreign-born workers (including both legal and illegal immigrants) had higher labor-force participation than native-born Americans, especially among men.
But despite their entrepreneurial vigor, immigrants are disproportionately dependent on welfare. Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), crunched numbers from the Department of Agriculture and found that the number of non-citizens on food stamps has risen to 1.634 million, roughly quadrupling since 2001. Moreover, in August, the Center for Immigration Studies found that 36 percent of immigrant-headed households received at least one major welfare benefit. Food assistance and Medicaid have become especially popular among immigrants.
Two policy trends are driving the problem. First, the United States has promoted broader welfare use in recent years, also leading campaigns that market social aid specifically to immigrants. And second, our immigration rules are not crafted to weed out would-be freeloaders and give preference to highly skilled, highly educated applicants.
Welfare use is becoming more common among all American households, immigrant or not. Census Bureau data revealed that in the early months of 2011, 49.1 percent of Americans lived in a household where at least one person drew a government benefit. Last year, 54 million people were on Medicaid, according to the Senate Budget Committee. And 46.7 million people — more than one in seven Americans — received food stamps in 2011, according to the Department of Agriculture.
But the deliberate expansion of welfare has been particularly targeted at immigrants, and that represents a major cultural shift. The United States has long preached that opportunity and liberty together constitute a sufficient guarantor of success, for immigrants and non-immigrants alike. That’s been one of America’s big selling points. But government marketing has shifted, and any number of “outreach” programs, both public and private, now seek to persuade immigrants to utilize the benefits newly available to them. Legal immigrants are potentially eligible for dozens of welfare programs, and even illegal immigrants can benefit indirectly, provided at least one member of their household is here legally. prominently features information on how new immigrants can obtain benefits, including cash assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid. Furthermore, a program established in 2004 ensures that Mexican consulates on U.S. soil promote food-stamp benefits to immigrants. And earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture created a Spanish-language “novela” ad promoting the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. It featured a character who is initially reluctant to go on food stamps because her husband brought home a sufficient income. Finally, bending to pressure from her peers, she enters the program and learns to love it.

The United States’ increasingly prolific provision of welfare is egregious regardless of the national origin of the beneficiaries — but when it comes to immigrants, it’s also potentially unlawful. Federal law states that the U.S. should not admit immigrants who are likely to become a “public charge.” Yet the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State examine only the Supplemental Security Income and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs when making this assessment. That ignores more than 75 other federal-assistance programs. Even so, State Department data show that only 0.068 percent of visa applications were denied in fiscal year 2011 because a prospective immigrant was at risk for becoming welfare-dependent.
The federal government also largely ignores educational attainment, which is probably the biggest indication of whether an immigrant will become a lifelong welfare recipient. While 58.8 percent of immigrants without a high school-education rely on welfare, only 16.3 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher do. The National Research Council once found that on average, college-educated immigrants contribute $198,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits. However, immigrants without a high school-education draw $3 in benefits for every $1 they add to the public purse, and those who hold a diploma but not a college degree aren’t much better, says Robert Rector, an expert on the U.S. welfare system and immigration at the Heritage Foundation.
Such uneducated, unskilled immigrants “are just a huge drain on society, basically from the moment they cross the border,” Rector said. “The real factor is the education level. An immigrant with a college degree is not going to be dependent on welfare. An immigrant with a high school education or less is going to be highly dependent on welfare throughout his life.”
Yet a college education — or even a high-school education, for that matter — is almost never a criterion when the federal government considers whether to allow prospective immigrants to enter the country. Different immigration routes have different admissions criteria, but only about one in ten immigrants are required to have educational attainment beyond high school. And the Pew Research Center has reported that two-thirds of recently arrived immigrants lack a college degree.
When we keep this in mind, immigrant reliance on welfare suddenly looks less a function of national origin or work ethic, says Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies. “If you’re unskilled — native-born or immigrant — you’re going to have a hell of the time in the U.S.,” he explained. “[But] our system is certainly not designed to bring in highly skilled people. That’s for sure.”
This problem becomes especially acute as elected officials grapple with the growing debt. The Senate Budget Committee reported that in 2011, state and federal government spending on 83 means-tested welfare programs, not including Social Security or Medicare, cost $1.03 trillion. And these expenditures are burgeoning. The Congressional Research Service found that between 2008 and 2011, federal spending on welfare programs increased by 32 percent. The Heritage Foundation has reported that over the next ten years, the U.S. will spend twice as much on welfare as national defense.
That comes at a high economic cost. More social spending inevitably means more taxes. Those taxes are often levied on small businesses and successful entrepreneurs, a fact that hasn’t escaped ambitious prospective immigrants. Hong Kong is brimming with foreign-born entrepreneurs who won’t consider starting businesses in the U.S. because of the growing tax burden. Some even say they’d prefer the economic freedom of Hong Kong to the political freedom of the United States. Yet those are precisely the sort of immigrants the United States should be welcoming.
Instead, we’re expanding welfare among native-born and immigrant Americans alike, and we’re pursuing an immigration policy that doesn’t draw the best and brightest. It would be tragic indeed if the United States went from being the land of opportunity to the land of alms.
— Jillian Kay Melchior is a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

Union Watch Highlights (DP: I get this in an email every week or two--it's very worth spending some time on if you are like me and find the entire current union movement alarming)

Union Watch Highlights

By On November 27, 2012 · Leave a Comment
Here are links to the top stories available online over the past week reporting on union activity including legislation, financial impact, reform activism, etc., from California and across the USA.

