Senator Ron Johnson the Winner of the Week in Washington
January 28, 2013
Sometimes a citizen lawmaker dares to exercise such candor that the inside-the-Beltway crowd recoils in horror at the blatant honesty. Such was the case with Wisconsin’s own Senator Ron Johnson (R) this past week. Johnson captured attention with his tough questioning of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to finally answer questions about the Benghazi disaster of last September.
Clinton, demonstrating the cunning political acumen that propelled her and her husband so far on the national political stage, weaved a range of emotions into her carefully prepared opening statement. With her final months as Secretary of State clouded by the death of an American ambassador and a subsequent lack of honesty in dealing with the situation during a political campaign, Clinton had to present a strong showing to maintain future political opportunities.
Then Ron Johnson happened.
Refusing to accept Clinton’s scripted answers, Johnson pressed the Secretary for specific details of her involvement in the disaster and her Department’s failure to protect one of its own. The exchange was contentious and tumultuous.
After the hearing, Johnson suggested to a reporter that Clinton was less than genuine in her appearance before the committee. What he suggested wasn’t flattering, but it was true. As any candid political observer knows, the Clintons are masterful politicians who are able to fabricate and project an image that may not be genuine but is quite convincing.
For daring to question Hillary Clinton’s motives, Senator Johnson was named the person who had the “Worst Week in Washington” by the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza. Cillizza is a smart reporter, even if infected by the more liberal-leaning Potomac fever that taints a number in the nation’s political press corps elite, and his observations are often useful and insightful. But he’s dead wrong on this one.
Ron Johnson may have felt the pressure to back off his statement and the Washington intelligentsia may have found his honesty woefully out of line. But what he said didn’t only need to be said, it was true.
For far too long an incestuous atmosphere has pervaded the nation’s capitol. Establishment political figures in both parties have been given a pass by those who are supposed to be the watchdogs of the process. Instead of receiving the skepticism and vetting bestowed on others, these individuals – and the Clintons are among them – have been able to act with impunity expecting to never be held accountable.
Senator Johnson’s questions at the hearing, and subsequent candor about the attitude of Secretary Clinton, are a refreshing breath of fresh air.
Washington’s self-confidence does not comport well with a nation that sees looming fiscal and economic challenges growing closer by the day. To fix the problems we face it is going to take more honest leadership than Washington is used to being comfortable with. Senator Ron Johnson is one of those leaders who is willing to ignore the status quo that got us to where we are, and provide the honesty we need.
Read more: http://goo.gl/h7zcj
California at Twilight
by Victor Davis Hanson
January 29, 2013
We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.
Conservati delendi sunt
The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is how Carthaginian will be the victor’s peace, e.g., how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?
The state of Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson, and George Deukmejian is long dead due to the most radical demographic shifts of any one state in recent American history — as far away as Cicero was to Nero. One minor, but telling example: Salinas, in Monterey County where the murder rate is the highest in the state, just — at least I think the news story is not a prank — named its new middle school after Tiburcio Vasquez.
A convicted murderer.
He was the legendary 19th-century robber and murderer who was hanged for his crimes. But who is to say that Vasquez is a killer, and Henry Huntington a visionary?
The New Demography
California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm. Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.
Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not.
Finally, we live in an era of untruth and Orwellian censorship. It is absolutely taboo to write about the above, or to talk about the ever more weird artifacts of illegal immigration — the war now on black families in demographically changing areas of Los Angeles, the statistics behind DUI arrests, or the burgeoning profile of Medi-Cal recipients. I recall of the serial dissimulation in California my high school memorization of Sir Walter Raleigh:
Tell potentates, they live/Acting by others’ action/Not loved unless they give; Not strong but by affection; If potentates reply/Give potentates the lie.
There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.
Their California is long gone (“Lo, all our pomp and of yesterday/Is one with Nineveh and Tyre”), and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.
Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle (rule of thumb: conservatives always find better restaurants in liberal locales), and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 (if you’re lucky), the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. For examples, read Petronius, especially the visit to Croton.
Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million.
Or, look at it another way: with passbooks paying 0.5-1%, the successful private accountant or lawyer could put away $10,000 a month for thirty years of his productive career and still not match the monthly retirement income of the Caltrans worker who quit at 60 with modest contributions to PERS.
And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.
The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?
Read more: http://goo.gl/0dMAS