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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hillary's sharp left turn could haunt her in 2016 via @NYPost

You win the presidency, Richard Nixon supposedly observed, by tacking to the right in the primaries and to the center in the general election. Hillary Clinton seems to be following that strategy except, as a Democrat, she is tacking to the left. 

This strategy has risks, as Nixon, who lost the presidency once and won it once by narrow margins, understood. Your right- or left-wing stances in the primaries can hurt in the general. 

As happened to George McGovern, the leftward-tacking Democratic nominee in 1972, whom Nixon beat with 61 percent of the vote. In the four decades since only Ronald Reagan in 1984 came close to that percentage. 

Hillary Clinton, whose husband ran McGovern’s fall campaign in Texas (he won 33 percent there), seems to be taking the same risk. Presumably she does so with open eyes, aware that it might hurt her if nominated, but is more apprehensive about the primary fight than she was seven months ago, before the revelations about her private email server. 

On immigration, for example, she promises to go at least one step further than President Obama. She endorses that his orders effectively legalize not only “dreamers” — persons brought into the country illegally as children and who meet certain conditions — but their parents. 

That latter order has been put on hold by a federal judge. But that doesn’t faze Clinton. “I will not be deporting parents. I will not be breaking up families,” she told a Telemundo interviewer earlier this month. 

For illegals, Clinton said a “path to citizenship” is “absolutely essential” — a stand that contrasts even with such immigration-friendly Republicans as Jeb Bush, who advocates legalization but not citizenship for illegals. 

And even more than Obama, she would use administrative powers to do what Congress declines to authorize. “I want to do more on an individual basis by putting more resources, more personnel into the system to try to help as many people as possible get a different status.” 

These stands are obviously designed to appeal to Hispanic primary voters. But while polls show that non-enforcement against dreamers is popular, administratively legalizing illegals may be a liability in any fall campaign. 

Clinton is also willing to use administrative methods to restrict gun ownership. In New Hampshire this month she promised “executive action” of an unspecified nature to restrict gun sales. She also called for repeal of the 2005 law granting legal immunity from lawsuits for gun manufacturers and dealers. 

That was obviously with an eye to primary voters, since her chief rival at the moment, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, voted for that law. Vermont is one state that has never restricted gun ownership, and Sanders has voted against many, though not all, gun control measures — a no-no for many Democratic primary voters. 

So just as Mitt Romney went after Rick Perry four years ago on immigration — one issue on which he was to the right of his then most threatening rival — Hillary Clinton is going after Sanders on this one issue on which she stands to his left. 

But this isn’t ideal positioning, to say the least, for the general election. Al Gore is said to believe that Bill Clinton’s championing of gun control cost Gore the electoral voters of their two home states — and thus the 2000 election. Hillary Clinton’s emphasis on gun control eliminates any chance she can carry such states and restricts her to the strategy of trying to re-assemble Barack Obama’s 51 percent 2012 coalition. 

Candidate Clinton, if nominated, is at risk of being associated with Obama’s recent favorable evocation of Australia’s gun confiscation law. Her stand on immigration gets her closer to the stance Bill Clinton took, in a speech in Australia on September 10, 2001, for eventual elimination of all national borders for trade and immigration. 

Other cave-ins to the Democratic left — her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, to Arctic oil drilling, to the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership — could hurt as well. Similarly, attempts to skitter away from her somewhat hawkish foreign policy views could be a general election liability. 

Of course Republicans could have problems, too, with an unruly field and various candidates tacking to the right. But Clinton’s risk is obvious. 

She is not likely to match Obama’s margins among black voters and may not match his Hispanic percentage. Add in losses from tacking too far left on immigration and guns, and she could fall below Nixon’s two near-ties and sink toward McGovern’s showing.

The Allure of Mass Murder

The Allure of Mass Murder

The Allure of Mass Murder

“Seems the more people you kill, the more you are in the limelight.”

That blog post on the email address of Oregon mass-murderer Christopher Harper-Mercer was made after Vester Lee Flanagan shot and killed that Roanoke TV reporter and her cameraman.

“I have noticed,” said the blog post, “that people like [Flanagan] are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who you are.”

Harper-Mercer had found the key to his future, and given us a truism for our time.

For the world now knows who Harper-Mercer is.

We have seen his face on TV. We have read how he murdered eight students and a teacher at Umpqua Community College, how those who admitted to being Christian were executed in front of the class with a bullet to the brain.

When detectives arrived, Harper-Mercer was wounded in a firefight, fled back to his bloody classroom and shot himself. From start to finish, the worst shooting in Oregon’s history lasted half an hour.

