Remembering Margaret Thatcher

Freedom lost a friend today in Baroness Margaret Thatcher. Lady Thatcher passed away of a stroke at the age of 87, marking the end of an era that gave us truly fearless leaders. Along with President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, Thatcher stood strong against communism in the 1980s and championed the policies of prosperity and individual liberty to not only Great Britain, but to the world.

From 1979-1990, Thatcher was at the helm of British government and ushered in their economic recovery. By 1976, the Labour Party had driven Britain into, essentially, bankruptcy. The value of British currency was dropping and the government had to take out a loan with the International Monetary Fund.

By May of 1979, garbage collectors were on strike, leading to piles of trash in the streets. The National Mineworkers of UK had such a stranglehold on fuel supplies that the British government had imposed a 3-day work week on commercial users of electricity. In Liverpool, gravediggers and crematorium workers were willing to let human remains go unburied rather than get back to work. Understandably, Britain was ready for a change and elected Thatcher as Prime Minister, the first woman to lead a western democracy.

Through her beliefs in economic freedom, individual liberty, and the connection between the two, Thatcher led Britain out of this economic tailspin and into prosperity. Personal responsibility, hard work, and free-market democracies were just what the country needed. To let these principles shine, she broke the power of the labor unions, forced the left to give up on nationalized industry, and redefined the role of the welfare state. Thatcher understood that „every regulation represents a restriction of liberty, every regulation has a cost,” and wasn’t afraid to fight against them, even amongst members of her own party.

It took time for recovery to come about, but Thatcher refused to bow to the more moderate wing of the Tory party, saying “I am not a consensus politician, I am a conviction politician.”  Standing on these convictions, British businesses boomed and more and more people moved into the middle class.

When Thatcher took office in 1979, the top tax rate was 98% and had a stranglehold on industry. By the time she left in 1990, it had been reduced to 40%. This allowed the wealthiest Britons to invest in the economy, leading to real growth by way of new hires and entrepreneurial endeavors. Real GDP growth increased during this time as well while nationalized industries such as gas, telephone, and airlines were privatized. In short, she proved that conservative principles work.

As she said in a 1988 speech,

“The lesson of the economic history of Europe in the 70’s and 80’s is that central planning and detailed control do not work and that personal endeavour and initiative do…Our aim should not be more and more detailed regulation from the centre: it should be to deregulate and to remove the constraints on trade.”

With undeniable success, even many detractors came to respect her. Labour politician Peter Mandelson said in 2002 that „We are all Thatcherites now.” She was so successful, in fact, that she is the only three-term prime minister of Britain in the 20th century.

Thatcher grew up in an apartment above her father’s grocery store.  She learned the value of hard work and dedication from her humble roots, and with her tenacious spirit went on to save Britain from Socialism.  America and the world over has lost an incredible leader. Let us take this opportunity to remember her leadership and fight on.

„To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.”

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The RNC Diagnosis: Part 1 – Messaging

The Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project post-mortem of the 2012 election cycle covers a lot of ground in its effort to diagnose the Party’s losses. This first installment of my response covers the report broadly and particularly its prescriptions for messaging.

The RNC report categorized its recommendations in seven areas:

  1. Messaging
  2. Demographic Partners
  3. Campaign Mechanics
  4. Friends and Allies (Third Party Groups)
  5. Fundraising
  6. Campaign Finance
  7. Primary Process

I have chosen to break my response into three parts:

The committee spoke to more than 2,600 people, conducted a poll among 2,000 Republican Hispanic voters, surveyed political hacks and pollsters, and conducted an online survey of 36,000 people interested enough to take the survey. The regurgitation of contact numbers sounds eerily like the Illinois GOP touting how many people it has contacted while losing election after election.

Regardless of the number of inputs, the quality of the advice the committee chose to accept is what matters. Did anyone persuade the committee of anything What comes through most in the document are points on which the committee could use the voices of others to buttress its own positions.


There are some positive items in the report. Following the example of Senator Ted Cruz, for instance, the report suggests Republicans present their ideas through the lens of the people at the bottom. But other suggestions in the report don’t make much sense at all, or don’t address the messaging problems the party has been having.

Here, then, is my summary. Republicans, if they want to win, will:

  • Present a clear contrast to the Democrats. The RNC report seems to suggest mimicking their opponents, or softening language to mask any differences.
  • Avoid making overtly antagonistic comments that will arouse the other side’s base. This may be impossible, as the other side seeks out such „bulletin board” material. All candidates should test messages internally and practice the language and phrasing needed to avoid verbal land mines.
  • Use the language of the target audience without hiding and especially without changing principles.
  • Adopt the perspective of the bottom rung of the ladder or someone who sees themselves as part of an oppressed group, and explain how a world view that includes individual freedom, opportunity, and placing limits on government helps them.
  • Avoid criticizing other Republicans who make errors. If you can’t support someone, be silent. If asked, change the subject. If pressed, insist that questions be about your campaign, not someone else’s. If pressed further, attack the other side, not your own.

