Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obituary - Kavitsky


BERNARD "BUD', July 1, 2008. Husband of Marceline "Mitzie" (nee Goldsmith). Father of Charles M. (Mindy) Kavitsky and Philip L. (Elene) Kavitsky. Grandfather of Jodi Pines, Samuel Kavitsky, Leslie Kavitsky, Elizabeth Kavitsky and Russell Kavitsky. Great grandfather of Ruthie Pines. Relatives and friends are invited to Funeral Services Thursday 1:30 P.M. precisely GOLDSTEINS' ROSENBERG'S RAPHAEL SACKS SUBURBAN NORTH, 310 Second St. Pike, Southampton. Int. Roosevelt Memorial Park. Shiva will be observed at the late residence. Contributions in his memory may be made to the charity of the donor's choice.

Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer & Philadelphia Daily News on 7/3/2008

Car Bailout Summary

David Hasselhoff: Jump In My Car

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't Bail Out My State: South Carolina's governor says more debt isn't the answer. By Mark Sanford


NOVEMBER 15, 2008

I find myself in a lonely position. While many states and local governments are lining up for a bailout from Congress, I went to Washington recently to oppose such bailouts. I may be the only governor to do so.

But I suspect I'm not entirely alone, as there are a lot of taxpayers who aren't pleased with Christmas coming early for politicians. And I hope these taxpayers make their voices heard before Democrats load up the next bailout train for states with budget deficits.

Several questions led me to oppose bailing out the states. They are worth asking, even if you supported bailing out Wall Street.

Who bails out the "bail-outor"?

Washington is short on cash these days and will borrow every dime of the $150 billion to $300 billion for the "stimulus" bill now being worked on. Federal appetites may know no bounds. But the federal government's ability to borrow is not limitless. Already, our nation's unfunded liabilities total $52 trillion -- about $450,000 per household. There's something very strange about issuing debt to solve a problem caused by too much debt.

Do you now have to be a financial "bad boy" to win?

Community bankers tell me that they are now at a competitive disadvantage for being careful about who to lend to, because others that were less disciplined will get a federal bailout. This is also true for states. Those that have been fiscally responsible will pay for or lose out to the big spenders. California increased spending 95% over the past 10 years (federal spending went up 71% over the same period). To bail out California now seems unfair to fiscally prudent states.

Was the economist Herb Stein wrong when he said that if something cannot go on forever, it won't?

Medicaid grew 9.5% annually over the past 10 years. That's unsustainable. But if Congress opens the checkbook now, there will be no reform.

Isn't government intervention supposed to be the last resort and come only when it can make a difference?

In 2008 bailouts became the first resort. Over the past year the federal government has committed itself to $2.3 trillion (including the tax rebate "stimulus" checks of last February) to "improve" the economy. I don't see how another $150 billion now will make a difference in a global slowdown. We've already unloaded truckloads of sugar in a vain attempt to sweeten a lake. Tossing in a Twinkie will not make the difference.

However, there is something Congress can do: free states from federal mandates. South Carolina will spend about $425 million next year meeting federal unfunded mandates. The increase in the minimum wage alone will cost the state $2.6 million and meeting Homeland Security's REAL ID requirements will cost $8.9 million.

Based on what I saw in Washington, the bailout train is being loaded up. Taxpayers will have to speak up now to change its freight, tab or departure.

Mr. Sanford, a Republican, is the governor of South Carolina.

Republicans Must Fight for Freedom to Regain America's Trust by Senator Jim DeMint


November 10, 2008

They say that elephants never forget, but that's exactly what the Grand Old Party has done.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, Rockefeller and Nixon Republicans kept the party in a seemingly permanent minority with a "me-too" philosophy that allowed Democrats to balloon the size and scope of government.

But, when Ronald Reagan ran unashamed on conservative principles in 1980 and Republicans in Congress embraced bold conservative reforms in 1994, America responded with overwhelming approval.

Since then, many Republicans have run for office as conservatives but governed as scandal-plagued big-spending moderates. They stopped offering common-sense solutions and broke promises with Americans by overspending and wasteful earmarking to special interests.

In the name of bipartisanship, our leaders supported amnesty, big new entitlements, more federal control of education, and compromises on energy. And too often Republicans shied away from defending values of life, family and faith.

The final straw for many was a series of Wall Street bailouts that cost over a trillion dollars and looked more like knee-jerk socialism than confident conservative leadership.

No wonder Republicans have lost a dozen Senate seats and nearly 50 House seats in two years.

Democrats will likely mistake Republican failures as a mandate for their liberal policies. Obama promises to "spread the wealth" and repeal all restrictions on abortion.

Nancy Pelosi wants trillions in new federal spending. Barney Frank promises higher taxes and massive military funding cuts. Harry Reid will kill the secret ballot for union elections. Patrick Leahy yearns to pack federal courts with activist judges who are hostile to traditional values.

