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Neil Snyder

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled "If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You’re Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You’re Not an Idiot".
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Cheer Up, Fox News Viewers

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

The number 1 article in Digg’s “Top News in Politics” category for April 9, 2012 was “The Science of Fox News: Why Its Viewers are the Most Misinformed” by Chris Mooney.  Before I go any further, I need to provide a disclaimer: during the day I watch CNBC, and I prefer “Special Report with Bret Baier” for evening news because of the panel discussion during the last 20 minutes of the show.

That said, let’s examine Mooney’s article.  He begins with his conclusion:

“In June of last year, Jon Stewart went on air with Fox News’ Chris Wallace and started a major media controversy over the channel’s misinforming of its viewers. ‘Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers?’ Stewart asked Wallace. ‘The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll.’

[…]

There probably is a small group of media consumers out there somewhere in the world who are more misinformed, overall, than Fox News viewers. But if you only consider mainstream U.S. television news outlets with major audiences (e.g., numbering in the millions), it really is true that Fox viewers are the most misled based on all the available evidence—especially in areas of political controversy. This will come as little surprise to liberals, perhaps, but the evidence for it—evidence in Stewart’s favor—is pretty overwhelming.”

That’s a bold assertion, so you would expect Mooney to present some compelling evidence to support it.  Does he?  You be the judge:

Exhibit 1— The Iraq War:

“In 2003, a survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland found widespread public misperceptions about the Iraq war. For instance, many Americans believed the U.S. had evidence that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been collaborating in some way with Al Qaeda, or was involved in the 9-11 attacks; many also believed that the much touted “weapons of mass destruction” had been found in the country after the U.S. invasion, when they hadn’t.”

The survey is correct.  Fox viewers were misinformed about Saddam Hussein’s possession of WMDs and his collaboration with al Qaeda.  So were the President of the United States, a host of other world leaders, leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives from both political parties, and key players at the United Nations.  Hussein intentionally misled people probably because he believed that it would give them second thoughts about attacking him.  That’s not a problem with Fox News viewers.  In fact, it shows that they were on top of the latest available “good information” whether or not it turned out to be accurate.

Exhibit 2—Global Warming:

“In a late 2010 survey, Stanford University political scientist Jon Krosnick and visiting scholar Bo MacInnis found that ‘more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists’ claims about global warming, with less trust in scientists, and with more belief that ameliorating global warming would hurt the U.S. economy.’ Frequent Fox viewers were less likely to say the Earth’s temperature has been rising and less likely to attribute this temperature increase to human activities.”

Earth to Mooney: the global climate stopped warming in 1998, and the latest trend among fashion conscious Chicken Littles is global cooling—the same as it was in the 1960s and 1970s.  If readers were skeptical when they read your title, by now they must think that you have an agenda of your own.  And by the way, did you know that more than 31,000 scientists signed a petition rejecting the notion that man-made CO2 emissions caused climate change—either warming or cooling?  Last but not least, have you ever heard the phrase “Climategate”?  If not, try googling it.

Exhibit 3—Health Care:

“In 2009, an NBC survey found ‘rampant misinformation’ about the healthcare reform bill before Congress — derided on the right as ‘Obamacare.’ It also found that Fox News viewers were much more likely to believe this misinformation than average members of the general public. ‘72% of self-identified Fox News viewers believe the healthcare plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly,’ the survey found.

By contrast, among CNN and MSNBC viewers, only 41 percent believed the illegal immigrant falsehood, 39 percent believed in the threat of a ‘government takeover’ of healthcare (40 percentage points less), 40 percent believed the falsehood about abortion, and 30 percent believed the falsehood about ‘death panels’ (a 45 percent difference!).”

Mr. Mooney, a recent Heritage Foundation report highlighted the facts below.  Have you seen the report?

  • “Nearly one-quarter of all seniors rely on Medicare Advantage, the private health care option in Medicare. However, Obamacare makes such deep cuts to that program that half of those covered will no longer be able to keep the coverage they have.
  • New taxes on drug companies ($27 billion) and medical device makers ($20 billion), as well as new reporting requirements and regulations imposed on physicians, will make access to health care and services more costly and difficult for seniors under Obamacare.
  • Obamacare expands government’s role as the primary payer of health care by adding 18 million people to the Medicaid program, which on average reimburses doctors only 56 percent of the market rate for medical procedures.
  • Due to increased regulation and less reimbursement,66 percent of doctors are considering no longer accepting government health programs.
  • $52 billion in new taxes will be imposed on businesses by mandating that employers provide health insurance.
  • On February 10, 2011, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified before the House Budget Committee that Obamacare will result in an estimated 800,000 fewer U.S. jobs.
  • By 2019, over 80 million people will be on the Medicaid program—requiring billions of dollars from state budgets and taxpayers.
  • Twenty-one State Attorneys General have filed suits to protect their citizens from being forced, in violation of the Constitution, to purchase government-approved health insurance.
  • Obamacare adds a trillion dollars in new health care spending, expanding prohibitively expensive entitlements and creating a subsidy scheme that discourages work and penalizes marriage.
  • New Obamacare spending includes $125 million per year for school-based health centers and a new program to reduce teen pregnancy, with no requirement to reduce abortions.
  • Those who gain coverage will be enrolled in Medicaid, the welfare program for the poor, or in a health plan designed by the government.
  • The millions who remain uninsured will still depend on overcrowded emergency rooms for routine care.”

I’ll stop there because Mooney’s so-called “evidence” is proof of his own bias and his desire to humiliate Fox News and its viewers.  In the process, he embarrassed himself—if that’s possible.

Cheer up Fox News viewers.  If Mooney’s “evidence” is the best that your detractors have to offer, then they have nothing except animosity, and ill will is evidence of their own delusions.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Abortion and the Slippery Slope of Moral Decay

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

If you haven’t heard about this yet, you will.  The most recent development in the abortion debate deals with “after-birth abortions”.  That’s when a mother wants to end the life of her child with impunity after it is born.  The illegality of this procedure is being challenged right now in reputable scientific journals by intelligent people.  In due course, it will make its way to our courts:

“Just when you thought the religious right couldn’t get any crazier, with its personhood amendments and its attacks on contraception, here comes the academic left with an even crazier idea: after-birth abortion.

No, I didn’t make this up. ‘Partial-birth abortion’ is a term invented by pro-lifers. But ‘after-birth abortion’ is a term invented by two philosophers, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva. In the Journal of Medical Ethics, they propose:

[W]hen circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible. … [W]e propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus … rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.”

Partial-birth abortion is legal in the United States and has been for many years.  You may not like this description of the procedure, but it’s accurate:

  1. When the baby’s head is about to leave the birth canal, the doctor forces the head back in and manipulates the baby’s body so that the feet come out first.  In effect, he manufactures a breech birth.
  2. The doctor allows the baby’s feet and body to exit the birth canal until the base of the baby’s head appears.
  3. The doctor punches a hole at the base of the baby’s skull, inserts a vacuum tube, and sucks out the baby’s brain.
  4. The baby is “born dead,” and the partial birth abortion is complete.

The critical factor in the partial-birth abortion procedure is that the baby hasn’t completely exited the birth canal since its head is still inside.  The child is literally inches and seconds away from personhood and the full protection of our laws, so the doctor imposes his will and stops the birth process.  If the head exits the birth canal, the doctor is committing first-degree murder, and the mother is guilty as well since she’s an accomplice.

Our laws condone this horrific procedure, but if you are normal, you can’t deny that it is repulsive and morally and ethically wrong.  As bizarre as this may seem, we are drifting toward an even more grisly “abortion procedure”.  Will we permit a doctor to take the life of a child if he and the mother believe that the “well-being of the family” is at risk?  If you are normal, your kneejerk response is probably “no,” but don’t be so sure.  Before the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, normal people would have said that the procedure called “partial-birth abortion” would never be legal—not in the United States, but it certainly is.

Where protecting innocent lives is concerned, we’re on a slippery slope, and we’ve been on it for a very long time.  Where it will end is anybody’s guess, but this much is certain: the worst possible outcome can happen and probably will happen unless we do something to stop it.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Obama Has a Track Record: He Can’t Pick Winners

Monday, March 26th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

President Obama chose UNC to win it all at the NCAA Final Four tournament this year, but Kansas ended UNC’s chances with a stunning 80 to 67 victory.  Last year, President Obama’s Final Four predictions were just as bad.  In fact, his Final Four handicapping since he became president has been pathetic.  He got one lucky break in 2009 when UNC won the tournament, but that was the only team he selected in 2009 that even made it to the Final Four.