Jeb Bush hammers teachers unions at education summit
By Ben Wolfgang, November 27, 2012, Washington Times
In the fight to reform American schools, former Florida Gov. and outspoken education advocate Jeb Bush on Tuesday took direct aim at labor groups and joined a growing chorus who believe real change must start by loosening the grip of teachers unions. “We need to have a teacher evaluation system that is based on teachers being professionals, not part of some collective trade union bargaining process,” said Mr. Bush, chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education Reform, which kicked off its national summit in D.C. on Tuesday. “We have a system to reward teachers that’s based on an industrialized, unionized model that is completely inappropriate for the 21st century,” Mr. Bush continued. “There are incredibly fine teachers that get paid less even though they’re doing the Lord’s work consistently over time, and there are teachers that are mediocre that get paid more because they’ve been there longer.” (read article)
Citizens United: Alaska labor unions raised the most for Super PACs
November 27, 2012, Alaska Dispatch
In November’s election, state labor unions outraised business-supported Super PACs by a landslide, the Anchorage Daily News reports, via the Miami Herald. Super PACs came into being with the Citizens United decision, which found that corporations and unions enjoy the same free speech protections as individual Americans to spend unlimited amounts of money for and against political candidates, as long as those groups don’t coordinate with candidates. Alaska was one of the first states to experience how Citizens United impacted local politics. In 2010, the group Alaskans Standing Together came together to support U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in effort against Joe Miller, who had beat the incumbent in the Republican senatorial primary. In the most recent election, state labor organizations raised $536,500 with their Super PAC Putting Alaskans First, while two major business supported Super PACs, The Accountability Project and We Are Alaska, only brought in $152,500 and $135,000, respectively. The ability of labor unions to outspend private businesses was not anticipated. (read article)
One California state worker on a mission to see union books
By Jon Ortiz, November 26, 2012, Sacramento Bee
State employee Mariam Noujaim said the tussle with her union started with a question: Why does the state pay for crossing guards to work on a lightly traveled street between two DMV buildings connected by a tunnel? “I really believe we can help solve our crisis by spending our money on monitoring the waste rather than bribing political and special interest (groups),” Noujaim wrote in an indelicate April 2010 email to her Service Employees International Union Local 1000 representative. Dissatisfied with the response, she began pushing to find out what the union is spending its money on if it isn’t working to ferret out waste. (read article)
Michigan Voters Send Message to Nation: No Means No!
By Bob Williams, November 26, 2012, Huffington Post
The people of Michigan really have spoken. Their voices and votes on Election Day sent a message of hope to citizens in every state worried about growing government cost and debt. According to latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Michigan has approximately 700,000 workers who are represented by unions, which is 18 percent of wage and salary employees and almost 10 percent of the voting-eligible population. Yet still, 2.5 million voters said “no” to so-called collective bargaining protections. Only 1.8 million said “yes.” At the same time, and by about the same margins, voters defeated questions that would have empowered emergency municipal managers and amended the constitution to force home health-care workers to pay union dues and require 2/3 majority for the legislature to raise taxes. If there is one bottom-line word voters communicated to politicians in no uncertain terms, it is this: control. Overall, about 60 percent of voters said no matter what the question, they want to keep control, whether it is over who is forced to pay union dues or how many legislators must approve tax increases or what it takes to build a bridge or manage a bankrupt city. (read article)
Unions hail demise of Riordan pension-reform ballot measure effort
By David Zahniser and Kate Linthicum, November 26, 2012, Los Angeles Times
Representatives of Los Angeles city labor unions on Monday hailed the announcement that former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan had pulled the plug on his ballot measure effort to roll back pension benefits for city employees, calling it an expensive and poorly thought out proposal. Tyler Izen, president of the Police Protective League, said he was not surprised by the collapse of the signature drive backed by Riordan. Izen said the pension proposal, which had been planned for the May ballot, never received the proper financial analysis in the weeks before Riordan began his push to get 300,000 signatures to put it on the ballot. On Monday, Riordan spokesman John Schwada said there was no way organizers could gather enough signatures for the pension measure by the Dec. 28 deadline. The measure sought to roll back benefits for existing workers and put new employees into a 401(k)-style retirement plan. (read article)
Angry workers give unions new life
By Mark Boster, November 22, 2012, Los Angeles Times
They’re fed up and they’re not going to take it anymore. That’s the case for thousands of employees across the nation who are striking and walking out of jobs rather than accepting changes to their pay and benefits. It might be a shot in the arm for a labor movement that had been left for dead but saw big gains in the November election as voters elected pro-labor candidates. The number of union-related work stoppages involving more than 1,000 workers, which reached an all-time low of just five in 2009, rose to 13 this year as of October. And unions aren’t done yet. Pilots at Fort Worth-based American Airlines are wreaking havoc on the airline’s schedule as it tries to cut pension and other benefits. Workers voted against concessions at Irving-based Hostess Brands Inc., forcing the company’s hand; a federal bankruptcy judge this week approved the company’s plans to shut down. And in California, nurses are striking this week at hospitals operated by Sutter Health. “There’s a lot of agitating going on,” said Julius Getman, a labor expert at the University of Texas. “People are unhappy. They feel that they’re not being well-treated. There is a swelling of annoyance at the rich.” (read article)
Will Jerry Brown give California state workers a raise?
By Jon Ortiz, November 22, 2012, San Luis Obispo Tribune
After California voters embraced Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax hike, this column received a half-dozen phone calls from state workers asking essentially the same question: “What are the odds I’ll get a raise?” At the risk of ruining their Thanksgiving, here’s the answer: virtually zero. Still, some state workers clearly see the $6.1 billion infusion of Proposition 30 and labor’s role in its passage as an opportunity to call in a favor from Brown when talks start for contracts that expire in July. They figure the governor owes public employee unions for getting out the vote for his tax measure. Why else was Yvonne Walker, president of SEIU Local 1000, standing at Brown’s side when he announced the measure had won on Nov. 6? (read article)
Twinkies—A Defense: The real battle at the snack maker is union vs. union
By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., November 20, 2012, Wall Street Journal
A corporate bankruptcy is a paper death. The underlying assets live on. Killers of paper structures, in this light, are devalued villains, but a cry has gone up to identify the villain behind the pending liquidation of Hostess Brands, maker of Twinkies, Devil Dogs, Wonder Bread and other déclassé delights. Everyone knows the answer: It was the bakers—i.e., the branch of the AFL-CIO formally known as the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. The bakers are guilty of a perfectly justifiable attempted homicide. Don’t believe any guff about how chubby Americans are gnawing on carrot sticks. Forget blaming private equity, whose sin in the Hostess matter has been overworking the bankruptcy process to prolong the paper life of a Hostess not fit to survive. The real story is the story of two unions, the Teamsters and the Bakery union of the AFL-CIO. Here’s where things get interesting. (read article)
Ailing U.S. Postal Service Strives to Avoid Twinkie Fate
By Angela Greiling Keane, November 27, 2012, Business Week
While the Hostess Twinkie may not be as central to the U.S. economy as the mail, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe sees uncomfortable parallels of iconic products within unworkable organizational structures. “Companies and industries have gone over their own fiscal cliff because they can’t sit down and work out their differences,” Donahoe said in an interview last week. “Like Hostess.” Like Hostess Brands Inc., where a labor impasse prompted the snack-food maker’s liquidation, the Postal Service, with 28 times Hostess’s workforce of 18,000, has been squeezed by labor costs and changing consumer tastes to the brink of extinction. The post office’s insolvency is less imminent while no less ominous, with Donahoe projecting that the service expects to run out of cash in October without intervention from Congress. Turnaround specialists would be full of easy answers if the service were a private-sector company. The Postal Service is supposed to make a profit while operating as a government agency overseen by lawmakers who derive their authority over postal operations from the U.S. Constitution. Unlike a private enterprise, the Postal Service can’t close most locations even if they’re unprofitable. It can’t raise prices on its primary product by more than the inflation rate or change its pension or health benefits. And as of Sept. 28, when it exhausted its $15 billion borrowing limit with the U.S. Treasury, it can’t borrow any more money. The U.S. Postal Service is running with no more than four days of operating cash on hand. Labor costs have grown to 80 percent of expenses, even after 280,000 jobs were cut since 2000, as mail volume has dropped 26 percent from its peak six years ago. (read article)
Breaking away from labor unions
By Steve Harry, November 20, 2012, Lansing Journal
In the recent election, the Democratic Party did pretty well in Michigan. President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney, 6,1476,182 votes to 5,8363,044 and Democrats gained 5 seats in the state House of Representatives. At the same time, organized labor — which some folks find indistinguishable from the Michigan Democratic Party — took a beating on Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment to expand collective bargaining rights, and Proposal 4, another constitutional amendment that would have allowed Service Employees International Union Healthcare to continue extracting union dues from 44,000 home help workers. The unions did win on Proposal 1, a referendum which repealed the Emergency Financial Manager law, but that may have been because a “yes” vote would have kept the law in force, and voters were saying “no” to all proposals. Could it be that Michigan is turning against organized labor? If so, why aren’t the Democrats losing ground also? The reason may be that Democrats are on the right side of a lot of issues such as gay marriage, reproductive rights, protecting the environment and helping the poor. Also, they are willing to raise taxes when there is a legitimate need, such as fixing our roads. Maybe it’s time for the Democrats to get on the right side of the collective bargaining issue. (read article)
Labor’s big victories in state initiative elections
By Steve Malanga, November 20, 2012, Public Sector Inc.
Much of the commentary in the wake of the Nov. 6 election has revolved around the role unions played in helping reelect Barack Obama in key states. By its own admission, labor spent some $400 million on the national election. But as I pointed out in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required), labor had plenty of money left over to devote to tax raising, reform stifling initiatives at the state level. You may have read about the expensive battle over Jerry Brown’s tax initiative in California,where unions led the fight for higher taxes, contributing about 60 percent of the pro-Prop 30 campaign funds (see biggest union givers chart below) but unions also led a successful campaign to raise taxes in Oregon and to roll back education reform legislation in Idaho and South Dakota. (read article)
Unions show muscle, spent millions in state races
By Sam Hananel, November 19, 2012, Associated Press
When Maggie Hassan won the New Hampshire governor’s race, it wasn’t just a victory for her fellow Democrats. Unions spent millions backing Hassan with television ads and an extensive get-out-the-vote operation because she opposes a right-to-work bill to ban labor-management contracts that require affected workers to be union members or pay union fees. From California to Maine, unions used their political muscle to help install Democratic governors, build labor-friendly majorities in state legislatures and defeat ballot initiatives against them. The combination of union money and member mobilization helped Democrats take control of state legislatures in Maine and Minnesota. In Michigan, voters repealed a law that allowed cities in financial distress to suspend collective bargaining contracts. But unions lost there on an effort to make collective bargaining rights a part of the state constitution. (read article)
California is destroying itself. The U.S. is next.
By Alan Caruba, November 18, 2012, Renew America
There’s a very entertaining, but terrifying book by Laer Pearce, “Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State — How California is destroying itself and Why It Matters to America.” I recommend everyone read it because it lays out the template for why California will go belly up and why the nation is at the precipice of doing the same thing. For some thirty years the author has been helping corporations and local government agencies cope with California’s regulatory jungle. As he puts it, “Crazifornia reveals a state that has become so misdirected, ungovernable and untenable that the primary driver of change has become the catastrophe.” Following the recent elections a recent Wall Street Journal editorial opined, “So now Californians will experience the joys of one-party, union-run progressive governance.” Though it may defy belief, Californians voted to let the state tax them more to 13.3% and they gave Democrats a supermajority in both houses while killing a ballot initiative that would have barred unions from automatically withholding money from worker paychecks for political spending. The public service and other unions own California. (read article)

