. . . more spending, more taxing, and more regulation. So does the uber-progressive Houston Chronicle.
In the last eight days, the paper -- in the voice of its editors, cartoonist, and public-affairs columnists -- has urged more spending at least six times, more regulation at least five times, and more taxes at least once.
The paper frosted this three-layed cake with filigrees of criticism and mockery for those who would spend less, tax less, and regulate less: conservatives generally, the Tea Party in particular.
By progressive, of course, I mean the political ideology to the left of traditional old-school liberalism. Traditional liberals liked America, warts and all. They wanted to keep the good parts and improve the rest. Modern progressives believe America is so deeply flawed that only fundamental transformation will do. Ask the prez.
To my tribe, the newspaper's progressive tilt is obvious, but one peculiarity of progressives is that they never admit what they are. They don't admit it because they don't see it. In their eyes, they are sensible people, middle-of-the-roaders, blessed (unlike ideological adversaries) with compassion, high morals, and the best of intentions.
Here's the body count on recent editorials, cartoons, and columns.
For more spending
February 21. Cartoon, Nick Anderson, "It isn't long now, my pretty," depicting sequestration as the Wicked Witch (of the Tea Party?) and Congress as a porcine Dorothy, refusing to act. This cartoon qualifies as support for more spending because sequestration would only modestly reduce the growth rate of federal spending. With or without sequestration, the federal budget will grow, this year, next year, forever, until the mind of man knoweth not to the contrary. With the sequester, the growth will simply be a bit less. That's all sequestration is about. Not cuts; slower growth. Mr. Anderson evidently thinks a federal budget that grows, but too slowly for his taste, is wicked.
February 22. Column, Lisa Falkenberg, "Perry ignoring uncomfortable pre-K truths." Taxpayer-funded universal pre-K, proposed by President Obama, "involves a smart, important, even lucrative, investment in our children's future." What leftists call investments is what you and I and other folks with both oars in the water call spending.
February 22. Editorial, "Middle Way: A health care blueprint made in Texas and acceptable to Washington?" The Chronicle calls for expanding Medicaid in Texas. The editors ignore the teaser-rate problem: The Feds, already bankrupt, will borrow enough money to pay the bills for three years, then dump much, and in time most or all, of the costs, on Texas taxpayers. The Chronicle argues that Medicaid expansion is necessary for "the health of our most vulnerable Texans." This is a good example of how ideology can trump facts and reason. Medicaid expansion is not about "our most vulnerable Texans." Our "most vulnerable Texans" are already covered by Medicaid. The expansion is aimed at Texans who are less than "most vulnerable." Many, in truth, are in the middle class. The real goal is to move the nation a step closer to universal taxpayer-financed health care. Ratchet. Ratchet. Ratchet.
February 24. Editorial, "Harris County is in good shape, but . . ." Let me finish the sentence: . . . but it's not spending enough money. The editorial is a petite wish list of spending projects ("[finding] money to reduce the number of at-grade freight rail crossings"). The centerpiece of the editorial is praise for County Judge Ed Emmett, "a mainstream conservative Republican," for wanting to suckle on the federal dugs for more Medicaid money. "He says he is 'full bore' for expansion of Medicaid." Accepting the federal money to expand Texas Medicaid is "an utter necessity." No ifs. No ands. No buts.
February 27. Cartoon, Nick Anderson, "Sequestered." In case you did not catch Mr. Anderson's earlier expression of contempt for sequestration, he today depicts the suit-and-tied GOP establishment enclosed (sequestered, get it?) by four gigantic "NOs" that form a square pen. Har-de-har-har.
February 27. Editorial, "Allen's Landing reflects Houston." The Chronicle praises "public-private plans" to spruce up an old building at Allen's landing. The "public" half of "public-private" means tax dollars from you and from me are to be "invested" in this project, though the branch of government in that is doing this investing is not mentioned. I recall another public-private investment over which the Chronicle swooned, the Mercado del Sol. This East Side project profited only the contractors who turned an old warehouse into an ugly and alleged shopping center, and the vandals who ripped out the copper after the project failed to attract rent-paying tenants. As spending goes, Allen's Landing is not a big deal. Parks are a legitimate function, though not the central function, of local governments, and this project sounds sufficiently like a park or, as the planners and the Chronicle would have it, an "Outdoor Activity Rental Urban Multipurpose Green Space." Seriously. Maybe the project can be financed by a special tax on those who abuse the English language, though that tax might strike a little too close to home for the Houston Chronicle.
