Here's a suggestion for the Republican Presidential candidates. The next time some moderator asks the question, "Which one of your fellow candidates up here would you choose to be your vice president?" as CNN's John King did in the last debate -- obviously hoping to divide the panel and create rivalries -- just say this: "I want everybody on this stage to be in my cabinet. I want Herman Cain to be Secretary of Commerce, I want Tim Pawlenty to be Secretary of Agriculture, I want Mitt Romney to be Secretary of the Treasury, I want Michelle Bachmann to be Secretary of Labor, I want Ron Paul to run the Federal Reserve! You have to understand, we're not opposed to each other up here. We're a team. And we have only one objective in mind, to get Barack Obama out of office and get this country out of its depression by giving it back to the people."
DEMOCRATS AT GETTING to the point of being hallucinatory. Last week in Connecticut 45,000 state workers voted on whether to accept a labor contract proffered by Democratic Governor Dannel P. Malloy and a Democratic Legislature. This is just after the Governor pushed through the largest tax increase in the state's history, raising income taxes at all levels, raising the state sales tax to 6.35 percent, subjecting all clothing purchases to the sales tax, raising estate, gift and gas taxes, reducing a property tax credit and so on. The additional $1.6 billion in savings from the labor agreement was supposed to be the last piece of the puzzle in closing a $3.3 billion deficit in the state's $40 billion budget.
When the vote was taken 60 percent of the members of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Commission (SEBAC) voted to accept the agreement, as did 14 of the 16 unions that make up the confederation. But an obscure rule says that 15 of the 16 unions must approve any agreement. Therefore, because two members, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and another small union turned it down, the contract did not pass. "The results of the voting in Connecticut exasperated and infuriated even longtime allies of state workers," reported the New York Times. As a result, Governor Malloy is preparing to lay off 7,500 state workers this week. If nothing else it shows that it's difficult to get anything done these days without a few Republicans around to help.
But wait a minute! It turns out Republicans and conservatives are responsible for this fiasco. SEBAC leaders, who supported the contract, says it lost because "right-wing extremists" muddied the issues! On June 17 Daniel E. Livingston, chief negotiator for SEBAC, wrote state attorney general George Jepsen demanding he investigate a small conservative think tank, the Yankee Institute, and its blogger Zachary Janowski for allegedly "breaking the law" by publishing materials that "attack and degrade public employees, advocate moving their work to private employers, and to delegitimize and destabilized state government." Then when the vote took place last week, the Times reported:
The process reflected the information blizzard of the new media age, with union officials saying misinformation spread by right-wing groups, particularly the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a conservative research organization, helped to torpedo the agreement.
So you see, because the Yankee Institute put out literature critical of government unions, the unions made a decision that everyone sees as self-destructive.
We are getting awfully close to Goldstein in George Orwell's 1984 here. When public employees finally have to face the consequences of their own overreach, who do they blame but their all-powerful enemy who is capable even of manipulating them against their own interest. Thankfully, the Yankee Institute called them "delusional."
PRESIDENT OBAMA and his administration are fulfilling William F. Buckley's nightmare of being governed by the Harvard faculty. Is there anything the President says or does that doesn't smack of some bull session in the faculty lounge? Even his famous remark about people living outside of New York, Chicago and Washington being frustrated and envious and taking to their guns and religion as solace -- isn't that the idea that has been circulating around the social sciences department for years?
Or try Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's debate with Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of North Carolina last week over whether to raise taxes on small businesses. Geithner hits an emotional button by telling Ellmers that not raising taxes will mean "exceptionally deep cuts in benefits for middle-class Americans. You have to shrink the overall size of government programs, things like education, to levels that we cannot accept as a country." Education? Schools are funded at the state and local level. What does the federal government do for education except run a Department of education that is just a factory for employing former members of the teachers' unions and imposing most costly mandates on local school districts? The only people seeking more federal intervention in the schools are the tenured professors over at the School of Education.
Or how about the President's recent remark that ATMs and airline check-in machines are creating unemployment? Where would you hear this idea except in the faculty lounge -- and not the economics department or the business school faculty but the English department or the law school where nobody has the faintest idea how the world works? Will somebody please tell Obama it takes workers and capital to manufacture those ATM machines!
HERE'S ONE MORE suggestion for the Presidential candidates. Take a look at this video. It's a song called "Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon" written by Jimmy Webb and sung by The Three Degrees in 1971, right after we were sending the first men to the moon in 1969. It was used in The French Connection in the scene where Popeye Doyle and Sonny Grosso visit the Copa Cabana to see Grosso's girlfriend, the hat-check girl. The song starts out with a big brass band, then keeps climbing and climbing until halfway through the group breaks into this spoken lyric:
Now don't you think it's a miracle
That WE are the generation
That's going to one day populate the moon?
(And that's gonna be fun!)
(Sung again) And it's got to make you glad to be alive!
Yes it's got to make you proud to be alive!
When was the last time you heard anyone in America say, "It's got to make you proud to be alive!" I think the Republicans should adopt this as their theme song for the 2012 election and not quit until everybody in America is proud to be alive again.