Casualty Lists From the Kavanaugh Battle

Casualty Lists From the Kavanaugh Battle

By Patrick J. Buchanan

After a 50-year siege, the great strategic fortress of liberalism has fallen. With the elevation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court seems secure for constitutionalism — perhaps for decades.

The shrieks from the gallery of the Senate chamber as the vote came in on Saturday, and the sight of that bawling mob clawing at the doors of the Supreme Court as the new justice took his oath, confirm it.

The Democratic Party has sustained a historic defeat.

And the triumph is President Trump’s.

To unite the party whose nomination he had won, Donald Trump pledged to select his high court nominees from lists prepared by such judicial conservatives as the Federalist Society. He kept his word and, in the battle for Kavanaugh, he led from the front, even mocking the credibility of the primary accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

Trump has achieved what every GOP president has hoped to do since the summer of ’68, when a small group of GOP senators, led by Bob Griffin of Michigan, frustrated and then foiled a LBJ-Earl Warren plot to elevate LBJ crony Abe Fortas to chief justice in order to keep a future President Nixon from naming Warren’s successor.

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Sharing the honors with Trump is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Throughout 2016, McConnell took heat for refusing to hold a hearing on Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, to fill the chair of Justice Antonin Scalia, who had died earlier that year.

In 2017, McConnell used Harry Reid’s “nuclear option” to end filibusters for Supreme Court nominations, and then got Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed 54-45.

Last week, in one of the closest and most brutal court battles in Senate history, McConnell kept his troops united, losing only Sen. Lisa Murkowski, to put Kavanaugh on the court by 50-48. McConnell will enter the history books as the Senate architect of the recapture of the Supreme Court for constitutionalism.

This was a huge victory for conservatism and for the Republican Party. And the presence on the court of octogenarian liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both appointed by Bill Clinton, suggests that McConnell may have an opportunity to ensure the endurance of his great achievement.

The ferocity and ugliness of the attacks on Kavanaugh united Republicans to stand as one against what a savage Senate minority was trying to do to kill the nomination. And at battle’s end, the GOP is more energized than it has been all year for this fall’s election.

How united is the GOP? Conservatives are hailing the contributions of Sens. Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, who delivered a masterful summation of the Kavanaugh case Saturday afternoon.

For the Democratic Party, the Kavanaugh battle was the Little Bighorn, as seen from General Custer’s point of view.

Unable to derail the judge during the regular confirmation process, they lay in the weeds until it was over, and then sandbagged the judge by leaking to The Washington Post a confidential letter Dr. Ford did not want released.

They thus forced a public hearing of charges of attempted rape against a nominee, demanded the FBI investigate all charges of sexual misconduct when Kavanaugh was a teenager, and ended up losing anyway.

Then the Dems watched protesters dishonor the Senate in which they serve by screaming from the gallery. It was among the lowest moments in the modern history of the Senate, and it was the Democratic minority that took it down to that depth.

Understandably, they are a bitter lot today.

And the #MeToo movement has been set back. For many of its champions were, in Kavanaugh’s case, demanding a suspension of the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” and calling for the judge’s rejection in disgrace, based solely on their belief in a wholly uncorroborated 36-year-old story.

So where are we going now?

While Republicans are united and celebrating a great victory, the left and its media auxiliary are seething with rage and doubly determined to deliver payback in the elections four weeks away, where Democrats could pick up the two dozen seats needed to recapture the House.

Should they do so, however, they will face two years of frustration and failure. For the enactment of any major element of their liberal agenda — a $15 minimum wage, “Medicare-for-all” — would die in a Republican Senate, or in the Oval Office where it would face an inevitable veto by Trump.

So, what does 2019 look like, if Democrats capture the House?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A House Judiciary Committee headed by New York’s Jerrold Nadler who is already howling for impeachment hearings on both Kavanaugh and Trump.

And, by spring, a host of presidential candidates, none of whom looks terribly formidable, led by Cory (“I am Spartacus”) Booker, trooping through Iowa and New Hampshire, trashing President Trump (and each other), and offering themselves as the answer to America’s problems.

Bring it on!

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Why Roy Moore Matters

Why Roy Moore Matters

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Why would Christian conservatives in good conscience go to the polls Dec. 12 and vote for Judge Roy Moore, despite the charges of sexual misconduct with teenagers leveled against him?

Answer: That Alabama Senate race could determine whether Roe v. Wade is overturned. The lives of millions of unborn may be the stakes.

Republicans now hold 52 Senate seats. If Democrats pick up the Alabama seat, they need only two more to recapture the Senate, and with it the power to kill any conservative court nominee, as they killed Robert Bork.

Today, the GOP, holding Congress and the White House, has a narrow path to capture the Third Branch, the Supreme Court, and to dominate the federal courts for a decade. For this historic opportunity, the party can thank two senators, one retired, the other still sitting.

The first is former Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

In 2013, Harry exercised the “nuclear option,” abolishing the filibuster for President Obama’s judicial nominees. The Senate no longer needed 60 votes to confirm judges. Fifty-one Senate votes could cut off debate, and confirm.

