Author archives: Rob Schwarzwalder

Reich Wrong

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 1, 2010

Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich has gotten it wrong yet again. Writing in today’s Christian Science Monitor, he argues that “Its time for the federal government to put BP under temporary receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BPs operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped.” It’s time, in other words, for Barack Obama and his appointees to seize control of a private firm.

Why? According to Reich, “This is the only way the public can know whats going on, be confident enough resources are being put to stopping the gusher, ensure BPs strategy is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary, and be sure the President is ultimately in charge.”

One by one:

(1) “This is the only way the public can know whats going on.” Does Mr. Reich seriously believe that the federal government will ensure transparency? Is he having a premature senior moment, or is his faith in the ethics of Washington so stridently naive that he actually believes that federal control means federal integrity? Big government is the antithesis of accountability. Examples are legion and common. This is a remarkable assertion for a one-time Cabinet Secretary, and perhaps demonstrates as clearly as anything we ever are likely to see why, for the Left, government is always the answer: This asseveration is, for Mr. Reich and his liberal colleagues, an article not of intelligence or experience but of blind, shimmering faith.

(2) “Confident enough resources are being put to stopping the gusher.” Yes, I believe that every federal dollar ever spent is spent wisely and responsibly. I believe that more money equals greater efficiency and efficacy. I believe that the private sector invariably is more inept than the government. I believe that little green men are dancing on my window pane.

(3) “Ensure BPs strategy is correct.” Ah yes, once again, the all-wise in Washington will be able to determine, with their studied dispassion and native brilliance, that one of the world’s oldest and largest petroleum firms is using the “correct” strategy. How silly of anyone to question the self-apparent genius of Mr. Reich and his coterie of federal Gnostic-like initiates.

(4) “Know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary.” Go get ‘em, Bob - let’s force the ignorant, venal, and incompetent heads of BP to do what Carol Browner thinks best. BP is a private firm, and thus, in the Reichian world view, inherently tainted. How dare we leave it to BP executives, scientists, etc. to resolve this problem.

(5) “Be sure the President is ultimately in charge.” The cappo-di-cappo of all solutions: Give more authority to the nation’s Chief Executive. I thought liberals were worried about concentrations of power and believe in democracy (pure, that is) so dogmatically. Ah, but I forgot we’re talking about a liberal President, Barack Obama, no less, who by definition is wise beyond ordinary human comprehension. Don’t know what came over me…

Robert Reich is a statist. At least he admits it. That his faith in government is puerile and frightening is a part of the intellectual equation he would prefer we ignore.

Goodbye, Arlen

by Rob Schwarzwalder

May 21, 2010

So it comes to this: A man whose life has been defined by politics, whose whole identity has been subsumed under the title “Senator,” has been decisively rejected by the voters of his state.

Arlen Specter is 80 years old, a two-time survivor of virulent cancer and a Democrat-turned Republican-turned Democrat. His partisan allegiance was, apparently, animated only by opportunism, and this proved his rightful undoing.

The dubious British politician Stanley Baldwin reportedly once said, “I would rather be an opportunist and float than go to the bottom with my principles around my neck.” Sadly, Sen. Specter is going to the political bottom not with his principles but because of their absence.

It is always easy to kick a dead lion and then roar about one’s bravery. I wish neither to kick nor gloat. Rather, we now all bear witness as Sen. Specter trails away with growing quiet due to his legacy of ideological betrayal and broken loyalty. Believing, evidently, in nothing more deeply than his own wisdom and importance to the Republic, he has proven how empty such hubristic convictions are.

To his credit, there has never been a whiff of moral scandal around Sen. Specter. It is my hope that God will grace Sen. and Mrs. Specter with many years of happy retirement.

But the legacy he leaves will be the memory of his facile commitment to anything other than himself. May it be a warning to all who would, intentionally or otherwise, follow in his stead.

A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 23, 2010

The front page of this morning’s USA Today features articles on two very different men, both of them champions of the gridiron: Tim Tebow, the devout Evangelical Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida,and Ben Roethlisberger, pro quarterback for the Pittsburg Steelers.

Roethlisberger, suspended for six games by the NFL for credible allegations of sexual assault against a 20 year-old woman in Milledgeville, Georgia, received a letter from League Commissioner Roger Goodell stating that “there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.”

