Right Wing Nut House


About That $897 Billion of Unspecified Cuts in the Ryan Budget…

Filed under: Entitlement Crisis, Government, Politics — Rick Moran @ 11:39 am

Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times, has found what he calls a “sinkhole” in Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget.

Reading the fine print, Edsall has discovered $897 billion in unspecified budget cuts that, if enacted, would decimate programs that fund “education, food and drug inspection, workplace safety, environmental protection and law enforcement.”

I’m not a wonkish sort, and the torturous explanation given by Edsall gave me a bad case of MEGO. But essentially, his analysis appears to me to be correct. The Ryan budget has nearly a trillion dollars in unspecified cuts in discretionary spending that affect programs most Americans would consider essential.

After explaining a little about how the budget divides government spending into 20 “budget functions,” Edsall takes a look at the $897 billion in “allowances” earmarked for something called “Function 920.” In budgetese, here’s the definition of what Function 920 is for:

Function 920 represents a category called “allowances” that captures the budgetary effects of cross-cutting proposals or contingencies that impact multiple functions rather than one specific area of the budget. It also represents a place-holder category for any budgetary impacts that the Congressional Budget Office has yet to assign to a specific budget function. C.B.O. typically reassigns the budgetary effects of any legislation enacted within Function 920 once a new baseline update is released.

In other words, Function 920 appears to be a catchall category for spending across several different categories. And as Edsall points out, “These invisible cuts are crucial to the Republican claim that the Ryan budget proposal will drastically reduce the federal deficit (eliminating it entirely in the long run) and ultimately erase the national debt.”

But here’s where the rubber meets the road as far as deficit cutting is concerned:

Under the Ryan budget, “Mandatory and Defense and Nondefense Discretionary Spending” – which includes Function 920 Allowances, but excludes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — would fall from 12.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2011 to 6.75 percent in 2023, 5.75 percent in 2030, 4.75 percent in 2040 and 3.75 percent in 2050, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

The C.B.O. cautiously notes how difficult it would be to cut such spending to 3.75 percent of G.D.P.:

By comparison, spending in this category has exceeded 8 percent of G.D.P. in every year since World War II. Spending for defense alone has not been lower than 3 percent of G.D.P. in any year during that period.

As a practical matter, what does this mean for non-defense discretionary spending — everything the government spends money on, including veterans programs, outside of defense, social security, and Medicare?

From a partisan perspective, we have the president’s take:

The year after next, nearly 10 million college students would see their financial aid cut by an average of more than $1,000 each. There would be 1,600 fewer medical grants, research grants for things like Alzheimer’s and cancer and AIDS. There would be 4,000 fewer scientific research grants, eliminating support for 48,000 researchers, students, and teachers. Investments in clean energy technologies that are helping us reduce our dependence on foreign oil would be cut by nearly a fifth.

If this budget becomes law and the cuts were applied evenly, starting in 2014, over 200,000 children would lose their chance to get an early education in the Head Start program. Two million mothers and young children would be cut from a program that gives them access to healthy food. There would be 4,500 fewer federal grants at the Department of Justice and the F.B.I. to combat violent crime, financial crime, and help secure our borders. Hundreds of national parks would be forced to close for part or all of the year. We wouldn’t have the capacity to enforce the laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the food that we eat.

Cuts to the F.A.A. would likely result in more flight cancellations, delays, and the complete elimination of air traffic control services in parts of the country. Over time, our weather forecasts would become less accurate because we wouldn’t be able to afford to launch new satellites. And that means governors and mayors would have to wait longer to order evacuations in the event of a hurricane.

I imagine there is plenty of exaggeration in there, but cutting discretionary spending from 12.5% of the budget nearly in half in the next decade will severely impact all those programs and agencies. There is no getting around it — they can’t spin it away. It’s there own numbers and the cuts they want to make have to be made somewhere.

They may decide to cut more out of defense, but how much? It’s a dangerous world out there and I doubt whether they can find more savings from the defense budget that the president hasn’t already proposed (without sequestration, around $400 billion over a decade — $1.2 trillion with it).

Before your eyes glaze completely over, let’s get to the point. As I keep trying to explain to my conservative friends, the federal budget bears no resemblance whatsoever to your household budget. The federal budget is a statement of national purpose, not a ledger with dollars and cents that are supposed to add up to zero when it’s balanced. The questions we should be asking after glimpsing the kinds of cuts Paul Ryan envisions is what kind of government do we want? What kind of government do we need?

