Fellow conservative Regina Reed sent me her collection of Church ladies notices.
Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences (with all the BLOOPERS) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus.’
Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.
Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow..
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered..
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM . All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. Is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM . Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM . The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday: ‘I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.
Lefty Common Cause Calls on Erik Holder’s “Justice” to Remove Two Justices from Citizens United Case
Which justices do you think these Leftists want removed from the case?
John Hinderaker at PowerLine wrote the following piece about an attempt by Leftwing Common Cause to provoke the Eric Holder justice department to recuse Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas from a case initiated by Leftwing Citizens United.
“Common Cause started as a bipartisan organization that had considerable merit, but as always seems to happen, it was taken over by the left and is now just another arm of the Democratic Party. Which is why the organization wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder to lodge an ethics complaint against Supreme Court justices Scalia and Thomas. This is the bottom line:
Common Cause hereby formally requests that the Justice Department promptly investigate whether Justices Thomas and Scalia should have recused themselves from the Citizens United case under 28 U.S.C. § 455. If the Department finds sufficient grounds for disqualification of either Justice, we request that the Solicitor General file a Rule 60(b) motion with the full Supreme Court seeking to vacate the judgment.
So, why should Scalia and Thomas have recused themselves? Because they have participated in seminars sponsored by Koch Industries, and Koch Industries has benefited from Citizens United. Seriously, that is the claim. Of course, Common Cause adds a sinister spin:
In October 2010, news reports revealed that Justices Scalia and Thomas have attended one or more invitation-only retreats sponsored by Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held corporation in the United States and a major political player that directly benefited from the Citizens United decision.
That revelation comes from a letter and information packet, dated September 24, sent by Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch to potential attendees of the next Koch retreat, planned for January 30-31, 2011 in Palm Springs, California. Common Cause has obtained those materials, attached, courtesy of Think Progress, which broke the story.
The description of the Palm Springs program, entitled “Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity,” states that:
This action-oriented program brings together top experts and leaders to discuss -and offer solutions to counter – the most critical threats to our free society. …Past meetings have featured such notable leaders as Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas; Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour; commentators John Stossel, Charles Krauthammer, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh; Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn; and Representatives Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, and Tom Price.
The Koch Industries retreats are highly political, and attended by an elite group of Republican donors and officials, conservative leaders, and captains of finance and industry.
I happen to know a bit about this, since I was also, several years ago, a speaker at one of the Koch Industries events in Aspen. Common Cause describes them as “highly secretive” “political strategy sessions” which can be attended by invitation only. Based on my experience, I would describe them as extraordinarily high-level seminars that are, indeed, attended by a remarkably distinguished roster of guests. The speakers, with occasional exceptions, are also distinguished. The guy who spoke after me was Arnold Schwarzenegger; this was back in the days when Arnold was a Republican.
Common Cause writes that “no mention of such an event is listed on the Justices’ disclosure forms for 2008 and 2009.” I assume they are talking about financial disclosure forms, and that the justices’ speeches at the Koch seminars weren’t listed because they weren’t compensated.
So, let’s add this up: Justices Thomas and Scalia accepted invitations to give speeches, presumably on legal topics, to a high-level audience of business people and other leaders. They weren’t paid for doing so. The events were sponsored by one of America’s most respected companies. That company, like every corporation in the United States, had its First Amendment rights confirmed in the Citizens United case. And Common Cause seriously claims that Scalia and Thomas violated ethics rules by failing to recuse themselves from that case?
The claim is risible, but then, Eric Holder is the Attorney General, so perhaps anything is possible
Truth is foreign to the American Lefty Democrat today. It is more foreign today than a decade ago. It was more foreign a decade ago that the previous decade. Every year the nation is becoming more Marxist. Every year the nation is becoming less Christian and less civil. Every year the nation is becoming more limited in discovering truth, learning truth, and therefore less able to recognized truth and much less able to share truth.
Why? Because nearly every major American institution today which is involved in disseminating social, political and religious learnings funnel these learnings through a Marxism prism. Movies, television news, church, presbyterian, lutheran, episcopalian, Jim Wallis catholics, nearly the entire American educational system, nearly all of the news media, even my local Lund’s Super Market, propagandize Progressive-Marxist cliches and thoughts and utterances controlled by the Left’s rules of Political Correctness.
Today’s American Leftwing is organized by a community OF HATE. That is what victimhood societies are programmed to become …..hating ….programmed to hate those they have been told have victimized them…..these villains,…..white Americans, Christians, honest laborers, parents, decent people speaking decently….the world the better America of years ago managed to create.
Today’s Democrat Party community is a community based on hate and whatever else might be needy to create its world of forced equality…..the world of Marxism.
