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Tags: Rush Limbaugh

Kurtz: Enough Whining, President Obama



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Howard Kurtz notices that no matter how much President Obama and his allies and friends win elections, pass legislation, or win news cycles, they always complain about the power of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News:

Now it’s true that Fox or Rush can boost or batter any lawmaker, and that they can help drive a controversy into the broader mainstream media. But we’re talking here about the president of the United States. He has an army, a navy and a bunch of nuclear weapons, not to mention an ability to command the airwaves at a moment’s notice. And he’s complaining about a cable channel and a radio talk show host?

Gee, it’s almost as if the complaints about Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, etc. are not really based on how much power these media entities have, and instead driven by an outrage that they dissent from the narrative of other media, that Obama, Al Gore, and the rest of the progressives are right and virtuous and wonderful and the greatest in every way…

Tags: Barack Obama , Fox News , Howard Kurtz , Rush Limbaugh

The GOP’s Mandate Temptation



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Why have so many conservatives and Republicans endorsed, or praised, an individual mandate for health care in the past? Today Rush Limbaugh hit upon it:

RUSH: Now this mandate business. This has gotten out of hand, too, ‘cause it’s out there now that Newt supported the individual mandate as recently as 2009. It’s being reported that Newt supported Obamacare, the individual mandate and Obamacare in 2009. Some people are saying, “Well, he couldn’t have done that because Obamacare didn’t exist in 2009. It hadn’t been written yet.” That’s a bit of a stretch. The fact of the matter is that the Heritage Foundation at first (and Newt and Romney) are all on record, at some point in their careers, as supporting the individual mandate which is what the lawsuit against Obamacare is about. But of the three, only Romney has actually enacted it into law, supported it to the point that he’s put it into law.

Now, I know why. I know exactly — and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why one of these guys hasn’t tried this as an explanation. I know exactly why Heritage supported it. (I’m guessing, but I know. Don’t doubt me.) I know why Heritage, I know why Newt and any other Washington, DC-ite saw that individual mandate and glommed onto it. You want to know why? It’s very simple. They are conservatives, and the first thing they saw in an individual mandate for people to get their own insurance is individual responsibility, and what do we as conservatives believe? We believe in individual responsibility; we believe in self reliance.

So if somebody proposed, “Hey, you know what? We got too many free riders. Everybody ought to have their own health insurance.” So conceptually it sounded good. It sounded conservative. So you could say, “I support that because that makes me conservative.” Only later when it’s too late, you figure out it’s nothing about individual responsibility. It’s a violation of the Constitution, because the thing comes about by virtue of the government demanding that you buy it or you go to jail or pay a fine. Now, why somebody hasn’t said, “You know what? I goofed up.” Well, the Heritage Foundation has.

They have distanced themselves from their original support of the health care mandate a long time ago. I don’t know why one of these guys hasn’t said this.

Back on January 11, in a chat with the Guardian, I said:

Why do you think the GOP candidates haven’t used “Romneycare” as the cudgel to beat Romney? It seems that would be a better line of attack than Bain, but in all of the debates no one has strongly and effectively used this line of attack.

Jim Geraghty replies:

That is a great question.

One minor complication is that Gingrich, and a bunch of Republicans have at one point or another in the past decades expressed something supportive, or at least not hostile, to the concept of the individual mandate. There is something of a conservative argument that the individual mandate is fostering individual responsibility – ie, while we want to have a merciful and generous society, it’s not fair to take no steps to protect your own health and expect everyone else in society to foot the bill when you suddenly require expensive treatment. To provide free healthcare for those who refuse to purchase insurance amounts to a form of welfare.

But once the concept of the individual mandate was enacted, conservatives (and more than a few independents) saw it through the lens of expanding government power. If the federal government has the power and authority to make you buy health insurance from a private company, what don’t they have the power to do? Who works for whom in this circumstance?

Romney’s defense on the individual mandate is that he opposes the one in Obamacare as unconstitutional (a question the Supreme Court will take up later this year) but that the one enacted by the state government of Massachusetts does not violate the state constitution. Legally, he may be perfectly right, but it makes for an awful rallying cry for conservatives: “Let’s get rid of that terrible FEDERAL-LEVEL individual mandate . . . so that each state can enact it’s own STATE-LEVEL individual mandate!”