What is the nature and purpose of the federal government in this, the 21st century, in an industrialized, urban nation of 300 million people?

The problem, as I see it, is that in order to maintain a reasonably safe, reasonably secure civilized society, we must necessarily ask government to perform an amazing array of functions. A federalist might argue that many of the duties that Washington has taken upon itself can be performed by the states. But that only spreads the responsibility among 50 governmental entities.

Take food safety inspections. Arkansas might inspect chickens at the Perdu processing plant, but those birds are going to end up on my dinner table in Illinois. Can I trust the state government of Arkansas to perform inspections at the same level of competence as the FDA?

The reason many functions were assumed by Washington is because states were unwilling or unable to perform them by themselves. A good example is a program like Head Start. Many states had programs that dealt with children in poverty, but others did not. The problem is a national one and demanded a national means to address it.

Do we want 50 different air and water quality standards? Do we want 50 different regulatory regimes that protect the health and safety of workers? There is no doubt a greater role for federalism in the grand scheme of government than is currently in evidence. But many functions of government simply do not lend themselves to a local solution.

Many conservatives just don’t get this. They envision a “small” government — a pining for a federal government from the 19th century when collecting duties on imports, raising an army, and delivering the mail was a large portion of government responsibility. But that government — that country — doesn’t exist anymore. Back then, the urban/rural split was 30-70. Today, those numbers are reversed and 80% of us live in densely packed urban areas. I can’t make an argument that cities would be more livable, or as safe without a big government in Washington.

How big? There’s the rub. I refuse to believe that every dollar being spent by Washington today is necessary or desirable. But in a $3.7 trillion budget, how do you cull those contracts, programs, commissions, agencies, grants, loans, line items, and salaries that a majority of lawmakers would agree are “unnecessary?” The budget, at bottom, is a political document — a statement of national hopes, dreams, desires, and necessities. One man’s waste is probably another’s vital program.

Case in point: transportation. A few hundred thousand dollars to expand an intersection in a small town might look like unnecessary spending to some. But for those town people, it represents an improvement in their quality of life, not to mention an improvement in safety. Should it be cut from the budget because the project has no national purpose and is therefore, better left to be funded by the state? It’s a compelling argument until you start multiplying that project to include the dozens and dozens of towns in that state who need a bridge repaired, another lane for the main highway to handle an increase in population, a road extension to connect to the new mall — the list is endless. I think there are probably many projects in the transportation bill that are unnecessary and wasteful. But with thousands of line items, how do you sort through them all to remove those that most of us would see as offensive to rational government?

The fact is, government has grown beyond our capacity — perhaps beyond human capacity — to manage in any reasonable and rational manner. It’s too big, too vast, and has assumed too many responsibilities. Ryan’s cuts may be draconian and are certainly unrealistic. But his blueprint represents the first effort to my knowledge to try and come to grips with the definition of what we want and need from government. And he is addressing a problem that many respected economists believe to be looming in the near future; that our current levels of government spending are unsustainable and that if we don’t do something to address the problem, we will drown in a sea of debt, taking down our economy and probably social order with it.

It’s not good enough just to rail against Ryan’s plan. Time to start proposing some ideas of your own.


The Real Crisis Facing America

Filed under: Decision 2012, Deficit reduction, Entitlement Crisis, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:24 am

Stanley Kurtz writing at The Corner:

As the Romney campaign sees it, the tiny sliver of remaining undecided voters consists of mildly disillusioned former Obama supporters, or at least voters who personally like Obama. Coaxing these folks to “break up” with their erstwhile beau means not making them feel like they were fools to buy into Obama’s vision to begin with. That cuts against any effort to unmask the president’s overweening leftist ambitions. Let’s just say that the president’s a nice guy who’s in over his head instead.

Okay, but Michelle Obama did a very effective job of pressing undecideds to give her nice-guy another try. And the convention as a whole did a better job of redefining government as nice-guyism writ large than Republicans would like to admit. Charles Krauthammer says that the counter to all this is exposing Obama as “a deeply committed social democrat” using his presidential power to enact the same “ambitious left-wing agenda” he “developed in his youth.” Well, yes. So far as I can tell, however, this sort of argument is the last thing the Romney campaign wants to make right now. Don’t want to drive away that tiny sliver of Obama’s wavering admirers.