Voters, especially the undecided, are filled with cognitive dissonance. For instance, they believe in the image of America as the land of opportunity, but they also believe in a safety net for those who can’t take care of themselves.

The successful Republican candidate appeals to the central place of the individual, faith, and family, the dreams of people for success, and America’s unique place in world history. The successful Democrat appeals to group labels, the fear of failure, and exaggerated societal imperfections.  The idea is to get the voters thinking in your terms, not those of the other party.

Undecided voters are attracted to confidence above all else. You need look no further than the current occupant of the Oval Office for a great example of someone who espouses the silliest policies imaginable, but who does so with such confidence that people accept his statements without challenge. Polls show consistently that people don’t like his ideas, but do like him. It’s because of the confidence with which he presents his awful positions.

The trap Republicans have fallen into most often in the last several election cycles is attacking their own, believing their party would benefit by distancing itself from gaffe-prone, scandal-marred, or otherwise imperfect candidates. Those friendly-fire attacks have only made matters worse, focusing attention where Republicans didn’t want it.

The following bit of class warfare from the report is shocking in its off-hand delivery. While I dislike corporate welfare as much as the next tea partier, I’d like to know what the committee means by „corporate malfeasance,” – and who, exactly, is not blowing the whistle on it That isn’t the troubling part, however:

We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.  (p. 6)

I would not want to belong to a party that as a matter of policy nit-picked private sector compensation on grounds of fairness. These are decisions to be left to the free market. Rather than adopting such Marxist rhetoric, Republicans should stay true to our founders’ vision of economic freedom for all. People who acquire wealth honestly should be praised and imititated, not treated as thieves.

Today’s Democratic Party has devolved into a party of Marx. America doesn’t need another one.

Republicans should stop saying that the 47% of people who don’t pay federal income tax are never going to vote for them. There are several things wrong with saying so.

First, it isn’t true. Many of the people in my rural area, for instance, are solidly Republican retirees who don’t pay income tax. Veterans just released from service and retraining, small business owners struggling to make money, and conservative and libertarian students, many of which vote Republican, but also typically don’t pay income tax.  A lot of people know that while they are not able to work in the private economy, a strong one is essential for national survival.

Not paying income tax and living off of government programs are not the same thing.  Even those who do depend on government programs do not all want to depend on them. In fact, most do not.  Using government programs doesn’t mean you won’t vote to limit government.

Speaking in terms of „makers and takers” inadvertently validates the Marxist narrative of class struggle.

Never attack the voters.  Attack special interests, bad ideas, your opponent, and even the opposing party, but do not attack the voters themselves.

FreedomWorks’ Jeff Scully says the way forward for Republicans is not cynically reaching out to groups to achieve diversity for its own sake:

If the RNC wants to reach out to women, minorities, and the youth, they need to make it less about being a Republican or part of the RNC, and more about ideas.

It is not necessary, and in fact would be unhelpful, for the RNC to dictate to state parties or individual candidates which planks of the party platform they will stress.

Frightened by media furor over mistakes made by individual candidates, the RNC is about to embark on a fool’s errand: effectively changing its platform to avoid the topics on which those mistakes were made. Not only is avoiding media furor not possible, but avoiding those topics leaves the field open to Republican opponents – both Democrats, and whatever other parties arise who are not afraid to stand on their own principles.

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Stanford Kills Popular Course on Free Market

Universities have long been considered hotbeds of liberalism. Radical protests, dreary PC speech codes, far-left professors and outright attacks on conservatism are not just common but expected. Academia has become so stridently left-wing, faculty views even a single ember of center-right thought as a dangerous wildfire.

For the past three years, Stanford University had allowed one tiny exception to their monolithically liberal course catalog. In 2009, Professor John McCaskey began teaching “Moral Foundations
 of Capitalism” at the Palo Alto, Calif. institution. The seminar explored and evaluated historical arguments for the free-market
 model, presenting
 the views of economists such as Milton Friedman, of Protestant and Catholic defenders, and of Ayn Rand-influenced Objectivists.

The course proved more popular than Stanford expected, drawing double the planned number of students with even more sitting on the floor outside, trying to
 get in. So what does a university do with a runaway academic hit Cancel it, of course.

Stanford’s Center on Ethics in Society discontinued the course this month, blaming “a restructuring 
of Stanford’s general education requirements.” Professor Rob Reich, director of 
the ethics program, told the Stanford Review that his center “will play a role in supporting the creation of new courses and
 existing courses in ethical reasoning, and the Center decided to allocate its limited resources 
(human and financial) to this task in the coming years.”

