White Pine seedlingBy John Ruberry

During a run through Morton Grove, Illinois’ Linne Woods on Friday, I came across a white pine seedling. White pines are rare in northeastern Illinois, so perhaps this young tree is a good omen, along the lines of the blossoming of the White Tree of Gondor in Minas Tirith in the extended version of The Return of the King when the fall of Middle-Earth’s greatest city appeared imminent.

Clearly our nation is in desperate straits. We are suffering under the longest stretch of high unemployment since the Great Depression. Yet America survived the Depression and then defeated totalitarianism–and the post-war American expansion lasted into the early 1970s.

I remember the malaise of the Jimmy Carter presidency. High unemployment and high inflation–stagflation–were just a couple of the symptoms. We also weathered the decline of American influence and power in the world–the Iranian hostage crisis was just one instance–as well as a sense of helplessness that the problems our nation faced were insurmountable.

Would the American Century end prematurely?

American power is in decline again, and it very well could be that it is the way that Barack Obama–the most liberal president ever–wants it. Leftists have decried the AmeriKKKan Empire for decades. Yet it was that “empire” that won the Cold War and brought about the longest peacetime expansion of the American economy ever–a boom that reverberated throughout the world–and it was accomplished in little more than a decade after Carter returned to Georgia.

The United States will emerge from Barack Obama’s induced malaise. The American Spirit it too strong for one man–even a president–to smother. And the United States is still the country of choice for those people seeking freedom and the opportunity to utilize their talents and create wealth.  They don’t want to come here for ObamaCare or food stamps.

Yes, there is Hope after “hope and change.”

I have wrestled with the dichotomy of the distain at least some Republicans have for conservatives versus the need of an existing, viable politcal party vehicle for conservatism for longer than I’ve been blogging. Back in my days at Free Republic, there was a debate of whether conservatives still had a home in the GOP in the wake of No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D shepherded through a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican President. At the time, and since, I had always ultimately come back to the necessity of changing the GOP to become conservative versus trying to start anew.

In the wake of the entirety of the Washington Republican power base, from K Street to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to House Speaker John Boehner, turning against fiscal conservatives the way they turned against social conservatives last year, it is past time to revisit the question.

I’ll give away what I will close with next week – it is time for conservatives to find another national party. Lest one thinks I’m not going into that with my eyes wide open, I will first give the reasons why it shouldn’t be happening.

In practical terms, it is far harder to create a new second party when one already exists, even if only on paper, than when there is officially only one-party rule. The Whig Party came along only well after the Federalist Party allowed itself to be absorbed into the Democratic-Republican Party, and the Republican Party came along only after the Whig Party had for all intents and purposes ceased to exist. Meanwhile, the political landscape is filled with the wreckage of “alternate second” parties, from the Know-Nothings to the Bull Moose Party, from the Libertarians to the Reform Party.

There are still some decent, conservative people in the GOP, even in the federal branch, but mostly in the state-level and local-level part of the party. A full-on divorce will, depending on how far the two sides want to take it, have disastrous consequences at the state and local level. For instance, the only hope the Democrat Party of Wisconsin has of seizing control again is if the federal-level divorce between conservatives and the GOP unfairly extends to Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in the Legislature. Unlike their federal counterparts in the same situation the prior decade, they governed in a consistently conservative manner.

Going back to the formation of the Whigs and the Republicans, that necessitated, respectively, 20 years and 8 years of unchallenged Democrat rule before the opposition party got power. As much as the national GOP has caved on social and fiscal issues, and is likely to cave on immigration, once the Democrats officially have no opposition, we won’t so much as hear about the details of the next Fast and Furious, or the next NSA and IRS scandals, though we will still feel the effects much as the citizens of the former Soviet Union did.

In the Holy Bible and in the New Testament, Jesus Christ made the following statement to his critics who leveled a charge against both His leadership and authority:  “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Matthew 12.22-28).  Furthermore, President Abraham Lincoln quoted this same passage of Sacred Scripture during the height of the Civil War when he averred that “A house divided against itself cannot stand…”

There is no family, organization, nor any business or non-profit entity that can long exist if it is fractured from within.