For less spending
February 24. Editorial, "Is there a Houston delegation in the Texas Legislature?" I'm classifying this under "less spending" out of pity, not because the newspaper earned the award. The Chronicle wants Texas to give Houston power to "meet and confer" with representatives of the local firefighters pension fund. This is good policy, long overdue. Better policy would be to give the city complete control of the fund. The main point here, however, is that the Chronicle does not say what needs to be said, but which it is essentially incapable of doing, which is that the city's pension contributions are set to bankrupt the city and need to be reduced. Instead, we get an antiseptic process argument. The mean old legislators should let us have a meeting. Let us talk about it. "Meet and confer" is also the essence of the newspaper's response to our pending national bankruptcy. Here's a timid suggestion: Why not suggests some specific cuts, here and elsewhere. Yak, yak, yak is not a policy.
For more taxes
Introduction. The Chronicle's support for higher taxes is mostly sub rosa: the natural and unavoidable consequence, though it dare not speak its name, of spending all the money the Chronicle wishes to spend. But why worry about the money? We can always take more from the 1 percent and borrow and print the rest. What could go wrong?
February 26. Column, Lisa Falkenberg, "Signs that some in GOP confronting reality." Ms. Falkenberg writes sympathetically about a proposal "to increase the state's fuel tax for the first time in more 20 years [read more than 20 years] to fund roads and other needs." GOP lawmakers who support the tax hike are brave. We know they are brave because they say so, unhestitantly. "'I'm going to be brave and say yes,' [Rep. Jimmie Don] Aycock responded without hesitation." A lefty think-tanker of Ms. Falkenberg's acquaintance says it's more than bravery. "It's apparent that people are beginning to face reality." Other brave Texas Republicans who get a thumbs-up from Ms. Falkenberg for facing reality and promoting higher taxes: Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler; Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas; and former Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant.
Conclusion. It probably is time to raise the gasoline tax, perhaps even convert it from a flat cents-per-gallon tax to a percentage tax. That being said, the point of today's essay is less about debating policy and more about throwing a spotlight on the Chronicle's progressive ideological monoculture. It's funny how the progressive vision of "reality" always supports higher taxes. Ms. Falkenberg is not supporting this tax hike because it makes sense, in my humble; she's supporting it because it's a tax hike.
For less taxes
Introduction and conclusion. No editorialist, columnist, or cartoonist spoke up for less taxes. Surprised?
For more regulation
Introduction. The Chronicle loves to spend other people's money, but it loves even more telling other people how to live their lives. Some examples:
February 20. Editorial, "Problem-plagued cruise ship industry needs reliable regulation by U.S. agencies."
February 22. Editorial, "Parking progress: Proposed regulations pair needed flexibility with unnecessary new minimums." A proposed new city parking regulation "has too much good to oppose," so the bottom line is that the newspaper favors more regulation. But this same editorial earns partial credit under "less regulation" because it favors a less onerous version than has been proposed. The only time Chronicle editors ever grow concerned about too much regulation, of course, is when it hurts people like them, in this case proprietors of bars and restaurants along Washington Avenue.
February 23. Editorial, "Oceanographer's warnings about Gulf deserve prime-time attention." The Chronicle favors "giving . . . the Great Blue Engine of the Gulf of Mexico a break from fishing and other extractive activities in special, vital areas." Translation: Outlaw fishing and oil exploration and production in as many places as possible. The same editorial goes all Nanny Bloomberg on us. It urges less "gorging on" [read: eating of] seafood and more "fish watching." Kid you not. There's more, but repeating it might break down the protective wall of statins that protects my heart from attack. Suffice to say: This a Saturday editorial. That's the day the newspaper's most radical opinionators are allowed to hop around the sandpile without adult supervision.
February 24. Editorial, "Supreme Court shouldn't undo voting rights precedent." In an age when blacks vote in greater percentages, compared to whites, in Mississippi than in Massachusetts, the Houston Chronicle holds fast to the progressive vision that the white folks of Texas and Houston and Brazoria County Municipal Utility District No.6 are just itching to don white vests, burn a few crosses, and impose literacy tests and other Jim Crow restrictions on their black and brown neighbors. This now-obsolete vision of the South underpins the Voting Rights Act, which back in 1965 ordered Texas and other targeted states to "preclear" -- temporarily -- all changes to their voting procedures, including district lines, voting dates, and everything else, with either the U.S. Justice Department or a District of Columbia federal court. That's because Justice Department lawyers and D.C. judges are morally and intellectually superior to mere Texans, and would never, never, never use their power to help their political allies and hurt their political adversaries. The Supreme Court is pondering whether Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is constitutional. It is not. The Constitution envisons the sharing of sovereignty between states and the federal government. Section 5 violates that principle in a direct and obvious way. Not content merely to insult the integrity of their fellow Texans by demanding that the Supreme Court keep its hands off Section 5, however, the Chronicle also calls, in passing, for even more federal regulation of elections. "We are wanting for a national standard to depoliticize [read: further politicize] redistricting and prevent gerrymandering." Not, of course, gerrymandering that the Chronicle likes, such as creation of safe districts for the likes of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. The biggest laugh in the whole woebegone editorial, however, comes from this clause: "[Pushing] political fights into the judiciary [meaning the Supreme Court] is a dangerous prospect . . . ." The very purpose of the Voting Rights Act is to push political fights into the judiciary. The case before the Supreme Court is there because a city in Mississippi was forced by the Voting Rights Act to preclear its election-law changes in a federal court.
