Author archives: Rob Schwarzwalder

Robert Reich: Lost in Political Space

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 2, 2010

In the late 1990s, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote a book called Lost in the Cabinet about his admitted misadventures as head of a major federal agency.

Now comes his latest missive, an article in the left-leaning American Prospect Magazine called “What Happened to Democracy.” In it, he decries industry lobbyists and back-room negotiations - pretty standard fare for a liberal who is as yet un-mugged by reality.

No one wants “closed door” deals or unfair benefits for any company or group. But then Mr. Reich takes us into the intellectual thin air with this statement: He calls for “adequate public financing for congressional and presidential candidates who refuse private funding, more constraints on lobbyists, tighter rules for who must register as a lobbyist, fuller disclosure, and tougher rules on the revolving door between public service and private gain.”

Let me see if I understand: The federal government will pick and choose what candidates are viable for public office (that’s the basis of public financing) but people representing private corporations and business associations (that would be lobbyists) merit “more constraints.”

Then Mr. Reich leaps beyond the ether into stratospheric terra incognita and gets thoroughly lost in political space: “Yet nobody seems to be talking about these sorts of reforms. They don’t appear on Obama’s agenda. True, they don’t generate lots of public excitement, and they’re murderously difficult to enact. But without them our democracy doesn’t stand a chance.”

Conservatives have, for decades, been calling for full and immediate disclosure of campaign contributions. No argument there. But does Mr. Reich honestly believe that without federal financing of elections and tighter rules about lobbying - it’s already illegal for lobbyists even to buy a Congressman a cheeseburger; how much more “constrained” can the rules get? - “democracy doesn’t stand a chance?”

We live in a republic, not a democracy, a political sphere in which people govern themselves through elected representatives at the local, state and national levels. Our Founders were terrified of democracies, considering direct self-rule an invitation to mobocracy and social dissolution. They believed that representative self-government is the only sure way for honorable, or as they put it, “virtuous,” citizens to maintain ordered liberty.

My good friend and former colleague Bill Wichterman will be addressing this theme at the Family Research Council in a speech titled, “Did the Founding Fathers Establish a Democracy?” this coming Thursday, February 4 at 11 a.m. ET. The speech will be Webcast and can be viewed at frc.org.

I hope Mr. Reich will join us. Perhaps together we can learn a thing or two about representative republican democracy.

Quick Take on State of the Union

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 28, 2010

There were times during last night’s speech when reality seemed suspended: The President’s evident sincerity and earnestness were undermined by the caustic laughter that occasionally greeted his comments. At other times, silence met his words. And, in media theory courses across the land, analyses will be done of the number of times he looked to the Republican side of the aisle - he seemed far more concerned with the GOP responses to his remarks than those of his own party. Maybe the spectre of another Joe Wilson moment (“You lie!”) had him jumpy.

More seriously, I wonder if his desperation to be liked is compelling him to try to woo his skeptics. Of course, he won’t succeed.

It is hard not to like President Obama, at least the persona he projects in such settings as the State of the Union Address. He seems so reasonable.

Yet his policies are those of a man of the Left. It is as though he believes empathy is a substitute for substantive compromise, or that by virtue of patiently listening he can lull his opponents into political somnolence.

The speech, like the Obama presidency, was interwoven with unintended ironies:

** Mr. Obama calls for unity and patriotic oneness but simultaneously calls for open homosexuality in the military in a time of war. He knows this will go nowhere, but throws the political bone to the homosexual lobby anyway. Why? Because he can say he tried (placating a key part of his base) while bearing no real consequence (the measure lifting the ban on gays in the military won’t succeed and so, given the relative inattention of the American people to this issue in a time of economic

crisis, there will little political price to pay for Democrats in November).

** He insists on taxpayer-subsidized abortion, resists litigation limits against health care providers and persists on wanting to micro-manage Americans’ medical care but urges Republicans to share with him their ideas about health reform - as though they have not already done so myriad times!

** He is all over the map on taxes, calls for yet another commission on entitlement reform (as if the several essential steps were not obvious, especially after many other such reform bills, panels, studies, commissions, select committees, etc.) and rewrites the economic history of the past decade —- and does so with such seeming intensity that one wants to join him in the land of political make-believe.

The President needs to come to terms with some basic realities: People aren’t stupid. Politicians aren’t children. Civility doesn’t mean acquiescence. And facts are stubborn things.