As one observes the current affairs of the Republican Party, one could easily come to the conclusion that the Republican Party – the Grand Old Party (GOP) for short – is in a hopeless state of disarray.  Political pundits and scholars ask themselves the question:  Who speaks for the GOP?  Is it the business community? Is it the mainstream GOP leadership which is located in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives?   Could it be that the “Tea Party” and their proponents are the authentic voice of the Republican Party?

This writer heard Nicole Wallace – former Communications Chief for President George W. Bush – proclaim that whenever the GOP needs to rejuvenate itself, that it has historically looked to the ranks of their standing Republican Party Governors for future direction and growth (Bobby Jindal? Chris Christie?  Scott Walker?).   Perhaps in time Ms. Wallace’s observation will prove to be correct. Nevertheless, the question still remains:  Is there anyone who can give an accurate pulse on the current state and political future of the GOP?

While this writer does not claim to possess any clairvoyant powers, he does believe that perhaps a historical look at the Republican Party may shine some light on its current dilemma.

Let us go back in time roughly 100 years and then move forward.

First and foremost, the Republican Party – unlike its progressive  party counterpart – has always existed in a state of continual “flux” and “disunity.”  Most Conservatives of both the fiscal and libertarian garden variety types have generally identified with the GOP as opposed to the egalitarian / progressive vision of the Democratic Party.

Back in 1912, the Republican Party was fresh off having won 5 of the previous 6 Presidential elections since 1888.  The incumbent President in 1912 was Howard Taft (R) and he was immediately preceded by former President Theodore Roosevelt (R).  Unfortunately for President. Taft, Theodore Roosevelt missed the center stage of the Presidency and sought to wrestle the White House away from him.  Mr. Roosevelt’s coup attempt was rebuffed and with his failure to secure the Republican Party’s nomination in 1912 he sought desperate political measures.  He ran for President as a political independent of the newly formed “Bull Moose Party.”

Mr. Roosevelt won more votes than Mr. Taft, but the candidacies of both men enabled an obscure Democratic Governor from New Jersey named Woodrow Wilson to barely squeak by with enough electoral votes to win the Presidency in 1912.  (The Republican Party recovered and recaptured the Presidency in the ensuing elections of 1920 (Warren G. Harding); 1924 (Calvin Coolidge) and 1928 (Herbert Hoover).

Turn the page and fast forward to 1964.

The Republican Party found themselves embroiled in another state of disunity.  This time the two GOP factions at war were the Southwestern conservatives led by Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater and the eastern establishment wing led by Governors Nelson Rockefeller of New York and William “Bill” Scranton of Pennsylvania.  The eastern establishment saw Senator Goldwater and his conservative insurgency as being political extremists (sound familiar?) and illegitimate; when Senator Goldwater won the party’s nomination, the “eastern establishment wing” refused to support him in the general election.

In retrospect, Senator Goldwater would most likely have lost anyway even if the GOP was totally united (it is a dubious proposition to believe that the American people would have elected three Presidents in less than 4 years).  The refusal of the mainstream wing of the Republican Party to endorse Senator Goldwater and his conservative mates set off a series of events from bad blood, unforgiveness and hard feelings between the two factions which exist to this very day.

Interesting enough, two years later in 1966, the conservatives saw one of their own heroes become Governor of California (Ronald Reagan) and the mainstream establishment arm of the Republican Party witnessed a young upcoming congressman win a house seat in Texas (George H. W. Bush).  These two men would battle it out for the Republican Party’s nomination 14 years later in 1980.

Today, there is much discussion regarding the “Tea Party Movement” and its rise and influence within the Republican Party.  Some have said that the “Tea Party Movement” is an extremist bloc and unyielding.  Others call the Tea Party exponents unreasonable and fear what their influence in the broader body politic might mean for those who do not share their vision of limited government.

