Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To my Ron Paul friends

Ron Paul Rally
Photo source: Politico

To my Ron Paul friends:

You know I love you all.

You know I think you’re the future of the Republican Party.

You know I think the GOP Establishment acted swinishly, and with little regard to its own interests, in overturning the results of caucuses, after you worked your butts off to learn the rules and get chosen as convention delegates, fair and square.

Now grow up.

I didn’t vote for Romney in the primaries either. But Barack Obama threatens the freedom that is the core of our political philosophy. It’s time to work together to toss him out on his ass. If we don’t, the prediction I made in my novel Full Asylum of armed government CREEPS in black body armor kicking in our front doors may very well come true.

Does Romney offer everything we want? No. Can we tell the difference between him and Obama on the issues that are important to us? Absolutely. Obama has grown the government to a level unknown since World War II: Washington now spends 25% of GDP. Romney promises to claw that back to less than 20%. Obama has put more pages of new regulations in the Federal Register per year than any president in history. Romney promises to roll them back. And while Romney may not want to End the Fed, he does promise to replace Bush/Obama appointee Ben Bernanke with a chairman who will exercise some restraint in running the printing presses.

Will Romney keep these promises? I don't know. But we’ve seen how Obama governs; we know from experience what he’ll do if he’s re-elected. No, Romney may not keep his promises, but that’s the way to bet.

So please give Mitt your support. I know you won’t join me in taking Ron Paul to task for his classless refusal to do so. But at least stop tweeting that you’re going to vote for Obama. Obama? Seriously? The guy who spends his life trying to think up ways to get around the Constitution?

Also, please be polite. Do not support displays like this one that occurred on the convention floor yesterday:

Reports are conflicting. But as best I can reconstruct it, Ron Paul supporters, rightly angry that some of their delegates wouldn’t be seated, tried to shout down Committee on Permanent Organization chairwoman Zoraida Fonalledas as she began to present the credentials report. Romney supporters responded by drowning out the Paul supporters with shouts of “USA!” Because Ms. Fonalledas happens to be Puerto Rican, the net result was a lovely bit of video that the Democrats are already using to reinforce their fabricated “Republicans are racist” narrative. Giving ammunition to the enemy doesn’t help our cause.

I leave you with a question: Politics is the art of the possible. What is possible in 2012?

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel which shows what America will look like if Obama is re-elected. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Daily Reminder

I decided not to be so negative. So today I present a a stat about Mitt Romney's record, instead of Barack Obama's.

Obama's Record: Unemployment
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Those liberal 1950s Republicans

Rachel Maddow on Eisenhower-era GOP platforms
Photo source: Facebook/Being Liberal

A meme has been making its way around the web featuring MSNBC commentator and Justin Bieber look-alike Rachel Maddow. She's quoted as saying “I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.”

Leaving aside that Ms. Maddow would gleefully and wrongly pillory any Republican who embraced the Eisenhower platforms for wanting to bring back segregation, it's no secret that the party has become more conservative since the nomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964. Nevertheless, it's interesting to take a look at those old platforms. I suspect Ms. Maddow hasn’t.

The 1956 platform is a mixed bag. Ms. Maddow would no doubt applaud greater antitrust enforcement, expansion of the minimum wage, and a promise to fight employment discrimination. But she would be appalled by proposals to cut taxes, reduce government spending, invest in nuclear power, and counter “Communist aggression or subversion.”

But it’s the 1952 platform that’s really interesting. It reads like something that Thomas Jefferson wrote about King George, or maybe a Facebook post by that guy from the Tea Party who keeps telling us to write in the ghost of Ronald Reagan instead of voting for “Obamney." Check out these excerpts from the preamble:

We maintain that man was not born to be ruled, but that he consented to be governed; and that the reasons that moved him thereto are few and simple. He has voluntarily submitted to government because, only by the establishment of just laws, and the power to enforce those laws, can an orderly life be maintained, full and equal opportunity for all be established, and the blessings of liberty be perpetuated…

We charge that [the Democrats] have arrogantly deprived our citizens of precious liberties by seizing powers never granted.

We charge that they work unceasingly to achieve their goal of national socialism.

We charge that they have disrupted internal tranquillity by fostering class strife for venal political purposes.

We charge that they have choked opportunity and hampered progress by unnecessary and crushing taxation.

