Author Archives: Brad Warbiany

Run, Newt, Run!

Gingrich Says Hillary Clinton Is Beatable

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich agrees that Sen. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic front-runner should she make a bid for president in 2008. But winning, he says, is another matter.

“But I think, you know, she has a lot of challenges, and there’s a question whether or not there’s a ceiling, that when you got down to the Hillary/anti-Hillary, whether or not she can break 50 percent in primaries,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Calling Clinton “formidable” as a presidential candidate, Gingrich said: “If we beat her we’re going to beat her with better ideas. We’re not going to beat her with some kind of negative campaign.”

That might be tough. The Republicans haven’t been espousing any real ideas lately, so there will need to be a strong figure out there who can articulate positive ideas. And with George W. Bush in office, the Republicans haven’t had someone who can articulate, either.

Hillary can win in 2008. Going negative against Hillary won’t really work, because the people who hate her aren’t going to be persuaded, and the people who don’t hate her may even feel sorry for her. Nope, to beat her, we need a strong candidate. I don’t think the Republican party is ready to get behind Giuliani, so that leaves McCain & Gingrich.

Gingrich downplayed suggestions that he might be plotting his own run for president.

“I doubt it at this point,” he said. “I’m not ruling out running, but I’m also saying we have real things to do in ’06. We have real things to do in ’07. And it’ll be nice to have a couple of years of talking about solutions, not just talking about ambitions.”

That makes things difficult. Much like Doug, I can’t see myself voting McCain. We need Newt in this race. He’s a Republican that can salvage the Republican/Libertarian coalition that Bush has nearly destroyed. He has enough credibility amongst real conservatives (something McCain doesn’t have), is a very inspirational speaker, and has been out of office during the most recent stint where the Republicans have imploded— thus he is not tainted by their failures.

If Newt runs in 2008, I will do everything I can to see him get elected. I can’t say that about every Republican on the short list, and wouldn’t even vote for a couple of them. While most politicians are quick to demagogue, Newt offers solutions. And that’s what we need these days.

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The FairTax and Enforcement

As many of you know, I’m a huge proponent of the FairTax. Given that I’m a contributor to The FairTax Blog, I don’t normally post much about it here.

But I threw up a post over at The FairTax Blog about how it will be enforced, and thought some of the readers here who are interested in the FairTax might be interested… Check it out. I think it answers some questions that aren’t addressed elsewhere.

Immigration & the American Dream

First, let me say that I don’t support what the current protestors are doing. The initial thought, of trying to flaunt their lawbreaking and demand forgiveness for it, doesn’t seem very smart. After all, when you want forgiveness, you typically need to show remorse. Even worse, it seems to be a major political backfire, giving all the anti-immigration folks out there the political cover they need to push Congress and the American people into actions they might regret later (i.e. the PATRIOT Act, anyone?).

The protestors might be wrong, but that doesn’t make our current immigration policy right.

Immigration is a bit of a thorny issue to a lot of people. To many American workers, immigrants represent a low-cost threat to their job. When any version of “someone else” wants to come in and take your job for 70% of your wage, you get angry. And when it’s the government who “let them in”, you direct your anger at the government. To people who value the security of our nation, our porous border is like a big target on our backs. To the Mexican government, sending their most productive citizens north, and having them sending back money every week, allows them to avoid fixing the corruption in their own system. And to business owners, the cheap labor allows them to offload much of the social cost of the people they hire (sometimes even paying cash under the table to avoid taxes), forcing the rest of us to pick up the slack with our tax burden.

So immigration isn’t really an easy issue. But simple answers, like “close the borders and deport them all” just don’t cut it. I think we can possibly secure the borders, but politically and ethically can’t just send 12 million people home (if we could even find them). Simple answers like “we have no problem with immigration, just illegal immigration” doesn’t work. I could easily say “driving 56 mph in a 55 zone is wrong because it’s illegal”, and that doesn’t answer the question of whether the policy is right, because the numbers of people who desperately want to come here are much, much higher than our immigration quotas. And simple answers like “give them all amnesty” doesn’t work, because it destroys the incentive for people trying to immigrate here to follow our laws. It rewards bad behavior.

We need to ask ourselves what is the right immigration policy for our nation, because only that will tell us how to handle the millions of illegals we currently have here. And when it comes to designing the policy, we need to ask ourselves what kind of a country we are, and what these immigrants truly represent. Some simply come to embrace our culture, learn our language and enrich their lives. This is surely a great compliment and an interchanging of culture, such as with the Cultural Care Au Pair, should remain.

You see, the vast majority of these immigrants are honestly coming here looking to better their lives. Back in the old days, we had a little think called The American Dream. I think of America more as an ideal than as a nation, an ideal sometimes lacking today. The American Dream is the idea that if you come here and work, you will succeed or fail not based on what some bureaucrat says, but on your merit. In poker jargon, it’s the equivalent of having a “chip and a chair”, meaning that as long as you’re still sitting at the table, you’ve got a chance. America is the place that anyone can pick themselves up from their bootstraps, work hard, and end up a winner. It’s not the place that rewards complaining to government when you don’t win, or getting a lawyer and suing the winner if you happen to be the loser. It is, by the Ideal, a land of opportunity. I should point out, unfortunately, that too often the nation of America doesn’t even approach the Ideal of America these days.