However, if history is any indication, the Republican Party will survive the insurgent “Tea Party” as the movement itself will most likely morph into either a Libertarian  or Socially Conservative block within the GOP.

The Tea Party appears to be infusing the GOP with new life – in a similar vein that both the Bull Moose party and the Southwestern Goldwater insurgencies strengthened the Republican party in years past.

Republicans have always fought one another and there is no reason to see the “Tea Party Movement” as some strange or new phenomenon to this long-standing practice.

Update:   DTG:  Highlighted Biblical quote in Red because they were the direct words of Christ.

The Ukrainians are revolting, in a big way: After their president Viktor Yanukovych essentially sided with Putin and gave the European Union the raspberry by withdrawing from the EU association agreement just as it was due to be signed last month, hundreds of thousands of protestors gathered in Kiev, blocked and occupied government buildings, and took down a statue of Lenin.

While Yanukovych has said that government officials could visit Brussels this week to resume talks on the EU association agreement, the protestors are braving the snow and staying put.

Contrast that with Venezuela, with the government incarcerating small business owners in its latest move towards full Communism. Right now, in Venezuela, you will find:

Thousands of Venezuelans have fled the country (with some boosting Miami real estate prices). Following Sunday’s municipal election and its predictable results, a friend snarked, “What Venezuela needs is a few hundred thousand Ukranians.”

It’s unlikely that Venezuelans will rise en masse:

  • Chavismo is still popular among the larger number of uneducated, poor people who may actually believe that raiding electronics stores is a good idea. There’s no equivalent of Putin to hate or fear, in spite of the pervading Cuban presence.
  • Opposition leaders are demonized, de-humanized and physically attacked on the floor of the National Assembly.
  • There’s still a mindset of “every man for himself“.
  • The government controls all propaganda outlets – even using ambulances to post campaign materials.
  • Proceeds from oil still pay for a lot of “freebies”.
  • Venezuela is new to Communism.

And,

So don’t expect millions of Venezuelans to storm downtown Caracas anytime soon.

Last week, when President Obama reverted to the topic of “income inequality,” I was reminded of one of things I used to complain about to God. Why did people who were “worse” sinners than I get the things I’ve always wanted but didn’t have?

Christians are exhorted to keep their eyes on Jesus—the Way, the Truth and The Light–the dispenser of all good things. It is one of the good examples of tunnel vision. Conversely, when one’s eyes are not on the actual source of blessings, but, rather on the perceived blessings of one’s sibling or one’s neighbor, those eyes become blinded by false vision.

You begin to think that God likes others better than He likes you; or you think that God is unfair or that He is really the capricious, randomly-acting god described in other belief systems. Or, you decide that there is no god and that all is fair in “love” and, most especially, in war. You may even begin to believe that those who have been blessed more than you have, got that way by taking your blessings from you. From there, it’s a short road to doing the same– taking what you want by force. Or, perhaps, you will vote for those who promise to do it for you.

More false vision: allegedly, income inequality varies directly with poverty levels. However, no causal chain is ever described and no historical example is ever given for this “calculus” (algebra, actually).

Measuring self against others, whether you come out “better” or “worse,” always leads to folly. If you believe yourself to be better, you become prideful and arrogant—“high and lifted-up.” And if you believe you have come up short, you become angry, bitter, resentful, and, sometimes, violent.

And you become ungrateful.

The Left’s concern for income inequality was always meant to inflame covetousness and all the sins of commission that flow from that source.

Abel knew.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel,Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in January 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

Last week, my husband returned from a six month deployment in Afghanistan.  So politics haven’t been on my mind much.  Mostly, we’ve just enjoyed family time.  The separation is hard, but reunion is the reward.

With hubby still cleaning the moon dust off his boots, I got a little curious.  How is it going over there?  And are they talking about it much in the mainstream news outlets?