The gripe about the Obamacare mandate isn’t that the federal government is making people buy health insurance . . . it’s that anybody is making people buy health insurance.

The U.S. has a broad, general tradition that if someone needs emergency life-saving care, they’re given it, regardless of their ability to pay. Thus, many Americans receive often expensive care regardless of their ability to pay and “others” make up the difference — thus the “free rider” problem.

But as Phil Klein notes, the math on Romneycare isn’t working:

In fact, Massachusetts collects a small amount in penalties from the individual mandate, and what little money is raised pales in comparison to how much free care (typically called “uncompensated care”) is still being provided by hospitals and how much money the state is spending on health care subsidies under Romneycare.

In fiscal year 2010, according to the Massachusetts Division of Finance, the state government collected just $17.8 million in fines from people not complying with the mandate. But uncompensated care was a stubborn $475 million, according to the state’s Division of Health Care Finance and Policy. (The state could only pay $405 million, with shortfall cost falling on hospitals.)

Under Obamacare, by 2016, those without health insurance will have to pay $695 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

The “free rider” problem is a genuine problem. But giving government the authority to require citizens to purchase anything* is a greater one.

* Mandate defenders inevitably bring up the requirement to purchase car insurance, but that is requiring a purchase for a privilege (owning a car) not a right. The state requires quite a few things from citizens to drive a car — passing the driving test, corrective lenses if needed, carrying the license while driving, etc. None of those are required for the exercise of a right.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rush Limbaugh

Is Santorum’s Vision . . . a Conservatism of 2000?



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In the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt, Rick Perry shares his thoughts on the Iowa caucus process, the mistakes of Bachmann are reviewed (with a thought on a possible future path for her), and then this big question for the week ahead:

Rick Santorum, Big Government Conservative?

A big portion of the debate in the coming week will focus on whether Rick Santorum’s vision of government can properly be classified as a rerun of George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” or in some people’s eyes, “Big Government conservatism.”

For the prosecution, David Harsanyi at the Blaze:

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently celebrated his working-class appeal, newfound viability and economic populism, noting that the former Pennsylvania senator’s book “It Takes a Family“ was a ”broadside against Barry Goldwater-style conservatism” — or, in other words, a rejection of that Neanderthal fealty for liberty and free markets that has yet to be put down. Santorum’s book is crammed with an array of ideas for technocratic meddling; even the author acknowledges that some people “will reject” what he has to say “as a kind of ‘Big Government’ conservatism.”

Santorum grumbles about too many conservatives believing in unbridled “personal autonomy” and subscribing to the “idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do . . . that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom (and) we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues.”

Perhaps Santorum confuses libertinism with libertarianism, but for him “cultural issues” go way beyond defending the life of the unborn or opposing gay marriage. Santorum believes that conservatives should recognize “that individuals can’t go it alone,” which sounds a lot like the straw-man justification for nearly every state expansion in memory.

For the defense, Rush Limbaugh:

Conservatives do want an activist government defending what’s right and attacking what’s wrong. Big government may not be the term, but, for example: Conservatives do think that it’s the role of government to protect the sanctity of life, as does Rick Santorum. If government doesn’t, who else will? And it stems from our founding documents: Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Independence.

Clearly the government has a role here in defending life. If they don’t, who will? Also, the government should be used effectively to fight crime. Conservatives are all for, for example, the government fighting illegal immigration. Now, is that big government or is that responsible government? Big government is being misused here when applied to Santorum. Big government as it’s used today means welfare state, and Santorum does not believe in a welfare state. So the left is playing a rhetorical game here, folks, and I want to alert you to this. “Big government” has a specific meaning today, and it means welfare state. It means redistribution. It means high taxes. It means command-and-control of the economy. And that’s not what Santorum believes. So the left knows that “big government” is a negative. It is a harmful term to attach to somebody, and that’s why they’re trying to attach it to Santorum. But Rick Santorum does not believe in the big government of Barack Obama. It’s totally different thing for him.

