The “America’s foreign and defense policy costs taxpayers $1.2 trillion per year” lie

Some opponents of a strong defense, including libertarian liars such as Bruce Fein and Jack Hunter (both of whom work for libertarian loon Ron Paul), claim that US foreign policy costs US taxpayers $1.2 trillion per year, or that the US spends $1.2 trillion per year on defense. The so-called “Committee for the Republic” claims the US spends $1 trillion per year on defense. These are blatant lies. But how were these figures arrived at? How were they cooked up?

The answer was revealed in Bruce Fein’s anti-defense articles last year. These figures are complete fabrications invented by Fein. Firstly, he counts not just the DOD’s budget and the DOE’s total budget (not merely spending on defense-related programs), he also counts the budget of the DHS, the Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs, and the DOS as “defense spending” or “national security spending” (whichever term suits him more at a particular moment), and he also attributes the entire annual debt interest payments of the US government to the DOD, claiming that this debt – and the interest payments on it – are exclusively the results of the wars the US has waged. He ignores the fact that it is entitlement spending and runaway domestic discretionary spending, that has caused this debt, not military spending. Secondly, he invents nonexistant budget items such as “minor defense spending” in order to falsify the stats. And thirdly, for those agencies and items that do exist, he takes budget numbers from Presidential Budget Requests, even though these requests almost never become law, because the Congress always passes a budget that is different – and sometimes very different – from what the President originally requests. As an example, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 authorizes $26.6 bn less than what the President requested for defense and war spending, $644.4 bn instead of $671 bn.

Of course, that is not news and is not surprising to anyone who knows at least a little about the Constitution or about how the federal government works. The Congress often passes budgets (including defense budgets) that are different, and sometimes very different from what the President requested. In the 1980s and the early 1990s, the Congress repeatedly authorized much less defense spending than what Presidents Reagan and Bush requested. In the 1970s and the 1990s, Congress passed DOD budgets larger than what Presidents Carter and Clinton had requested, thus ensuring that these extremely leftist presidents would not get to cut defense as deeply as they had hoped to.

So any claim that the US is spending $1 trillion, $1.2 trillion, or any similar sum on defense, foreign policy, or “national-security-related agencies” is a blatant lie based on a fabrication cooked up by Bruce Fein, an utterly discredited libertarian liar.


Rebuttal of the lie that “defense spending has been off the table so far”

The opponents of a strong defense haven’t given up in their campaign to gut defense under the pretext of balancing the federal budget. Even though defense has been cut several times since President Obama’s inauguration, and more times earlier, they still claim that that defense spending has been “off the table so far” and that it has been shielded so far not only from cuts, but even from scrutiny and examination. Everytime defense spending is cut, defense’s opponents still come back for more cuts and still claim that defense spending has been immune from cuts, or “off the table”. But they’re lying. Defense spending has NEVER been off the table. An example is the January 2011 letter that the leaders of a number of pseudoconservative libertarian organizations sent to House and Senate leaders at that time:

The 112th Congress, tasked with a clear mandate to cut spending, must look to not only cut spending now, but permanently arrest the bias towards the careless wastefulness, bred of cronyism, that has plagued Washington for too long. To that end, lawmakers must dismiss the erroneous assumptions that have led to sacrosanct budgeting; no longer can select departments and programs enjoy protected status in the appropriations process. Conservatives should enthusiastically reject the notion that any area of the federal budget should be protected from examination. Attempts to isolate departments or programs from scrutiny undermine any serious efforts for positive spending reform — for this and many generations to come. Any policymaker determined to cut government spending must commit to keeping spending cuts in all departments on the table — whether efficiencies can be realized in the Department of Defense or the Department of Education, they must all be considered fair game in the battle to instill fiscal prudence in federal spending.

Al Regnery, The American Spectator
Bill Pascoe, Citizens for the Republic
Bob Barr, Liberty Guard
Brian Burch,
Chip Faulkner, Citizens for Limited Taxation
Christopher Preble, Cato Institute
Chuck Muth, Citizen Outreach
David A. Keene, American Conservative Union
Duane Parde, National Taxpayers Union
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Jim Martin, 60 Plus Association
Joe Seehusen, Liberty Guard
John Tate, Campaign for Liberty
Karen Kerrigan, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
L. Brent Bozell, Media Research Center
Lewis K. Uhler, National Tax Limitation Committee
Lisa Miller, Tea Party WDC
Matt Kibbe, Freedomworks
Mattie Corrao, Center for Fiscal Accountability
Richard Viguerie,
Rick Watson, Florida Center-Right Coalition
Seton Motley, Less Government
Susan Carleson, American Civil Rights Union
Tim Phillips, Americans for Prosperity
Tom Giovanetti, Institute for Policy Innovation
Tom Schatz, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
William Greene,
Thomas Whitmore, Washington DC Tea Party
Institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.”

This is completely false.

Firstly, the DOD has NEVER enjoyed “protected status in the appropriations process”, let alone shielding from “examination” and “scrutiny”.