They claim prosperity but the appearance of economic health is created by war expenditures, waste and extravagance, planned emergencies, and war crises. They have debauched our money by cutting in half the purchasing power of our dollar.

We charge that they have weakened local self-government which is the cornerstone of the freedom of men.

We charge that they have shielded traitors to the Nation in high places, and that they have created enemies abroad where we should have friends.

We charge that they have violated our liberties by turning loose upon the country a swarm of arrogant bureaucrats and their agents who meddle intolerably in the lives and occupations of our citizens.

Would make a good platform for 2012, don’t you think?

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel that shows what happens when government arrogantly deprives its citizens of precious liberties. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Daily Reminder

The number of Americans employed in non-farm jobs has increased (slightly) since Barack Obama took office, which sounds good, until you take population growth into account. The decline in % of population employed shows that we're actually losing ground.

Obama's Record: Unemployment
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, July 2012, January 2009.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The failed policies that got us into this mess

xxx
Photo source: Citizens Against Big Government
In an AP interview over the weekend, Barack Obama accused Mitt Romney and the GOP, for the bazillionth time, of “offering the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”

I’d like to explore that accusation.

Gov. Romney’s economic policies are based on limiting the size of government, reducing regulation, and restraining monetary growth. The Bush administration, in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, did none of these things.

  • According to the Office of Management and Budget, during the presidency of George W. Bush federal spending grew from $1,789B in fiscal year 2000 (18.0% of GDP) to $2,983B (20.9% of GDP) in 2008. Growth in government continued under the Obama administration, with spending hitting a record $3.603B in 2011 (23.9% of GDP).
  • The administration of George W. Bush added an average of 73,400 pages of regulations to the Federal Register, compared to 66,500 pages under Clinton, and 50,700 under Reagan. Obama continued regulating at a record-setting pace of 77,100 pages per year.
  • We don’t talk a lot about monetary policy in our political discourse, but according to both Austrian and Chicago economics, it’s the real driver of both the business cycle and of bubbles like the one that created the mortgage crisis. According to Federal Reserve data, the money supply (seasonally adjusted M2) grew at a restrained 3.3% annual rate from the beginning of Chairman Greenspan’s tenure in August 1987 through March 1995. At that point, policy shifted. During the balance of Greenspan’s stewardship, which saw both the dot com and the housing bubbles, M2 expanded an average of 8.50% per year. Ben Bernanke, who was appointed by Bush in 2006 and re-appointed by Obama in 2009, continued cranking the printing presses at a 7.6% clip through September 2011.

    In each case – fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and monetary policy – we see that George W. Bush did the exact opposite of what Mitt Romney proposes to do. And in each case, Barack Obama continued and even accelerated the policies of George W. Bush. Sorry, Mr. President. The failed policies that got us into this mess are not Mitt Romney’s. They’re yours.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

  • Daily Reminder

    Obama's Record: Median Income
    Data source: Sentier Research via LA Times

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Movie Review — 2016: Obama’s America

    2016: Obama’s America
    Photo source: 2016TheMovie.com
    This movie is misnamed. Only a short portion of Dinesh D’Souza’s new documentary is devoted to what America will look like in 2016 if Obama is re-elected. The bulk of it is spent in the years 1961 through 1983, Barack Obama’s formative years, from his birth to his graduation from Columbia.

    They were formative years for Mr. D’Souza as well, and rather than starting with Mr. Obama’s story, Mr. D’Souza starts with his own parallel one. Born in Mumbai a few months before Obama was born in Honolulu, Mr. D’Souza came to the US on a high school exchange program, over the objection of at least one relative who felt there was no place in America for those who weren’t white. Mr. D’Souza remained in the US after graduation, earning a degree from Dartmouth and a place in the Reagan White House. Along the way, he came to love the United States with an intensity that only an immigrant who has known poverty and socialism elsewhere can share. This brief autobiography allows a movie that was potentially very negative to start on a positive note.

    The movie goes on to ask a question. Since becoming president, Barack Obama has done things which may seem bizarre: intervening on behalf of Mideast revolutions in countries friendly to the United States while doing little to help revolutions in hostile countries, reversing US policy in the Falkland Islands, giving only lukewarm support to Israel, returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the British. How do we understand these policies? What is the common thread?

