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Healthcare Navigators: It’s Not Who They Are, It’s What They Are

The Georgia political blog Peach Pundit has issued a challenge to readers to find out if the “healthcare navigators” hired in Georgia to “educate” and sign people up for the Affordable Care Act are as corrupt as these Texas navigators caught on tape counseling people to lie about their income by the indefatigable videographer James O’Keefe.

I did a little research and found a range of credibility among the nonprofit groups that are either receiving federal tax dollars directly or are “partnering” with the people who received grants to provide navigation in Georgia.  But their credibility is not the real problem, as I’ll explain below.

According to Georgia Health NewsSEEDCO and UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Science and Cooperative Extension are receiving federal grants to provide navigators in Georgia.

In the (not so) private market, individual insurers are also “navigating” their customers through the health care exchanges with no federal grant money — unless you count the fact that they’re taking advantage of Obamacare by raising rates while simultaneously claiming victimization from the law, despite getting huge new pools of customers.  New customers’ premiums are largely paid for by their current customers through federal subsidies mandated by the law — so what’s not to love?  The insurers are putting on a good show of complaining, but what they’ve been doing under the sheets with the infamous Ms. Fed at the Crony Capitalism Motel would blow away the usual black light hotel bedsheet Primetime exposé.

My little family of two is facing a premium increase of between 180% – 240% next December for virtually the same high deductible plan we have now — and I know that the government and the private insurers are heading off to Vegas together to blow that wad on a good steak dinner together, despite all the finger-pointing on both sides, such as this blindingly insane class war Cokie Roberts/Kaiser Family Foundation video you really have to watch to believe.

Do note that we’re self-employed and buy our own insurance, so we don’t really count as humans under the ACA.  Think of us as the lab rats, the 5% already thrown into the nearest cages and hooked up to the electrodes.  What happens to us now will be happening to people in group plans later on, a timeline I still cannot believe is legal, unless by “legal” you mean “first screw all the people without lobbyists.”

you’ll be joining us in here soon

“Navigation” seems like a new concept to many people, but within the government subsidized healthcare/welfare industry — Medicaid, Medicare (yes, it is subsidized), WIC, Section 8, EITC and so on — there are always people doing some type of “navigation.”  In our current bifurcated economy, where the rich advocate for the poor to live like kings, navigators paid for by taxpayers help poor people sign up for every other-person’s tax dollar for which they could possibly qualify.  Many of these expenditures are a healthy and noble — supporting the truly disabled, for example — but when people play the system, we’re not only losing money to them; we’re paying navigators to teach them how to most efficiently pick our pockets.  And there is a lot of intentional deception that goes on, deception that gets systematically overlooked by the government employees administrating these programs.  Many of the most suspect Welfare Maximization Accomplice grants are laundered through university research — for example, I know of a university-based program in Florida geared exclusively at signing up illegal immigrant families for public benefits, though nobody would admit that out loud.

Academics play bag man in fiscal crimes against taxpayers all the time, reaping government grants and career advancement by pretending they are doing research, when what they’re really doing is handing out other people’s money, then using big words to declare the handout a success.  Studying themselves playing Daddy Warbucks with taxpayer sawbucks is how sociologists and others climb the tenure ladder.  They choose their favorite nonprofit, “partner” with them, then praise the nonprofit’s excellent performance in solving social problems, even if the executive director made off to Jamaica with all the money.

So long as it was stolen in a spirit of helping the poor, Professor Poodle can still brag about his commitment to the underclass when he’s not busy fuming about Fox News at the Departmental Nondenominational Solstice Holiday Party.

The fraud angle of all this ballooned under community organizer Obama, by design. Every rebranded ACORN worker out there offering free Obamaphones to welfare cheats is a navigator.  So I’m glad to see James O’Keefe doing what he does better than anyone — giving people a glimpse of the underbelly of our corrupt welfare state.

But fraud is a feature, not a bug of this system.  Another round of firing allegedly “rogue” employees for doing precisely what they were hired to do in the first place is the only reaction we can expect from the powers-that-be.  The rogue navigators aren’t really rogue –they represent the very spirit of the thing.

~~~

The real problem with navigators is what they are actually navigating — the collapse of boundaries between big corporations, big nonprofits, and the government.  So it doesn’t matter so much whether the entity doing navigation has a good reputation or a bad reputation: the activity itself fuels the belief that the highest calling of civic life is to transfer as much money as possible from working, taxpaying people to people who avoid working and paying taxes.  In a way, the Sharpton-level fraudsters handing out government-subsidized-iphones to crack dealers are the least harmful actors on the stage: they are expendable clowns, while the real damage is being done with subtle efficiencies by Chamber types who span the political spectrum.

~~~

In Georgia, the groups involved in government-subsidized healthcare navigation have a range of reputations.

Georgia Watch is a well-known consumer organization boasting a transparent track record of their activities.  Their board of directors (readily accessible on-line) includes Clark Howard, who has a great and very much well-earned reputation for advocating fiscal responsibility.  Their tax records are up to date, and they are responsive to questions posed to them.

Still, there are problems with what they’re doing, which I’ll get to below.

On the other hand, SEEDCO, which recently received $2.2 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to provide navigators in Georgia, has an extremely troubling record of padding claims about numbers of clients served.  How troubling?  The New York Times actually went after them; the federal government actually filed charges against them, and they were actually found guilty of those charges, something that happens to big nonprofits wasting/stealing tax dollars about as frequently as the moon turns to blue cheese.  Luckily for SEEDCO and their extremely well remunerated CEO, Barbara Dwyer Gunn, the feds settled on the hilarious punishment that they must pay back a fraction of the taxpayer money they fraudulently pocketed and agree to actually follow, you know, laws from now on.

This is a fabulous example of white collar criminals getting away with a slap on the wrist.  But you won’t hear much whining about this sort of prosecutorial lenience from the usual sources because Ms. Dunn (400K plus a year) is a “social justice” worker running a noble “nonprofit” helping the “underserved.”

B.D.G.: her salary sure wasn’t docked for tax fraud

Incidentally, SEEDCO funnels taxpayer dollars to some Georgia nonprofits that also offer an incomplete or not very credible face to the public.  For example, recent tax filings by the Asian American Resource Foundation Inc in Suwanee do not list the names of board members.  Nor does the group’s website, though it boasts of “an 11-member Board of Directors, which is comprised of a diverse and committed group of African American, Asian and Caucasian men and women from the business and faith-based communities within greater Atlanta.”

Is this really a problem?  Yes, it is, because AARF receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal HUD grants and has done so over a number of years, during which time they continued filing those incomplete 990 tax forms.  Their tax forms state vaguely that the group “provides education to the unskilled with state grant and support shelter for homeless or the poor with federal HUD grant.”  This really smacks of dialing it in.  If AARF was some small, amateur nonprofit, I’d allow that filing mistakes were made.  But when it’s my money going into somebody’s pocket and they produce a tax return like that — well, if I hadn’t worked in the nonprofit service provision industry in Atlanta for years, I guess I’d be surprised by that kind of systematic non-compliance.

But I did.  So I’m not.

Other SEEDCO grant recipients in Georgia that fail to offer much information about how they’re spending our money include SPARC, the Single Parent Alliance and Resource Center (SPARC).  I couldn’t find a record of their 990s on the comprehensive GuideStar site.  Yet SPARCC boasts of involvement in VISTA/AmeriCorps, which is a federal program that provides select nonprofits with free (ie. taxpayer funded) full-time workers and more free (taxpayer funded) money for supervising those workers.

In other words, it is a program that gives free activists and boatloads of administrative money to left-wing nonprofit organizations, courtesy of the taxpayers.

SEEDCO gives grants to these agencies and many more like them — but the money they are giving away is taxpayer money.  In 2011, the taxpayers gave them $31 million, virtually their entire budget, and they played kingmaker with it, handing it out to left-wing groups that do various types of activism.  Much of their work is touted as “job readiness”, but the real business they’re in is coalition-building for political ends under the flag of “social justice” or “anti-poverty” or “family assistance.”  Such coalition building on our dime has been the major racket of the Left since the Clinton administration (actually longer, but the contemporary movement dates to then).

The worst thing is that, at some point, this became an uptown game, and everything else in the economy ceased to exist.  Once the health insurance companies and home mortgage banks jumped into bed with the feds (joining academia and big nonprofits in there), the result was unelected, unaccountable mega-coalitions like the ones below — chewing off larger and larger portions of government activities and control over tax dollars.  Big corporations love this scheme because they can pretend to be “socially responsible” while protecting their interests with elected officials, who also want to appear socially responsible while they reward their friends sitting on the same boards.  Foundations such as Annie E. Casey provide a charitable public face for the corporations that donate to them and for the politicians who give these silk-stocking “nonprofits” our money — and control over bigger and bigger parts of government.

Taxpayers aren’t just squeezed out: they are now demonized.