About the author: Jack Dean is editor of, formed to monitor developments in all three pension spheres nationwide — public employees, corporations and social security. PensionTsunami, like UnionWatch, is a project of the California Public Policy Center. Dean is a former newspaper editor and a past executive director of the Reason Foundation. He has been active in politics for more than three decades and currently serves as president of the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers.

McConnell 'Burst Into Laughter' as Geithner Outlined Obama's Plan

McConnell 'Burst Into Laughter' as Geithner Outlined Obama's Plan 


Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, says he “burst into laughter” Thursday when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the administration proposal for averting the fiscal cliff. He wasn’t trying to embarrass Geithner, McConnell says, only responding candidly to his one-sided plan, explicit on tax increases, vague on spending cuts.

Geithner’s visit to his office left McConnell discouraged about reaching a “balanced” deal on tax hikes and spending reductions designed to prevent a shock to the economy in January. “Nothing good is happening” in the negotiations, McConnell says, because of Obama’s insistence on tax rate hikes for the wealthy but unwillingness to embrace serious spending cuts.
Geithner suggested $1.6 trillion in tax increases, McConnell says, but showed “minimal or no interest” in spending cuts. When congressional leaders went to the White House three days after the election, Obama talked of possible curbs on the explosive growth of food stamps and Social Security disability payments. But since Geithner didn’t mention them, those reductions appear to be off the table now, McConnell says.
Obama is pushing to raise the tax rates on couples earning more than $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000. But those wouldn’t produce revenues anywhere near $1.6 trillion over a decade.
The “guess” of those involved in the negotiations, Politico reported, is that a bipartisan deal “will include a rate hike, higher taxes on carried interest and probably capital gains and dividends, and either a cap on total deductions for rich people or some form of a minimum tax rate for them.”
House speaker John Boehner said today that nothing has been agreed to. “No substantive progress has been made.”
Besides raising taxes, Geithner was reported to have proposed a one-year delay in scheduled $1.2 trillion spending cuts to defense and domestic, and a $400 billion reduction in Medicare funding. The $1.2 trillion in cuts was mandated after Congress failed to reach an agreement in 2011 on reductions.
Obama has talked up what he calls a “balanced” approach to averting the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts in January. But he’s offered few specifics on the spending side.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Is It the Media’s Fault?