This will be a big, and worthwhile discussion in the coming week, perhaps lost in the avalanche of attack ads. Almost every Republican endorses “limited government” in the abstract. But what does that mean?

ADDENDA: Over in Politico, Bill Schneider offers this cheery thought: “This year’s presidential campaign will be a war of total annihilation.”

Tags: George W. Bush , Rick Santorum , Rush Limbaugh

Mitt, Newt, the Ricks, Michele, Ron, Jon . . . and Jeb?



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The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features the latest futile round of “Hillary 2012″ buzz, a discussion of an anti–Occupy Wall Street theme in the trailer for the upcoming Batman movie, and this latest unexpected turn in the GOP presidential race:

Mitt, Newt, the Ricks, Michele, Ron, Jon . . . and Jeb?

Let me get my scorecard . . . if you want to see, say, Jeb Bush jump into the presidential race, you’re one of those inside-the-Beltway, RINO, squish moderates who’s out of touch, right? You want to restore a dynasty, right? You’re resisting all of the evidence that all of the old rules are thrown out, and you’re stuck in this old-fashioned mentality that a successful two-term governor of a large and diverse state would be a good Republican nominee, right?

Because . . . Rush Limbaugh seems pretty enthusiastic:

He may be the best Bush of all, people said, but, “Oh, it’s just unfortunate, the timing, this country will not put up with another Bush, not now,” and look what we have here, Jeb Bush writes a piece in the Wall Street Journal which, folks, I have to tell you, I could have written. I have said as much. I say it repeatedly on this program and on my Rush to Excellence appearances. Extolling the virtues of freedom, economic freedom, capitalism, people pursuing excellence, being the best they can be.

We have too many laws, too many regulations, everybody trying to control the outcome of everybody else. There’s no suffering and no pain and no risk-taking. That’s bad, that’s not good, it’s not how this country was built. Jeb Bush is saying exactly what I’ve said over and over again and now we got some guy, Steve Moore from the Wall Street Journal, who is suggesting Bush could win on a write-in ballot. . . . So see how fluid things are? See how the unexpected can all of a sudden come to life instantly? Ha. He-he-he-he. Palin’s only five letters. That would very easy to write in. Bush, B-u-s-h, four letters, Palin, P-a-l-i-n, five letters.

That’s in response to this Wall Street Journal piece by Jeb Bush:

We either can go down the road we are on, a road where the individual is allowed to succeed only so much before being punished with ruinous taxation, where commerce ignores government action at its own peril, and where the state decides how a massive share of the economy’s resources should be spent.

Or we can return to the road we once knew and which has served us well: a road where individuals acting freely and with little restraint are able to pursue fortune and prosperity as they see fit, a road where the government’s role is not to shape the marketplace but to help prepare its citizens to prosper from it.

In short, we must choose between the straight line promised by the statists and the jagged line of economic freedom. The straight line of gradual and controlled growth is what the statists promise but can never deliver. The jagged line offers no guarantees but has a powerful record of delivering the most prosperity and the most opportunity to the most people. We cannot possibly know in advance what freedom promises for 312 million individuals. But unless we are willing to explore the jagged line of freedom, we will be stuck with the straight line. And the straight line, it turns out, is a flat line.

Now, I’m among those who thought it was too late for anybody to jump in, but . . . boy, what made Jeb Bush decide to write an op-ed like that for the Journal? He has to know that lots of people will interpret that as a trial balloon for a presidential bid . . .

Wall Street Journal editorial-board member Steve Moore, on Fox News Channel Monday morning, certainly did his part to fan the flames a bit:

Jeb Bush is one of the kind of people who is so well-known around the country, Martha, that if he were to get into this race, he could win as a write-in candidate. It’s only four letters, right — B.U.S.H. So I think it’s an important piece. I don’t think he’s likely to get into the race, but there are a lot of people talking about it.

And Mediaite relays the latest bit of teasing from that other well-known GOP figure:

“Any chance we can see you making a play, even after Iowa or New Hampshire?” Bolling asked. “There’s still plenty of time, Governor.”

