On April 15, 1943, tens of millions of Americans sat down at a broad mahogany desk or, many more of them, at a rickety kitchen table, and wrote out checks to the federal government. Most of those Americans wrote checks in the four or five figures, a few of the wealthiest in the six figures.
That day was a bonding moment for a chesty, prosperous nation, a moment when citizens from all stations came together and divvied up the bill for public services. It was also a republicanizing civic experience. Every taxpaying American, from the lawn guy to the industrial mogul, found the same two questions at the tip of his tongue. The first was, “Wow! How did my tax bill get so high?” And the second was, “Wow! What did I get for all of that money?” Both of those questions were potent, small-r republican questions. April 15, even more than religious holidays or the Fourth of July, had become the most conservative day of the calendar year.
That would never happen again, of course. The statists of all parties, as Hayek might have put it, made sure that it wouldn’t. Soft statists from the stupid party and hard statists from the evil party conjured up a swift, sure, bipartisan solution to a problem that no citizen had to that point detected. For all subsequent years, the tax bill for every American would be sliced into 52 bite-sized pieces, after which employers would be coerced into stripping tax revenues off the top before cutting an employee’s weekly paycheck. Never again would an American citizen feel the sandpaper scrape of hard-earned tax dollars passing through his fingers. Never again would an American taxpayer add his voice to the deafening chorus demanding answers to those two questions. The stealth phrase “take-home pay” would soon infiltrate the language and, as between the citizen and his government, it was now manifestly clear who would get paid first.
In the Museum of Modern Statism, which will one day break ground on the Washington Mall, an alcove should be reserved for the man or woman, or quite possibly, the committee that came up with this ingenious scheme to separate more Americans from more tax dollars with less resistance. (For the alcove, my mind’s eye suggests a bust of a man bearing close resemblance to Andrew McCabe. Just a thought.)
Another political development of like consequence rolled out over several decades, beginning with First Lady Hillary Clinton and consolidating under President Barack Obama.
For reasons now forgotten, I spent a few years helping to build a political organization in Nassau County, a big, fast-growing suburb of New York City. We were pretty good at it. With Nassau running up huge GOP majorities, New York State was led for a time by a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and two U.S. senators, all of whom were elected Republicans. (Our county committee proudly passed around a story describing ours as a “political machine led by one Jew, two WASPs, and ten thousand Italians.” For us political machinists, this story fell into the category of “too good to correct.”)
Our secret sauce was to recruit for leadership in every town, of which there were dozens sprawled across the vast county, a prominent family physician. “Prominent” because he saw lots of patients, all of whom had invested in him both financially and psychologically. “Family” because as a general practitioner he would come to know not only mom and dad but the kids, too. “Physician” because he was one of the most trusted men in town, the only man in a prim suburb whom neighbors would allow to poke and prod their naked bodies.
More salient than these surface attributes, the town doctor was a fiercely independent businessman. He did responsibility-accepting, BS-rejecting, profit-seeking, result-based work. He didn’t know it yet, but he was a born Republican leader.
Soon thereafter, predictably, he became a target. Mrs. Clinton, in her role as the overperforming spouse of an elected official, tried to run town doctors out of business. Health care for all, as she proposed to contrive it, meant private practice for none. Despite her tireless efforts, or perhaps in some measure because of them, Mrs. Clinton managed to scare the bejesus out of the American people and her campaign to nationalize health care came up short. But all, alas, was not lost. After unleashing the shock troops of Left activism — the tort lawyers — Mrs. Clinton secured a significant political victory: She softened up the doctors. Her tort lawyers distracted them with malpractice suits, squeezed them with rising insurance premiums, and intimidated them with reputational attacks. Staunchly Republican doctors began to appreciate the subtle charms of bipartisan solutions.
Barack Obama finished the job. After disarming the pharmaceutical companies, he demobilized the doctors. Obama, again, failed to deliver on his stated goals of universal health care at basement prices, but, again, he achieved substantial political gains. Consult your own experience. If it coincides with mine, your primary-care physicians, one after the other, went to work for a hospital, folded into a multi-practice consortium, or hired themselves out to some large health-care bureaucracy: The compliance python had crushed the prominent family physician. These doctors were soon converted from independent businessmen into nonprofit executives. Over time, and in thousands of towns across the country, the most trusted man in the Freedom Party became a stalwart of the administrative state.
Now to COVID-19, yet another crisis that Left activists are determined not to waste. This past year has been a radicalizing civic experience. Families have splintered, breaking down along generational lines. Church attendance has plummeted. Voluntary organizations have withered. In many communities, private services for the young and the old, the weak and the halt, have simply vanished.
Beyond these incalculable social costs — costs borne disproportionately by the Freedom Party — there have been huge and ominous financial costs. The decline of the dollar in international markets tells us that we have spent too much; that some smart people think we will be unable to pay our bills; and that — here’s the ominous part — it’s time to consider swapping out the dollar for the renminbi as the world’s reserve currency. That would be the tipping point of all tipping points. (The radical wing of the Democratic Party, the loud wing, has been silent in this matter. They profess to believe that some redundantly modernized monetary theory will float the boat.)
Beyond these widely distributed costs of the pandemic, consider the targeted measures implemented by blue-state Democrats and complicit Republicans. Have the authoritarians imposed harsh lockdown measures on tech executives, teachers unions, debtors, rioters, media organizations, government bureaucrats, Hollywood producers, academic types, talking heads, tort lawyers, and tax-advantaged activists? No? Well, have they imposed harsh measures on merchants, savers, working couples, amateur athletes, salesmen, churchgoing Christians, synagoguegoing Jews, police officers, parents, students, clergy, and senior technophobes? They have?
