Monthly Archives: March 2013

Drag Racing’s Long Record of Diversity is No Hype

By Gary P Jackson

Back in February, when the media circus was aimed directly at Daytona, and NASCAR racer Danica Patrick’s pole winning drive, another female racer, Courtney Force, was not only qualifying in the number one spot at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California, she was winning the event. It wasn’t her first win either.

Force, the daughter of 15 time world champ John Force, drove her Funny Car to the number one spot with an elapsed time of 4.036 seconds at 318.24 mph. Come race day, Courtney dominated the field, and saved her best for the final round. Her 4.025 second 317.12 mph pass was not only low elapsed time of the event, but her career best. Courtney left Pomona with the points lead and a coveted spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout that will be held at the US Nationals on Labor Day weekend.

At the same event, John Force’s middle daughter, Brittany, was making her debut in Top Fuel, as was Leah Pruitt-Leduc, who has already raced in Funny Car and Pro Mod previously.

The very next weekend, as the media again looked to Daytona, and Fox Sports’ announcers were hyperventilating because Danica Patrick led a lap, one single lap, at the Daytona 500, Pro Stock racer Erica Enders-Stevens was busy winning at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. She did so in dominating fashion.

What is so remarkable about these two ladies’ wins, is that in the National Hot Rod Association it’s not remarkable at all!

Women have been participating, and winning, in the NHRA for decades. Courtney Force’s points lead wasn’t even of historic note, as her sister, three time Indy champion Ashley Force-Hood, led the points several years back, and finished second in the points championship that season.

The first female to win an NHRA national event was Shirley Shahan, who in 1966 won Top Stock Eliminator at the Winternationals, with her 426 Hemi Powered Plymouth.

Shahan would have a long and storied career in the NHRA. Since then women have participated in, and won many events at the sportsman level. All the Force girls, Erica-Enders Stevens, as well as most of the women pro racers, just like the men, started out in the sportsman categories. Erica started out in Jr Dragster, as a young girl. Disney made a movie about young Erica’s exploits called Right On Track.

If you go to your local drag strip, you might be surprised to find as many little girls racing Jr Dragsters as little boys!

NHRA’s legacy of women in racing arguably goes back further than all of this though. Even further back than the NHRA itself. Much like NASCAR, part of NHRA’s DNA comes from street racers, but NHRA also has deep roots in land-speed racing. NHRA’s founder, Wally Parks, was also part of the Southern California Timing Association, the sanctioning body that oversaw many of the races on the dry lake beds. Parks helped reorganize the SCTA in the late 1930s.

One of these dry lakes racers was a lady named Veda Orr. Now as you can imagine, not everyone was on board with women racing fast cars, but Veda’s husband, Karl, was a rather large and imposing fellow, and no one was gonna tell him that Veda couldn’t race! She and other women raced “unofficially.”

What makes Veda Orr stand out as a historical figure, was her efforts during WWII. All of the young men who raced on the dry lakes were, of course, enlisted in the fight. Many of the racers turned GIs would write Veda looking for news, anything from home. It didn’t take long before the letters were so numerous, she took up publishing the SCTA newsletter, something that had been left undone, and sending it to GIs all over the world. She gave these warriors a little taste of home, and the servicemen absolutely adored her.

After the war, the SCTA was again reorganized, and the board members voted to admit her, and allow her to race officially. It can be said, Veda Orr kept the SCTA alive during the war. Veda would go on to publish a pictorial book of dry lakes racing for the 1946-1948 seasons. The book has since been reissued several times. She has a huge place in motorsports history.

In modern times, the first woman to win as a professional was Shirley Muldowney. Shirley had raced for years in both door cars, and fuel dragsters, but it was her groundbreaking win in Top Fuel in 1976 that really paved the way for all of the women who now compete.

Around this time other women tried racing in NASCAR and at Indy, but were treated as “novelties” not serious racers, a real shame. Shirley faced her share of discrimination, for sure, but as a pro she quickly proved she was no novelty! In 1977 Shirley won the NHRA Top Fuel world championship, the first for a female. She would back that up with many more event wins, as well as championships in 1980 and 1982.