My husband and I have lived the military life since before 9/11.  Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have been a constant for us for a long time.  Also, we don’t have cable TV, and I don’t turn on the local news unless a hurricane is on the way.

It’s hard for me to get a feel for what is common knowledge and sentiment outside of the military community.  Now, President Obama has said for a long time that we were gonna be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  So that is probably common knowledge.

But then recently I read that he wants Afghanistan’s President Karzai to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that keeps US troops there until 2024.

Well that’s confusing.  So I started googling.  Here’s what I found.

Apparently, personnel designated as “combat troops” would withdraw under the BSA, but Special Forces and other counterterrorism personnel could remain another ten years.  This semantic hair-splitting allows President Peace Prize to continue claiming that the war will end in 2014.

I also found out that President Karzai might not sign the BSA, and if he doesn’t, then Obama might be forced to withdraw all troopsJust like Iraq.

Here’s some more tidbits that I found:

Duh:  Iran opposes the foreign presence in Afghanistan.

Oh really?  Thomas Jefferson used the Quran to devise the legal, moral and ethical stipulations for the American Constitution.

Good grief:  The US considered spending $4 billion of foreign aid to get Afghan men married.

Oh dear:  Both sides of the Afghanistan conflict are using Syria as a training ground.

And here’s some things I didn’t find:

I didn’t find much in the way of antiwar protests against the potential extension of the Afghanistan War.  I googled various key phrases, and the best thing I found was a HuffPo article (Amusing sidenote: guess which president is featured in the photo of this 2013 article?)  It’s about a handful of diehards that hold weekly protests in Montpelier.  Good for them, at least they are consistent.

I also didn’t find many recent official statements about the Afghanistan War, beyond the claim that it is ending soon.  Mark Levin recently lamented the lack of a definitive mission in Afghanistan, so I wondered whether that was true.

Whitehouse.gov was my first stop.  If you hover the cursor over “Issues,” a list that includes Defense pops up.  Oddly, the only specific subtopic is End of Iraq War.

Clicking on the topic Defense gets you some Guiding Principles.  There, we learn that President Obama’s new comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan

“will ensure that all elements of national power are engaged . . .  in an
effort to defeat al Qaeda to prevent attacks on the homeland and on our Allies
and partners.”

You have to click on the link to the new comprehensive strategy for more information.  There, you will find statements like

“We will achieve these objectives [by] . . . targeting the insurgency, working to secure key population centers, and increasing efforts to train Afghan security forces.”

“we are focusing assistance on supporting the President of Afghanistan and those ministries, governors, and local leaders who combat corruption and deliver for the people.”

So there is a mission, and maybe it is comprehensive, but it’s awfully confusing.  We will defeat Al Qaeda by targeting them?  What does that mean?  As long as we are going after them, that is a victory?  I guess the assumption is that Al Qaeda will give up after we target them long enough.  I wonder how long that is.

I had a look over at the Department of Defense, too.  They included Afghanistan as a specific subtopic in “Top Issues,” but disappointingly it was just a link to a NATO homepage.

What’s my conclusion?  Oh, I don’t know.  I hate forming opinions on policies that place friends and loved ones in harm’s way.  Please do share yours in a comment.  And remember all the deployed personnel in your prayers tonight.  And maybe every night until 2024.

Tea Party Express rally,  Mishawaka, IN

By John Ruberry

A week ago my wife was admitted to the hospital because she was experiencing abdominal pains and a high fever. On Tuesday she had her gall bladder removed.

She’s covered on my employer-based health care plan.

December is that last month of the “good old days” for health care, particularly for married couples.

That’s because ObamaCare kicks in on New Year’s Day.

Next month some employers–fortunately not mine–are dropping spousal coverage on their health care plans–and some others will be charging a $125 monthly fee to cover spouses who can get insurance elsewhere. That’s over $1,000 a year.

If you like your plan–you can’t keep it.

We’ve learned that ObamaCare is part-government takeover of healthcare, and part wealth redistribution. As for the latter, in order to qualify O’care subsidies, it actually makes financial sense for some married couples to divorce.