Why are we suprised this community is so oblivious to civility?
If truth were valued in America today, truth would scream against American Marxists and others of the Democrat Left for their smears, lies, or even a single suggestion that its SINS are equally practiced on the Right.
Charles Krauthammer is one of the most honorable Americans ever to review Americana. He speaks honestly, clearly, rationally, and in well organized fashion. He is an adult! He thinks!
NAME ANY AMERICAN LEFTY or MARXIST or MODEST PROGRESSIVE, ANYONE from the vast Siberia of America’s Leftwing pontificating today who can match such credentials. Where is the Leftwing Dennis Prager?
Where are they who will defend the Progressive to Marxism arguments for Big Government and Micromanaging American citizen life in the OPEN air and sunlight of honest debate? Who? Where are these Americans? They don’t exist! Barack Hussein Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer and the rest of these shadowy figures prefer the murder of democratic America by a thousand cuts….cuts of whatever hate can produce.
Think of this as you listen to Charles Krauthammer and his breaths of reality and fresh air of truth.
Please read the following article sent to me by California Cole found at Weasel Zippers.
Americans should ask why the country’s Marxist Left, including the nation’s president, have allied so warmly to aggressive Islamic invasions into American life……invasions from a world of the primitive, led by authoritarian mystics devoted to violence and ignorance to advance violence and ignorance to crush the human spirit in the name of Allah…..
Why has this judge so judged?
Weasel Zippers reports:
“Reverse this scenario and the ACLU’s lawyers would be in a frenzy. Since it’s in relation to Islam all we hear is birds chirping.
(TMLC)- Last week, Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff, a federal district court judge in Michigan, dismissed a constitutional challenge to the U.S. Government’s bailout of AIG, which used over a hundred million dollars in federal tax money to support Islamic religious indoctrination through the funding and promotion of Sharia-compliant financing (SCF). SCF is financing that follows the dictates of Islamic law.
The challenge was brought by the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and co-counsel David Yerushalmi, on behalf of Kevin Murray, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraqi War. TMLC filed a notice of appeal immediately after the ruling and will be seeking review of the decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of TMLC, commented: “Judge Zatkoff’s ruling allows for oil–rich Muslim countries to plant the flag of Islam on American soil. His ruling ignored the uncontested opinions of several Sharia experts and AIG’s own website, which trumpeted Sharia-compliant financing as promoting the law of the Prophet Mohammed and as an ‘ethical product,’ and a ‘new way of life.’ His ruling ignored AIG’s use of a foreign Islamic advisory board to control investing in accordance with Islamic law.”
Continued Thompson: “This astonishing decision allows the federal government as well as AIG and other Wall Street bankers to explicitly promote Sharia law ─ the 1200 year old body of Islamic canon law based on the Koran, which demands the destruction of Western Civilization and the United States. This is the same law championed by Osama bin Laden and the Taliban; it is the same law that prompted the 9/11 Islamic terrorist attacks; and it is the same law that is responsible for the murder of thousands of Christians throughout the world. The Law Center will do everything it can to stop Sharia law from rearing its ugly head in America.”
Comment: Dennis Prager reminds his listeners that he is convinced the Death of America will be accomplished “legally” by its courts systems overwhelmed by laws guaranteeing suicide.
”Everything Starts with Repeal” is the title of this piece at the Washington Post….which should make all Americans embarrassed for the contempt the proponents of Obamacare have for honesty…..and they do get by with lying to the public.
“Suppose someone – say, the president of United States – proposed the following: We are drowning in debt. More than $14 trillion right now. I’ve got a great idea for deficit reduction. It will yield a savings of $230 billion over the next 10 years: We increase spending by $540 billion while we increase taxes by $770 billion.
He’d be laughed out of town. And yet, this is precisely what the Democrats are claiming as a virtue of Obamacare. During the debate over Republican attempts to repeal it, one of the Democrats’ major talking points has been that Obamacare reduces the deficit – and therefore repeal raises it – by $230 billion. Why, the Congressional Budget Office says exactly that.
Very true. And very convincing. Until you realize where that number comes from. Explains CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf in his “preliminary analysis of H.R. 2″ (the Republican health-care repeal): “CBO anticipates that enacting H.R. 2 would probably yield, for the 2012-2021 period, a reduction in revenues in the neighborhood of $770 billion and a reduction in outlays in the vicinity of $540 billion.”
As National Affairs editor Yuval Levin pointed out when mining this remarkable nugget, this is a hell of a way to do deficit reduction: a radical increase in spending, topped by an even more radical increase in taxes.
