American Elephants

The Professed Future of the Left by The Elephant's Child

Back in September of 2014, The Heritage Foundation hosted a panel discussion on the future of the Left entitled simply “Liberalism in America.” These are my notes. 

William Vogeli – “The fundamental assumption of the Left is the innate goodness of each person. This assumption means that they are seeking to undermine the Constitution, which is based on a very different version of human nature. The Constitution puts the three branches of government against each other, so that each will keep the others in check. The Constitution expects selfish ambition, and by expecting ambition, it legitimizes it – which is precisely what the Left does not want to do. The Left wants to supply not  just “the defect of better motives” but just better motives. Liberals want to set up a system that allows our latent goodness to “flourish” and the checks of our constitutional system can be discarded in favor of technocratic, centralized disinterestedness that allows each individual to live an authentic life of his choosing.

Kevin Williamson – In order to achieve this goal of a soft liberated citizenry the left will have to dominate and control more of society – a tendency that is already in evidence.

Ben Domanech – characterized the Left as having become a “protection racket” seeking to protect interest groups: unions, minorities, single mothers, from perceived threats such as the free market. A free society will always have winners and losers – Absolute equality and absolute liberty will always stand in tension. All people and their choices are equal and should be treated as such. Undergirding this statement is a moral agnosticism that necessarily undermines a self-governing republic based on rights. Liberalism’s appeal is to equality and security.

Obama’a Embarrassment Over the Exercise of American Power Threatens National Security by The Elephant's Child

November, 2013. President Obama pledged that he would not allow an interim nuclear deal with Tehran to become an opportunity for the mullahs to play for time while squeezing economic concessions from the West. “If Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the [sanctions] relief and ratchet up the pressure.”

That was then, and this is now, considerably over six months, and Iran has announced that it has begun construction of two more nuclear plants, and Iranian authorities have imprisoned a Washington Post journalist on unannounced charges. Senate lawmakers are working on their own sanctions bill. Support for sanctions is strong in both chambers of Congress. Members have noticed that it took strong sanctions to even bring Iran to the negotiating table.

President Obama has warned that he would veto any Congressional attempt to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic if the latest round of negotiations fail. He said, ‘My main message to Congress at this point is just hold your fire,” in a press conference with David Cameron, British Prime Minister. Mr. Obama seems particularly annoyed that  Congress is all about legislation that would penalize Iran only after the current deadline expires and if Iran does not agree to terms. Passing the bill now might offer an extra nudge to Iranian negotiators, and make clear that they cannot string  Americans along indefinitely, as they seem to assume.

Iran clearly sees the administration as exceptionally weak, as proved by the last election. Many in Congress do not believe that Iran has any intention of bargaining in good faith, nor that Iran has any intention of delaying or closing down its nuclear development. The administration and Secretary Kerry seem convinced that a deal is in the cards and that Iran might be offended by threats of sanctions.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been referred for prosecution by a revolutionary court. “It’s difficult,” the  Post noted in an editorial,” to avoid the conclusion that he is being used as a human pawn in the regime’s attempt to gain leverage in the negotiations.” It worked for the Castros.

We err if we do not assume that our opponents are completely aware of what is being said in the media, and draw their own conclusions about what they can get away with. A long time ago, the mullahs took notice when the newly inaugurated Ronald Reagan fired the nation’s striking air-traffic controllers, and changed their ideas about American determination. Somehow I don’t think the cringe-inducing James Taylor concert was a convincing display of a strong and confident America.

The CBO Report Was Planned to Show that the Stimulus Was a Success. Are You Surprised? by The Elephant's Child

Oh, the Stimulus again!  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has delivered a new report that estimates that the $862 billion stimulus has so far created or saved 1.5 million jobs.

The CBO’s calculations are not based on observations of the economy’s recent performance, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Brian Riedl.  Rather they used an economic model that was programmed to assume that stimulus spending automatically creates jobs.

Mathematicians, Riedl says, call this assuming what you are trying to prove.

The CBO model started by automatically assuming that government spending increases Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by pre-set multipliers:

  • Every $1 of government spending that directly purchases goods and services ultimately raises the GDP by $1.75;
  • Every $1 of government spending sent to state and local governments for infrastructure ultimately raises GDP by $1.75;
  • Every $1 of government spending sent to state and local governments for non-infrastructure spending ultimately raises GDP by $1.25; and
  • Every $1 of government spending sent to an individual as a transfer payment ultimately raises GDP by $1.45

Mr. Reidl goes on to explain where they went wrong.  I am no mathematician, so please read the whole thing (it isn’t long) for a complete explanation.

To me it sounds suspiciously similar to recent revelations involving temperatures, sea levels, glaciers, African crops,  emails and computer codes.  That sort of thing.

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