Evan Sayet was once a bona fide liberal. Starting out in Hollywood as a stand-up comic, he was discovered by David Letterman and went on to write for a variety of television shows and even worked on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect. The liberal comic and writer finally had a change of heart after 9/11 when he saw a side of the liberal mind previously unbeknownst to him, a more sinister and less patriotic part. From that point on, he began a serious quest to find the root of their thoughts. The mind of the liberal has confounded conservatives for several years and with his fresh and unique perspective, Sayet aims to educate us in his first book, KinderGarden Of Eden: How The Modern Liberal Thinks.
Sayet explores the liberal mind, offering explanations for its seemingly incapability to critically think as well as for the dominance of liberals in what he deems the “Rhetoric Industries” of entertainment, journalism, and academia. He wants to find out why liberals are wrong on every issue. He argues that since liberals tend not to actually produce or make anything, in his own words, “it really is true that all you ever really need to know you learned in kindergarten.” Developing this idea, Sayet makes a compelling argument for why liberals never had to foster intellectual discernment.
His book is far from perfect, though. For such an academic undertaking as understanding the psychology of the Left, it comes across as strikingly un-academic. In addition to this, the influence of his experience as a stand-up comedian comes through with the at times excessive use of hyperbole. This results in some jarring turns of phrase. He does not hesitate to call liberals “evil” and “retarded,” alienating some potential fans with his extreme rhetoric. At times, his logic is also lacking or overly simplistic. There are several big jumps he relies on the reader to take that he does not adequately back up, such as suggesting Darwin’s theory played a role in the Holocaust.
These faults present challenges to Sayet’s work. However, he still makes a compelling argument for explaining the differences between liberals and the rest of Americans. Thomas Sowell makes a similar argument in his work, Intellectuals and Society. Where Sowell used studies and decades of research to back up his points supporting his thesis, Sayet looks more at the anecdotal to justify his conjectures, choosing instead to rely on popular songs in liberal culture as evidence of their mentality. Of course, Sayet has a different goal. Sowell aimed to explain the influence of liberal academia and thinking on society but Sayet hopes to explain the source of that liberal thinking. The advantage to his more culturally oriented approach is an explanation of what creates a liberal, including their society, culture, and way of thinking.
Overall, Sayet’s first foray into book writing offers a different perspective as to why liberals behave the way they do and reading it provides insights into the liberal mind previously unconsidered or overlooked.
There are a few irrefutable laws of basic economics that are understood by practically everyone. When the price of a good rises, people will buy less of it. This is common knowledge to anyone who has bought anything ever. There is also the law of unintended consequences which states that actions, laws, and policies often have secondary effects that differ from the original actions intentions. We have seen this inevitably played out in most laws passed by Congress. Both of these ideas have been around for thousands of years and the father of economics, Adam Smith, articulated them himself back in the eighteenth century.
However, an article in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times demonstrates how little of these truths liberals understand. “Study offers new support for taxing soda and other junk foods,” written by Karen Kaplan, expressed surprise that foundational building blocks of economic thought were at play in our world. Kaplan looked at various studies done recently on the effects of taxing junk food on the public’s health to find that taxes on sugary drinks resulted in less sugary drinks being bought.
Kaplan’s article references a study that discovered, “Overall… consumers buy less of something when the price goes up and they buy more of it when the price goes down.” The fact that consumers base decisions on what to buy off of the price of the good is completely foreign to many on the left.
Granted, Kaplan did say this was “not exactly a new idea.” But then she continued to treat other findings as if they were earth shattering realizations rather than concrete facts that have been proven hundreds of years ago.
Discussing the merits of a tax on sugary foods, Kaplan was surprised research found that taxing fatty foods led to consumption of less expensive, but not necessarily healthier, foods. “But there was a twist,” she remarked, astounded that anything could have happened beyond the intended consequence, “the tax would prompt people to switch from fatty dairy foods to foods that were higher in salt, sugar and total calories, undermining the reason for the tax in the first place.”
This article actually explains a lot about the mentality that guides liberal policies. The fact that it seems ridiculous for them to even consider what the unintended consequences of their actions might be shows a lack of foresight present in all discussions of policy.
We see this unwillingness to think ahead present in today’s debates. With negotiations regarding the fiscal cliff, liberals fail to pay attention to, or even consider, the detriments their politically popular plan to “tax the rich” might have on the economy. They have no problem heading over the fiscal cliff, demonstrating their lack of concern for consequences and inability to see beyond immediate results of their actions.