Here are some examples of “nonprofit” partnerships paid for by demonized taxpayers:

Or this:

Or this:

• AbellFoundation
• AltmanFoundation
• AnnieE.CaseyFoundation
• ArthurM.BlankFamilyFoundation
• BaltimoreCommunityFoundation
• TheCenterforWorkingFamilies,Inc.
• ClarkFoundation
• ColumbiaUniversity
• ConnecticutAssociationforHumanServices
• ConstellationEnergyFoundation
• ExxonMobil
• FordFoundation
• FoundationfortheCarolinas
• ICFInternational
• KresgeFoundation
• Mayor’sFundtoAdvanceNewYorkCity
• MDRC
• MemphisBioworksFoundation
• Michigan Association of United Ways
• MizuhoUSAFoundation
• NationalCommunityActionFoundation
• NeighborWorksAmerica
• NewYorkCommunityTrust
• PloughFoundation
• RepublicBank
• ResCare,Inc.
• RobinHoodFoundation
• SingleStopUSA
• StarrInternationalFoundation
• TheAaronandLillieStrausFoundation
• TennesseeCommunityServicesAgency
• TheAlvinandFannyB.ThalheimerFoundation • TrinityWallStreet
• TulsaCommunityActionProject
• United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta
• United Way of New York City
• UpperManhattanEmpowermentZone
• vanAmeringenFoundation
• WachoviaWellsFargoFoundation
• WalmartFoundation
• Harry&JeanetteWeinbergFoundation
• WorkForceEssentials

  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • Georgia Department of Human Services
  • Louisville Metro Department of Community
  • Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Maryland Department of Human Resources
  • NewYorkCityCouncil
  • New York City Department of Housing
  • New York City Department of Small Business Services
  • NewYorkCityHumanResourcesAdministration
  • New York State Department of Health
  • New York State Department of Labor
  • New York State Office of Children and Family Services
  • New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
  • Tennessee Department of Human Services
  • U.S.CentersforMedicareandMedicaidServices
  • U.S.Congress
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • U.S.SmallBusinessAdministration

What are these lists?  The first block is corporate and government partners of The Center for Working Families, the Georgia branch of a national nonprofit that claims to help “working families” gain “independence” through all the usual pathways: green job training funded by government referendums, plus maximization of the welfare state through “application assistance for over 21 [programs] such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, TANF, Together RX, PeachCare for Kids and utility assistance” and “Referrals for comprehensive services including childcare, training, education and certifications, rental assistance and legal assistance.”

In other words, navigation.  They maximize public benefits for people.  We pay for it coming, and we pay for it going.  Doubtlessly they’re in on healthcare navigation too.

I’ve worked with many such nonprofits, and the only people getting anything other than more welfare benefits out of it are the people employed by the agency itself.  And there is real human tragedy behind this: CWF actually boasts on their website of having helped a whole 19 clients “create or expand” a full-time “microenterprise.”  That’s approximately two jobs invented for each massive corporate or government “partner.”  The “entrepreneur” page features a picture of a woman operating an ice cream truck, hardly stable employment, and the page notes that some of the businesses actually existed before CWF provided more resources.  And doubtlessly that’s the best they can do.

The rest of their work is the sort of government-mandated job preparation stuff we’re already paying for two, three, five, or ten times over through K – 12 education, community colleges, colleges, and public social service agencies.  Organizations like CWF are uniquely valuable to the Democratic party agenda, however, because they spread tax money around to high-powered activists in the community who “pay back” at election time.  And for the most part, the money and services go down a rat hole — something I also watched in Atlanta year after year after year when I worked in social service advocacy and “outreach.”

CWF’s annual budget?  2.9 million in 2011, the latest reporting year.

The second list, above, is the partnerships of the Asian American Resource Foundation, which, like CWF, also receives money from SEEDCO and also from the state and from HUD.

And the third list is SEEDCO’s own corporate and government partners and donors, none of whom, apparently, bothered to notice while SEEDCO screwed the taxpayers blind.

Like all ingrates, SEEDCO also fails to acknowledge their biggest donor: you.

Don’t expect an invitation to their next black-tie gala, either.

We are living in the age of Faux-lanthropy.  Faux-lanthropy is a polygamous marriage between big business, big nonprofits, and the big welfare state — a union of super-rich leftists, crony capitalists, dumb-yet-dangerous Marxist academicians, and the unproductive poor, all united against the dwindling middle.  To understand the way this works in detail, read my report on faux-lanthropists and the Recovery Act at America’s Survival — Obama Stimulus Dollars Funded Soros Empire.  In short: the super-rich partner with government social welfare advocates and their academic poodles to create poverty programs and services that are then paid for by ordinary taxpayers, who are endlessly demonized.

The ugliest, most cynical examples of faux-lanthropy are spawned in the financial services industry, where billionaires who cashed in on the mortgage bubble then got bailed out by the taxpayers now play in the platinum sandbox of New York City.  The Big Apple effectively exterminated its last middle class resident around the time Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went belly up, so there’s nobody to harsh the vibe as former investment bankers play Lady Bountiful to gang-bangers on our dime while sending their own kids off to tony private schools in Millbrook.

But this sort of behavior happens in Georgia, too.  SEEDCO is an example of faux-lanthropy, but so is Georgia Watch, despite the good people on their board and the good deeds they tout on their website.  They are just as bound up in promoting the interests of certain crony capitalists as their less ethical peers.  If anything, the fact that they have reputable leaders makes it worse.

Such is the seduction of “doing good.”

You simply can’t claim to be “advocating for consumers” when your board is loaded with big businessmen engaging in political partisanship on an issue that affects millions of consumers negatively and enhances your board members’ bottom lines positively.  That flies in the face of Georgia Watch’s entire mission, and I’m astonished that they don’t see that and — at the barest minimum — include disclaimers on their website about their board members’ fiscal interests.

You also can’t claim to be objectively evaluating the effects of the new healthcare exchanges when you’re taking money from a corrupt entity like SEEDCO to promote the new healthcare exchanges.  I reached out to Georgia Watch last week and asked them to disclose the money they are receiving from SEEDCO (cough, the taxpayers) on their website, and Elena Parent, their Executive Director, wrote the following back to me:

We are going to be completely overhauling our website soon. Right now posting things on it isn’t easy. I’m happy to tell you we are funded for 1/4 of a navigator which is $15,000 all in (salary, travel, equipment, benefits) through the SeedCo consortium.

You see, it’s really hard to change a website.  I wonder if Georgia Watch accepts that excuse from the big industrialists who don’t sit on their board.  And yes, Ms. Parent, that is an awfully teensy-weensy grant from SEEDCO, but you don’t really need the money and you are prominently listed on their homepage as their Georgia partner, thus granting your (state) political credibility to them and their (federal) government influence to you, which is the real point of such partnerships.

There’s more than one type of currency in lobbying . . . and other political acts.

One of the awful things that happens in nonprofit advocacy is that people start to believe their own hype.  There’s nothing nonprofit about the nonprofit world: 99% of it is just political lobbying for this or that client group and this or that special interest.  The salaries are outrageous and the graft is greater than anything private industry has managed to accomplish since the Gilded Age.

That’s why all sorts of big businesses do more and more of their business and political work — and lobbying — through 501-c3s, foundations, and coalitions, right and left.

Georgia Watch’s board of directors:

  • Natalie Allen, International Anchor, CNN
  • Phil Baldwin, CEO, CredAbility
  • Raymond P. Carpenter, Carpenter & Associates, LLC, Chairman, Georgia Watch Board of Directors
  • Beth Cayce, Founder & CEO, CaraVita Home Care
  • Dennis Creech, Executive Director, Southface Energy Institute
  • Leonce Crump, Pastor, Renovation Church
  • John Dalton, MD, Orthopedic surgeon, Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow
  • Kathy Floyd, Advocacy Director, AARP of Georgia
  • Clark Howard, Nationally Syndicated Host, The Clark Howard Show
  • Jimmy Hurt, Attorney, Hurt Stolz
  • Allie Kelly, Sr. Vice President, Georgia Conservancy
  • Danny Orrock, Counsel, Crawford Communications
  • Charlie Tanksley, Founding Partner, The Barnes Law Group, LLC
  • Martha Wilber, MD, Associate Medical Director, Kaiser Permanente

So Georgia Watch is a big cheerleader for Obamacare.  Why is this a problem?  Well, for one thing, they have Kaiser Permanente on their board, and if that doesn’t scream “conflict of interest,” I don’t know if those words mean anything at all.  Now, it’s fine to have Kaiser (and the AARP) on your board, but don’t then pretend you don’t have skin in the game.

These “champions of Georgia consumers” have also been silent on Obamacare’s negative effects on consumers.

When Georgia Watch goes after Georgia Power or some of the other industries they monitor, they apply a very different set of standards than the ones they practice themselves.  I have no particular love for Georgia Power or any other company that engages in crony capitalism while monopolizing a service I must purchase, but I also see no difference between Georgia Power profiting from their government monopoly in energy and Kaiser Permanente profiting from their new government monopoly in healthcare (yes, it’s essentially a single-payer monopoly they divvy up with other big healthcare insurers — all the worst aspects of our old system and the worst aspects of socialized medicine, rolled up into one).