Iowa’s Chuck Grassley warned Harry against stripping the minority of its filibuster power. Such a move may come back to bite you, he told Harry. Grassley is now judiciary committee chairman.

And this year a GOP Senate voted to use the nuclear option to shut down a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who was then confirmed with 55 votes.

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Yet the Democratic minority still had one card to play to block President Trump’s nominees — the “blue slip courtesy.”

If a senator from the state where a federal judicial nominee resides asks for a hold on proceedings, by not returning a blue slip, the judiciary committee has traditionally honored that request and not held hearings.

Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota used the blue slip to block the Trump nomination of David Stras of Minnesota to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Franken calls Stras too ideological, too conservative.

But Grassley has now decided to reject the blue slip courtesy for appellate court judges, since their jurisdiction is not just over a single state like Minnesota, but over an entire region.

Thus have the skids been greased for a conservative recapture of the federal judiciary unseen since the early days of FDR.

Eighteen of the 179 seats on the U.S. appellate courts and 119 of the 677 seats on federal district courts are already open. More will be opening up. No president in decades has seen the opportunity Trump has to remake the federal judiciary.

Not only are the federal court vacancies almost unprecedented, a GOP Senate and Trump are working in harness to fill them before January 2019, when a new Congress is sworn in.

If Republicans blow this opportunity, it is unlikely to come again. For the Supreme Court has seemed within Republican grasp before, only to have it slip away because of presidential errors.

Nixon had four nominees to the Supreme Court confirmed and Gerald Ford saw his nominee, John Paul Stevens, unanimously confirmed. But of those five justices confirmed from 1969 to 1976, Stevens and Harry Blackmun joined the liberal bloc, and Chief Justice Warren Burger and Lewis Powell voted for Roe v. Wade.

Of Reagan’s three Supreme Court nominees confirmed, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy cast crucial votes in 5-4 decisions to defeat the strict constructionists led by Antonin Scalia.

George H.W. Bush named Clarence Thomas to the court, but only after he had elevated David Souter, who also joined the liberal bloc.

Hence, both Trump, by whom he nominates, and a Republican Senate, with its power to confirm with 51 votes, are indispensable if we are to end judicial dictatorship in America.

And 2018 is the crucial year.

While Democrats, with 25 Senate seats at risk, would seem to be facing more certain losses than the GOP, with one-third as many seats at stake, history teaches that the first off-year election of Trump could prove a disaster.

Consider. Though Ike ended the Korean War in his first year, he lost both Houses of Congress in his second. Reagan enacted one of the great tax cuts in history in his first year, and then lost 26 seats in the House in his second.

Bill Clinton lost control of both the House and Senate in his first off-year election. Barack Obama in 2010 lost six Senate seats and 54 seats and control of the House. And both presidents were more popular than Trump is today.

If the election in Virginia this year is a harbinger of what is to come, GOP control of Congress could be washed away in a tidal wave in 2018.

Hence, this coming year may be a do-or-die year to recapture the Third Branch of Government for conservatism.

Which is why that Dec. 12 election in Alabama counts.

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Goldwater-Rockefeller Redux

Goldwater Reagan 1964

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

Mark Twain’s insight comes to mind as one observes the panic of Beltway Republicans over the latest polls in the battle of Obamacare.

According to Gallup, approval of the Republican Party has sunk 10 points in two weeks to 28 percent, an all-time low. In the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, approval of the GOP has fallen to 24 percent.

In the campaign to persuade America of their Big Lie — that the House Republicans shut down the government — the White House and its media chorus appear to have won this round.

Yet, the truth is the Republicans House has voted three times to keep open and to fund every agency, department and program of the U.S. government, except for Obamacare.

And they voted to kill that monstrosity but once.

Republicans should refuse to raise the white flag and insist on an honorable avenue of retreat.

And if Harry Reid’s Senate demands the GOP end the sequester on federal spending, or be blamed for a debt default, the party should, Samson-like, bring down the roof of the temple on everybody’s head.

This is an honorable battle lost, not a war.

Why, after all, did Republicans stand up? Because they believe Obamacare is an abomination, a new entitlement program this nation, lurching toward bankruptcy, cannot afford.

It is imposing increases in health care premiums on millions of Americans, disrupting doctor-patient relationships and forcing businesses to cut workers back to 29 hours a week. Even Democratic Sen. Max Baucus has predicted a coming “train wreck.”

Now if the Republican Party believes this, what choice did the House have except to fight to defund or postpone it, against all odds, and tune out the whining of the “We-can’t-win!” Republican establishment?

And if Republicans are paralyzed by polls produced by this three-week skirmish, they should reread the history of the party and the movement to which they profess to belong.

In the early 1960s, when the postwar right rose to challenge JFK with Mr. Conservative, events and actions conspired to put Barry Goldwater in the worst hole of a Republican nominee in history.

Kennedy was murdered in Dallas one year before the election. Goldwater had glibly hinted he would privatize Social Security, sell the Tennessee Valley Authority and “lob one into the men’s room at the Kremlin.”