At least Kaplan, unlike Washington Democrats, learned something about what needs to be done to achieve her goal. After discovering economics, Kaplan found that to influence consumer’s diets to be healthier, you need to “make vegetables cheaper and soda more expensive.”
This was a real statement made by the leader of the free world, the most powerful man on the planet, President Barack Obama:
“da bears still gotta shot”
There are so many things wrong with this. For a president who has actually done some good things in terms of education reform, he’s really struggling to construct a basic sentence. Even with the limitations imposed by Twitter, President Obama still could have spelled out “the.” It would have cost him no characters to properly write “got a” and to capitalize the “p” in “plus.” However, Obama didn’t have to because his point was not to engage in serious ideas with the people. His goal was to dumb down a complex but serious debate in order to rally support for his hyper-partisan agenda.
This exchange was part of Obama’s efforts on Twitter yesterday to explain his fiscal cliff proposal and answer questions from the general population.
Republicans should be concerned.
Setting all of the abuses of the English language aside, Obama’s twitter stunt allowed him to reach out to supporters and detractors alike and spoon feed them canned talking points. By reducing complicated economic arguments to tweets, he cherry picked his facts and there was no one on “the other side” to respond. It allowed him to further the false narrative that he’s doing everything he can to reach across the aisle and Republicans are just not willing to give.
As Guy covered earlier, Republicans are losing this battle at least in part because of a messaging failure. Even though Obama’s communication is barely coherent, at least he’s talking straight to the American people.
Why do we still support the UN?
Despite recent conflict in Gaza, which erupted after Israel decided to no longer tolerate the constant barrage of rocket fire across its border, the UN General Assembly has decided to recognize Palestine as a state. This afternoon, it granted Palestine “non-member observer state” status.
Doing nothing to ease US and Israel’s apprehension regarding the vote, UN Secretary General sent out a mistaken tweet urging a one-state solution:
This slip up highlights the tension surrounding the issue. Pushing statehood through the UN will only exacerbate the problems already present in the region and creates more by allowing Palestine access to the International Criminal Court.
Palestine has been trying to get their foot in the door of the UN for some time now and this marks their biggest win yet. Last year, Palestine applied for full state recognition as well as membership on UNESCO, the UN’s cultural heritage agency. They failed to gain recognition as a full member state, but still were able to gain entry into UNESCO. In this instance, 11 of the 27 member EU voted to allow Palestine to gain entry, France and Spain among them. Britain, along with several other countries, abstained.
Today, slightly more EU countries voted on Palestine’s side. This marks a subtle but significant shift in attitudes towards Palestine. Britain, who was reluctant a year ago, vowed to support Palestine’s increased status as an observer state this year if simple conditions were met. They weren't and Britain abstained, but it still signifies a change of course.
Britain’s change of heart represents a frightening trend towards greater acceptability of Palestinian statehood, despite their continued hatred of Israel and funding of terrorism. British foreign minister William Hague stated that the preconditions for a “yes” vote consisted of a willingness to continue negotiations with Israel and a guarantee not to take legal action against them. Non-binding and with no way of enforcement, these conditions would have meant nothing. The fact that Britain was willing to support Palestine without them taking real steps towards peace in return is cause for concern.
When Palestine became part of UNESCO, the US and Israel cut off funding, crippling the agency as it lost one-fifth of its funding. “The U.N. body had been forced to slash spending, freeze job hires and cut programs… UNESCO will be crippled," said UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said about the cuts. Since the US is the largest funder of the UN in general, taking a stand on this vote with our wallets would force the UN to reevaluate its values and mission. Allowing the antagonistic Palestine statehood threatens stability and any hope for “peace” (however brief or fleeting) in the Middle East.
Recognizing Palestine as a state gives it a legitimacy it has no claims to. The enhanced status granted today allows Palestine access to, according to Reuters, “International Criminal Court and some other international bodies.” Access to The Hague is most alarming. This would allow them to bring charges against Israel in international court, demeaning the standards of the court and making a mockery of the international communities’ stance on human rights.
The US and Israel need to draw a line in the sand and let the international community know that the security of Israel and its right to exist will not be threatened.
Regulations that vow to increase consumer safety are rarely met with resistance. After all, who wants to come out on the side for less safety? However, more often than not, these regulations tend to impede economic growth rather than achieve their intended goal of making the public safer.
Such is the case with the latest job killing regulation set to take effect next summer. The Wall Street Journal reports that new requirements for pilots will make it harder to obtain a license, increasing the required prior flight experience six-fold to 1,500 hours. This effectively raises the cost to become a pilot, shrinking the supply of newcomers to the market at the same time airlines are looking to hire more.