February 28. Editorial, "A Houston natural: expanding the use of natural gas." The paper wants to promote natural gas as a fuel for cars and trucks by letting users break in line at the Port of Houston and use HOV lanes. These policies are small beans, of course, but they reveal the instinct of the newspaper -- and progressives generally -- to pick winners and losers in the economy. Our president throws billions of our dollars at Solyndra and other losers. The Chronicle blows regulatory wet kisses at folks it deems politically correct. The editors should relax. If natural gas is such a grand idea as a fuel for motor vehicles -- and it well may be -- it will catch on by itself. If not, don't add mass, complexity, and rigidity to the rule books of life. Following the Chronicle's goofy advice is a recipe for other worthies to show up and demand that, say, women truck drivers should also be allowed to break in line. Why not?
For less regulation
February 22. Partial credit for "Parking progress." See above.
February 27. Editorial, "An avalanche of bill [sic] in Austin." Following the principle of supporting more regulation for you and me, but less for people who supply the goods and services the editors consume, the Chronicle speaks up for "a bipartisan package of bills . . . that will loosen the restrictions on where and how small craft breweries can sell their suds." Deregulation is fine, it seems, so long as it's targeted to politically correct industries.
Not really sure about more or less regulation
February 24. Bill King, "Parsing the politics of minimum wage debate." This is a special category for Mr. King, who is often caught in the middle, unsure whether to jump right or left. Surrounded as he is by unthinking progressives, his vacillatory -- vacillatory: not a word, but it should be -- columns offer a bit of relief. He's a commonsense guy with a good heart, trying to do the best he can to sort things out. On a few issues -- the City of Houston's pension mess -- he's the go-to guy. But "politics of minimum wage" deserves a place in the hall of fame for wimpitude [another nonexistent word we need]. The lede says it all: "I always find it curious that on issues which I have a hard time reaching a conclusion, there are frequently large groups of people on both sides who are adamant they have the answer. The minimum wage is just such an issue. . . . On one side . . . . On the other hand . . . ." The sad fact of the matter, however, is that vacillators play an important part in the progressive project. They stand mute, confused, uncertain as the ratchet clicks again and again, moving the country ever leftward. If they don't know whether an increase in the minimum wage is a good idea, they need the courage and wisdom to oppose it, if not on policy grounds -- after all, they admit uncertainty -- but on the grounds that we should not change our laws without first being certain that doing so is a good idea. [If you sense that the first sentence would fail a grammar test, you're right. He should have said, on issues on which.]
Liberal politicians are swell
Introduction. That liberal or progressive politicians are swell goes without saying at the Chronicle, so is not regularly said. But in praising more spendin', taxin', and regulatin', the newspaper implicitly praises the spenders, taxers, and regulators.
February 20. Editorial, "Carol Alvarado for state senate District 6, a proven legislator with strong diplomatic skills." Okay, this one's not entirely fair. Both runoff candidates in this race are tried-and-true lefties.
Conservative politicians are swell
Introduction. The Chronicle's idea of a conservative and mine are quite different, but if we broaden this category -- "Republican politicians are swell" -- we get two entries. What do they have in common?
February 24. Editorial, "Harris County is in good shape, but . . ." This editorial, discussed above, praises County Judge Ed Emmett. For what? For agreeing with Democrats that Texas needs to expand Medicaid. But have no fear, he's a "mainstream conservative Republican," so there's nothing to worry about.
February 26. Lisa Falkenberg, "Signs that some in GOP confronting reality." This one is also discussed above. Ms. Falkenberg praises several Republicans who agree with Democrats about raising taxes.
Conclusion. It turns out to be easy for Republicans to get high marks from the Chronicle. All they have to do is think, talk, and vote like Democrats. What could be easier and, in its own way, more elegant? Ratchet. Ratchet. Ratchet.