Defense spending has NEVER enjoyed “protected status” and does not enjoy such status now. It has been dramatically reduced in real terms, and as a percentage of GDP, numerous times during the last 65 years alone: year-on-year during the late 1940s, during the 1950s (after the Korean War), during the entire 1970s, and during the entire 1980s (actually, from FY1987 until FY2002, when defense spending grew slightly for the first time since FY1986). And even during periods when the Congress did not reduce total defense spending, it did close or cut many crucial weapon programs – even during the Bush era when the Comanche, XM2001, E-10MCA, and J-UCAS programs were closed and many other weapon programs (e.g. the F-22, F-35, Zumwalt class and San Antonio class programs) were significantly reduced. During FY2010 and FY2011, the Congress closed or cut over 50 DOD weapon programs. In January 2011, Robert Gates achieved another 178 bn in savings. Then, in August 2011, President Obama signed into law a debt ceiling deal which orders the DOD to cut its core budget by another 450 bn (Obama has increased that goal to 487 bn) and in November 2011, the Super Committee triggered a sequester which will cut the DOD’s core budget by another 600 bn over a decade. (Under the sequester, the DOD, which has already contributed far more to deficit reduction than any other government agency, will have to bear 50% of the cuts even though it accounts for merely 19% of the federal budget.)

And that will not be achieved by mere “efficiencies”, it will mean drastic cuts in personnel numbers, modernization programs, the force structure, and benefits programs for the troops, which means breaking faith with them. As the Wall Street Journal has recently rightly noted:

“The Administration’s record to date is undeniable. Defense was targeted from day one in office, and Mr. Obama disguised his latest, steepest retrenchment as part of a new “strategic review” earlier this month.”

The bottom line is that defense spending has NEVER enjoyed “protected status”. Not this fiscal year. Not during the previous fiscal year. Not during the Bush era. Not ever. The claim that “defense spending continues to enjoy protected status” is a blatant lie.

Moreover, the idea that the DOD does not deserve protection from budget cuts or that defense spending is just another line item in the federal budget like education spending, is wrong, despicable, and un-conservative. Defense is the #1 Constitutional DUTY of the federal government, and one that is currently underfunded (the core defense budget, 526 bn, amounts to just 3.59% of GDP). Federal education spending, on the other hand, is unconstitutional.

Don’t buy the hype about the Times foreign policy poll

The Times magazine has recently done a poll of a small sample group of 500 “likely Republican voters” (defined as registered Republicans, registered independents who vote in GOP primaries, and a small group of Democrats) which purports to “show” that 47% of “Republicans” now support an isolationist (or almost isolationist) foreign policy of the kind that Ron Paul supports. The media (including, sadly, even conservative media outlets such as the Washington Times) is now trumpeting the results as supposed proof that Ron Paul has swayed a lot of Republicans to agree with his insane neo-isolationist foreign policy and that this supposed “shift” in “Republicans’ ” foreign policy attitude is largely due to Paul. Says Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times:

“Nearly half of all Republican primary voters say it’s time the U.S. stops intervening in world affairs and focuses on domestic priorities instead, signaling a persistent rift that is playing out in the party’s presidential nomination battle.

In the latest poll from The Washington Times and JZ Analytics, 48 percent said the U.S. should maintain a policy of intervening where its interests are challenged. But 46 percent disagree, saying the country is “in a new global era” where it can no longer take such an active role.

“That makes me say that the party is fundamentally fractured, and not only along the obvious lines of the social conservatives, the libertarian conservatives and the moderate conservatives,” said John Zogby, who conducted the poll.

The Paul factor

The split is most obvious in the candidacy of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who in Monday night’s Republican presidential debate drew some cheers but also loud boos when he called for an international “Golden Rule” that would dramatically curtail U.S. power projection throughout the world.”

But that is absolutely not true, for three reasons: firstly, the poll is woefully inaccurate (for several reasons); secondly, the shift, to the extent it has occurred, is largely unrelated to Ron Paul (fortunately); and thirdly, 47% is still a minority, and a plurality, 48%, still voted for a vigorous role for the US on the global stage.

Let’s explore the first two reasons in detail.

The poll is woefully inaccurate for several reasons. Firstly, the poll included a substantial number of non-Republicans – independents and even a “small” group of Democrats – i.e. people who are not even registered Republicans (not even on paper), and of course don’t believe in Republican principles.

Secondly, the poll asked the wrong question and gave only two extreme options, instead of giving Republicans a real and fair choice. Specifically, the poll asked which statement the queried people agreed with and they had only two statements to choose from:

1) “America is the most powerful nation in the world not only because of its strong military but because of the values of personal freedom it represents. America must intervene in the affairs of the world whenever its interests are challenged.”

2) “America is in a new global era and cannot afford to spread its resources too thin. It must rely on strong alliances with other nations and take care of its domestic priorities first”

The first option, of course, asked only about intervening to defend American interests. However, during the last 2 decades, successive Administrations have defined “American national interests” so broadly that they even included remaking the whole world into a community of Jeffersonian democracies, ending internecine conflicts around the world, and defending small, irrelevant countries. That being the case, I am not surprised that only 48% of “Republican voters” agreed with that option. After so many interventions in the last decade, Americans – including many real Republicans – are wary of further wars.