Of course, the very numbers that yield this $230 billion “deficit reduction” are phony to begin with. The CBO is required to accept every assumption, promise (of future spending cuts, for example) and chronological gimmick that Congress gives it. All the CBO then does is perform the calculation and spit out the result.
In fact, the whole Obamacare bill was gamed to produce a favorable CBO number. Most glaringly, the entitlement it creates – government-subsidized health insurance for 32 million Americans – doesn’t kick in until 2014. That was deliberately designed so any projection for this decade would cover only six years of expenditures – while that same 10-year projection would capture 10 years of revenue. With 10 years of money inflow vs. six years of outflow, the result is a positive – i.e., deficit-reducing – number. Surprise.
If you think that’s audacious, consider this: Obamacare does not create just one new entitlement (health insurance for everyone); it actually creates a second – long-term care insurance. With an aging population, and with long-term care becoming extraordinarily expensive, this promises to be the biggest budget buster in the history of the welfare state.
And yet, in the CBO calculation, this new entitlement to long-term care reduces the deficit over the next 10 years. By $70 billion, no less. How is this possible? By collecting premiums now, and paying out no benefits for the first 10 years. Presto: a (temporary) surplus. As former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin and scholars Joseph Antos and James Capretta note, “Only in Washington could the creation of a reckless entitlement program be used as ‘offset’ to grease the way for another entitlement.” I would note additionally that only in Washington could such a neat little swindle be titled the “CLASS Act” (for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act).
That a health-care reform law of such enormous size and consequence, revolutionizing one-sixth of the U.S. economy, could be sold on such flimflammery is astonishing, even by Washington standards. What should Republicans do?
Make the case. Explain the phony numbers, boring as the exercise may be. Better still, hold hearings and let the CBO director, whose integrity is beyond reproach, explain the numbers himself.
To be sure, the effect on the deficit is not the only criterion by which to judge Obamacare. But the tossing around of such clearly misleading bumper-sticker numbers calls into question the trustworthiness of other happy claims about Obamacare. Such as the repeated promise that everyone who likes his current health insurance will be able to keep it. Sure, but only if your employer continues to offer it. In fact, millions of workers will find themselves adrift because their employers will have every incentive to dump them onto the public rolls.
This does not absolve the Republicans from producing a health-care replacement. They will and should be judged by how well their alternative addresses the needs of the uninsured and the anxieties of the currently insured. But amending an insanely complicated, contradictory, incoherent and arbitrary 2,000-page bill that will generate tens of thousands of pages of regulations is a complete non-starter. Everything begins with repeal.”
The statement was remarkable because it compressed so much dishonesty and inaccuracy into less than a dozen words. The link the paper posted was not to any page of the White House website but — of all things — a page from state-controlled Russian wire service ITAR-TASS.
The statement quoted did not come from the White House at all. It came from Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council.
And there is no “condemning” in the statement. It merely asserts that the NSC was “surprised” by Nemtsov’s arrest.
Has reading gone the way of the dodo at the Gray Lady?
You may remember Boris Nemtsov — former first deputy prime minister of Russia, former governor of a major Russian state — as I’ve written about him before on PJM. Way back in May 2008, we were among the first to introduce the world to Nemtsov and his heroic struggle for democracy and American values in Russia, and my blog La Russophobe provided an English-language translation of his extensive writings exposing the pervasive policy failures of the Putin regime.
Since then, Nemtsov has come under relentless assault from the Kremlin and has been repeatedly jailed for daring to speak out in public about his criticisms of the regime. In fact, when he attempted to publish the latest installment of his research the Kremlin simply seized the entire print run.
But even with all that, the arrest to which the Times was referring was “surprising” to say the least, for two reasons.
First, this time Nemtsov had actually managed to obtain a permit to speak in public and to assemble a crowd. In neo-Soviet Russia, the permit is required or arrest is sure to follow. But now it is clear that the permit is meaningless — that anyone can be arrested at any time for criticizing the neo-Soviet Kremlin.
Second, Nemtsov was treated with truly barbaric cruelty following his arrest. In the manner of Martin Luther King, Jr., he smuggled the following note from prison:
The cell is a concrete box, 1.5 by three metres, without a window and without even a mattress. A bare floor and that’s it. Absurdly, they have charged me with disobeying the police. For three hours the police bosses didn’t know what to charge me with; then they received an order from upstairs. I understand this action is designed to frighten the opposition. They are mad and don’t know what to do with us. We cannot and will not give in.
He was then made to stand for over four hours during his “trial” and then sentenced to more than two weeks in prison — a prison which has killed other Kremlin critics, such as Sergei Magnitsky. When supporters tried to protest Nemtsov’s treatment on the streets, they too were arrested.