Apparently “restructuring” didn’t touch another Ethics in Society course titled “Moral Limits of the Market,” which highlights liberal critiques of capitalism. Neither did it force the cancellation of Stanford’s many other student loan-funded attacks on conservatism.

Stanford’s Department of History presents such essentials as “Capitalism and Its Discontents: From Adam Smith to Adbusters” and “Social Democracy from Marx to Gross National Happiness.” The English Department offers “The Literature of Inequality: Have and Have-Nots from the Gilded Age to the Occupy Era,” which steeps young minds in the “profound gap between those who have and those who do not” through “literary and artistic explorations of social and economic inequity.”

Students can still sign up for “Noam Chomsky: The Drama of Resistance,” “The Personal is Political: Art, Activism and Performance,” and that old liberal arts classic, “Black (W)holes: Queering Afro-Futurism.” The only pariah that had to be shutdown was the single course that might help college students transition to the real world. When creating your résumés, be sure to list that C+ in “A Post-Hip Hop Search for a Black Feminist Politics of Pleasure!”

Stanford University’s motto is “the wind of freedom blows.” By canceling their only conservative-friendly course, the university blotted out the first three words.

Follow me on Twitter at @ExJon.

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Closing Down Their American Dream

What is your American dream?  That is the question I think you should ask yourself before you cast your ballot tomorrow.

Tonight as I worked from my DC office, preparing for election day tomorrow, I happened to scroll through Facebook and I ran across a post that put it all in perspective for me.  The post is from a personal friend and Oregon business owner Kevin Simpson:

Closing down my American dream business today. We began in March of 1999 with money we received from our tax return. We worked hard and by 2007 we had seven full and part time employees with retirement plans and health insurance. 2007 was our peak and every year since has been like walking on a greased slope. We laid off all our employees, spent all our reserve savings, sold off most of our equipment, shut down our shop (broke our lease) and moved it to our home. We set up in a corner of the garage. For the last two years I’ve been collecting unemployment but that has run out.  As a condition of unemployment I have been have been applying for jobs. I have responded to over twenty five ads for electrical supervisors, and I received one letter saying basically, ‘thanks but no thanks.’ For those of you who are my friends and you voted for Obama I forgive you, because you clearly dont know what you are doing. Obama has never ran a business and yet we the people positioned him to run our country, out of money and into the ground. Talk about setting someone up for failure. That’s insanity! I dont think this is a democrat/republican thing, it’s about spending money we dont have. My business ceases to exist because it costs more to operate than it takes in. 

Sadly, I can say that as I’ve traveled the country the past two years, I’ve seen this story play out over and over again. In fact, the Obama economy and its devastating effect on small business is the reason I am no longer working in our family small business today.

Many decent, hardworking American entrepreneurs have had to shut their doors and cease to exist. It saddens me to know that these are the same people who are demonized for wanting to create wealth, to employ people and to create a better life; not by taking from others, but by creating something of value and bringing it to market. For them and the people they once employed, their American dream is currently a nightmare. Even though Kevin is a skilled laborer, he struggles in this economy to find a job and provide for his family.

It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to win elections. At times we forget about the human element of bad policy. But tomorrow, when you vote I’d ask you’d do me a favor; think about the Simpson family. Also think about the tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of small business owners who have met a similar fate.

Our economy and our nation will not rebound from government spending. An additional $5 Trillion in debt over the last four years has proven as much. We have dug a hole that will take much sacrifice and many years to emerge from. We must choose a different path. We must decide whether or not we’re going to still be a nation of dreamers and doers or a nation who simply has seen its best days.

Thomas Jefferson summed it up quite nicely in 1816 „To preserve … independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.”

Which will you choose? Debt and servitude or economic liberty?

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Media Bias? What Media Bias?

Under the guise of analyzing the final stages of the 2012 Presidential race, ABC News Political Director Amy Walter has furthered the spin of the Democratic National Committee and Obama campaign.

Expressing confidence in their status in the states that had formed the battleground in the campaign thus far, the Romney team decided to „expand the map„, putting money and staff into new states in order to widen their anticipated margin of victory. The campaign may also have had an unusual problem: an excess of money to spend at the end of the campaign.

When Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Ed Rendell warned that his state could see an upset, the two campaigns began competing in the state. As the Romney blog put it:

What a difference a few days makes.  Not only has Minnesota been moved to “Lean Dem” and the Obama Campaign is up in that state with a significant television buy, but the Chicago gurus have heeded Governor Rendell’s plea and are buying television in Pennsylvania and sending the Vice-President in to help prop up their fledgling campaign.

Romney is not the kind of politician who would be content with a 50.1% win if he has the resources to pursue a wider margin.

