novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record

Michael Yon just returned to Baghdad and this is his report.

Now that the election is over, a new age is upon us, and a rational perspective on current affairs should soon be settling in, I wonder how long it will take for my fellow Democrats to realize our nation has just successfully come through one of the major international challenges in its history. Remember 10 years ago when Iraq was a tinderbox? Remember Saddam’s saber rattling, the flouting of UN mandates, the bonuses sent to the families of terrorists?

Well it’s over. Our military men and women did the job. Shouldn’t there be a parade or a public address or something?

One of the great scandals of the past half century has been the ease with which wealthy Americans have been allowed to divert substantial portions of their “income” to tax-incentivised retirement accounts. While so many in our country have been suffering, these wealthy few have skulked under the radar, squirreling away huge amounts of cash under the guise of “protecting their future.”

Thus through these misbegotten 401k, IRA and pension allotments, the rich have diverted funds which otherwise reasonably would have been accessible for the public pool. All for the cause of some imaginary, far-off “future” for themselves and their progeny. WHILE REAL PEOPLE, TODAY, HAVE BEEN GOING WITHOUT THE BASIC NECESSITIES!

It is a massive injustice that literally trillions of dollars have been shunted into secret, private accounts for the benefit of the few. For too long, our weak kneed, nervous nellie politicians have cast a blind eye to this practice, all the while contriving ways to try and force hard working Americans to “pay their own way” for public benefits.

That ignomy, I can say happily, is about to come to an end. The time is coming soon when so-called individual retirement accounts will be brought out of the shadows, and the astounding surpluses of money residing in these accounts will be put toward the public good.

As Teresa Ghilarducci, professor at the New School For Social Research recently testified before Congress, all of that “private” money could go a long way for the well being of the U.S. general public.

The basic idea is, remove the tax advantages of these hidden accounts and at the same time provide pressure for Americans to transfer their private money into publicly-managed “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts.” Once that happens, the U.S. government will have control of all the money individuals were previously squirreling away for themselves and their families, which obviously would be a huge benefit to society as a whole. As Ms. Ghilarducci notes:

If subsidies for 401(k)-style plans and IRAs can be reallocated to Guaranteed Retirement Accounts, why not use this money to shore up and expand Social Security?

This is certainly an option. Social Security is the cornerstone of our retirement system, and will continue to be the most important source of retirement income for the majority of retired Americans.

She also notes how this plan would eliminate the horrendous injustice whereby those who have squirreled away this 401k or pension money are allowed to pass it along to their heirs. In the new plan, only a small fraction of an individual’s retirement savings would be allowed to be kept within the individual’s family. The larger portion would go where it rightfully belongs – the U.S. Treasury, for the benefit of the people.

From what I have heard and read about our Democrat leaders in Congress and our dynamic President-elect, I think we will now have leadership with the backbone – the cajones, if you will – to pull this off.

Those greedy few Americans who have gamed the system and profited off the largesse of America’s institutions by building up 401k, IRA and pension savings accounts for their own selfish purposes will finally get their comeuppance under the Obama administration, I truly believe.

It will start with a tax “incentive,” but mark my words it will not end there. All that money which these greedy individuals attempted to hoard for themselves is going back into the public till to provide a better future for ALL Americans instead of their own selfish families.

To any of the greedy bastards who argue “I should not have worked so hard and sacrificed to put that money away if it was going to be taken away from my family” I would say simply: “God damn you, of course you should have, because that is your patriotic duty as an American. You just should not have been so selfish to think you would have been allowed to keep it all.”

Let’s just hope Mr. Obama has the cajones to keep his word, and spread it all around.

From the Onion.

International Con Man Barack Obama Leaves U.S. With $85 Million In Campaign Fundraising

November 11, 2008 | Issue 44•46

International Con ManBarack Obama as he appeared to millions of Americans, along with four of the president-elect’s former disguises.

CHICAGO—In a devastating blow to millions of unsuspecting Americans, newly elected president and international con man Barack Obama fled the country Wednesday with nearly $85 million in campaign funds.

According to FBI investigators, Obama’s sudden disappearance was discovered at 6:15 p.m. when the former Illinois senator failed to arrive at a gala event in Lincoln Square, prompting several aides to rush back to his campaign headquarters. At 6:23 p.m., flight logs at O’Hare International Airport confirmed that two passengers, a male carrying two silver briefcases and dressed in a perfectly tailored Brioni tuxedo, and an African-American female wearing a fur coat and speaking in a thick Russian accent, were seen boarding a private plane.

Enlarge Image LetterClick to read the note left behind by Obama, in which he claims the American public “never stood a chance.”

Obama’s campaign office, sources said, was completely vacant aside from a discarded Abraham Lincoln portrait, behind which was an emptied safe that his aides claimed never to have seen before.

In addition, three unconscious Secret Service agents were discovered at the scene, along with two lit cigarettes still burning in an ashtray, and Obama’s daughters, who authorities now believe were taken from an Alabama foster home six years ago.

The only item found inside the metal safe was a letter, handwritten with a fountain pen and titled “An Explanation, My Dears.”

“To my tender little pawns, the all-too-trusting people of America,” said FBI lead investigator Ray Hilland, quoting the letter at a press conference Wednesday. “If you are reading this, then I have already left your silly country in my private jet, and am right now sipping fine champagne with my lovely associate, a woman you have come to know as ‘Michelle…’”

Read it all.