When the news broke, predictably, President Obama was back in the White House briefing room calling for new laws to control the sale of guns.

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” said Rahm Emanuel.

Yet it is hard to find an episode where new gun laws would seem less relevant. For what took place at Roseburg, Oregon, was a planned massacre by a man full of hate who had decided to end his life in a blaze of infamy, by suicide, or suicide-by-cop, so he could become as famous as the killers of Columbine, Ft. Hood, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson, Virginia Tech and Charleston.

Harper-Mercer wanted to die as a mass-murderer.

Is someone driven by such hatred, such determination to have us know who he is, going to be deterred by a new federal statute that says he cannot acquire the guns he needs to succeed, out of 300 million guns in America?

Roseburg reinforces the case made by the NRA.

Often, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That’s who finally stopped Harper-Mercer. Regrettably, none of the innocent dead at Umpqua was carrying a concealed weapon.

Prediction: We are going to have more of these massacres.

Why? Because we rewarded Harper-Mercer for his barbarity in the currency he craved, the only currency he cared about: fame and immortality in this world. Before Oct. 1, Harper-Mercer was a nobody, a loser, a recluse with no girlfriend. For a brief time, this nobody has become as notorious as John Dillinger and Jesse James.

The lesson of Roseburg?

If you are sick of life and hate the world, you can end it in a way that makes that world take notice of who you were. If you are willing to shoot a dozen unarmed people, and die in a blaze of gunfire, TV will interrupt its broadcasting to report on who you are, what you did, and to read on-air selections from your fiery final manifesto.

The Charleston killer Dylan Roof had photos of himself waving the Battle Flag shown to all of America. The Roanoke killer took cellphone photos while shooting the woman reporter.

Moreover, society is producing more and more dead souls like Harper-Mercer, who crave the same reward.

The child of a broken family, he was taught in schools from which the Ten Commandments had been ruthlessly expunged. He grew up in a deracinated society whose reverence for human life is testified to by 55 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, and by video games where killing of simulated human beings is treated as a participant sport.

In the country of yesterday, “Thou shalt not kill” was the word of God, and the penalty for breaking God’s law and man’s law was not only execution, but the loss of one’s soul.

How many still believe that?

We have a drug culture where those with mental illness are prescribed ever more powerful antidepressants. And modernity has no convincing answer to the eternal question, “Why not?”

Across the secularized West, in the thousands, young men are being attracted to the Islamic State to become suicide bombers. The drawing card? Footage of anti-Islamists being beheaded on a beach.

And the reward that Islamists offer to their suicide bombers?

Not too different from ours. We make our monsters media celebrities of the moment. The Islamic State makes them martyrs for Allah who spend eternity in paradise.

In a de-Christianized America where no higher law exists, killing is a commonplace occurrence, and the popular culture is polluted by raw sex and violence, what answer does society give to the Harper-Mercers who are willing to kill in large numbers to become famous?

We are not the rules-based society we once were. We have junked the Christian code, embraced absolute social freedom, and dispensed with the moral sanctions.

Why Congress Must Work to Balance the Budget

By Romina Bocciaon Fri, 9 Oct 2015

Important budget questions were discussed this week at a widely attended event by the Institute to Reduce Spending that featured Chairman of the House Budget Committee Dr. Tom Price, R-Ga., as well as a panel of experts (I was delighted to be among the panelists).

Price explained that the goal of fiscal policy and of balancing the budget is to ensure that the “greatest amount of opportunities, the greatest amount of success, is secured for the greatest amount of Americans, to realize the greatest amount of American dreams.”Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 4.55.57 PM

This message can get lost in discussions over the latest deficit or debt number. It’s important that we be reminded that budget debates are ultimately about what’s best for the country.

The event comes at a time when Congress is faced with the debt limit, the imminent highway trust fund shortfall, and an expiring continuing resolution to fund government agencies—all before Christmas. As Congress lurches from crisis to crisis, real fiscal reform remains elusive.This is not for a lack of solutions, but for a lack of will.

Price was not shy in telling the audience that although Congress passed a budget that would cut more than $5 trillion in projected spending over the next decade to reach balance, the ugly fact is that Congress was not following its budget. Automatic spending on Medicare, Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare present the greatest challenge because Congress allows this spending to grow uncontrolled.

A key theme that emerged from the event was that many U.S. states, as well as nations around the globe, use fiscal rules to control spending and debt.

Fiscal rules enshrine budget commitments and facilitate enforcement. They bind lawmakers to fiscal targets in order to help them resist the temptation to overspend. Fiscal rules force and enforce spending control.