After his defeat of Nelson Rockefeller in the California primary assured his nomination, Goldwater was 59 points behind LBJ — 77-18.

Rockefeller, George Romney and William Scranton — to the cheers of the Washington press, began to attack Goldwater for “extremism” and failing to vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

At the Cow Palace convention, liberals demanded Goldwater rewrite the platform to equate The John Birch Society with the Communist Party USA and the Ku Klux Klan, which had murdered four black girls at a Birmingham church in 1963 and three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Miss., that same summer.

Goldwater rejected this stinking outrage, declaring, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” And, so, the liberals all abandoned him.

One man stood by Goldwater. The two-time loser Richard Nixon, who had not won a race in his own right since 1950, campaigned for Goldwater and the party longer and harder than Barry himself.

And what became of them all?

Bill Scranton packed it in 1966. George Romney was trounced in 1968 by Nixon, with Goldwater’s legions at his side, in New Hampshire, and quit the race two weeks before the returns came in.

Rockefeller, who had spent a career calling Nixon a “loser,” lacked what it took to challenge Nixon in any of the contested primaries.

And, lest we forget, one other national Republican spoke up for Goldwater and conservatism in that 1964 humiliation, the retired Hollywood actor and impresario of GE Theater: Ronald Reagan.

Nixon and Reagan would go on to win four of the next five GOP nominations and presidential elections. In the one convention Reagan lost, 1976, the right, as the price of its support of Gerald R. Ford, demanded that Nelson Rockefeller be dumped as vice president.

Done. Rocky was last seen flipping a middle finger to the delegates happily marking “paid” on his account.

Prediction: The people who fought the battle of Obamacare will be proven right to have fought it, and America will come to see this.

And the people who said, “We can’t win!” will never win.

America is at a turning point.

If she does not stop squandering hundreds of billions on liberal agenda items like Obamacare and if she do not end these trade deficits sucking the jobs, factories and investment capital out of our country, we will find ourselves beside Greece, Spain, Illinois and Detroit.

Even if America disagrees, as in 1964 when it embraced LBJ’s Great Society plunge to social and economic disaster, Republicans need to stand up — current polls and corporate Republicans be damned.

If the right is right, time will prove it, as it did long ago.

IMAGE NOTES:: The image above is an artistic remix by Linda Muller for Buchanan.org
PHOTO CREDIT: Reagan Presidential Library [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
SOURCE: Wikimedia

Is the Conflict Between Us Irreconcilable?

What we are witnessing here is the unfolding of the Big Lie

By Patrick J. Buchanan

One way or another, the battle of the budget and the debt ceiling will be over by All Hallows’ Eve.

Yet, as one looks deeper, at the irreconcilable conflict behind the present clash, only a roaring optimist would imagine we shall ever know again the tranquility and unity of the Eisenhower-Kennedy years.

Consider the bile dumped upon Tea Party Republicans by Barack Obama, Harry Reid and their camp followers in the national press.

What did the Tea Party do to deserve this? Answer: These extremists shut down the U.S. government, they’re holding America hostage, and they’re inflicting terrible suffering on innocent people.

But is this true?

Three times in a fortnight, the House has voted to fund every department, agency, and program of the government — except Obamacare. Who, then, is truly shutting down the government?

What we are witnessing here is the unfolding of the Big Lie — the constant repetition of a transparent falsehood — to persuade a pliable public not only to believe it, but to recite it, as in Orwell’s “1984.”

Obamacare, we are told, was enacted by Congress, signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court, confirmed by Obama’s victory in 2012. To try to defund or reform it amounts to an attempted coup, an overturning of the election results of November.

But does not Congress have the power of the purse to fund or defund any program it chooses? Is that not in the Constitution?

And have not the last three years exposed glaring flaws in Obamacare? Have not severely adverse consequences turned up in widespread layoffs and a reversion to part-time help? Did not the Cleveland Clinic say it will have to let 3,000 people go?

Why then is the House’s exercise of its constitutional authority to defund Obamacare, which polls show a majority of Americans favor, such a moral outrage?

This brings us to the underlying conflict.

The Obamacare battle is part of a larger struggle between a party of government and a conservative party that fears America is heading down a road traveled by Greece, Italy and Spain.

Now the party of government can surely claim credit for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare. Yet, that same party is also responsible for driving New York City to the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s and for the disaster that is Detroit today.

That party is also responsible for an unsustainable welfare state where half the U.S. population pays zero income taxes but consumes hundreds of billions yearly in social welfare benefits.

And how are the people who preside over this annual redistribution of America’s wealth faring? Just fine, thank you.

According to the latest data from the Census Bureau, the four counties in the United States with the highest median family income are all in the D.C. area: Arlington, Loudoun and Fairfax County, Va., and Howard County, Md. Maryland’s Montgomery County, just north of D.C., ranks 7. Five of the top ten. Not bad, eh?

Though 120,000 D.C. residents are on food stamps, the city boasts a median family income higher than all but four states. And D.C. leads the nation in the number of bedroom counties, nine, where the median family income exceeds $100,000.

Big government and the Fat City are one in Barack Obama’s America.