I can’t say for certain that Romney’s strategy is wrong. But I do think it’s far riskier than we realize. Treating Obama as a nice guy in over his head, rather than a smart leftist who knows exactly what he’s doing, leaves the Democrats’ bogus narrative about government unanswered. America is changing, and Republicans are naive to rely on the public to simply recognize the problems in the Democrats’ claims without significant help from our nominee.

This is the civilized version of the internet right’s demand that Romney begin to savage Obama by calling him a socialist or communist, and start attacking the president for “taking away our freedoms.” Kurtz actually hits the nail on the head when he says America is changing and that the Democrat’s Santa Claus vision of government is gaining ground. Even if Romney were to point out that Obama’s ideas are liberal dogma going back to the 1960’s, the average voter would shrug his shoulders and say, “So what?” Government as a goody factory is just fine with a growing number of Americans who want their lives made easier by latching on to government programs that promise free or cheap services.

The bulk of government cash no longer goes to what we would define as “the poor.” As Nicholas Eberstadt points out in an essay based on his book, “A Nation of Takers,” it’s the “Middle Class” that is now the greatest beneficiary of entitlements:

According to a Census Bureau data run requested by the Wall Street Journal, just over 49 percent of U.S. households were using at least one government benefit to help support themselves in early 2011 (see Figure 16). This was a tremendous increase over the early 1980s, at which time about 30 percent of households were already estimated to be on at least one of the government’s many benefit programs, although the rise was not entirely uninterrupted. In the late 1990s (in the aftermath of welfare reform and at a time of relatively robust economic growth), the prevalence of benefit recipience declined temporarily before continuing on its further ascent. If the Census Bureau reports that over 49 percent of U.S. households are obtaining at least one government benefit, we can safely say that the true number is actually already well over 50 percent. To put it another way: a majority of homes with voters in them are now applying for and obtaining one or more benefits from U.S. government programs.

The prevalence of entitlement program usage is by no means uniform by age group or ethnicity. Meaningful variations within American society and the public at large are illustrated in Figure 17, Figure 18, and Figure 19. In 2004, according to a study based on CPS data conducted by a researcher at AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), nearly 48 percent of American families were already obtaining at least one government benefit (a somewhat higher level than Census Bureau researchers indicated for 2004 [see Figure 16]). By these numbers, nearly every household (98 percent) with someone sixty-five or older was obtaining at least one benefit, with 95 percent of them obtaining benefits from two programs—generally speaking, Medicare and Social Security / Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI).[18]

Perhaps more striking, though, is the proportion of households with no one sixty-five or older obtaining government benefits: entitlement prevalence for this group was already at 35 percent in the year 2004. Relatively few of these beneficiaries were Social Security / OASI or Medicare cases—and of the rest, only a minority was accounted for by unemployment or disability benefits. The overwhelming majority instead were accounted for by households and families availing themselves of means-tested benefits or antipoverty programs.

Fewer and fewer of us are willing to make self reliance part of our value system. And why should we when one is seen as a chump for not taking what’s being so generously bestowed by government? “Our tax dollars fund these programs so why not take advantage of them?” might be a common justification for grabbing for your share of the goodies, but if that also means trillion dollar deficits, unsustainable levels of debt, and eventual national bankruptcy, one might legitimately inquire, “Who’s the chump now?”

We are not going to grow our way out of this crisis. We are not going to spend our way out of it either. Nor will economic growth alone, or government spending by itself lead to a resurrection of a strong Middle Class. Raising the tax rate on the “rich” won’t fix our budget problems, nor will cutting a trillion dollars from the budget solve our long term spending problems. At bottom, entitlements, the budget, taxes — these are all manifestations of how we define our relationship with government. What do we want from Washington? What can we afford? How much do I want to pay?

Until we answer those questions, a government that leans right or left won’t matter. For it is not in ideology that we will find the answers but in placing more value on our liberty, than on what government can do to make our lives easier.


God and Man at the DNC

Filed under: Decision 2012, Politics — Rick Moran @ 1:03 pm

So, the Democrats hate God. How do I know? I read it on the internet — at least, that portion of the internet that belongs to right wing crazies:

Are you a God hater? The Democrat party is for YOU, then. Bunch of godless paganistic freaks. I hate these people, yes I HATE these people. HATE, HATE, HATE.

Yes, ok — I get it. Video doesn’t lie. Democrats booed after they put the name of God back in their party platform. This is conclusive proof that the Democrats hate God.