Conservative politicians (and those who support them) are stupid and evil
Introduction. The Chronicle may not always praise specific progressives by name, but it has no hesitation -- indeed, it jumps like a celebrated frog at the chance -- to pile scorn on conservatives. How do the editors rationalize their frequent and unctuous calls for civility with the frequent and open contempt they express for those who disagree? Beats me.
January 21. Editorial, "Defending Powers: UT-Austin's president deserves better treatment than he's getting from governor's appointees." I'm sympathetic with the Chronicle's view on this issue. But was it necessary for the paper to slather the editorial with with its usual disparagements of Governor Perry. The editors' Actonesque concern about absolute power corrupting absolutely is a hoot: The editorial essentially defends the right of a university president to operate free of oversight by the representatives of the public known as university trustees. And doubly hootful from a newspaper that has yet to object to far more serious grabs for power by our president -- he who enacts Dream Acts by executive decree, appoints leftist agency heads through unlawful recess appointments, chooses ideologically which laws to faithfully execute, which to ignore. The Chronicle hates absolute power only when someone other than a progressive exercises it.
February 22. Cartoon. A tiny tugboat steered by Ted Cruz tows a dead-in-the-water three-masted sailboat labeled "Tea Party." A stench arises from the vessel, which is presumably full of the same human wastes as the Carnival Cruise ship. Clever, no? All six passengers are bug-eyed lunatics. Most wear cowboy hats to identify them as the kind of conservative Texans the Chronicle detests.
February 22. Lisa Falkenberg, "Perry ignoring uncomfortable pre-K truths." A twofer. See above.
February 27. Cartoon, Nick Anderson, "Sequestered." See above. The entire GOP gets nicked by this one.
February 28. Editorial, "Ted Cruz's firebrand approach: Ted Cruz's firebrand approach is counter-productive [read counterproductive] for Texas and Republicans." This screed about Mr. Cruz's lack of "nuance" is especially rich from a newspaper that endorses the Occupy movement. And the richness just keeps on happening with the arrogant and rigid newspaper's complaint about Mr. Cruz's alleged arrogance and rigidity, and by the editorial's faux concern for the welfare of the Republican Party. Not content with blocking conservatives from its own pages by refusing to employ a single right-leaning local columnist or editorial writer, the Chronicle now plays the shut-up card against Mr. Cruz. A lot of us like the senator and think it's time to say some of the things he says. He may yet flame out, but there's an equal or greater likelihood in my book that he will change history, and for the better. Being condemned by the Houston Chronicle is his badge of honor. He must wonder why it took so long? Perhaps because the Chronicle wanted Eastern liberals to fire the first shots, so the local editors could fall into their familiar place behind them: lockstep.
Liberal politicians are bad
Introduction, conclusion. Still waiting for one of these. Not holding breath.
February 20. Cartoon, Nick Anderson, "I think we've been hacked by China."
February 26. Editorial, "There's a plan to test 6,600 rape kits." The point of the editorial is correct -- it's about time -- but the point was lost under a pile of snark. This editorial was a low-altitude mocking run against Houston bozos. It inspired not a flicker of comprehension that big old government, the great love of Chronicle editors, was the culprit here. Geniuses in our local government could never quite find a way to do this one simple, righteous thing. Yet it makes sense somehow to turn Anerica's health-care industry, automobile companies, banks, election laws, and pretty much everything else to cadres of G-14s in Washington, D.C. Somebody needs to 'splain how that makes sense.
February 28. Cartoon, Nick Anderson "Do you think our conservations are being monitored[?]" Mr. Anderson once again stakes out a position far to the left of our radical president. The cartoonist objects to a national-security wiretapping law enacted during the Bush administration and -- here's the good part -- expanded during the Obama administration, which the U.S. Supreme Court has just upheld 5-4. Mr. Obama, it seems, is just not progressive enough for Mr. Anderson. No surprise, really.
What are the odds this inventory of blather might cause the editors and columnists to slap their foreheads in astonished recognition of their own deeply leftist ideological character?
To modern progressive, what's truly radical -- and heartless -- is less spending, less taxation, and less regulation. The state must grow. Human liberty must be constrained. It's for our own good. End of discussion.
Modern progressives will never admit even a theoretical case for less spending, taxation, or regulation. Nor will they show respect for those who see the matter differently.
Would it not be both entertaining and enlightening to have one editor or one opinion writer who seriously entertains the proposition that government should be subject to some limits?
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I cannot edit myself. When you find typos and other errors in my text, you are welcome to call them to my attention so I can correct them.