    To answer this, Mr. D’Souza sets off on the trails of the young Obama and his father, from Indonesia, to Hawaii, to Kenya. This part of the movie comes across as an honest attempt to understand a complicated man. The cinematography is gorgeous. Whether the scene is the Honolulu skyline or a Nairobi slum, bright colors burst from the screen. I learned about the fights that occurred between Obama’s mother Ann Dunham and his stepfather Lolo Soetoro – she was upset that Soetoro was becoming too successful in the capitalist system – and about the internal crisis that Obama faced on being told by his half-sister Auma that their father was an abusive drunk – not the hero Obama imagined him to be. This section of the movie draws heavily on Obama’s own autobiography, Dreams from My Father, so it is well-documented.

    I liked the next part of the movie less. It covers Obama’s relationships with the familiar rogue’s gallery of Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Frank Marshall Davis. While Obama’s association with these radical anti-capitalists is well-known, the movie has little to say about their actual influence on him, and what it does say is pure speculation.

    In its last minutes, the movie returns to the central question of how to understand Obama. Then it finally makes its predictions for 2016. These are all quite chilling; the one that stuck in my mind was a warning from former Comptroller General David Walker about the acceleration of government borrowing under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. We are on the path of Greece.

    I did learn one other thing. If you go to the movies at 11:00 in morning, in order to get a review posted before the end of the day, the tickets are really, really cheap. It’s been a long time since I got into a theater for $6.

    2016 is in theaters now. To find one near you, go to http://2016themovie.com/theaters/.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of the novel Full Asylum, which presents his own vision of what America will look like in the future if we re-elect Barack Obama. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder

    Obama's Record: GM

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    Libs Making S—t Up #3: Employment

    Today’s installment of “Libs Making S—t Up” is employment data. There’s an effort underway to convince us that Obama’s sorry record in this area is in fact a good one.

    With that object in mind, Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter appeared on MSNBC yesterday. Up to now Ms. Cutter has been known mainly as the winner of the making-accusations-without-actually-making-them award for her suggestion that Mitt Romney is a felon. In yesterday’s interview, "Morning Joe" co-host Willie Geist asked how she would convince a hypothetical unemployed worker to vote for Obama:

    “Well,” she replied, “I think that worker probably has a good understanding of what's happened over the past four years in terms of the president coming in and seeing 800,000 jobs lost on the day that the president was being sworn in, and seeing the president moving pretty quickly to stem the losses, to turn the economy around, and over the past, you know, 27 months we've created 4.5 million private sector jobs. That's more jobs than in the Bush recovery, in the Reagan recovery.”

    Where to start?

    First of all, she’s off by almost a million. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth in non-farm payrolls during the last 27 months was 3.6 million, not 4.5. Second, this number is dwarfed by the Reagan recovery, which added 8 million jobs in its first 27 months, from December 1982 to March 1985. The recovery continued until June 1990, for a total of 21 million jobs. Even the somewhat weak Bush recovery saw 4.8 million new jobs in the first 27 months.

    It’s clear from the comparisons that the much-touted 27 months of job growth – an average of 130,000 per month – is anemic. Analysts generally claim that the economy needs to add 150,000 jobs per month to keep pace with population growth; we’re losing ground. Also, Ms. Cutter neglected to mention the 3.9 million jobs lost during the first 13 months of the Obama administration. Put it all together and you get a net loss of 300,000 jobs.

    I wish I could apply this sort of cherry picking to my personal finances. If I calculated my net worth by counting all of my income but none of my expenses, I’d be a wealthy man.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder

    Obama's Record: Deficits

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Even in Massachusetts, we built that.

    Also Dairy Queen goes cannibal.

    We built that.

    Isn't that illegal, selling cheeseburger lovers at Dairy Queen?

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder

    Obama's Record: A reminder

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    A Reminder

    Obama's Record: A reminder

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Book Review: The Alphabet Challenge

    Summer is in the home stretch; now’s a good time to kick back in the backyard or on the beach and indulge in some light reading.

    The Alphabet Challenge by Olga Gardner Galvin
    Photo source: ENC Press
    Olga Gardner Galvin’s novel The Alphabet Challenge fits the bill admirably. Its depiction of mid-twenty-first-century Manhattan is both hilarious and touching. It’s a world where political correctness has run amok. Euphemisms have replaced all potentially offensive terms related to race, gender, or behavior. Smoking is confined to a single cube-shaped cement building (“Tobacco Road Smoking Area – proudly serving New York and New Jersey since 2015”). Children still argue with their parents about table manners well into their twenties (“Manners are a cultural concept.”)

