Bush warns of threats to freedom, economic growth

Bush warns of threats to freedom, economic growth

Joseph Curl

Former President George W. Bush, outlining plans for a new public policy institute, on Thursday said America must fight the temptation to allow the federal government to take control of the private sector, declaring that too much government intervention will squelch economic recovery and expansion.

With the Obama administration establishing far-reaching controls in the auto, real estate and financial sectors, Mr. Bush said that “the role of government is not to create wealth, but to create the conditions that allow entrepreneurs and innovators to thrive.”

“As the world recovers, we will face a temptation to replace the risk-and-reward model of the private sector with the blunt instruments of government spending and control. History shows that the greater threat to prosperity is not too little government involvement, but too much,” said Mr. Bush, who has remained largely out of the limelight since leaving office and rarely criticizes his successor.

Delivering a speech on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, future home to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the former president sought to explain his decision to have the federal government intervene at the beginning of the economic downturn last fall.

“I believe in the power of the free enterprise system, which made the decision I faced last fall one of the most difficult of my presidency. I went against my free market instincts and approved a temporary government intervention to unfreeze credit and prevent a global financial catastrophe,” he said.

While many economists credit that early action with halting the economic freefall, Mr. Bush said the only answer to returning America to prosperity is to remove government controls on the private sector and continue to force open markets to U.S. goods.

“Trade has been one of the world’s most powerful engines of economic growth, and one of the most effective ways to lift people out of poverty. Yet a 60-year movement toward trade liberalization is under threat from creeping protectionism and isolationism,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush did not cite his successor by name, but many of his warnings seemed directed at policies Mr. Obama has embraced.

In one of his first major decisions on trade policy, Mr. Obama in September imposed a tariff on tire imports from China, making good on a campaign promise to the United Steelworkers union to “crack down” on imports that hurt American workers and industries.

In his speech, which set out his goals for a new policy institute focused on economic growth, education, human freedom and global health, Mr. Bush said he entered politics because “because I saw society drifting away from the values at the heart of the American Dream.”

“I pledged to govern based on principles that empower people to improve their lives and strengthen our nation,” Mr. Bush said. “I believe that free markets open the path to opportunity, that a successful society requires personal responsibility, that freedom is universal and transformative, and that every human life has dignity and value.”

The core of his new presidential complex — scheduled to open in 2013 — will be the George W. Bush Institute. The nonpartisan think tank will include scholars from around the world and advance Mr. Bush’s most dearly held effort as president — advancing human freedom.

“As I said in my second inaugural address, extending the reach of freedom ‘is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time,’ ” he told some 1,500 students, faculty, friends, community leaders and supporters.

He plans to continue to support political dissidents and reformers around the world, including those from many of the nations his administration shunned and which Mr. Obama has pledged to engage in dialogue.

“From labor camps in North Korea, to political prisons in Cuba and Burma, university halls in Iran, coffeehouses in Venezuela, and other places, dissidents and reformers are seeking strength and support. When America stands for liberty, they take heart. When we do not, the dictators tighten their grip,” Mr. Bush said.

He announced several fellows for the institute, including the first “fellow in human freedom,” Oscar Morales Guevara. Mr. Guevara used Facebook to launch a movement called “One Million Voices Against the FARC,” the brutal leftist separatist movement in Colombia. A month later, more than 12 million people in 40 countries rallied against the network.

On global health, another key focus of the Bush administration, the former president named as fellow Mark Dybul, who was coordinator of the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief during the Bush years.

“It should affect the conscience of our country when a child goes hungry or dies needlessly from a mosquito bite,” Mr. Bush said. “America has a strategic interest in alleviating suffering, healing disease, and lifting societies out of despair. Hopeful, healthy, productive societies are less likely to be sources of violence and instability — and more likely to be partners in trade, prosperity, and peace.”

Former first lady Laura Bush will play a role as well, overseeing women’s initiatives and education, her pet issue during her tenure in the White House. With Sandy Kress, former chairman of the Dallas County Democratic Party, as the issue’s steward, the institute will seek to evaluate how best “to recruit, prepare, evaluate and reward” principals and administrators.

The presidential complex — at more than 200,000 square feet, second in size only to President Reagan’s library in Simi Valley, Ca. — will include an archives and museum. The archives will hold “four million photos; thousands of boxes of documents; and hundreds of millions of e-mails — not one of which was sent by me,” Mr. Bush said to laughter.

Also at the museum will be a replica of his Oval Office, a “Texas Rose Garden,” Mr. Bush said, and “the bullhorn I used in my first visit to Ground Zero” in New York three days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Bush, who is writing his memoirs, due out next fall, seemed to enjoy the spotlight and, as a self-confessed C student, his return to college.

“It’s pretty exciting for a 63-year-old to be back on the college scene. I enjoy popping in on a class from time to time. Come to think of it, that was my strategy as a student,” he said to laughter.

His post-presidency has also provided some interesting opportunities, he said, including one offer “to be a greeter at Elliott’s Hardware.”

Bush or Obama: The Quiz

Bush or Obama: The Quiz

By Randall Hoven

1. President Bush was famous for lacking “intellectual curiosity,” while President Obama has been called “the smartest guy ever to become President.” Who reads more books: Bush or Obama?