Fathering Confusion

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 18, 2010

In June 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama gave a moving speech on fatherhood in his hometown of Chicago. Here, in part, is what he said:

We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child —- it’s the courage to raise one. We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

All true. So why is a man who acknowledges the central importance of fathers and mothers seeking to corrode marriage? Consider the President’s remarks made in October 2009 to the 30th anniversary dinner of the Human Rights Campaign —- America’s leading pro-homosexual organization. In his speech, Mr. Obama said he looked forward to the day when:

..we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman. You will see a nation that’s valuing and cherishing these families as we build a more perfect union —- a union in which gay Americans are an important part. I am committed to these goals. And my administration will continue fighting to achieve them.

Huh? I thought children need moms and dads, not just two mommies or “spouses.”

This is more relevant now than ever, as in 2010 the President and his allies are committed to repealing the military’s ban on homosexuals serving in the ranks and passing the so-called “Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” which would impose homosexuality in faith-based and other private activities.

Either fathers and mothers are needed in a marriage or they are not. And either an unborn child is a human person from conception (as Mr. Obama suggests in his remarks above) until natural death, or it is merely a complex of disparate cells (as Mr. Obama has suggested elsewhere).

You’re in the White House now, Mr. President. The time for ponderous ambivalence is long past. Gotta make your mind up. Please do so in favor of real marriage and human life.

Mr. President, Leadership is Not an Option

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 5, 2010

Franklin Roosevelt is not a hero of mine. Arguably the father of today’s big government and a president who never let the Constitution get in the way of his political agenda, FDR summoned a weird confection of Leftists, liberals and disaffected, vulnerable citizens to obtain election to the presidency no less than four times.

His legacy has led to serious problems in the courts, the economy and the way Americans understand their federal government. Yet there is still much to admire about the Democratic Roosevelt - the way he heartened Americans with his optimism, the masterful manner in which he spoke to the hopes and fears of ordinary people, and even his unabashed invocation of the God of the Bible in times of national need.

FDR was also nothing if not decisive. He did not dawdle in times of crisis. For better or ill, he acted. People knew that they had a leader in the White House.

Knowing he was nearing death, he jettisoned starry-eyed Vice President Henry Wallace for sharp, crisp and purposeful Harry Truman. When we entered World War II, he shelved the New Deal and put his full energies into winning the conflict, even appointing Republicans as secretaries of War and Navy. And when eight German spies were found in the U.S., they were not tried in civil court. They were taken before a military tribunal appointed by FDR himself; six were hung, one imprisoned for life, and the eighth sentenced to 30 years. The time between when the spies landed and the hangings: less than two months.

Mr. Roosevelt’s most recent successor could learn a thing or two from him. Barack Obama took three months to decide on adding to America’s troop level in Afghanistan. It took him three days to reassure a shaken public that his national security team would work to better safeguard the country from terrorist attacks.

On health care, the President seems content with getting something —- anything —- as long as it is slapped with rubric of reform and contains federal funding for abortion. He has not led in crafting the legislation. He has led only in demanding a finished product, and then too often, and when legislative deadlines have been missed, he has done nothing about it.

There have been moments when Mr. Obama seems to understand he is not a global citizen or a national academic-in-chief. When, early last year, he ordered American sharpshooters to kill the pirates who had seized U.S. sailors, he rightly won plaudits, including from my organization, the Family Research Council. But these moments have been more incidental and dramatic than consistent and dependable.

In the name of caution, he dallies. For the sake of consideration, he procrastinates. On behalf of prudence, he dissolves into quietude.

One thing is sure,” said FDR. “We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment.” Is this a perfect way of addressing crises? Certainly not, especially if the “something” that is done is animated by emotion and directed by panic. But upon obtaining the best counsel possible, the job of a President is to act quickly and firmly when urgency requires it.

Time is a luxury upon which the security of the United States cannot wait. Al-Qaeda, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tyrants of North Korea and their assorted allies in the international fellowship of evil know this. Do you, Mr. President?

Joseph Was an Adoptive Father

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 23, 2009

The Incarnation was the single most unique event in both global and universal history.

With good reason: The Second Person of the Trinity being born of a virgin, then living a sinless life, dying an atoning death and experiencing a bodily resurrection, are events so astounding as to stagger the imagination. Since they really happened, being humbled and awed by them is altogether fitting.

There are a number of profound and probing stories associated with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The annunciation to Mary, the attendance of shepherds, the arrival of gift-bearing Eastern “wise men,” the birth in a manger and so many other incidents provide illumination to the Savior’s coming that more fully explain its unique meaning.