“You know, it’s not too late for folks to jump in,” Sarah Palin replied. “And I don’t know, you know, it — who knows what will happen in the future?”

Palin-Christie 2012: Because not even the declaration that they’re not running stopped the speculation that they might be running.

Tags: 2012 , Jeb Bush , Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh Wants Total Control Over Virginia!



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The latest mailer from the Democratic party of Virginia here in Yuppie Acres, Alexandria, tells me that if I don’t vote, my state may sudden be under “total control” of Rick Perry, Ken Cuccinelli, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin. If only, guys, if only. Notice the nonsensical combination: a governor of another state running as a presidential candidate, the current state attorney general, a radio talk-show host, and a former governor of another state who has announced she’s not running for president. Only one of them even lives in the commonwealth, and he’s already in a powerful state office, so it’s not quite clear why he would be joining the Perry-Limbaugh-Palin insurrection against Bob McDonnell, a governor whom he agrees with much of the time.

Oh, what’s that? I shouldn’t look for logic or coherence in Democratic-party mailings? Yeah, I guess you’re right.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Rick Perry , Rush Limbaugh , Sarah Palin , Virginia

The Hero vs. Hero Battle You Haven’t Been Waiting For, True Believers!



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Perhaps when you write a Morning Jolt late enough, and a weekend is looming, the mind begins to see strange comparisons…

The Conservative Civil War Multi-Issue Crossover Event!

I think a lot of the discussion among conservatives Thursday can be summarized in one Twitter exchange:

Guy Benson: It would be awesome if people on our side would stop angrily questioning each other’s motives.

John Tabin: WHO’S PAYING YOU TO SAY THAT?

(John’s kidding.)

This isn’t the Civil War of Conservatism in the context of the Union vs. the Confederacy. No, that conflict looks simple and clear in its divisions: North vs. South, slave-holding and non-slave-holding, secessionist vs. unionist, etc.

No, this is messy, with lots of longtime allies and friends surprised to find themselves in opposition. This is the conservative version of the Marvel Civil War, a comic book storyline in which all of the publisher’s most prominent heroes took sides on the institution of a “Super Hero Registration Act,” in which any person in the United States with superhuman abilities register with the federal government as a “human weapon of mass destruction,” reveal their true identity to the authorities, and undergo proper training. Those who sign also have the option of working for a government agency, earning a salary and benefits such as those earned by other American civil servants. 

(Perhaps young powered Americans have been listening to Derb’s “get a government job” lectures!)

Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four supported the act; Captain America and Daredevil opposed, and the storyline tossed away the familiar story of heroes fighting villains to the surprising, unpredictable, and incongruous sight of popular, noble heroes fighting other popular, noble heroes, each convinced that their view is the right one and the best way to protect their values.

Not as outlandish a metaphor as it seemed two paragraphs ago, huh?

Now we have Rush Limbaugh vs. Thomas Sowell!…

…In the next issue, we have Sean Hannity vs. Ann Coulter! Mediaite gives a rundown: “It’s a rare episode of Hannity that includes a segment where the show’s host exclaims “you are dead wrong!” indignantly at Ann Coulter. This is one of those gems. Sean Hannity could not understand the argument that Republicans were in jeopardy should Cut, Cap, and Balance pass the House but not the Senate, and Coulter attempted to explain that the spin would be unfavorable to them… This came after an extensive talk on the perception of the debt debate from the average American’s perspective who wasn’t following the whole debate. “Republicans will be blamed,” she argued, even though they were playing “a game of chicken with the Democrats offering nothing.” As “Cut, Cap and Balance” is expected to fail, Coulter argued, “that will fit into the counterfactual narrative of Tea Partiers refusing to compromise.” Hannity didn’t buy this line of thinking at all. “Why don’t they pass Cut, Cap and Balance, cross their hands, and say ‘your move’?” Coulter replied that the problem was that the casual observer would know only that a Republican bill failed– “some stories are big enough,” she argued, using as an example that she had no power over the fact that she was aware of the existence of Snooki. Should Cut, Cap, and Balance fail in the House, too– especially if the Tea Party representatives are the deciding vote, she concluded, “the narrative is going to be ‘These crazy Tea Party Republicans shut down the government.”