What makes Shirley so remarkable is when she won her second championship in 1980, she was the first person in history, man or woman, to have won more than one NHRA Top Fuel championship. When she won her third, in 1982, she was still the only person in the world with more than one NHRA championship in Top Fuel. During this period Shirley was also winning in the AHRA and IHRA as well.

The thing we enjoyed about Shirley wasn’t that she was a woman, but that she came to the track to race. She was there to rip the competition to shreds, and more times than not, that’s exactly what she did. Her reaction times, one of drag racing’s most important skills, were far superior than her contemporaries, and she flat knew how to get her car down the track. In fact, Shirley’s reactions were so good, many in drag racing, at the time, wondered if women didn’t make better race car drivers.

Since then, numerous women have raced and won in Top Fuel, including Lucille Lee, Shelly Anderson-Payne, Rachelle Splatt [from Australia] , Christen Powell, Lori Johns, Hillary Will, and Melanie Troxell, just to name a few.

The winningest female racer in the NHRA also happens to be the winningest Pro Stock Motorcycle racer, period, Angelle Drago. Angelle has three world championships to her credit. Pro Stock Motorcycles cover the quarter mile in less than seven seconds, at speeds around 200 mph.

There is not a single professional NHRA class that hasn’t had a female winner.

One of the hardest things to do in drag racing, especially the nitro ranks, is to win in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. Only a handful of men have done this throughout the history of the sport. A handful of men, and one woman, Melanie Troxel.

Melanie has also won in Pro Mod, one of the hardest to drive race cars in all of motorsports. She is the only driver to have won in all three classes.

It’s not just women who have enjoyed great successes though. Minorities have always done well. The reigning Top Fuel champion is Antron Brown, a huge fan favorite.

Antron Brown

Before coming to Top Fuel, Antron was already a winning Pro Stock Motorcycle racer, where he was Angelle Drago’s U S Army Racing teammate.

Antron joins Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton in being the only black racers to have won major racing championships, but Antron is not unique in drag racing. There have been black racers in Top Fuel and Funny Car, as well as Pro Stock , Pro Stock Motorcycle, and Pro Mod.

In the 1960s, before there was Funny Car, there were the gassers. These lightweight supercharged cars, were fan favorites. When not racing at national events, the gassers were a huge draw at match races and open events across the country. There was no bigger names then, or bigger legends now, than the famed Stone, Woods, and Cook team.

Owners Fred Stone and Leonard Woods were black, and driver Doug Cook was white.

In 2008 NHRA’s weekly publication National Dragster ran a poll asking readers what their favorite race car of all time was, and the Stone, Woods, and Cook Swindler was the winner. Editor Phil Burgess did a follow up to the story that brings back great memories.

Hispanics have always been well represented in drag racing. From Joaquin Arnett and the sport’s earliest days to second generation Funny Car drivers Cruz and Tony Pedregon who have a pair of world championships each.

Drag racing is international, with races held all over the world. Throughout the years, racers have traveled to America to compete in the NHRA. Obviously there have been great racers and champions from Canada, but there have been racers from England, Australia, all over Europe, and the Middle East who have competed as well.

Currently, one of the top teams in the sport is based out of Qatar, and one of their drivers Khalid alBalooshi, races Top Fuel, after having been a standout in Pro Mod.

Though he now calls Montana home, Top Fuel racer David Grubnic is from Australia.

I wish I could tell readers why NHRA has such a great record of diversity, that is unmatched in other forms of motorsports, but I simply can’t. A race car doesn’t know, or care, who is driving it. For a driver, skill, not gender or color, is all that matters. That holds true for any kind of racing, not just drag racing.

Some will say that well, in drag racing, you only go straight, so anyone can do it. We’ve heard this before, always from people who have never actually tried it.

Let’s look at Funny Car, and Courtney Force.

The V-8 engines in Funny Car and Top Fuel make over 10,000 horsepower, burning highly volatile nitromethane fuel. To put that in perspective, each cylinder makes around 1250 horsepower, or almost double that of an entire NASCAR or Indy Racing League engine.