Is It the Media’s Fault?

by John Hinderaker in 2012 Election, Media Bias

Much of the commentary on this year’s election implies that the Republican Party is at a low ebb, if not actually on the path to extinction. But of course that isn’t true: at the state and local levels, the party is doing better than it has in decades. Glenn Reynolds writes:

Let me offer an alternative theory: The bigger role the national media play in a race, the worse Republicans do. So the GOP does well in state legislative races and governorships, and U.S. House races, because national media basically ignore those. Does worse in Senate races, where national media will sometimes take notice, worse still for Prez, where the national media pretty much control the game.
I am always slow to disagree with Glenn, since he is generally right. But this time, I don’t think his explanation is persuasive. As the chart shows, there are currently 24 states under entirely Republican control (governor and legislature). As it happens, there are also 24 states that went for Mitt Romney. I’m guessing it is pretty much the same list, and that the trend toward single-party control, which is the subject of the chart, is partly random and partly due to a few conservative states finally tossing out legacy Democratic legislative bodies.
It is true, as Glenn says, that the GOP is now stronger at the state and local level than nationally, but that hasn’t always been the case. The period between Nixon and Clinton, precisely the time when the GOP won its biggest presidential victories, was also the era when the GOP was in danger of becoming extinct at the state level. Why? Not because of anything the national media were up to; they hated Reagan and the first President Bush at least as much as they did John McCain and Mitt Romney. I don’t have any explanation except to note that the Reagan Democrats were, in fact, Democrats. Most of those folks, or their heirs, are now Republicans.

As Glenn’s comparison suggests, there are red states–those with Republican governors and legislatures–that elect Democratic Senators and, less often, Congressmen. Glenn implicitly attributes this pattern to relentless media bias, but I don’t think that explanation works since those states not only have Republican legislatures, but vote Republican in presidential elections. I think something else is at work. Quite a few voters have figured out that if you want good, fiscally conservative governance at the state level, you should elect Republicans. At the national level, however, you can’t bring about good governance anyway, so you might as well elect Democrats who will bring home the bacon. Such thinking explains why the solidly-red Dakotas, among other states, have contributed a depressing number of Democrats to the Senate and, to a lesser degree, the House.
This is not to deny that the liberal media have a huge influence on national elections; of course they do. And it is also true, as Glenn says, that state and local issues don’t tend to be demagogued as relentlessly as national ones. But I think that what is mainly going on is that many voters are more concerned about fiscal responsibility at the state and local level than the national level, for the simple reason that the states can’t print money, and rely on sales and property taxes, along with, in most cases, relatively flat income taxes. Therefore, voters know that if they vote for more state spending, they will have to pay for it.
At the national level, we have seen an increasing disconnect between spending and payment. This is partly because most people pay either no, or very modest, federal income taxes, and partly because 40% of all federal spending is borrowed, so that our children will have to pay for it. To the average voter, federal money must seem to appear almost magically. There has been, in recent years, no connection at all between increased spending and any necessity to pay for it. So I think it is not surprising that the Democrats are currently doing better at the national level than the state and local levels.
This strikes me as one data point among many that indicate it is time to revise our federal tax code so that more voters are also, to a meaningful degree, payers of federal taxes.

Why did Obama broker a victory for Hamas?

Why did Obama broker a victory for Hamas?

by Paul Mirengoff in Israel, Middle East, Obama Foreign Policy

With unusual candor, the Washington Post declares in its top headline that “Hamas’ tactics garner support” and that “Palestinians see path to victory through fighting.” This strengthening of Hamas is the entirely predictable consequence of the cease fire that the Obama administration worked to impose on Israel. Because Hamas waged war against Israel and the Israelis backed down, it is (to quote) the Post “the commonly held view in both territories (the West Bank and Gaza) that the Islamist militants of Hamas — who refuse to recognize Israel — defeated their enemy, and that they did it with weapons, not words.”
Since this consequence flows so naturally from he U.S. arranged cease fire, it is very difficult to believe that the U.S. did not intend it. But the Post does not even consider this possibility (its candor has limits). Instead the Post suggests that Israel wanted to strengthen Hamas at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, which looks increasingly irrelevant following Hamas’ victory. The notion is that Israel will find it easier to avoid making peace with Hamas.
However, the Israelis are fixated on Iran, not the PA. Stengthening Hamas strengthens Iran’s hand. So it is highly unlikely that Israel would have handed Hamas victory had the U.S. not applied pressure.
But why does Obama want to strengthen Hamas? Probably because he views it, not unreasonably, as the authentic and rising voice of Palestinian aspirations. This has long been the view of the American left — for example, Obama one-time adviser Robert Malley — and of European policy makers. In 2009, a very senior European diplomat told me (and some other bloggers) that Hamas, which he characterized as “moderate,” is the party with which Israel must ultimately settle. (The word “moderate” in this context has nothing to do with ideology; rather it means, precisely, the party with which Israel is expected to settle).
So through the cease fire Obama was, I think, trying to give history (as he sees it) a nudge. He did so by (1) pushing a used up force (the PA) off of the stage and (2) giving Hamas the boost it needs to treated by Israel as an entity with whom peace needs to be made.
Meanwhile, however, the Palestinians are more than ever convinced, as the Post says, that the “path to victory is through fighting.” And Iran now has an undefeated, confident ally on Israel’s southern border.