Indeed, so. The groups hit hardest by the lockdowns happen to be the constituent elements of the Freedom Party and, to those of you who choose to see this division as the work of coincidence, we say that you are sweet souls and you have our concern.
Take the egregious case of restaurants. Immigrants who come to America for the right reasons open restaurants for good reasons: (1) they can leverage their intellectual property (Mom’s recipes); (2) the kids will never go hungry; (3) it is still in some measure a cash business; and (4) they can launch and grow their business with a loyal, hardworking, and underpaid staff — the kids and their cousins. Immigrant restaurants have been for more than a century a first-class ticket to the American dream.
Here in Florida where I live, we are blessed not only with the legacy restaurants — French, Italian, Chinese, and Mexican — but with more recent arrivals, including Cuban, Haitian, Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, and most recently of all, Venezuelan. These restaurants are run by independent businesspeople, who ripen over time into prime prospects for the Freedom Party. (The Puerto Ricans present a special case. Since the turn of the century, a million Puerto Ricans have settled in the Orlando area. That’s more than New York, more than San Juan. It’s been a veritable diaspora from an island with three million people. To overstate but accost the central point: The early arrivals came for opportunity and started their own businesses. The later arrivals, after Hurricane Maria, came for social services and became welfare clients. To read the national press, you would think that “Hispanics” are a fungible lot.) The Associated Press reports that, across the country, 110,000 restaurants have closed during the pandemic. That’s an astounding number, a tragic number. Not one of those families came to America aspiring to become government dependents.
I recount these episodes to drive home the obvious point. It is not only in war — when the patriotic citizen cedes ground carelessly to the national-security state — that individual freedoms shrink and shrivel. It is not only in bursts of ideological exuberance — the New Deal, the Great Society, the Biden Infrastructure-Boondoggle-To-Be-Named-Later — that the state advances. As every American knows in his hips, to borrow Willmoore Kendall’s timeless phrase, the state never sleeps. Sometimes slowly, sometimes with gathering speed, sometimes on cat’s paws, sometimes with the banging of rhetorical pots and pans, the state advances. The era of big government is never over.
Which makes it surprising, and troubling, to hear the conversation rising in Zoom confabs, and extended in political journals, to the effect that conservative writers, even “conservative leaders,” have lost patience with libertarians. The contention is that our cause has been damaged or even contaminated by libertarian excess, as if libertarians were a problematic faction in need of ideological cleansing. I’m not clear as to precisely what “cause” is referenced here, but some of this talk is surely disingenuous: It is no more than strawman-swatting to conflate healthy libertarian impulses with the handful of capital-L voters who march to the polls with perverse intention to tip close elections from the slightly less statist candidate to the slightly more statist candidate. To the extent that the current talk is substantive, however, and seeks to drive libertarians from our coalition, it is both amnesiac and misguided.
I have spoken here of the Freedom Party, by which I mean to denote that once dominant, now receding community of Americans who cherish individual liberty: those Americans who have been willing to defend the tiny but sacred space within which we are permitted to exercise our God-given rights as promised by the Declaration and secured by the Constitution; those Americans whose philosophical yearnings have been fire-started by the clarity of Locke, the passion of Jefferson, the poeticism of Oakeshott.
Freedom-loving Americans. We share a long and honorable tradition. At the very birth of our nation, the 56 brave men who pledged their lives and their fortunes — assuming, correctly, that many of them would lose both — did not take on mortal risk in the cause of a levelling statism, or some form of socially engineered equality. They took on the certain perils, and hoped for the uncertain rewards, of a robustly free society pursued in the cause of individual liberty.
As of course did the founders of the conservative movement. Russell Kirk may have begun with his quirky individualism, William Buckley with his Nockian anti-statism, and Frank Meyer with his hard-shell ex-communism, but they all took it as a given that conservatives would begin by layering their own fusionist priorities atop a foundational commitment to personal freedom.
The hour is late, but we are still the Freedom Party.
Category: Wisconsin politics
The nation’s top infectious disease expert just urged schools to reopen.
We hope school officials in Madison and across Wisconsin were listening — those who have kept most of their students at home for online learning during the pandemic.
School officials should be ready to open for the second semester in late January, at least for elementary school students. Districts also should share their plans with the public. School officials always can push back their opening dates based on what’s happening in their communities. Not every school and situation is the same.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s “This Week” last Sunday that in-person classes should be “the default position.”
The spread of COVID-19 “among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected,” Fauci said. “So let’s try to get the kids back.”
The potentially deadly virus is more than a public health threat. It’s a detriment to learning, especially for children whose parents don’t have flexibility with their jobs or the latest technology in their homes to help students with their studies.
Online classes are hurting math scores and widening achievement gaps along racial and economic lines, a nonprofit research group reported last week. The NWEA’s analysis of data from more than 4 million third- through eighth-graders across the country showed student progress is slipping. The researchers also worried their study underestimates the impact on minority and poor students, who have been disproportionately stuck at home for school.
That concern definitely applies to Madison, where more than half of students are of color and nearly half are economically disadvantaged. The district absolutely should figure out how to follow Fauci’s advice.
While gathering students in classrooms presents some risk for infection, leaving them at home contributes to social isolation, abuse, depression and hunger, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That’s especially true for younger students. Schools can help keep students safe from the virus by isolating them in small groups, separating desks with plexiglass and, for middle and high school students, requiring masks. Parents should still be given an online option.
New York City’s progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio reversed course last week by embracing in-person classes — despite a higher percentage of New York City residents testing positive for COVID. The nation’s largest school district plans to reopen school buildings to many of its youngest students Monday.
“We feel confident that we can keep schools safe,” de Blasio told The Associated Press.