There is a lesson in this: Obama can’t pick winners, so he should stop trying.  He professes to be a lover of round ball, and he pretends to know something about the game.  If he can’t pick winners in basketball, there is no way under the sun that he can pick winners in areas where he has no knowledge or expertise – energy and healthcare, for example.  He and we would be better off if he stuck to what he knows best, community organizing, but he shouldn’t do it from the White House.  He needs to go home to Chicago where he is among friends and comrades who need his help, because we don’t.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Sandra Fluke May Become the Democrats’ Catch 22

Friday, March 23rd, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

I have written 3 articles about the Sandra Fluke mêlée, and I’ve done it for a reason: she is the Democratic Party’s poster child for the No Morals Movement in America.  I know that some people will object to my assessment, but I’m giving you my opinion based on the available evidence.  If you have another perspective, that’s fine, but I hope you have some evidence to support your conclusions.

The first article is titled “Sandra Fluke has become the Poster Child for the No Morals Movement.”  The title is self-explanatory, and the article lays out my case.  The second article is titled “Sandra Fluke and the Democrats’ Sleight-of-Hand.”  From the available evidence, it looks as though liberal Democrats have manufactured a brouhaha, and they have used Sandra Fluke to put a face on an issue that is dear to their hearts: a woman’s right to engage in sex when, where, and as often as she pleases at public expense and without “penalty” of any sort including pregnancy.  The third article is titled “Do Democrats Want the Fluke Uproar to Continue?”  The answer to that question is “yes,” and they are doing everything they can to keep the issue alive.

As I have said before, this issue isn’t about Rush Limbaugh.  Liberal Democrats have positioned him as the fall guy.  To them, he’s the face of the conservative movement and the Republican Party, and they hope to reverse the tide sweeping this country in favor of governing principles that actually make sense.  They aim to accomplish their mission before the November election because that’s when voters will let it be known where we stand as a nation on a broad range of issues.

If Democrats lose the White House, they are in serious trouble.  If they lose the Senate and the White House, legislators with good ideas will finally be able to begin the process of solving our nation’s problems.  If the GOP retains control in the House and Democrats lose the Senate and the White House, we can accomplish things that many people today think are only pipe dreams: things like gas for $2 a gallon, rapid movement toward a balanced budget, energy independence, a healthcare program that makes sense, and the long-awaited and much needed Social Security fix.  That’s why Democrats are pulling out all the stops.  They don’t want the United States to remain the beacon of hope in the world.  They prefer to see our country reduced to the lowest common denominator among nations, and they envision European-style socialism as the right model for the U.S.

That’s the backdrop for the Fluke controversy.  Her appearance on the scene wasn’t accidental; she is not a victim; and she most certainly is not a shining example of womanhood and femininity.  Sandra Fluke is at worst a willing accomplice and at best an unwitting prop in the Democratic Party’s campaign to savage the America that we know and love.

Since Fluke has been portrayed by Democrats as an intelligent woman with a bright professional future and as the target of unfair political attacks from conservatives, specifically Rush Limbaugh, we need to examine the evidence supporting those assertions.  When we do, we will discover that she is neither particularly bright nor is she terribly concerned about women in general being attacked for political reasons.

The first piece of evidence came to light on Tuesday when Fluke told CNSNews.com that she was unaware that a Target store located just 3 miles from Georgetown University Law School sells birth control pills for $9 a month.  That fact indicates that Fluke isn’t particularly diligent or exceptionally bright.  Anyone who spends $1,000 a year on birth control, as Fluke says she does, when she could accomplish the same thing for just $108 a year either has so much money that cost is no object or she isn’t doing her homework.  In either case, the facts don’t bode well for a woman who fancies herself a professional with a bright future unless, of course, she intends to run for public office as a Democrat.

Another piece of evidence came to light on Tuesday as well.  Speaking at an event at the U.S. Capitol celebrating women’s history month, Fluke “condemned ‘conservative commentators’ for trying to silence women by using ‘sexist rhetoric,’ and added that ‘that kind of treatment of women will not be tolerated.’”  Following her speech, Fluke gave an interview to a CNSNews.com reporter during which she said that she had no comment on “particular labels that have been applied to particular women.”

That answer was in response to a direct question about some of the filthy things that Bill Maher has said about Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Bristol Palin.  It seems as though Fluke is more concerned about left leaning, immoral women being attacked by the likes of Rush Limbaugh for promiscuous sexual behavior than she is about women on the right side of the political spectrum being assaulted by trash mouthed comedians like Bill Maher.  If that’s true, then she has a difficult time distinguishing between right and wrong—another good sign that she has a future in politics as a Democrat.

Whatever the case may be, this much is certain: Sandra Fluke was no accident.  She was paraded into the limelight by Democrats with great fanfare to attack men who hold conservative views, particularly Republican men, and hopefully to drive a wedge between women and GOP candidates for public office.  Will they succeed?  Time will tell, but I have my doubts.  Despite what Democrats must think, women in general are very good at assessing the character of members of their own sex.  I suspect that Democrats may rue the day when they decided to make Sandra Fluke their cause célèbre.  She represents issues that may become the Democrats’ ultimate Catch 22, because their positions on those issues are based on inherently illogical assumptions that are not shared by the vast majority of Americans.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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The 2012 Presidential Election will Determine ‘the Kind of World We’ll be Leaving to Our Children’

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

First Lady Michelle Obama may be wrong about a lot of things, but she got this right.  The 2012 presidential election will determine “the kind of world we’ll be leaving to our children”:

(CNSNews.com) – Urging support for her husband’s re-election, First Lady Michelle Obama told a campaign event Monday evening that the “kind of world we’ll be leaving for our children” was at stake.

“[W]hether it’s health care or the economy, whether it’s education or foreign policy, the choice we make will determine nothing less than what kind of world we’ll be leaving for our children,” she told an Obama for America bowling fundraiser at New York’s Chelsea Piers complex.

“In the end, it really boils down to one simple question: Will we continue all the change we’ve begun and the progress we’ve made? Or will we allow everything we’ve fought for to just slip away? But that is the choice we face.”

Do we want to bequeath our children and grandchildren a nation that is head over heels in debt and addicted to spending money that we don’t have on things that we don’t need, a nation that is morally bankrupt and corrupt, and a nation that is a beacon of hopelessness and despair for people around the world?  If the answer is “yes,” then vote to reelect President Obama.  If the answer is “no,” then do everything you can to help elect whoever the GOP nominates.  I know what my answer is, and I’m doing my part.  Are you?

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Joseph Stalin Got It Right

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

As we approach the 2012 presidential election, we should reflect on something that General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin said:

“America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”

Saying that Stalin has followers at the highest levels of government in the United States is an understatement.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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A Person with Big Ideas doesn’t have to Tell Us So Incessantly

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

Concerning Newt Gingrich, I’ve never heard a person with big ideas say so, so incessantly.  At some point, people with big ideas rely on others to get that message across.  The same is true for debating skills.  If Gingrich keeps it up, I’ll begin to think that he has an inferiority complex.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Do Democrats Want the Fluke Uproar to Continue?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

Today’s Christian Science Monitor includes an article titled “Rush Limbaugh: Do Democrats want uproar to continue?”  It must be a rhetorical question because anyone with half a brain – even if it’s half a brain tied behind his back – knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Democrats smell blood in the water:

Rush Limbaugh remains in big trouble. Advertisers – 11 at last count – are pulling spots off his radio talk show because of the reaction to his calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Opponents are mobilizing on social media for a long campaign to try to convince even more sponsors to drop his program. Ms. Fluke herself has rejected as insufficient Mr. Limbaugh’s attempts at apology.

But here’s our question: At this point, is it even within Limbaugh’s power to apologize enough? Has the political uproar reached a state where Democratic officials just want it to continue?

That’s certainly possible. Over at the liberal Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent writes that it’s hard to overstate what a huge gift Limbaugh has handed the Democratic Party.

“Dems will do all they can to ensure that Limbaugh continues to loom large over the presidential race,” writes Sargent.

He points out an interview Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod gave CNN in which Axelrod accused Mitt Romney of not showing enough outrage over Limbaugh’s comments.

“I was kind of shocked when Governor Romney, all he had to say was, ‘Well, that isn’t language I would have used’…. I thought that was a cowardly answer,” Mr. Axelrod said on camera.

I want to make 2 points:

  1. Rush may have used unsavory language to describe Sandra Fluke, but Fluke was no fluke.  She planned this whole incident beautifully with or without the help of the Democratic Party.  Was she a plant?  That remains to be seen, but this much is certain: Sandra Fluke is the wedge that Democrats will use to try and create distance between women and the Republican Party.
  2. When you know that apologizing is useless, stop apologizing.

CNSNews ran an article today with an equally engaging title: “$9: Price for a Month’s Supply of Birth Control Pills at Target 3 Miles from Georgetown Law.”  According to the article,

Although Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke testified to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last month that contraception can cost a law student $3,000 over three years and that some of her fellow students could not afford it, a Target store only 3 miles from the law school currently sells a month’s supply of birth control pills for only $9 to people who do not have insurance plans covering contraceptives.