But the most surprising thing of all is that even though Barack Obama had met personally with Nemtsov in the past, as the NSC statement concedes, Obama did not condemn the arrest or the mistreatment that followed. In fact, he did not say one single word about the arrest or about the mistreatment, nor did anyone claiming to speak on Obama’s behalf.
Such craven anti-American cowardice, of course, emboldens the Kremlin. Indeed, it is obvious to everyone that Nemtsov’s treatment, combined with the draconian re-conviction of pro-West businessman Mikhail Khordokovsky, represents an open declaration of war by the Kremlin upon American values.
Suddenly, John McCain’s warning that Russia be excommunicated from the G-8 fellowship lest a new era of neo-Soviet darkness befall us seems prescient, not the laughing matter it was portrayed to be by leftists when first made. The Obama administration told us to trust Dmitri Medvedev, that he was a new kind of leader who would roll back the worst of the neo-Soviet excesses, that he was a leader we could trust if we would only give him a chance.
Now, we have seen the dire consequences of those Chamberlainian words of advice. The Kremlin has perceived weakness, accurately, and it has cracked down further.”
Kim Zigfeld is a New York City-based writer who publishes her own Russia specialty blog, La Russophobe. She also writes about Russia for the American Thinker and for Russia! magazine and is researching a book on the rise of dictatorship in Putin’s Russia.
“In terms of values, 2010 was a red-letter year for Norway. Our innocence was destroyed. From one end of the country to the other, and in no uncertain terms, Islamists proclaimed their sinister message. Henceforth, only those in deep denial will insist that our freedom is not endangered. And only true innocents will fail to grasp that we are headed for a raging conflict about values. “
And so writes Hege Storhaug about his beloved Norway in his article titled, “Norway Awakening to the Islamist Danger”……He continues:
“It all started at the same spot where Quisling and his followers held rallies in the 1930s. Around 3,000 people filled University Square in Oslo on February 12, 2010, many of them dressed just like Muhammed himself – a long coat, baggy, ankle-high pants, and a head covering, plus full beard. In the gravest of tones, they articulated their contempt for the society that has given them so many benefits. The threat of a new September 11 on Norwegian soil, issued by Mohyeldeen Mohammed (who had studied sharia in Medina), marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.
It continued with the growing influence of Islam Net at Oslo University College. Over the course of only two years, the group has managed to acquire over 1,200 paying members and is now the largest Muslim student organization in the country. The only positive thing that can be said about Islam Net is that it doesn’t hide its objective: a society living under the Koran and sharia. One of these students’ ideological heroes is Zakir Naik, who preaches hate and terror and is considered so extreme that he is not permitted to enter either Britain or Canada.
In 2010, Islamism also manifested itself in the Paris of the North. With Saudi sponsorship to the tune of 20 million kroner, a Muslim congregation called Alnor planned to build a gigantic mosque in Tromsø. The Tromsø newspaper Nordlys (Northern Lights) shone an intense spotlight on the project and uncovered the fact that one of Alnor’s front men, who is the husband of Alnor’s leader, convert Sandra Maryam Moe, had taken part in terrorist training with the radical organization Jemaah Islamiah, which is considered to be responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings.
In collaboration with Islam Net, Alnor also arranged a nationwide “revival tour” last summer. The revivalists took their message as far north as the North Cape.
And as if all this weren’t enough, Norwegian state television, NRK, revealed that the despots in Teheran are sending imams to Norway to prepare Norwegian Muslims to commit terrorist acts on Norwegian soil.
But it isn’t terror that is the greatest threat to our society. The terrorists are few in number. The Islamists aren’t. On the contrary, they’re a large and growing group who seek nothing less than to transform our society’s values. The organized Islamists are winning ground especially among younger people. Three studies are worth mentioning here. Among 15-year-old German Muslims, 40 percent believe that Islam is more important than democracy, while 37 percent want sharia law to apply to European Muslims.
In Britain, 28 percent of all Muslims want the British Isles to be ruled by sharia. Here’s the really serious part: while “only” 17 percent of those over 55 want sharia, no fewer than 37 percent of British Muslims aged 16–24 embrace it. And now for the scariest statistic of all, which brings us back to Islam Net at Oslo University College: 40 percent of Muslim university students in Britain are “strong or relatively strong” in their support for a sharia-run Britain. One in three believes it is legitimate to kill in the name of Islam.
For all this, however, Norway’s political leaders remain stuck in the assumption that education and employment lead to integration. The truth is the opposite: it’s mostly among the well-educated that you can find radical views. Yes, education is all well and good, but it’s no guarantor of integration — a somber fact to have to admit. Well educated Muslims are often very aware of their distinct Muslim identity, and work actively to further separate their fellow Muslims from mainstream society and its values.