2. Bush was often considered to be in the grip of Big Oil. In contrast, Obama is a Harvard-educated lawyer. Which industry contributed more than five times as much as the other to politicians: the oil & gas industry, or lawyers/law firms?
3. Bush’s Christian faith was at the core of his political identity, and he was considered to be in the grip of the “religious right,” while Obama is considered more open-minded. In fact, Obama has said, “my faith is one that admits some doubt.” Which one refers to Jesus more in public speeches?
4. Bush was criticized for excessive federal spending and running up huge deficits.  Bush’s deficit in 2008 was the largest in history.  In fact, President Obama said,
It’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they’ve presided over a doubling of the national debt … What I won’t do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place.
Whose deficit was more than triple the size of the other’s: Bush’s in 2008 or Obama’s in 2009?
5. While Obama criticized Bush for “a doubling of the national debt,” the federal debt held by the public went from 35.1% of GDP in 2000 to 40.8% of GDP in 2008 — an increase of 16% as of fraction of GDP. What is it expected to be in 2016 under Obama’s budget plan? 
6.  Obama criticized Bush for Guantanamo, military tribunals, wiretaps, troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and “signing statements.” Which one of these Bush practices has Obama ended?
1. Bush. Obama started reading a book in April and had not finished it by June, putting him on a pace of no more than ten books per year. Bush read forty to ninety-five books a year while President, not counting a new and complete reading of the Bible every year. Bush scored 1206 on his SAT, putting his IQ in the 125-130 range, smarter than 95% of the population and in the company of Lincoln, Rousseau, and Thackeray. He graduated from Yale and earned an MBA from Harvard. Obama earned a law degree from Harvard, but has not released any of his academic records. Despite what you might have heard, we know nothing of his IQ, test scores, or grades from any of the schools he attended.
2. Law firms. In the 2010 cycle so far, Lawyers/Law Firms have contributed $33,779,866 (81% to Democrats), and the Oil & Gas industry has contributed $6,293,631 (34% to Democrats). In the 2008 cycle, the numbers were $233,499,989 (76% to Dems) from lawyers and $35,564,322 (23% to Dems). In all, lawyers contributed about six times more to politicians than the Oil & Gas industry.
3. Obama. Per Eamon Javers at Politico, “As president, Barack Obama has mentioned Jesus Christ in a number of high-profile public speeches — something his predecessor George W. Bush rarely did in such settings.”
4. Obama’s 2009 deficit, the largest in U.S. history. It was more than three times that of Bush’s record 2008 deficit. Per the Congressional Budget Office, the 2008 deficit was $455 B, and the 2009 deficit was $1,417 B. As a fraction of GDP, it was the largest deficit since 1945.
5.  The CBO expects the debt held by the public to be 77.1% of GDP in 2016 under Obama’s plan, or an increase of 89% as a fraction of GDP, and the highest level since 1950. 
6. None.
  • Guantanamo is still open and probably will be into 2010, maybe longer.
  • Obama is keeping military tribunals and clandestine wiretapping programs.
  • Obama plans to keep most troops in Iraq until the summer of 2010.  Even then, he is talking of keeping about 50,000 troops there (compared to about 124,000 now). The number of US troops in Afghanistan increased from 37,000 in January 2009 to 62,000 by August 2009, and Obama is expected to send over 30,000 more. Total number of US troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan has increased under Obama so far (from about 184,000 in January to 186,000 in September).
  • Obama has used signing statements himself.
Randall Hoven can be contacted at randall.hoven@gmail.com or  via his web site, randallhoven.com.

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Fred Takes the Plunge

Fred Takes the Plunge

Rick Moran
To no one’s surprise, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson formally entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination last night.

Thompson made the announcement on the Jay Leno show while releasing a video on his YouTube site that laid out the reasons for his run as well as his qualifications for office.

For both the announcement video and some highlights from his Leno appearance, Hot Air has both.

Choosing the late night talk show format for his announcement is in keeping with what the New York Times calls his “guerilla-style” campaign:

Choosing “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” to declare “I’m running for president of the United States,” Mr. Thompson said, “I don’t think people are going to say, ‘That guy would make a very good president but he just didn’t get in soon enough.’”

Mr. Thompson’s announcement, which has been expected for months, was released to reporters about an hour before the other Republican candidates took part in a Fox News-sponsored debate in the early primary state of New Hampshire.

But as if to poke fun at his opponents, he ran an ad, titled “Debate,” that appeared directly before the Republican candidates took their places to face live cameras in a much more traditional political ritual. In a dark suit with the backdrop of an American flag, Mr. Thompson said in the advertisement:

“On the next president’s watch, our country will make decisions that will affect our lives and our families far into the future. We can’t allow ourselves to become a weaker, less prosperous and more divided nation.”

Thompson’s campaign themes will be darker and more serious than most of the other candidates. He will spend his time talking about the looming deficits and their threat to our economic future as well as entitlement reform and the challenges of terrorism. 