Among the other panelists were Dr. Barry Poulson, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Colorado-Boulder, who shared a new fiscal rule designed for the U.S. based on the successful Swiss spending brake (a report from the Institute to Reduce Spending is forthcoming), and Jonathan Williams, director of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who shared success stories from the states, highlighting Colorado and its model fiscal rule (TABOR) in particular.

Getting Congress to move from promises to actually adhering to its budget will be a tough battle. However, it is a battle of utmost importance, and absolutely worthwhile. The future of the country is at stake. We have a moral obligation to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the same or better opportunities than those who came before them did.

Conservative Who Tried to Oust Boehner Says Paul Ryan Could Be Unstoppable

Conservative Who Tried to Oust Boehner Says Paul Ryan Could Be Unstoppable

By Josh Siegelon Fri, 9 Oct 2015

After a band of conservatives undercut Kevin McCarthy’s assumed ascension to speaker of the House, Republicans turned to the only person they see as indestructible: Paul Ryan.

Though Ryan has so far resisted the persistent pleas of his counterparts (he is said to be taking the weekend to make a final decision, according to The Washington Post) the force could be too strong.

Indeed, even the 40 or so members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus may be reluctant to block a Ryan speakership.

“If Paul Ryan enters the race, it will make it a much quicker race,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, who led the effort to oust Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and helped found the Freedom Caucus.

“Regardless of how he may or may not stand up on some conservative lists, you would be hard-pressed to have a vice presidential nominee not be considered enough of a candidate to be speaker of the House. If you voted for him for the second highest position, certainly voting for him as the third highest position would be difficult to make an argument against.”

In an interview with The Daily Signal on Friday, Meadows, R-N.C., said the Freedom Caucus would have a formal conference call over the House’s upcoming week-long recess to discuss Ryan specifically.

A day after the Freedom Caucus vowed to stand by long shot Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., Meadows made clear a Ryan run would change the equation.

“There are a number of my colleagues who certainly respect Paul Ryan and consider him to be a credible candidate for the speaker’s job,” Meadows said.

“I believe there was still a path for McCarthy to be the speaker, so suggesting that Ryan would be opposed by the Freedom Caucus is not really along the lines of where ultimately this election may lead.”

Meadows took it a step farther and said the Freedom Caucus is willing to support McCarthy, R-Calif., on the House floor—and would do the same for Ryan.

“The fact the Freedom Caucus endorsed Dan Webster for that first ballot—because it was such a fluid situation—doesn’t necessarily mean we would have stayed firm on that. We have individual areas we want addressed, whether it’s by Dan or someone else.”

Friday, October 9, 2015

Gun-rights supporters protest Obama visit

Gun-rights supporters protest Obama visit
By Jordan Fabian - 10-09-15 15:32 PM EDT

Gun-rights advocates on Friday protested President Obama's visit to Roseburg, Ore., where he will meet families of the victims of last week’s shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Around 300 people gathered to protest Obama before his arrival in Roseburg, according to The Register-Guard newspaper. Demonstrators held signs saying “Go Away” and “Obama Free Zone.”

Opponents and supporters of Obama lined the motorcade route as he traveled to the site of the meeting.

The shooting at Umpqua Community College last week left 10 dead — including the suspected shooter — and seven injured.

On the same day of Obama’s visit, a gunman killed one and wounded three at a college campus in Arizona, according to officials. Two were shot in another incident in student housing at Texas Southern University, The Associated Press reported. 

The Roseburg shooting reignited a contentious debate over the nation’s gun laws. Many residents of the small, rural community have vented anger at Obama for using the shooting to push for stricter gun control measures. 

“It’s unconscionable to me that he would take the pain and the agony of people who just lost a loved one and basically say, no matter what you say and what you think, I’m going to use your personal tragedy for his own political agenda,” Michelle Finn, an organizer with the group Defend Roseburg — Deny Barack Obama, told CNN. “That’s the problem that this community has.”

Just hours after the shooting last Thursday, Obama said gun violence “is something we should politicize.”

“This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America,” he said. “We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”

Hours before Obama’s departure on Friday White House officials announced that he is considering new executive actions on gun control in response to the shooting. 

But the White House said it would not use Obama’s Roseburg visit as a platform to push his gun control plans. The president is not expected to make public remarks during his Oregon visit.

“The trip would not be about politics, but that trip would be about merely consoling the families of those who were so profoundly affected by that tragedy,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday. 

Finn said that Roseburg should have the chance to mourn and heal before entertaining a debate over gun laws.

“If the president wants to come and pay his condolences and pay his respects, that’s wonderful, that’s admirable,” she said. But she added the majority of people in Roseburg and the surrounding areas believe “this is a mental health issue. ... This is not a gun issue.” 

- This story was updated at 3:57 p.m.