That would make the total cost for birth control pills for a student who decided to use them for all three years of law school just $324.

This issue isn’t about Sandra Fluke; it’s not about Rush Limbaugh; and it’s not about the Catholic Church.  It’s a moral question.  More precisely, it’s about whether hardworking men and women who try to lead decent lives should be required to pay for the immoral sexual practices of people who want to live licentious lifestyles.  I have a very strong hunch that most women, especially older women who regret their promiscuity during their college years, will come down on the side of morality.  Actually, it’s more than just a hunch.  Try asking some of the women you know who are 40 or older, and you’ll see for yourself.  Most of them feel that way.  I know that’s not a scientific study, but it’s good information.

This is my advice to Republicans: don’t play defense on this issue.  Play offense and you’ll win.  Bring forward some impressive women, young and old, with the opposing view and let them lead the charge.  As a former Democrat, I can tell you with assurance that most Democrats aren’t even half as smart as they think they are.  Take the club from their hands and beat them about the head and face with it.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Sandra Fluke and the Democrats’ Sleight-of-Hand

Sunday, March 4th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

Although many of his listeners don’t appreciate the significance of this nuance, Rush Limbaugh freely admits that he’s an entertainer first.  As he explains it, he has to keep his audience entertained and engaged, or they will change channels and not return.  He’s right.  To provoke and entice his listeners, Rush uses hyperbole and grandiose statements, and it works.  His audience is huge.  Day after day, they keep coming back to hear Rush’s take on the issues of the day.

It should come as no surprise that Rush picked up on the importance of Sandra Fluke’s testimony before Congress.  She wants Georgetown University to pay for her contraceptives as a part of the school’s student health care plan.  But Georgetown is a Catholic university, and the Catholic Church is against the use of contraceptives.  According to Fluke, she spends about $1,000 a year on contraceptives.  She says that she can’t afford to pay that much and she wants Georgetown to abandon its longstanding traditions and the policies of the Catholic Church and pick up her bill.

Fluke is the archetypical feminazi that Rush and his listeners love to hate.  On his radio show, Rush called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”  Did he go too far?  Maybe, but there is more to this story than meets the eye.  Sandra Fluke isn’t just a third-year law student at Georgetown University.  According to a post on the blog Jammie Wearing Fools,

For me the interesting part of the story is the ever-evolving “coed”. I put that in quotes because in the beginning she was described as a Georgetown law student. It was then revealed that prior to attending Georgetown she was an active women’s right advocate. In one of her first interviews she is quoted as talking about how she reviewed Georgetown’s insurance policy prior to committing to attend, and seeing that it didn’t cover contraceptive services, she decided to attend with the express purpose of battling this policy. During this time, she was described as a 23-year-old coed. Magically, at the same time Congress is debating the forced coverage of contraception, she appears and is even brought to Capitol Hill to testify. This morning, in an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, it was revealed that she is 30 years old, NOT the 23 that had been reported all along.

In other words, folks, you are being played. She has been an activist all along and the Dems were just waiting for the appropriate time to play her.

While she is described as a “third year law student” they always fail to mention that she is also the past president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice.

Fluke has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams.  She has testified before Congress; she has played the role of victim to the hilt; she has taken on the Catholic Church and attracted the attention of the nation’s leading radio talk show host; she has garnered mainstream media attention; and she has received a personal phone call from the President of United States.  What more could she ask for?  A public apology from Rush Limbaugh, of course, and she got one yesterday.  According to the Washington Post,

Limbaugh, a conservative radio talk show host, was criticized by prominent Democrats and Republicans.  A handful of companies suspended their commercials on his show in protest and by Saturday, Limbaugh apologized in a statement on his Web site.

In the statement, he said “my choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.”

Rush did create a “national stir,” but so did Sandra Fluke.  The story in the Washington Post goes on to say,

Fluke said she anticipated criticism but not personal attacks from prominent pundits including Rush Limbaugh, who repeatedly has called her a “slut,” and from hundreds of people who have typed even more offensive slurs on Twitter.

“I understood that I’m stepping into the public eye,” said Fluke, 30, a third-year student studying public interest law. “But this reaction is so out of the bounds of acceptable discourse … These types of words shouldn’t be applied to anyone.”

Fluke got more than she expected.  She sought the limelight to advance her agenda; she got it; and she’s playing it for all it’s worth.  Were Democrats in Congress and the president using her as a pawn in the game of chess that they are playing with the nation as they seek to make contraception and abortion the order of the day for everyone and every institution regardless of religious beliefs?  That’s not clear at this point, but Fluke’s testimony and the attention that she has grabbed dovetails perfectly with President Obama’s plan to make America over in his image.

According to another Washington Post article,

Fluke had been invited to testify to a House committee about her school’s health care plan that does not include contraception. Republican lawmakers barred her from testifying during that hearing, but Democrats invited her back and she spoke to the Democratic lawmakers at an unofficial session.

President Barack Obama, whose landmark health care overhaul requires many institutions to provide birth control coverage, telephoned her from the Oval Office on Friday to express his support.

The issue has been much debated in the presidential race, with Republican candidates particularly criticizing the Obama plan’s requirements on such employers as Catholic hospitals. Democrats — and many Republican leaders, too — have suggested the issue could energize women to vote for Obama and other Democrats in November.

Reading between the lines, it looks as though Sandra Fluke really isn’t a fluke.  She may very well be a purposeful plant, and if she is, she has arrived on the scene at an opportune time.  In effect, Fluke has altered the debate.  It is no longer about the rights of religious institutions and individuals to adhere to their beliefs.  It’s about whether taxpayers should be forced to pick up the bill for people who want to live licentious lifestyles.  If I’m right, then Fluke’s case is not good enough to overturn the Constitutional prohibition against the government imposing its will in matters pertaining to religion.  In fact, her case highlights the importance of religious beliefs in a country that is becoming increasingly immoral.

Will the Democrats’ ploy energize women?  I hope so because I suspect that most women are as turned off by Fluke as I am.  Time will tell if that’s true, but for now, Republicans should think long and hard before they backpedal too far.  Rush Limbaugh is just a distraction.  Republicans shouldn’t let the Democrats’ sleight-of-hand tactics cause them to miss the big picture.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Sandra Fluke has become the Poster Child for the No Morals Movement

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

Inadvertently, Sandra Fluke helped to clarify a defining issue in the 2012 presidential election.  The debate didn’t begin with her or with Rush Limbaugh.  It started with President Obama when he decided that the United States government should require every organization in America to offer birth control as part of their healthcare plans.  Fluke changed the debate.  It’s now about morals, and more precisely, it’s about whether people who want to live licentious lifestyles have the right to do so at public expense.

Fluke has become the poster child for the no morals movement.  I suspect that she had no idea that she would generate such a firestorm when she let it be known that she was spending $1000 a year on contraceptives and that she couldn’t afford to pay that much.  In her blog, Laura Freed points out that “Sandra must be having sex 5 times a day”:

Sandra Fluke is a law “stud”ent at Georgetown U who claims that she can’t afford birth control and feels that America owes her free birth control pills so she can have sex. She testified in front of Congress that she had to spend 3,000 dollars in 3 years in order to buy birth control and that she just can’t afford it (sob). Estimates using the price of the pill (from 5-50.00 depending on where you buy it- and if you’re REALLY broke, you can get it for free at Planned Parenthood) and condoms – shows that, by spending 1,000 a year on Birth Control, Sandra must be having sex 5 times a day (you GO girl!). Rush Limbaugh picked up on the story and said that if our Govt PAYS people to have sex, then, by all accounts, Sandra would be a prostitute, (someone paid to have sex). In an economy where gas is almost 4 bucks, almost HALF of Americans are on Food Stamps, business are shutting down left and right – the Left want you switch the focus to law students having sex and boohoo…they can’t afford birth control?? What the fuck is happening to this country???? Hello, people, I think no matter what your political beliefs, our tax $$ could be spent on people who truly deserves it…like soldiers, firemen, police, children…WAKE UP AMERICA!!! JUST SAY NO TO BIG BROTHER GOVERNMENT!!!!

Business Insider ran a story on Fluke that included a brief biographical sketch:

…Fluke as a feminist activist. According to a bio on Georgetown’s website, Fluke’s professional background is in domestic violence and human trafficking advocacy. At Georgetown law, she is the former president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, an editor for the Journal of Gender and the Law, and vice president of the Women’s Legal Alliance. She has a bachelor’s degree in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality studies from Cornell.

Like it or not, the issue is here, and the femme fatale has defined the issue for President Obama and the Democratic Party.  By taking sides with her, they have made her issue theirs, and they are vulnerable because Fluke’s views represent a radical departure from the mainstream in America.