And how does the Tea Party imperil the country?

First, they risk taking America over the cliff into default. But that raises a question: Since the Tea Party folks are newcomers to town, who brought America to the edge of this cliff?

What radical added $6 trillion to our national debt in five years? Or did the Tea Party do that?

Almost all now agree that the entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — threaten to consume the budget.

Is the Tea Party responsible for this gathering disaster?

Was the Tea Party beating the drums for those trillion-dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is the Tea Party responsible for our being committed to fighting other countries’ wars and paying other countries’ bills, in perpetuity, through foreign aid?

When the Tea Party says the Fed’s QE3 amounts to printing money and inflating the currency, that it is creating stock market and real estate bubbles certain to burst, and that the dollar’s future as the world’s reserve currency is imperiled, do they not have a point?

These same views are today being echoed by economists and writers, few of whom are ever likely to show up wearing side arms at God and Country Rallies.

And just where did our community-organizer president learn his economics. From Saul Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals”? From his senate days in Springfield, capital of the state that is the odds-on favorite to be first in the nation to default on its debts?

The Tea Party is feared and detested in Washington because these folks threaten the ideology, the vested interests, and most critical of all, the rice bowls in this city that voted 15-1 for Obama.

The Sadistic Strategy of Obama & Reid

Sadistic Strategy of Obama & Reid

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In the showdown over the shutdown of the U.S. government, the Obamaites tipped their hand yesterday as what their strategy is.

Taking a page out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” the plan is to maximize the people’s pain — to maximize the political damage to the enemy, the Republican Party.

What else explains it?

Consider this: Asked Wednesday if there were any danger of America defaulting on her debt, President Obama rushed to assure a reporter that, yes, indeed, there certainly is such a peril.

Why would a president act in so perverse a manner, were he not trying deliberately to rattle or panic the markets?

Obama’s tactic worked. Thursday, the Dow plunged below 15,000.

Equally telling is what happened at the World War II Memorial.

This is an open memorial on the mall, to which the old soldiers of the Greatest Generation, flown here on honor flights, come to a last roll call with their comrades. The memorial is dedicated to them, to what they and their buddies did, and to those who never came home.

But when the old soldiers got here, the Park Service, apparently acting on orders from the White House complex, had thrown up steel barriers and crime-scene tape to keep them from visiting the site on what is surely the last trip many will ever make to see their memorial.

What kind of sick mind does something like that?

To their credit, the vets and their families pulled aside the barriers to walk through their monument, singing songs in memory of the heroes who had gone before.

Now one reads that Obama has ordered the cemetery and beaches at Normandy closed. Again, what kind of mindset produces this?

Undeniably, Republicans have voted to defund Obamacare, to suspend it for one year, and to reform it. But in each of these three votes, the House also voted to fund the entire government.

Why, then, is the government shut down? Because Harry Reid and Barack Obama have issued an edict: Either Obamacare is fully funded and untouched in the continuing resolution, or we kill the CR, shut down the government, and blame you.

And this is exactly what is going on.

This is all about a petulant president whose prize program the people do not want, but who insists it be imposed upon them, to assure himself a paragraph in the history books.

This week, Republicans tried to pass legislation that would keep open all memorials and monuments, all tourist sites in Washington, D.C., and all programs for America’s veterans.

Who stonewalled that? Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Why would Reid sabotage the funding the National Institute of Health.

Why would Reid sabotage what is transparently a humanitarian act?

Again, Reid and Obama do not want to ease the pain of the people. They want to intensify that pain, ratchet it up, maximize it, to put maximum pressure on and do maximum damage to the GOP.

The Obama-Reid strategy is, in a word, sadistic.

They are inflicting pain on fellow Americans — to break their political enemies. And they can only succeed in sustaining their Big Lie — that it is Republicans who want to keep the government shut down — because of a collaborationist press.

Case in point: The Washington Post.

Several days ago, the Post wailed that Republicans were endangering the nation’s health by failing to fund NIH. But now that the Republican House has tried to fund NIH in full, where is the editorial denouncing Pelosi or Reid for blocking funding for NIH? Nowhere. Which suggests the Post’s real concern was never about funding NIH but about bashing the GOP.

In Thursday’s lead editorial: “National Security at Risk,” the Washington Post asks, “At a time of war, how can Republicans justify furloughing much of the intelligence workforce?”

Excellent question.

Yet, not a word in the editorial about the indispensable role of Reid and our commander-in-chief in preventing America’s security agencies from being funded.

What should the House Republican do before week’s end? Pass bills funding the Pentagon, State, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security and any other agency having to do with the national security. But when Harry Reid again balks that he is not going to “play this little game,” anyone think the Post will hold him accountable?

The Obama-Reid strategy — inflict maximum pain on the country for maximum gain for themselves — coupled with a refusal to talk with the GOP — reflects this city’s contempt for conservative Republicans.

Yet, the sadistic strategy of Obama and Reid, and the poisonous atmosphere it has created, is telling America that: In its assessment of this city’s ruling establishment, the Tea Party has more than a small point.