In contrast, USA Today notes that Tebow’s Christian faith has motivated him to travel “to impoverished hamlets, prisons and hospitals around the world.” Tebow’s unapologetic commitment to the sanctity of unborn life became widely known when, during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast, he was featured in an ad with his mother. As USA Today reports, “Pregnant with Tim in the Phillippines (where the Tebows were missionaries), his mother became ill, suffering internal bleeding … Doctors, fearing for her life, recommended an abortion. She decided to have the baby.” Now that baby has been selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

Tebow makes no pretension of moral perfection, but his dedication to living a life of integrity, purity and conviction, all on behalf of his Savior, is a striking reminder that Christian witness and servanthood can inspire and encourage.

As to Mr. Roethlisberger, we can pray that he will, in the words of the prophet Haggai, consider his ways. The way Mr. Tebow is following - the Way, in fact - is worth emulating.

Obama’s Dangerous Irony

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 13, 2010

Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history,” said President Obama today in a major foreign policy address. “The risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up.

The President was speaking to the assembled leaders of 47 countries, gathered in Washington, DC to discuss ways of averting nuclear terrorism. His point is a good one: There’s a lot of nuclear material floating around, and it’s imperative that for the security of the United States and our allies America take the lead in preventing it from falling into the hands of terrorists and evildoers generally.

Yet the President, who said last year in Prague and reaffirmed today that he wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons, seems unmindful of two salient facts:

(1) We cannot dis-invent nuclear weapons. The technology exists. It is fairly simple to obtain. Thus, we will never rid the world of nuclear weapons any more than we will rid the world of sin. We must therefore remain vigilant, never - ever - relaxing the exhausting, expensive and intensive efforts of our intelligence agencies and armed forces to prevent the spread and use of nuclear devices.

(2) By cutting too deeply into our nuclear arsenal, we invite the very thing we wish to avoid: Nuclear confrontation. As former UN Ambassador and distinguished security policy expert John Bolton has noted, “President Obama has to date failed to articulate any coherent strategic rationale for the substantial cuts in nuclear weapons and delivery systems he agreed to … with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Instead, Mr. Obama has eliminated the leading-edge F-22 aircraft, limited funds to test our existing nuclear weapons and eliminated the missile defenses both Poland and Czechoslovakia had agreed to host on their soil.

Wishful thinking is no substitute for sound policy. Although Mr. Obamas efforts at this weeks conference might be noble, the extent to which they are uninformed by wisdom makes them all the more dangerous for the security and vital interests of the United States.

Conservatism, Extremism and the Bigoted Left

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 30, 2010

New York Times columnists Charles M. Blow (Whose Country Is It?, March 27) and Frank Rich (The Rage is Not About Health Care, March 28, 2010) are denouncing with smug delight and stentorian admonition the bullying, threats, and acts of violence (Blow) following the passage of the Obama health care bill.

Small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht is what Rich calls the apparent excesses of a tiny minority of anti-Democratic health care bill protestors. His own crypto-racist presuppositions are apparent in Blows evisceration of those he terms extremists:

Even the optics must be irritating. A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bills most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. Its enough to make a good old boy go crazy.

Let me posit for Mr. Blow an alternative scenario: For the Left,

Even the optics must be disturbing. A (nationally recognized) woman (Sarah Palin) opposed the health care bill that passed the House. The bills most visible and vocal opponents included a practicing Catholic (John Boehner) and a Jew (Eric Cantor). And prominent black men (former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and former Godfathers Pizza chairman Herman Cain) didnt want the black man in the White House to sign the bill into law. Its enough to make a New York secular liberal go crazy.

Frank Rich., fueled by the same reactionary unction as Mr. Blow, writes something eerily similar in his piece:

The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play.

Again, allow me to rephrase:

The conjunction of a black Republican National Committee Chairman and a female conservative vice-presidential candidate topped off by a wise African-American conservative on the Supreme Court and a powerful evangelical committee chairman would sow fears of disenfranchisement among the tiny self-anointed secular elite in the media and the academy no matter what policies were in play.

However, unsatisfied with smarmily tarring all conservatives with the base brush of bigotry, Rich returns to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as further evidence of the Rights calumny (apparently ignorant of the fact that more House Republicans voted for it than Democrats). Blow goes one better, asserting that Tea Partiers, per a Quinnipiac University Poll, shows them to be disproportionately white, evangelical Christians and less educated … than the average Joe and Jane Six-Pack.