President Obama telephoned Fluke personally to empathize with her because, as President Clinton would have said, he feels her pain.  Concerning that fateful call, Fluke said,

“He was so kind,” she said in an interview. “I was just very impressed by that.”

[…]

“When I said how important this policy was, he sort of wanted to move past that,” Fluke said. “He wanted to talk about whether or not I was OK.”

[…]

“What has been made clear,” Fluke said, “is that women will not be silenced on this issue, and neither will the men who support them.”

Gawker ran a story that included this statement from Ms. Fluke:

“I thank the thousands of women and men, including members of Congress, Georgetown University students and faculty, and total strangers of all political stripes across the country who have offered kind words and support following recent egregious personal attacks. We are fortunate to live in a democracy where everyone is entitled to their own opinions regarding legitimate policy differences. Unfortunately, numerous commentators have gone far beyond the acceptable bounds of civil discourse.  No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices. The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women’s health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced.”

I agree with Fluke about one thing: we still live in a country where people are free to voice their opinions.  That’s what she did; that’s what Rush Limbaugh did; and that’s what I’m doing.  I disagree with her assessment that “[n]o woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner.”  Fluke threw the first lick when she willingly placed herself on the point for an issue that is dividing this nation, and she invited the attacks against her.  I hope she learned in law school at Georgetown that she can’t start a fight and then claim innocence.  Fluke is no victim.  She’s a provocateur, and she deserves what she gets.

Clearly, this is a moral issue about lifestyle choices and, more importantly, who pays for those choices.  Even though the president tried to sidestep the policy question in his call to Fluke, he can’t because it’s his policy.  By simply making the call, Obama elevated the issue to the presidential level, and he leaned in Fluke’s direction.  The president and the Democratic Party are on her side.  That’s painfully obvious.

Republicans can’t afford to allow Democrats and radio talk show hosts to define this issue for them.  It’s a moral question about whether Americans should be required to pay for the lascivious lifestyles of Sandra Fluke and others of her ilk who think that they have a Constitutional right to engage in sexual intercourse several times a day at public expense.  Most Americans will say “no.”  President Obama and Democrats in Congress have said “yes.”  What will the Republican Party say?

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Matt Taibbi is a Demented Soul with a Seared Conscience and No Class

Friday, March 2nd, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

The number 2 article on diggtm yesterday in the politics category was written by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.  It was titled Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche.  I had three questions before I read the article: 1) Who would use the word “douche” in the title of an article about a fellow journalist who just died?; 2) what editor would pass on the use of that word in a title?; and 3) what media outlet would allow that word in the title of an article?  I’ll answer those questions, but before I do, I want to share some of Taibbi’s insights with you and provide a little commentary:

“For instance, it would be dishonest not to tip a hat to him [Breitbart ] for that famous scene when he hijacked Anthony Weiner’s own self-immolating ‘apology’ press conference, and held up the entire event by standing at the lectern and congratulating himself at length, before Weiner could let the humiliating healing begin.”

Anthony Weiner is a disgraced former New York Congressman who once aspired to become mayor of New York.  By all accounts, he had a good shot at it, too, but that was before Breitbart went public with his story about Weiner’s escapades over the internet with an underage girl in which he shared a lewd photo of himself.  In the process, he misused government resources and committed ethics violations that probably motivated his retirement from the House in anticipation of ethics hearings.

When Breitbart released information about the incident, Weiner and the mainstream media launched a campaign against him that included accusing him of hacking Weiner’s Twitter account and inserting the photo in question.   As it turns out, everything that Breitbart said was true; he didn’t hack into Weiner’s Twitter account; and Weiner ended up creating a huge problem for himself that eventually led to his downfall.  Weiner was guilty of malfeasance, and Breitbart simply exposed the truth.  That’s called good journalism.

“Watching Weiner apologize to Breitbart later in that same event was certainly chilling for a number of reasons (if I were Weiner, I wouldn’t have apologized to that fucker even under torture) but it was hard not [to] appreciate the deliciousness of the scene from Breitbart’s point of view. Watching Weiner pause, swallow hard, and make the extraordinary decision to plant his lips squarely on the loathsome Breitbart’s ass on national television, that was like the ultimate Mona Lisa masterpiece of right-wing media provocations. That the outrageous Breitbart was standing right there, looking gorgeously gassy in his unbuttoned shirt, bloated Joey Buttafuoco cheeks and splendiforous silver half-mullet, made the humiliation of the trim and neatly-groomed Weiner even more abject.”

Nancy Pelosi was spot on when she told Weiner that what he did was “dumb.”  He committed a grievous error and compounded it by trying to cover it up.  He humiliated himself, his family, his constituents, the House of Representatives, and possibly even the Democratic Party.  Painting a word picture of Weiner as a victim and Breitbart as a buffoon is also dumb.  You could even say that it is outrageous.  It’s the exact opposite of good journalism because Weiner himself admitted that Breitbart was right and that he was wrong.  I suppose Taibbi was too grieved to pick up on that nuance.

“Furthermore, the ACORN videos made by Breitbart and his two young acolytes, Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe – it’s hard not to see the inspired humor behind their elaborate stunt. And anyone who’s heard their proposals before ACORN staffers to bring underage girls over the border as part of a white-(or nonwhite-) slaving startup firm, and doesn’t think the ACORN responses (or non-responses, as it were) were shocking, they’re deluding themselves. In the Baltimore office, they ran the whole underage hooker-den spiel past an ACORN staffer, and got the following response: ‘You are gonna use three of them – they are gonna be under 16, so you is eligible to get child tax credit and additional child tax credit.’

That is seriously messed up material. Did they edit the videos heavily? Hell yes. Did they make ACORN’s behavior out to be a lot worse than it was? Absolutely. But there’s no way to watch the raw footage and not grasp how totally nuts some of this ACORN “counseling” was. We have to give Breitbart that.”

Thankfully, Taibbi didn’t try to defend the indefensible where ACORN is concerned, but I thought he might.  He deserves kudos for recognizing that soliciting the support of a “community organization”, and I should add one of President Obama’s favorite “community organizations”, in the nefarious and illegal sex trafficking trade is “shocking.”  Maybe Taibbi does have some scruples after all, but his threshold for intolerable behavior is very high.

After reading Taibbi’s piece, I think I know the answers to the questions that I asked:

  • Who would use the word “douche” in the title of an article about a fellow journalist who just died?  A demented soul with a seared conscience and no class.
  • What editor would pass on the use of that word in a title?  A kindred spirit with no journalistic integrity.
  • What media outlet would allow that word in the title of an article?  A counterculture magazine that’s a holdover from the 1960s.  Unfortunately, some people never grow up.  I suspect that’s true of the people who run Rolling Stone today.  Earth to Rolling Stone: the 1960s ended more than 40 years ago.

Taibbi and his comrades at Rolling Stone believe in and support Barack Obama.  They see something in him that they really like.  In their minds, he is one of them, a brother as it were.  I hope this won’t surprise you, but I see our president as one of them, too.  Candidly, I’m not worried about Taibbi and people of his ilk.  I’m very concerned about people who don’t see Barack Obama for who he is because they can be deceived very easily.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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The Only Sensible Solution to our Energy Problem is Domestic Production

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

At 8:45 A.M. today, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”  Proving yet again that he is a hypocrite, an articulate and deceptive one to be sure, he argued for Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to offset the effects of the Iran oil embargo and thus relieve global pressure on oil prices.  Since he followed Donald Trump on the show, he feigned support for Trump’s views, but then he launched into his “solution” for America’s energy problem: conservation and CAFE standards.

Interestingly, Trump argued persuasively for more energy production here at home (coal, oil, and natural gas) as the only sensible solution to our energy predicament – both long-term and short-term.  He’s right about that, but he didn’t stop there.  Trump talked about the idiocy of the “green energy” effort and explained that green energy is a farce – that’s my word, not his, but that was Trump’s point.  Even pretending to agree with Trump made Schumer look like a charlatan.  Their views are diametrically opposed, as Schumer made clear before he finished.

America’s energy problem is one of our own making.  We have the wherewithal to solve it, but not the political will.  Below is an excerpt from a book I wrote that presents some interesting facts.  The book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You’re Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You’re Not an Idiot.  The excerpt below comes from a section in the book titled “The United States Should be Exporting its Surplus Energy”:

The United States has been blessed with enough energy resources to run our factories, light our cities and homes, and feed our people and the people of the world, but we have not developed them the way we should have.  Instead, we have been cowed by liberal progressives who would rather sunbathe in luxury without unsightly drilling platforms on the horizon.  Most of those platforms are beyond the horizon, so it’s our way of life that they really loathe.