The hypocrisy is galling.  Here, for example, is what Georgia Watch says is wrong about Georgia Power’s new nuclear plant — the one they are fighting in the courts “on behalf of consumers”:

In a series of cases before the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to monitor the cost of constructing two new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle, Georgia Watch is working to protect consumers. A legal dispute between Georgia Power and its Plant Vogtle contractors over cost overruns from project design issues and schedule delays could end up costing Georgia Power ratepayers $400 million or more! In a brief filed at the Commission on August 3, 2012, Georgia Watch once again called on Commissioners to approve a risk sharing mechanism as a means of protecting ratepayers. Currently, the entire cost of overruns is unfairly borne by ratepayers alone.

This is Georgia Watch’s battle cry: consumers are being soaked; prices are too high; Georgia Power is forcing the public to shoulder its expenses and overruns; it’s unfair.

And here is what Georgia Watch says about Obamacare’s overruns (such as: the $600 million website fiasco; forcing some consumers to shoulder costs before others; duplicative spending on dubious navigators; the horrible lies about “keeping your plan,” and most importantly, the lies about saving money, while middle-class people like me get throttled with 200 – 300% price increases):

They say . . . nothing.

Actually, it’s worse than that: they’re behaving as if none of these things are happening to consumers.  They’re running cover for their own board members while pretending to be a consumer advocacy organization.  Isn’t it funny how many millions of words have been spilled over the alleged astro-turfing of the Tea Party by the Koch brothers, while huge crony industries on the Left escape similar scrutiny when they really astroturf issues — carrying water for the government, and even using our tax dollars to do it?

Unfortunately, as with the probable outcome of James O’Keefe’s latest exposé, nothing much changes when the system is jerry-rigged to maximize dependency on the government.  That’s what navigators for the new healthcare law — and many other programs — are really doing.  So to expect something different from them is sort of like trying to turn a sow’s ear back into a pig.  It’s just as impossible as all the other things you try to do with the darn thing.

 

 

 

Don’t Let Anyone Silence You On The Illegal Immigrant Amnesty Bill . . . Especially Other Republicans

[Scroll down for: Ten Things To Do to Oppose the Gang of Eight’s Amnesty Bill]

Last Thursday, Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota) appeared on the Glenn Beck show with a troubling message.  “We’re losing badly,” Bachmann said about the fight against the Gang of Eight amnesty bill for illegal immigrants.  “A lot of your viewers don’t even know we are in the middle of that fight right now,” Bachmann told Beck.  “We need your viewers to melt the phone lines and say ‘Don’t vote for any immigration bill until the border is secure.’”

“This is the most important item in the next four years, what’s going to happen in the next couple weeks,” she said, “We have a very short window, six weeks, to kill this bill.”

Congressman Steve King (R–Iowa) called the immigration bill “far worse” than Obamacare:

If somehow there was an offer that you’re going to get one or the other . . . I would take Obamacare before I’d ever accept this amnesty plan.

King said that amnesty now would lead to perpetually open borders: “If you grant amnesty, you can never promise that you can enforce immigration [laws] again.”

“The [immigration] bill is worse than universal healthcare, “ warned Glenn Beck, “Listen to me, it is worse than universal healthcare, and in the coming days as we get closer, we will explain why it’s worse than universal healthcare. It is the death knell of the country.  There is no recovery from this one.  None.  No recovery.”

Rush Limbaugh said the bill would add millions of “instant Democrats” to the electorate.

So where are Beck’s viewers, Tea Party and 912 activists?  Why aren’t they “burning up the phones” as Bachmann is calling for, and leading the fight against the movement to grant citizenship to 30 million people who have or will come here as illegal aliens?

Did election losses fray nerves?  Are Tea Partiers demoralized by the parade of turncoats (Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Kelly Ayotte) among people they helped elect, especially Rubio?  Are the lies peddled in advertisements aired on conservative talk radio and TV by the fake conservative group, Americans for a Conservative Direction, taking a toll?

I think all of these things are true.  Also true is that social conservatives and Tea Party activists are sick of being tarred with false accusations of racism, which happens whenever they try to weigh in on virtually any social issue.

As Democrats pile on with their usual, visceral “Racism” charge against those who oppose mass amnesty, I couldn’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid such ugliness.  It’s not easy to stare down public officials and smirking editorial page editors shrieking “racist” at you.

But the immigration bills is a transformational event, far more important than any other issue in Washington right now.  It is time for the grassroots to pay attention, as Bachmann says.

The “racism” charge simply needs to be ignored.  It won’t go away, no matter what we do or say.  Every single person in the Tea Party could pack up and go home, unplug their computers, and stop voting tomorrow, and ten years from now, President Holder and the Southern Poverty Law Center would still be holding blue-ribbon conferences at the White House to discuss the Rising Tide of Tea Party Hate.

You’re a racist is the eternal default of people who have no intention of speaking honestly about what will happen if we grant citizenship to enough low-income, low-education, illegal immigrants to increase America’s population by 10%.  That’s 30 million people — the equivalent of entire population of Canada, or fully 1/4 of the current population of Mexico (Arnold Ahlert observes that both pro- and anti- amnesty groups agree on the 30 million figure).

But it’s not just liberals and Democrats throwing the “R” word around.  You also hear it, or some coded equivalent, from many political operatives on the Right, and this is a terrible development that needs to be looked at carefully.  Some in the Republican Party and and some (not all) national libertarian groups are using the same shame tactics as leftists to pressure others on the Right to not weigh in on the immigration debate.

I’ve heard stories on the ground from people who have been told that if they speak out on immigration, the whole movement will be seen as racist.  Don’t let anyone pressure you that way.

Last Friday, Rush Limbaugh explained the willingness of many Republicans to support amnesty this way: “The Republican Party is embarrassed by its own base,” Limbaugh said.

I assume that some Republicans think there is a new group of people that would become their base. If they just got rid of these pro-lifers, if they just got rid of this religious crowd, if they just got rid of the Christians, if they just got rid of these gun nuts.

Turncoat Marco Rubio is certainly playing from this game book.  Thankfully, Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are now beginning to mobilize people against this legislation.

For the past two years, I have travelled around Florida speaking to citizen patriot groups.  I’ve come to believe that pressure from people on our own side is the main reason that Beck listeners and Tea Party and 912 groups (and many registered Republican) have been hesitant to enter the fight against an amnesty bill that they personally oppose and recognize as an existential threat to America.

Making this problem worse is a troubling dynamic in Tea Party/912 organizing.  While the majority of people I’ve met in this movement identify themselves as social conservatives first, the minority of libertarians involved — who are often pro-open borders, pro-gay marriage, pro-pot legalization, and even pro-abortion rights — have an outsized influence over the far larger numbers of traditional values conservatives.

This outsized influence is magnified by the presence of national libertarian groups that siphon power off the grassroots while claiming to speak for them.

I don’t say any of this as a blanket condemnation of all people who identify themselves as libertarians.  Some of the people I admire the most in politics are diehard, capital “L” Libertarians (myself, I was writing fan letters to Ayn Rand and stumbling through Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology way back in high school).  And some national libertarian groups like Campaign for Liberty are airing the view of members who oppose the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill.  They may even be doing more to fight this legislation (I would appreciate confirmation of this).

But I’ve also witnessed aggressive attempts within the movement to dominate and silence people who want to talk about subjects like illegal immigration and abortion.  And when libertarians define everything that they don’t want to talk about as a “social issue” and then demand silence on social issues, they’re just being liberals who don’t want to pay taxes.

A big source of this problem is the outsized influence of national organizations like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.  Although they provide training resources and leadership in campaigns, they also pressure the grassroots to abide by their agendas, and on amnesty they both curiously claim to be “sitting the fight out,” which is no different from supporting the bill.

In fact, deep-pocketed players all over the Right are currently pressuring Tea Partiers to sit down and shut up about immigration.  Grover Norquist has been flogging ugly racial charges against the Tea Party, as Ann Corcoran details in this excellent blog.  Jeb Bush is flouting bizarre anti-facts about needing illegal immigrants to teach Americans about family values at his (very vaguely named) American Action Forum.  Daniel Greenfield has a wonderful takedown of Bush’s immigrant fertility derangement.

FreedomWorks once at least talked about a no-amnesty plan, but now they are vigilantly avoiding the entire subject of  illegal immigration.  The grassroots needs to realize that, by whispering to Beltway insiders about how they’re “sitting out” the immigration bill, FreedomWorks is for all practical purposes actually supporting amnesty.  And if they claim you as a member, they’re essentially saying that you do, too.

Americans for Prosperity in Florida [disclosure: I did freelance and volunteer work for them] is arguably more coercive with the grassroots.  They have a habit of culling names from grassroots organizations and claiming these people as their membership.  If you ever attended an AFP event or volunteered on their phone lines or went to hear one of their speakers, AFP lobbyists in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. are probably claiming that you are a member of AFP and that they are speaking for you.

And what they’re saying is that you’re “sitting out” the immigration bill along with them, which really means supporting amnesty.

Don’t let AFP, or anyone else, do this in your name.  Tea Party and 912 activists need to take a hard look at the people and groups claiming to be speaking for them.  Don’t give away your power to anyone.  And if you are a member, let them know how you feel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

I believe the majority of people involved in citizen patriot movements oppose the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill.  But if we don’t make ourselves heard now, we might as well give up the fight.

