A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

The Legislature’s First Job Is Not to Legislate

By 12.13.13

Defenders of Sen. Harry Reid’s triggering of the “nuclear option,” ending the filibuster for all Executive Branch nominees save those to the Supreme Court, call it a triumph for democracy. Hogwash.

Democratic governance isn’t about a majority doing whatever it wants, much less when that involves advancing a president’s agenda. Congress, in effect, has abandoned its purpose within our system of separation of powers, and needs to turn back.

As every child in America learns in civics class, Congress, as the legislature of the United States, has as its primary job to pass laws. But its responsibilities don’t end there. Congress’s functional role is to legislate, but it has an equally important structural role within our system of government: to check the powers of the other branches, especially the Executive. Unfortunately, Congress has abdicated its checking role, leading to the overly mighty Executive of today.

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A Further Perspective

GOP About to Snatch Defeat From Jaws of Victory?

By 12.9.13

It is an old story. The Republicans could, once again, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

On one of my infrequent visits to the Hill last week, I heard a lot of chatter about offsets and other ways to get around the sequester caps, especially on defense spending, on the part of some of the House GOP leadership. The appropriators, whose stock in trade is spending other people’s money, are chafing under the sequester, maybe the single biggest victory for House Republicans since President Obama moved into the White House. This is unfortunate in that the current reduction in the deficit, stemming largely from the automatic sequester, is the largest and fastest since the post-World War II period.

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A Further Perspective

The ‘Benefits’ of Greater Dependency

By 12.3.13

The Wall Street Journal carried a report this past weekend on the continuing partisan confrontation over a new farm bill. Democrats are already accusing Republicans of “politicizing what had traditionally been a bipartisan bill” by demanding that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or “food stamp” — expenditures be scaled back. For their part, Republicans can note that their proposed reductions would, over a decade’s time, return food stamp expenditures to approximately the same (then record high) level as in 2008.

The explosive growth of the food stamp program under President Obama has seen expenditures double from roughly $40 billion in 2008 to about $80 billion today. And, of course, the food stamp program is but one of several federal welfare regimes that have been expanded dramatically, as the current administration strives to increase dependence on government as a means of recruiting voters.

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A Further Perspective

Santa’s Nuclear Wish List

By 12.2.13

So the just concluded nuclear agreement with Iran isn’t really an agreement after all. As State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki replied, when asked when the interim deal, which is supposed to last for six months, goes into effect: “That’s a good question.” The “next step,” she continued, is a series of “technical discussions at the working level so we can essentially tee up the implementation of the agreement.”

In other words, what the brilliant team of negotiators drew up in Geneva is essentially a “wish list” to Santa Claus. How, when, where — or even whether —  Santa delivers on those wishes remains to be determined “through discussions at the working level.”

Meanwhile, Iran has agreed to do absolutely nothing, and the regime can continue building its bombs and their delivery systems to its heart’s content — all the while basking in the glow of its newly won reputation for moderation.

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Walmart’s Black Friday, Obamacare’s Black Saturday

By 11.29.13

An old but stubbornly funny yarn showcases the contrasting attitudes of private and public enterprise. A shopper purchases a gift a few days before Christmas in an overcrowded downtown store. “Wow, it’s a madhouse in here,” he remarks to the clerk. “Yeah, it’s our best day of the year.” The shopper walks across the street into the post office and finds a similarly chaotic scene. “Wow, that line is a mile long,” he observes to the clerk. “Yeah, it’s our worst day of the year.”

One needn’t wait until Christmas to discover the fundamental truth of this tale. Just compare the facial expressions of the people waiting for freebies at the local Social Security Administration building with the people in line to give their cash to Best Buy.

On Black Friday, Walmart wants its stores packed like a mosh pit. On the following day—surely it will be a Black Saturday at the White House if the revamped health care website hiccups—the president wants a manageable, mild, modest number of Americans to visit healthcare.gov.

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A Further Perspective

Our Debt to Squanto

By 11.28.13

Recently while visiting a center of learning (aka university) whose president asked me to leave it un-named to protect its reputation, I came across a charming and amusing scholar, Isaac Pequot Vogelkopf, a bit of an eccentric if you go by whispers in the faculty lounge but popular with his students and – I might add – an excellent tennis player, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport’s history as well as a nigh-untouchable forehand when he is in the mood. Prof. Vogelkopf shared with me a document he says he found in his great-aunt’s attic on Nantucket. She declined to be interviewed for this article. Until I can persuade her to sit still for a chat (about her nephew as well as about the junk she has collected over the years) and, moreover, until I run this by some of the good prof’s colleagues in the American history field, I cannot vouch for – er, for anything, really. —RK

Dear and Honored Bradford Sahib,

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