In 2008, the US imported almost 13,000,000 barrels of oil per day, or about 57% of our total oil consumption.  Although our energy needs have been increasing rapidly, the US didn’t build a new refinery between 1998 and 2008, even then over the strong objections of liberal progressives.  In 2008 alone, the US spent almost $500,000,000,000 on imported oil.  That’s half a trillion dollars that we didn’t need to spend.  Our dependence on foreign oil is putting our economy and our national security at risk.

Saying that the US is rich in energy resources is an understatement.  At today’s consumption levels, we have enough coal to meet our needs for the next 500 years.  We have 22,450,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves, and we are finding new oil reserves all the time.  The US has 250 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves.  We are finding new gas reserves daily, and we are discovering new ways to tap into hard-to-get gas deposits.  Putting that in perspective, the US has more energy in natural gas than the entire Middle East has in oil.  It’s disgraceful that we’re putting our economic security and our national security at risk to import strategic resources that we have in abundance.

T. Boone Pickens, one of the world’s leading oil and gas men and an energy investor, has launched a campaign to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by developing our natural gas reserves.  His plan is called the Pickens Plan.  Pickens deserves our support, but we need to do more.  We must develop our coal, oil, and natural gas reserves.  We also need to develop wind energy, solar energy, and hydrogen energy.  There is absolutely no excuse for the United States to import oil and gas from another nation.

We have already spent more than $2,000,000,000,000 on a vast array of stimulus programs since President Obama took office.  That’s several times more than will be needed to fully develop all of our energy resources.  We have squandered our wealth to reward individuals and groups that supported candidate Obama in 2008 while our critical economic and security needs have gotten scant attention.  We can’t afford four more years of President Obama.

“Green energy” may satisfy our energy needs one day, but this much is certain: Today “green energy” is little more than a way for President Obama to dole out federal dollars to his favorite firms at the expense of coal, oil, and natural gas producers.  The science and technology do not exist in so-called “green energy” areas to meet even a smidgen of our energy needs.  Even so, there is no reason to believe that President Obama won’t continue doing what he has been doing as long as he has the keys to the Oval Office, and there is no one to blame for our high and rising energy prices except President Obama.

The facts speak volumes about what we must do as a nation to solve our energy problem.  Donald Trump is absolutely correct.  We must develop our own energy resources.  Anything less than that threatens our long-term future and our fiscal and national security.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Chuck Schumer: Senator and Hypocrite

Sunday, February 26th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

Today, NY1 reported that New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer called for the State Department to apply pressure on Saudi Arabia to increase oil production:

“Senator Charles Schumer wants Saudi Arabia to do its part to help keep gas prices from going any higher.

Schumer is asking the State Department to press the Saudis to commit to increasing oil production.

He hopes that would compensate for anything Iran holds back, and slow the surge of prices at the pump.

Schumer says Saudi Arabia can produce 12.5 million barrels, but is only producing about 10 million.”

Schumer’s call highlights his hypocrisy.  He was a co-sponsor of the ANWR Wilderness Act (2007-S2316) that designates ANWR as “protected wilderness,” and he has taken advantage of every opportunity to stand in front of banks of microphones to lambast the efforts of those who believe America should become energy independent by developing our own coal, oil, and natural gas resources.  Obviously, Senator Schumer doesn’t care about America’s security — either energy or national — because the two are closely related.  His demagoguery is becoming the stuff of legend.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Rick Santorum Was Wrong. The Steel Industry has Gotten a Bailout.

Sunday, February 26th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

Today on “Meet the Press,” Rick Santorum got into a heated exchange with David Gregory, the show’s moderator, about Santorum’s campaign statements over the last few days in Michigan that he would never have supported an auto industry bailout.  Below is an excerpt from the February 16, 2012 Detroit Free Press dealing with the issue:

“Making his Michigan campaign debut at the home of the auto industry, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said today he would not have supported the government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.

Santorum said it was good news the two companies have rebounded. But, he said, government intervention, whether to save Wall Street banks or auto companies, is a mistake because it creates an environment in which companies operate with the expectation they won’t have to pay for bad decisions.

[…]

Santorum took a shot at rival Mitt Romney, who also opposed the auto bailouts but not, Santorum said, aid to big banks. ‘I was consistent,’ said Santorum. ‘I think the government should not have bailed out either one.’”

When questioned further by Gregory about his support for the steel industry, Santorum said that the steel industry has never gotten a bailout.  He even went so far as to say that he was around in the 1970s and 1980s, so he knows.  Well, he doesn’t know.  Below are two headlines from October 1, 1980:

These headlines are personal to me because I was inside the White House on September 30, 1980 meeting with President Carter.  Steel industry executives were the group coming in behind our group, and we crossed paths with them on the south lawn of the White House as we were leaving.  I remember distinctly that they got out of their limousines smoking big cigars and making a display of their arrival.  It annoyed me because the next day I was scheduled to discuss the steel industry with my business strategy classes.

The specific issue for discussion in class would be U.S. imports of Japanese steel because U.S. steel producers were being clobbered.  I was going to explain to my students that U.S. steel companies should not get support from the federal government because Japanese manufacturers were importing both coal and iron ore, converting them to steel, and exporting the finished product to the U.S. at a price that was lower than the cost of production of U.S. steel companies.  It was clear evidence of the inability of U.S. steel producers to compete primarily because of their excessively high labor costs.

It was an election year, so Carter did come to the aid of U.S. steel companies at the expense of taxpayers.  In other words, it was a bailout, and Senator Santorum needs to get his facts straight.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Per Capita Government Debt in the U.S. is a Serious Problem

Friday, February 24th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

 

Whether the U.S. goes the way of Greece, Italy, Ireland, France, Portugal, and Spain may be in doubt, but this much is certain: Per capita government debt in the U.S. is a serious problem.  In an article for The Blaze yesterday, Becket Adams included the chart below.  It’s shocking – especially to those of us who have been following developments in Europe:

The only thing standing between the U.S. and debt bailout negotiations at this point is the good faith and credit of the U.S. government.  With each passing day, that is worth less and less.  Before too much longer, our so-called “good faith and credit” with be worth zero, and we’ll be called to account.  That’s one reason why the 2012 presidential election is so important.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Will the Greek Debt Deal Succeed? According to a Confidential Memo, Probably Not.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

It’s uncertain whether the arrangement between European finance ministers and Greece can stand the test of time, but some of those close to the negotiations have suggested that its likelihood of success is remote.  That’s what Peter Spiegel of Financial Times learned when he obtained a confidential memorandum outlining some of the pitfalls in the deal.

Writing about the fortuitous discovery for Business Insider, Joe Weisenthal says,

“At least Europe is no longer in denial about the effects of austerity in Greece, and the ability for the country to improve its economic situation via drastic cuts.

Peter Spiegel at FT has obtained a confidential 10-page memo distributed to senior officials in Europe over the last week, which lays out the truth:

It warned that two of the new bail-out’s main principles might be self-defeating. Forcing austerity on Greece could cause debt levels to rise by severely weakening the economy while its €200bn debt restructuring could prevent Greece from ever returning to the financial markets by scaring off future private investors.

‘Prolonged financial support on appropriate terms by the official sector may be necessary,’ the report said.

What’s more – and this Spiegel puts in a follow-up blog post – all the economic assumptions being used are too rosy, further rendering prospects of a successful bailout unlikely.”

The memorandum may have been “confidential,” but its content comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed the negotiations closely.  In fact, you can make a very strong argument that European leaders are still in denial about the situation because the Greek deal is shaky and other European countries including Spain, Portugal, and Ireland are waiting in line to secure similar financing for their failed socialist economies.  Hedge fund manager Dennis Gartman believes that the Greek arrangement will last only until a new government is elected, and he’s not alone.  Writing for American Thinker, Rick Moran paints a bleak but realistic picture of what’s likely to happen:

“I think the bondholders will balk and the Greek voters will throw out the entire government in elections next month. The new government, however long it might take to form, may be elected on a promise of not going through with the harsh austerity measures dictated by the EU. Or perhaps more likely, politicians will balk at passing the necessary enabling legislation for the austerity program to take effect. This will cause that government to fall and a cycle will begin that will destabilize what is left of Greek democracy.

A probable future: Greece will default, exit the euro, and begin a slow, painful process of recovery. The efforts of the EU and IMF will now be toward containing the Greek collapse so that it doesn’t begin a domino effect that will cause Portugal, Ireland, and perhaps Spain to follow in Greece’s wake. Technically, the EU has the mechanisms in place to do that – a trillion euros (on paper) that can be used to buck up banks and flood the bond markets with ECB backed paper that might stem any run that starts on European banks with heavy exposure to Greek debt.”