When you look at these immigrants, attempting to come here, lift themselves up by their bootstraps, and secure for themselves a better life is exactly what they’re doing. They’re risking life and limb, scraping together money just to get here, all for the opportunity to do backbreaking labor and scrape together more money to better themselves and their family. Newcomers to the US must possess a form of national ID number in order to work, file taxes, obtain Social Security, apply for bank accounts and healthcare and more – to learn more, head to Sure, some come here to take advantage of our social services. But how many simply want to find a better life? These are all factors that need to be considered when dealing with immigration law, you can find professional immigration lawyers to help you with any concerns when traveling to or from a new country, offering you support and legal advice to help you gain the rights that you possess legally.

As classical liberals, we believe in the theory of natural rights. The American Dream is the logical outgrowth of natural rights theory. Here’s the thing, though: while America was designed as a nation based upon natural rights, that doesn’t mean that only native-born Americans have them!

Allow me to explain. When we say that we don’t want immigrants coming here to work, because they might depress wages a little bit, we are telling them that their natural rights shouldn’t be respected here. I understand the arguments. Sure, people coming from the corrupt, economically-repugnant nation of Mexico are willing to do things here for a lot cheaper than what the average American will accept. And many of them are willing to do it with a smile, because they know what their options are at home. But do we want to hang a big “No Vacancy” sign on the land of opportunity?! No. That stands in the way of everything purport to stand for. That stands in the way of freedom and of individual rights. I hesitate to throw out words like this, but that is blatantly anti-American.

As I said, I understand the arguments. Some say that our economy can’t handle that influx of immigrants. That’s ridiculous. Our economy, in just the past few years, has had to handle a recession, a major terrorist attack, a war, high energy prices, and the constant threat of domestic jobs going overseas. What’s happened? It’s grown and grown. The American system of free-market capitalism is the greatest engine for creating wealth the world has ever seen, and a few million immigrants is nothing more than a speedbump.

Of course, that doesn’t answer the question of whether or not American jobs will suffer. One would think that zero-sum economics wouldn’t rear its ugly head here, but perhaps that’s expecting too much from American politicians and the American public. When America has a 4.7% unemployment rate, the argument that our jobs will suffer becomes a tough sell. Again, the American economy is an engine, and human ingenuity is its fuel.

Some of that human ingenuity is freed up when immigrants come to the US. And some immigrants bring it with them. Look at 19-year-old Francisco Patino, a contestant on the TV show American Inventor. It’s unclear whether Francisco immigrated legally, but I would think the show would have check up on this. Either way, it’s immaterial. Francisco came here at 12 years old, unable to speak English. He learned English, worked to put himself into college, and in his eyes, you see the American Dream. There is no future for him in Colombia. But he can bring a richer existence to America, bettering himself and our society at the same time. Francisco is taking away from us to be here, he is bringing himself to us.

It’s not just zero sum economics, though. Part of it is plain, old-fashioned xenophobia. I hesitate the use the word racism, but that’s certainly a component, I’m sure. But we’ve seen this before. Back after the Civil War, blacks were the scapegoat, trying to “take” jobs from whites. The whole Davis-Bacon Act was mainly instituted as a protectionist measure to keep low-wage blacks out of the workforce on federal projects. It’s not purely racism, of course, as back during the same time period, employers were seen with N.I.N.A. signs hanging in their windows: No Irish Need Apply.

In all situations, the rationale is the same. We got ours, and now we’ll stop you from getting yours. I can’t live with that. By most accounts, I’m pretty privileged. I’m not the son of rich parents by American standards, but by world standards, I grew up in luxury. I was lucky enough to be born in America, and even luckier to be born to educated parents and live in a highly-regarded school district. But does that give me any more right to the American Dream than Francisco Patino? Does it give a Warbiany any more right to the American Dream than a Hernandez? Of course not.

Last, we do still have the security issue. But liberal immigration policies and secure borders are not mutually exclusive. We can secure the borders and still find to keep tabs on who is coming into this country and how. Perhaps that’s a guest worker program, perhaps that’s a new take on our INS and its goals. That may include a combination of things, with a guest worker program combined with restricted social services for a worker’s family. Either way, the nuts and bolts aren’t insurmountable. If we focused half the energy we spend screwing around with the tax code for special interests on developing coherent immigration and security policies, we could get it done and still have secure borders.

Immigration is a thorny issue. But when we stand around and say “we don’t want you here”, I have to break ranks. When they say “these immigrants are damaging our economy”, I have to break ranks. I don’t have all the answers as to how to fix the problem, but I know that I refuse to close our country to people who want to live the American Dream. We have to enforce our laws, but when our laws are contrary to the very fabric of America, those laws need to change.

Why Did I Vote For You?