Republicans who control the Wisconsin Assembly want to require schools here to open by late January. We share the Legislature’s urgency. But those decisions should be left to local officials.
State leaders can help ease health concerns among teachers and other school staff by prioritizing them for vaccines, ahead of the general public. Vaccines should start arriving for health professionals and the elderly later this month and expand from there.
That doesn’t mean the virus should be taken lightly. A Madison student at East High School, which has relied on remote learning, died last month after an apparent “COVID-related illness,” according to the district. Cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin remain high, though they have been falling for the last two weeks.
Schools should prioritize what’s best for children — not what’s best for teachers unions or business interests. And according to Fauci and other health experts, that means opening schools for in-person classes sooner than later.
Who has been pushing schools to keep closed? Teacher unions. Which proves that Gov. Scott Walker didn’t go far enough in Act 10. He should have pushed to eliminate teacher unions.
Californians live under some of the tightest Covid-19 restrictions in the nation. So when Gov. Gavin Newsom was recently caught without a mask at a crowded table for 12 at a posh Napa Valley eatery, he instantly became the poster boy for the “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” crowd.
He’s hardly the only one. Not long after Mr. Newsom’s visit to the French Laundry was exposed, Californians read about a delegation of their lawmakers who’d jetted to a Maui resort for a conference as everyone else was being told to avoid nonessential travel. New Yorkers earlier learned that Mayor Bill de Blasio was working out at his favorite Park Slope YMCA right as he was shutting down the city. And of course Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made headlines for sneaking off to get their hair done when barbershops and salons were closed to everyone else.
Here’s the first thing I saw on Twitter this morning. I promise this is real and not a parody:
So she’s delighted to learn that indeed they cannot leave the house to walk the dog or to exercise.
This is for everyone’s health, of course. Because a society can be run successfully when it’s allowed to operate, then suddenly shut down, then started again, and then shut down again. No problems there!
Second, I wanted to share a few charts with you. The heroic Ian Miller (@ianmSC) has more of them.
The CDC credited masks with bringing down Arizona’s curve. Are they planning a follow-up statement now? (I’m just playing with you with that question: we already know the answer.) And here’s New Mexico as well, for good measure:
Here’s New Jersey. The governor there said masks played a significant role in bringing their curve down. And it’s true that this is one of the rare charts in which that story at least has a surface plausibility. The problem is that there’s a right-hand side to that chart now:
Then there’s Minnesota, which has had all kinds of crazy restrictions, and Florida, which was mostly open for a while before becoming completely open on September 25. Isn’t it odd that their case counts are the opposite of what the hysteria would lead you to expect?
And finally, here are three states that believe in science! That’s funny: I guess by an interesting coincidence they all just abandoned their sciency strategies at exactly the same time (because remember: rising case counts are always somebody’s fault!):
In short, the world looks nothing — as in nothing at all — like it should if the cartoon version of the virus and the government responses were correct. And yet people continue to believe it.
And not only do they believe it: but they shame and condemn you if you don’t believe it.
Why, you’re “selfish”!
I’ll never forget, earlier this year, when people protested lockdowns because their livelihoods were being destroyed, everything they’d devoted their lives to was being taken away, and their kids were suffering very badly — and the lockdowners, being the compassionate lovers of mankind they always claim to be, responded, “You just want a haircut, you selfish person.”
Wisconsin’s mask mandate has worked so well that COVID diagnoses have increased 514 percent since it took effect Aug. 1. Now Gov. Tony Evers is extending it somewhere into January. Perhaps by then everyone in the state will have it. And yet most Wisconsinites appear petrified to dare question the people who are supposed to be representing them about why failed policy is allowed to continue.
In a televised address [Tuesday] Evers announced he has signed an executive order advising, not mandating Wisconsinites to stay home.
So, please, cancel the happy hours, dinner parties, sleepovers, and playdates at your home. And if a friend or family member invites you over, offer to hang out virtually instead.
And unfortunately, with the holidays just around the corner, we recommend that you plan to celebrate just with your own household. You can still invite others to join virtually, but we advise you not to go to any gatherings with people who are not in your immediate home.
Has there ever been a wimpier, more useless governor in Wisconsin’s history?
Evers’ advice came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, apparently staffed by unmarried orphans.
This is what Evers’ press people sent out Tuesday night:
Gov. Tony Evers tonight delivered a primetime address, calling for unity and working together in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. …
As COVID-19 continues to surge across the state, Gov. Evers announced Executive Order #94, which includes new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. Executive Order #94 advises Wisconsinites to stay home, urges precautions Wisconsinites should take to stay safe if they have to leave their home, and encourages businesses to take additional steps to protect workers, customers, and the surrounding community.
And Evers said …
It’s not safe to go out, it’s not safe to have others over—it’s just not safe. And it might not be safe for a while yet.
So, please, cancel the happy hours, dinner parties, sleepovers, and playdates at your home. And if a friend or family member invites you over, offer to hang out virtually instead.
And unfortunately, with the holidays just around the corner, we recommend that you plan to celebrate just with your own household. You can still invite others to join virtually, but we advise you not to go to any gatherings with people who are not in your immediate home.
It should have been obvious by now, but Evers is the weakest governor this state has had in memory. I guess that’s what happens when your big effort is slapped down by the state Supreme Court and your relationship with the Legislature is so bad that everything you propose is dead on arrival. Democrats got Joe Biden Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes (by hook or crook, as the saying goes), but the rest of the election was not a ringing success for Democrats, unless you consider trimming the GOP majority in the state Assembly from 63 to 61 a success. (While losing two Senate seats in the process.)