When Courtney Force steps on the throttle of her Funny Car, she feels twice the amount of g-force that astronauts in the space shuttle felt during take off. She goes from 0 to 100 mph in about eight-tenths of a second. By the eighth mile [660 feet] she’ll be traveling at 275 mph. When she pulls the parachute as she reaches the finish line, Courtney will feel negative g-forces about three times more than what she experienced at launch. To give you an idea of how hard this is on the body, two of the sport’s biggest legends, Big Daddy Don Garlits, and Joe Amato had to retire from Top Fuel racing, because their retinas had detached from their eyes, after so many years of pulling those parachutes.

If you look at a Funny Car, you’ll notice the exhaust points upward. There is a reason for this, the extreme exhaust pressure coming out of each cylinder produces thousands of pounds of downforce, and that helps keep the race car planted firmly to the track.

This is a double edged sword though. Nitro engines are finicky, on a good day. Many times, even on a great pass, one or more cylinders will lose fire, which tuners call dropping a cylinder. What happens then is the exhaust pressure from the side of the engine that has all four candles lit, will actually push the race car out of the groove, and in extreme cases, into the wall. A driver only has milliseconds to react, in a car that really doesn’t like to be driven. It takes great skill to get an errant Funny Car down the track in these conditions. We’ve seen Courtney do a great job of driving when it seemed her car wanted to stuff her in the wall. She does a remarkable job of taking the car right down the track when many others struggle.

No race car is easy to drive and certainly not one with the kind of power we are talking about here.

As a former racer, and someone who loves all kinds of racing, it’s frustrating to see so many lauding NASCAR and Danica Patrick, when the NHRA has such a long record of women, and minority winners. I don’t want to take away from Danica, she’s certainly a skilled driver, but she has yet to win at her sport’s highest level. In fact, she’s often finished races well out of the top positions. Danica has always sat in the very best equipment money can buy, yet no wins. It would be nice to see some women drivers not only be competitive in NASCAR, but win. So far, that has never happened.

On the other hand, in the NHRA women have captured the number one qualifying position 90 times. Women have won 92 NHRA events. Two women, Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Drago, have three world championships each.

Three Hispanic racers count for 5 world championships, and of course, the reigning Top Fuel champion is black.

NASCAR and the media have surrounded Danica Patrick with hype. Last week RACER Magazine named Courtney Force the 2012 Rookie of the Year, for all of motorsports. This huge honor is the first for any drag racer. Courtney joins some of the biggest names in all of motorsports who have also won this honor.

Meanwhile, the NHRA Gatornationals are this weekend in Gainesville, Florida. There will be numerous women drivers competing throughout the many classes. Don’t be surprised to see one, or more female winners. At Seattle in 2012 Courtney Force and Erica Enders-Stevens shared the Winners Circle with Megan Ellingson, who won Super Street.

You can catch qualifying Saturday and final eliminations Sunday evening on ESPN2.

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It Is Funny What Seven Days Can Change: Marco Rubio Quotes Wiz Khalifa on the Senate Floor

 

This clip shows, with a little humor,how unbearable rap music really is, and how unrealistic the GOP is in thinking they can reach out to a demographic that don’t see them as being hip or cool.

The GOP/RNC is spending millions (ten according to the article below) on Big Tent theories which amount to nothing but pandering.  They ignore and punish those who really are in touch with youth, women and minority voters (Sarah Palin,  for one), yet appoint Marco Rubio as the messenger who will attract these voters.

He is unfocused and self-unaware. He loses pages to important speeches before world remembers Jay-Z’s lyrics, which are quite amazingly lengthy and difficult to digest. http://www.politico.com/story/2013/03/rnc-report-gop-scary-out-of-touch-88974.html?hp=t1_3

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Awesome: Ted Cruz Schools Dianne Feinstein on our Constitutional Rights

Cruz-DiFi-316x1971-300x187

By Gary P Jackson

Radical leftist Dianne Feinstein and her party are trying to take away our God given rights. Ted Cruz schools Feinstein on the constitution. As Feinstein prattles on, Cruz asks her if Congress can ban guns, can they also ban free speech.