But wait a minute. They were booing when they put Jerusalem as the capital of Israel back in that document. So the Democrats don’t hate God. They hate the Jews.

Actually, it would be more politically viable if they hated God. Jews donate a lot of money to the party and 3 out of 4 vote for the Democratic candidate. Then again, a lot of Americans like God a lot and showing that you hate him by booing when party leaders ram an amendment putting his name back in the platform would lose a lot of votes too.

Republicans, of course, don’t have this problem. They love God and pretty much like Jews. It’s sex they hate. Or women. Or women and sex. If the GOP wanted to take out the plank in their platform that opposes couples having sex, they would have booed that too. Well, they didn’t really have a plank like that in their platform. But we know the GOP hates contraceptives because if a woman takes them, she proves herself a slut and if there’s one thing Republicans hate, its sluts. And gays. And Mexicans. And the lazy poor. And transsexuals. And gender queers. And whatever other sexual identifiable group liberals want to add to the put upon class this week — maybe asexuals.

Now, hating Mexicans and gays basically loses you the gay and Mexican vote. But hating sex — this is a serious political miscalculation. Much like the Democrats who hate God, demonstrating that you hate sex could be a game changer in an election. Trust me, I know. I’m a top notch political analyst and I’m telling you, hating God and hating sex — well, it just doesn’t get any more politically stupid.

This is why I doubt the Democrats hate God. Nor do they hate the Jews. They may hate Israel and how mean they think they are to those pussycats in Hamas. But they don’t hate the Jews — I think. But Israel is full of Jews and the Israeli people have it in their head that Jerusalem is their capital. Who are Democrats to say that a sovereign people can’t decide where their capital should be?

How would Democrats like it if the Labor Party in Great Britain put a plank in their platform that said Washington, D.C. shouldn’t be the capital of the US anymore? Madness! Washington has been the capital since 1800. Well, Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years. What does that say about the “reality based community” when they deny such a simple reality?

And I’m sure the GOP doesn’t hate sex, either. They may like it with the lights off and only in the missionary position — no dining room tables or kitchen counters for them — and only once or twice a month, and maybe with most of their clothes on. But I’m reasonably certain they don’t hate sex — as long as you do it to make babies and by no means have any fun while so engaged.

So what is it about God that so unnerved the Democrats that they first, took his name out of the platform, and then put him back in after Republicans began to make fun of them? I think it’s because God belief is so…so…Republican that the thought by these hyperpartisans that they would include anything so obviously traditional and conservative as belief in God in their platform that they temporarily lost their sanity and committed a political faux pas. No doubt the way party leaders shoved the addition of God down their throats by lying about a 2/3 majority voice vote also contributed to the booing and other manifestations of displeasure.

As we top notch political analysts are wont to say — it was “bad optics.”

The two sides can’t help it. Trapped as they are in their hatred for each other, and their self absorbed ideological cocoons, both sides are bound to create many situations where “bad optics” is the order of the day. They will deny they hate God, the Jews, sex, gays, Mexicans, and even Moooslims, but you and I know better. They are incapable of stepping outside themselves and viewing themselves as the rest of us see them; clueless, sorry ass partisans with a dissociative attachment to reality and a worldview glimpsed through a darkened prism of ideological fervor.


Dems Just Can’t Make Up Their Minds About the Role of Government

Filed under: American Issues Project, Arizona Massacre, Decision '08, Government, Politics — Rick Moran @ 11:11 am

A video made by the host committee in Charlotte raised hackles on the right and had Democrats scrambling to disown it.

The video contained this explosive statement: “Government is the only thing we all belong to.”

The Obama campaign came out with denials of responsibility almost immediately:

“The video in question was produced and paid for by the host committee of the city of Charlotte. It’s neither an OFA nor a DNC video, despite what the Romney campaign is claiming. It’s time for them to find a new target for their faux outrage.”

Um…well, maybe. While the video was made by the host committee, on display throughout was the logo of the Democratic National Convention in the lower left hand corner. Like it or not, the video — and hence, the statement — received the imprimatur of the Democratic Party. That is, unless the Democrat’s want to disown their own convention.

It really doesn’t matter who produced the video. What matters is, do Democrats believe that the only thing we all “belong” to is government?

I liken it to the “You didn’t build that” statement by President Obama. The context of the words spoken by the president is hardly relevant. What matters is what he believes — and he tells us what he believes right off the bat:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own.