And this is the biggest problem with the poll. The options are wrongly formulated and are deliberately worded to suggest an answer, and voters’ only choice is only from among these two extreme options. I believe that the result of the poll would’ve been far different if the following third option had been included:

“The US should have the world’s strongest military but intervene military only when and where crucial American interests are threatened.”

This is the foreign policy which I advocate and which I have outlined in more detail in my articles for and the American Thinker.

This is a policy based on that of Ronald Reagan. It follows his wise advice. It is geared towards protecting America and the American people physically, as well as protecting crucial American interests (including important allies as well as the world’s sealanes, airspace, and large reservoirs of natural resources like oil and natural gas) while assuming that the US will avoid, at all costs, murky and internecine conflicts.

This is, I believe, a policy option that would attractive to the largest possible group of people. It could, if proposed and explained to the American public, become an American foreign policy consensus – that the US must maintain, and generously fund, a strong defense, and protect its crucial interests, while avoiding irrelevant conflicts and not using force as a first resort (a military that will be second to none has a good chance of never having to be used).

And that is, I believe, why this option continues to be omitted and not mentioned by the media and by pollsters – and therefore why most Americans haven’t been informed of it. Offering that choice to the American people would result in the majority of them adopting it and thus break up the oligopoly status that neoconservative uber-interventionists and Paulite isolationists now have on foreign policy. They would rather continue to perpetuate the myth that the only foreign policy choices America has is either isolationism or hyperinterventionism and remaking all countries of the world into Jeffersonian democracies. But why the Washington Times newspaper perpetuates that myth is a mystery.

Furthermore, the people who voted for the second option are wrong. The US cannot afford to intervene in every internecine conflict around the world, but it can afford to, and must, invest adequately in defense, play an active role in the world, and honor its defense commitments to its allies. The current defense budget amounts to less than 15% of the total federal budget and a paltry 3.59% of GDP. Total military spending amounts to just 19% of the total federal budget and just 4.51% of GDP. The US can afford to maintain a strong military and to spend as much on defense as it does now, and to intervene military abroad when and where needed. The US does not have, and should not, retrench behind its borders, hide in a Fortress America, and foreswear military interventions abroad.

“Strong alliances” are not a substitute for a strong, superior military, because nothing can be a substitute for a strong military of one’s own country (and the influence it gives you) and in any case the vast majority of America’s allies are militarily weak. As for “taking care of its domestic priorities first”, no, they must come second to defense. What higher priority can there be than defending the country, its citizens, and its interests abroad? Defense is the #1 Constitutional duty of the federal government. Most domestic issues are actually, by the Constitution, off-limits to it. Defense is the #1 Constitutional priority and needs to be treated as such.

In any case, I believe that the foreign policy option I support, which I call the third option (and have mightily contributed to its development), is the best foreign policy course for America.

Inalienable, God-given rights: why Ann Coulter and other “state-righters” are wrong

In her latest column defending Romney, Ann Coulter defends Romney’s indefensible, unjustifiable socialized medicine scheme (including its individual mandate) on the grounds that it’s a state program, not a federal one, and that somehow justifies it, as if state transgressions of individual libertiers were somehow acceptable. She furthermore defended it by saying that over the years, states have, for example, required people to wait in long lines, for many hours, at the DMV. Here are the relevant quotes:

“As Rick Santorum has pointed out, states can enact all sorts of laws — including laws banning contraception — without violating the Constitution.

That document places strict limits on what Congress can do, not what the states can do. Romney, incidentally, has always said his plan would be a bad idea nationally.

The only reason the “individual mandate” has become a malediction is because the legal argument against Obamacare is that Congress has no constitutional authority to force citizens to buy a particular product.

The legal briefs opposing Obamacare argue that someone sitting at home, minding his own business, is not engaged in “commerce … among the several states,” and, therefore, Congress has no authority under the Commerce Clause to force people to buy insurance.

No one is claiming that the Constitution gives each person an unalienable right not to buy insurance.

States have been forcing people to do things from the beginning of the republic: drilling for the militia, taking blood tests before marriage, paying for public schools, registering property titles and waiting in line for six hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to drive.

There’s no obvious constitutional difference between a state forcing militia-age males to equip themselves with guns and a state forcing adults in today’s world to equip themselves with health insurance.”

Ann Coulter is hardly the only person to make such claims recently. For the last several months other Republicans, including Pam Bondi, Andrew McCarthy, and Monte Kuligowski, have been making such an argument. They claim that state and local governments may impose any diktats and any schemes on their citizens and that this is okay – so long as it’s done by state and local governments. They believe that Big Government is perfectly fine – as long as it’s as the state level and not the federal level.

They are all wrong.