The thing is that what Evers says, proposes or even does doesn’t matter. The coronavirus doesn’t respect state lines or national borders. Until a vaccine is in wide use, nothing is going to stopm or even slow down, the coronavirus. Nothing. (Including a change in presidential leadership.)
I wonder at what point state Democrats are going to start thinking about running someone not named Evers for governor in 2022.
On Facebook yesterday someone posted this, with the command “Everyone needs to read this.”
So, for those who slavishly follow dictates from others, here is Mitch Albom, of “Tuesdays with Morrie” fame, who wrote this on Election Day:
To be honest, I am less concerned with what we do Tuesday than what we do Wednesday, Thursday, and every day thereafter. My biggest fear isn’t who sits in the Oval Office come January; if the rest of us keep conducting ourselves the way we have been the last six months, it won’t make a difference.
We have more than taken sides in America. We have tunneled moats. In the name of “our way” we have demeaned, denigrated, destroyed. We’ve lost friends, alienated families, split our communities by lawn signs. We have hurt one another, emotionally and even sometimes physically. Yet far from looking at our guilty hands in regret, we continue to make fists and shake them across the great divide.
Is this who we want to be?
Let me start in my own backyard. The media. I used to be so proud of this business. I would defend it to any critic. I’d point to the need for an independent press as the only thing standing between big power and big money running rampant over the citizenry.
Now it seems we are running alongside them.
Some of us are even carrying their banners.
The partisanship of the news has never been worse. Subtlety is a memory. Asking for balance brings an eye roll, as if asking an adult to finger paint.
Cable news has long been considered slanted, but there used to be an attempt to acknowledge another side. Not anymore. Fox News will regularly begin programs with reminders that you only have so many days left to vote for President Trump and a future, or Joe Biden and earthly destruction. Biden is mocked, referred to with nasty nicknames, and regularly derided for his age and cognitive abilities. In recent days, the Hunter Biden story either leads or is highly featured nightly.
Meanwhile, you can’t find that story on the CNN or MSNBC broadcasts. It doesn’t exist. Instead, Trump gets a daily and nightly skewering on coronavirus, and is the focus and blame for a large percentage of their stories and panels. Even the rare piece of positive data — i.e. last week’s report of record GDP growth for the third quarter — gets the “Yeah, but…” treatment. Snide asides are now woven into the dialogues.
This is bad behavior. It’s also bad, period, because so many Americans get their information from cable news.
The print media used to be different. It used to take pride in standing above such food fights.
Not anymore. In many places, print has abandoned even the pretense of objectivity. It’s very hard, for example, to read the Op-Ed sections of the New York Times or Washington Post and think you’re getting an evenly balanced chorus. (Thursday’s Times featured op-ed pieces with these titles: “How Trump Lowered America’s Standing in the World,” “Trump Killed the Pax Americana,” “Four Wasted Years Thinking About Donald Trump,” “Lies, Damned Lies and Trump Rallies” and, too rich for irony, “Five Great Things Joe Biden Has Already Done.”)
The Wall Street Journal — which leans decidedly in the opposite direction — ran an op-ed last week claiming those in charge of once-traditional newsrooms defend and protect Joe Biden “on the grounds that Donald Trump is a unique threat to democracy and that they have been forced to take commensurately unusual measures.”
If true, that’s the problem. We can’t throw out the rules of journalism because we feel it’s our moral imperative to replace one guy with another. Who put us in charge? Many in our business act as if we’re simply smarter than the common folk who vote, and it is therefore our duty to give those people what’s good for them.
When I watched the recent 60 Minutes interview with Trump — in which he evidenced more bad behavior by walking out before it was done — I took note of one question by the interviewer, Lesley Stahl. She asked, “Can you characterize your supporters?”
It struck me as odd. Would that be asked of Biden? It’s as if those who support the current president are a strange cult, a foreign herd with wacked-out beliefs, instead of nearly half the country based on the 2016 election. Then again, as a Midwesterner, it often seems that many coastal “experts” can’t grasp why anybody out here votes the way they do. That’s not journalistic curiosity. That’s hubris.
And more bad behavior.
Of course, we have plenty of inspiration from the politicians themselves. You can start with the president. There is no question his preening, his prevarication, his fast-and-loose-with-the-facts approach and his infatuation with putting people down is, by any measure, bad behavior. Heck, many of his supporters will admit that. He gathers masses with no COVID-19 concern. He lauds his staff members, then trashes them if they dare speak their mind. The Republican senators, congresspersons and governors behind him often seem to have taken a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil pact.
But if you think that makes his opponents holy, you’re not being fair. Joe Biden brags about his “transparency,” but he barked, “No they don’t,” when a reporter asked if the public had a right to know his stance on Supreme Court packing, and he remains radio silent about his son’s business dealings, carefully avoiding any situations where he might be asked a single question. Is that really being “transparent?”
As for decorum? Nancy Pelosi called the president “morbidly obese” and said he’s like a kid “with doggy doo on his shoes.” Chuck Schumer threatened Supreme Court justices, saying, “You won’t know what hit you.” Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, instead of casting a simple “nay” vote on Justice Amy Coney Barrett, marched to the table and declared, “Hell, no.” And for adopting two kids from impoverished Haiti, Barrett was likened to a “white colonizer” and her kids as “props” by a celebrated author and professor.
Are we proud to express ourselves that way? Is that admirable behavior?
We’ve attacked one another over the simple act of wearing a mask. People have been shot. A security guard was killed. Over a mask? We die on the hill for that?
The summer of protests saw many good people gathering to be heard. That’s our right, something to preserve. But the looting, burning, destruction and intimidation of innocent citizens was far too often excused or ignored because, once again, certain forces felt bad behavior, even violent behavior, was justified in the current ideological struggle.