The democrats work hard here to say none of our God given rights are absolute, trying to muddy the issue.

It should trouble every American that these sort of anti-American views are held by people with great power over all of us. We have stood by as our rights have been slowly taken away from us. We’ve seen our basic human dignity attacked. It’s time we stand up and fight back!

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Allen West at CPAC2013: Deeds, not Words, Will Paint the Country Red

Allen West

By Gary P Jackson

Allen West kicks off CPAC2013 with a fiery speech. A must see speech.

Video courtesy SarahNET.

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Mark Levin to Barack Obama: YOU LIED!

Mark-Levin1-e1358261464549

By Gary P Jackson

Great back and forth between Mark Levin and Sean Hannity. I dig the white board!

Levin hammer’s Obama but also rips John Boehner and the feckless Republican “leadership.” Enjoy:

Video courtesy SarahNET.

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President Obama to Allow Spy Agencies to Look at All American Citizens’ Financial Data

obama-burns-constitution-e1323108652975

By Gary P Jackson

Remember when maniacal liberals went crazy because President Bush was monitoring terrorists’ communications with warrant-less wiretaps? I wonder if they’ll say anything about this?

In fact, I’m wondering if this is even legal. The report says Obama will give ALL spy agencies access to our private financial deals. Does that include the CIA? If so, we have a problem. The CIA is prohibited by law from participating in intelligence-gathering operations against U.S. citizens. The CIA has no law enforcement powers. Why would they be involved in mass information gathering of American citizens?

Where is Congress on this?

I recommend you contact your Senator and Congressman immediately. I’m all for stopping terrorists, and our banking system already reports suspicious activity to law enforcement. Allowing spy agencies access to this information is incredibly troubling.

From Reuters:

The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.

Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database. However, intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, currently have to make case-by-case requests for information to FinCEN.

The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before, helping them look for patterns that could reveal attack plots or criminal schemes.

The planning document, dated March 4, shows that the proposal is still in its early stages of development, and it is not known when implementation might begin.

Financial institutions file more than 15 million “suspicious activity reports” every year, according to Treasury. Banks, for instance, are required to report all personal cash transactions exceeding $10,000, as well as suspected incidents of money laundering, loan fraud, computer hacking or counterfeiting.

For these reports to be of value in detecting money laundering, they must be accessible to law enforcement, counter-terrorism agencies, financial regulators, and the intelligence community,” said the Treasury planning document.

A Treasury spokesperson said U.S. law permits FinCEN to share information with intelligence agencies to help detect and thwart threats to national security, provided they adhere to safeguards outlined in the Bank Secrecy Act. “Law enforcement and intelligence community members with access to this information are bound by these safeguards,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Some privacy watchdogs expressed concern about the plan when Reuters outlined it to them.

A move like the FinCEN proposal “raises concerns as to whether people could find their information in a file as a potential terrorist suspect without having the appropriate predicate for that and find themselves potentially falsely accused,” said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Rule of Law Program at the Constitution Project, a non-profit watchdog group.

Despite these concerns, legal experts emphasize that this sharing of data is permissible under U.S. law. Specifically, banks’ suspicious activity reporting requirements are dictated by a combination of the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act, which offer some privacy safeguards.

National security experts also maintain that a robust system for sharing criminal, financial and intelligence data among agencies will improve their ability to identify those who plan attacks on the United States.

It’s a war on money, war on corruption, on politically exposed persons, anti-money laundering, organized crime,” said Amit Kumar, who advised the United Nations on Taliban sanctions and is a fellow at the Democratic think tank Center for National Policy.

SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY

The Treasury document outlines a proposal to link the FinCEN database with a computer network used by U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies to share classified information called the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System.