Disagreeing with Obama can ruin Christmas, says White House report

- The Daily Caller - -
Disagreeing with Obama can ruin Christmas, says White House report
Posted By Neil Munro Any Republican refusal to accept President Barack Obama’s fiscal plan may ruin Christmas for the nation’s retailers, the White House claimed in a report released Monday morning.
“The National Retail Federation is forecasting that holiday sales will grow 4.1 percent this year … [but] if Congress does not act on the President’s plan to extend tax cuts for the middle-class, it will be risking one of the key contributors to growth and jobs in our economy at the most important time of the year for retail stores,” says the report, which was prepared by the Obama White House’s National Economic Council and the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.
“The holiday season is no time to threaten middle-class pocketbooks,” urges the report, titled “The Middle-Class Tax Cuts’ Impact On Consumer Spending & Retailers.”
Democrats made the same claim June 28, 2011, during talks about increasing the federal government’s ability to borrow more funds.
“Happy Holidays America: [Rep. John] Boehner plan would have the debt ceiling all over again during the holiday season, which is critical for the economy,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer declared. (RELATED: GOP aims to gut Christmas, White House alleges)
Obama spokesman Jay Carney and top political aide David Plouffe also made the same claim that day.
The new report is part of Obama’s media campaign to blame Republicans for scheduled tax increases, spending cuts and the stalled economy during Obama’s tenure.
Consumer Report Embargo
The apparent disagreement over middle-class tax cuts — many of which were pushed by George W. Bush in 2001 amid opposition from Democrats — is also part of an ideological fight over the size and ambition of government.
Obama and his progressive allies want to boost government’s spending and clout with extra taxes, primarily from wealthier Americans.
Republicans want to curb governments’ reach, in part by keeping taxes low for all Americans, including the economy-boosting wealthy investors.
That ideological fight is being waged during talks over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the long-scheduled January arrival of tax increases and spending cuts that could extract $500 billion in annual spending from the economy.
Obama says he wants the GOP to stop the scheduled tax increases for 98 percent of the public, and has promised to oppose any effort to stop planned tax increases for the wealthiest 2 percent.
That position makes it difficult for the GOP to pass a temporary extension of current tax rates, prior to a bipartisan comprehensive tax-reform package planned for late 2013.
Obama’s PR positioning frames the GOP as the instigator of the planned tax increases, which many Democrats have sought for years.
The president’s messaging also seems poised to set up Republicans as scapegoats for the economy’s very slow growth during Obama’s first term in office.
A failure to extend the expiring middle-class tax cuts would cost middle-class families roughly $2,200 per year and hurt the consumer-driven slice of the nation’s economy during the “holiday season” — the White House’s secular version of “Christmas” — says the report.
“When American families spend more on things like clothes, cars, furniture, and food, for example, this spending generates greater profit for businesses and increased demand that causes businesses to invest and hire more workers.”
If Washington fails to agree on the president’s proposals, the resulting tax increases “could cut the growth of real consumer spending by 1.7 percentage points in 2013 … [and] slow the growth of real GDP by 1.4 percentage points,” the report added.
That reduction from the nation’s growth rates would return U.S. economic growth to only 0.6 percent, given the economy’s recent 2 percent growth rate.
GDP growth has averaged 3.25 percent since 1947.
Republicans say the current slow growth is caused by Obama’s profligate spending and enthusiastic regulation of critical economic sectors, including health, banking, education, energy and housing.
Also, the formal unemployment rate has remained high; it was 7.9 percent in October. More realistically, roughly 23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, and many more are worried about their finances, their careers and their relatives’ job-prospects.
The national debt has grown to $16.3 trillion because the government has tried to jump-start the economy with almost $5 trillion in borrowed funds.
Follow Neil on Twitter

Article printed from The Daily Caller:
URL to article:
Copyright © 2011 Daily Caller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where CO2 Comes From

Where CO2 Comes From

by John Hinderaker in Climate

Whether or not you think that human-generated carbon dioxide has any significant effect on the Earth’s climate–I don’t–the data on where CO2 comes from are interesting. This chart, based on data maintained by BP, was generated by Ed Hoskins and reported by Anthony Watts on Watts Up With That:

A few observations: 1) CO2 emissions are mainly a measure of economic growth. 2) U.S. emissions are lower today than they were 15 years ago. The current decline is due to natural gas. 3) The Kyoto Protocol, which liberals both here and in Europe have berated the U.S. for not signing for the last 15 years, excluded China and India, along with other developing countries. Can we now all agree that the Senate was correct when it voted 95-0 in favor of a resolution rejecting Kyoto?

Another laughable Benghazi lie

Another laughable Benghazi lie

More than two months after an Islamist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, we still don’t know what really happened that night — and, thanks to a secretive White House and an incurious Washington press corps, we probably never will. Not officially, that is.
But there’s no real mystery about it. From the evidence that’s emerged in dribs and drabs since the Sept. 11 calamity, it’s clear that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan al Qaeda-affiliated group coordinating with its allies elsewhere in the Muslim world, used the cover of riots in Cairo to launch a preplanned assault on our lightly guarded Benghazi consulate and a CIA safe house that may have been doubling as a secret prison.

That much was clear to our intelligence community almost immediately — and, in any case, should have been the working hypothesis from the jump.
The Arab Spring, falsely painted by a soft-headed US media as a purely pro-democracy movement, has in fact prompted seizure of power by Islamists. Benghazi, an armed hotbed of radicalism, was a fine target of opportunity for a strike at the Great Satan.
What’s also heart-rendingly clear is that our diplomats and security personnel understood the danger they were in, repeatedly requested more resources — and were left to die, as US military and intelligence assets monitored their deaths in real time, lacking the orders to protect them.
Benghazi was a first-class military and moral disgrace, and one that the Democrats paid absolutely no price for in the recent election.
But the questions won’t go away. Who gave the order to stand down as the consulate was under fire? Who came up with the cockamamie story — so eagerly peddled by UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other administration spokespersons right after the event — that the sacking and looting were in response to an obscure video that lampooned the origins of Islam and had been posted on You Tube for months?
And why did President Obama cling to such a risible explanation, and then (with a timely assist from Candy Crowley in the second presidential debate) turn on a dime and claim he knew the assault was terrorism all along?
To turn tragedy into French bedroom farce, the truth was further obscured by CIA Director David Petraeus’ unaccountable public silence — until his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell (which the administration surely had known about for months and was holding over his head for just such an occasion) caused him to resign in disgrace a few days after the election.
Finally, to turn farce into insult, hapless Director of National Intelligence James Clapper scuttled forth from his let’s-pretend lair to claim that his office — nominally, the highest rung of the intelligence-community ladder — had edited the CIA’s early talking points memo to remove all references to al Qaeda and terrorism.
That claim was met with peals of incredulous laughter within the IC, where Clapper (like Petraeus, a retired general) is regarded as a buffoon and his office (created as part of the ham-fisted Bush response to 9/11) as a useless, money-sucking bureaucratic appendage that does nothing to increase national security — but is easily manipulated by a cynical president with a domestic axe to grind.
And here’s where the fog of war collides with the blinding clarity of politics. Obama had already determined to run as the Slayer of Osama bin Laden, and a horde of howling Arabs shouting, “Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas” as they pulled down the American flag in Cairo and attacked us elsewhere was an inconvenient truth that had to be obscured by any means necessary.
With the election safely behind him, the president and his allies are now trying to rehabilitate Ambassador Rice’s shredded reputation, cheerily tossing around the usual charges of “racism” and “sexism” as they smear conservative opposition to her potential nomination as secretary of state in the second Obama term. They’d rather not reopen the Benghazi can of worms.
But reopen it we must — either by open congressional hearings or during Rice’s confirmation hearings — if Chris Stevens and the others are ever to receive justice.