When amnesty supporter and presidential hopeful Jeb Bush claimed at the recent Faith and Freedom conference that “immigrants are more fertile . . . and they have more intact families,” CNN reported that his “arguments . . . were met with near silence from the conservative crowd.”  In contrast, the crowd loudly applauded Michelle Bachmann’s fiery denunciation of “amnesty.”

But it’s time to do more than applaud.  Following is a toolkit for lobbying against the Gang of Eight’s bill, countering the lies being told, and educating your friends and fellow Tea Party/912 members about the facts on amnesty and illegal immigration.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ten Things To Do to Oppose the Gang of Eight’s Amnesty Bill

 

#1: Educate Yourself About the Facts

Before we talk about amnesty for illegal immigrants, we need to understand who is here and the many ways they’re already accessing government benefits.  When I worked in social services, I came to know a lot of low-income immigrants, legal and illegal, and those who weren’t living with someone with legal status and taking advantage of their public benefits still had multiple ways to access funding on their own.  Anybody, for example, who tells you that the Gang of Eight’s bill will deny subsidized healthcare to illegal immigrants during a waiting period is lying.  They already receive publicly funded healthcare through multiple sources: emergency services, Medicaid, FQCHSs (look it up), Disproportionate Share Hospitals, state programs that enroll illegal immigrants, federal and state programs that support pregnancy and deliveries, and special grants funneled through universities and research hospitals.

None of this is going away.  Instead, expect doors to medical programs to open very quickly for 30 million mostly low-income beneficiaries of amnesty.  When people in residence here start on the path to citizenship, who will argue against including them fully in Obamacare long before the 10 or 13 year delay has ended?

And there are other forms of welfare that promise to explode as well.

#2: Educate Yourself About the Lies

#3: Understand the Earned Income Tax Credit

Around January 1, tax preparation offices pop up all over the small Florida tomato town that is my sometimes-home.  No, they’re not for thrifty taxpayers seeking to get an early start on April 15: they’re storefronts for processing Earned Income Tax Credit checks.  For a fee, these storefronts fill out the paperwork for “refund checks” of up to $5,666 that go to pretty much anyone with children who can claim a limited income.  The word “refund” does not mean refund for taxes paid: the EITC is a “cash assistance” welfare program built into the IRS to dispense money to people who pay no federal taxes.  It’s like Christmas — after Christmas: in poor neighborhoods, car dealerships and electronics and furniture stores hold “tax” sales where non-taxpayers use taxpayer’s money to buy themselves consumer products.  It isn’t uncommon to see store windows with giant “EITC” signs, or slogans like “Mo Money, Mo Money” around EITC season.  Police even pick up patrolling in some places to prevent EITC-cash related robberies and burglaries.

It is also, of course, a program subject to massive fraud –  $11 – $13 billion a year in recent years.  So even though illegal immigrants aren’t supposed to qualify for EITC largesse, many apply for and get the money anyway by lying about social security numbers, other identity fraud, or lying about children who don’t exist or don’t live here.  There are even loopholes built into the system to allow some illegal immigrants to legally receive EITC — $4.2 billion was distributed to illegal immigrants in 2010.

Of course, EITC give-aways will skyrocket as soon as 30 million of Jeb Bush’s “extremely fertile” illegal immigrants and their families gain legal status . . . and nobody is even sure whether illegal immigrants will qualify for back-payments of EITC for previous years.  Such details, you see, aren’t something the taxpayers need to worry their little heads over.

I doubt the Gang of Eight would tell us the truth about it anyway, even if they knew what the truth was.

 #4: Get Your Hands on This One Amazing Book

Actually, whether you support or oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, you should read Darrell Ankarlo, a former talk radio host in Arizona.

In Illegals: The Unacceptable Cost of America’s Failure to Control its Borders, Ankarlo travels between Mexico and America to discover why and how people enter this country illegally.  He opens a window, showing us who is coming here, how they get here, and what this all means for both Mexico and America.  Ankarlo seems a little crazy, in a good way.  He is empathetic towards everyone — a rare achievement.

If the Gang of Eight had started with this book and encouraged other people to read it, the nation would be having a real conversation about illegal immigration right now.

#5: Know Your Enemies

Illegal immigrants aren’t the enemy.

But the racially divisive, leftist activists who are using illegal immigration to challenge America’s sovereignty are enemies.  You need to learn about their real intentions — and where the country is heading if the Gang of Eight succeeds.

Jim Simpson has published absolutely essential reports on the radical groups running the illegal immigration lobby: CASA de Maryland: The Illegals’ ACORN is a must-read, as is this follow-up report.

Radical Hispanic separationist groups such as MEChA and Nation of Aztlan have strongholds in some cities and on college and university campuses, especially in Arizona and California.  Here is a primer introducing these groups.  Here is the website for the National Brown Berets: their radical mission statement should be read and understood.

La Raza is seemingly more mainstream, but they share much of the mission and attitudes towards America expressed by more radical groups.  In contrast to those groups, however, La Raza is entirely mainstreamed in the political Left.  It receives significant taxpayer funding to underwrite its race-based activities (nearly 10 million dollars in 2010), and can call upon scores of high-ranking elected officials to do its bidding.  A former high-ranking La Raza official serves in the Obama administration.  Here is an exposé on La Raza.

La Raza claims to be nonpartisan, but in reality they operate like any other aggressive race lobby, making demands on both parties but inevitably siding with the Democrats.  Look at the La Raza site to find a pdf of a disturbing 2012 speech by La Raza president and CEO, Janet Murguîa.

#6: Bring the Discussion to Your Tea and 912 Groups — NOW!

IRS, NSA, Benghazi, the economy, Syria . . . it’s overwhelming.  But as Michelle Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Steve King, Louis Gomert, and . . . oh yeah, Obama are telling us (see this great John Hawkins piece), the amnesty bill needs to take precedence over all these other issues because it is speeding through Congress and will create irreversible political changes . . . changes that will give rise to even more uncontrollable Washington scandals.

Too many Tea Party groups are looking elsewhere.  Of course, holding the IRS accountable is important; Common Core needs attention.  But it’s time, now, to talk about illegal immigration.

Next month will be too late.  Heritage Action has resources for your state.

#7: Thank Our Allies

Those fraudulent Americans for a Conservative Direction ads airing on talk radio and television shows, including Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and the Rush Limbaugh Show, have been confusing audiences, but the ads do not reflect the shows’ hosts’ views.  In fact, Rush and Beck have been calling for immediate action against the Gang of Eight’s amnesty plan.  Be sure to thank them.

The Heritage Foundation, Judicial Watch, Numbers USA, Center for Immigration Studies, the Eagle Forum and others are standing strong against amnesty.  Thank them too.

#8: Encourage Our Friends, Cautiously

I don’t always see eye to eye with the national libertarian organizations partnering with Tea Parties, especially when they issue top-down directives to grassroots groups.  I believe that the Tea Party/912 movements need to get back to their local roots and work with nationals only when the relationship is really a two-way street.

Part of this involves donating more of your money locally, instead of sending it to wealthy national organizations.  Also, ALWAYS check a group’s tax forms before donating anything to them, and ask for detailed information about staff salaries and how your money will be spent.  Go to Guidestar to view the 990s of all nonprofit organizations.  The site is very easy to use: just register, and you can view any organization’s 990 for free.  I’m happy to answer individual questions about researching 990s.

Local membership groups also need to make sure nobody is claiming to speaking for them on contentious issues such as immigration, or saying one thing to Tea Party groups and another to the RNC bigwigs in Washington.  It’s great to partner with national organizations when you agree, but don’t give away your power or voice to them.  When you work together, maintain your identity and name, and get proper credit for your contribution to any activity.

NEVER hand over your membership list to anyone, and share your membership list only when you are working in an equitable coalition where all parties agree to keep primary ownership of their lists.

One more word on money: when you work with any individual or group, demand that they be transparent about money and other resources they are receiving from any source.  You might be very surprised to learn how much money the Tea Party leader sitting next to you at a conference is getting for their participation, especially if they are pushing a view that you don’t agree with.

Doing these things can help create healthier and stronger alliances between national groups and your local organization.  And in that spirit, I encourage activists who have worked with FreedomWorks, AFP, and other national entities to reach out to them and let them know how you feel about the Gang of Eight’s Amnesty legislation, and ask them to discuss their position with you.  If you have volunteered for their organization in the past, they owe you that.

We may find more common ground on this legislation if we agree to look for it together.

#9: Don’t Let Anyone Call You A Racist . . . And Don’t Let Them Lie to You

I don’t mean the Democrats: they just don’t care what we think.  But Republican and conservative organizations that are smearing amnesty opponents with slurs and crude misrepresentations of our positions deserve to hear from us.  Here’s a short list of the people who merit a critical phone call, e-mail, or tweet:

And finally — Get off the Rubio Bandwagon, by Glenn Beck

#10: Call Your Legislators . . . today

and tomorrow and the day after that.  As Michelle Bachmann says, it’s time to burn up the phones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Abject Intellectual Bankruptcy of the CUNY Occupy Researchers

I’ve been too busy to post lately, what with moving.  And staying put.  But sometimes the universe plants a goose egg so giant that you have to say something about it just to squeeze out the door.