The plan calls for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – set up after 9/11 to foster greater collaboration among intelligence agencies – to work with Treasury. The Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

More than 25,000 financial firms – including banks, securities dealers, casinos, and money and wire transfer agencies – routinely file “suspicious activity reports” to FinCEN. The requirements for filing are so strict that banks often over-report, so they cannot be accused of failing to disclose activity that later proves questionable. This over-reporting raises the possibility that the financial details of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of spy agencies.

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, said privacy advocates have already been pushing back against the increased data-sharing activities between government agencies that followed the September 11 attacks.

One of the real pushes from the civil liberties community has been to move away from collection restrictions on the front end and put more limits on what the government can do once it has the information,” he said.

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Amity Shlaes: Calvin Coolidge and the Moral Case for Economy

calvin-coolidge no substitute

By Amity Shlaes
Author: Coolidge

The following is adapted from a talk given at Hillsdale College on January 27, 2013, during a conference on “The Federal Income Tax: A Centenary Consideration,” co-sponsored by the Center for Constructive Alternatives and the Ludwig von Mises Lecture Series.

WITH THE FEDERAL DEBT spiraling out of control, many Americans sense an urgent need to find a political leader who is able to say “no” to spending. Yet they fear that finding such a leader is impossible. Conservatives long for another Ronald Reagan. But is Reagan the right model? He was of course a tax cutter, reducing the top marginal rate from 70 to 28 percent. But his tax cuts—which vindicated supply-side economics by vastly increasing federal revenue—were bought partly through a bargain with Democrats who were eager to spend that revenue. Reagan was no budget cutter—indeed, the federal budget rose by over a third during his administration.

An alternative model for conservatives is Calvin Coolidge. President from 1923 to 1929, Coolidge sustained a budget surplus and left office with a smaller budget than the one he inherited. Over the same period, America experienced a proliferation of jobs, a dramatic increase in the standard of living, higher wages, and three to four percent annual economic growth. And the key to this was Coolidge’s penchant for saying “no.” If Reagan was the Great Communicator, Coolidge was the Great Refrainer.

Enter Coolidge

Following World War I, the federal debt stood ten times higher than before the war, and it was widely understood that the debt burden would become unbearable if interest rates rose. At the same time, the top income tax rate was over 70 percent, veterans were having trouble finding work, prices had risen while wages lagged, and workers in Seattle, New York, and Boston were talking revolution and taking to the streets.

The Woodrow Wilson administration had nationalized the railroads for a time at the end of the war, and had encouraged stock exchanges to shut down for a time, and Progressives were now pushing for state or even federal control of water power and electricity. The business outlook was grim, and one of the biggest underlying problems was the lack of an orderly budgeting process: Congress brought proposals to the White House willy-nilly, and they were customarily approved.

The Republican Party’s response in the 1920 election was to campaign for smaller government and for a return to what its presidential candidate, Warren Harding, dubbed “normalcy”—a curtailing of government interference in the economy to create a predictable environment in which business could confidently operate.

Calvin Coolidge, a Massachusetts governor who had gained a national reputation by facing down a Boston police strike—“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he had declared—was chosen to be Harding’s running mate. And following their victory, Harding’s inaugural address set a different tone from that of the outgoing Wilson administration (and from that of the Obama administration today): “No altered system,” Harding said, “will work a miracle. Any wild experiment will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in efficient administration of our proven system.”

One of Harding’s first steps was to shepherd through Congress the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, under which the executive branch gained authority over and took responsibility for the budget, even to the point of being able to impound money after it was budgeted. This legislation also gave the executive branch a special budget bureau—the forerunner to today’s Office of Management and Budget—over which Harding named a flamboyant Brigadier General, Charles Dawes, as director. Together they proceeded to summon department staff and their bosses to semiannual meetings at Continental Hall, where Dawes cajoled and shamed them into making spending cuts.

In addition, Harding pushed through a tax cut, lowering the top rate to 58 percent; and in a move toward privatization, he proposed to sell off naval petroleum reserves in Wyoming to private companies.