Firstly, Ann Coulter was patently wrong to claim that the Constitution places no limits on what the states can do. It does – in Art. I, Sec. 10, and in many amendments, including the 14th Amendment, which incorporated the Bill of Rights against the states, thus prohibiting them to violate any of the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.

Secondly, in the first edition of his book, the 2010 edition, Romney recommended his socialized medicine as a “solution” for the whole country, as pointed out in one campaign ad by Governor Rick Perry.

Thirdly, Wwhile it is true that the Constitution contains few limits on states (albeit it does contain some, so Coulter’s and Kuligowski’s claims to the contrary are false), and does not explicitly prohibit states from e.g. mandating that their citizens buy insurance policies, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, and imposing any government mandates on citizens, other than those that are absolutely necessary for public health or public safety, is unconservative and immoral and is a Big Government policy. It is also a violation of every person’s inalienable, God-given rights.

Big Government schemes at any level – federal, state, or local – are patently incompatible with our inalienable, God-given rights. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers said that it is a self-evident truth that all men are created equal and all of them are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these rights are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to protect these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed…”

Let’s consider this idea, which is an idea upon which America was founded.

Let’s first consider what “inalienable” means. My Oxford Guide to the English Language says “inalienable” means “unable to be taken away or given away”. In other words, if something is inalienable, it can never be taken away or voluntarily given away.

Therefore, if a right is inalienable, it may not be taken away or violated by anyone. Not the federal government, not state governments, not local governments.

So federal, state, and local governments – including state governors and legislatures – have no right whatsoever to confiscate these rights or violate them in any way whatsoever.

These inalienable rights were not given to people by their governments; they were given by the Creator, i.e. by God.

If these are God-given rights, and they are, no one other than God – no human form of government – whether federal, state, or local – may take these rights away. What God has given, only God may take away.

Words have meanings. “Inalienable” has an absolute meaning without any exceptions. “God-given” likewise has a strict, narrow meaning.

This is not a mere dispute about whether Romney’s socialized medicine scheme was right or wrong, or constitutional or not, or whether I am right or Ann Coulter is.

This is a battle for the heart of the conservative movement and of the Republican Party – and for the founding ideals of the United States.

If individual humans’ rights are really inalienable and God-given, that means no form of human government – whether federal, state, or local – may confiscate them or infringe on them. This means governments are not the owners of your rights, but merely their temporary, contingent stewards, subject to election by the governed from time to time.

If, however, state and local governments may trample upon your rights, it means they are not inalienable and are contingent on your state or local government tolerating them. This would mean that your state and local government may confiscate your rights anytime.

And that would mean that the whole American revolution was pointless.

Ann Coulter, Pam Bondi, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Monte Kuligowski, and other state-righters are wrong. The US was founded on the basis of individual rights, not states rights. The rights of the American people are inalienable and come from God. They predate and preexist the Constitution. No form of human government – federal, state, or local – may violate these rights.

Lies stated during Sec. Panetta’s hearing before the HASC

On Feb. 15th, during Sec. Panetta’s hearing before the HASC on the defense budget request for the next fiscal year, a number of blatant lies were stated.

Firstly, Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made three false claims:

  • that the first tier (pre-sequestration) cuts that the debt ceiling deal has ordered are merely cuts to the rate of growth of defense spending and that the defense budget will still be growing, albeit slowly, after FY2013;
  • that the core defense budget, not even counting GWOT spending, has doubled since 9/11;
  • that most of the threats the US will be facing during the next several decades will be asymmetric, irregular ones: terrorist organizations, insurgencies, etc.

All of his claims are blatant lies.

The defense budget WILL be cut in real terms, with or without sequestration, below FY2011 levels. That is a fact. CBO data proves that even if sequestration does not occur, defense spending WILL be cut below its FY2011 level and will not return to it before FY2019. (See the image at the end of this post.)

The claim that defense spending has doubled since 9/11 (i.e. since FY2001) is also false. In FY2001, when there was no GWOT spending, the total DOD budget was $297 bn in CY2000’s money, i.e. $390 bn in today’s money. In order to double, it would have to grow 2 times, i.e. to $780 bn (2 x $390 bn). By FY2011, however, i.e. a decade after 9/11, the core defense budget was only $529 bn, and even the total military budget was $688 bn, still almost a hundred billion dollars short of doubling its FY2001 size. And it never achieved that treshold. FY2011 was the peak of defense spending; since then, it has been shrinking constantly. The core defense budget for FY2012 is $526 bn; the total military budget for this FY is $645 bn.

Even if we don’t adjust the FY2001 DOD budget for inflation (which would give us a false picture, because inflation erodes the value of the dollar over time and since 9/11 inflation has made one dollar worth much less than it was on that day), the defense budget STILL hasn’t doubled. 2 x $297 bn is $594 bn, yet defense spending never reached that treshold during the last decade. In short, the Pentagon budget has not doubled since 9/11. Not even close.

Rep. Smith’s third claim, about the threats facing America, was also false. The most numerous and most lethal threats facing the US are states, not irregular enemies, including Communist China and Putinist Russia, who are the two most dangerous enemies of the US by far. Most terrorist organizations can’t even operate without a state sponsor, and Iran is the sponsor of most Islamic terrorist groups in the world today.