Grover Norquist slams top GOP lawmakers for caving on taxes

Grover Norquist slams top GOP lawmakers for caving on taxes

Posted by Staff
Today, Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist came on the show to argue against raising taxes as part of a fiscal cliff deal. In doing so, he hit back at high profile Republicans who have discussed violating his group’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, including Representative Peter King and Senators Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker.
Norquist countered Rep. King’s assertion that the pledge he signed not to raise taxes only counted for his first term, saying “People take the pledge for the duration of their being in the House or the Senate… [I don’t] think someone like Peter King who runs claiming to be pro-life would argue that he promised to be pro-life for 18 months.”
In regards to Sen. Corker, who released a proposal to increase revenues in return for entitlement reform, Norquist said “The interesting thing about these Republicans who come up with, ‘I’ll give you a trillion dollars of higher taxes on the American people…’ [is] they design a unicorn they want to trade it for, which is fundamental reform of entitlements. There’s one problem: All the Democrats who read that article say is 'Corker! We’ve got Corker! Corker will raise taxes.’ And they don’t read his ‘No! I have to have this other stuff too.’”
He told Laura that Democrats won’t bother listening to Republicans who already agreed to higher tax revenue, saying “What Corker just did was make himself irrelevant to the debate…”
Norquist summarized a conversation he had with Sen. Graham over his proposal for a 10-1 ratio in spending cuts and tax increases: “Senator, I think you’re discussing a unicorn that does not exist in the real world. Nobody’s offering you this, nobody will offer you this. All they’ll do is take the first half of your sentence, ‘I’m willing to raise some taxes…’ and say ‘Thank you very much. We’ve heard enough from you’”.
He argued that violating their pledge not to raise taxes would again mean electoral defeat for Republicans, telling Laura, “It is very important… that the Republicans don’t have their fingerprints all over the murder weapon… a lousy budget deal with tax increases and no real spending, just [what] happened to Republicans in 1990, which cost us the presidency in ‘92”
You can listen to the interview for free right here on!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Poverty Thrives on the Same Old Song

Poverty Thrives on the Same Old Song
It’s up to conservatives to compose a better tune.

By Jennifer A. Marshall

A half century into the War on Poverty, liberals can hardly declare victory. But they can claim the dominant anti-poverty narrative: Americans seldom look to conservatives for answers to the problems of poverty.
That’s not to say we don’t have answers. To the contrary, we’ve had important successes. The 1996 welfare reform rises to the top. School choice, which allows low-income parents to get their children out of failing and often violent public schools, is another example.

But we’ve made precious few attempts to string these single notes together into something larger.
We have yet to popularize a competitor to the prevailing tune about how to meet the needs of our neighbors: the one that says to fight poverty by spending more, by starting another federal program.
And so about 90 leaders gathered last week for an anti-poverty conference hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. They included policymakers and policy-implementers, researchers and program evaluators, service providers and ministry leaders, representatives of philanthropy networks and communicators. Fourteen leaders of state welfare agencies participated.
Our objective is to help more Americans escape poverty by promoting work, marriage, civil society, and welfare-spending restraints.
The many disciplines represented at the conference on Capitol Hill reflect the complexities of the human needs we seek to meet. But because we work in different disciplines, we might not often think of ourselves as a cohesive anti-poverty movement. And if we don’t, that means the public certainly doesn’t. As November 6 showed, we have our work cut out for us.
We share a commitment to principles deeply related to the flourishing of all Americans. Evidence and experience testify to it. Marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 80 percent. Work-based welfare recognizes that personal responsibility is essential to human dignity. If these realities are not yet widely understood, we owe it to all our neighbors to make that message clearer, appealing to their best intentions and their best interests. Justice and compassion demand that we do not just walk away.
A single mother on welfare may reflexively accept liberal policies. But if we believe that long-term government dependency doesn’t do justice to her dignity, we ought to be able to explain that in a way that taps into her aspirations for a better future — particularly for her children. Anyone who thinks that’s not possible should consider how low-income parents have clamored for school choice.
In advancing a conservative agenda to fight poverty, we’ve got five Big C’s to conquer:
Communication. We are being defeated by straw men in the poverty debate. If we don’t talk in our own terms about overcoming poverty, our opponents will caricature our position. Conservatives need to go on offense, explaining why the welfare state has not done justice to the poor and pointing the way to upward mobility. That means communicating facts and stories in every possible venue — from op-eds to congressional hearings and town halls to state-agency press releases.
Content. Conservatives need to offer a concrete description of our near-term objectives: We want to build on the success of the welfare reform of 1996, which reformed just one of 80 federal means-tested programs that in total are now funded to the tune of $1 trillion annually. We seek to secure the safety net for those truly in need — and to ensure that it encourages work and marriage rather than long-term dependency. And we look to civil society to transform lives and communities and restore the path to upward mobility.
Courage. Policymakers need conviction, coupled with the confidence that comes from being equipped with the facts and seeing firsthand the life-changing alternatives to the status quo. They need to meet the former addicts restored through Jubal Garcia’s work at Victory Fellowship in San Antonio, or the couples that have built healthy marriages thanks to Bishop Shirley Holloway’s House of Help/City of Hope in Washington, D.C.
Credibility. Showing up, learning, and listening are top priorities. When the Republican Study Committee launched an anti-poverty initiative this fall, their first order of business was to hold a summit where they listened as neighborhood leaders from across the country — Jubal and Shirley among them — told of challenges and successes in exercising effective compassion.
Critical mass. We need others to join in to begin to change this tune. At the Heritage Foundation, we’re committed to linking arms with a growing coalition of leaders to build a conservative anti-poverty movement.
Think of gatherings like the one last week as songwriters’ workshops. Our challenge is to sound the notes that ring true to human need, to arrange them in a way that reminds listeners of what human dignity demands, and to make the music compelling enough for others to join in.
— Jennifer A. Marshall is director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation and author of the book Now and Not Yet: Making Sense of Single Life in the Twenty-First Century.

Don's Tuesday column

          THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News   11/27/2012

     David Barton on America’s Christian History

Several years ago, I watched a YouTube of David Barton guiding a group through our nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. Finding it again, I saved it for readers benefit and here present some transcribed and some paraphrased excerpts from his tour remarks. He is part of Wallbuilders, in Aledo, Texas, associated with the Family Research Council. URL for video is Some factual errors are corrected; any remaining are Mr. Barton’s.