Well, here’s some breaking news: the struggle isn’t going away. It won’t magically disappear on Tuesday night. We will eventually have a freshly elected president, but he’ll be presiding over the same nation, the same people, the same Congress, the same media and the same disagreements.
We keep acting as if this is the first time liberal and conservative have clashed, the first time race or police have been issues, the first time we’ve faced a health pandemic. None of that is true. And all of these things will repeat themselves in the future. In fact, they’ll all still be here, smack in our face, come Wednesday morning.
How will we be any different?
A common refrain has been, “If Trump goes away, we’ll all go back to being nicer.” That’s naïve, like a 5-year-old pointing to his kid brother and saying, “He started it!”
The fact is, we’ve gotten quite used to behaving badly. To rude and self-righteous postures. So when do we stop? The Republicans shoved through a Supreme Court justice because they had the power; now the Democrats threaten to pack the court if they have the power. Does that sound like a stop? Twitter and Facebook, who brazenly act as editors of their users’ viewpoints, aren’t getting any smaller. Where’s the stopping there? No matter who wins the White House, half the country will view it as Armageddon and vow to fight the oppressors.
Does that sound like an ending — or a beginning?
A recent poll showed three out of four Americans are concerned about violence on Election Day. City stores are being boarded up. Security is being strengthened near expensive properties. Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is literally shutting itself down Tuesday and Wednesday. Violence when we vote? Does that sound like America, or a revolution in some small, war-torn country halfway around the world?
We are stressed, locked down, haunted by a common enemy virus that should have united us but instead divided us further. The truth is, our future won’t be determined by who we choose to lead us this week. It will be determined by how we act after we do.
An American president, when he wakes up, doesn’t step off a cloud. He is a representative, nothing more. What will he represent? What will we represent? Think about the friends we’ve lost this election season. The neighbors we’ve alienated. Who will we be on Wednesday, Thursday and beyond?
I know this: If the winners gloat and the losers threaten, we won’t be any better than we’ve been the last six months. And does anyone really want the country of the last six months to be the country of the next four years?
In spite of the admonition that is usually a sign for me to ignore what I have been commanded to read, Albom makes numerous good points here, but ignores the biggest point of all.
The obvious reason things are like this today is that government and therefore politics is too large and therefore too important. The political behavior we see today is the logical result of the overwhelming power government has at every level. When government is as large and powerful as it is, winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing. That means politicians and their supporters will do and say anything to get into power and to stay in power. (How we have not had widespread assassinations so far is beyond my understanding.)
Cases in point: Democratic Assembly candidates Kriss Marion, Erik Brooks, Emily Siegrist, Kristin Lyerly and Sarah Yacoub. Each raised between $390,000 and $540,000, and each spent between $335,000 and $409,000 running for their Assembly seats. Each outspent their Republican opponents. They have one other thing in common: Each of them lost. That’s a hell of a lot of work for a job that pays $60,000 a year.
Why would donors give a collective $14.34 million to the winners and losers of 99 Assembly seats? Why would those candidates spend almost $11.4 million? Because of the power the Legislature has in this state. You want to fix our culture? Take away Madison’s power. And while you’re at it, defang cities, villages, towns and cities as well.
The related thing Albom missed is Americans’ increasing inability to leave each other alone and increasing judgmentalism of others. Increasingly Americans appear to want to force others to do things the way they want, and of course run to government to attain their goals for others.
I would say that Democrats and liberals (but I repeat myself) are the worst offenders. The joke is that conservative atheists just don’t go to church, conservative vegetarians just don’t eat meat, and conservatives who don’t like guns don’t own gun; liberal atheists try to prove that God doesn’t exist and want to ban religion, liberal vegetarians want to prevent you from eating meat, and liberals try to ban guns.
One of the unfortunate trends of the Trump era has been conservatives acting like liberals, not in beliefs, but in, for instance, being as nasty as liberals after liberals lose elections. There is no question that four years of Donald Trump is the result of eight years of Barack Obama because curiously conservatives don’t like being called “bitter clingers” or “deplorables.” And while Trump may have lost the election, the GOP did better than anyone thought likely in large part, I believe, to liberals continuing to underestimate conservatives’ intelligence and belittle conservatives because conservatives don’t agree with liberals on political issues.
The Wall Street Journal:
Besides media pollsters, the biggest immediate election losers on Tuesday were Democratic Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Americans diminished Speaker Pelosi’s House majority and appear to have kept Republicans in control of the Senate as a brake on the left’s agenda.
The biggest news is that Mitch McConnell is likely to return as Senate Majority Leader to torment Democratic dreams for two more years. The GOP lost seats in Colorado and Arizona but gained one in Alabama. Republican Senators Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine and Steve Daines in Montana prevailed, and Thom Tillis is leading in North Carolina.
Democrats poured literally hundreds of millions of dollars into races against Lindsey Graham in South Carolina and in Kentucky against Mr. McConnell that they lost by double-digits. Democrats seem to believe their own progressive pieties that money is destiny in politics.
Democrat Gary Peters will likely hold onto his seat by a hair, but Iraq war veteran John James outperformed President Trump and made a Michigan Senate race competitive for the first time in many years. The two races in Georgia could head to runoffs in January, but Republicans will be favorites.
A GOP Senate would mean the end of the Biden-Bernie Sanders “unity” agenda. No death to the legislative filibuster, no new U.S. states, no Supreme Court packing, no confiscatory tax increases, no Green New Deal. If Mr. Biden wins and he wants to get something done, he would have to go through Mitch the Knife.