Yet, with Reid now on the defensive, trying to justify his refusal to cooperate in funding any agency, the truth may be gaining on the Big Lie.

PHOTO CREDIT: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
SOURCE: Flickr

The Beltway Lies of the Obamacare War

Beltway Lies of the Obamacare War

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies,” said Winston Churchill.

What is the truth behind the Beltway lies about these crazy Republicans crashing our government?

Twice in the last week House Republicans have voted unanimously to fund the U.S. government.

If national polls are to be believed, those House Republicans are doing exactly what America wants. A majority of Americans oppose a government shutdown. And a majority oppose Obamacare.

Who, then, is preventing the government from being funded?

Harry Reid and Barack Obama. Neither will accept any continuing resolution that does not contain Obamacare. Both will shut down this city rather than accept any such CR.

It is Harry and Barry who are saying: If we don’t get full funding of Obamacare now, we shutdown Washington until the House delivers.

The battle, then, is over this question: Will the next great liberal entitlement program, Obamacare, with its manifest failings and flaws, be imposed upon the nation — against its will?

The House says no. The Beltway says yes.

Few disagree that, in any national plebiscite, Obamacare would be buried in a landslide. Few disagree that if Obamacare were put to a vote of the Congress today, it would fail in both houses.

Why, then, is it radical for the House to use its power of the purse to defund a program America does not want?

Why is it statesmanship for Obama to say he will shut down the entire government if any resolution to keep it running contains even the slightest tweak to his cherished program?

What these questions suggest is that this is at root a political and ideological war, and the Beltway has assembled its usual bodyguard of lies and liars to conceal that truth.

Consider this keening from the Washington Post yesterday about the terrible consequences of a government shutdown:

“[W]e would hope that Mr. Boehner would have compassion for thousands of moderately paid breadwinners who would find themselves in very difficult circumstances. We would hope he would be troubled by how a shutdown would disrupt research at the National Institute of Health and safety inspections at the Food and Drug Administration.”

About this lugubrious passage, several questions:

Since Reid and Obama have both said they will block any CR that does not contain Obamacare in its pristine form, why are they not charged with some responsibility for a shutdown?

Answer: The Post is not interested in conveying the truth about this conflict, because in this battle it is as much a political ally of Obama as Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

But it is a more effective ally, since some still presume it is being truthful and objective.

Assume that today John Boehner came out and said at a press conference: “I have taken note of the Post’s concerns about an interruption of service at NIH and the FDA. I share those concerns. Therefore, at my direction, the House will vote this afternoon to fully fund both agencies.”

Anyone think the Washington Post would celebrate Boehner’s compassion and statesmanship the next morning?

Of course not. All this weeping and gnashing of teeth about the terrible consequences of a government shutdown is designed to whip up political animosity, direct it at House Republicans, and break John Boehner. Failing that, it is to foist upon the House Republicans full responsibility for a shutdown that the House has voted twice to avoid.

What this battle confirms is that, on major national issues that pit social and populist conservatives against Big Government liberals, the Beltway press corps invariably acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee.

More problematic, there is a slice of the Beltway right — the contributions bundlers and kennel-fed conservatives, the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots, the George McClellans — that prefers prancing, parading and posturing to the actual fighting.

With them the excuses are always the same. We can’t win. We have been beaten on this terrain before. The press will kill us. The White House has a microphone we can’t match. We will only hurt ourselves in the polls and throw away our great opportunity in the coming election. Besides, our corporate contributors don’t want this fight.

Some “conservatives” even cynically suggest that the GOP let Obamacare take effect, as it will prove such a disaster there will be a backlash against it in 2014 — and from that we can benefit.

With Reid’s refusal to accept the House CR with the one-year suspension of Obamacare, a shutdown seems certain.

Every Republican should be out front, on TV, radio and in print this week with a simple message:

“We have twice voted to fund every agency and program of the U.S. government (save Obamacare) in a single CR. We will proceed now to pass CRs for each department and agency of the U.S. government, separately and individually.

“And if Harry Reid’s Senate refuses to pass a single one of those CRs, who then is shutting down NIH and the FDA?”

The True Disciple of Saul Alinsky

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s opening bid to Speaker John Boehner, a demand for $1.6 trillion in new taxes, was not meant as a serious offer. It was an ultimatum couched in an insult. Translation:

“We won the election. We have the whip hand. Not only are you going to sign on to higher tax rates and higher tax revenues, we are going to rub your Tea Party noses in your coming capitulation.”

That Boehner did not throw the offer back in Geithner’s face and tell him, “Give me a call, Tim, when you’re serious,” suggests that the speaker feels he is holding a losing hand.

He wants a deal where the GOP agrees to higher revenues and the White House agrees to cuts in future entitlement outlays. But the Obamaites are looking to dictate terms. They want a triumph. If that means casting Boehner as the Neville Chamberlain of the GOP, so be it.

What explains their hubris?

Two years ago, Obama had to eat crow and extend the Bush tax cuts. Now it’s payback time. And behind their arrogance lies a belief that the GOP cannot say no. For if the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cuts expire on Jan. 1, Americans will face the highest tax hike in history.