Changing the Subject: A Bottom-Up Account of Occupy Wall Street in New York City

by Ruth Milkman, Stephanie Luce and Penny Lewis 

And so we have this, a 51-page “study” by the esteemed sociologist of SEIU apologetics, Ruth Milkman, and her peers: Stephanie Luce (living wage academician and activist) and Penny Lewis (ACORN shill/labor prof).  These three ladies practice their activism and their academics on your dime, taxpayers, at the portentous-sounding Joseph P. Murphy Institute for Worker Education of the CUNY School of Professional Studies, which is not to be confused with the CUNY School of Unprofessional Studies, which is not to be confused with a dead parrot.

The JPMIWWE openly claims to be building the union movement and serving “the educational, policy, and research needs of unions and their members,” also all on your dime.

I bet you didn’t know you were paying for that.

Frances Fox Pivens is an associated scholar at the program, which explains a lot, though it doesn’t quite explain what someone whose contribution to society consists of encouraging people not to work actually does in a Labor Studies department.

Just one more drop in the ironic abyss of the intelligentsia.

A Dead Parrot

 Frances Fox Pivens

The Occupy study, which is delighting journalists and Media Studies Professionals everywhere by reinforcing their belief systems, asserts that Occupy Protesters are actually well-educated and employed, with a full third earning more than $100K per year.

Gee, how do you do that while living in a tent and banging on drums all day?

Well, it’s done with magic.  The magic is called sociology, an obscure religion practiced, according to Iris Murdoch, by people “who had got into an intellectual muddle early in life and never got out.”  Because sociologists don’t have to do things like build bridges or solve math problems or cure cancer, their definitions of science can be a bit loosey-goosey.

How loosey-goosey?  Well, this much: the Occupy study, which is 51 pages long and paid for with your tax dollars, arrived at the conclusion that all those Occupiers who slept, raped, pooped, and drummed in the streets for months on end were actually educated, employed, and well-off.  The researchers arrived at this conclusion by surveying an entirely different group of people who showed up for a different event months after the Occupy camps were disbanded.

In fact, only 10.3% of the people they surveyed said they had stayed in an Occupy camp.  The other 89.7% did not.

In case you’re wondering what the labor professors actually do when they aren’t doing this type of thing, it looks a heck of a lot like this.

Mark Nuckols: Sovereign is as Sovereign Does on the Magnitsky Act

I have known Mark Nuckols since I was a teenager.  That is to say, a very very long time.  When I was 18, he knew more about politics in the real world than anyone I knew, which of course got him into endless trouble in academia, where they like their politics self-congratulatory and utterly detached from reality with a heaping helping of abject admiration on the side.

Despite being Jeopardy smart (or perhaps because of it), Nuckols never quite fit in in American academia.  You need only watch this video of Mark appearing on the Jon Stewart program to understand why.  I have to warn you, though: it is an unusual video.  I take no responsibility for it.

Nuckols teaches law and business at Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of National Economy.  Here is his latest article, from The Moscow Times.  It’s an interesting take on international human rights, a subject usually explored only by self-congratulatory people utterly detached from reality and seeking abject admiration from others:

The Magnitsky Act Is Wrong

25 November 2012 | Issue 5021
By Mark Nuckols

The Moscow Times

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who exposed the fraudulent use of corporate documents of his client to defraud both his client and the Federal Treasury of $230 million. Rather than arrest and prosecute the persons Magnitsky testified were responsible for this crime, prosecutors had Magnitsky himself arrested and imprisoned. After enduring 11 months of inhumane treatment, Magnitsky died in police custody under suspicious circumstances. His death is a tragedy and miscarriage of justice and demands a thorough investigation by the Russian government. Unfortunately, however, the wheels of justice in Russia often fail to turn as they should, particularly when they threaten wrongdoers in the government.

The U.S. Congress has responded with the Magnitsky Act. . .

Obama should veto this bill if it passes Congress. . .

Read the whole thing here.

For more on the use and abuse of human rights law, see my post:

Disappearing Adria Sauceda: The Nun, The SNAP, The Law Professor, The President, His Newspaper and the U.N. Defend Torture-Killer Humberto Leal

 

Typing Monkey: Welcome Back. To the Same Old Place That You Laughed About.

The day after the election, I posted a very  interesting article from someone who chooses to be known only as the Typing Monkey.    Some people thought I had written the article, but I am not and never have been a Typing Monkey.  I am a human being.

He has written again, perhaps in response to my post on Peter Hitchens.  Who knows what motivates a typing monkey?  He writes hard truths, as monkeys will.  For readers unfamiliar with British politics who link through to the Hitchens article, it’s probably useful to know that Tories would be the Republican Party, and Labour is the Democratic Party.

SOME THOUGHTS ON A PETER HITCHENS ARTICLE FROM 2007 

This article was written by Peter Hitchens in 2007, but it is, I think, very relevant to the present discontent of the Republican Party.

We are not necessarily bound to arrive at the same conclusions, so don’t get distracted by the first few paragraphs Hitchens writes. It is his analysis of our political times from a conservative perspective that is useful.  I don’t agree with everything about where Hitchens ends up, but his view of where we are now is pretty telling.

Hitchens’ fundamental insight into the present American conservative discontent is that we lose elections to the extent we are stuck in a rut of defining ourselves as more or less like the opposition.  At this point, we need to stop arguing about whether we should or should not concede on, say, immigration. The key thing to realize, for those few of us who haven’t already, is that the Republicans side has already and repeatedly conceded on almost every recognizably conservative position, because the Party isn’t actually a conservative party.

The Republicans are at best a lower taxes liberal party that’s conservative only to the extent that it can take fake positions on issues where meaningful change is politically impossible, all in the service of getting into power so that they can lower taxes and get rid of regulations. It loses because it promises nothing for most voters but less of what the Democrats are offering.

Hitchens isn’t the first person to say this, but he says it bluntly and in a way that deflates some popular myths that could use deflating, especially with regard to Republicanism and the USSR, a crucial bit of misunderstood (to the extent it’s not forgotten) history.

Reagan Republicanism, like Thatcherite Toryism, worked in large part because the Party could make any number of concessions to the emerging center-left consensus in society while retaining its identity as the national security and lower taxes party.  Thanks, Evil Empire.

In the process, though, the Republican Party lost its ability to present itself as a party with a coherent message that people believe in. The Democrats have an extremely coherent message, which is that Republicans are out of touch, racist plutocrats or inbred rednecks who want to starve your relatives to death and kill your gay friend whereas Democrats are the Party that will give you stuff.

The only response to that message from the Republicans has been “NO WE’RE NOT, AND YOU CAN’T HAVE OUR STUFF,” which didn’t work in kindergarten and still isn’t working today.

Since the early 1990s, Republicanism has been reduced to an economic ideology centered on a single premise: lower taxes and less regulation are good for what ails us.  As they actually stand for little or nothing else, they end up being a screen upon which Democrats project prejudices and fears.

Yes, this is where you tell me the ten other things you think Republicans stand for or should stand for.  It doesn’t matter.  ‘Reduce taxes and reduce regulation’ is the only coherent, consistent message coming from Republicans.

A half-hearted defense of “social issues” that aren’t actually relevant to how the federal government is conducted have done little more than brand Republicans as the Party of the elderly relatives with embarrassing opinions that the young, hip Democrats have to listen to around the holidays when they return to the town they were born in for?an obligatory visit.  For better or worse, Republicans are now the party of less regulation, less taxes, and out-of-date opinions.

Let’s talk about each in turn.

On the issue of regulation, out here in the real world, decades of “de-regulation” schemes have taught the American public that deregulation in practice ends up favoring financial parasites almost if not more than the regulatory process did. Both parties promise to help consumers and small businesses, but neither party has much credibility here.  And the Republicans are branded as the party of the financial parasite class, even though the real plutocrats are largely Democrats.

Taxes: the problem with lower taxes as a platform is you can’t starve the beast when the beast turns out to be your grandparents. Even if you think they’re racists. The war over entitlements is over; the AARP won, and it’s now time to move on to other things and let the house of cards collapse on its own. Mitt Romney ran on a bunch of things, but all the American public heard was — “We’re going to take away social security and leave you to starve to death in the gutter like an animal.”  Yes, there may someday be a time to revisit all of this, but in the short run we’re paying taxes and spending money on entitlements, and it’s time to think about what other things we might stand for.

Which brings us to everything else and, oddly, the European Union.  All the talk about the EU in the Hitchens article might seem irrelevant to Americans, but there is a similar issue in American politics, little discussed but still (I would argue) the key to understanding what’s really going on in the political world today.

Our elites are increasingly part of a global community that has little concern for or connection with our nation and little to offer except consumer culture. This is happening and has largely already happened. The only question is what to do about it, and this is a question the Republicans are largely ignoring because a glimpse under the rock gives you an uncomfortable amount of insight into why Republican politicians and pundits are basically Democrats with a slightly different regulatory and tax policy.

Ross Douthat has more in common with Paul Krugman than he has with anyone who is likely to read this.

This is the time of year when people watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and lie to themselves about the reality that, in the real world, George Bailey left his small town in upstate New York in the 1940s along with all of the other college educated people, as the manufacturing jobs and the town collapsed. What is left subsists on tourism, small scale drug trafficking, and increasingly sophisticated extraction of the remainder of the local natural resources to feed a world economy that cares about them significantly less than it cares about the inhabitants of Shenzhen, Slovakia and Chennai.