Mrs. Pelosi will keep her majority, but much reduced from 232-197. The GOP flipped two seats in South Florida amid a surge of Hispanic turnout and toppled 15-year Rep. Collin Peterson in western Minnesota. Republicans had picked up a net five seats by Wednesday afternoon and could gain as many as 12 or 13. They regained seats they’d lost in 2018 in Cedar Rapids, Charleston (S.C.), and Oklahoma City.
Democrats also seem headed for defeat in New York’s Staten Island and trail in districts in Long Island and upstate New York. Republicans were also leading in Virginia around Richmond, exurban Chicago and two districts in Pennsylvania that Democrats flipped in 2018 after the state Supreme Court redrew the map in their favor.
These GOP gains will reduce Mrs. Pelosi’s legislative running room and perhaps test her party control. Her strategy of refusing to compromise on a Covid-19 relief bill may have cost seats, and now she’ll have a harder time getting a blue-state and union bailout through the Senate. If Mr. Biden wins, the GOP will be better poised to retake the House in 2022.
One of Tuesday night’s big stories was how Republicans gained ground among minorities. One reason is they made more of an effort at outreach, especially at their August convention. The GOP message of economic opportunity resonated with minority entrepreneurs and workers as Democrats stood for government lockdowns and handouts. And who would have thought that immigrants who fled socialism in Venezuela and violence in Central America would oppose those scourges here?
Democrats have refashioned themselves into a party of coastal elites and government unions with a progressive agenda that many middle-class Americans dislike. This includes banishing fossil fuels, abolishing state right-to-work laws and a pointless partisan impeachment.
They may have saved a few seats by fear-mongering about pre-existing health conditions for the third election in a row, but even Republicans might eventually figure out they need a response to that one. Regardless of whether Joe Biden wins the White House, the Democratic left lost America.
Similar things can be written about Wisconsin, which retains its 5–3 GOP House split after state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald won to replace retiring U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner. After shuffling of a few seats, Republicans maintain comfortable control of both houses of the Legislature. This is despite, for instance, opponents of Rep. Travis Tranel (R–Cuba City) spending nearly $157,000 on his opponent’s behalf, succeeding in getting 41 percent of the vote. That cost those PACs $13.79 per vote to back the loser. Next door, in the 51st Assembly District, PAC spending against Rep. Todd Novak (R–Dodgeville) was so successful that Novak won by the largest margin he’s gotten in three successful runs for the Assembly.
My son’s school, located near a polling place, [hosted] online-only classes on Election Day and the day before. It’s doing so “out of an abundance of caution,” despite making a successful transition from a hybrid schedule to optional full-time in-person teaching, because supporters of America’s two political death cults can’t be trusted to behave themselves when encountering one another on the way to vote.
This, bluntly, is insane. Elections to government office shouldn’t matter so much that they pose threats to the safety of school kids. And the only way to make who wins government office matter less is to lower the stakes by making government itself less important.
Schools aren’t the only places worried about election fallout.
“We have seen some isolated civil unrest and as we have done on several occasions over the last few years, we have moved our firearms and ammunition off the sales floor as a precaution for the safety of our associates and customers,” a Walmart spokesman noted last week. (On Wednesday, I witnessed staff hurriedly removing guns from the sales floor of a Phoenix-area store.)
Amidst much pushback, the company reversed the decision two days later. But the fact remains that a major U.S. retailer fears its customers might riot and try to kill one another if they’re disappointed with the outcome of the vote.
Government officials are similarly worried. “Bracing for possible civil unrest on Election Day, the Justice Department is planning to station officials in a command center at FBI headquarters to coordinate the federal response to any disturbances or other problems with voting that may arise across the country,” reports The Washington Post. NPR has a similar piece on “How Police, National Guard And Military Are Preparing For Election Day Tensions.”
How did we get to the point that Americans might turn to violence if they don’t like the outcomes of elections?
“The key to peaceful transition is that politicians and their supporters must be able to lose an election,” writes Hoover Institution Senior Fellow John H. Cochrane. “Losers and their supporters understand that they may lose on policy issues, but they will have the chance to regroup and try again. They will not lose their jobs or their businesses. They will not be put in jail, dogged with investigations, prosecuted under vague laws, regulated out of business. Their assets will not be confiscated.”
“The vanishing ability to lose an election and not be crushed is the core reason for increased partisan vitriol and astounding violation of basic norms on both sides of our political divide,” Cochrane adds. He points to the growing use of regulations, legal interpretations, and criminal investigations by election winners to punish their enemies as making politics a game that nobody can afford to lose.
Chants of “lock her up!” aimed at Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump—or by any candidate at a political opponent—may rally the mob, but they raise the very real possibility that disappointment at the polls will have consequences far more dangerous than thwarted career aspirations. There are plenty of countries where coming out in the wrong end of a vote can land you behind bars.
Likewise, the weaponization of regulatory agencies by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his ilk to strong-arm banks and other firms into denying services to political opponents is a threat to “the First Amendment rights of all organizations to engage in political advocacy without fear that the state will use its regulatory authority to penalize them for doing so,” as the American Civil Liberties Union warns.
Yet these thuggish tactics have become regular features of our political life. Politicians thrill their supporters with promises to misuse the vast and dangerous power of the state to crush despised opponents. And then we’re supposed to wonder why our political seasons turn into societal pressure cookers with election outcomes treated as existential threats. Well, our political class and their rabid partisans are doing their best to make sure that losing a vote really is an existential threat.
The pandemic has certainly exacerbated the situation. People suffering from economic distress and social isolation enforced by government lockdowns are fodder for civil disorder.