Unfortunately, some of the men Harding appointed to key jobs proved susceptible to favoritism or bribery, and his administration soon became embroiled in scandal. In one instance, the cause of privatization sustained damage when it became clear that secret deals had taken place in the leasing of oil reserves at Teapot Dome. Then in the summer of 1923, during a trip out West to get away from the scandals and prepare for a new presidential campaign, Harding died suddenly.

Enter Coolidge, whose personality was at first deemed a negative—his face, Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, “looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle.” But canny political leaders, including Supreme Court Justice and former President William Howard Taft, quickly came to respect the new president. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, after visiting the White House a few times that August, noted that whereas Harding had never been alone, Coolidge often was; that whereas Harding was partial to group decisions, Coolidge made decisions himself; and most important, that whereas Harding’s customary answer was “yes,” Coolidge’s was “no.

The former governor of Massachusetts was in his element when it came to budgeting. Within 24 hours of arriving back in Washington after Harding’s death, he met with his own budget director, Herbert Lord, and together they went on offense, announcing deepened cuts in two politically sensitive areas: spending on veterans and District of Columbia public works. In his public statements, Coolidge made clear he would have scant patience with anyone who didn’t go along: “We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation.”

If Harding’s budget meetings had been rough, Coolidge’s were rougher. Lord first advertised a “Two Percent Club,” for executive branch staffers who managed to save two percent in their budgets. Then a “One Percent Club,” for those who had achieved two or more already. And finally a “Woodpecker Club,” for department heads who kept chipping away. Coolidge did not even find it beneath his pay grade to look at the use of pencils in the government: “I don’t know if I ever indicated to the conference that the cost of lead pencils to the government per year is about $125,000,” he instructed the press in 1926. “I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy,” he told voters.

Coolidge in Command

It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” Coolidge had once advised his father. And indeed, while Harding had vetoed only six bills, Coolidge vetoed 50—including farming subsidies, even though he came from farming country. (“Farmers never had made much money,” he told a guest, and he didn’t see there was much the government could rightly do about it.) He also vetoed veterans’ pensions and government entry into the utilities sector.

Perhaps reflecting his temperament, Coolidge favored the pocket veto—a way for the president to reject a bill without a veto message and without affording Congress a chance to override a veto. Grover Cleveland, who Coolidge admired, had used this veto in his day, as had Theodore Roosevelt. But Coolidge raised its use to an art form. The New York Times referred to it as “disapproval by inaction.”

Gaining public acceptance of having a Scrooge as president required playing the role of Scrooge consistently. Coolidge took care to do so, visiting his saving habit on everyone around him. It was at the White House dinner table, for instance, that Coolidge’s attack on “pork” became literal: At one point the housekeeper proudly showed the President the spread for a big dinner, and instead of receiving praise she was scolded for serving “an awful lot of ham.” She departed soon after.

The Hurricane Katrina of the Coolidge years, the great Mississippi River flood of 1927, wiped out many areas of the South. Yet Coolidge pointedly chose not to visit the devastated areas—sending Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover in his place—out of concern that a presidential visit might encourage the idea of federal spending on disaster relief, for which there were already advocates in Congress.

This triggered resentment, which Senator Thaddeus Caraway of Arkansas expressed in personal terms: “I venture to say that if a similar disaster had affected New England the President would have had no hesitation in calling an extra session. Unfortunately he was unable to visualize the situation.” But soon thereafter floods tore across Vermont, the state where Coolidge had spent his childhood, and calls for him to visit grew loud—to no avail. “He can’t do for his own, you see, more than he did for the others,” as one Vermonter explained. Vermont, like Arkansas, would have to recover without federal intervention.

In doing research for my new biography of Coolidge, I reviewed his presidential appointment books and found a clue as to why he was able to be so consistent: sheer discipline. Coolidge and his budget director met every Friday morning before cabinet meetings to identify budget cuts and discuss how to say “no” to the requests of cabinet members. Most presidents give in after a time—Eisenhower being a good example—but Coolidge did not, despite the budget surpluses during his presidency. He held 14 meetings with his budget director after coming to office in late 1923, 55 meetings in 1924, 52 in 1925, 63 in 1926, and 51 in 1927.

