Does George Pataki really think he can win the nomination? Rand Paul? Rick Santorum? Whoever announced this morning? Yes. How can they possibly think this, you ask (unless you are one of their ardent supporters)? I mean, a first-term senator, a former printing executive, whatever, who, frankly, no one has ever heard of is going to get elected president? How are they going to raise the $300 million or however much it will take to win the nomination?
Back in 1974, there was a termed-out one-term Georgia governor with these two very smart 20-something aides (who also were sort of termed out if he was), and one of them, the late Hamilton Jordan, wrote one of those famous memos that become symbols in politics. The gist of it was: Iowa is a caucus state. You could meet every person who goes to a caucus. Do. If you win Iowa, it becomes a huge national story, and they put you on the covers of the magazines (a big deal in those days), and the money rolls in on your way to New Hampshire. And if you win New Hampshire — my goodness, the famous first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary — or even do better than expected, you're all of a sudden the national frontrunner, and all you need is one Southern state tucked right up there, and you've got what you need to prove that you are the overwhelming choice of the nation.
Three states. Pretty good. Actually, it's pretty much still the only strategy that works if you're one of the people whose decision to run for president is something we hear about in the car radio but can't quite remember by the time we get in the house.
The joke in Iowa — and it's actually happened to me and everyone else — is that you bring your candidate to a small event at someone's farm at some incredibly early hour of the morning, and at the end of his promising every form of agricultural subsidy you could reasonably request, you ask one of the guests whether he's ready to support your candidate, and he looks at you like you're absolutely crazy and says, "But I've only met him once."
Now, you could argue that the ability to survive years of living-room grilling is a good test of presidential skills, although I'm not sure why, since it has absolutely nothing to do with winning general elections, much less governing. But it has a great deal to do with how the presidential races get played out.
While it's true that Jimmy Carter went on to win the presidency, Iowa caucus voters are rarely so accurate in their predictions. President Huckabee? Or was that President Santorum? They were the last two Iowa "winners."
No, predicting presidents is hardly the purpose of Iowa, so much as propelling insurgents. I will never forget one Iowa caucus night, driving around and literally seeing what seemed to be every church bus in the state on the highways. And thus was the birth of the Christian Coalition. Who, after all, has buses other than schools (teachers are always much sought after by Democrats) and churches?
In the years since, Iowa's Republican caucus has become the weeding-out ground for all the candidates whose names you can't remember, especially on the right. Jeb Bush will survive Iowa; a lot of the other folks getting up early to hit the farms won't. But the one or two who do the best, especially if they can follow up with a strong showing in New Hampshire, win the right to challenge Bush or whoever the mainstream establishment such as it is has resigned itself to. As for everybody else, enjoy the chicken fries.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)
Last Updated on Friday, 29 May 2015 06:56
Socialist genius Bernie Sanders has figured out what's really ailing America.
Our store shelves have too many different brands of deodorant and sneakers. Just look at all those horrible, fully stocked aisles at Target and Walgreens and Wal-Mart and Payless and DSW and Dick's Sporting Goods. It's a national nightmare! If only consumers had fewer choices in the free market, fewer entrepreneurs offering a wide variety of products and fewer workers manufacturing goods people wanted, Sanders believes, we could end childhood hunger.
Nobody parodies the far left better than far-leftists themselves.
In an interview with financial journalist John Harwood on Tuesday, Sanders detailed his grievances with an overabundance of antiperspirants and footwear. "You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don't think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on."
Try to suppress a snicker: Sanders, Decider of Your Sanitary and Footwear Needs, is casting himself as the Everyman in touch with "ordinary Americans" to contrast his campaign with Hillary "my Beltway lobbyist and foreign agent operator Sid Blumenthal is just a friend I talk to for advice" Clinton.
Blech. By the looks of the 2016 Democratic presidential field, liberals really do practice the anti-choice principles they preach.
At Caracas-on-the-Green Mountains, every business owner's success robs starving babies of vital nutrition. Because some tummies may be grumbling somewhere across the fruited plains, all must suffer. In Sanders' world, it's the "greedy"— America's real makers, builders and wealth creators — who must be punished and shamed, specifically with a personal income tax rate hiked to a whopping 90 percent for top earners.