Sec. Panetta also made a number of false claims during his opening statement:

  • That the US military will be technologically advanced, technologically superior, well-equipped, and ready, even if smaller.
  • That the Navy will retire only obsolete ships, including seven old cruisers that would cost a lot of money to repair and fit for BMD duty, while retaining “the most flexible ships”.
  • That the Air Force will still have a large airlifter fleet while retiring only old airlift planes.
  • That the Air Force will still be able to dominate the skies with just 54 tactical fighter squadrons and the current bomber fleet.
  • That even with all of these cuts, the US military will be the strongest in the world.

These claims were also false. Firstly, the US military will be smaller AND not ready AND saddled with obsolete, worn-out weapons and with few new weapons being purchased. Just to give a few examples, the SSBNX program will be delayed by 2 years, one previously-planned Virginia class submarine will not be bought during the next 5 years, the purchase of F-35s will be cut by 179 planes over the next five years, and cut the procurement budgets of all services. The Navy’s annual shipbuilding budget will be cut by $2 bn, and as a consequence, the Navy will be able to afford to buy only 10 ships per year which, contrary to Sec. Panetta’s rosy projections, may not be enough to support even the 285-ship Navy fleet, let alone to grow the Navy beyond 285 ships, which guarantees that the US Navy will stay smaller than the Chinese Navy and may even shrink from its current 285-ship-size (because the US Navy will be retiring ships faster than it will be replacing them).

Secondly, if keeping “the most flexible ships” in the Navy’s fleet is the goal, retiring 7 non-old Ticonderoga class cruisers and 2 amphibious ships is the worst possible way to achieve that goal. These cruisers and amphibious ships are among THE most flexible ships in the Navy’s fleet. Tico class cruisers are capable of a very wide range of missions, including BMD, air defense, anti-ship warfare, anti-submarine warfare, ground attack, etc. Amphibious ships, as the Commandant of the Marine Corps has said, are among the most flexible ships owned by the Navy and can be used for many purposes, not just amphibious warfare, but also troop and equipment transportation, resupplying the troops on the ground, humanitarian aid, command (the USS Coronado, a now-retired command ship, was an LSD before it became a command ship), etc. And contrary to Panetta’s lie that refitting these cruisers and fitting them for BMD duty would be too costly, it would not be too costly for just 7 ships (and the Navy, with an annual budget of ca. $160 bn per year, should be able to find the money for them, by making effiencies), and one of them is already BMD-capable. This will UNDERMINE America’s BMD capabilities at a time when BMD-capable ships are in short supply.

Similarly, Panetta’s assurance that the USAF will retain an adequate airlifter fleet is hollow and insincere. The USAF’s airlifter fleet is ALREADY inadequate, having had its airlifter cut from 316 to 301 aircraft this FY as ordered by the FY2012 NDAA. Even before that, however, it was inadequate, as proven during the Mad March of 2011, when the USAF had to mobilize every available airlift asset, including all of its C-5s, C-17s, and C-130s, to airlift troops and supplies to Afghanistan during the surge of US troops to that country. Moreover, the USAF, which is suffering from an airlift aircraft shortage, was, before FY2012, forced to rent 4 An-124 aircraft from the Russians at a cost of $840 mn per year (in CY2011 dollars). Buying 4 new C-17s per year would cost only $800 mn per year. And no, maintaining and modernizing these old C-5s and C-130s would not be too expensive. The Air Force could find savings to maintain and modernize them elsewhere (in bureaucracies and fuel).

Likewise, Panetta’s claim that the Air Force will still be able to dominate the skies with just 54 tactical fighter squadrons is false, not just because of the inadequate number of squadrons and aircraft, but also because most of the aircraft that will remain will be obsolete, unsurvivable legacy aircraft of the 4th generation: F-15s and F-16s. That’s because the F-35 program has been delayed so much, and orders for F-35 have been reduced so badly, that there will be too few F-35s (even after all F-35As are delivered) and they will be coming into inventory too slowly.

Which brings me to Panetta’s final false claim: that the US military, although smaller, will be technologically superior and armed with the most modern weapons available. That claim is also false. The Obama Administration’s budget plan, if enacted, would dramatically cut investments in missile defense, shipbuilding, other Navy procurement programs, non-Navy procurement, R&D, and other modernization programs. (Missile defense spending, for example, would be slashed by $0.9 bn per year.) As for shipbuilding, just a year ago, President Obama requested funding for the construction of 13 ships for FY2012 and for a total of 57 ships for the FY2012-FY2016 period. Now, just one year later, he requests funding for building only 10 ships in FY2013 and for a total of 41 ships for the FY2013-2017 timeframe, a reduction by 16 ships. Additionally, AEI analyst Mackenzie Eaglen notes that:

“Nowhere is the pivot more hollow than when it comes to the Navy. While the administration preserved funding for many big-ticket programs that dominate the headlines, others that are more discreet fell victim to budget cuts. Programs for anti-submarine warfare, electronic attacks against incoming missiles, advanced radars, sensing, cruise and ballistic missile defense, and undersea weapons all see reductions in the defense budget. These are examples of advanced technologies that a military focused on high-end warfare in the Western Pacific should be investing in, but the Administration has cut them.”