Whatever comes about, this much is certain: The cost of dismantling failed social programs in Europe will be much higher than European leaders anticipated.  With Greece’s unemployment rate approaching 20% and increasing rapidly, European leaders should hope and pray that their arrangement works because if it doesn’t, more violent protests are bound to take place.  Moreover, the unemployment rates in Spain and Portugal are 25% and 14%, respectively, and rising fast, and Ireland’s unemployment rate is hovering at about 15%.  That’s all the more reason to be pessimistic about the European Union.

People in the United States need to understand what’s taking place in Europe because our experiment with socialism is failing just as surely as theirs is.  Thankfully, we still have time to solve our problem before things explode, but not much.  The 2012 presidential election is crucial because in all likelihood it will determine whether we go the way of Greece or if we have the courage and common sense to scale back social programs to rational levels.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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The Great Uniter has become the Great Divider

Monday, February 20th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

It doesn’t matter whether President Obama intended to ignite a firestorm with his birth control/abortion mandate.  The fact is that he did, and the genie is finally out of the bottle.  Last weekend, Andrew Sullivan wrote a piece for Newsweek suggesting that the president “Set a Contraception Trap for the Right”:

“The more Machiavellian observer might even suspect this is actually an improved bait and switch by Obama to more firmly identify the religious right with opposition to contraception, its weakest issue by far, and to shore up support among independent women and his more liberal base. I’ve found by observing this president closely for years that what often seem like short-term tactical blunders turn out in the long run to be strategically shrewd. And if this was a trap, the religious right walked right into it.”

Sullivan may be correct, but I have my doubts.  Keep in mind that President Obama is the man who singlehandedly destroyed any hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future by suggesting that Israel accept the “1967 borders” which were actually armistice lines and that Israel should stop building “settlements” — even “settlements” in her own capital, Jerusalem, which are actually neighborhoods.  Gabriel Scheinmann, a visiting fellow at The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, wrote about that problem in a piece titled “Misunderstanding Clausewitz: Why the Obama Administration’s Policies have Undermined Israel’s Security.”  I bring it up here simply to point out that President Obama has a penchant for committing colossal and costly blunders that pundits like Andrew Sullivan after the fact try to imagine were strokes of strategic genius.

But again, regardless of his intentions, President Obama has unleashed forces that are beyond his ability to control at this point.  As Sullivan correctly observed,

“Who knew the sexual and religious politics of the 1990s were suddenly back, under the president who promised he’d try to end them? And who knew the president himself — who has made an elegant art form out of avoiding exactly these kinds of controversies in his first three years — would have made the final call on the one that suddenly united the entire Republican right in roiling rage?”

This battle is just getting started.  It probably won’t end until the general election in November, if then, and the “Republican right” isn’t the only group that’s in a “roiling rage.”  Democrats and others who believe that we should leave God out of the political process are fit to be tied.  For example, the top 3 political news articles in diggtm on Wednesday were titled “An Overwhelming Majority want the Catholic Church to STFU about birth control,” “5 Brave Religious Leaders Who Fought Christian Theocracy in America,” and “Colbert: Using contraception means ‘you are c*ck blocking God’.  With one ill-fated shot, President Obama hit two hornets’ nests, Democrats and Republicans, and the upshot is that we are about to learn who we are as a people at this moment in time.

I have a strong hunch that abortion/birth control is the tip of the iceberg.  Beneath the surface you will find a host of other constitutional issues that are dear to the hearts of constitutional conservatives who believe that our founding document actually matters.  From gun control to end runs around Congress to recess appointments to appointing czars who don’t require Senate confirmation to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s advice to Egyptian leaders that they should use South Africa’s constitution as a model instead of ours to you name it, our constitutional form of government is being assaulted, and President Obama is leading the attack.  Did he wind up there by design or by accident?  Who knows, but his much is certain: the Great Uniter has become the Great Divider.

Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family, understands the situation we face better than most.  In an article for The Washington Post on Tuesday titled “Birth control mandate: beyond our God-given rights,” he said,

“It was difficult to click on a Web site, turn on the TV or venture into the social media space over the weekend without encountering news of President Barack Obama’s attempt to blunt criticism that his health-care plan would force religious groups to violate their deeply held morals and values by paying for contraceptive drugs that could cause abortions.

[…]

Perhaps the most fundamental flaw in the White House’s ‘accommodation’ reasoning, no matter, frankly, what in the end that accommodation turns out to be, is that religious liberties are not something any president has the legal authority to recognize or deny. As Christians, we believe these rights come from God; but you don’t need to believe in God to recognize such rights are protected for all citizens by the Constitution.

There is a limit to what government can compel us to do — or not do — particularly in matters of faith and conscience. It is in the best interest of all Americans, of every ideological stripe, that this limit, this line, not be crossed.

This is not about politics. It is about more than one government policy. It is about what’s proper — and it is never proper for government to force the people who elected it to violate their consciences.”

It doesn’t matter in the slightest how we got to this point.  The fact is that we are here, and this is exactly where we should be.  As a nation, we need to decide if we will adhere to the proud traditions that were codified into law and handed down to us by our Founding Fathers or if we will abandon those principles in favor of European-style precepts that have led to a form of socialism/government control that is bankrupting one European nation after another at this very moment.  The best place, the only place, to fight this so-called “culture war” is during a presidential election campaign, so let the games begin.

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President Obama isn’t Interested in Solving our Debt and Deficit Problems

Friday, February 17th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

Yesterday, Real Clear Politics published an article titled “Geithner To Ryan On Debt: We Don’t ‘Have A Definitive Solution To Our Long-Term Problem’.”  It contained the following exchange between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner during a House hearing on the president’s budget:

“Ryan: Here’s the point, if you’ll allow me. This is your time, so we’ll just take a long time. Here’s the point. Leaders are supposed to fix problems. We have a $99.4 trillion unfunded liability. Our government is making promises to Americans that it has no way of accounting for them. And so you’re saying yeah, we’re stabilizing it but we’re not fixing it in the long run. That means we’re just going to keep lying to people. We’re going to keep all these empty promises going.

And so what we’re saying is, in order to avert a debt crisis — you’re the Treasury Secretary — if we can’t make good on our bonds in the future, who is going to invest in our country? We do not want to have a debt crisis. And so it comes down to confidence and trajectory. Do we have confidence that we’re getting our fiscal situation under control, that we’re preventing the debt from getting at these catastrophic levels?

If we go back to the preceding chart, number 13, you’re showing that you have no plan to get this debt under control. You’re saying we’ll stabilize it but then it’s just going to shoot back up. So my argument is, that’s Europe. That is bringing us toward a European debt crisis because we’re showing the world, the credit market’s future seniors — people who are organizing their lives around the promises that are being made to them today — that we don’t have a plan to make good on this.

Geithner: Mr. Chairman, as I said, maybe we’re not disagreeing in a sense. I made it absolutely clear that what our budget does is get our deficit down to a sustainable path over the budget window.

Ryan: And then they take back off.

Geithner: Why do they take off again? Why do they do that?

Ryan: Because we have 10,000 people retiring everyday and healthcare costs going up.

Geithner: That’s right. We have millions of Americans retiring every day, and that will drive substantial further rise in the growth of healthcare costs. We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.”

In a nutshell, President Obama’s proposed solution to our rapidly escalating deficit and debt problems is to “tax the rich.”  He’s in full campaign mode right now crisscrossing the country and telling people that the reason the U.S. is in a financial bind is that the wealthy among us don’t pay their fair share in taxes.  Geithner is the president’s spokesman.  He has to defend Obama’s plan as best he can before the House and Senate, but as you can see from this exchange, the president’s own budget data shows that raising taxes on the rich will not solve our debt and deficit problems.

That should come as no surprise.  Tim Cavanaugh, managing editor of Reason.com and a columnist for Reason‘s print edition, wrote about it on Tuesday in an article titled “Top 1 Percent Pay 37 Percent of Income Taxes.”  In the article, he presented an IRS table that revealed these facts:

  • In 2009, the top 1% of taxpayers paid 36.7% of federal income taxes.  They earned about $344,000.
  • In 2009, the top 5% of taxpayers paid 58.7% of federal income taxes.  They earned about $155,000.
  • In 2009, the top 10% of taxpayers paid 70.5% of federal income taxes.  They earned about $112,000.
  • In 2009, the top 25% of taxpayers paid 87.3% of federal income taxes.  They earned about $66,000.
  • In 2009, the top 50% of taxpayers paid 97.7% of federal income taxes.  They earned about $32,000.
  • In 2009, the bottom 50% of taxpayers paid just 2.3% of federal income taxes.  They earned less than $32,000.

From this data, it should be obvious that the U.S. does have a “fairness problem” as the president suggests, but it’s not the one he’s trumpeting.  Our real “fairness problem” is that half of Americans pay nothing to support the federal government, and that problem is getting worse by the day.  According to a May 4, 2011 article in The Atlantic, the percentage of Americans who pay no federal income taxes has increased to 51%.