I believe that this decade will be decisive for Norway’s future — and for that of Europe generally. The question is: will we manage to stand up to the open Islamization and force it into retreat, or will the Islamization of Europe continue?
If we manage to defeat Islamism, we will need, above all, political leaders who understand the forces that have put down deep roots in our society, who openly acknowledge what is going on, and who take action to stop it. We must lead with an assimilation policy that leaves no doubt as to which of our values are non-negotiable: sexual equality, equality of all individuals regardless of ethnic, religious, social, tribal, clan, or caste background, religious freedom (including the right to renounce a religion), and the freedom that is the very foundation of our free society, namely freedom of expression. Everyone, including members of offbeat Christian sects, should be expected to assimilate into these values.
A great many Persians who fled from despotism under Ayatollah Khomeini are role models in this regard. They fled tyranny and were assimilated into our society’s values when they came here. They have become full-fledged members of mainstream Norwegian culture and full participants in our society, even as they remain highly conscious of their Persian identity and usually celebrate Persian New Year.
Our government is steered by multiculturalism, an ideology that is now rejected by major European politicians such as Angela Merkel. This ideology has failed and has created conditions favorable to Islamization. What is it that holds a nation together? What is it that made possible the nation established in our Constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814? Our leaders seem to have forgotten the answer to these questions; namely, that modern Norway was established by a single people with a common culture rooted in Christianity, a people who were able to unite around a shared set of beliefs.
A community based in mutual trust — on belonging. This is what we’re losing.The greater the number of Muslims who turn their back on Norway, the more intense the division and mistrust that will arise between groups.
Aftenposten’s Ingunn Økland recently asked a timely question: how many faceless women will have to appear in public before the politicians set them free? Why is it that a precautionary principle governs our environmental policy but not our policy relating to integration and democratic values?
We need politicians who show genuine love and reverence for Norway’s core values, and who act upon that love and reverence by instituting the following measures:
- Identify the ideological foundations of Muslim religious communities. Those that are also political should be treated politically and should thus not receive government support. (In Norway, religious institutions are funded by the state.) Today, Norwegian taxpayers are financing institutions that are working intensely to liquidate democracy and replace it with sharia. Macabre, but undeniably true.
- Reject special demands — they’re always indulged at the cost of freedom, especially the freedom of the most vulnerable.
- Let all grade-school girls’ hair flow freely. The Islamists will go berserk.
- Get rid of the “mobile prisons” — that is to say, the burka and niqab.
- Halt all integration support to religious and ethnic groups and channel the money instead into shared social activities — especially those designed for children.
- Stop engaging mosques in well-meant “dialogue.” Muslims are, above all, human beings, not religious objects.
Greco-Roman civilization, wrote the historian Arnold J. Toynbee, “died not by murder, but by suicide.”If we want to prevent the demise of Western civilization, we need leaders who will steer us away from the path to self-destruction and toward a future of equality and liberty for all.”
This article, translated from the Norwegian by Bruce Bawer, appeared originally in Aftenposten.
Troy Senik at City Journal describes the dilemma in California.
“In the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections, a piece of conventional political wisdom—“Where California goes today, the rest of the nation goes tomorrow”—sounds a lot like a threat. A state that has long been a standard-bearer for liberal ideas and policies is finally coming apart at the seams. On Election Day, California suffered from the country’s third-highest unemployment rate, the worst business climate, and a public-pension shortfall of more than $500 billion.
Yet as the rest of the nation voted for smaller government and economic restraint, California moved decisively in the opposite direction. On a night when Republicans picked up six seats in the U.S. Senate, California gave ultraliberal senator Barbara Boxer a 10-point margin over an articulate conservative, Carly Fiorina. While Republicans acquired more than 60 seats in the House of Representatives—the biggest one-party swing in 72 years—not one of those seats came from California. And though other double-digit-unemployment states like Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida used the midterms to bring reformist Republicans to their governors’ mansions, the Golden State elected Jerry Brown, the Democrat whose previous tenure as governor was the high-water mark for liberalism in the executive branch.
California needs to develop an economic-policy agenda that can save it from irredeemable second-class status. But the state’s economic problems are inseparable from its considerable institutional and political problems. And fixing those will likely prove highly difficult under Governor Brown.