Mr. Barton opens the video tour of our nation’s capitol by holding up “the first Bible printed in English in America, printed by the U.S. Congress in 1782 for use in the public schools. Inscription inside: ‘Resolved by Congress to recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.’ So the first English bible printed in America by the guys who signed the documents, endorsed by Congress and done for the use of schools. And we’re told that they didn’t want any kind of religion in education, they didn’t want voluntary prayer? No! This document (Holy Bible) by itself is fairly significant.”

Moreover, in 1830, Congress commissioned four paintings, displayed to this day on the walls of the Rotunda of Congress to recapture what the official records said was the Christian history of the United States. The first chronological painting depicted Columbus landing in 1492, with kneeling, prayer and crosses held high; he proclaimed the land “San Salvador” or “Holy Savior.”

The next one depicted the baptism of Pocahontas in Jamestown in 1613. Another one was the embarkation of the Pilgrims in 1620, showing them gathered around a Bible in a prayer meeting. Together, those four paintings represent two prayer meetings, a Bible study and a baptism displayed, please remember, in one of the highest of secular, governmental buildings in America’s Capitol. (Mr. Barton apparently ascribes a Christian, prayerful overtone to the fourth painting, John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence, commissioned in 1817)

The tour group was standing under the great dome of Congress, “which was, in 1857, the largest church in the United States. Back on December 4th of 1800, members of Congress decided that on Sundays they would turn the Capitol into a church building. So, they had Sunday services in the Capitol.

“Six weeks after that, Thomas Jefferson became President of the United States and for the 8 years he was President, he went to church and listened to the sermons in the U.S. Capitol. Being the Commander in Chief, he decided he could help the worship services and ordered the Marine Corps band to perform at the worship services …

“That church went for the better part of a century and, by 1857, 2,000 people a week attended services in the hall of the House of Representatives. In addition to that, there were other churches that met at the Capitol, including First Congregational … First Presbyterian, Capitol Hill Presbyterian. Churches met here and there was nothing secular or seen to be secular about this building until the last 30 to 50 years.”

In referencing the numerous statues around the Rotunda, Mr. Barton directed the group’s attention to that of President James A. Garfield next to an entryway. Republican Garfield was “one of the young major generals in the Civil War; he was a war hero, became Speaker of the House and 20th President of the United States. He founded Howard University” (Wikipedia: members of The First Congregational Society of Washington proposed establishing a theological seminary for the education of African-American clergymen, which expanded to become Howard University); General O. O. Howard took it over and it bears his name 

“What we never hear about that President is that he was a minister during the Second Great Awakening. (Holding up a document) This is actually one of his letters signed James A. Garfield, 1858, in which he recounts that he had just finished preaching a revival service where he preached the Gospel 19 times. He wrote that as a result of his preaching, 34 folks came to Christ and he baptized 31 of them … You walk through, you see that statue and you think ‘Oh, there’s a President,’ you never think that there’s a minister.” (Wikipedia: (While at Hiram College) he developed a regular preaching circuit at neighboring churches … After preaching briefly at Franklin Circle Christian Church, Garfield gave up on that vocation …)

“We’ve so compartmentalized Christianity in such a small box that we don’t realize our military leaders, our educators, our Presidents used to be ministers. That’s why I say that about one fourth of these statues were ministers of the Gospel … (Barton mentions how so much focus is placed on Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, our “least religious Founding Fathers”) Most people have no clue that Jefferson started a church in the U.S. Capitol that went on for most of a century, or that Thomas Jefferson in 1803 negotiated a treaty with an Indian tribe in which Jefferson put federal funds to pay for missionaries to evangelize the Indians and to build a church for them to worship in after they were converted.” (Wikipedia: “Jefferson believed that Natives should give up their own cultures, religions, and lifestyles to assimilate to western European culture, Christian religion, and a European-style agriculture, which he believed to be superior.” Read further about “Thomas Jefferson and Indian Removal” at Wikipedia.)

Barton: “Out of the 56 guys who signed the Declaration (of Independence), 29 held seminary or bible school degrees.”

DP: The usual secularists will likely take mild offense at this; pay them no mind for in their ignorance and intolerance, they probably think that they mean well.

Of Rice and men, part 3

 Of Rice and men, part 3
by Scott Johnson in Benghazigate, Media Bias, Obama Administration Scandals

Reader Peter Rice is retired from the United States Foreign Service. He spent his first four years with the government as an Army officer, including one year of service in Vietnam. Mr. Rice writes to comment on Susan Rice and the Washington Post editorial “The GOP’s bizarre attack on Susan Rice.” As Mr. Rice points out below, the adjective “bizarre” more aptly applies to the Post editorial:
This past Thursday the Washington Post published what I view as its most bizarre editorial ever. They condemned all who oppose Susan Rice as the next US secretary of state, implying that the opposition is largely racist white men from former Confederate States. In addition to the bizarre editorial, see the 5000-plus comments that it generated.
Ninety-seven members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama concerning the nomination of Susan Rice to be the next Secretary of State. Notably, two black Republican Representatives, Tim Scott and Allen West, as well as a number of female Republicans, also signed the letter. Apparently, the Washington Post considers these black and female Republicans to be typical white male racist bigots.
Over the years I have observed both Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice. They have been of interest to me partly because they share the same surname as me and also because my beautiful wife of 42 years, Frances, is black. Frances is often asked if she is related to Condoleezza Rice. She is not because I am not. Frances is a lawyer and a retired Army lieutenant colonel, Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She is also active in the Republican Party, serving as chairman of the National Black Republican Association. Hence I do not suffer from white guilt.
What makes the Washington Post’s editorial so peculiar? There is NO mention of two former black secretaries of state—Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell—both appointed by Republican President George W. Bush. Nor is one word written about the multiple and reprehensible racist attacks by the Left against Powell and Condoleezza Rice, including overtly racist cartoons, some published in the Washington Post.
I reviewed a substantial portion of the comments posted in response to the Washing Post’s editorial, about 90 percent of which supported the idea that it was racist to oppose Susan Rice. I detected only three comments that mentioned Powell and Condoleezza Rice. All three of those comments declared the two black Republicans to be liars. Almost all of the comments struck me as inarticulate and often very nasty–not at all the type of reasonable assessments one would expect from college-educated readers of the Washington Post. Our country is in dire straits if these readers are typical of what is produced by our liberal colleges today.
How could the editors of the Washington Post proffer the notion that the Republicans who supported Powell and Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State are now racist for opposing Susan Rice? Obviously, these Republicans are not racist. Rather, they are opposed to having as our Secretary of State a woman who deceived Congress and the American people just to help a Democrat president get reelected. She is a woman whose moral compass is so skewed that she willingly lied about the al Qaeda attack on our consulate in Benghazi, where four Americans including our ambassador to Libya were killed.
I remember Susan Rice from the late 1990s when she was Bill Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. To me, she seemed to be an ignorant, typical anti-capitalist Marxist useful idiot whose world view is that America is always wrong. It surprised me to learn recently that she received a Rhodes scholarship. Nothing I observed about her during the late 1990s or over the past four years has impressed me. Her most important attribute appears to be her loyalty to Obama.
Our diplomats, CIA officers and armed forces who go to dangerous places such as Benghazi expect our country’s leader to come to their aid when aid is requested. President Obama heard the three requests from Benghazi, refused to send aid, proceeded to cover up his despicable conduct and got the assistance of Susan Rice with the cover-up. Now our diplomats, armed forces and CIA officers know they cannot expect President Obama to respond to a plea for help. Instead, Obama’s response will be as a corrupt Chicago politician. Factored into his calculation will be what helps or hurts Obama, nothing more. We are stuck with President Obama for four more years, but we do not have to accept the appointment of Susan Rice to be Secretary of State.
For more on the points addressed by Mr. Rice, see Bill Jacobson’s post “Saturday night card game” and the New York Post editorial “Race rants over Rice.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quite a defense