Americans know little about these far left plans because Democrats didn't run on their liberal agenda, they ran against George Bush.

Yet, a strong majority of Americans are conservative and support the principles of freedom our nation was founded on.

The bipartisan Battleground Poll has found every year since 2002 that 60 percent of Americans identify themselves as conservatives and only 30 percent call themselves liberals. That's why Obama and the Democrats talked so much about conservative themes of tax cuts, spending restraint, second amendment rights and energy independence.

Americans haven't changed, Republicans have.

Recent Republican leaders said earmarks proved we could deliver for our districts and higher spending demonstrated our compassion. But a recent Club for Growth poll found that 66 percent of Americans favor candidates who will cut federal spending even if it means less local funding.

They said fighting for values that strengthen families and protect life is outdated, but ballot propositions to protect traditional marriage still pass overwhelmingly, most recently in California. Numerous polls on abortion reveal most Americans value life and want fewer abortions.

Republicans can regain America's trust only by acting on our conservative principles and offering real solutions.

First, we must lead by example and limit our own power in order to guard against corruption, starting with a unilateral, two-year earmark moratorium.

Then, let's end the seniority system that turns too many Republican outsiders into Washington insiders. This requires term limiting our conference leader and appropriations committee members, then choosing committee heads on merit, not seniority.

Second, Republicans must reestablish ourselves as the Party of Ideas with new, principled solutions for today's challenges. We offer more jobs, more take-home income, and more opportunity to succeed.

We offer more choices, personal control, and better quality in health care, education, and retirement. We offer more protection of life and the family, freedom of political speech, and respect for the right to bear arms. As global threats increase, Republicans offer a stronger national defense and secure borders.

Third, we must do everything in our power to stop President-elect Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid from enacting liberal policies that reduce freedom. Democrats and Republicans should work together, but not when it hurts the American people. As the minority, we don't control the Senate agenda, but we still have a moral responsibility to fight for freedom and liberty in our great country.

Finally, we must recruit new leaders. We're never going to reshape the way Americans see Republicans with the same old faces. There are good conservatives in Congress now, but our bench is not nearly as deep as the Democrats, who have plenty of career politicians.

We need more Sarah Palins - moms, dads, teachers, doctors and business owners who want to defend liberty and solve big problems, not become part of the Washington establishment. We must find them, encourage them and fight for their elections.

These are painful times for the party of Lincoln and Reagan, but we have a golden opportunity to demonstrate its character and its convictions, and rebuild stronger than ever. So let's get going.

We've been here before, indeed by Paul Mirengoff


November 15, 2008

In a post called "We've Been Here Before," John wrote about the need "to develop policy approaches that have unified, conservative themes; that can appeal to voters who are not already committed conservatives; that build on the experience of successful application of conservative principles to the problems of prior generations; [and] that hold out a real hope of tackling our intractable problems. . . ." I'm all for this project, of course. I write only to argue against the view that the project is necessary for future electoral success.

The Democrats won't be ousted from power when the Republicans develop great conservative policies with cross-over appeal; the Democrats will be ousted when the electorate concludes that they have screwed things up. For this reason, the real case for formulating new conservative policies is that such policies will help Republicans/conservatives govern better when they return to power, not that they are likely to hasten that day.

Consider this year's election. The liberal Democrats did not return to power because of this or that domestic policy idea or because, more generally, they had conducted a sober reassessment of liberal dogma following prior setbacks. They returned to power, without having revised much of anything, because the electorate was sick of the Republican administration. This scenario is the rule in presidential politics, not the exception.

There are exceptions, though. In 2000, the Republicans recaptured the White House (albeit through an electoral fluke) even though the public wasn't particularly sick of Democratic rule. That year, it mattered that President Bush added some wrinkles, in the form of compassionate conservatism, to the traditional playbook.

Notice, though, that Bush was able to do this essentially on the fly. His new wrinkles weren't the product of soul-searching and intellectual ferment that began when the Republicans were swept out of the White House in 1992. The Republican response at that time, spearheaded by Newt Gingrich (a politician not a think tank resident), was basically to double-down on Reaganism. Only after Gingrich's revolution fizzled and it became clear that 2000 would not be a "throw the bums out" election, did Bush and his team cobble together the themes that would work in 2000. And a turn of a phrase ("the soft bigotry of low expectations"), not a detailed educational policy initiative, worked the magic. In other words, it was the quick ingenuity of politicians, not the deep, long-term thinking of intellectuals, that made the difference.