In a conference call with Jewish philanthropists, Coolidge explained his consistency this way: “I believe in budgets. I want other people to believe in them. I have had a small one to run my own home; and besides that, I am the head of the organization that makes the greatest of all budgets, that of the United States government. Do you wonder then that at times I dream of balance sheets and sinking funds, and deficits and tax rates and all the rest?

The Purpose of Tax Cuts

Speaking of tax rates, in December 1923, Coolidge and Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon launched a campaign to lower top rates from the fifties to the twenties. Mellon believed, and informed Coolidge, that these cuts might result in additional revenue. This was referred to as “scientific taxation”—an early formulation of the Laffer Curve. And Coolidge passed the word on: “Experience does not show that the higher rate produces the larger revenue. Experience is all the other way,” he said in a speech in early 1924. “When the surtax on incomes of $300,000 and over was but 10 percent, the revenue was about the same as it was at 65 percent.”

Mellon and Coolidge did not win all they sought. The top rate of the final law was in the forties. But even this reduction yielded results—more money flowing into the Treasury—suggesting that “scientific taxation” worked. By 1926, Coolidge was able to sign legislation that brought the top marginal rate down to 25 percent, and to do so retroactively.

Today’s Republicans tend to take pleasure when the Laffer Curve is vindicated and more money flows into government as a result of tax cuts. Indeed, this idea of “scientific taxation” is often used to attempt to get Democrats to go along with tax cuts, as if those cuts are an end in themselves.

By contrast, the specter of increased federal revenue rendered Coolidge anxious, personally and politically—so much so that he considered foregoing the rate cuts: “While I am exceedingly interested in having tax reduction . . . it can only be brought about as a result of economy,” he said at one point. He would not put tax cuts before budget reduction, insisting on twinning the two goals. To underscore the point, twin lion cubs given to Coolidge by the mayor of Johannesburg were named “Budget Bureau” and “Tax Reduction.”

In short, Coolidge didn’t favor tax cuts as a means to increase revenue or to buy off Democrats. He favored them because they took government, the people’s servant, out of the way of the people. And this sense of government as servant extended to his own office. Senator Selden Spencer once took a walk with Coolidge around the White House grounds. To cheer the President up, Spencer pointed to the White House and asked playfully, “Who lives there?” “Nobody,” Coolidge replied. “They just come and go.”

This view of government and his attendant insistence on economy made Coolidge few friends in Washington—a fact illustrated by notes kept by White House usher Ike Hoover. These notes record the excuses given by lawmakers for not attending breakfasts hosted by Coolidge at the White House: “Senator Heflin: Regrets, sick. Senator Norris: Unable to Locate. Senator Pittman: Regrets, sick. Senator Reed, of Missouri: Regrets, sick friend.”

But as unpopular as he was in Washington, Coolidge proved enormously popular with voters. In 1924, the Progressive Party ran on a platform of government ownership of public power and a return to government ownership of railroads. Many thought the Progressive Party might split the Republican vote as it had in 1912, handing the presidency to the Democrats. As it happened, Progressive candidate Robert LaFollette indeed claimed more than 16 percent of the vote. Yet Coolidge won with an absolute majority, gaining more votes than the Progressive and the Democrat combined. And in 1928, when Coolidge decided not to run for reelection despite the urging of party leaders who looked on his reelection as a sure bet, Herbert Hoover successfully ran on a pledge to continue Coolidge’s policies.

Unfortunately, Hoover didn’t live up to his pledge. Critics often confuse Hoover’s policies with Coolidge’s and complain that the latter did not prevent the Great Depression. That is an argument I take up at length in my previous book, The Forgotten Man, and is a topic for another day. Here let me just say that the Great Depression was as great and as long in duration as it was because, as economist Benjamin Anderson put it, the government under both Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, unlike under Coolidge, chose to “play God.