One of those stories is that of Joseph. Described in the Greek New Testament as a “tekton,” or skilled carpenter or stone mason, Joseph’s moral purity, respect for his betrothed and quick obedience to God’s calling provide a compelling description of this extraordinary man.

Yet often overlooked is another facet of Joseph’s life: He was an adoptive father.

We do not know from Scripture what kind of relationship Joseph and Jesus had. Yet we can surmise that God the Father must have prepared Joseph in an exceptional way to serve as an earthly father to His only begotten Son.

Adoptive fathers, and mothers, are still needed. The U.S. Agency for International Development says that in 2010, the number worldwide will be roughly 44 million. In our own country, the estimates of the number of orphans vary widely; according to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, about 125,000 children and youth in foster care are available for adoption because parental rights have been terminated.

My three children are adopted. They are not my wifes or mine biologically but before God and the law, they are as much ours as if they had been fashioned from our own bodies. We love them with the same depth all parents have for the children born to them.

Adopted children pose no greater or lesser challenges than biological children. Any stereotypes one has about adopted children can be dispelled quickly by the simple realization that concerns about an adopted child can readily be replicated about a biological child. Adopting older children can, of course, present unique challenges, and prayer and counsel should be sought before such an adoption just as they should before any major life decision.

The purpose of this short piece is not to induce guilt in anyone. God might not be calling you or your family to adopt. To suggest otherwise would be pretentious and even cruel. I simply would urge anyone reading this prayerfully to consider if adoption might be something toward which the Lord might be moving you.

The answer might well be no. But asking our heavenly Father for His guidance is always a good thing.

Joseph became the adoptive father of the most exceptional Child ever to live on our planet. May his conduct inspire all of us to consider what God might want us to do with respect to adoption in the New Year.

Reality Strikes Again in U.S. Foreign Policy

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 16, 2009

The steel-cold eyes of Vladimir Putin have a way of unnerving his opponents. When one of those happens to be the President of the United States, the latter might well feel a bit shaken.

Following their meeting, Mr. Obama reported, On areas where we disagree … I don’t anticipate a meeting of the minds anytime soon. Welcome, Mr. President, to the real world.

This must be jarring for the former community organizer, whose utopianism was his presidential campaigns stock-in-trade. Shortly before his election in November 2008, he told a Missouri audience that We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

Earlier his campaign, he went so far as to assert that we can build a form of the kingdom of God on earth (he later disavowed this). This kind of language prompted University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein to argue that during the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Obama presented an elusive utopian vision of hope and change.

I am asking you, implored candidate Obama, to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept. Let us reach for what we know is possible: A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again. And, as political commentator Dana Milbank imaginatively perorates, still be home for dinner. This was what candidate Obama promised during the campaign. Elusive, indeed.

Americans are not the only skeptics. Polish journalist Marek Magierowski calls the Presidents foreign policy a mirage. Regarding Mr. Obamas Nobel Peace Prize, Gideon Rachman of Britains Financial Times commented, While it is OK to give school children prizes for ‘effort’ — my kids get them all the time — I think international statesmen should probably be held to a higher standard.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, scholar Eric Cohen comments of Mr. Obamas approach to policymaking:

Brimming with confidence in his abilities and certain of the rightness of his views, he has undertaken a wildly ambitious agenda at home and abroad. He will bring peace between Arab and Israeli, wean Iran from its nuclear ambitions, restructure the international financial system, set us on the path to the abolition of nuclear weapons, reconcile Islam and Christendom, and end global warming, while introducing universal health care at home and bringing the country out of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Happily, Mr. Obama seems to be getting a bit mugged by reality. In his Nobel speech, he spoke forcefully about the intransigent reality of human conflict:

We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified … I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world.

For words like this, George W. Bush was burned in effigy and hated deeply. But they are words an Americana President must speak if he is to be true to his most fundamental duty: As Commander in Chief, to defend America in the face of the evil. As President Bush reminded us, good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise. Its good to see his successor, chastened by the stern authoritarianism he found when visiting Russia and China and the overt threats of Iran and North Korea, is adopting his predecessors outlook.

As Benjamin Kerstein writes in the December 15 edition of The New Ledger:

… no messianic political movement can withstand its encounter with power for very long. Political messianism is inherently uncompromising, absolutist, and obsessed with perfection and the possibility of perfection. As such, it cannot survive politics itself, which is, for the most part, the exact opposite of all of those things. Political messianism must either compromise and thus cease to be messianic or collapse.