The military will be neither very large nor technologically-advanced. It will be cut significantly in size, hollow, and saddled with obsolete, worn-out equipment.
During his response to a question (posed to General Dempsey) by Strategic Forces Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH), Sec. Panetta falsely claimed (at 1:49:00) that the contemplation of steep reductions of the US nuclear arsenal (up to 80%) sprung from the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which was required by law, even though that is not true, because the 2010 NPR did not say that the nuclear arsenal will be reduced at all; it didn’t presuppose any reductions.

Responding to a question by Congressman Rob Wittman about the draconian cuts the Administration plans to make to the Navy’s ship fleet and to shipbuilding programs (including the Virginia class submarine), General Dempsey responded by saying that Wittman is too service-oriented and too focused on just one service (the Navy), while defending the cuts on the grounds that the DOD leadership was building a “Joint Force” and that it was planning on how the military should meet combatant commanders’ needs as a “Joint Force” – as if a “Joint Force” eliminated the need for numbers or as if jointness meant that deep cuts in fleet numbers could be made. General Dempsey even claimed that the Navy is a beneficiary of this budget and the shift to the Pacific, although he acknowledged that this hasn’t come about with any costs for the Navy at all.

In short, Panetta and Dempsey both repeatedly lied for the sake of their boss and his defense cuts.

What is conservatism about? What does it require?

Oftentimes, we talk (or hear other people) talking about “conservatism”,  “conservatives”, “conservative principles”, and “the conservative movement”. The most recent polls on the subject show (and similar polls have been showing for years) that in the United States, self-proclaimed “conservatives” constitute a 40%-41% plurality and outnumber liberals by a factor of 2:1. Yet, sadly, most of these people, indeed most of Americans, do not appear to understand what these terms mean. This post is intended to explain that.

Conservatism is not something that you can twist into any shape you want to, like plasteline. It’s a specific, defined ideology; a fixed, specific set of right-wing principles that are intended to guide us conservatives – both grasroots conservatives like me and CPAC attendees and conservative politicians – and inform us what decisions to make and when; what is the right thing to do, and what is wrong; what is valuable, what isn’t, and what is downright poisonous. These principles are intended to tell us what decisions to make on political issues (if we are officeholders) or what opinions to form and voice (if we do not hold any office).

And what exact principles does conservative ideology consist of?

The first and most important principle is that everyone – the government and citizens alike – must, at all times, obey the Constitution, even if it is convenient to violate it. That is because the Constitution is the greatest document ever written, and has created a governmental system better than any other ever devised on Earth, a limited government system operating with the consent of the governed. Under this Constitutional framework, the US became the most successful country in human history. We must also be mindful of the fact that the Constitution was written by the Founding Fathers, most of whom were far wiser than we are, and represents the form of governmented they wished to see. This means that any policy, program, agency, or “law” not authorized by the Constitution, let alone one violating it, must be abolished. Period.

Moreover, we must interpret the Constitution according to the original intent of its authors, not according to what we wish it said. We can learn that intent by checking what words meant around the time when the Constitution was ratified, and by reading the Federalist Papers. We must reject any attempts by anyone – liberals, libertarians, or anyone else – to reinvent the Constitution, subordinate it to foreign law, use foreign law in US courts, or make law from the bench. We must not allow them to invent any “rights”, nor put faith in these fallen people.

Related to these first two principles of conservatism is the next one: that related to government spending. Conservatism teaches us that the private sector should be left to do everything that it can do best, and that governments should do only what the private sector and private citizens can’t do well. And among governments’ tasks, everything that states and local governments can do better than the central government, including everything reserved to them by the 10th Amendment, should be done by them, and not by the federal government. The Constitution reserves everything except defense, wars, foreign affairs, foreign trade, mail delivery, and the establishment of a uniform commercial system (a single system of weights and measures, bankruptcy laws, a single currency, etc.) to the states.

If the US had obeyed those principles, there would’ve never been a federal budget deficit in the first place – let alone one measured in trillion dollars per year. That is because the Constitution authorizes the federal government to deal only with the issues listed above. Had the federal and state governments and the American people just followed the Constitution, there would’ve never been a federal budget deficit in the first place. However, two malicious influences have intervened. Firstly, federal politicians, hungry for ever more power, have been expanding the size and scope of the federal government since the Progressive Era. Secondly, states, localities, and individual citizens willingly accepted this as the price for federal subsidies, which they gladly took every year, thus freeing themselves from responsible fiscal policies (state and local governments) or from responsible lifestyles (individual citizens). Thus, the federal government turned states into its slaves, dependent on federal subsidies, and created an entire dependency class. Thus, the rate of people’s dependency on the federal government is at its highest level in American history, with 46 mn people on foodstamps and a full 20% of Americans depending on the Feds for their living according to the Heritage Foundation.