— Every family earning up to $100,000 would see 2 percent of its income lopped off, as the employee half of the Social Security tax rises from 4.2 to 6.2. percent. The discretionary income of Middle Americans would be ravaged.

— The federal tax rate on capital gains will rise from 15 percent to a maximum 24.7 percent, a jump of 60 percent.

— The federal tax rate on interest and dividends will triple from 15 percent to a maximum 44.7 percent.

— Where $5 million of an estate can now be passed on to one’s heirs non-taxed, that will be cut to $1 million. And the death tax rate would shoot from 35 percent to a neo-Marxist 55 percent.

Even Senate Democrats fear this would force a selloff or breakup of family farms and family businesses at death. Yet somewhere, the radical socialist Saul Alinsky, who inspired the young community organizer, is smiling.

Why does Obama see himself in the catbird seat, though his demands are intolerable to the GOP and, absent a deal, he risks taking the country over the cliff Jan. 1?

Obama believes that if we go into the abyss, he can paint the Republican Party as having imperiled the economy and imposed tax increases on the middle class, just to spare America’s top 2 percent from a modest increase in its contribution to debt reduction.

And Obama has a hole card.

If those tax hikes hit Jan. 1, he will be able to posture as the rescuer of the 98 percent by proposing to the new Congress an Obama tax cut that restores the Bush rates for all couples earning less than $250,000.

He will also be able to dictate to Boehner & Co. the tax rate on estates, dividends and capital gains that he will accept or not accept. The Bush tax cuts would be replaced by the Obama tax cuts, as the GOP is cursed from coast to coast for taking us over the cliff.

Obama believes he will then be seen as pulling the nation out of the pit into which the GOP had plunged it, simply to spare its fat cats a needed haircut.

In “Rules for Radicals,” the Alinsky rulebook and Obama playbook, the first rule is, “Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have.”

Clearly, many Republicans think that if they do not yield, Obama will let the country go over the cliff, blame them and portray himself credibly as the man who saved the nation from Republican intransigence over a small tax hike for the rich that most Americans support.

Yet Obama is not without risk here. As America heads toward the cliff, there could be panic selling of stocks, bonds and assets to avoid higher taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains in 2013. The economy could tank. Obama could become the Democrats’ Herbert Hoover.

As for John Boehner, he must know that if he yields too much, his caucus will rebel and his speakership will be at an end.

What to do?

Forget the deal. Walk away from the talks with Geithner. Pass an extension of the payroll tax cut, and send it to Harry Reid. Pass the Bush tax cuts, and send them to Harry Reid and say:

“Harry, you are going to have to pass this extension of the tax cuts, or kill them, or send us a counteroffer. Do nothing, and you, not we, will take America over the cliff.”

When Sen. Edmund Ross rose to cast the decisive vote in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, he said, “I looked down into my own political grave.”

Reviled by the radicals of his era, Ross yet made it into JFK’s “Profiles in Courage.” We are at such a moment.

Obama Blows up the Bridge

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Rather than building bridges, he’s poisoning wells,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, after listening to Barack Obama’s scathing attack on his deficit reduction plan as a shredding of America’s social contract with the elderly and poor.

Ryan is right. Yet, with Obama’s partisan savagery, virtually calling the GOP plan immoral, we have clarity.

There will be no grand bipartisan bargain on taxes and spending.

The two parties on Capitol Hill and the president will not be coming together to solve the gravest financial and fiscal crisis America has faced since the Great Depression. Between them today is a high wall and a deep ditch.

The heart of the Ryan plan is to turn Medicaid into block grants to the states, so each can decide for itself how best to use the funds, and to convert Medicare into a program where the U.S. government would provide citizens with the funds and freedom to chose whatever health insurance they wished to buy.

Obama denounced both.

But if the Republican Medicare and Medicaid proposals are dead on arrival in Harry Reid’s Senate and Obama’s White House, Obama’s plan to raise taxes is equally lifeless.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” this writer asked Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform exactly how many GOP members of the House had taken his pledge not to raise taxes.

His response: “The commitment that 235 Republican members of the House and 40 Republicans in the Senate have signed is the Taxpayer Protection Pledge — it says no raising taxes. So, taxes are off the table.”

Seems clear. But if virtually every GOP member of the House and 40 GOP senators have signed a pledge not to raise taxes, how can they dishonor that pledge?

How could they agree to raise the top U.S. income tax rate back up to the 40 percent of the Bill Clinton era, as Obama demands, then go home and tell voters they had no choice, that to get a deal with Reid and Obama they had to let the government take a larger share of the income of American citizens?

They cannot.

Put bluntly, a vote by a Republican House to raise taxes as part of a big budget deal would be an act of collective suicide by the party of Speaker John Boehner.

And the Democrats?

With the exception of the civil rights acts of the 1960s, no programs are more hallowed in party mythology than Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Are Democrats, after the “shellacking” of 2010, going to go home and tell their constituents they voted to cut Medicaid benefits?

Are they going to tell the old folks of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation and the retiring baby boomers that Medicare in the future will not be as generous as it has been in the past, that we are going to have to start rationing their health care?