Currently, the occupation is aging and large numbers are set to retire. John Allen, head of flight standards with the Federal Aviation Administration, himself called the retirement figures, “astounding and dramatic" and stated that "we don't have a system to address this issue.” This should be prime time for hiring more pilots, but increasing the cost restricts the pool from which to hire. At the same time as the new requirements for a license kick in, regulations will also increase required daily rest time, further worsening the problem as airlines need more pilots to accommodate the change. The effect on airlines will be higher costs in addition to their already rising costs from higher fuel prices. Consumers will undoubtedly feel the pain in the form of higher prices as the costs get passed down.
What is prompting the new regulations in the name of ‘safety’? Has air travel become less safe lately? Actually, airplanes have never been safer. CNN named last year an “incredibly safe year for air travel,” observing that, “each year, more aircrafts take to the skies, and the chances of something going wrong continue to drop.”
With no real problem prompting this regulation, it’s the latest example of what we have come to expect over the past several years: pointless and expensive mandates that sucker punch businesses at a time when the economy simply can’t absorb the blows.
One thing this election has made crystal clear is that we are becoming a society of dependence, rejecting the traditional American dream and drive for success in favor of collecting disability, welfare, and other government provided benefits. Democrats have been capitalizing on this shift while Republicans take on the impossible task of attempting to explain to the dependents that all of the hand outs are unsustainable and harmful. Unfortunately, like trying to take away candy from a spoiled child through reason, our efforts have been unsuccessful.
To see where the dependence culture leads, Republicans only have to point to the tiny peninsula in the Mediterranean causing the entire world daily headaches, Greece. This has often been pointed at as the consequence of our current lack of financial responsibility and growth of entitlements, but the primary lesson to take away from Greece today is not economic; it’s cultural.
Last night, the Greek parliament passed through necessary austerity measures amid a new wave of violent protests. The latest austerity package does not appear controversial. As the Financial Times summarized, it consisted of cuts in pensions and government salaries, higher taxes on gas and cigarettes, increased health care costs, and an increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67. Outrage and riots from these modest reductions have been completely out of proportion and can only be explained by the deep-seated entitlement mentality:
This is where we are heading in the long term and what Americans voted for Tuesday night: a people so inclined to being handed everything there’s no rationality or measured response when something gets taken away. Luckily, we are not yet Greece and still have time to reverse the course, avert the fiscal cliff, and buck the entitlement culture. It’s not an easy task, but not impossible if Republicans stay encouraged and keep fighting.
Tonight, it’s very possible that for Obama, once again, it all comes down to Iowa. It carries the same potential to make or break him as the first time he ran four years ago. Last night, Obama got emotional as he delivered closing remarks in Des Moines. He reflected on his 2008 campaign with a tone of nostalgia and teared up when talking about his first campaign office, which was located near last night’s rally. Even though Hillary Clinton received criticism and had her leadership abilities questioned when she grew emotional campaigning during her presidential bid, Obama’s moment has come across as sincere and genuine because of his relationship with Iowa.
Iowa has always held a special place in Obama’s heart. It was thanks to the Iowan caucus that he ever received the Democratic nomination and became the official candidate for the party back in 2008. He won the state over McCain by almost ten points that cycle. But the relationship between Obama and Iowa has grown strained. He hopes to replicate his prior success tonight and it will not be easy. The race has turned out to be a much tougher battle than expected.
Although he narrowly leads the state in the latest polls with a slight advantage, a Romney win is well within reach. Internal polling data conducted by Romney pollster Neil Newhouse and obtained by the Daily Mail shows Romney winning the state by two points. Part of the shift away from Obama could be explained by the fact that enthusiasm is far lower this time around. The Hawkeye State feels burned and let down by Obama’s previous, and yet to be fulfilled, idealistic rhetoric of post-partisanship and hope.
Undoubtedly, the battle for Iowa will be close. Even though Obama could still win the White House without it, a loss there would be the hardest for him to face. No matter the outcome of the national race, Obama would be forced to confront reality. There would no longer be a way for him to deny how far he has fallen in just four short years.
When the going gets tough, the Democrats have a last minute line of attack. Bring out Bill Clinton. The popular former president who had the good fortune of leading the nation during one of the largest economic booms this world has ever seen is logging plenty of miles this election cycle, stumping across the country in an attempt to associate Democrats with better times.
Recently, Clinton found himself in North Dakota touting Democratic candidate for US Senate Heidi Heitkamp as a bipartisan, independent voice desperately needed in Washington. Releasing a radio ad, he relayed a story of how Heitkamp, as attorney general, successfully sued the Clinton administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service. Monday night, he held a rally with Heitkamp in Fargo, ND where he praised her ability to break from the party calling her a, “common-sense bipartisan.” It’s not a good day for a candidate when the only way they can appeal to voters is by distancing themselves from the party that will be listed right next to their name on the ballot.