To get a sense of the institutional problems, first understand that California is as polarized as the nation is as a whole. San Francisco is so left-leaning that the city’s name has become an adjective for liberalism. Orange County, by contrast, regularly boasts of being the most Republican municipality in the nation. Farmers in the state’s vast Central Valley tend to one-sixth of the irrigated land in the United States. Environmentalists in Los Angeles, meanwhile, mount regular bids to reduce water supplies to the valley in order to protect a local fish species. One-third of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet makes home port in San Diego. Up the coast in San Francisco, residents voted in 2005 to shut military recruiters out of high schools.
California’s byzantine political structure is woefully unsuited to resolve all these tensions. This is a state with the world’s third-longest constitution. It has a legislature that, until November, required a two-thirds majority to pass annual budgets and that still needs a two-thirds majority to pass tax increases (though California remains one of the highest-taxed states in the country). The state has more than 300 unelected boards and commissions, which range from the picayune (the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board) to the oppressive (the California Coastal Commission, whose land-use policies were once denounced by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as “out-and-out extortion”).
It’s also a state in love with the plebiscite, with a dozen popular initiatives or referenda on the ballot during most general elections. While initiatives dealing with hot-button social issues—illegal immigration, gay marriage, abortion, marijuana—grab the most headlines, proposals doing long-term economic damage go largely unnoticed. Particularly harmful are popularly approved mandatory spending requirements, such as the requirement that the state spend approximately 40 percent of its revenues each year on education. These measures leave as little as 15 percent of the budget to the discretion of the legislators in Sacramento. (And, like all popularly enacted policies, they can be altered or undone only by another round of citizen approval.) Thanks partly to these spending requirements, California’s budget deficit will widen to more than $25 billion over the next 18 months, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reports—a dizzying shortfall that must be closed, in accordance with the state’s balanced-budget requirement.
The budget crisis is only the beginning of California’s economic difficulties. Regulation is a silent killer of California’s prosperity, and much of it is imposed by unknown, unelected bureaucrats operating within the bowels of state departments and agencies. The regulatory environment is so uninviting that a recent survey of more than 650 corporate executives ranked it the worst state in the nation in which to do business. Each year, “the total cost of regulation to the State of California is $492.994 billion,” which is “almost five times the State’s general fund budget, and almost a third of the State’s gross product,” wrote Sanjay Varshney and Dennis Tootelian of California State University at Sacramento in a 2009 study. “The cost of regulation results in an [annual] employment loss of 3.8 million jobs, which is a tenth of the State’s population.”
California’s biggest long-term economic threat—implanted by an earlier generation of legislators in ways difficult to remove today—is its public-pension time bomb. For years, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s doomsday projection for pension liabilities was a figure around $300 billion. It turns out that for once in his life, the governor was being too conservative. A study released by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in April 2009 put the total figure for California’s three largest public-pension funds—responsible for financing the retirement of 2.6 million government workers—at $535 billion, all of which, of course, will have to be paid somehow.
To address the institutional problems at the core of California’s economic crisis, a cottage industry of policy entrepreneurs has sprung up, such as Repair California, a group formed by Bay Area business leaders in 2008 for the sole purpose of calling a statewide constitutional convention. The appeal was undeniable: If the state is ungovernable, why not alter its governing charter? But Repair California’s agenda embraced California’s unfortunate tendency to believe that ever-greater citizen participation can make its problems disappear. Under a mind-numbingly complex series of representation formulas intended to factor in assembly districts, counties, and Indian tribes, Repair California would have 465 citizens chosen for the convention through a process too incoherent to be explained in paragraph form (the organization itself relies on an illustrated chart). In a rare moment of political sobriety, voters withheld the support that would have been necessary for Repair California’s plan to qualify for the 2010 ballot.
A far more useful reform would be reining in the excesses of direct democracy. On contentious social issues, referenda and initiatives may be beneficial, but on more technical aspects of government, oversimplified ballot language tends to obscure more than it clarifies. The most telling examples are those spending initiatives—often totaling billions of dollars at a time—that promise improvements in emotionally appealing areas like education, health care, and social welfare. Under current rules, these initiatives aren’t required to establish funding sources, so voters are essentially being asked if they’d like to feel socially virtuous free of charge. Mandating pay-as-you-go initiatives—that is, requiring initiatives that would spend money to propose offsetting spending cuts or tax increases—would at least require Californians to take responsibility for the sprawling debt increases that inevitably accompany such profligacy.
But what can California do about its current fiscal situation? To balance its budget, the state needs either to cut spending or to increase taxes (or both). The first option will be exceedingly difficult because of the ballot initiatives and locked-in spending requirements that have left legislators so little discretion over the budget. Ideally, California would eliminate all these complex spending formulas and start every year’s budgeting process from zero. But that would require a ballot initiative itself, and such an initiative would be strenuously opposed by the broad coalition of special interests that benefit from the current system.