Cavanaugh concludes by saying that IRS data suggests that taxing the so-called “rich” — meaning people who make more than $340,000 a year — “will not achieve the fiscal goal of raising more revenue.”  Judging by reliable historical data, he is correct.  According to Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason.tv and Reason.com,

TaxProf Blog points to a Wall Street Journal piece by W. Kurt Hauser showing a hard fact that has yet to sink in on most budget-balancers: Since World War II, federal revenue as a percentage of GDP hasn’t budged much from a bit shy of 19 percent. Regardless of tax rates and what have you, that’s the amount the feds have been able to collect.

[…]

Any budget plan based on revenue being better than 19 percent of GDP is just blowing smoke.”

In his article, Gillespie included the following graph.  It originally appeared in American Thinker on September 26, 2009:

 

Date sources: top marginal rates from the IRS, Historical Table 23, federal revenue 1930-2002 from US Statistical Abstract, Historical Statistics, federal revenue 2003-07 from US Statistical Abstract, Table 451.

 

This graph shows how remarkably stable over time federal income tax revenue has been despite wide fluctuations in marginal tax rates.  Believing as President Obama says he does that raising marginal tax rates now will somehow defy historical evidence and logic and lead to higher federal income tax revenue is ludicrous.

That leads me to conclude that our president isn’t really interested in solving our debt and deficit problems.  His primary concern, and I would argue his only priority, is to win a second term in office.  To do that, he’s playing a class warfare game that can have serious consequences.  If you doubt that, think about what’s happening in Greece right now and imagine the same kind of thing happening here.

Don’t think for one second that it can’t happen here.  Occupy Wall Street is just a step away from violent protests in major cities across the fruited plain.  One word from their champion, Barack Obama, is all it would take to get the ball rolling.  Would he do something that foolish?  I’ll answer that question with another question.  Is he misleading the American people about the fairness issue?

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

 

 

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The U.N. is the Real Comedy Central

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

On Monday, Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Khazaii said that Iran is prepared to help Syria become more democratic:

“The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations has said that Iran is ready to play a constructive role in any peaceful process led by the Syrians which would help the country become more democratic.

Ambassador Mohammad Khazaii made the remarks on Monday during a speech at a session of the UN General Assembly on the human rights situation in Syria.”

The U.N. is probably the only place in the world where that kind of nonsense is taken seriously.  It’s ludicrous to believe that Iran could help any nation become more democratic.  Iran is currently involved in a global campaign to harm Israelis; Iran has declared war on Israel and Jewish people; Iran engineered recent terrorist bombings in Bangkok, Thailand; Iran is supplying weapons to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad so he can kill his people; Iran is supplying weapons to Hezbollah, a terrorist organization; Iran funds insurgents in Iraq; Iran disrupted internet access to its own citizens before parliamentary elections; Iran seeks to control the Strait of Hormuz, an international waterway; Iran tries to intimidate U.S. Navy personnel who are sailing their ships through the Strait of Hormuz; Iran simultaneously is trying to develop nuclear weapons and promising to “wipe Israel off the map”; and Iran butchers its own people when they rise up in protest.

If Mohammed Khazaii were a stand-up comedian and the U.N. General Assembly were a theater, I would expect the auditorium to ring with laughter at a suggestion like that, but he’s not a comedian and the U.N. isn’t Saturday Night Live.   On second thought, maybe the U.N. is the real Comedy Central.  After all, the list of U.N. Human Rights Council member states includes Saudi Arabia, China, Nigeria, Uganda, Maldives, Pakistan, and until just recently Libya.  If that’s not comical, I don’t know what is.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

 

 

 

 

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“Truth” and “Obama” are Mutually Exclusive

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

On Monday, President Obama’s hit squad — pardon me, I meant his re-election team — announced the formation of a “Truth Team” to counter what they know will be a frontal assault on the president’s record:

President Obama’s re-election team on Monday rolled out a campaign to recruit two million supporters to help debunk attacks on the president’s record and hit back at his Republican rivals.

Called the “Truth Team,” the new effort will engage Obama supporters online and in person, encouraging them to communicate with undecided voters about the president’s record.

Candidly, I’m more than a little surprised that the word “truth” is in the president’s vocabulary because he has made a market in half-truths and outright fabrication.  I’m not the first person to point this out, and I’m positive that won’t be the last.

To commemorate the president’s formation of an army of accomplices that’s 2,000,000 people strong, I thought it would be helpful to draw attention to some of his more egregious distortions.  Since so much has been written about Obama’s attempts to mislead, that’s not difficult.  The list below is just a sampler:

Anyone who believes that President Obama can be beaten easily in the 2012 presidential election because of his dismal record is dangerously deluded.  The eventual GOP nominee will encounter a barrage of lies about his and the president’s records.   With a virtual army of ignoramuses spreading lies among uninformed voters many of whom are dependent on the federal government for their livelihoods and a war chest that’s expected to reach $1 billion, the president is in the catbird seat, and he stands a very good chance of being re-elected.

Don’t take anything for granted.  Learn the facts and tell your friends and family what you know.  The only way to counter the president’s offensive is to be more determined than he and his co-conspirators are.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Is Greek-Like Turmoil Coming to America?

Monday, February 13th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

The Greek economy has been in serious trouble for more than a decade, but it took the Great Recession to bring it to its knees. Almost two years ago, the BBC ran an article titled “Greece’s economic woes” in which they it said,

“Greece has been living beyond its means in recent years, and its rising level of debt has placed a huge strain on the country’s economy.

The Greek government borrowed heavily and went on something of a spending spree during the past decade.

Public spending soared and public sector wages practically doubled during that time.

However, as the money flowed out of the government’s coffers, tax income was hit because of widespread tax evasion.

When the global financial downturn hit, Greece was ill-prepared to cope.

Greece’s budget deficit, the amount its public spending exceeds its revenues from taxation, last year was 13.6% of its gross domestic product (GDP). GDP is the value of all its goods and services. This is one of the highest in Europe and more than four times the limit under eurozone rules.

Greece’s high levels of debt mean investors are wary of lending it more money, and demand a higher premium for doing so.”

Things have only gotten worse since then, and the problems confronting Greece are a direct result of Greek political leaders’ avoidance of tough decisions that could have prevented the disturbances that are haunting Athens right now. Those choices can’t be sidestepped any longer. According to an article in today’s Washington Post titled “Greek parliament approves spending cuts as protesters burn buildings,”

“Greece’s Parliament approved far-reaching spending cuts early Monday in a bid to secure a bailout and stave off bankruptcy, as buildings burned in Athens, set ablaze by furious protesters who fear that European demands to reshape their economy will further exacerbate a crippling recession.

The measures, which will slash the minimum wage, trim a fifth of government workers and slash entitlement spending, are wrenchingly unpopular in a country already seized by 21 percent unemployment and dim prospects for the future. But European leaders say that Greece will eventually go bankrupt — even with the new $182 billion bailout — if it does not make the changes they are requiring.”

I’m reminded of an old Fram oil filter commercial.

YouTube Preview Image

Two mechanics are in their shop. The one who changes oil explains why changing oil is imperative while the other one is behind him rebuilding a motor. As the commercial draws to a close, the oil changer says, “Change the oil regularly and put in a new Fram oil filter when you’re supposed to. A Fram filter doesn’t cost much.” Without missing a beat, the rebuilder looks up from the motor and says, “I do.” The commercial’s last line is classic. The oil changer starts a sentence by saying, “You can pay me now,” and the rebuilder finishes it, “or pay me later.”

Violent protests in Greece may be a harbinger of things to come in the United States if our political leaders don’t get our economic house in order. It’s time to pay for our excesses. Either we will pay now or we will pay much more later. Greek political leaders waited too long, and their country is suffering the consequences — austerity and violence. Had they acted sooner, they could have avoided the violence. Will America make the same mistake? The 2012 presidential election will probably determine the answer to that question.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Western Ignorance Where Islam and Iran are Concerned is Breathtaking

Sunday, February 12th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

Speaking to attendees at the 25th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on Friday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said:

“The developments and revolutions in the region and also the repeated retreats of the United States and the hegemonistic machines and the increasing weakness of the Zionist regime are unique opportunities for the Islamic ummah [Muslim people]which must be taken full advantage of…. Despite all the pressure and conspiracies, the Islamic Revolution… has stood firm, grown day by day, and its power has increased.”

Tehran Times ran a story about Khamenei’s remarks on Saturday and so did Mehr News, an Iranian news outlet located in Tehran, but Western news sources completely ignored his statement. The Western media did pick up on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment to the same audience that “[w]ithin the next few days the world will witness the inauguration of several big new achievements in the nuclear field.”