Heitkamp knows most of her positions are unpopular among North Dakotan voters so she has instead emphasized her personality. Clinton talked about how he’s “known Heidi for years” and described her as nice and someone “who knows how to get along with people, who knows how to listen to them.” Although basic people skills are necessary requirements for holding political office, when that’s your main argument for getting elected, there might be a problem.
Rick Berg, Heitkamp’s Republican opponent, has given Democrats plenty of reason to scramble. He leads Heitkamp handedly in the latest polls from this month, up an average of 5.7 points. An open US Senate seat in a heavily Republican state that favors Romney over Obama by a margin of almost 18 points will not be easy to swing Democratic. It’s no wonder Clinton had to make an appearance. He might be Democrat’s last hope in saving their majority in the Senate.
This election is about big things--like the education of our children, the value of our homes, the take home pay from our jobs, the price of the gasoline we buy, and the choices we have in our healthcare. It is also about the big things that determine these things--like the growth of the economy, the strength of our military, our dependence on foreign oil, and America's leadership in the world.
After emphasizing the historical importance of this election in terms of determining the trajectory of the nation, Romney outlined his five point plan for turning the economy around in detail before proceeding to other issues he promises to tackle: Medicare, Social Security, real health care reform, and Washington gridlock.
With voting already underway in this state, Romney’s speech was a pivotal moment in the contest for Iowa’s six electoral college votes. He drove his message home, detailing exactly how Obama’s failures have directly impacted individuals and how the President has no one to blame for this economy except himself:
Many families can’t get mortgages and many entrepreneurs can’t get loans because of Dodd-Frank regulations that make it harder for banks to lend.
The president invested taxpayer money--your money--in green companies, now failed, that met his fancy, and sometimes were owned by his largest campaign contributors. He spent billions of taxpayer dollars on investments like Solyndra, Tesla, Fisker, and Ener1, which only added to our mounting federal debt.
Energy prices are up in part because energy production on federal lands is down. He rejected the Keystone Pipeline from Canada, and cut in half drilling permits and leases, even as gasoline prices soared to new highs.
No, the problem with the Obama economy is not what he inherited; it is with the misguided policies that slowed the recovery, and caused millions of Americans to endure lengthy unemployment and poverty. That is why 15 million more of our fellow citizens are on food stamps than when President Obama was sworn into office. That is why 3 million more women are now living in poverty. That is why nearly 1 in 6 Americans today is poor. That is why the economy is stagnant.
This especially personal messaging should appeal to the still undecided few in Iowa who might determine the next leader of the free world.
Neither candidate will take the state for granted. The push for Iowa was unexpected by the Obama campaign because, as the LA Times reported, they had long felt Iowa was “theirs for the taking.” Although Iowans launched Obama’s bid for the White House, buyer’s remorse is sinking in. With each day, the average drops for Obama and the gap between the two shrinks. Romney’s latest speech could give him the surge he needs to close the gap and takeover Obama’s position.
As the election approaches and the race for control of the Senate reaches its final leg, Republican Rick Berg takes the lead in North Dakota. Two polls out this past week both show Berg with a substantial lead. The first poll, conducted by Fargo Communications, a North Dakotan media conglomerate, gives Berg a ten point advantage over his Democratic opponent Heidi Heitkamp. Rasmussen came out with a second poll this morning showing only a slightly less impressive lead, still giving Berg the clear advantage with a five point difference.
Even though North Dakota leans Republican in every race, this one was close just a few weeks ago. Heitkamp was seen more favorably and the polls showed a tie.
Timing could explain the sudden change. Romney and Obama devoted a great deal of attention to coal and energy production issues during their debates. Romney had the clear upper-hand on this issue for voters whose economy is based on coal and natural gas. His love for coal plays well in a state where 91% of electricity comes from coal-fired plants. He could not have been clearer about his devotion to energy production than in the second debate when he said, "I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas." He promised to encourage growth and make it easier for development in states like North Dakota, a sharp contrast from the President’s view of increasing regulations on these industries and devoting more resources to failing ‘green’ energy production.
After hearing this, voters could have been swayed more to not split the ticket as wariness of Heitkamp’s party’s positions took over. Although Heitkamp has said she personally supports more drilling and bringing the Keystone Pipeline in, her ideological connection to President Obama cannot be severed and will not be ignored by the electorate.