    Enter Howell Langston Toland. After completing a seven-year stint in prison for failing to recycle glass bottles, Howell starts the No Kinks escort service. As one of the characters explains it, “If you’re homsexu…I mean your-own-sex-centric, and chickenshit to tell your stuffy reactionary parents, you can bring someone of the opposite sex with you to fool them. And if you’re opposite-sex-centric but want to look more hip, you can rent someone your own sex to bring to a cool party with you. Works real good for everybody this way.”

    Everybody except PeopleCare, the umbrella organization and source of government grants for hundred of anti-discrimination groups: Individuals of Different Abilities, People for the Right to Practice Voodoo, Androcentrically Focused Mature Male Individuals (formerly the North American Man-Boy Love Association), etc. Horrified by an agency that, not only “discourages people from being who they really are and proud of it,” but also makes a profit, PeopleCare sends a team of thugs (“People with Different Moral and Ethical Values”) to trash the No Kinks offices.

    His business in ruins, Howell has a brainstorm: the real money is in the grievance industry. With help from his former in-laws Hazel and Filbert (get it?), he starts The Alphabet Challenge®. This organization is dedicated to restoring pride to those whose last names begin with the letters N through Z, who throughout history have suffered coming at the end of any alphabetical list. It’s time for the alphabetically challenged to be first. See Matthew 20:16.

    The new cause is a huge success. PeopleCare is pissed. Not only is Howell horning in on its monopoly on compassion, but he’s doing it wrong. Still an entrepreneur at heart, Howell teaches his followers to stand up for themselves instead of waiting for help from a government program. The battle lines are drawn.

    The strongest point of the The Alphabet Challenge is definitely its endearing characters. My favorite is Loveridge Weatherstonehaugh. The perfect liberal nitwit, Loveridge “came from money so old it had been all squandered away even before her mother was born.” A documentary filmmaker with many awards but, thanks to the “uninformed public,” little commercial success, she swings between congratulating herself on her strong opinions and living in terror that someone might consider her judgmental. And yet her story takes a surprising turn at the end.

    I was also partial to Mikey, the head of a group that PeopleCare wanted to call “Individuals of Alternative Wisdom.” Mikey would have none of it; he insisted on “Just Plain Stoopid.”

    The Alphabet Challenge is available from ENC Press, publisher of fun libertarian satires like Mean Martin Manning and Junk, as well as a recent translation of “the first dystopia ever,” Yevgheniy Zamyatin’s We. ENC’s books may be purchased at www.encpress.com.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    New England Liberty Love Fest II

    New England Liberty Love Fest

    Recently I was at a meeting of conservatives where someone asked, "Where's the future? Where are the young people who believe in liberty?" Well, this weekend they'll be at the second Liberty Love Fest in Worcester, MA - along with some libertarians closer to my own age. If you're in the area, please join me at the Liberty Clubhouse, 18 Grafton St., Worcester. I went to the first one back in April and it was a great time. The organizers promise this latest event will be “a celebration of epic proportions...[an] opportunity for like minded people to educate, learn, inspire, and enjoy the best of the best in art and music.”

    Festivities start today (Friday) at 4 PM. Additional info and tickets are available at www.LibertyLoveFest.com.

    Hope to see you in Worcester. Be sure to stop by the Full Asylum table in the vending area and say hi.

    Update 8/18: There has been a change of venue. The remainder of the event will be held at Pinecrest Country Club, 212 Prentice St., Holliston, MA.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Unified Field Theory of the Economy?

    Interesting to see these four charts together:

    Regulation, Money Supply, Federal Spending, and Unemployment

    As you can see, there really was a time, corresponding roughly to the Reagan, Bush 41, and Clinton administrations, when the government exercised some restraint in printing money, regulating, and spending. This coincided with an unemployment rate considerably lower than we have today.

    I’ll leave it to you to determine what conclusions, if any, may be drawn.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.