He promised something new, and he is delivering on it: Barack Obama’s transition team will include few paid lobbyists:

To burnish Obama’s reformist credentials, Podesta on Tuesday rolled out what he billed as a tough set of ethics rules targeting professional lobbyists. But there was a loophole: Lobbyists could work on the transition as long as they stayed away from the policy areas that their lobbying involved.

As a candidate, Obama’s language when it came to lobbyists was far more emphatic. “I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race — and I’ve won,” he said in the South Carolina speech. “I don’t take a dime of their money, and when I am president, they won’t find a job in my White House.”

Once again I have to say: It’s about time. We have had enough corruption of our political system. Finally we have a president who intends to keep moneyed interests away from the machinery of government.

The conservative political philosophy was summarized by Thoreau in Civil Disobedience:

“That government is best which governs least.”

The Conservatives’ Dilemma, then, is how to translate that philosophy into election results.  It is very difficult to campaign against promises of better schools, better health care, more pay, a chicken in every pot, and a Hawaiian vacation for everyone, just by saying, “Big Government Doesn’t Work.”

Even though most people agree with that assertion, they still hold onto the hope that the candidates they elect can change the government so that it does work.

What the conservative movement needs to do it demonstrate that, in most instances, Big Government cannot work.  Unfortunately, this must be done on a case-by-case basis, because there are instances in which Big Government can and does work.  Fortunately, the areas in which Big Government actually works are the very ones over which our founding fathers gave the federal government authority.  Certainly it would not be efficient for each State to have it’s own Navy.  Coinage is another good example.  FEMA, covering the general welfare of the States, is an excellent example of a modern function that is better done by the federal government than by the several States.

Economic policy — picking winners and losers, as it were — is clearly beyond the powers of Congress, both Constitutionally and realistically.  The ethanol fiasco is a classic example of the government’s trying to set economic and energy policy, and our taking the hit for it.  Worse, that policy has resulted in significant increases in food prices.  In Canada, the federal government sets the pump prices of gasoline.  Sounds good, right?  Tell that to the people who have had to deal with fuel shortages.  In a normal economy, shortages drive up prices, encouraging suppliers to provide more product.  In Canada, however, charging more than the government mandated price is illegal, so there is no incentive to get fuel to locations experiencing shortages.

Federal employment laws provide more examples.  Minimum wage laws, corporate income taxes, and other laws that drive up the cost of employment, drive people out of their jobs, encourage illegal immigrants to undercut the American workers, and encourage companies to move the work to more hospitable climes.  If, however, the employers can cover the costs through higher prices without going out of business, then the employees have less purchasing power with their increased wages.

These explanations do not fit on bumper stickers, nor do they fit in 30-second commercials.  They require an understanding of economics, and of cause and effect.  That is the conservatives’ problem — how to present facts, logic, and reason to voters who live in a 30-second commercial, bumper-sticker world.

Right Wing News poll has it as Palin/Jindal:

7) Rudy Giuliani: 2%
6) Mike Huckabee: 4%
5) Ron Paul: 5%
4) Mitt Romney: 6%
3) Duncan Hunter: 6%
2) Bobby Jindal: 23%
1) Sarah Palin: 48%

I’d be down with that. If on the off chance I am not working wholeheartedly for President Obama’s re-election bid.

This topic has pretty much disappeared around here lately, which proves my point. What point? Why, Joe’s Maxim On The Illegal Immigration Controversy, of course.

Which is: If there are illegal aliens causing trouble on your street, you are concerned about illegal immigration. If they ain’t there, you ain’t so concerned.

I don’t know about your neighborhood, but I can tell you that thanks to the foreclosure tsunami, lots and lots of illegals have left Sterling. Guess much of that whole streamlined mortgage phenomenon was being conducted in Spanish, eh? Pepe’s closed a couple months ago. As far as I can tell, we may have one or two boarding houses left on our block but they are very discreet and it is a hell of a lot better than when we had five, three of whom were decidedly obnoxious.

Personally, I think a bunch of illegal migrants decided they stand as good a chance economically trying to make a go of it back in their own countries as here. To which I say: Good on ye, mates.

Zogby now reveals that voters in last week’s election were overwhelmingly in favor of immigration enforcement as opposed to amnesty – but the entire issue was not a factor in their vote:

– Only 32% of Obama voters considered his support for amnesty as a factor in their decisions to vote for him. 67% said it was either not a factor at all, or they voted for Obama in spite of his stance on amnesty.
– 60% of voters said reducing illegal immigration and cracking down on employers who hire them is important to them, while only 21% supported “legalizing or creating a pathway to citizenship” for illegal aliens.
– 57% of voters stated that amnesty would harm American workers and further strain public resources, while only 26% believe amnesty would aid economic recovery and ease public burdens.

And needless to say, McCain voters concerned about illegal immigration were obliged to take the clothespin-and-vodka route in order to pull the lever.

But many illegals have left. Construction has slowed. Winter is approaching. The issue has become less salient, even for Latinos, according to the research.

What this boils down to, for me, is more positive potential for the incoming Obama administration. The most egregious problem caused by illegal immigration is the negative impact on American workers – the downward pressure on salaries. Problems on our neighborhood streets run a close second, but these are much more difficult to quantify.

As the unemployment percentage creeps upward in this country, it will become more and more evident that allowing illegal workers to take American jobs and drive down American salaries is simply wrong.

Ten years ago Americans could make a living hanging drywall, doing rough carpentry, and a host of other forms of manual labor. When the opportunity to work picks back up, when housing starts are on the upswing, there is no reason that work should be going to illegals.

I have a strong hope – and faith, even – that President Obama will not turn his back on America’s blue collar workers.