A few college professors might imagine they are rebuilding the Front Porch Republic of small town American life, but even they will mostly admit that they don’t have much in common with the folks who grew up in the college town they live in, other than nostalgia.

However, plenty of other people — more or less half of us — still live in these places, and the Republican strategy is basically to pander to them.  As opposed to the Democrats, who demonize them. The Republican strategy is ultimately the losing strategy, though, because even the 60,000 odd people who still live in Utica, NY (down from 100,000 or so in the 1960 census) know that the future is in Chengdu (population 14 million), and that Indian gambling and fracking are short term solutions at best.  And no, my point isn’t that China is “winning” and we’re losing.  No one cares much about China as a place as opposed to a profit center, and all those jobs are going to Vietnam anyway.  Or maybe that was last week.

The point is, while the Republican Party was draping itself in the flag and ostracizing the people who vote Republican but worry about a “one world government,” our economy went off shore and took much of our government with it.  It probably isn’t coming back, but pretending this never happened doesn’t help.

Which is why Ross Douthat’s prescription to save the Republican Party is more entitlements for poor white people.

What do I think the answer is? Glad you asked. First, we need to get serious about acknowledging how profoundly we’ve lost, and how seriously damaged the Republican Party and its brand have become. All those jokes that Glenn Reynolds makes about Obama and Carter? This is the Carter era for Republicans, only worse. Welcome back. Your dreams were your ticket out.

But, what next? Maybe the people in Utica need to start talking to the people in Chengdu.

Here is where more complications creep in.  There are plenty of people who talk about how America was founded as a Christian country and have a copy of the painting of George Washington praying in the snow hanging prominently on the wall in their den. But the number of these people who would vote for a genuine Dominionist candidate rapidly approaches closer to zero with each passing year, even if we define Christian?Dominionism in a way that allows girls to get jobs as lawyers and divorce their husband if they really want to.

This was never a Christian country except in the important sense that most everyone around during the first hundred years or so happened to be Protestant, until we started letting in all the Catholics. In fact, that was more or less the entire point of America from the outset — this was where you can to get away from state religions so you could have your own private theocracy on your own land. See, e.g., Utah.

I’ll tell you a secret — I love and respect the Protestants I’ve met in the right wing but, as a Catholic, I have difficulty entirely forgetting the somewhat troubled history between Catholics and Protestants which formed the crucible from which modernity emerged. The truth is that many of our national values emerged as a way of allowing space for different religious traditions to come together to work out what we might have in common in terms of values. We’ve lost track of that, some of us.

And no, I’m not saying we should become multi-cultural. Liberalism is, of course, happy to just offer as a different solution that we let people believe whatever they want, even if this means putting women in bags in New Jersey, as long as the liberals stay free to do whatever they want to do with their own time on the Upper West Side, the assumption being that those women in bags will eventually  liberate themselves and move to Manhattan just like the liberals liberated themselves from whatever small town or suburb they grew up in. They get to have the mantle of tolerance without seriously having to contend with the reality of what they are tolerating, and they get away with this because we’ve allowed the argument to be framed in terms of Christians versus Muslims. On those terms, we’re racists, and relativism wins. We need a serious critique of relativism and a values platform that is not tied to any specific religion.

I know, I know. But listen. If authentic human values are there, the Christians will show up. So will a surprising number of atheists from the Upper West Side — there are values voters there too, and the fact that they currently see those values reflected back at them from the fun house mirror of the left doesn’t mean that all is lost.

And the people in Chengdu will show up for American values if we have them to offer. Just by leaving the farm and showing up in the big city, they’re voting for American values. We need to stop letting aging hippies like Steve Jobs define what that means.

How does that work in practice? That’s the only way it does work. The Republicans got in this mess by coming up with pretty theories about the economy and sacrificing our values and all reason to those ideas. We get out of here by finding practical solutions to local problems that we have in common with people all over the world. Conservative solutions.

Let’s start by looking at something frivolous like gay marriage.  There is a serious marriage problem in this country.  It’s called “single parent households.” Gay marriage is a complete distraction from it. Democrats actually have a response to the single parent problem. In fact, most of what Democrats are is defined around a variety of policy responses to this problem, however flawed and however much they are arguably also the source of the problem in the first place: see, e.g., War on Poverty, welfare rights, WIC, public schools, Section 8, Title VII.  Republicanism has allowed itself to be defined entirely around negative responses, i.e. arguing for fewer entitlements on the theory that they encourage dependency, and resisting popular social movements deemed to be “threats” to marriage, from gay marriage to rap music.  Democrats look at the divorce rate among Republican candidates for President and are justifiably amused.

The right response? You will see a lot of variations on one proposal coming from the pundit class — concede to the changing culture. Okay, sure, but what else do we bring to the table except an argument about entitlements the other side is able to use to paint us as greedy hypocrites who actually want single mothers to starve to death? Sure, we’re feeding millions of single mothers every day at the church food bank, but America doesn’t know that, and it isn’t a political platform. And the technocratic, wonky reforms on offer (vouchers anyone?) are justifiably viewed by voters as being just another plank in an increasingly suspect, lower taxes/less regulation platform, instead of a serious attempt at reform.

The answer?  Do what the liberals did in the first place: take over the entitlement state from within. Not as a secret campaign to destroy it, but in a serious effort to reform it into a conservative solution that actually helps people. Welfare reform worked. It stopped working not because it was repealed but because the bureaucrats who run the programs figured out ways around it.

This doesn’t mean endless expansion of government, just acceptance of the idea that some government is necessary, and that government can further our values. Throwing the mentally ill out of institutions didn’t save any money; it just put a few nurses out of business and put a lot of SSI/Medicaid functionaries into business, not to mention full employment in quasi-private NGOs for a vast army of “homeless activists” and their ilk.  The doctors are just working out of a different office. It would be a better system if the people involved actually cared more about treating the mentally ill and giving them shelter than “empowering them” to spend the day masturbating in our?public libraries. And it wouldn’t necessarily be more expensive.

People all over the world are working on these same problems, and they aren’t all coming up with liberal solutions.

There is a lot more to say here, but I don’t want to get too caught up in specifics. One more example — immigration. The dirty secret with immigration is that there are many dirty secrets.  It’s not just people with nannies and lawn boys who benefit from cheap labor.  Small business owners benefit; family farms benefit.  Even some of what’s left of the “white working class,” i.e. the contractor who bids your home renovation project and then sends a bunch of Ecuadorians to do the actual work, has a stake.  Pretty much everyone who doesn’t benefit is suffering from illegal immigration and in more ways that people realize.  Topping that list is the countries the immigrants flee from.  Also hurting: anyone — anywhere on the economic spectrum who follows the law, because they have to compete with everyone who doesn’t.

The obvious solution is to punish people who hire illegals. We already have a bureaucracy in place to do this, called the Internal Revenue Service. Another dirty secret – defanging the IRS, a major Republican initiative, had the consequence of vastly increasing the amount of cheating going on, in this area and others. If and when we seriously attempt going back to enforcement instead of collusion in fraud, we will find that it is much easier to enforce laws that impact American small business owners than it is to enforce laws that disproportionately impact impoverished immigrants with little or no property, who came here from countries where the rule of law is notional at best. I’m not saying we stop enforcing the immigration law, I’m just saying the FIRST thing to do at the federal level is enforce the tax code and the rest of the existing law, and to do that we need to take back control of the bureaucracies.

Yes, that’s the easy part and leaves us with the hard part is deciding how much immigration we want and finding authentic and convincing ways to justify attempts to limit immigration as motivated by something other than racism. I didn’t say the Left was going away. But being honest is a good start on the road to a values-based policy argument, isn’t it?

Which leaves us with taxes. We’ve already talked about regulation — take over the institutions and make them (more) rational, conservative and human. But in the end we’re not going to be able to ignore the fact that putting people into government puts people in institutions where they have a built-in incentive to obtain and spend other people’s money.

Let’s have some ground rules, though. First of all, anyone who tells you they know how to adjust the tax code in order to create jobs (looking at you here, Mitt) is lying, and everyone knows it. Second, let’s admit that no proposal for adjusting the tax code in the abstract exists in the abstract — any change to the status quo will help some people, hurt other people, and have some uncertain impact on the economy. For example, Obama’s never seriously proposed “Buffett tax” was really a proposal for a new tax on capital gains administered in some vaguely defined way like the Alternative Minimum Tax. Pretending that this would have no impact on the economy because this is just free cash lying around for the taking is disingenuous. Let’s not be that way.

Second, here’s a modest proposal. Maybe, for right now, as difficult as this may be for some of us, the tax code is the last thing we should be talking about. Maybe we should be talking about how to spend the money we get, and some of this talk needs to be positive proposals for things to do with government money that help people, that?encourage private citizens to help people, and that generally accord with our values. If there are specific things we can recommend about the tax code that will help, by all means. But ordinary people hear the Republican Party talk about reforming the tax code and they think, for good reasons as well as bad, about rich people screwing the system, entitlements going away, and the end of their mortgage interest deduction. Tax reduction was a winning strategy once upon a time. It isn’t any more.