    Technical stuff:
    All data are three-year moving averages.
    New regulations are actual pages published in the Federal Register (total pages minus blank and skip pages). Source: FederalRegister.gov
    Money supply data is seasonally adjusted M2. Source: Federal Reserve
    Spending data sources: Federal outlays from the Office of Management and Budget; GDP is current dollar from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    Unemployment data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Five other things to blame on Mitt Romney

    The facts are in and there is no merit to Democrat claims that Mitt Romney is a felon, a tax cheat, or the murderer of Mrs. Joe Soptic. But despite the collapse of their accusations, Democrats aren’t ready to give up. You can bet they’re already preparing their next round of attacks. Here are some news stories we can look forward to in the coming weeks:

    1. Unemployment

    Unemployment
    Photo source: TotalMortgage.com

    In an impromptu meeting with reporters outside Big Bob’s House of Botox, California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi blamed corporate raiders such as Romney’s Bain Capital for the 8%+ unemployment rate that has persisted throughout Barack Obama's presidential tenure. When told that Bain Capital was in fact a net creator of jobs, having added well over 100,000 new positions to the economy, the former speaker replied, “That’s not what the ghost of Susan B. Anthony told me.”

    2. The National Debt

    IOUs
    Photo source: SarcasticGamer.com

    In a speech to supporters, Vice President Biden argued that opposition by Mitt Romney and other Republicans to President Obama’s tax proposal was responsible for the $5.3 trillion added to the national debt since the president took office. When it was pointed out that, according to the White House’s own figures, the president’s proposal was only sufficient to cover 16% of the annual deficit, the vice president shot back, “It’s not fair to use math.”

    3. The Kennedy Assassination

    Squirrel with gun
    Photo source: EthicalHunters.blogspot.com

    The Rev. Al Sharpton released this photo, purportedly showing a 16-year-old Mitt Romney, on the grassy knoll, taking aim at the 35th president. When a reporter pointed out that it was, in fact, a picture of a squirrel, the Rev. Sharpton called the reporter a racist.

    4. The Hindenberg explosion

    The Hindenberg
    Photo source: Wikipedia

    Appearing on Fox and Friends, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz revealed that Mitt Romney acted alone in the 1937 destruction of the Hindenberg. When asked how Romney – who was born in 1947 – could have possibly blown up a zeppelin ten years before his birth, Ms. Wasserman Schultz replied, “That just proves that how dangerous Bain Capital is.” Oh, the humanity.

    5. Who shot J.R.?

    J.R. Ewing
    Photo source: imdb.com

    In the summer of 1980, the question on everyone’s mind was not whether Reagan would beat Carter, but rather who shot J.R.Ewing, the lead character in the nighttime soap opera, Dallas. In a speech on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid has finally revealed the answer: Mitt Romney. In response, Reid’s GOP counterpart Mitch McConnell raised a point of order: “J.R. is a fictional character – he isn’t real,”

    “I don’t understand the difference,” replied Reid.

    We know you don’t, Senator.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Jamie Wilson on Romance Novels as Conservative Fiction

    Romance Novel Covers
    Photo source: Boston Phoenix

    One of my professors (he taught math) once observed that the shift in focus of the liberal arts from literature to the social sciences gives us laypeople the freedom to decide for ourselves what is and is not serious literature. Conservative writer Jamie Wilson has put that freedom to good use in her recent blog entry, Romance Novels as Conservative Fiction. She starts out,

            Romance novels are commonly dismissed as trash, housewife porn, formula fiction, or bodice rippers. They are accused of committing purple prose, engendering female dissatisfaction, debasing literary values, and forcing men to live up to an impossible ideal. I, however, see most modern romance as positive conservative fiction.
            Consider this: most modern romance novels feature a strong female protagonist and an equally strong male protagonist. They generally end in marriage or a commitment to marry; in most cases, the characters plan to have children within the confines of that marriage. I don’t think I’ve seen a single romance novel talk about abortion, let alone promote it as a reasonable alternative; in fact, a common plot device is the “secret baby,” in which the heroine gives birth to the hero’s child despite financial and social penalties, only to have her secret revealed to him later.

    From there, Jamie considers the role of social movements, government solutions, work, war, religion, and sex in the romance genre. On the last topic, she concedes “There’s a lot of sex in the steamier romances, which many conservatives (not me!) are uncomfortable with.”