For better or for worse, Bush turned out to be serious about compassionate conservatism. Thus, once he was in office, this philosophy became the operative new approach that would incorporate conservative themes, while appealing to a new generation and offering potential solutions to intractable problems. Ironically, No Child Left Behind and the Bush prescription drug benefit plan might well have prominent places in the "new thinking" that certain conservative intellectuals have embarked upon, had these programs not already been enacted. Indeed, these programs are fairly popular and arguably successful on their own terms, whatever the ideological objections may be.

It is instructive, in any case, to recall that five years ago (give or take) more than a few conservative intellectuals had plenty of praise for compassionate or "big government" conservatism. When the praise died down it was mainly because Bush had become hugely unpopular for reasons having nothing to do with the demerits of compassionate conservatism.

The problem for conservatives, then, is not a lack significant new thinking since Reagan. The problem, rather, is two-fold: (1) some of the new thinking has been flawed and (2) for reasons mostly unrelated to the first problem, Bush's second term was quite difficult, and conservatives are viewed as responsible, at least in part, for the difficulty.

So by all means, let a thousand flowers bloom when it comes to thinking about applying conservative principles in new ways to difficult problems. Just don't let anyone sell you flowers on the premise that conservatives are doomed unless you purchase them.

Time to Look Ahead by Fred Thompson


Monday, November 17, 2008

I’m sure after this two-year campaign everyone would like to take a deep breath and put aside politics for a while. The holiday season approaches. It is time for all of us to give thanks for the many blessings we have been given.

But our gratitude for life and liberty should also serve as a reminder that what we were working so hard to achieve these past few years still very much hangs in the balance. And it is up to each of us to continue that fight. Our participation as citizens of the United States does not end once we’ve pulled the lever in the voting booth. That ballot is just the beginning.

We are now living in a nation controlled by a Democratic Party committed to cutting the budget for our national defense, raising taxes and nibbling around the edges of our personal freedoms in the hopes none of us notices. Democrats will do it through regulation in the executive branch, legislation in Congress and rulings from the judiciary.

This activity will be taking place during a time when we know that somewhere in the world our worst enemies either have, or are trying to get their hands on, the most dangerous weapons known to man. Small rogue nations are developing nuclear weapons to threaten us and our allies. Some large nations are engaged in massive military buildups, while others seek to take advantage of our weakened financial condition to wage a kind of economic warfare that is only now possible because of our global economy. And all the while the greatest economic threat of our lifetime and our children’s lifetime—the bankrupting of our entitlements systems—will be ignored.

It’s not a pretty picture, is it?

But if the time I spent traveling around America the past 18 months has given me anything, it is hope. And it if has confirmed anything for me, it is this: America remains the greatest country in the history of the world, and our citizens who care about our nation’s founding values—freedom, free markets, respect for life and the rule of law—will not stop defending these values as much as some of our fellow citizens and leaders might wish they would.

The Democrats and their P.R. machine known as the “mainstream media” liked to talk about 2008 as an election about “change.” Well, let me tell you, by their nature, every election is about “change.” In fact, responsible change is the essence of conservatism. We must change in order to preserve what is best about our country. We have always been able to accommodate constructive change without turning our back on our first principles.

But now, we should admit that we didn’t do a good enough job of holding our elected officials accountable over the past few years when spending got out of control, and we seemed to lose sight of the policies grounded in our first principles. It’s going to be a high price we pay, but we must not lose sight of what we must be doing now: fighting for conservative change we want today—and tomorrow.

We are going to have to use every tool we have—grassroots organizations, think tanks, magazines, talk radio, the Internet—while building new institutions to blunt the efforts of a left-wing establishment that appears willing to use uncertainty to impose an agenda that would never see the light of day in normal times.

The challenge will be to fight the Democratic instinct to let government meet every need and solve every problem and to divide our nation by class and race, while also laying the groundwork for the kind of historic mid-term election we achieved in 1994.

We gained those victories with a focus on innovative, free-market, pro-freedom, policy solutions to issues like welfare reform, promising to cut spending and balance the budget, and recruiting a host of talented, young (and perhaps not-so-young) men and women willing to step into the arena and run for office.

We have the formula—a conservative formula—that has worked before and will surely work again. It is grounded in our first principles. It’s time we moved past the recriminations and seven stages of grief. It’s time to look ahead, to stay united and to defend the values that we know must endure if our nation is to do the same.

Fred Thompson has been a lawyer, actor and United States Senator. He writes exclusive analysis and commentary for Townhall Magazine.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Four Hard Lessons of Campaign 2008 by Carol Platt Liebau


Monday, November 17, 2008

In the wake of stinging defeats in this year’s presidential and congressional elections, Republicans are now engaged in the difficult work of finding the way forward. Their mission is simple, but not easy: To rebuild their party’s brand by reworking and re-presenting its principles in a way that retains the indispensable – a commitment to liberty and justice for all – while developing fresh ideas, and fresh faces to articulate them. A painful but necessary part of the process also requires Republicans to identify and correct mistaken assumptions operative in the 2008 presidential campaign.