Again, I’m not talking about new entitlements or any of the big plans and schemes you see coming from the left wing of the party. I’m talking about local problem solving with a global perspective, informed by real values.

Yes, I know. The free market will save us. Bureaucracy is the root of all evil. There’s a war on Christmas. We’ve been peddling that for years, and where has it gotten us? I’m not even saying it’s wrong. I’m saying we need to stop worrying about ideology and start working on putting our values to work making this country a better place to live in.

What did I hear you say? The Tea Party? The Tea Party is complicated.  Social conservatives and the libertarians both showed up, because both groups feel disenfranchised by a party that is increasingly only interested in propping up “serious,” centrist, Democrat-lite candidates. They’ve been reading the Constitution and understand that marginal tax rates are not the beginning and end of the problem. It’s the rest of us that need to catch up.

One more example, just to be clear about what I am and am not saying here: abortion.  Roe v. Wade (more cogently Casey v. Planned Parenthood) is the law, and it isn’t going anywhere without a shake-up of the judiciary much more extensive and complicated than one side or the other replacing a justice or three. Contrary to what might be believed in places like Washington D.C. and New York City, while we sit around and parse the opinions of political candidates about whether there should be a rape exception to a law criminalizing abortion that does not exist and will not exist and in the real world for the most part never actually existed, the people who are serious about opposing abortion moved on and started doing stuff.  They didn’t just give in; they gave up on grand strategies, and they’re out in the wilderness actually doing stuff, marching through the institutions, changing people’s minds.

That’s why you haven’t heard so much from them lately. The rest of us need to get with the program.

 

 

In Florida Political Press Today . . .

They’re Just Not That Into You: Republicans And The Hispanic Vote

November 20, 2012

By Tina Trent

Election day in Tampa was like the calm after a cancelled hurricane warning.  Dire predictions of long lines and voters turned away at the polls did not materialize.  Outside polling places, a few Tea Partiers squared off against droves of professional activists from the alphabet soup of leftist organizations: AFL-CIO members (do they ever have jobs to go to?), National Lawyer’s Guild lawyers, and all those Democratic PACs the media studiously ignored, including the in-your-face pro-Obama 1911 PAC.

read the rest here

They’re Just Not That Into You: Post-Election Reading Suggestions

One might consider sending this self-help book to Republicans imagining that they might out-pander Democrats for Latino votes.  Or, less painfully, they could read Mickey Kaus’ (yes, that Mickey Kaus) excellent advice.

Meanwhile, in the comments, Mr. Mittens weighs in on the suggestion posted earlier this week to reflect on the election by reading Edward Gibbon’s Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire:

there was only one form of christianity at the point in time gibbon was writing about- and he went on the criticize the entire religion especially as used by the state or a prince to advance secular power over people- how it was used to deprive people of the freedoms they were guaranteed as roman citizens.

he mentions also specifically the weakening of the soldier class by the influx of non-roman troops for pay but does make special mention of some christians not living for this world but the next to the point of marching into courts of law and demanding to be martyred. he was pointing out their detachment from the world and secular concerns.

he himself was a Roman Catholic convert (which was then an act of treason) until his horrified family dragged him home from Oxford and shuttled him off to the Continent to be ‘corrected’ by a Calvinist minister. instead, he learned french and latin then wrote ‘decline and fall’ which was lambasted primarily for his pointedly very age of reason/rationalist/enlightenment negative view of christianity. the sections specifically dealing with christianity were banned (along with the more salacious descriptions of roman depravity which he was also highly critical of and felt contributed to the fall).

when obama was elected for the first time, i was drawn to gibbon again. gibbon would completely recognize the 911 of our tragic situation. we’re well past decline. i understand that sort of detachment now- i want none of this. it’s an american group suicide-shouldn’t we all be dressed in warm up suits and trainers , waiting for the next comet to shoot by?

“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”

“The principles of a free constitution are irrecoverably lost when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.”

so many relevant gibbon quotes…

it is despairingly ironic the the first volume of ‘decline and fall’was published in the year america gained her liberty-1776. the founders saw too what gibbon saw-a democracy is lost and slides into despotism when people become irresponsible and just vote themselves or demand free crap. one can’t legislate for people to want to be free- give them a cell phone and an EBT card and they’ll happily go back to being ruled by tyrants especially if that tyrant allows them to enact revenge upon others.  — Mr. Mittens

Heaven’s Gate Members: Pinning Their Hopes on Comet Hale-Bopp

Myron Magnet Pops a Gasket

He’s actually writing about Obama’s re-election:

  I can’t help remembering that in the course of my adult life, the Britain I first knew half a century ago has run through its allotment of ruin and is now almost unrecognizably transformed from the stiff-upper-lip, never-say-die redoubt of fair play and free-born Englishmen of very recent stereotype. Now it is the land where snarling, shaven-headed louts beget still more louts upon a succession of compliant, abused sluts as clueless as they about what makes a meaningful and decent life; the land where stately ancient towns turn into nighttime circuses of drunken, vomit-smeared degradation, as young people purposely divest themselves of their human rationality and civility; the land where, to show their pride in a National Health Service they think proves their country’s unique compassion and social equality, the curable sick obediently die in accordance with official protocols that ensure that outcome; the land that jails citizens for free speech it deems “hate speech”; the land that, even when it had Royal Navy ships mightier than Lord Nelson could imagine, had sailors so cowardly and undutiful as to let Iranians in outboard motorboats take them captive without firing a shot, making the great ships useless.

Read the rest here.

Post-Election C.P.R. from Sultan Knish

If you don’t know Sultan Knish, you need to read this:

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Game Called on Account of Darkness

 

Posted by Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish

A week ago we sat waiting out the storm when the lights flickered and went out. One moment we were sitting in a lit room, the television flashing picture and sound, the internet feeding news, and then we were in the dark.

At first we expected the lights to come on at any minute. Any hour. Any day. And then living without water or power, day after day, it seemed as if the light would never come back.

And then, unexpectedly, after almost a week, they did.

The lights have gone out in America now. They may come back. They may not. It’s up to us. No one is going to come help us do it. Other countries have America. We have ourselves.

Readers will notice that this site did not predict any Romney landslides. It did not engage in empty cheers or promise that he would win half the country and restore moral leadership. That’s not what this site is about. This site is about the hard truths and now as we sit in the dark, let’s pass out some of those around the room.

We can blame Chris Christie, Sandy or Romney’s last debate performance. But let’s look at the actual election.

Romney outlasted the primaries because he was the most electable. Two blue state politicians, as bland and inoffensive as possible, ran on the economy, not on war or social issues, and managed to convince many Democrats that they could fix the economy. He got a white turnout to match that of Ronald Reagan and crowded rallies. And none of it was enough.

Romney had an excellent machine. But Obama had the bigger machine that was more than a collection of SuperPACs. It was the urban political machine, with its suburban tentacles, fed by taxpayer money and integrated into every budget. The time when it could be beaten the old way may be passing.

The people who came out to worship Obama stayed home. Romney’s rallies drew big crowds. But when all was said and done, the lines of people who feed off the political machine were there, and the handlers of the machine cast their multiple votes and carried off their manifold frauds because their own private economy depended on it.

Every time people ask me why the left has such a grip on this country, my answer is because they worked for it. It’s the answer that most people don’t want to hear, but it’s true. The left has been planning this for a while. They have been playing the long game, building the infrastructure and indoctrinating generations. And to beat them, we will have to do the same thing.

The right is 40 years behind the left and it remains a disorganized collection of potentials seeking a compass point. The “right” that got behind Mitt Romney consists of millionaires who want fewer regulations and easier imports from China, of social conservatives who are mainly ignored, except when voter turnout becomes an issue, libertarians who want more freedoms, and the non-ideological small business middle class and the struggling working class sensing their country and way of life slipping away from them.

Those groups could be welded together into a movement every bit as tribal and protective of its interests, capable of engaging in collective action on behalf of its own interests, as the urban machine vote. And that may already be happening with the Tea Party. But the counter-revolution of the bourgeoisie isn’t here yet. And there’s plenty of work to do to make it a reality.

The Republican establishment had its shot, twice. It put up moderate non-objectionable candidates. And it lost. It has no policies, beyond keeping the system going, and it has no ideas and no agenda, besides winning. It is a decadent political class fused with an even more decadent pundit class that views elections like these as a game, not as a life-and-death matter. It makes up lies and tells them to its base and hopes that the base will then forgive and forget being lied to and used one more time.

It’s not done, by any stretch of the imagination. Right now, Christie is patting himself on the back and drawing up a list of advisers for a 2016 run. And a dozen equally loathsome personalities are doing the same thing. And they may even get their way. But that doesn’t really matter. This is a long game and to win it, we have to think long term.

Moderation does not win elections. If you think it does, go look at the smirking face of Barack Obama. And then imagine him running for office back when Bill Ayers was building bombs. America’s new rulers were once considered far more extreme and unpopular than the Tea Party. Embracing radical and unpopular ideas is not a losing strategy. It is a short term losing strategy and a long term winning strategy so long as your ideas can be used to build a movement capable of turning those ideas into an organizing force.