Ah, the Evangelical Slur rears its head: conservative Christians just dont have the smarts the rest of society possesses. This assertion is to intellectual credibility what the Big Mac is to nutrition. The tired asseveration that evangelicals are pear-headed ignoramuses fails the test of serious scrutiny. According to a comprehensive poll done in 2004 by GreenbergQuinlanRosner Research for the PBS program Religion and Ethics, About 22 percent of white evangelicals hold 4-year college degrees, compared with 27 percent of the general population. (One) quarter (27 percent) of white evangelicals have some sort of post-secondary education, compared to 26 percent of the general population.

Sadly, Blow and Rich were silent when images of a decapitated George W. Bush, of guns being placed to his head, and tee-shirts bearing the message, Kill Bush were rampant among the Left. Throughout most of the 2000s, the blogosphere was flooded by horrible messages of hate and vileness and violence directed at the 43rd President. Most of us on the Right attributed these sickening things to a minority of political opinion, yet remained troubled that, Michael Moore, Arianna Huffington and other pop culture acceptables accepted and encouraged Bush hatred as though it were merely boisterous patriotism. Jonah Goldberg correctly calls this liberal fascism. Now that a handful of people go too far, suddenly conservatives (both Tea Partiers and Republicans) are (I derive this list from exactly two op-eds over a three day period in the New York Times):

  • Frothing
  • Copper-faced
  • Apoplectic
  • Goons
  • Vigilantes
  • Unglued
  • Homicidal (at least rhetorically)
  • Apocalyptic (not to be confused with apoplectic see above)
  • Petulant
  • Hysterical
  • Bullies
  • Desperate
  • Extremists
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Nefarious
  • Mad (Tea Partiers)
  • Anemic (Republicans)
  • Bigoted (Tea Partiers)
  • Violent (Tea Partiers)
  • Anachronistic

And most are, I suppose, bad dressers, to boot.

Both Blow and Rich conclude triumphantly that white conservatives are a dying breed and that the demographics of America doom the (overwhelmingly white) Tea Party movement to failure. Here, to borrow a phrase from the late Israeli diplomat Abba Eban, Blow and Rich experience an isolated spasm of lucidity.

Americas racial and ethnic composition is indeed changing. Conservatives need to take seriously the reality that sometime in the mid- to late-century, American whites will become merely the largest plurality in a multi-ethnic nation. We have to do a far better job of winsomely and thoughtfully engaging people of color and persuading them that the conservative vision of personal responsibility, limited government, lower taxes and true social justice (for the born and the unborn) is the best course for our and I emphasize, our  nation.

But Blow and Rich should consider the wisdom of Americas greatest President, Abraham Lincoln (a Republican, no less!): The hen is the wisest of all the animals because she never cackles until her eggs are hatched.

The battle over the ideas and convictions that should shape our country should never include in its ranks those pathetic souls on either extreme whose malevolence, whether racial, ethnic or ideological, inspires their political conduct. But Charles Blow and Frank Rich should beware of cackling too soon.

Whose country is it? All of ours. Of We, the people, who lived not under a whimsical state manipulated by a Leftist bourgeoisie elite, but a constituted political order grounded in a written text and the unwritten but palpable virtue of an informed citizenry. Conservatives are fighting to keep it. And weve just begun to fight.

Obama Health Care Ignores Private Sector Realities

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 26, 2010

According to Reuters, White House Secretary Robert Gibbs is unconcerned with the reports today by two leading American manufacturers that the newly enacted Democratic health system legislation will hit them hard financially.

John Deere and Caterpillar report a combined anticipated earnings loss of $250 million given the new tax provisions of President Obama’s just-imposed regime of federal health care management. This will affect their ability to hire, promote and provide benefits. It will affect the cost of the goods they sell and their ability to compete in domestic and international markets. It will hurt their ability to work with subcontractors and pay for retirement benefits.

In fact, Business Week notes the business consultancy of Towers Watson estimates a loss of $14 billion in corporate profits due to the Obama health regime-change (“Obama Taxs $14 Billion Charge Starts at Caterpillar,” March 25, 2010).

But, hey - to Robert Gibbs, all of this is worth one modest shrugging of his shoulders. Here’s what he said on Air Force One when asked about the hit Deere and Cat will have to take due to his boss’s new medical system overhaul:

So basically, they get a subsidy and what amounts to two deductions. They get the subsidy that’s not counted as income, then they get to write off the spending. This bill, our bill, simply closes the loophole.