    My own observation is that most conservatives are not prudes. With some exceptions, they rather enjoy the naughty parts. I noticed this when I was peddling my novel, Full Asylum, at the conservative Defending the American Dream Summit. When I showed people my book – with the sexy picture of heroine Cheri Tarte on the cover – most of them smiled; only a few contorted their faces into expressions of pinched disapproval. So I doubt that a few steamy scenes disqualify a book from being conservative.

    Jamie blogs on ConservativeFicton.com. It’s just getting up and running, and it looks like it will be a great site for thoughtful conversation about changing the culture. Check it out.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Another Sad Day

    I wrote a good satirical piece today about groundless Democrat accusations against Mitt Romney. But since one of the jokes involved Romney's participation in a shooting, it didn't seem appropriate on a day when there has been another mass shooting - this time near Texas A&M. So I'll save it for another day. In the meantime, my thoughts go out to the victims of the violence in Texas.

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Voter Fraud: Debunking the 0.7

    In the past year we’ve heard about the 1% and the 99%; now we’re hearing about the 0.7. That’s comedian Jon Stewart’s estimate of the number of cases of voter fraud that occurs in each state every year.

    0.7: Jon Stewart discusses voter fraud.
    Photo source: The Daily Show

    Mr. Stewart introduced 0.7 on Wednesday’s episode of The Daily Show. It was impressive comedy (“Next up: leash laws for unicorns!”) but less impressive statistics. He based it on a Republican National Lawyers Association survey that found 340 cases of voter fraud in 46 states over a 10-year period [340/(10x50)=0.7].

    The 0.7 is something of a concession: this is the first time I ever heard any liberal admit that the incidence of voter fraud is greater than zero. Nevertheless, there are two problems with the statistic. First, the survey counts prosecutions or convictions. Since many of these cases involve multiple incidents of fraud, merely counting the number of cases understates the number of votes affected. More serious is that the RNLA survey was merely a sampling of cases, not a comprehensive study. RNLA says it “conducted a limited survey to indicate whether vote fraud charges have been filed in states across the country since 2000. We looked for at least one example in each state.” Clearly, this survey is not a gauge of the size of the voter fraud problem.

    As far as I know, no comprehensive study has ever been done. Conducting one would be complicated, thanks to the number of cases that partisan election officials decline to prosecute—as we saw in Worcester, MA in 2010.

    Still, I hope someone can overcome these obstacles and put some science behind the debate. The anecdotal accounts—which RNLA reports almost daily on its website—are sufficient that all of us, regardless of political persuasion, should be concerned.

    If we ever lose the integrity of our electoral system, democracy is over.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    Ayn Rand answers Barack Obama – again

    It’s been 55 years since Ayn Rand published Atlas Shrugged – and yet the 1957 epic seems to have anticipated every argument that Barack Obama is using in the presidential campaign of 2012. Which just goes to show how stale his arguments are.

    Ayn Rand, Barack Obama
    Photo sources: Wikipedia, White House

    Rand’s answer to “You didn’t build that” has already been making the rounds of the Internet. Now the president has brought Robin Hood into the debate, accusing “Romney Hood” of reversing the usual formula by stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. There was a character in Atlas Shrugged who did exactly that. The pirate Ragnar Danneskj√∂ld become the terror of the seas by capturing government aid ships. Here’s what Danneskj√∂ld had to say about Robin Hood in a conversation with steel magnate Hank Rearden:

            “I’m after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men’s minds, we will not have a decent world to live in.”
            “What man?”
            “Robin Hood.”
            Rearden looked at him blankly, not understanding.
            “He was the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. Well, I’m the man who robs the poor and gives to the rich—or, to be exact, the man who robs the thieving poor and gives back to the productive rich.”
            “What in blazes do you mean?…”
            “It is said that [Robin Hood] fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, has demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters.”

    A “mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, has demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters?” And to think Rand never even met Obama.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    More libs making s--t up

    Yesterday I came across another pair of liberal posts on Facebook that bear no relationship to reality.

    Democracy for America: Under which US President were tax rates lower?
    Photo source: Facebook/Democracy for America

    The first, from Howard Dean’s PAC Democracy for America, cites an unspecified 2009 Congressional Budget Office report to make the extraordinary claim that tax rates have been lower under Obama than they were under Reagan. The smug conclusion: “Maybe the GOP should check their ‘facts,’”

    I did check the facts, which are available from the Tax Policy Center. The top marginal federal income tax rate when Reagan left office was 28%, down from an astounding 70% when he was elected. The top rate today is 35%, unchanged since Obama took office. Perhaps Democracy for America had some other tax rate in mind.