From the McCain campaign, it is possible to draw solid conclusions about what doesn’t work for Republicans. In the spirit of learning from the past to avoid repeating it, it’s worth reviewing some of the lessons of 2008.

1. It is impossible for any Republican presidential candidate to garner favorable mainstream media coverage, so long as s/he represents the more socially conservative electoral choice.

Certainly, the media’s swooning adoration of Barack Obama was unprecedented, and may in part have been attributable to the historic nature of his candidacy. But given that John McCain was once the most popular Republican with the press (and even jokingly referred to journalists as his “base”), he might reasonably have expected something more than the unremittingly hostile coverage that the mainstream media served up – even as his opponent enjoyed a largely free ride.

But here’s the fact: So long as Republicans represent the party of social conservatism, the press will always favor their opponents. John McCain’s popularity peaked when he was a competitor to (or thorn in the side of) the more socially conservative George W. Bush. Even this year, The New York Times’ primary endorsement of McCain represented nothing more than an effort to support him over the more vocally conservative Mitt Romney. As soon as McCain won the nomination – and became by default the most socially conservative choice for president – The New York Times unloaded all over him, bookending his campaign with a shoddily researched report on his alleged affair with a lobbyist and an ugly, deeply personal attack piece on his wife.

Going forward, Republicans must find a way to overcome the press bias favoring the more socially liberal candidate. Strategies for reaching over the heads of the mainstream media – whether by establishing an internet presence for the GOP, working more closely with talk radio, or crafting strategies to offer candidate interviews or breaking news to favorable (or at least fair) news outlets – must be among the party’s first order of business.

2. Campaign finance “reform” will always have a disproportionately negative impact on Republicans.

In one of politics’ great ironies, the campaign finance reform legislation that John McCain created ultimately crippled his campaign (especially after Barack Obama broke his word and declined public financing). Given the press’ liberal leanings, laws that stifle competing voices have a disparate – and negative – impact on Republicans, who need independent campaigns to counter the media’s influence and get the conservative message out. Unfortunately, McCain-Feingold has inhibited independent campaigns, thereby enhancing the press’ position as the dominant provider of political information to voters.

3. Republicans can’t win over Latinos through appeals on the illegal immigration issue.

John McCain never regained the support among rank-and-file Republicans that he squandered by his advocacy of McCain-Kennedy immigration “reform,” which would have effectively offered amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Whether or not it proved decisive in his defeat, the lack of enthusiasm among the base certainly hurt McCain.

So what did he gain politically from his advocacy of the “path to citizenship”? Not much. In fact, 67% of Latinos backed Barack Obama. Latino immigrants favored Obama by a 78% margin, lending crucial support in states like Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina. The moral of the story: Republicans will never be able to win over Latinos by aping Democrat positions on illegal immigration. Democrats support legalizing poor and under-educated people already in this country in the hope that they will become new clients of an expanded welfare state, and hence reliably Democratic voters. Mimicking liberal enthusiasm for legalizing illegal immigrants only puts Republicans in a perpetual “me too but less” posture that ultimately gains them nothing.

Certainly the GOP must do more to make sure that Latinos understand that their opposition to illegal immigration has nothing to do with hostility either to immigration in general or Latinos in particular; rather, it is about honoring the rule of law. But even more importantly, along with continuing their support for the traditionalist social positions embraced by most Latinos, Republicans need to explain why economic freedom and small government will do more than government handouts to help hard-working and upright new citizens achieve the American dream.

If Latino outreach becomes nothing more than a bidding war over government benefits, the Democrats will always win. What Republicans need to find is a message that helps the debate break out of that box – and the communicators to deliver it effectively.

4. “Mavericks” end up leading a party of one.

For almost his entire Senate career, John McCain prided himself on his status as a “maverick.” In doing so, however, he alienated a good number of regular Republicans who would have contributed more and worked harder to elect a candidate about whom they were more enthused.

“Mavericks” like McCain seek and welcome the support of independents. Unfortunately for McCain, however, independent voters are the ones who are most driven by events, rather than ideology. Had he run at the end of the tenure of an unpopular Democrat president, McCain might have been fine. Instead, he was left with a base that was more excited about its vice-presidential nominee than the presidential one, and a horde of independents who – in light of the financial crisis and the long, unpopular tenure of President Bush – decided to take a chance on “change.”

* * *

Whatever the flaws in the conception or execution of his campaign, certainly John McCain is a brave and honorable man who has served his country with distinction. Perhaps even in defeat, he may likewise do his party a service – if its members can learn the hard lessons his loss has taught all of us this year.

Carol Platt Liebau is an attorney, political commentator and guest radio talk show host based near Los Angeles. Learn more about her new book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (and America, Too!)" here.