Also related to the first two principles is the requirement for a strong defense and for whatever measure is necessary to build it, including generous funding. Despite libertarians’ pathetic attempts to portray defense spending as a Big Government Program, providing generous funding (and whatever else is necessary) for national defense is actually an integral part of conservative philosophy, in part because it’s the #1 Constitutional duty of the federal government. Defense spending is not a Big Government program. Likewise, it is permissible, and sometimes necessary, for the US to intervene militarily abroad and to join alliances with likeminded nations. There is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it. In this case, libertarians are guilty of the same sin as liberals – reinventing the Constitution, inventing hocus-pocus things that are not in it, and misportraying it as something it is not.

It is ironic, but not surprising, that just as the federal government has been steadily expanding into provinces reserved to the states, micromanaging everything from education to agriculture, it has irresponsibly neglected, and been steadily cutting spending on, its most important legitimate function: defense. Spending on it accounted for the absolute majority of the federal budget in the Eisenhower era; now it’s 19%. Entitlement spending exceeded defense spending in FY1975 and now consumes 63% of the total federal budget. Conservatism calls for both of these trends to be reversed. It requires that federal spending be prioritized in favor of defense, and that all programs and agencies not authorized by the Constitution be abolished completely.

Conservatism also requires respect and trust for free enterprise and for protecting it from governmental strangulation. It rejects statism, nationalization, government mandates and steering of business decisions, bailouts, and class warfare. Taxes should be low and simple.

Conservatism requires that the government not adopt any environmentalist regulations prohibiting the safe, responsible development of the country’s natural resources.

Conservatism requires that people’s civil liberties be protected and respected. As the Fourth Amendment says, no person should be arrested or searched, and no one’s car or house should be searched, except with a warrant for a probable cause, and as per the Sixth Amendment, no US citizen should be denied a right to a speedy, public trial or the right to an attorney. But conservatism also teaches us that foreigners are not entitled to any of the rights of US citizens.

Finally, regarding social issues, most conservativies, including myself, profess traditional Christian beliefs. We believe in the right to life, traditional marriage, and in human dignity. We reject abortion, gay marriage, and human cloning. But there are also many conservatives who profess socially liberal beliefs on these issues. What does conservative ideology say?

That decisions on these policies should be made by the people, not by judges legislating from the bench. We must respect the right of the people of all states to make their own policies on the subject. Therefore, for example, whatever you think of gay marriage, you cannot agree with the 9th Circuit Court’s decision overruling the verdict of Californian voters on marriage protection. We as conservatives may have our legitimate differences on these subjects, but we cannot tolerate judges legislating from the bench.

So that is what conservatism requires. Obeying the Constitution at all times, maintaining a limited Constitutional government and the minimum required taxation, providing for a strong national defense, keeping private enterprise free from any government diktats, developing national resources as needed and as prudence dictates, and making sure that judges interpret the law as it stands, not legislate from the bench.

Anything contrary to that is not conservatism.

Pro-Ron-Paul loons falsely claim Napolitano was punished for supporting Paul

Pro-Ron-Paul loons are angry that Andrew Napolitano’s show, Freedom Watch, is no longer being aired on FN. They claim he has been punished this way for supporting Paul. The truth is that the show was ended because of is extremely poor ratings.

And while we’re discussing this subject, I’d like to state that the vast majority of the claims that Napolitano made during his infamous last show were blatant, insulting lies. They were not just false, they were insulting.

Napolitano started by saying that the two-party system was created to limit voters’ choices. That is a blatant lie. The two-party system was actually created at the beginning of America’s history by the Founding Fathers. The first parties of this system were the Federalists (led by John Adams and Alexander Hamilton) and the Anti-Federalists (later called the Republicans, then the Democratic Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison). Napolitano claims that the system is designed to limit voters’ choice and their freedoms. He thus levies this false charge against the Founding Fathers, although he’s too much of a coward to admit it.

Napolitano also claimed that the Democratic Party and the GOP are not really different from each other on policy matters, that both support the same policies of Big Government and “military interventionism”, and that no matter who controls the Federal Government and who lives in the WH, government remains big and things remain the same. This is not only patently false, it is downright insulting for all of those past heroes (such as Ronald Reagan) who achieved REAL reductions of the size and scope of government, and all of those current conservative Republicans who are now fighting against Big Government, Allen West, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin, and Mike Lee just to name a few. Moreover, the GOP’s philosophies and the policies the GOP favors are completely different from those of the Democratic Party. For Napolitano to claim that the two parties are not really different policy-wise is false, ridiculous, and insulting.