But my wife and I aren’t even rich!

Now we know what then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meant when she said, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” 

I was thinking about what else lurks  in that bill as I sat in the surgery waiting room last week. Unless–or I’m being hopeful–until it’s appealed, our collective ObamaCare journey will resemble the trip upriver in Apocalypse Now.  We have plenty of surprises in store for us–none of them will be pleasant.

“The horror, the horror,” as Colonel Kurtz told Captain Williard in that film.

But I want to end this post on a happy note. My wife is resting and recovering at home.

The November jobs report, which featured headlines of 203,000 jobs added and a 7.0% unemployment rate (both seasonally adjusted), featured something for everybody. Whether one is a starry-eyed optimist, a somewhat-hopeful realist, or an eeyore, if one looks hard enough, one can find it this time around.

I’ll start with the essentially-unqualified good, the employment survey. 203,000 seasonally-adjusted non-farm jobs added, with 196,000 of them in the private sector, would be great…if the economy were recovered from the Great Recession. The manufacturing sector made a significant contribution to that, with a 17,000 add. The average hours worked per week per job was a bit ahead of both last month and last year, which allowed the average weekly pay to also increase slightly.

Not all is completely rosy in the establishment survey, however. Jobs that tend to be low paying or less than permanent accounted for much of the seasonally-adjusted increase – restaurants and bars added 17,900 workers, general merchandise stores added 13,800 workers, and temporary help services added 16,400 workers. One would have hoped the seasonal adjustments would have accounted for the additional hires to handle the Christmas shopping season.

That leads me to the household survey. While the seasonally-adjusted labor force participation rate recovered modestly from October to 63.0%, it is still lower than both September, bo 0.2 percentage points, and last November, by 0.6 percentage points. The returning federal workers accounted for nearly half of the 818,000 increase in the number of employed and more than the entirety of the 365,000 decrease in the unemployed.

Once again, there was a significant divergence between the BLS and Gallup’s measures of adult unemployment. While the BLS says adult unemployment fell from a seasonally-unadjusted 6.8% in October to a seasonally-unadjusted 6.4% in November, Gallup says it went up from a seasonally-unadjusted 7.3% in October to a seasonally-unadjusted 8.2% in November. Somebody has to be wrong.

Going back to September using the BLS numbers, to take out the effects of the partial government shutdown, shows almost no improvement. The number of employed increased by only 87,000, while 265,000 departed the workforce.

Lest one thinks it’s all retirees leaving, allow me to give you the LFPR among the 25-54 year olds, the cream of the workforce. It was a seasonally-adjusted 80.9% and not-seasonally-adjusted 81.1%. Outside of last month, the former is the lowest since November 1984, while the latter is the lowest November since 1983.

Tomorrow you get an extra dose of DaTechGuy on an extra station.

UPDATE: I’ll be joining Conservatively speaking on WCRN in the 8 AM hour as well. so make sure you tune in!

At 9 AM I will be on Business, Politics & Lifestyles on WCRN AM 830 till 10 AM.

I don’t actually know if I’ll be hosting or be a guest for Gary Goldman but click that links above and tune in anyway and we’ll both find out. Update: I’ll be a guest)

What I DO know if that at noon I’ll be in Needham at the Money Matters studios for this week’s DaTechguy on DaRadio

We’ll talk to Robert Stacy McCain about the Lunenburg rape hoax and the death of Mandela (including the bits of his life people want to forget).

Then will come the Panel, with me and Joe Mangiacotti returning from his absence Baldilocks from the Magnificent Seven, Janet Aldrich  of CRNews and in the Bob Beckel Chair our old Marxist friend Dominic Nanni.

Jjoin the conversation at 888-9-fedora.