How much clearer do you want it? The horrible, twisted logic used by the Obama campaign and lefty bloggers to help the president run away from those words is also beside the point. The question that should concern us is not what Obama said, not who made the “belong to government” video, but rather how President Obama and the Democratic Party view the role of government in the lives of American citizens?

I think the right mischaracterizes the Democrat’s philosophy in this regard. Slapping the moniker “socialist” on anything smacking of more than one person doing something in America is ignorant. In fact, radical individualism is as dangerous as radical communitarianism.” One philosophy recognizes no responsibility except to oneself, while the other believes individuals should sacrifice all for the common good.

The problems for Democrats are political and philosophical. Politically, they are forced to subsume their true beliefs about the decidedly large role that the federal government should play in our communities because it is electoral poison. Americans still get their backs up when faced with the blatant encroachment of government in their lives, even if Democrats see that interference as benign. On the other hand, the Democrats are philosophically comfortable with the idea that American is one, gigantic “community” and that government must oversee the clashing interests of individuals to guarantee outcomes favorable to the largest number of citizens — or protect the interests of those who can’t protect themselves.

In this construct, individuals are actors in an ensemble cast, happily pitching in for the good of all — patriotically “giving back” in the president’s words so that others can follow their success.

The push-pull of this psychosis is evident at the convention so far. After weeks of the Obama campaign running away from his “You didn’t build that” remark, keynoter Julian Castro actually embraced the language of communitarianism and verified the Republican line of attack by agreeing with them about what the president said:

The Atlantic:

In many of its contours, Castro’s speech resembled President Obama’s now-infamous “you didn’t built that” riff. From “roads and bridges” to “schools and universities,” he pointed to the products of government investment that undergird all our lives. Where Republican delegates and politicians in Tampa hurled the speech at Obama like an epithet, turning it around into a “We built it!” chant, Castro insisted the president was right to begin with — that no one really builds anything alone, and that a helping hand from government can make the difference. (Still, Democrats seemingly can’t help making this argument in ways that open them to ridicule: Earlier Tuesday, the convention host committee released a video containing the cringe-inducing line “Government is the only thing we all belong to.”)

I like Bruce McQuain’s critique of the “belong to” statement:

What was conveyed was a message that, to me, is anti-liberty. Sorry to blunt about it, but it reflects a belonging that I reject. I’m not an American because of my government. I don’t belong to any group because of my government. My government exits at my forbearance. It exists solely to serve mine and other American’s needs.

And while we might disagree on is what those needs are and how much government is necessary, I don’t “belong” to the government in any sense whatsoever?


But what this short segment highlights is the very large philosophical gulf that exists between those who believe in individualism and those who are statists. The statement is a statement that glorifies the state while attempting to lump all of us as collectively “owned” by it. Whether or not that’s what the speaker meant, it is what he said and conveyed by using the word “belong”.

It might not be such a big deal if it wasn’t so obviously the usually unspoken belief of so many on the left. What we’re going to see in Charlotte is a celebration of big government and that sort of “belonging”.

That was exactly my immediate reaction. “Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” I asked myself? It’s a beautiful exposition of the differences between right and left in the most fundamental of visions we have about America: How much individualism is healthy? How much emphasis should be placed on “community” and hence, the Great Arbiter of government?

Not statism, I think, where a classic definition of the term would include government owning the means of production and the sweat off the brow of the laborer. The left’s dalliance with “positive rights” where all of a sudden, we’re finding all these rights in the Constitution previously hidden, makes necessary the sublimation of most individual striving and achievement and a kind of forced altruism comes into play. This is where those more able, more intelligent, or simply those with a better idea for a mousetrap, are compelled to “give back” at the total discretion of the government. It knocks the idea of individual rights on its head and places the government in an ascendant position over the individual.

But the radical individualists are wrong also. Kirk’s “voluntary community” has many of the same elements of the liberal’s utopian communitarianism except most conservatives would argue that rather than using the word “community” to describe the country as a whole, the term defines the voluntary local associations, churches, and local government who voluntarily work together for the betterment of all. Obviously, this formulation doesn’t include Washington, whose unwelcome presence usually mucks things up.

I just wish the Democrats would decide how they want us to see their governing philosophy. At the moment, they are as confused as we are.


RINO Hour of Power: Will This be a Latin American Century?