The second option, hiking taxes, looks no more promising. In the past few decades, California’s requirement of a two-thirds majority to increase taxes hasn’t always been prohibitive, especially when Republican governors make common cause with Democratic legislators (a trend that continued into the Schwarzenegger era). But in today’s economic environment, increases are politically poisonous, as shown by a 2009 ballot proposal for widespread tax hikes that was defeated with just under two-thirds of the vote. Californians already labor under sales-tax rates usually reserved for states without income taxes (at 8.25 percent, the nation’s highest) and sharply progressive income-tax rates usually reserved for states without sales taxes (the state’s top rate is 10.55 percent, and it doesn’t allow you to deduct your federal taxes, as some states with income taxes do). These taxes, in turn, are a big reason that residents are fleeing the state; in 2008, 135,000 more people left California than moved there. If California keeps raising taxes, it can expect the migration of its tax base to continue unabated.
California would therefore do well to take the advice of economist Arthur Laffer, not just because of his status as one of the authors of Reaganomics but because he is an example of the state’s woes, having packed up his California-based fund-management business in 2006 and relocated to Tennessee. By Laffer’s estimates, if California abandoned its current, highly progressive income-tax system in favor of a statewide flat tax of no more than 6 percent on personal income and net business sales, it could completely abolish all property taxes, state gas taxes, and state payroll taxes, as well as all current state and local sales taxes, without losing revenue. And that’s without factoring in the increased economic activity that such a dramatic change to the tax code would almost certainly generate. This change would once again require the support of a two-thirds majority in the legislature, but its appeal just might be broad enough to attract such a coalition.
No matter how California taxes or spends, its heavy regulatory burden will hamper the state in rediscovering its former economic dynamism. The state should create a commission to subject its regulations to rigorous cost-benefit analyses. Any regulation that fails to generate more in social benefits than it does in social costs should be prevented from becoming law unless it is passed by a two-thirds majority of the legislature, rather than by the executive branch through the rule-making process. This approach would recognize that excessive regulation is just as economically poisonous as excessive taxation (which already enjoys the protection of the two-thirds requirement) and force legislators to take responsibility for job-killing policies.
And unless it defuses its pension bomb, California will become Greece on the Pacific. In the short term, avoiding that fate means renegotiating pension deals with current employees, increasing their retirement age, and requiring higher contribution levels from them. In the long term, it means shifting to a system of defined contributions instead of defined benefits. California’s organized-labor establishment is the state’s single most powerful political interest group, which will make achieving these reforms awfully tough sledding through the legislature. Real change on pensions is more likely to come through an initiative campaign that manages to hit the electorate’s panic button.
Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial victory, combined with a total Democratic sweep of statewide offices and pronounced Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature, leaves California subject to virtually unimpeded one-party rule. The big question is thus whether the impetus for reform can come from within the Democratic Party.
Among his defenders, Brown is often lauded for being ideologically heterodox. This is, after all, a man who supported the flat tax in his 1992 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and who threatened to “starve the schools financially until I get some educational reforms” during his time as governor. Optimistic pundits have convinced themselves that this policy eccentricity will give Brown the reformist spirit necessary to keep California from being the nation’s best argument against federalism. That claim, however, is dubious. It was the state’s public-employee unions—the single biggest force behind California’s spendthrift ways—whose money allowed Brown to stay afloat in his campaign against former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Will a Democratic governor with solid Democratic majorities in the state legislature be willing to spend most of his political capital to weaken the influence of his own financial base?
California’s future may depend on it. The state is on an unsustainable course. As the economist Herbert Stein famously noted, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” As a new administration takes the helm in the Golden State, that’s another piece of conventional wisdom that sounds like a threat.
Troy Senik is a former presidential speechwriter, a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom, and a contributor at Ricochet.com.
What’s tuition up to these days at private universities, parents? About $30-35,000?
Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don’t make academics a priority, a new report shows.
Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students’ critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills.
After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.
Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows.
Despite learning a little bit of jack and a whole lot of squat, students in the survey nonetheless managed a 3.2 GPA on average according to the study’s author, which tells you most of what you need to know about grade inflation and the rigors of modern higher learning. Another fun detail from the same study via McClatchy:
Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn’t determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin…
The study’s authors also found that large numbers of students didn’t enroll in courses requiring substantial work. In a typical semester, a third of students took no courses with more than 40 pages of reading per week. Half didn’t take a single course in which they wrote more than 20 pages over the semester.
Check below for more information about this fraud at your corner university and college.