Quite a defense

by atticus

Byron York exposes the pathetic nature of former president Clinton’s defense of his failure to take out Osama bin Laden. Clinton rests his defense on Richard Clarke’s book: “All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.” But even in Clarke’s pro-Clinton account, the former president comes across as hopelessly unserious. Here’s how Clarke sums things up:
Because of the intensity of the political opposition that Clinton engendered, he had been heavily criticized for bombing al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, for engaging in ‘Wag the Dog’ tactics to divert attention from a scandal about his personal life. For similar reasons, he could not fire the recalcitrant FBI Director who had failed to fix the Bureau or to uncover terrorists in the United States. He had given the CIA unprecedented authority to go after bin Laden personally and al Qaeda, but had not taken steps when they did little or nothing. Because Clinton was criticized as a Vietnam War opponent without a military record, he was limited in his ability to direct the military to engage in anti-terrorist commando operations they did not want to conduct. He had tried that in Somalia, and the military had made mistakes and blamed him. In the absence of a bigger provocation from al Qaeda to silence his critics, Clinton thought he could do no more.
So Clinton, who was quite popular by 1996 and remained popular even through the impeachment process, was unwilling to use his political capital to murder a man who was already responsible for killing Americans and who was known to be plotting to kill many more. Sure, presidents are expected to take tough and unpopular action from time to time, but pushing the bureucracy to kill the world’s leading terrorist was asking too much from Clinton.
The pro-Clinton Richard Clarke has managed to capture in a paragraph why Clinton, despite his enormous gifts, was unfit for high office, and why President Bush deserves credit for being willing to push the bureaucracy, ignore partisan criticism, and make the tough calls.

Hispanics favor Dems but didn't decide election

York: Hispanics favor Dems but didn't decide election

Photo - Mitt Romney (AP file photo)
Mitt Romney (AP file photo)

They're looking at key questions from the campaign, like how much of Barack Obama's victory was attributable to Hispanic support. They're also looking at the Hispanic electorate itself to see how big a role immigration, versus a wide range of other issues, played in voting decisions. The goal, of course, is to win a larger portion of the Hispanic vote, but first to take a clear-eyed look at what actually happened on Nov. 6.

And the lesson for Republicans is: Take your time. Calmly reassess your positions. Don't pander.
The first question is whether Hispanic voters gave Obama his margin of victory. In a recent analysis, the New York Times' Allison Kopicki and Will Irving looked at vote totals in each state, plus the percentage of the vote cast by Hispanics, to see what the outcome would have been had Hispanics voted differently.

For example, they looked at Wisconsin, a state the Romney-Ryan team hoped to win. Hispanics weren't a huge part of the total vote -- about 4 percent, according to the exit polls -- and Obama won big among them, 65 percent to 31 percent. But going through the totals, Kopicki and Irving concluded that even if every single Hispanic voter in Wisconsin had cast a ballot for Romney, Obama still would have won.

They found the same result for New Hampshire and Iowa, two other swing states Romney looked to win.

Then there was Ohio. According to the exit polls, Obama won 53 percent of the Hispanic vote there. But given how decisively Obama won other voting groups, Kopicki and Irving found that the president would have prevailed in Ohio even if he had won just 22 percent of the Hispanic vote. Put another way, even if Romney had won a stratospheric 78 percent of the Hispanic vote, he still would have lost Ohio.

In Virginia, Obama won the Latino vote 65 percent to 33 percent. Kopicki and Irving found that if those numbers had been reversed -- if Romney had won an unprecedented 65 percent of the Latino vote -- Obama still would have won Virginia.

Even in states where the Hispanic vote played a bigger role, Romney could have made significant gains among Hispanics and still lost. In Colorado, for example, the president won Hispanics by a huge margin, 75 percent to 23 percent. Kopicki and Irving found that Romney could have increased his margin to 42 percent -- a major improvement for a Republican -- and still come up short in Colorado.

The bottom line is that even if Romney had made historic gains among Hispanic voters, he still would have lost the election. That means Romney underperformed among more than just Hispanic voters. And that means winning more Hispanic votes is far from the GOP's only challenge.

Then there is the question of what motivates Hispanic voters. "They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example)," columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote Nov. 8. "The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants." Krauthammer urged Republicans to accept amnesty for illegals, accompanied by a completed border fence.

Some other conservatives echoed Krauthammer's sentiments. But social scientist Charles Murray looked across a broad range of data and found little to support the notion that Hispanics are natural Republicans. Hispanics "aren't more religious than everyone else ... aren't married more than everyone else ... aren't more conservative than everyone else," Murray wrote. In addition, Hispanics don't work harder than other groups and are only slightly more pro-life than the rest of the population.
The available data, Murray concluded, "paint a portrait that gives no reason to think that Republicans have an untapped pool of social conservatives to help them win elections."

In addition, exit poll information suggests Hispanics voted on a number of issues beyond illegal immigration -- and those issues favored Democrats. A majority of Hispanics who voted Nov. 6 favored keeping Obamacare. A majority favored higher taxes for higher earners. A majority -- two-thirds, in fact -- said abortion should be legal.

None of this is to say the GOP shouldn't seek more Hispanic votes. There are opportunities; for example, Romney made significant inroads among Hispanic voters with college degrees. But the fact is, Republicans had a serious problem with lots of voters, as well as potential voters who didn't go to the polls. The Hispanic vote was just part of it.

Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent, can be contacted at His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blog posts appear on