“Economic growth and the unemployment rate are the two most important determinants of social unrest,” warns the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“The domestic situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic creates an environment that could accelerate some individuals’ mobilization to targeted violence or radicalization to terrorism,” cautions the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
But that’s fuel added to an already-smoldering fire. The political culture in the United States was sick long before anybody heard of COVID-19. All too many Americans already hated each other and plotted to destroy their political enemies. Responses to the virus just add a little more chaos to the mix.
So, how to lower the temperature so that school kids aren’t imperiled by their proximity to ballot-wielding Democrats and Republicans and retailers don’t feel compelled to strip their sporting goods departments prior to Election Day?
“If government ran less of your life, you wouldn’t have to spend so much time worrying about ‘election fraud’ this and ‘deadlines for counting ballots’ that, etc etc,” the Goldwater Institute’s Timothy Sandefur mused a few days before the latest Most Important Election Ever ™.
That’s true. Traditional philosophical arguments over the proper role of government and the balance of majority wishes with individual autonomy have been replaced by one important observation: the government we have now is so large, powerful, and dangerous that nobody can afford to lose control to their enemies. Politics is now an escalating struggle between death cults whose partisans realistically fear doom if vote totals don’t go their way.
I’ve suggested before that the most promising short-term path is for individuals and localities to follow in the footsteps of Sanctuary Cities and Second Amendment Sanctuaries in ignoring commandments from further up the governmental food chain. That’s relatively straightforward since it requires no agreements among factions. Better still would be formal decentralization that doesn’t rely on defiance.
But one way or another we have to make elections less consequential so that people can afford to lose them without fearing their treatment by the winners. Given that power is inevitably abused by those who wield it, that means reducing government’s authority over our lives so that ballot-box victors can’t so easily punish their enemies.
Joe Biden claims that he will not raise middle-class taxes if he’s elected president tomorrow (or whenever the election becomes official).
Biden is lying as much as he is lying about the bad effects of Biden/Harris policies on your wallet.
Example number one from Jordan Davidson:
A new study shows that Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s proposed economic plan would significantly hurt the long-term American economy if implemented.
While many mainstream media outlets claim Biden’s plan will target the wealthy and save the middle-class money, the 50-page study released by the Hoover Institution shows different results.
“Economists have paid too little attention to the economic effects of the Biden plan,” said Casey B. Mulligan, professor of economics at the University of Chicago. “Our report, which focuses on taxation, health insurance, regulation, and energy policy, suggests that these effects are potentially very large indeed.”
The study conducted by a group of financial and economic experts including Mulligan, former Chief Economist of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and Kevin Hassett, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers since 2017, demonstrates how Biden’s plan will hurt everyone.
“We conclude that, in the long run, Vice President Biden’s full agenda reduces full-time equivalent employment per person by about 3 percent, the capital stock per person by about 15 percent, real GDP per capita by more than 8 percent, and real consumption per household by about 7 percent,” the report stated.
If Biden’s proposed changes are implemented, the economists warn that, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s projections, 2030 may yield “4.9 million fewer employed individuals, $2.6 trillion less GDP, and $1.5 trillion less consumption in that year alone.” The economists also note that the median household income in 2030 would fall by $6,500 despite Biden’s promises to prioritize the middle class.
In the study, the economists’ main findings center on three conclusions. First, that for Biden to achieve the “ambitious plans to further cut the nation’s carbon emissions,” 1.3 million net additional energy workers will need to be added into the transportation and electrical industries.
“Biden’s plans are ambitious,” says Mulligan. “Unless people drive a lot less, the electrification of all or even most passenger vehicles would increase the per capita demand for electric power by about 25 percent. Simultaneously, more than 70 percent of the baseline supply (i.e., electricity generated from fossil fuels) would be taken offline and another 11 percent (nuclear) would not expand.”
The study also concludes that “labor wedges are increased by proposed changes to regulation as well as to the ACA.” Because of the subsidations, the study found the average marginal tax rate on labor would rise by 2.4 percentage points.
“Labor falls primarily due to new and high implicit taxes associated with more generous health insurance assistance delivered in the framework of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” the study reads.
“Our quantitative findings for the ACA should be no surprise given what had been found for previous efforts in the U.S. and other countries to expand health insurance coverage,” the study adds.
Lastly, the study concludes that Biden’s plan “reduces capital intensity by increasing average marginal tax rates on capital income.”
“Biden’s plan to raise personal income and payroll tax rates would push their federal rates from below 40 percent to, often, above 50 percent, and these are on top of state income taxes,” the study states, which would hurt small businesses, their employees, and consumers substantially.
While Biden and his VP Nominee Kamala Harris previously promised that they will not “raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000,” they have also promised to repeal the tax cuts made by President Trump, which gave 80.4 percent of all taxpayers a cut and 91 percent of the middle quintile a cut.
“On Day One, Joe Biden will repeal that tax bill. He will get rid of it,” Harris said during the vice presidential debate in early October.
Repealing a tax cut is a tax increase, as those who enjoyed Barack Obama’s allowing the Great Recession payroll tax cuts to expire should know.
Did you know Biden wants to get rid of something called “stepped up basis”? How does this affect you! When your parents pass and leave you the family house, normally you would inherit that property at what it is worth today. If you were to sell that house you would only pay taxes on the gain from what it is worth today and what it sells for. If Biden does away with “stepped up basis,” you will inherit the property for what your parents paid for the property. If you decide to sell you will pay taxes on the difference between the original purchase price and what it sells for today. Here is what this looks like!
Inherited House at Current Value – $200,000
Sells for $205,000
Taxable income = $5000
Taxes Due – 20% of $5000 = $1000
Profit to you = $204,000
Inherited House at original purchase price – $40,000
Sells for $205,000
Taxable income = $165,000
Taxes Due – 20% of $165,000 = $33,000
Profit to you = $172,000
If your parents were to have sold this property prior to passing, they would have paid no taxes because it was their primary residence.