The fiercely pro-Ron-Paul showman also claimed that George W. Bush implemented a foreign policy of muscular military intervention. That is not exactly true. Bush did intervene militarily in Iraq, to be sure, and that was a debatable war. However, regarding Afghanistan, that was not a war he wanted, provoked, or had a choice about. Taliban-ruled Afghanistan hosted Osama Bin Laden and other AQ terrorists (who were trained in AQ camps in that country) who attacked the US on 9/11, killing almost 3,000 people. After such a war, and after the Taleban had refused to comply with repeated US requests to extradite OBL, President Bush had only two options: either to punish the parties responsible, or to do nothing and thereby show the entire world that aggression against the US could go unpunished. That was not a real choice.

Even less credible is Napolitano’s claim that government grew in the late 1990s. That is patently false. The size and scope of government SHRANK during that time. Spending, predominantly defense spending (which Napolitano derisively calls spending on “warfare”), was cut in real terms. Welfare reform was passed and millions of people were moved off welfare rolls, thus reducing government dependency, the single largest driver of government size, scope, and spending. The federal government was even shut down for a while. Taxes were cut, thousands of regulations were thrown into the dustbin, and the federal workforce was reduced.

Napolitano attacked Rick Santorum as a Big Government Republican, even though his beloved Ron Paul has a far worse record on that score. Santorum actually DID oppose the Republican agenda (and that of President Bush) on at least two occasions. Firstly, in 2002, he was one of the few Republicans to vote against the McCain-Feingold Act, which President Bush gleefully signed. Secondly, in 2008, he opposed the TARP program, which Bush was pushing for.

Napolitano claims that his beloved Ron Paul is a defender of liberty who wants to “defend our liberties from the government”, but that is completely false. Ron Paul is not a defender of liberty by any measure. Firstly, he wants to gut (not just cut, but gut) America’s defense, and has repeatedly cosponsored and voted for legislation which would do exactly that, such as Barney Frank’s George-Soros-sponsored defense cuts plan of 2010. Without a strong defense, you won’t have any liberties, as they will be at the mercy of America’s enemies and there won’t even be a safe country to live in. Secondly, Ron Paul is not a supporter of limited government, merely a states’ rights supporter. He believes that states have the right to do anything they want to do to you, and to trash any of your liberties, and that you cannot invoke the Constitution to defend your rights. In other words, Big Government is perfectly fine for him – just so long as it’s at the state level. In this respect, he’s no different from the vast majority of Republican politicians and columnists, including Mitt Romney, Pam Bondi, Ann Coulter, Andrew McCarthy, and Herman Cain. Thirdly, his record is stained by the tons of pork (worth hundreds of millions of dollars) he has brought to his home district every year he has been in office. For Napolitano to claim he’s a limited government supporter and then call on people to support a Big Government states’ rights supporter like Ron Paul.

Napolitano demands a “non-interventionist” foreign policy, but “noninterventionism” is a mere euphemism for isolationism, and is in any case a suicidal, irrational, ideological policy which would be just as bad for America as a radical tilt in the opposite extreme direction: McCainiac hyperinterventionism. The truth is that (Napolitano and other Paulbots, pay attention) America DOES sometimes need to intervene military abroad, specifically, when its crucial interests are at stake.

But the most ridiculous, and most insulting, claim made by Napolitano during his rant during the final episode of his show was that Ronald Reagan never reduced the size and scope of government and that “there was no Reagan Revolution”. Only a totally deranged libertarian or liberal could say something like that.

The truth is that there was a Reagan Revolution and that it succeeded beyond expectations. Tax rates were slashed from the 70s down to the 20s, while revenue dramatically increased in a supply-side boom. The inflation rate was dramatically cut from the teens to the low single digits, as the Reagan Administration and the Volcker-led Federal Reserve instituted a “King Dollar” policy that fellow supply-sider Larry Kudlow fondly remembers and which all four current GOP presidential contenders also support (in some variation). Government spending and scope of intervention were significantly reduced. The budget for the EPA, for example, was cut by 22%. Federal spending as a percentage of GDP shrank from 23% to 21%, despite Reagan’s massive defense buildup, which helped win the Cold War. Entire industries, including the oil and railroad industries, were deregulated, thus spurring their growth and significant price cuts for consumers. The economy embarked on a 25-year expansion which more than doubled America’s GDP. That is a great success by any honest standards. Only a deranged loon like Napolitano could call it a failure or deny that there was any Reagan revolution at all.

Of course, there is a limit to what a President can achieve by himself. For his entire time as President, Reagan had to deal with a House dominated by liberal Democrats such as Tip O’Neill (who wanted Reagan’s entire agenda to be DOA) and a Senate dominated first by RINOs and then, from 1987 onwards, by liberal Democrats like Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, and Robert Byrd. That Reagan nonetheless managed to get so much of his agenda passed is proof that the Reagan Revolution was a huge success.

By contrast, what has Ron Paul achieved during his entire time as Congressman (a total of 23 years)? Absolutely nothing. No important legislation that got passed, no real cuts in nondefense spending, no real reforms, no reduction of the size and scope of government that could be attributed to his name, nothing. In fact, he has made the Big Government problem WORSE with his pork projects costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

So, if one actually studies the facts, and doesn’t blindly buy Napolitano’s claims, one sees that his claims are all lies. Good riddance, Mr Napolitano!