The Obama campaign declared Romney’s move to compete in more areas to be a sign of desperation. Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama 2012 Stephanie Cutter:

As The Fix said last week (6:30 am October 31, 2012):

In addition, at some point, the law of diminishing returns takes effect. Rather than spend that extra $1 million in expensive areas like Northern Virginia or Columbus only to have it lost in a bevy of campaign ads, why not take a flyer in Minnesota, where polls suggest an upset is possible – if not likely?

Beyond the bravado and bluster of campaign operatives, most observers believe Romney is likely to win Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, once considered battlegrounds.

Enter ABC’s Walter, who theorized, in a post (Oct 31, 2012 9:14 am) entitled „Mitt Romney’s Expanding Map: Desperation or Realization?

Ohio is a lost cause so Team Romney needs another path to 270: Despite the plethora of media polls showing Obama ahead in the Buckeye state, GOPers not affiliated with the Romney campaign say they have polling showing a dead heat or Romney slightly ahead. In that vein, we are left to wonder whether Romney’s decision to run a blatantly false ad in Toledo – re: Jeep factory moving to China – is a hail Mary or a way to try and tip this very tight contest?

The Romney Jeep ad says nothing about a factory, and after studying published reports does not appear to me even to be false.

The Walter post uses the false-choice fallacy, asking which of two negatives apply, when it’s possible neither does.

DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse tweeted on Friday:

ABC News’ Walter echoed the DNC. In a show of apparent solidarity with Democrats, she wrote (Nov 4, 2012 6:47pm):

Obama and Biden are making 18 stops across seven states – Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Florida. Romney and Ryan, meanwhile, are making 24 stops across 10 states – New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Minnesota, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

The fact that Team Romney is making forays into Pennsylvania and Minnesota suggests that they are not particularly confident that they can get to 270 electoral votes if the playing field is restricted to the eight battleground states where this campaign has been waged for the last six months.

The Romney and RNC explanation that they can compete in areas thought safe for Democrats seems to hold more water, given Walter’s concluding paragraph, which contradicts her conclusions:

Overall, the Romney/Ryan schedule suggests that they are more focused on wooing independent voters than simply firing up the base.

If Romney is not trying to fire up his base, it must mean that he already has done so. Clearly, Romney is on offense. Whether that is because he is indeed stymied in the states once thought to be the keys to his victory or is trying to achieve a larger margin will made clear by voters on Tuesday. 

Walter’s bias is not as striking as some, and it may very well be that she is only guilty of having an Democrat frame of reference: believing that success in this election is only limited to winning by the barest of margins, she cannot see that one side has a good chance to win by significantly more.

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Fisker Karma: Obama’s Latest Green Disaster?

In the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney said of Obama’s green energy initiatives “You don’t pick winners and losers, you only pick losers.” The list of so-called losers, which already included the well-known Solyndra and the Chevy Volt also included Finnish car company Fisker. Fisker’s new electric vehicle, Karma, was created with a $529 million loan guarantee from Obama’s Department of Energy (DOE) and, as with previous green projects, it is not looking as though the taxpayers can expect repayment. 

The high-end luxury vehicle has a price tax of $102,000 (more than $10,000 more than projected) and the main question is, will it sell? Will Fisker be able to repay the taxpayers? It’s looking like the answer is no. Extreme Tech reviewed the car, saying “Bottom line: The Fisker Karma is a pretty much a Chevrolet Volt in a better wrapper. Just multiply the wow factor, handling, and cost by a factor of three…Whether that’s worth $100,000 is less certain.” With the Volt and lesser-known competitor Nissan Leaf selling so poorly, it is reasonable to be skeptical. 

The DOE has said that Fisker has “experienced some delays in its sales and production schedule.”  They have also recalled the vehicle three times, once due to fire, which causes one to be even more skeptical that it is even safe to drive. Or if you would want to. Consumer Reports saysThe controls are a nightmare, and the interior of the car is quite claustrophobic. In addition, acceleration isn’t what you’d expect from a sports car…You can do better.”  Surely, for such a steep price tag, it should be the pinnacle of electric automobiles.

Another failed facet of the Karma is the promise of American jobs. Fisker was to open a production plant in Delaware which would begin hiring employees in July. They were to hire 40 employees initially with an additional 80 this fall. By 2014, Fisker projected 2,000 jobs at the facility plus 3,000 supplier jobs by 2014. Instead, out of money, they halted work and began laying off employees in Delaware as well as laying off employees at their California plant in August.

Obama has invested $5 billion in electric cars, but sales are far from reaching their goal of 1 million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015. The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are far below expectations. Is there any reason to expect that the public is clamoring for the Karma? Perhaps we should let the open market decide rather than gambling with taxpayer money. 


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