Similarly, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke responded, “The rules…and a lot of the regulations on how this will affect large businesses haven’t even been published yet. So for them to come out, I think, is premature and irresponsible.”

I see: The Obama people are just closing tax “loopholes,” but it’s irresponsible for companies to estimate what the de facto taxes will cost them. How silly - a company ponders the affects of a tax hike and it’s irresponsible for letting its investors know its cost estimates. Guess I missed that lucid economic principle somewhere along the way.

Ask the families of people who are about to lose their jobs because President Obama and his congressional allies couldn’t care less about the private sector. Many of the President’s senior aides and appointees (including Mr. Gibbs) have never held jobs in the open market. They have never actually created a job, met a payroll, worried about opening a new store or burned the midnight oil experimenting with a new product.

In showing contempt for individual and corporate taxpayers, Robert Gibbs and Gary Locke reveal the true heart of the current Administration: Elitist, dismissive, arrogant and fundamentally ignorant of the American system of entrepreneurship, enterprise and market-based competition.

The High Costs of the Democratic Health Plan

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 24, 2010

Congressman Paul Ryan, a respected Wisconsin Republican and self-described “numbers guy,” writes the following in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Premiums in the individual market would rise from 10% to 13% for families. Our debt and deficit crisis —— driven by $76 trillion in unfunded liabilities —— would accelerate from the creation of a brand new entitlement and an increase in the federal deficit by $662 billion, when the true costs are factored in. National health expenditures will increase by an additional $222 billion over the next decade, according the president’s own chief actuary, and $2.4 trillion in the decade after the new entitlement is up and running.

Ryan himself calls these “mind-numbing numbers,” but their vastness only emphasizes how serious they are. To bring it down to family level, what the Obama-Democratic plan means is that you and your loved ones will obtain poorer quality of care at higher cost. Medical innovations generated by private sector research will contract as companies have fewer financial resources with which to make them. Market-driven competition will decline as the number of insurance companies shrinks due to heavy new mandates and regulations. The ripple effect on the broader economy will mean that there will be fewer jobs in the private-sector as companies lay-off employees to pay for both higher taxes and cost of newly imposed health insurance rules.

The world works in a certain way. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The world turns from east to west. And the more centralized political power becomes and the greater the mandates and costs imposed on those governed, the less freedom and prosperity there will be.

These propositions are axiomatic because they are immutable. And it is difficult to believe that whatever their protestations, President Obama and his allies —- intelligent men and women, all —- did not understand them very well from before the start of their health care “reform” campaign.

Less quality, high cost health care. Fewer jobs. Lost freedom. That’s change I’d rather not believe in, but it’s here. And conservatives will keep fighting it as long as our liberty endures.

When Did Adultery Become A Means of Finding Truth?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 17, 2010

In response to George Washingtons Farewell Address to the nation of which he was Founding Father, James Madison affirmed the first Presidents claim that morality was essential to liberty: If individuals be not influenced by moral principles, it is in vain to look for public virtue.

Put another way, if virtue is not the companion of our private doings, it will be absent from our public lives, and the larger cultural life of our country. This is logical deduction, of course, and leads to inevitable consequences for our society at large.

Consider former Senator John Edwards (D-NC), who had an adulterous affair with filmmaker Reille Hunter. It occurred while he was a credible candidate for the presidency of the United States and married to a woman suffering from an incurable recurrence of cancer. Yet Ms. Hunter now effuses about their torrid relationship as if it were a thing of rare beauty:

I know he loves me. I have never had any doubt at all about that, Hunter told Gentlemans Quarterly. We love each other very much. And that hasn’t changed, and I believe that will be till death do us part.

A mistress using the language of the marriage vow about a man still married to another woman: This is the rhetorical equivalent of pulling fingernails across a blackboard. But Ms. Hunters exposition of moral philosophy is even more striking: I think that he thinks that he (Sen. Edwards) is a much wiser and a much better and a more truthful and a more integrated human being because of their affair, Ms. Hunter tells us.

John Edwards betrayed his wife, his children, his supporters and, in a profound way, his country, in that he did his best to contribute to the moral erosion of our society and our politics. But, contra Ms. Hunter, he has not found truth, not unless its the truth about himself that he lacks an inner foundation of decency, honor or loyalty.

My purpose in this piece is not to fulminate against Sen. Edwards or Ms. Hunter. We all have fallen short of Gods perfect standard, but He offers redemption to us in His grace. It is my hope they will find it.