But wait, this special double-issue of Hannity features an explosive showdown of Pat Caddell vs. Hugh Hewitt! The Right Scoop has the video, summarizing, “Okay, it wasn’t like a pop in the jaw, but in a contentious debate Caddell gets so frustrated at Hewitt interrupting him that in the heat of the moment he strikes him on the arm which kinda surprised Hugh.”

To be continued in the next spine-tingling issue!

Tags: Conservatism , Debt Ceiling , Republicans , Rush Limbaugh

When Trump Met Rush



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It was not until I read Rush’s interview with Donald Trump that I realized that this isn’t just a giant publicity stunt to sell a new line of ties:

RUSH: Why are you thinking about running for president? I’ve talked to you over the years. I’ve listened to you on various places in the media for years. You sound different this time. You sound really ticked off. China, the economic direction of the country, you sound like it’s really bothering you now more than just something to say.

TRUMP: Well, you’re right about that, Rush. I’ve seen what’s happened to this country. We’re no longer respected. You have places like China, and I know the Chinese, I do business with the Chinese. I’ve made a lot of money off the Chinese, believe me. I had a partnership with Chinese people. It wasn’t fun, and I made a lot of money. I came out very, very strong.

RUSH: So why are you ripping ‘em now?

TRUMP: Because I watch them and I see what they’re doing to the country, and I understand China, and I understand the Chinese mind. I understand where they’re coming from. They are not our friend and when I sit down — I sold an apartment recently for $33 million from a very nice couple from China. Thirty-three million dollars for the apartment, I’m very happy about it, but I sit down with people and I talk to ‘em, from China, and really much more so prior to when I thought I may be running for president, because they’re not stupid people. They’re very smart people. They told me very, very distinctly that they cannot believe how stupid our representatives are in the United States. They cannot believe that they can continue to take all our jobs — you know, through the manipulation of the currency, of their currency, they make it almost impossible for our great companies to compete and —

It’s a long interview, but I can imagine this being an applause line on the stump; American audiences are usually receptive to the idea that the rest of the world has been free riders on the backs of our military spending . . .

TRUMP: Rush, we’re not only talking about this one country. You look at South Korea, what they did. We signed a trade pact that nobody in their right mind would have signed. And it was so bad, and yet they didn’t want to sign it. Now, two months ago when bombs started getting lobbed over by North Korea and we send this incredible aircraft carrier, the George Washington and 17 destroyers heading right to North Korea, all of a sudden they sign and they announce that they are friends of our country. It’s a lot of crap. They make billions of dollars of, let’s call it profit, off the United States, Rush, billions of dollars. Why aren’t they paying for protection? We protect South Korea, and I know the Koreans very well. I had a partnership with the Koreans that was a fantastic partnership. I built Trump World Tower with Daewoo, which was a Korean company, and I did very well and they did very well. So I understand the people. And, by the way, I don’t dislike the Chinese people, I don’t dislike the Korean people, because if I were them I’d be doing the same thing. If our leaders are so stupid that they allow what’s happening — we can’t have jobs created, Rush, in this country if China is making all of our products.

Although I shouldn’t be surprised, Trump did get a key fact wrong:

TRUMP: Yeah, and we’ll be up there pretty soon because there’s nobody to call OPEC. You know, if it weren’t for us — why do we have troops in Saudi Arabia? We have troops in Saudi Arabia, can you imagine they’re not paying us with the money they’re making. They’re making more money than any country has made in the history of the world, legitimately making that kind of money. They form OPEC, they have 12 men, in this case all men, they sit around the table, any time there’s a minor incident in the world they raise the price of oil because, you know, they figure, well, nobody’s gonna call. When oil goes over $40 a barrel it’s almost impossible for our country to do well.

The U.S. has not had a significant military presence in Saudi Arabia since 2003; our troops exited via Iraq. For several years thereafter, about 500 personnel from the 64th Air Expeditionary Group were stationed at Eskan Village in Saudi Arabia.

Tags: Donald Trump , Rush Limbaugh

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