Filed under: RINO Hour of Power — Rick Moran @ 4:07 pm

Tune in tonight at 8:00 PM eastern time for another scintillating edition of the RINO Hour of Power. Joining host Rick Moran tonight as co-host will be Fausta Wertz, expert on Latin American media and proprietor of the website Fausta’s Blog.

Rick and Fausta will welcome former US Ambassador to Costa Rica and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute Jaime Daremblum. The panel will discuss the upcoming presidential election in Venezuela as well as President Obama’s policies in Latin America.

The show will stream live frrom 8:00 - 9:00 PM Eastern time. A podcast will be available shortly after the end of the show.

You can join us live by clicking the icon below or by clicking here.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

Rebooting the Nuthouse: A Declaration of RINOhood

Filed under: Arizona Massacre, Decision '08, Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 11:43 am

After nearly two years of spasmodic posting on this blog, I have decided to reboot and relaunch the site and write daily, original postings as often as I can manage.

That’s the plan, anyway. With the campaign for the presidency beginning to heat up, I felt compelled to add a voice to the proceedings that perhaps isn’t heard as much as it should be.

The voice of reason.

I’m just cynical enough to realize that no one much cares about reason, logic, rationality, or philosophical conservatism for that matter. Fewer care what I think. Fewer still have any use for my brand of conservatism.

And I’m just arrogant enough to think that love me or hate me, agree or disagree, I am a good enough writer to engage your interest and entertain most of you.

And that brings me to the reboot of Right Wing Nuthouse. I have been branded with the epithet “RINO” by most of the internet right — at least, those who view themselves as true blue, or “real” conservatives. But “RINO” may be a misnomer. I have never been a “party man” in the almost 8 years this site has been on the net, although I have had my partisan moments to be sure. The ideologues who have tarred me with what they believe to be their most withering criticism actually mean that I am a “Conservative In Name Only” — a CINO. But since the GOP is now almost exclusively a party of conservatives — something to be greatly lamented — we’ll stick with RINO as a catch-all for both.

It hardly matters. I wear both acronyms with pride, considering the source. Besides, I have no desire whatsoever to have my name associated with a political party that:

1. Embraces the likes of Ted Akin, Christine O’Donnell, Michelle Bachmann, Alan West, Tony Perkins, Joe Arpaio, Herman Cain, Tom Tancredo, and 2 dozen more bomb throwers, anti-science mountebanks, bigots, half-crazed religious fanatics, closed minded nincompoops, and intellectual lightweights. For those who are tempted to say, “Oh Yeah? Well those Democrats have their own Hall of Idiots too,” I would only respond that I have no earthly reason to be associated with the Democrats either. Besides, defending your own by pointing out that the other side is worse, or similarly handicapped is idiotic. It’s not an argument. It’s a cry for help.

2. Fails to deal rationally with the problem of 11 million illegal immigrants. You can’t deport them all, or round them up and hold them in pens until they get their due process. They are here. There are 11 million of them. Deal with it. If you want them off the public dole, make it possible for them to work. The potential human capital and entrepreneurial energy being wasted because of bigotry or some over-heated notion of “law and order” is irrational (crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor). A more rational legal immigration policy would help. So would beefing up border security. But for the 11 million already here, a solution must be found.

Either solve the problem or take the words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” off the Statue of Liberty

3. Believes that we are living in the end times of the republic if Barack Obama is re-elected. If the US can survive a James Buchanan, US Grant, and Jimmy Carter, we can survive Obama. This hysterical overreaction to every thing the president does is astonishing. The claim we are “losing” our freedoms is pathetic. Please list those freedoms Barack Obama has taken away, not talking points from the echo chamber. Czars do not represent a loss of freedom. Executive orders do not take away freedom. Creating a gigantic bureaucracy to oversee health care in America does not represent a loss of freedom. Overregulation is not a loss of freedom. Just because government becomes a nuisance does not mean that our basic freedoms are being lost. If they were, you would probably be in jail for saying so.

Those besotted with partisan ideology and who see Obama through the darkest prism imaginable, are the real danger to the republic — not some incompetent, far left liberal with delusions of grandeur and dreams of redistributive justice.

4. That believes all Democrats are traitorous, evil wretches who hate America.

5. That believes Obama is a “socialist” or even a “Communist.” To disregard the definition of a word and substitute your own meaning is damaging to the language and to rational discourse.