The question is whether a right-wing movement can emerge that will make the vast majority of small businessmen in this country feel as negatively about a Democratic president as welfare voters feel about a Republican president?

This election has come close to testing that proposition. The time has come to test it further. The left went after gun owners, the way that it went after business owners, and the NRA used its hostility to build a powerful coalition of gun owners who broke the will of the elected left and made them turn on easier prey.

The key is organization. The left built its machines by convincing entire groups that they had a binding interest in a reflexive opposition to Republicans under a Democratic umbrella. Consolidating an opposition based on the same principles, that same sense that its financial oxygen will be cut if the Democrats win, is doable. But it cannot begin and end with the financials.

This is a cultural war and living in denial of that is senseless. Those social issues? They belong on the table. Because the alternative is that the table will belong to the left and we will be stuck arguing the level of regulation that is appropriate in a society whose entire moral imperative is based on the values of regulation.

Most people, left and right, want a society based on values. Opting out of the values debate means that we lose by default. Yes some of that is unpopular. It will make some elections unwinnable. Much like supporting gay marriage twenty years ago. The left kept going and it won because that is how the game is played.

These are all building blocks, but they are still scattered pieces. The right I am describing is based on the left. It is the mirror image, a counter-revolutionary pushback against the left’s intrusions into the lives, values and work of its people. And that isn’t enough. A counter-revolution that is reactive will fail. It is why the Romney campaign was doomed from the start. It is why the Tea Party isn’t enough. It’s not enough to be against things. It’s not enough to be for things because they are the opposite of the things that the people you are at war with are for.

A movement needs a deeper sense of passion. It must be fueled by a certainty that it holds the answer to the problems of its society and its civilization. It must believe that its existence would be necessary even if the left did not exist. And it must be willing to do anything to win.

This is not a mere battle of elections. The left occupied and won other fields long before it had a shot at doing anything like taking power. It is first of all a battle of ideas. And it is a battle of structures. And that means a conservative cultural war will be necessary and conservative structures must be built within the system. Rather than making arguments, we must create facts on the ground.

That’s a tall order and we are way behind. And tactics like these are not very palatable to many of us, because they resemble what the left does. They would rather expect people to naturally do the right thing. And that’s nice. I would very much like people to do the right thing. I would like to stop by one of those long lines that I saw today at the polls, almost as long as the one for free government stuff, and show them a graph of the national debt and the debt that their children will owe. I would like to think that it would change their minds. But I know better… and so do you.

The left got this far by having a plan. We will either find a plan or we will be gone. America will go the way of Latin America, with gated communities, conservative oligarchs, violent ghettos and red politicians screaming about power to the people. There will be no law, just men with guns and newspapers, and generals in convenient positions, and suitcases full of cocaine in the right hands. If you like this system, it’s probably only a generation away. Given enough immigration from south of the border– maybe less. And then California turns into Brazil and America turns into California.

We can stop this, but we won’t do it without building a movement that can stand up to the left, without assembling machines that will bring together many of the same people who voted for Obama, and we won’t do it if we are too afraid of the consequences of fighting a culture war with the left to get started.

It is dark now. On my side of the coast, the time approaches 1 AM. The dark end of one day and the beginning of a new day. It all depends on how you look at things.

Revolutions are not born out of success, they are born out of despair. They rise out of the dark hours of the night. They come from the understanding that all the other options are running out. Sometimes you have to fall down to rise and sometimes you have to hit bottom, to gather one last breath and fight to reach the top.

This is still a wonderful country. It is the finest place that this civilization has produced. Despite the events of the last day, it is worth fighting for.

Tomorrow: Post-Election Autopsy

Something Else Barack Obama and Bernadine Dohrn Share, Besides Secrets with Terrorist Bill Ayers . . .

. . . they find vicious murders of women pretty funny.

Bernadine Dohrn in December 1969, joking about the Manson family murder of Sharon Tate:

Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in pig Tate’s belly. Wild!  Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson!

Barack Obama in October 2012, joking about O.J. Simpson’s attempt to flee justice after murdering his wife Nicole:

“You didn’t know this, but for all you moms and kids out there, you should have confidence that finally somebody is cracking down on Big Bird,” Obama said, alluding to the famous O.J. Simpson chase scene. “Elmo has been seen in a white Suburban. He’s driving for the border.”

Sharon Tate’s blood on her living room wall

Nicole Simpson’s blood on her backyard walkway

Who jokes about things like this?

Sharon Tate was nearly nine months pregnant at the time she was killed.  She had been stripped and tortured before death, a rope strung around her neck and hung from a beam.  She begged the killers to temporarily spare her life, kidnap her, and let her deliver her baby before they killed her.  They laughed and killed her anyway.  She was buried with the body of her deceased son cradled in her arms.

After Tex Watson stabbed Tate to death, Susan Atkins stuck her finger in Tate’s wounds and wrote the word “pig” on a wall with her blood, an act that delighted Bernadine Dohrn when she heard about it.  Dohrn and other Weathermen adopted a four-fingered “fork” salute to signify the act of stabbing Tate in her pregnant stomach.

Bernadine Dohrn at the infamous Flint War Council, where she praised Sharon Tate’s killers

Still not funny: Dohrn, now a “Children’s Rights Law Professor,” smiling with her FBI Most Wanted poster

The 1969 Manson murders (five dead at Tate’s house, two more victims the next night) were intended to start a “race war” between blacks and whites. Ringleader Charles Manson hoped that pinning the brutal crimes on black radicals would anger whites enough to foment all-out war between the races.  Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers shared Manson’s vision of an America where blacks wreaked bloody vengeance on white society.  Dohrn’s “fork salute” was a celebration of such imagined violence: a proxy race war acted out by white hippies on a pregnant white woman’s body in the name of “civil rights.”

O.J. Simpson celebrates his wrongful acquittal

Twenty-five years later, the acquittal of O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman was similarly celebrated.  Remember where you were?  Was anybody cheering?  Why were they cheering?

Ronald Goldman’s father and sister, stunned after the acquittal

The acquittal of O.J. Simpson was viewed by many on the Left as a sort of transhistorical balancing of the ledger, despite the warping of the scales of justice needed to achieve it.  Pick a body — pick two bodies — string them up, then give a get-out-of-jail-free card to the killer because of his race.  If the Southern Poverty Law Center had any honor, they would record O.J.’s acquittal as a hate crime alongside old cases of Klansmen who avoided prison for similar crimes.  It was a moment of deep division for the American people and a source of glee only for those who take pleasure in sowing such divisions.  There was nothing funny about it, just as no sane human being would find anything funny about sticking a fork into Sharon Tate’s pregnant stomach.

Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, proudly reminiscing about their days “underground” to a groveling reporter

Thomas Sowell recently described Obama this way:

If you want to know what community organizers do, this is it — rub people’s emotions raw to hype their resentments.

Ironically, he said this before Obama told his O.J. Simpson joke.

 Being “post-racial” doesn’t mean that you get to joke about a murder with grim race overtones that tore the country apart.

Especially if you’re the president.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And then, there’s this:

Calif. Parole Board OKs Manson Follower’s Release

LOS ANGELES October 5, 2012 (AP)  A parole board panel has recommended the release of a former Charles Manson follower imprisoned for 40 years for a double murder Manson engineered, but it’s not the last hurdle Bruce Davis will face as he seeks his freedom.
Bruce Davis: helped slaughter two people in 1969, but he did take classes in prison
Davis has been recommended for parole before.  Then-Governor Schwarzenegger rejected the recommendation.  Governor Jerry Brown will likely be making a similar decision very soon.  The last time Davis was recommended for parole, the California Parole Board argued that he deserved to be free because “he had no recent disciplinary problems and had completed education and self-help programs.”
Education and self-help programs.  Like this one.
According to his lawyer, Davis is also an unusually exemplary person who ministers to fellow prisoners and possesses special insight and so on.  They all do.  Prisons are filled with magical, entirely misunderstood people: it’s like a cross between Sound of Music and The Green Mile in there:

Davis became a born-again Christian in prison and ministered to other inmates, married a woman he met through the prison ministry, and has a grown daughter. The couple recently divorced . . . Davis also earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy of religion.

Well that’s nice.  He also helped torture two men to death.  But, meh.  Bygones.  The last thing the parole board wants to do is dig up the past:

“While your behavior was atrocious, your crimes did occur 43 years ago,” parole board member Jeff Ferguson told Davis, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Elsewhere, in that unfortunately named thing called The Washington Monthly, the blog boards are incandescent with the thought that we would be so crude as a people to even imagine incarcerating anyone for life, particularly for the crime of merely torturing and killing two lesser-known, non-movie-stars.  One commenter offered the following justification for releasing Davis:

[He] didn’t participate in the more sensationalistic murders but rather only those of musician Gary Hinman and the caretaker at the Spahn Ranch, Donald Shea.

You know.  B-listers.

I’ve been predicting this day for years: now that the Left has priced the death penalty out of existence, their new, all hands on deck mission will be to eliminate Life Without Parole.  It is already presumed, in many circles, that believing in life sentences is a worse crime than murder itself.  Soon, the only way to end up behind bars will be to recommend sending people like Bernadine Dohrn or Charles Manson there.