I just finished reading Impostor, Bruce Bartlett’s book slamming President Bush for failing to live up to anything resembling conservatism. When I first heard about the book, I worried a bit whether Bartlett was just breaking ranks to sell books. If you’re worried about the same, don’t be. Bartlett’s ire for Bush comes through loud and clear, and it is certainly heartfelt.

The book, coupled with Bush’s speech yesterday on “price gouging”, followed by yet another toothless veto threat, made me ask why I bothered to vote for him in the first place. I once had an answer for that. I began blogging days after the 2004 election, and when Britian’s Daily Mirror asked “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?”, I answered:

Why doesn’t the rest of the world understand that we have weighed the evidence, considered our options, and perhaps 59,054,087 intelligent, rational adults decided that reelecting George W. Bush was the best option we had?

In this election, we were faced with one very serious question. All others fell by the wayside. The question: Should we stand up and fight for what we thought was right in this world, or sit back with our “allies” and watch the threat grow?

I still believe today that given our external threats, Bush was the best candidate for dealing with those threats. I don’t believe that John Kerry would have been able to stand firm in the face of the world, to do what I believe is the right thing in the war on terror. Bush can do that. But he sure has bungled up everything else.

Actually, I shouldn’t completely say that. Bush did cut taxes, and I love tax cuts. But he missed the boat. Tax cuts, coupled with huge entitlement spending increases, is economic insanity. I’ve said before that I’m a supply-sider. I know that lower taxes spur economic growth, which will eventually raise more revenue for government. But at what point do huge deficits and skyrocketing entitlement spending turn into huge debt, requiring either inflation or a major tax increase to pay off?

Let’s run down the laundry list of what Bush has done to screw up so far:

  • Signed a blatantly unconstitutional campaign finance bill
  • Increased federal government intrusion into education— without corresponding improvements like vouchers
  • Created a bloated new medicare drug entitlement— all the while hiding its true estimated costs
  • Threatened veto after veto, without following through on a single one
  • Comported his entire administration as if it were a monarchy
  • Supported the Patriot Act & domestic wiretapping— dramatically increasing the police power of the state
  • Failed to respond to Katrina, one of the greatest natural disasters in recent history
  • Imprisoned Americans without trial, counsel, judicial oversight, or even a hearing

That’s not even addressing Iraq, which is a whole different debate.

As Bartlett points out, Bush is the “conservative” president who said “We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move.”

Contrast that with Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

George W. Bush has been described as a “big-government conservative”. Bush’s idea of government is that it doesn’t work, except when he’s holding the reins. His presidency, however, is better described by PJ O’Rourke: “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”

Bush could have been defeated in 2004. In many ways, I wish he would have. Not by Kerry, of course. I don’t see how the Democrats could have their fingers so far from the pulse that they nominated so uncharismatic and vacillating that he couldn’t beat a weak Bush. If the Democrats had nominated someone who had come out with an understanding of at least finishing the job in Iraq, I would have voted for him.

With a pro-war Democrat in office, we might have had a chance at Bush’s only redeeming quality, coupled with the best feature of Clinton’s final 6 years: gridlock. We might have seen the Republican Congress start acting like Republicans, fighting spending. Instead, we’ve been stuck with a Congress who wants to send pork back home, coupled with a president too scared to rebuke members of his own party. Republicans have all three branches of government locked up, and they spend their time trying to act like Democrats. What’s worse? They have such little experience administering and creating welfare programs, that they’ve screwed up every attempt at doing so (i.e. Medicare Part D). It’s gotten so bad, that I DON’T EVEN WANT Social Security privatization if it comes from this batch of Republicans, because I know they’ll be serving the needs of investment bankers, not me.

The last several years have seen complete mismanagement of government. Just as PJ O’Rourke predicted. 2006 and 2008 are going to be a big wake-up call for the Republican party, and I, for one, think it’s about damn time.

Only Because it’s Government

Man Wins Case After Firing Over Confederate Flag

When I saw the headline, I was expecting my diatribe to take a different route. I thought he was fired from a private employer for the issue, and expected to launch into a private-property, I-can-hire-and-fire-who-I-want-because-that’s-freedom rant. But it appears all is well.

A man who was fired by the city of Tampa for refusing to remove his Confederate flag license plate has settled a lawsuit against the city.

Larry Carpenter will receive $4,500. But Carpenter, an employee in good standing for six years, won’t get his job back as a traffic maintenance specialist.

The paper reported that Carpenter’s case began in January 2002, when his boss told him to remove the tag because someone had complained. Carpenter would not follow the order to remove the tag, so he was repeatedly disciplined. His discipline included negative comments on his annual evaluation, suspension without pay on three occasions and then firing in September 2002, The Tampa Tribune reported.

Now, I’m no fan of the “South will rise again” types. But I don’t think that’s what this is about. It’s about an employer’s right to hire and fire based on some simple ideological standards, and whether or not something that one employee might find “offensive” is grounds for a firing. In private business, it’s up to the employer to choose. But when it comes to the government, I think there is a higher standard.

The government is to hold people equal before the law. Absent written regulations regarding this behavior (which did not harass, only offended), to take one person’s feeling of being offended over another person’s right to free speech is unacceptable.

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