The new Republican governors — Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania — all have resisted raising taxes, as has Andrew Cuomo, Democrat of New York, who enjoys remarkably high poll numbers for the times we live in.

The praise these governors are receiving, even when embattled, has also steeled the spine of congressional Republicans against any tax increase.

But if Democrats are not going to do even minor surgery on Medicare and Medicaid and Republicans are not going to raise taxes, there is no hope of big budget deal to cut a deficit now running at 11 percent of gross domestic product.

And that raises another question.

How long can the Federal Reserve continue financing these deficits?

China, choking on U.S. debt, is reportedly beginning to divest itself of U.S. bonds. Japan will need to sell U.S. bonds to get hard currency to repair the damage from the earthquake and tsunami. And the Fed is about to end its QE2 monthly purchases of $100 billion in U.S. bonds.

Where is the Fed going to borrow the $125 billion a month to finance this year’s deficit of $1.65 trillion, and another of comparable size in 2012?

Bill Gross’ Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, has sold all his U.S. bonds and begun to short U.S. debt. Pimco is betting that the value of U.S. Treasury bonds will begin to fall.

We may be about to enter a maelstrom.

No big budget deal is brokered. The deficit endures, and another looms in 2012. To finance them, the Fed borrows at the rate of $30 billion a week wherever it can.

But as countries begin to choke on U.S. debt, the market starts to dry up. To attract investors, the Fed must raise interest rates, which sends bond prices sinking and forces interest rates up across the economy.

With interest rates rising, gas prices rising and inflation rising, the squeeze is on, and there is talk of a double-dip recession.

And if that happens, Obama is toast. But, then, so are we.

And the Debt Bomb Ticks On

By Patrick J. Buchanan

With his approval rating moving up to 50 percent and higher in some polls, the pundits are all agreed. President Obama has turned the corner. He is now the winter-book favorite in 2012.

How, two months after his “shellacking,” did he do it?

First, by taking the wheel from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, cutting a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, bringing aboard Bill Daley, and separating himself from the demonizers of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck as moral accomplices in the Tucson massacre.

Second, Obama has been the beneficiary of bullish news.

Corporate profits are coming in higher than expected. The stock market has surged. Nine of 10 economists surveyed by USA Today are more positive about the economy than they were three months ago. The ratio of businesses that anticipate new hires over businesses that anticipate new layoffs has not been better in a decade.

There is a feeling that at last we are coming out of the Great Recession.

But has the debt bomb really been defused?

On Jan. 20, The New York Times had two front-page stories that ought to concentrate the mind.

“A Path is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens,” was the headline over the first, which reported that bankruptcy lawyers were being consulted by congressional aides on how states like California might go into Chapter 9, “leaving investors in state bonds … possibly ending at the back of the line as unsecured creditors.”

Illinois, the story said, might, with federal help, do what GM did.

But GM bondholders were wiped out, as some of us know all too well.

Should states win the right to seek bankruptcy protection against their state bondholders, the $3 trillion municipal bond market, which has lately been taking hits, could crater.

The second Times story wrote of a rebellion in the House Republican Study Committee by conservatives and Tea Partiers who think the leadership is being too timid in cutting this year’s budget.

Rep. Paul Ryan & Co. want to cut $60 billion to $80 billion. But, says, Mick Mulvaney, a freshman from South Carolina, “We want more.” These conservatives want $100 billion cut from discretionary programs.

Among their ideas: a five-year freeze on federal salaries, a 15 percent cut in federal employees, a rollback to 2006 spending levels, $300 billion in long-term funding cuts from such programs as foreign aid, Amtrak, public broadcasting and the Washington, D.C., subway system.

As the Tea Partiers’ proposed cuts do not touch the military, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or interest on the debt, the biggest budget items, slashes in transportation, education, domestic security, law enforcement and medical research, said the Times, “would be nothing short of drastic.”

Undeniably. Yet, consider.

The federal deficit for the fiscal year 2011, which ends Sept. 30, is projected at between $1,200 billion and $1,500 billion.

Thus, the $100 billion in cuts the firebrands are pushing, and few think they will get, add up at best to 8 percent of the deficit and 2.5 percent of the $3.87 trillion budget Obama proposed.

Thus, at best, this Congress will only slightly reduce the rate of speed at which we are heading toward a debt default.

The last few days have brought other news bearing on the debt bomb hanging over the Western world.

The Irish, upon whom austerity has been imposed as a condition of an EU bailout, saw their government fall this weekend. Elections are in March, and the ruling Fianna Fail, at 13 percent approval, is expecting a wipeout.

Will the Irish accept endless austerity, or vote for populists who will default and let EU governments and banks take the hit?

Should Ireland default, she will not be the last to do so.

Also this weekend, the European Central Bank chief warned that inflation in the global economy — the rising prices for oil, food, minerals and precious metals — may mandate a rise in interest rates. That would be bad news for bondholders and governments everywhere, including our deeply indebted states that now borrow to cover operating costs.

Then there is the crisis in the housing market that continues to deepen.