* * *

Beyond the inspiration of Coolidge’s example of principle and consistency, what are the lessons of his story that are relevant to our current situation? One certainly has to do with the mechanism of budgeting: The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 provided a means for Harding and Coolidge to control the budget and the nation’s debt, and at the same time gave the people the ability to hold someone responsible. That law was gutted in the 1970s, when it became collateral damage in the anti-executive fervor following Watergate. The law that replaced it tilted budget authority back to Congress and has led to over-spending and lack of responsibility.

A second lesson concerns how we look at tax rates. When tax rates are set and judged according to how much revenue they bring in due to the Laffer Curve—which is how most of today’s tax cutters present them, thereby agreeing with tax hikers that the goal of tax policy is to increase revenue—tax policy can become a mechanism to expand government. The goals of legitimate government—American freedom and prosperity—are left by the wayside. Thus the best case for lower taxes is the moral case—and as Coolidge well understood, a moral tax policy demands tough budgeting.

Finally, a lesson about politics. The popularity of Harding and Coolidge, and the success of their policies—especially Coolidge’s—following a long period of Progressive ascendancy, should give today’s conservatives hope. Coolidge in the 1920s, like Grover Cleveland in the previous century, distinguished government austerity from private-sector austerity, combined a policy of deficit cuts with one of tax cuts, and made a moral case for saying “no.” A political leader who does the same today is likely to find an electorate more inclined to respond “yes” than he or she expects.

AmityShlaes

AMITY SHLAES is a syndicated columnist for Bloomberg, a director of the Four Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and a member of the board of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation.

She has served as a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and as a columnist for the Financial Times, and is a recipient of the Hayek Prize and the Frederic Bastiat Prize for free-market journalism. She is the author of four books, Germany: The Empire Within, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It, and Coolidge.

Copyright © 2013 Hillsdale College. Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

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Why Rand Paul’s March 6th “Filibuster” Is a Big Deal

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Sarah Palin Hit’s NYC’s Nanny Bloomberg and Liberals Everywhere: Stay Out of Our Refrigerators!

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At AMC Loews Village 7 theater in the East Village, Saul Farber, 27, called the ruling a “victory for personal freedom” as he sipped soda from a recently purchased 44-ounce cup.

By Gary P Jackson

As you know, New York City’s megalomaniac Mayor, Michael Bloomberg thinks he’s been appointed to run every facet of his citizens’ lives, including what they eat and drink. [Not that this makes Bloomberg any different than any other democrat]

One of the things Nanny Bloomberg sought to do was ban soft drinks larger that 16 ounces. The courts have told him no.

Sarah Palin tweeted this in support of the judge’s ruling:

From the Wall Street Journal:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was dealt a stinging blow on Monday when a state Supreme Court Judge quashed his plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in the city’s restaurants and other venues.

The judge ruled the regulations are “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” noting how there would be uneven enforcement within a single city block. The regulations didn’t affect the Big Gulp at 7-11 because supermarkets and convenience stores are regulated by the state, not the city.

He wrote that regulations exclude other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and calories on “suspect grounds.” The regulations don’t limit patrons from getting refills; that provision, the judge said, appears to “gut the purpose of the rule.

Of course, Bloomberg, the hysterical democrat dictator wannabe that he is, had this to say:

It would be irresponsible not to try to do everything we can to save lives,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who earlier in the day called for jurisdictions across the nation to follow suit.

He left out the old democrat standby “for the children” an oversight on his speechwriter’s part, I’m sure!

No word on when Mayor Bloomberg is going to ban abortions in New York City. Pretty sure abortions kill a hell of a lot more people than Big Gulps do! Do it Mayor, that really would be for the children!

Read more of Bloomberg’s liberal idiocy here.

The New York Daily News did it’s editorializing about this victory for Liberty and Freedom right on it’s front page:

new-york-daily-news-bloomberg-soda-suck-it

As Shawn and Gus would say:

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Dan Bongino: The President is a Guest in the White House The People are the Homeowners

Obama Golf AP

By Gary P Jackson

Naked, petty politics!

Great interview between Dan Bongino and Gretchen Carlson. Dan says it’s time for Obama to grow up and govern.

White House Costs

Video courtesy SarahNET.

obama_white_house_tours_sequester

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