Comment: Today’s American Universities teach ‘higher’ learnings than history, geology, botany, chemistry, anatomy and public health. Racism is in….. Whites are to be hated! The vestiges of White Culture are yestereday’s learnings now replaced by the better, freer educated from the Departments of Women’s Studies, Black Studies, and Gay and Lesbian Studies….and in certain communities, a new world of essential learnings, Latino Studies has been recently added.
As usual with the religious views of the Marxist Left, there is no Truth but Marxist Truth……Whatever is felt to be true or said to be true by a Marxist qualifies as Truth…..superior Truth….Party Truth.
Have you ever wondered why the American Left is ‘blessed’ with so much HATE toward America and its conservatives?
David Horowitz went to the American University and discovered Americans Learn Hate and the University!
The Hate is of the typical Marxist brand to incite economic and racial warfare among peoples so that there will be a Marxist State in their future. The university is named here, but don’t be mislead. Marxist hates are taught in nearly every university and college in the country. Colleges are the new places of worship in what universities call the post Christian Age of the West.
Marxism is a religion. The following is from David Horowitz’s book, “One Party Classroom.”
“at Temple University…… Courses of Study……David Horowitz describes the curriculum core: “As counterparts to the Department of African-American Studies, Temple University…..administers several research institutes through its College of Liberal Arts. Although nominally apolitical, these institutions in both the scope of their research and the nature of their organized events resemble nothing so much as left-wing political groups. The Institute for the Study of Race and Social Thought, for instance, was founded in 2005 by Temple philosophy professor Lewis Gordon, whose academic research interests include “Africana philosophy, philosophy of human and life sciences, phenomenology, philosophy of existence, social and political theory, postcolonial thought, theories of race and racism, philosophies of liberation, aesthetics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of religion.” Under Professor Gordon’s leadership, the center has become a university-sponsored outlet for his ideological prejudices, not least his determination to make political activism an integral part of Temple’s academic curriculum.
The institute’s inaugural symposium, in the spring of 2005, was titled “Transgressing Racial and Sexual Boundaries in the 21st Century,” and aimed to “engage both theorists and activists on the importance of racial and sexual intersections in a trans-global economy and the necessity for building partnerships.” Also in 2005, the insitute held a conference titled “Black Civil Society in American Political Life.” Organized around the polemical theme that blacks in America remain victims of societal injustice requiring radical social change, the conference was made up exclusively of academics, such as Martin Kilson and Cornel West, who supported the ideological claims that racial and class oppression were determining factors in the life of black Americans.
In 2006, the institute dispensed altogether with the pretense of scholarship and played host to Equare Osayande. According to a description provided by the institute, Osayande was an “independent scholar and activist” and a “central figure in the social justice movement” in Philadelphia. In fact, Osayande has never written a work of scholarskhip and is best known as a member of the Black Radical Congress, a Communist group. Osayande is somewhat notorious for his views that the United States is the “axis of evil,” that racism is “inherent” in the American system, and that the current U.S. government is guilty of the “re-enslavement of the Aftican American community.”"
At Temple…..Course Description: Department of Sociology……GUS RO55: “Race,” Class, and Gender in the City
“The first section of the course is called “The Social Construction of ‘Race’: Racism and White Privilege.”………Central idea “that white oppressors have created the concept of “race” in order to oppress nonwhite people. The assigned texts exclusively subscribe to this view.” In an essay, “Defining Racism: ‘Can We Talk’?,” by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Its central argument is that racism is omnipresent in American society and that any suggestion to the contrary is a function either of ignorance or of white racism”……a passage reads:
“Prejudice is one of the inescapable consequences of living in a racist society. Cultural racism – the cultural images and messages that affirm the assumed superiority of Whites and the assumed inferiority of people of color – is like smog in the air. Sometimes it is so thick it is visible, other times it is less apparent, but always, day in and day out, we are breathing it in.”
Another text and another passage, this kone written by Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”:
“It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small numberr of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.”
Comment: What you read here is a product of the Bill Ayers generation, the terrorist, bombers, muggers, druggies and otherwise criminal of the Cultural Revolution of Hate America 1967 to about 1980.
They have drawn their blood and have made Barack Obama the nation’s president, and populate his cabinet and departments. Obama has been persuaded by this Marxist eduation. It has made him a Progressive progressing to Marxism believer and activist.
As it is difficult to dissuage the young madrassa-educated jihadi muslim to rise above his programmed hates and stop his violence, it is equally difficult for Americans who have been programmed away from their peaceful Christianity and from this vulnerability to succumb to the hates of the new American university madrassas ….and learn a new religion, Marxism….the dictatorship of the equal taught by professors who hate and wish to spread their hate in the name of revolution.