Yet Mr. Obama would be, perhaps, less surprised by his tepid welcome from Americas erstwhile partners and the failure of his international charm offensive if he would go back to the very beginning of our nation.

Americas Founders had a decidedly cautious view of the possibilities of the way government conducted policymaking at home and abroad. The reason was there much more wary view of human nature. If men were angels, no government would be necessary, wrote James Madison, the person perhaps most singly responsible for the original text of the Constitution. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

Madisons leeriness of governments possibilities was rooted in his essentially biblical worldview. As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form, he observed.

In other words, human fallenness permeates human nobility and dignity. Thus, Madisons conclusion: Be careful of what you expect of government; without intentional virtue of character, mans innate depravity will surmount his ability to govern himself wisely or well.

Madisons Federalist colleagues Alexander Hamilton and John Jay shared his view. Hamilton wrote of the folly and wickedness of mankind and of human nature as it is, without flattering its virtue or exaggerating its vices … men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. Jay talked the dictates of personal interest and said men swerve from good faith and justice.

We must take human nature as we find it, warned George Washington. Perfection falls not to the share of mortals. Does this mean we should all be glum, unmoved by the possibility of a brighter tomorrow for ourselves or our children?

No: We should strive to live up to the demands of our Founders that we should be people of such character that we can govern ourselves wisely, mindful that our limitations as sons of Adam are endemic to our nature as human beings. This mindfulness should keep us politically humble, aware that under God and with His help and guidance, we can do great things but that on earth, heaven will never be ours.

We cannot change human nature anymore than we can change the rotation of the earth. We can ennoble our hearts and dignify our conduct in the context of being finite and fallen, achieving a great measure of ordered liberty and economic opportunity, justice in our courts and safety on our streets.

The President called on us to sustain what he called a fundamental faith in human progress as the North Star that guides us on our journey. This faith is unmerited by the witness of the past century, which he himself sited in his Oslo speech.

Rather, as our Founders, taught us, it is belief in the God of the Bible and reverence for Him, informed, in part, by an ongoing recognition of our own innate fallibility, that enables us to do good, pursue justice and create a society in which hope is tempered by the bracing knowledge of human sin.

Our foreign policy can be honorable if conducted consistent with our convictions and institutions, animated by the pursuit of our vital security interests and pursued commensurate with our belief in the principles of human dignity and freedom.

But foreign policy is the application of principles and interests with care, intelligence and prudence. It will not take us to some cosmic destination. And therein, Mr. President, lies a rub we can never eradicate this side of the institution of Gods kingdom.

A Nobel Attempt: Barack Obama in Oslo

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 10, 2009

Yes, the Nobel Committee gave its Peace Prize Barack Obama as a slam at George W. Bush and as a message to the United States that they like us best when we act more like a hand-wringing Uriah Heep (Im a very humble man) than a confident Ronald Reagan.

Yes, President Obama should have declined the award. A person with more humility and moral courage would have done so, although the temptation to accept it would be high for anyone.

Yes, he omitted any mention of our engagement in Iraq other than to say that our efforts there are winding down, and hypocritically mentioned that the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression without mentioning that the same consensus existed to remove Saddam in 2003-2004.

But for once, President Obama at least sounded like an American President, not a self-doubting teenage swain as he spoke to the assembled crowd in Oslo. Consider this stirring passage:

… the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions not just treaties and declarations that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other people’s children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

He also said that military force is sometimes justified for a liberal, not a bad affirmation:

… as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaidas leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

Interestingly, some of the Presidents greatest advocates disdained former President Bush for stating that good and evil exist and that God is not neutral between them. I wonder if these same dyspeptic ethical relativists will attack their Democratic Lochinvar for his asseveration.

The President also spoke of human imperfectability, a term that leaps from the page: A central premise of liberalism, from Rousseau to Marx, is that man can be perfected by socio-economic structures that reshape his external, and thus his internal, character (e.g., the New Soviet Man and even Obamas campaign declaration which he later disavowed that we can build the kingdom of God on earth).

President Obama mentioned the spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Badly phrased theology, surely: Within each of us God has placed a moral law written on the heart (Romans 2:15), but without regeneration in Christ no one carries within himself the presence of God. Yet to claim there is a Divinity and that the human soul exists is nice to hear from a man so identified with post-modern sensibilities.

Happily, the President also noted and sought to rectify the salient historic dispute in American foreign policy: Within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values. I reject this choice.

Good: American interests and values coincide. To abandon our interests for the sake of our values, or vice-versa, is to pose a false option. In World War II, for example, our interest was in defending our country from two aggressive, totalitarian and hegemonistic powers, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In doing so, we ended regimes wanton with the blood of millions and violently oppressive of all essential human rights.