Of course, the wealth redistributors in Washington never bear any of the blame for misspending the billions they confiscate.
Nearly 100 million Americans participated in dozens of federal food assistance programs in 2014. The General Accounting Office reported last year that $74.6 billion went to food stamps, $11.3 billion went to the national school lunch program, and $7.1 billion went to the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, along with $1.9 billion for nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico and $10.7 million for a federal milk program.
But no, it's not the fault of command-and-control bureaucrats and their overseers on Capitol Hill that the War on Poverty and the War on Hunger have failed.
In Sanders' bubble, childhood hunger is the fault of selfish consumers, self-serving entrepreneurs and rapacious retailers who engage in voluntary transactions in a free-market economy. Just as Sanders believes there are "too many" products on the shelves, President Obama recently opined that families of America's top earners in the financial industry "pretty much have more than you'll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use."
We need not speculate about whether the wealth-shamers' recipe of less capitalist consumption, fewer private businesses, stifling of entrepreneurship and more government control over goods and services would result in happier citizens and fuller stomachs. In Venezuela, the shelves are unburdened by "too many" deodorants and shoes and too much soap, milk or coffee. Food distribution is under military control. The currency of the socialist paradise just collapsed on the black market by 30 percent.
Here in America, dozens of private household goods companies make billions of dollars selling scented, unscented, quilted, two-ply, white and colored toilet paper that people want and need. In Sanders' utopia in South America, the government imposed price controls in the name of redistributing basic goods to the poor and seized a toilet paper factory to cure the inevitable shortages. The lines are long. The shelves are empty. The daily battle for subsistence is brutal.
Take it from those who suffer most under the unbridled fulfillment of "you didn't build that" and "you don't need that" radicalism: It stinks.
(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
Neither rain nor sleet nor snow — nor even the likelihood that he'd be killed en route — could stop this letter carrier from making his appointed rounds.
Doug Hughes is one gutsy and creative mailman. In April, this rural letter carrier from Florida stunned the Secret Service, eluded federal aviation authorities, embarrassed Washington's haughty all-seeing security hierarchy and threw members of Congress into a chaotic panic. Hughes did all this by boldly flying his tiny, homemade, gyrocopter right through the heart of our nation's most restricted airspace, then landing it on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Far from a terrorist or a kook, Hughes was just a mailman on a mission, a patriotic citizen who — like most of us — is disgusted that Big Money interests are able to openly buy lawmakers and laws. But he did more than write a letter to his congress critter — he wrote letters to all 535 of them, loaded the missives in his mailbag and — as postal workers do — literally went the extra mile to make a "very special delivery" in his gyrocopter.
This was no flight of fancy. Doug planned his mail delivery for months, and he was fully aware that he might crash, be killed by a scramble of military jets or be gunned down by guards when he landed. Nor was it a sneak attack — he repeatedly posted his intentions in blogs; a reporter was covering his preparations; and the Secret Service had investigated and interviewed him about his plans more than a year earlier.
His landing jolted the Capitol into lockdown. Guards rushed out to arrest Doug and haul him off to some deep cellblock; a bomb squad arrived; and spooked lawmakers were scared silly. They ran around screeching that they were threatened by terrorists. Of course, the real threat to America is not some guy flying a gyrocopter in protest but the utter corruption of Congress, the courts and democracy itself by the plutocratic elites whom this mailman targeted with nothing more (nor less) dangerous than a bagful of truth-telling letters.
Actually, Hughes was not alone on this heroic mission of civil disobedience — the great majority of Americans are totally on board with him, his message and his bold effort to shake up and shape up Congress.
It's not surprising that when the activist mailman delivered his powerful message to Congress he drew saturation coverage from the mass media.
Not coverage of his message, mind you, but a ridiculous spasm of media scaremongering over the non-existent terrorist threat that our self-absorbed members of Congress say his visit posed to them.
While Hughes carried no weapons of terrorism on his flight, the message he brought to Washington is politically explosive. So, congressional leaders, who're always terrified about anything that might ignite public outrage over their pay-to-play corruption, quickly rushed to divert attention from the message — to the messenger.