“All previous postwar recoveries,” writes Mort Zuckerman, “have been able to depend on a growing U.S. housing market.”

But 8 million homes are today in foreclosure or their owners are delinquent in their mortgage payments. Some 5.5 million are occupied by families whose mortgages are at least 20 percent higher than the value of the property, making them prime candidates for foreclosure.

This weekend, Bank of America reported fourth-quarter losses of $1.6 billion and a 2010 yearly loss of $3.6 billion. Its credit card unit took a $10 billion write-down, and its home loan business is still reeling from the fallout of the exploded housing bubble.

Now, facing trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, House Republicans are balking at agreeing to raise the debit limit of $14.3 trillion, though the national debt just crossed the $14 trillion mark.

Are the happy days really here again?

Saving Professor Bernanke

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Elections don’t matter!” conservatives have long groused. “No matter who you vote for, things never change.”

Well, we may have an exception here.

Scott Brown told Massachusetts’ voters if they elected him to what David Gergen calls “the Kennedy seat” in the Senate, he would go to Washington and run a sword through Obamacare.
Continue reading “Saving Professor Bernanke”

There’s Something About Harry

By Patrick J. Buchanan

About the appointment by Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate, somebody big is lying, big-time. It is either the governor or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Last week, Reid declared that he would not permit Burris, the African-American elder statesman of Illinois politics, to fill Obama’s seat, or even to enter the Senate chamber, though no one had suggested Burris is other than an honorable and able public man.

Reid declared Burris “a tainted appointment,” not because of any ethical defect of his, but because of the cloud over the governor who had appointed him.

Saturday, however, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, in a story sourced to the governor’s office, that Reid personally phoned Blago on Dec. 3, six days before the scandal broke, to urge him not to name any of three high-profile candidates for the Obama seat.

On the Reid blacklist were, according to the source, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Rep. Danny Davis and State Senate President Emil Jones.

What do the three have in common? All are black.

Reid reportedly urged Blagojevich to pick either state Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth or Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

What do these women have in common? Neither is black.

As Prince Riley, a senior consultant to Burris, told Politico, “It’s interesting that all those who are viable are white women and the ones who are unacceptable are black men.”

It sure is, Prince — if the story is true.

Confronted by David Gregory on “Meet the Press,” Reid called Blago a liar and said he thinks Jackson would make a fine senator. Said Reid:

“This is part of Blagojevich’s cloud. He’s making all this up. I had a conversation with him. I don’t remember what was in the conversation, other than the generalities that I just talked about. I didn’t tell him who not to appoint. He’s making all this up …”

However, this brings us back to the contents of a conversation Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly had with Blago, also before U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald busted the governor for allegedly hawking Obama’s seat to the highest bidder.

Valerie Jarrett, Barack’s confidante, had by then withdrawn.

Rahm reportedly told Blago he should choose from one of three names: Duckworth, state Comptroller Dan Hynes and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Rahm then reportedly called back to add Lisa Madigan.

All four are white. Conspicuously missing from Rahm’s list were all four black candidates: Jackson, Davis, Jones and Burris.

Are Blago or his people all lying? The truth is on Fitzgerald’s tapes.

As Gregory pressed Reid, whose re-election in 2010 in Nevada is no sure thing, the majority leader suggested his feet were not so set in concrete and he may be open to a deal with Burris:

“I’m an old trial lawyer. There’s always room to negotiate.”

The deal being talked about is that Reid may let Burris take the seat if he agrees not to run in 2010. For the fear Democrats have is that no black male in Illinois can for sure hold Barack’s seat.

Now, if any such deal is what Reid has in mind, one hopes Burris will slap it away. He has as much right to be in the Senate as Harry Reid does. And for Burris to enter that body as a professed lame-duck would mean that not only would he be last in seniority, he will have neutered himself.

Reporters need to get to the bottom of this. Did Reid and Rahm convey to Blagojevich that Jackson, Davis, Jones and Burris were all unacceptable? Or is the governor’s office putting out malicious lies against Rahm and Reid? Again, the truth is on the tapes. And the ball is in Blago’s court, as Reid has all but openly called him a liar.

Incidentally, can one imagine the firestorm if Mitch McConnell, GOP leader, was reported to have called members of the Republican National Committee and told them all the candidates for party chair were acceptable, except for Ken Blackwell of Ohio and Michael Steele of Maryland, the two African-Americans?

McConnell would suffer the fate of Trent Lott, the GOP leader who in 2002 had to resign his post over a toast to 100-year-old Strom Thurmond. Lott observed that Strom had run for president on the Dixiecrat ticket in 1948, that Mississippi had voted for him and that, had Strom been elected, we might not have all these problems.

Lott was maliciously accused of endorsing the segregationist stand Strom had run on, 54 years before, though Lott never voted for segregation, and Strom’s voting record had been consistent for decades with that of other Southern conservatives.

Al Gore, whose father, Sen. Albert Gore Sr., stood beside Strom and voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, called Lott’s remarks racist and urged his censure by the Senate.

Let us see if the media, and his colleagues, are as tough on Reid as they were on Lott.