Rather, what animates my concern is Ms. Hunters remarks. She says what she does with a straight face, claiming that promises made before God lose force when emotional affection wanes and justifying corrupt conduct by asserting it can bring about self-integration (recipe: one part lust, one part selfishness and one part irresponsibility, all fitted together nicely, thank you).

This is wrong. It is wrong based on the teachings of Judeo-Christian revelation. Wrong based on the transcendent, cross-cultural, natural understanding of what it means to stay faithful and do right. And wrong because as a national figure, John Edwards had a duty to set an example, and failed to the point that he fathered a little girl with a woman not his (dying) wife.

Sen. Edwards has not found truth, he has abandoned it. Truth is found in living faithfully with your husband or wife in sickness and in health. Beauty and love are found there, too. Im grieved that John Edwards has lost these irreplaceable gifts, and instead has torn asunder yet one more section of the fabric of American life.

Bluefin over Babies: The Sad Priorities of the New York Times

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 5, 2010

Today the Grey Lady carries an op-ed titled, “A Chance for the Bluefin.” It begins with this sentence: “There finally might be a reprieve for the bluefin tuna of the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic, which are spiraling rapidly downward toward commercial extinction.” The piece waxes eloquent about the need to protect the bluefin, an important food resource for the U.S. and much of the world.

That’s good news. But given the Times’ addictive advocacy of unrestricted access to abortion on demand (federally funded, at that), I could not help but being impressed by the unintended irony of the op-ed’s title. This year, somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4 million unborn children will be aborted in the United States. 1 This does not count the many who will die due to abortafacient contraceptives.

It is estimated that more than 70 percent of the abortion facilities in the United States are located in or near minority population centers. 2 The “black genocide” is real, as the abortion industry targets little ones of color long the targets of eugenicists like Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Even the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, formerly the research arm of Planned Parenthood, notes, “[T]he abortion rate for black women is almost five times that for white women.” 3

Worldwide, approximately 42 million unborn children will be killed in utero this year, many of them due to the largesse of the United States (the Obama Administration’s funding of international “family planning” groups that provide abortions to women in the developing world). 4 Although the Times warns against waking up one day and discovering there are no tuna left to fish, protecting those little lives far outweighs protecting tuna. As Jesus said to His disciples, You are far more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). He might have added, and than many fish.

I’m glad the bluefin might be saved. I like a good tuna salad sandwich as much as the next guy. But I long for the day when as much moral urgency will be given the preservation of the unborn as the New York Times has today given to the continued sustenance of a fish.





An Officer and a Lawbreaker

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 10, 2010

Lt. Dan Choi is back training with his National Guard unit.

Conventionally, this would be about as newsworthy as saying that paint dries: officers serve with their units all the time. But Lt. Choi is, by his own definition, different - he is openly homosexual. He has been appearing in the media, actively calling for a reversal of the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy concerning homosexuality.

According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, homosexuality is incompatible with military service. This is not a statement of preference, but a law. All members of the Armed Forces are required to take an oath to uphold it. Yet here we have a situation where an openly gay man, in violation of the law and, according to news accounts, with the support of his commanding officer, is wearing the uniform of our nation.

Let us say for the sake of argument that homosexuality is a moral good and that those who practice homosexual conduct should actively be recruited to serve in the country’s military (of course, Family Research Council and I personally disavow these arguments). I would still be calling for Lt. Choi’s dismissal from the service and his superior’s discipline. The military code is not a set of arcane rules that can be followed at the personal discretion of those serving. It is the ironclad law of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. It is enacted by the United States Congress and signed into effect by the Commander in Chief.

Lt. Choi is flaunting the law, showing contempt for it for the sake of his personal philosophical agenda. In doing so, he is demonstrating his unfitnes as “an officer and gentleman.” What if his peers choose to obey only those orders they want? “Well, sir - and by the way, I don’t like calling you sir - taking that hill right now seems like a bad idea to me. Think I’ll go take a nap.” Order, discipline, duty, respect, achievement of mission: all are, by virtue of Dan Choi’s continued role in the Army, placed at grave risk.

Men and women in uniform do not serve at their pleasure or under the human resources regulations of civilian life. Of necessity, for the sake of the life and death circumstances intrinsic to being part of the Armed Forces, they operate under a different, particularly crafted set of rules - rules that are the law.

No American, whether in the military or not, has the right to obey only those laws he or she wishes. This is the path to moral chaos and political anarchy. It is the road to collapse.