Shazam! In an instant, the politicos fabricated a sob story about themselves, recasting their role from for-sale villains to pitiable victims. We're threatened by a security network so porous, they squealed, that this dangerous terrorist can easily fly right up to the Capitol building. They convened emergency hearings, went on talk shows and imperiously demanded that they be made safe from such a horrific threat. And the media meekly bought into the whole hubbub, entirely losing sight of the damning message that the mailman was carrying.
Hughes did not commit and act of terror; it was an act of civil disobedience. His flight was a thoughtful, well-planned, non-violent stand against the tyranny of money, undertaken in the spirit of Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hughes is standing up for We the People, and like freedom fighters before him, he's full-aware of and prepared to pay the price of civic defiance. On May 20, a federal grand jury indicted this messenger of democracy on a mess of charges that could add up to more than nine years in prison. Far from backing away, however, he's now calling out you and me: "We spend billions protecting the United States from terrorists," Hughes recently wrote. "It's time for Americans to spend time protecting democracy from plutocrats."
One time when Thoreau was in jail for his defiance of authority, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson happened by and asked: "Henry, why are you here?" Thoreau retorted: "Why are you not here?" To help save our democracy from plutocracy, go to www.DemocracyIsForPeople.org.
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
"This is a Christian nation," said the Supreme Court in 1892.
"America was born a Christian nation," echoed Woodrow Wilson. Harry Truman affirmed it: "This is a Christian nation."
But in 2009, Barack Hussein Obama begged to differ: "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation."
Comes now a Pew Research Center survey that reveals the United States is de-Christianizing at an accelerated rate.
Whereas 86 percent of Americans in 1990 identified as Christians, by 2007, that was down to 78 percent. Today only 7 in 10 say they are Christians. But the percentage of those describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or nonbelievers has risen to 23. That exceeds the Catholic population and is only slightly below evangelicals.
Those in the mainline Protestant churches — Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians — have plummeted from 50 percent of the U.S. population in 1958 to 14 percent today. By accommodating the social revolution of the 1960s to stay relevant, mainline churches appear to have made themselves irrelevant to America's young.
The decline in Christian identity is greatest among the young. While 85 percent of Americans born before 1945 still call themselves Christians, only 57 percent of those born after 1980 do.
If we want to see our future, we should probably look to Europe, where Catholic Ireland just voted in a landslide to legalize same-sex marriage and where cathedrals and churches are being turned into tourist attractions and museums and even bars and restaurants.
What are the causes of a de-Christianized America?
High among them is the Supreme Court, which, since the Earl Warren era began, purged Christianity from all public schools and the public square — and has been met with a puzzling lack of resistance from Middle America to the secularist revolution being imposed upon it.
Second, an anti-Christian elite captured the cultural heights — the arts, elite universities, popular culture, the media — and began, through movies, books and magazines, an assault on Christian beliefs and morality.
Third was the social revolution of the 1960s, which began with the arrival of the baby boomers on campus in 1964. Five years on, Woodstock Nation was wallowing in the mud, listening to Country Joe & the Fish.
The counterculture of the '60s would be used as a foil to build 49-state landslides for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, but then the '60s views and values were embraced by the elites and came to dominate the culture in the time of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Given his baggage, "Slick Willy" of Yoknapatawpha County would have been a comic figure in the 1950s. Today he is the Democratic Party's beau ideal of a statesman.
Many churches came out to meet the cultural revolution halfway. The results were irrelevance and scandal — too many Elmer Gantrys in televangelist pulpits and too many predators in priestly cassocks.
What are the consequences of a de-Christianized America and West? Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. (If you would seek its monuments, look around you.)
Half of marriages end in divorce. Fewer children are being born, and of these, over 40 percent are out of wedlock. Record drug use rates and dropout rates and soaring crime rates that have declined only because we have an incarceration rate that rivals South Africa's.
Despite astonishing advances in medicine, we have far more and far more varied and deadly STDs.
As Christianity dies, individualism, materialism and hedonism replace it. "Selfies" could be the name for the generation for whom Easter Sunday long ago took a back seat to Super Bowl Sunday. More than a million abortions a year, assisted suicide and euthanasia are seen as the milestones of social progress in the new America.