Listen in live on FTR Radio

or via our Tune-in Stream for the Money Matters Radio Network

And of course there are the terrestrial stations

WBNW Concord Ma 1120 AM FLAGSHIP

WPLM 1390 AM Plymouth MA

WESO 970 AM Southbridge MA

Oh and some bad news, due to a stroke in the family of the owners of the Pottery Paintin place we will have to reschedule our live broadcast from there.  Please remember the family in your prayers

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Help us end the year strong, by hitting DaTipJar below.

One of the first things that they teach you in Economics 101 is that “Economics (according to the classical definition) is the study of the allocation of scarce resources which have alternative uses.”

In short, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  We cannot have our cake and eat it to.

Professors of Economics continually drill into their students two important principles:  (1.) The notion that there are “Opportunity Costs” associated with everything that we do, and (2.) Secondly, that is important to remember the concept of “Trade-Offs.”

Simply put an “opportunity costs” represents the price that one pays when they decide to purchase an item or a material good.  When you make a particular acquisition of a good or a service, you then forgo the next best potential alternative.

For example, if you decide to buy a luxury car, you no longer have that money at your disposal to buy clothing or something else; with the particular purchase of that car, you have forgone the possibility of spending that money in other ways.  Furthermore, instead of buying that luxury car, you could have chosen to go shopping with your wife or significant other (shopping is an activity that pleases this writer’s wife to no end…).  With the money that you spent on that luxury car, you could have chosen to spend it in other ways such as seeing many, many movies or plays.  But, because the study of economics revolves primarily around the question of resource scarcity, you quickly learn that you must wisely choose how you will allocate your limited resources (in this case money).

What always has puzzled this writer is that our national representatives seem to be so clueless when it comes to “basic economic principles.”

Why does it always seem that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats that serve in both Houses of Congress never seem to understand the basic concept of “opportunity costs?”

Every two years or every four years during mid-term and Presidential elections, we listen to the various aspirants for political office tell us how they increase social services, finance costly military expenditures, and reduce federal outlays – all without either raising taxes or strangling businesses with new and costly governmental regulations.  This brings us to the concept of “trade-offs.”

Families make “trade-offs” all the time.  Because time, treasure, and talents are scarce you have to make hard choices with regards to what you may acquire (or cut back on) at a given time.  Families may have to choose between going away on a nice vacation and sending one of their children to music camp.

Why is it that Washington does not understand the principles of “opportunity costs” or “trade-offs” when they are busy passing sweeping new regulations that inhibit economic activity?

Politicians make it seem that all that the Federal Government has to do is tax and spend and that every social problem or ill will automatically vanish.

The saddest thing about this whole political posturing and campaigning that takes place every two to four years is that we foolishly their promises every election cycle!

Shame on us!!!

Did not Benjamin Franklin warn us after the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when asked what type of government that they had given the new country with this reply – “We have given you a republican form of government if you can keep it.”

Did not John Adams state that there was never a democracy in history that did not commit suicide?

Are we not committing suicide with this huge albatross around our necks known as the national debt?  At the time of this writing, our national debt is quickly approaching 17 Trillion Dollars!  Why is it that despite the party that occupies the White House or the party that controls both houses of Congress that our national debt continues to rise unabated?

Perhaps our problem is with the very nature of running for political office itself.

Politicians do what they know they must do in order to get elected.  It is estimated that only 3% of the American population will ever run for political office even once during their lifetime.  It takes the average person running for political office on average two to six election losses before they experience their first political victory.  What then happens by default is that we reward people for their political perseverance and not necessarily for possessing keen economics acumen.

If our children are going to experience anything near like the Spiritual, Social, Political and Economic prosperity that we as people have enjoyed for more than two centuries, then we MUST quickly get a grip and work to get our financial house in order.

WE MUST DEMAND from our would be politicians (dare we say future statesmen and stateswomen?) that they seriously articulate plans to reduce our gargantuan 16 to 17 Trillion Dollar Debt before they every receive our vote.  In this way – and while there is still time – just maybe FISCAL SANITY CAN BE  RESTORED TO OUR REPUBLIC.