It’s not surprising that Western news sources picked up on Ahmadinejad’s proclamation, cryptic though it was, since Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is front page news all over the world, but it’s shocking that they failed to grasp the significance of Khamenei’s remarks. From his perspective, the Arab Spring, Islamist political gains in Turkey, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan, and headway made by Palestinians in their effort to destroy Israel, for example, dovetail perfectly with Iran’s emergence as a regional power in the Middle East and a potential nuclear power. The Western media’s failure to take note of Khamenei’s speech is all the more alarming since he is the head of Iran’s government, not Ahmadinejad.

Western ignorance where Islam and Iran are concerned is breathtaking. If we continue to ignore and/or make light of what is being done and said openly by Islamists leaders, particularly Islamist leaders in Iran, there will be hell to pay.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

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Turkey’s Leaders are Hypocrites

Saturday, February 11th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

On Friday, Turkey called for international intervention to deal with the unmitigated assault that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is unleashing against his own people. According to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu:

“‘We are talking about what should be done today,’ said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in Washington for consultations with the Obama administration. His visit is part of an international effort to organize an effective response to the Syrian carnage after the veto of a United Nations resolution last week calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside…

Assad, he said, is ‘now fighting against his own people. This cannot be tolerated. We cannot wait and see like Sarajevo,’ the Bosnian capital where Serbian forces rained artillery on civilians while the international community hesitated to intervene.’”

I have an idea. Since it will take some time to pull together an international coalition to invade Syria, an initiative that will be met with violence by the Assad regime and could result in more civilian casualties and the deaths of Syrian forces and potentially coalition troops as well, Turkey’s leaders can take unilateral action by orchestrating a flotilla to Syria like the one they sent to Gaza. They already know how to do it. All they need to do is take the blueprint off the shelf and implement it.

I’m not making light of a terrible situation that is rapidly spiraling out of control and costing untold numbers of innocent lives, and I’m not suggesting that Western countries should do nothing to combat Assad’s brutality. I’m simply pointing out that Turkey’s leaders are hypocrites. They were fully committed to embarrassing Israel by attempting to run the Gaza blockade even though the people of Gaza don’t face any danger from Israel unless they are Islamist members of Hamas who routinely fire rockets and mortars into Israel. Turkish citizens should pay attention to their leaders’ hypocrisy, and so should peace loving people around the world.

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Mitt Romney Needs to Bare his Soul

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

Writing for Commentary on the day of Rick Santorum’s sweep of GOP primaries in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota, Jonathan Tobin said that going negative on Santorum would be “a mistake.” According to Tobin,

“Going negative on Gingrich merely reinforced the public’s doubts of the speaker’s character and record. To try and do the same thing against a candidate who has come across as the nicest guy left in the race might boomerang on Romney…
But if he [Romney] tries the same tactic to take down Santorum, the blowback might do more damage to Romney than his intended victim. The spectacle of the frontrunner trying to demolish the character of another conservative rival may not go down well with the GOP grass roots, especially because Santorum has avoided the class warfare and personal attacks Gingrich launched at Romney.
An assault on Santorum may actually play into his hands, because it will make Romney appear like a bully trying to pick on the one candidate who has tried to run a clean campaign. Moreover, for all of Santorum’s vulnerability on financial issues, the longer the race has gone, the more likeable the Pennsylvanian has seemed. That’s the opposite of what has happened to Gingrich.”

I don’t agree with Tobin. After all, this is a presidential election, and voters need to hear what candidates have to say about each other’s records. Besides, despite all of the talk among pundits about not enjoying attack ads, they work. If they didn’t, you can bet that candidates wouldn’t use them. Even Newt Gingrich resorted to attack ads against Romney after he promised that he would run a “positive campaign,” a campaign about “big ideas.” Newt changed his mind for a reason. Romney’s ads worked and his didn’t.

That said, I think it would be foolish for Mitt Romney to rely exclusively or even predominantly on attack ads aimed at Rick Santorum or any other candidate going forward. GOP voters have serious questions about Romney based on his record, and attack ads won’t answer them. They wonder about his commitment to conservative ideals in general and his true proclivities toward gun control, abortion, and government controlled healthcare, for instance, specifically. Some of us even wonder about his Cayman Island accounts. What were they for?

To win the hearts and minds of GOP voters, Romney needs to present his views on issues that are dear to them succinctly and convince them that he won’t betray them if he becomes president. So far, he hasn’t done that, and as a result, there remains a nagging trust gap. Until it is bridged, Romney will have a hard time closing out his opponents. Take Romneycare, for instance. Romney’s pithy stump one-liners about repealing Obamacare and his willingness to grant exemptions to everyone don’t address the fundamental questions in the minds of GOP voters. How are Romneycare and Obamacare different? What can states do that the federal government can’t do? Will he attempt to impose his will on the nation where healthcare is concerned even if the majority of us don’t like his plan?

If Romney is smart, and I think he is, then he’ll devote time and money to answer these and other questions. If he doesn’t, he may still be able to win the GOP nomination, but he’ll lose the general election to President Obama. Romney needs to bare his soul. If he can’t or won’t, then he doesn’t deserve to be president. Too much is at stake in the 2012 presidential election to risk electing a counterfeit conservative.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You’re Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You’re Not an Idiot.

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Mr. Krugman, There’s Nothing Sacrosanct about the Nobel Prize in Economics

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 - by Neil Snyder

In a column for the New York Times titled “The Austerity Debacle,” Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate in economics, opined that austerity is driving European countries back into recession.  He focused his attention on Britain, Italy, and Spain and said that government attempts to rein in spending in those countries are the exact opposite of what should be done:

“And it’s a failure, in particular, of the austerity doctrine that has dominated elite policy discussion both in Europe and, to a large extent, in the United States for the past two years…

Even so, surpassing the track record of the 1930s shouldn’t be a tough challenge. Haven’t we learned a lot about economic management over the last 80 years? Yes, we have — but in Britain and elsewhere, the policy elite decided to throw that hard-won knowledge out the window, and rely on ideologically convenient wishful thinking instead…

The infuriating thing about this tragedy is that it was completely unnecessary. Half a century ago, any economist — or for that matter any undergraduate who had read Paul Samuelson’s textbook “Economics” — could have told you that austerity in the face of depression was a very bad idea. But policy makers, pundits and, I’m sorry to say, many economists decided, largely for political reasons, to forget what they used to know. And millions of workers are paying the price for their willful amnesia.”

This is the problem with Krugman’s logic, and the thinking of like-minded liberal progressives for that matter: they forget that John Maynard Keynes, the originator of Keynesian economics, believed that governments should engage in deficit spending during recessions to counteract the effects of reduced private sector spending.  He never suggested that deficit spending should become a way of life.  Keynes’ thesis made a lot of sense in the 1930s during the Great Depression when he introduced the concept, and it would make sense today as well if it were not for the fact that governments have abused debt.  In the early part of the 20th century, governments didn’t routinely spend more than they took in.  Since the end of World War II, they have, and that difference is key.

As peculiar as this may seem to Krugman and his sycophants, Keynes’ theory was based on the simplest of principles – the kind of thing that any conscientious parent teaches his children: save for a rainy day.  During good economic times, if you are prudent with your resources you’ll set money aside to deal with bad economic times when they come.  But what if governments spend as though there will be no tomorrow, take on mountains of debt, and use up all of their debt capacity during good times?  What will they do when their economies nosedive?  That’s what happened, and getting out of this mess won’t be painless.  This is the question: when will we face the facts and do what must be done?

Krugman’s solution is to continue borrowing willy-nilly, but as we know, there is a limit to how much debt a nation can afford to take on.  If that issue was ever in doubt, the Standard and Poor’s downgrade of United States bonds in 2011 should have settled the matter.  And the United States isn’t alone.  Western countries across-the-board including Britain, Italy, and Spain have spent more than they should have, and in the absence of self-restraint, at long last rating agencies are imposing discipline.

In the latter part of the 20th century, Western governments turned deficit spending into an art form.  So did their citizens, and it didn’t matter where we were in the economic cycle.  The housing debacle was the pièce de résistance.  Governments and their citizens threw caution to the wind and assumed massive amounts of debt with little or no regard for their ability to repay.  Now it’s time to pay the fiddler.  With debt loads already at highs not seen since World War II, there are no easy fixes.

Krugman posed this question: “Haven’t we learned a lot about economic management over the last 80 years?”  The obvious answer is “no.”  For the last 80 years, Western countries including the United States, Britain, Italy, and Spain to name just a few have habitually spent money they didn’t have on things they didn’t need and couldn’t afford during good times and bad times, and they paid for their excesses with borrowed money.  That irresponsible behavior can’t continue.  If we don’t put the brakes on spending now, when will we?  In the world that Krugman and his liberal progressive followers inhabit, the answer is “never,” but they don’t live in the real world.

 

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