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Freedom Watch

We Need Conferences Like AFP’s Defending the American Dream

By 9.4.14

“It’s time for leadership,” said a steely-eyed Carly Fiorina to a standing ovation from over 3,000 conservative activists in a packed ballroom at Dallas’s Omni Hotel last Saturday. But for Fiorina and the attendees at Americans For Prosperity’s Defending The American Dream Summit, as for far too many Americans, that leadership is nowhere to be found in Washington.

Leadership, or the lack of it, was the overwhelming theme at Defending The American Dream, an annual event AFP first took on the road in 2013 (Orlando) after six years in Washington. The summit presents its attendees with two days of high-profile stump speeches and copious breakout sessions with titles like “Outsmarting The Left On The Phones,” “#Hacking The Marketplace—Innovation In A Tough Economy” and “It’s About The Children: The Future Of School Choice,” but mostly it serves as a weekend of fellowship and comparing of notes for the hard core of Americans For Prosperity’s employees and 2.3 million members.

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History

From the Thousand Year Reich to the Global Caliphate

By 9.4.14

First it was the Thousand Year Reich. Now it’s the Global Caliphate. The pattern is as simple as it is stark. It always begins with the unruly rabble-rousers. A curiosity at first, then a police problem, then a raised governmental eyebrow. Eventually, the rabble-rousers attract more rabble. Now the jails begin to fill. Then the streets. There is violence. Then the sympathizers appear, making the case that, well, when you think about it, the growing rabble has a point or two or three. Money starts to flow in from supporters as well as the sympathizers. The rabble rousers finally get organized. The media gets involved, with the rabble getting their hands on communications capabilities and attracting attention from other media not their own. The latter media follows along, ignoring the first stirrings, then not, then with some leaping over the side into the deep water with the rabble’s “rising star.” And don’t forget the foreigners. They are always there to be attracted, supplying everything from money to support in their own country, when not simply abandoning their own country altogether and joining the cause.

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Another Perspective

Don’t You Wish Voting Didn’t Feel Like a Placebo?

By 9.4.14

They don’t really do anything, these buttons we press to close elevator doors or cross the street, but we press them anyway. They’re called placebo buttons, and they exist only to give us the illusion of control. In cynical moods, I’d add that dial in the voting booth to the category. Pick red or pick blue—now we’ve got your consent to take your money, throw you in jail, or require your children to brush their teeth in day care. And it goes without saying, if you sell Whoppers to Sri Lankans, we get a third of that action, too.

Only I haven’t consented to any of these practices—not explicitly. I think the federal government ought to stick to raising armies, punishing piracy, and erecting Forts, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings in the District of Columbia. I suppose I consent to the rest of Congress’ enumerated powers under the Constitution, but that’s it.

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Latte Nation

Building Lives and Nations Requires Unchanging Truths

By 9.4.14

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
— John Adams

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The Current Crisis

Neanderthal Man Rocks

By 9.4.14

When I read the other day about those “cross-hatched” engravings found by archaeologists in Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar being “the first known examples of Neanderthal rock art,” I, of course, thought immediately of Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone, the magazine for modern aesthetes, covers “rock art” ceaselessly. That a Rolling Stone writer might have found modern rock’s roots among Neanderthal man came as no surprise to me. What about Punk Rock? What about Grunge? I believe the word is Grunge.

Yet I had leapt to a hasty conclusion. The report I was reading about in London’s Daily Mail was not drawn from Rolling Stone but rather from the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And it was not about the artistic aspirations of rock singers but about artists who really were scribbling on ancient rocks over 39,000 years ago, artists drawn from the species Homo neanderthalensis, a species of human much like us only less intellectual.

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A Further Perspective

What Congress Should Do to Stop ISIS

By 9.3.14

President Obama said last Thursday that he doesn’t “have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS in the Middle East. Worse is what Obama didn’t say — not one word about how to prevent ISIS from attacking us right here in the U.S. That’s despite security experts warning Congress repeatedly that ISIS’s gory threats to spill American blood should be taken seriously.

Compare Obama’s inaction to Prime Minister David Cameron’s decisive action. After British security experts raised the terrorist threat assessment there to “severe,” meaning an attack is “highly likely,” Cameron called for revoking passports of British citizens returning from Syria and Iraq and cracking down on jihadist recruiters, even by censoring the Internet and rounding up extremist organizers. These proposals are sparking a lively debate in Britain over balancing security and civil rights.

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A Further Perspective

Republicans Can Learn a Lot From Burger King’s Move to Canada

By 9.3.14

 

The merger of U.S. hamburger giant Burger King with Tim Horton’s, Canada’s favorite coffee shop, will create the world’s third largest “fast food” company with a total of 18,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. It is also a piercing wake-up call for the U.S. because the new company will make its global headquarters in Canada’s province of Ontario. That underscores what savvy business everywhere have learned, namely, that the United States is an increasingly less attractive place to do business. “Canada has quietly and politely become, well, more AMERICAN than America,” says columnist Stephen Green.
 
Since 2003, more than thirty-five major American companies have moved their headquarters and reincorporated overseas.
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Special Report

Paul Ryan’s Way Forward

By 9.3.14

One thing I’ve always appreciated about Paul Ryan is that he looks you straight in the eye when talking about matters of policy and politics — though clearly he enjoys the former more than the latter. Whether you agree or disagree with Ryan, it is impossible, once you’ve met him, to doubt his sincerity, his good intentions, and the fact that his opinions are grounded in knowledge and introspection that are uncommon in most Americans, much less most members of Congress.

If it sounds like I’m something of a Paul Ryan fan, I plead guilty; I have been ever since meeting him in 1999 during his first campaign to represent Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, including his hometown of Janesville, in Congress. He is the same person today that he was 15 years ago, just with a higher profile, particularly since being selected as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, and a lot more responsibility as chairman of the House Budget Committee — and likely future chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for setting American tax policy.

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The Obama Watch

Obama’s False Comfort

By 9.3.14

Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser recently, President Obama downplayed the threat that eruptions of Islamic terrorism and turmoil abroad pose to America. “This is not something that is comparable to the challenges we faced during the Cold War,” he said.

Given the complacency of this view, it is no wonder that he doesn’t “have a strategy yet” on combating ISIS in Syria. As jihadists behead and kidnap Americans, as they torch consulates and seize embassy compounds, Obama is still clinging to his 2012 campaign theme of terrorists “on the run.”

Americans, if anything, are probably nostalgic for the Cold War. At least that one was cold. This one against radical Islam is decidedly hot. The fanaticism of radical Islam makes the evil empire of the Soviet Union look almost lethargic.

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Main Street U.S.A.

If You’re Elected to Govern, Then Govern!

By 9.3.14

The month of August 2014 came near to producing the libertarian ideal — next-to-no government. Some might argue that August favored the anarchist ideal — no government at all; nothing going on at the highest levels, what with Congress out of town and the President on the golf course.

Ah, good, somnolent days reminiscent of Augusts in the Taft era: fireflies, lemonade, front porches, the distant scritch-scratch of a Victor phonograph emitting “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” There being just one problem: During August 2014, much of the world appeared to be falling apart — Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Christians getting run out of their historic homelands, Americans getting their heads cut off; the country’s borders conspicuously unsecured; stuff like that. And no one was doing much about it. Certainly not the President, who clearly had other things on his mind, such as raising money for fellow Democrats and, naturally, turning up for his tee time.

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