"Panem et circenses," bread and circuses, were what the late Roman Empire was all about. With us, it is sex, drugs and rock, with variations on all three.
Historically, as the faith dies, the culture and civilization to which it gave birth die, and then the people die. And a new tribe with its own gods comes to occupy the emptying land.
On the old and new continents, it is the native-born of European ancestry who are de-Christianizing, aging and dying. And the nations they created are the ones depopulating.
To occupy Rome, the barbarians came from the east and north. To occupy the West, they are coming from the south. And like the Romans of the fourth century, we seem paralyzed and powerless to stop them.
Christianity was the founding faith of the West. That faith and the moral code and culture it produced once united this disparate and diverse nation and civilization.
As Christianity fades away and the moral code and culture it generated recede into irrelevance, what will hold us together?
Economically, we are dependent on foreigners for the necessities of our national life. Our politics are poisonous. Our racial divisions, once ameliorated by shared belief in the same God and Bible, are rawer than they were in the 1950s.
As for equality, diversity and global democracy, who will march and die for that?
Historian Arnold Toynbee said it well: "Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder."
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 07:50
An outbreak of bird flu has forced American farmers to kill millions of egg-laying chickens, 32 million in Iowa alone — hence the rise in egg prices.
But why so many? Because our eggs are now produced by a handful of gigantic farms. When one of their birds gets sick, the farmers have to kill them all.
This concentration of egg production wasn't always the case. In the 1970s, there were about 10,000 commercial egg companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. Today there are fewer than 200.
Bird flu aside, depending on a few farms, mainly in the Midwest, for most of our eggs doesn't make much sense. Eggs can be laid anywhere in the country. That includes backyards in Denver, New York and Des Moines.
So many urbanites have taken up chicken husbandry that cities are setting down strict rules for the activity. Poultry farming in dense neighborhoods is problematic. More on that later.
But every city has farms nearby that could supply eggs. The reason a few industrial farms dominate the business is that bigger is cheaper.
"Our customer base is demanding the lowest cost possible, and that causes us to put 6 million chickens on one farm," an executive at Rose Acre Farms told the Journal.
Some consumers care greatly about where their eggs, as well as apples, come from. The more local the better.
But fast-food chains and warehouse stores gravitate to the lowest prices. The restaurants don't necessarily buy eggs as most of us know them. McDonald's uses eggs in liquid form for many of its dishes (though the Egg McMuffin, the McDonald's website clearly states, is made with "a freshly cracked, Grade A egg").
Interesting that the concept of "food miles" — the distance American produce travels before reaching the table — was pioneered at Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Researchers there found that California onions sold in Des Moines typically journey over 1,700 miles. Produce trucked from outside the state uses between four and 17 times more fuel than that grown locally.
And Iowa hardly lacks for farmland.
As drought strikes California's agricultural kingdom, concerns are rising about its ability to "feed the nation." Meanwhile, more Americans are wondering why all their carrots must come from there. The water crisis enhances their arguments for local agriculture.
About backyard chicken farming: This is not a job for squeamish city people. Chickens smell, and their coops must be cleaned. Hens reach a point when they can no longer lay eggs. Are urban farmers emotionally equipped to turn a "pet" into Sunday dinner — or to provide retirement facilities for a hen past her prime?
Also, sooner or later, something gruesome is going to happen to one of the chickens. A dog may get at it. Or the chicken comes down ill.
Neighbors may object to the clucking and the odors. They have a point.
The desire to connect more closely with our food sources is a good one. But the idea of raising chickens in small backyards is more romantic than the reality.
In densely packed areas, growing silent lettuce, tomatoes and string beans may be more neighborly than raising living, squawking farm animals. Better to patronize your local egg producer. That would bring both fresher eggs and help boost your local farmer.
Meanwhile, there's no point in stressing over buying food products from elsewhere in the country, especially those needing special climates (avocados) or wide-open spaces (beef). Without our food distribution system, produce sections up north would be pretty dull in February.
Moderation in all obsessions is the way to go.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)
Last Updated on Monday, 25 May 2015 05:27