So much for helping the middle class get ahead.
My educated guess would be that at least 95% of Americans don’t even know Biden has proposed this. We are talking tens of thousands of more tax dollars for the average sold after inheritance! Wow, google “Biden stepped up basis” and educate yourself because this is a biggie!
Example three and more come from the Wall Street Journal:
‘I don’t see red states and blue states,” said Joe Biden in the final presidential debate, borrowing a line from Barack Obama. He must not have examined the policies that he and Democrats in Congress are pushing that would do disproportional harm to Republican states, especially in the South, while favoring Democratic states. Let’s examine four policies in particular:
Over the last four months, Americans have lived through what is arguably the most consequential period of government malfeasance in U.S. history. Public officials’ overreaction to the novel coronavirus put American cities into a coma; those same officials’ passivity in the face of widespread rioting threatens to deliver the coup de grâce. Together, these back-to-back governmental failures will transform the Ameri- can polity and cripple urban life for decades.
Before store windows started shattering in the name of racial justice, urban existence was already on life support, thanks to the coronavirus lockdowns. Small businesses—the restaurants and shops that are the lifeblood of cities—were shuttered, many for good, leaving desolate rows of “For Rent” signs on street after street in New York City and elsewhere. Americans huddled in their homes for months on end, believing that if they went outside, death awaited them.
This panic was occasioned by epidemiological models predicting wildly unlikely fatalities from the coronavirus.
On March 30, the infamous Imperial College London model predicted 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. by September 1, absent government action. That prediction was absurd on its face, given the dispersal of the U.S. population and the fact that China’s coronavirus death toll had already levelled off at a few thousand. The authors of that study soon revised it radically downwards.
Too late. It had already become the basis for the exercise of unprecedented government power. California was the first state to lock down its economy and confine its citizens to their homes; eventually almost every other state would follow suit, under enormous media pressure to do so.
Never before had public officials required millions of lawful businesses to shut their doors, throwing tens of millions of people out of work. They did so at the command of one particular group of experts—those in the medical and public health fields—who viewed their mandate as eliminating one particular health risk with every means put at their disposal. If the politicians who followed their advice weighed a greater set of considerations, balancing the potential harm from the virus against the harm from the shutdowns, they showed no sign of it. Instead, governors and mayors started rolling out one emergency decree after another to terminate economic activity, seemingly heedless of the consequences.
The lockdown mandates employed mind-numbingly arbitrary distinctions. Wine stores and pot dispensaries were deemed “essential” and thus allowed to stay open; medical offices were required to close. Large grocery stores got the green light; small retail establishments with only a few customers each day were out of luck. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer notoriously used her red pen within megastores to bar the sale of seeds, gardening supplies, and paint.
It was already clear when these crushing mandates started pouring forth that shutting down every corner of the country was a reckless overreaction. By mid-March, two weeks before the Imperial College model was published, Italian health data showed that the coronavirus was terribly lethal to a very small subset of the population—the elderly infirm—and a minor health problem to nearly everyone else who was not already severely ill. The median age of coronavirus decedents in Italy was 80, and they died with a median of nearly three comorbidities, such as heart disease and diabetes. The lead author of the Imperial College model has admitted that up to two-thirds of all coronavirus fatalities would have died from their comorbidities by the end of 2020 anyway.
Three months later, this profile of coronavirus casualties still holds true. Public health interventions could have been targeted at that highly vulnerable population without forcing the American economy into a death spiral.
By now it is impossible to attribute the media’s failure to publicize the facts about the coronavirus to mere oversight.
Every story that does not mention, preferably at the top, the vast overrep- resentation of nursing home deaths in the coronavirus death count—above 50 percent in many countries and 80 percent in several of our states—is a story that is deliberately concealing the truth. Casual readers and viewers have been left with the false impression that everyone is equally at risk, and thus that draconian measures are justified.
The media have been equally unin- terested in the scientific evidence regarding outdoor transmission. Coronavirus infections require what Japan calls the three Cs: confined spaces, crowded places, and close contact. The fleeting encounters on sidewalks and public parks that char- acterize much of city life simply do not result in transmission. And yet if you briskly approach someone on one of Manhattan’s broad and now empty sidewalks, the oncoming pedestrian may lunge into the street or press up against the closest wall in abject fear if you are not wearing a mask. You may be cursed at.
The public health establishment has been equally complicitous in creat- ing this widespread ignorance. It has failed to stress at every opportunity that for the vast majority of the public, the coronavirus is at most an inconve- nience. The public health experts did not disclose that outdoors was the safest place to be and that people should get out of their homes and into the fresh air.
Not coincidentally, the experts’ new- found power over nearly every aspect of American life was dependent on the maintenance of fear.
While the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has been demographically circumscribed and lower than the previous flu pandemics of 1968, 1956, and 1918 when adjusted for population, the economic toll has cut across every sector of the country and every population group. Whole industries have seen their capital wiped out overnight.
Despite a better than expected employment report in early June, the long-term effects of the shutdowns and the continuing mandates to socially distance will prevent a full economic recovery for years to come.
As of this week the death rate of Wisconsinites who test positive is 0.9 percent. The idiot governor Evers this week asked for Wisconsinites to voluntarily lock themselves down. Since Evers’ statewide mask mandate took effect Aug. 1 the number of coronavirus positive tests has nearly quadrupled. And yet it seems likely that Americans will vote for candidates to destroy the economy further because they are cowards afraid of dying, when, to quote Jim Morrison, no one here gets out alive.