The same could be said for Afghanistan and, based on the evidence we believed we had about Saddams potential threat in 2003, Iraq.

Finally, it was good to hear the President allude to the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice …

… those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women some known, some obscure to all but those they help to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

He is right: As noted above, a man of greater nobility of spirit would have declined accepting the Nobel Prize and asked that it be bestowed on others more deserving. But at least he mentioned these people generally.

To put a face on at least one of them, Ill mention one of them. Gao Zhisheng is a Christian attorney who has spent many years defending the religious liberties of his fellow Chinese. For his efforts, he has been tortured, kidnapped and held in prison without any due process repeatedly. Married with two children, Gao has been subject to what respected Chinese human rights activist Bob Fu has called the most severe persecution in modern Chinas history.

Gao has not been seen since February 4, when he was taken away by police. Recent reports indicate he is alive but still being held and tortured.

In 2007, Gao was incarcerated unjustly for nearly two months and brutalized throughout his entire prison stay. From electric batons shoved in his face to unspeakable tortures to his extremities, Gao was brutalized in a manner that defies description. All this, simply for protecting and defending his countrymens rights of religious liberty and free exercise of conscience.

Gao Zhiseng has sought to bring peace to thousands by working for true religious liberty in China. Alfred Nobel would have been proud to bestow his Peace Prize upon him. We can only wonder what Mr. Nobel would have thought of the achievements of this years recipient.

Cancer Declines, But Not if Robert Reich Can Help It

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 9, 2009

The National Cancer Institute today issued its Annual Report to the Nation on cancer, and it has some good news for all Americans this Christmas season: Rates of new diagnoses and rates of death from all cancers combined declined significantly in the most recent time period for men and women overall and for most racial and ethnic populations in the United States, according to a report from leading health and cancer organizations.”

The report goes on to state that Cancer deaths decreased 1.6 percent per year from 2001 to 2006.

Its a pretty safe bet that just about everyone reading this has lost someone to cancer or knows someone fighting the disease. In its many varieties from adenocarcinoma (cancer of the glandular system) to colorectal cancer the disease is indiscriminate in when and whom it strikes. Cancer is one of pains best friends, and deaths greatest allies.

So, todays report should encourage all of us. You can read it at the link above to learn more about why the decline has occurred. But thats not why Im writing about it.

If the Democratic health care plan becomes law, it is safe to assume that the sheer weight of its costs will prohibit further private-sector health research and development. Many medical firms undertake cancer research projects and seek to develop treatments to arrest and even cure the various forms of cancer.

How many of these, and how many federally-funded anti-cancer programs, will collapse as health care research dollars become scarcer?

Consider the words of former Clinton Labor Secretary and leading Democratic intellectual Robert Reich in a speech he gave at UC-Berkeley in 2007:

This is what the truth is and a candidate will never say, but what a candidate should say … We’re going to have to, if you’re very old, we’re not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It’s too expensive…so we’re going to let you die. (Robert Reich Reveals Brutal Health Care Truths; MSM Snores, Wall Street Journal blog, by P.J. Gladnick, Media Research Center, Oct. 13, 2009)

Without continued market-driven research and adequate federal funding, todays good news about cancer will become little more than a cherished memory. And such funding and research will, as Robert Reich suggests, decline if Uncle Sam manages and rations health care.

The Fatuous Job Summit

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 4, 2009

The fact that President Obama will hold a jobs summit to figure out how jobs are created is perhaps the saddest commentary of all on the farce that is about to begin. It seems like good timing as our unemployment rate is over 10 percent, and well into the double-digits in some parts of the country.

Yet having a job creation debate at the White House is disheartening. Shouldnt an American President have some sense of how our market-based, competitive economy works?

More pointedly, the summit will produce no noticeable change in the policies of an Administration woefully and aggressively against the essential principles of the greatest jobs engine every designed or implemented, a free enterprise system based on property rights and capital formation.

Among the attendees will be Paul Krugman, the hard-Left columnist for the New York Times and near-pathological hater of all things conservative; Krugman wrote this week that the budget-cracking stimulus plan the White House enacted earlier this year was too small.

Also included will be a group of union leaders (by the way, what does the head of a teachers union know about employment policy?); Clinton Administration economists Joe Stiglitz and Alan Blinder; and the head of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-liberal group whose Board members include (you guess it) George Soros and his buddies in that paradigm of union corruption, the Service Employees International Union.