    The second post was a Daily Kos article from back in January which claimed “the extraordinary abuse of the filibuster by the Republicans during the first 2 years of President Obama's administration is one of the major reasons, if not THE reason for his progressive legislation either being stymied or greatly watered down.”

    If only this were true. So-called progressive legislation should be stymied. Unfortunately it wasn't: President Obama got every major initiative he wanted from Congress during his first two years. In 2009, he had a filibuster-proof Senate that passed several stimulus bills, along with Obamacare. The latter did have to be "watered down", but not because of anything the Republicans did. Joe Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, wouldn't support a bill with a public option. At the beginning of the second year, Scott Brown was elected, giving the GOP the 41st vote needed to mount a filibuster. It scarcely slowed the Dems down. They reconciled the Senate version of Obamacare with the House version using a parliamentary maneuver. Then they passed Dodd-Frank, with Scott Brown's support. Is all of this down the memory hole?

    Incidentally, the gist of the Daily Kos article is the need to change the Senate rules to make a filibuster more difficult. I’m sure the Dems will change their tune after they lose the Senate in November. Then the Daily Kos will tell us – quite rightly – of the important historical role that the filibuster plays in maintaining checks and balances within our government.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out at www.FullAsylum.com.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Bring back Jeff Katz

    I want Jeff Katz on Boston Radio
    Photo source: Ralph Zazula/Facebook

    I was very disappointed to tune my radio to Boston’s WXKS Talk 1200 this morning and not hear the always-cheerful voice of Jeff Katz. According to the Boston Herald, “Boston’s conservative talk radio underwent a major shakeup yesterday as Rush Limbaugh announced he is leaving WXKS-AM and heading back to WRKO, and ‘Talk 1200’ yanked local talkmeisters Jay Severin and Jeff Katz from its weekday lineup….‘As a policy, and out of respect for the individuals, we don’t discuss details of personnel matters,’ said spokesman Joe Mazzei in an email.” I spoke with Dylan Sprague, operations manager for Clear Channel Boston, who confirmed that the station had changed its line-up and said to stay tuned for its future plans. The schedule on WXKS's website shows “America Now with Andy Dean” in Jeff’s timeslot.

    I’m sure Andy is a good guy, but Boston needs someone local. Jeff has been a great friend to the Greater Boston Tea Party, and has built the best forum in the area for good conservatives like 4th District Congressional candidate Sean Bielat to get their message out. It was on Jeff’s show that I learned the inspiring story of Arlington High student Sean Harrington’s epic battle to restore the Pledge of Allegiance to his classroom. If you want this kind of programming to continue to be the soundtrack for your morning commute, please email WXKS (feedback@talk1200.com) or better yet, call (781-396-1430) and tell them (courteously) to “Bring back Jeff!”

    Added later: Please note the comment from raccoonradio below: "Or you could e-mail or call WRKO AM 680 or WTKK FM 96.9, who could put Jeff in weekends or fill-ins at least. Jeff used to work for RKO."

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out at www.FullAsylum.com.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    More Contempt of Congress

    Attorney General Eric Holder, looking arrogant.
    Photo source: newsone.com
    I wasn’t surprised by the recent Department of Justice decision to ignore the contempt of Congress finding against Attorney General Eric Holder. I already had personal experience with the Holder justice department’s lack of regard for the legislative branch.

    I recently published my first novel, Full Asylum. The climactic scene, a confrontation between the hero and the attorney general, takes place in the Department of Justice building. While I was writing it, I tried to arrange a tour of the building, both to add realism to my writing and to explore a beautiful example of Art Deco design.

    A Google search revealed the phone number for the tour line, but when I called it (numerous times), all I got was voicemail. No one returned my calls.

    Not ready to give up, I called the office of my congressman, Jim McGovern. I was somewhat apprehensive about this since I've sent Rep. McGovern a series of e-mails over the years disagreeing with every position he ever took. Nevertheless, the woman I talked to was very nice. She promised to call the DOJ’s Congressional Liaison number. I was reassured by this. As part of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” the DOJ certainly would be responsive to the people’s representatives in Congress.

    They weren't. The Congressional Liaison office didn’t return calls either.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of, Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out at www.FullAsylum.com.