6. That believes the Constitution is holy writ and is to be interpreted literally.

7. That thinks that Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other right wing radio talk show hosts should be taken seriously.

8. That believes in so many conspiracies that paranoids locked up in mental institutions look sane by comparison.

9. That never met an environmental regulation they didn’t hate and defines “free market” as nearly unfettered, predatory capitalism.

10. That believes the solution to most of our challenges overseas is either to bomb the hell out of them or overthrow the offending government. Sometimes both.

11. That believes waterboarding and other forms of internationally recognized torture are only what the terrorists deserve.

12. That equates compromise with surrender and civility with weakness.

13. That believes there is nothing to learn from opposing points of view and that criticizing your own side for something they’ve said or done is tantamount to apostasy.

There’s a lot more, but I’ve got to save something for future postings.

All of the above is the result of massively excessive ideological fervor that celebrates ignorance and cheers the irrational. I don’t know who or what is to blame — talk radio, the internet, perhaps more than anything, the perilous times we live in. I only know that I proudly reject a political party whose rank and file hold to this kind of deranged thinking — a derangement that extends even to the leadership of the party at times.

So what is it that RINO’s believe? I can only say what I believe and let others who might be tempted to join the ranks of conservative heretics make up their own mind.

1. I believe in a practical, reasonable interpretation of constitutional principles. These include defined limits on the scope and power of government, even if those limits interfere with some people’s concept of “social justice.” There is no justice without order, no order without limits on power. This was one of the core beliefs of the founders and I see no reason to abandon it for any reason.

I also believe in a rational interpretation of constitutional intent. This includes recognizing that the founders could never have envisioned the overwhelming role of commerce in America, but trusted their decedents to balance liberty with the need to restrain the powerful to keep them from preying on the weak. (A no brainer, this one.)

2. I believe in prudence as a civic virtue above all others.

3. I believe in science as a “candle in the dark” and that rejecting established science for religious or ideological reasons is anti-intellectual.

4. I believe we should render unto God what is God’s. All else — including government, public education, and the town square — belongs to man.

5. I believe that the current crisis needs serious men and women willing and able to work with their political opponents to begin to address the monumental problems we are facing. Recognizing that politics is a dirty, nasty business and that it will never be all sweetness and light between Republicans and Democrats, this is not an excuse to indulge in the most juvenile name calling and spitballing that substitutes for governance today. If politicians can’t find a way to overcome their own worst instincts, we are doomed to a collapse that will bring about unthinkable social and economic upheaval.

6. I believe there is merit to carefully examining criticism from the other side when it is logical and reasonably given. I also believe it imperative to expose oneself to other points of view outside one’s ideological comfort zone. If “Reading maketh a whole man” one must never stop searching for knowledge no matter what its origin.

7. I believe in “the examined life” — constantly testing the underlying assumptions of one’s philosophy to ensure that it is grounded in reality. While principles are immutable (to a large degree), one’s definition of belief regarding a particular issue might change as more information is inputted. If one finds that it is necessary to stretch, or spin one’s beliefs on an issue to force it to fit into a predetermined slot in your philosophy, the chances are very good that you’ve moved beyond that particular formulation and need to define a new one.

8. I believe it necessary for conservatism to inoculate itself against the toxicity being spread by the right wing ideologues whose hysteria, conspiracy mongering, irrational religious fervor, and lunatic ideas of government threaten to undermine the true nature of conservatism as a personal philosophy and force a retrenchment that would take us back to a time when the right was irrelevant.

Conservatism is not a political ideology. As Oakeshott points out, the application of conservative principles to liberal democracy is more to the point. What he calls, “rational government” incorporates principles expounded on by theorists from Burke to Kirk.

To govern, then, as the conservative understands it, is to provide a vinculum juris for those manners of conduct which, in the circumstances, are least likely to result in a frustrating collision of interests; to provide redress and means of compensation for those who suffer from others behaving in a contrary manner; sometimes to provide punishment for those who pursue their own interests regardless of the rules; and, of course, to provide a sufficient force to maintain the authority of an arbiter of this kind. Thus, governing is recognized as a specific and limited activity; not the management of an enterprise, but the rule of those engaged in a great diversity of self-chosen enterprises.

I suppose since Oakeshott was in favor of regulating business, he would be called a RINO today.

There’s much more I believe, of course. But to find out, you’re just going to have to add me to your RSS feed and come back for more.

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