Sundry business leaders will be thrown in to add a veneer of credibility, but the major business groups are absent from the current public list, as are members of the academic community who oppose statist economic policies. Sadly, business leaders are also absent from the Obama administration as well, as none of his top people worked in business or industry creating profit driven businesses and jobs.

According to the Associated Press, a Treasury Department report issued last month states that the federal deficit hit a record for October as the new budget year began where the old one ended: with the government awash in red ink. Treasury also warned that the deficit for October totaled $176.4 billion, even higher than the $150 billion imbalance that economists expected. Note: this is the deficit for a single month - not a calendar year.

Well, at the risk of sounding pretentious (I am not, like President Obama or Dr. Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner), here are five ideas distilled from leading economists dating from Adam Smith through the current day: If the President and his allies want to create jobs, they should:

(1) Quit spending the country into economic oblivion, farming out our debt to foreign creditors who will someday soon call in their loans and damaging our nations economy. If you stop overspending, you will also ameliorate the growing fear of many investors that we are on the verge of monetizing the debt, simply printing worthless bills that will hyper-inflate our currency. Fiscal discipline, if dramatic and real, will energize the markets.

(2) Cut taxes - on individuals and families, on major firms and S-corporations. Cut the dividend tax. Cut the income tax. Cut capital gains taxes. Cut, and cut some more. The private sector creates wealth, and lower taxes foster growth in the private sector, which in turn generates tax revenue for the federal government.

(3) Reduce and simplify a vast federal regulatory apparatus that confuses and cripples business expansion. Corporate America, from the multi-thousand international company employers to the Mom-and-Pop linoleum shops in the strip malls, are encumbered by regulations. We all know it. Bring rationality to this area, Mr. President, and you both demonstrate true courage and the enduring thanks of business people everywhere.

(4) End the government-mandated health care reform madness, which will further impose on our companies and employees growing fiscal, legal and regulatory burdens. Target those things in our system that dont work and offer market-based incentives and tax reforms that will enable insurance providers to better serve the underserved.

(5) Reform entitlements: Social Security and Medicare are economic Grim Reapers, standing athwart Americas future and intoning, Were waiting. Mr. Obama, want to make (good) history? Tackle entitlements, bring market-based reforms to them and then devise and implement a plan to devolve them back to the states.

Of course, nothing I have recommended will likely be put into effect while Barack Obama is in the White House, or at least while Democrats hold both Houses of Congress.

But no argument is ever won unless you make it. And, today perhaps more than any time in our history, conservatives need to be making these arguments.

The jobs lost and not created are creating a strain on the American family, and more and more men and women struggle to put food on the table. The Obama jobs summit is, then, not just about macro-economic policy, philosophical pedantry or whatever. Its about families, real people in economic crisis. And thats everyones business.

A Swiss Non-Miss

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 2, 2009

So: the people of Switzerland, by a roughly three-to-two margin, have decided to prevent the erection of any more minarets (not mosques, mind you, just minarets) in their traditionally Christian country.

Switzerland, whose national flag features a cross (odd - the Saudi flag features a scimitar), is weary of having minarets popping up in their quiet towns and suburbs. A European country with a unique culture and thousand-year old architectural tradition disliking the insinuation of Islamic structures into its neighborhoods - go figure …

Now, that amorphous entity, the “international community,” is up in arms. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is condemning “the anti-foreigner scare mongering which has characterized political campaigns in a number of countries including Switzerland.” Anti-foreigner? Or cultural self-protection?

Of course, any true religious or ethnic bigotry is morally wrong. All persons are made in the image and likeness of God and should be free to worship as they wish. But no group has the right to enter a host culture and demand conformity to its traditions. That’s aggressive, insulting and insensitive.

Why is it unacceptable for Europeans not to want their countries Islamicized? Muslims are now in Europe in significant numbers, but they are almost entirely unharrassed. Yet not a single Christian church exists in Saudi Arabia. Christians in Islamic countries often are attacked, discriminated against (Christians and Jews are often paid only half of their Muslim counterparts, per the command of the Quran) and prevented from free and open worship. Go to Voice of the Martyrs and see for yourself.

Count the crosses in the Islamic world. Read about the anti-Semitic rhetoric of many Islamic groups in Europe. Consider the repression of, and frequent violence against, Christians in Muslim-dominant nations. Add up the “fatwas” against Muslims who dare convert to faith in Jesus.

Then ask me to worry about the Swiss vote on minarets. Just don’t hold your breath.

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