Appearing folksy and avuncular  in his announcement video, Thompson’s long shot candidacy now needs to take those strengths and turn them into campaign momentum. He is a distant second or third in most national polls and has lost considerable ground in the last month as personnel problems and strategic missteps cost him dearly. 

And he must raise money – lots of it and in a hurry – if he expects to compete with the Romney and Giuliani organizational machines. He has less than 15 weeks before the first caucuse in Iowa so there isn’t a lot of time for a shakedown cruise. He must hit the ground running and sprint all the way to January and beyond if he is to have any chance at all.

No doubt Thompson is a serious, thoughtful man who wants to address the very serious issues that will affect us in the future. Whether that will play with the voters will determine his success or failure.

Fred Thompson to visit Iowa next week

Fred Thompson on Judge Southwick

Fred Thompson on Judge Southwick

Rick Moran
Fred Thompson has come out four square in favor of confirming Judge Leslie Southwick to the Court of Appeals 5th Circuit.

While it really doesn’t come as a surprise, the passion with which Thompson backs Southwick as well as his clear desire to appoint conservative judges if elected may dispel some uneasiness conservatives have been feeling about Thompson recently:

His opponents do not question Judge Southwick’s qualifications to sit on the federal appeals court. Indeed, they cannot. Judge Southwick served on the Mississippi Court of Appeals from that court’s very inception in January 1995 through December 2006. Prior to serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division, from 1989 to 1993, he was in a general civil private practice for 12 years. He’s taught law as an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law since 1998. He’s also served his country in Iraq, fulfilling his National Guard duty as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate from August 2004 to July 2005, and then as Staff Judge Advocate until January 2006. Even the American Bar Association, which often treats conservative judicial nominees unfairly, unanimously gave Judge Southwick the institution’s highest possible rating.

So rather than assail Judge Southwick’s legal competency, Senate Democrats, led primarily by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), are instead attacking Judge Southwick’s character. Ignoring his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity since 1993 and the time he spent as a board member and president of a local Jackson, Miss., charitable organization, Senate Democrats claim that Judge Southwick is racist and anti-homosexual.


Thompson’s legal philosophy should give heart to conservatives who might question the selection of judges made by a Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney if they were to make it to the White House.

Thompson and the Religious Right

Thompson and the Religious Right

Rick Moran
According to US News and World Report, Fred Thompson’s “front porch” campaign for President has recently been reaching out to gather support from a group that any Republican will need to gain the nomination; the Christian right:

For months, conservative evangelical activists have been fretting over a Republican presidential field whose front-runners are the pro-abortion rights Rudy Giuliani, the formerly pro-gay rights Mitt Romney, and John McCain, who once lambasted Jerry Falwell. Activists took little consolation in more socially conservative candidates, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who seemed doomed by low name recognition. Now the Christian right is eyeing former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who is thought to be on the verge of entering the race. And Thompson is waging a rigorous behind-the-scenes effort to win its support.U.S. News has learned that Thompson recently hired Bill Wichterman, who served as conservative outreach director for former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and Joseph Cella, president of a conservative Catholic group called Fidelis, to lead the effort. The aides are arranging more meetings between Thompson and conservative Christian leaders and have launched a rapid-response operation to fend off attacks on Thompson’s conservative credentials.

Wichterman is a Washington insider with tremendous connections to social conservatives. And Joseph Cella has close ties to most of the primary anti-abortion groups in the country. Thompson could hardly have done better if he is truly seeking to reach out and receive the endorsement of the religous right.

Just how valuable his new hires are proving themselves to be could be seen in the response to last week’s hit piece in the Los Angeles Times about Thompson’s lobbying for a pro-choice group. According to the article linked above, “Thompson’s Christian outreach team quickly E-mailed a detailed denial to conservative leaders.” Within hours, as other reporters sought reaction to the article from evangelical activists, they were able to use Thompson’s talking points in response.

Whether the Christian right will endorse Thompson en masse remains to be seen. But his efforts so far have shown that the former Senator knows how to build bridges to those who can do him the most good.

(Hat Tip: Ed Lasky)

Report: Fred! may pick up McCain’s leftovers

Blogs for Fred

In Fred They Fear

America Needs Another Ronald Reagan

America Needs Another Ronald Reagan
Politics Slater Bakhtavar
June 28, 2007

The closer we approach the 2008 elections, the more apparent it becomes America needs another Ronald Reagan. Someone everyone knows, someone everyone likes, someone who is conservative and someone who can both win the election and manage to hold the Presidency for eight years. The next President should be very expressive and persuasive in front of the camera. He should emanate confidence, and appeal to women voters. He should be someone in the public eye and yet he should not be involved in the Washington mess. Fortunately, a candidate who exemplifies those profound qualities has emerged Republican candidate Fred D. Thompson. Thompson has not officially joined the electoral race but he is already ruffling the GOP presidential field.

The conspicuous benefits for Thompson becoming the President are on the surface. One of his subtle advantages is that he is not a hidebound career politician and has enjoyed a competent career as a lawyer, an actor, and as a politician, of course. His career as a lawyer gives him credibility as a professional. His political career gives him knowledge of power and makes him appreciate federalism and the Constitution. His acting career gives him “immediate face/name recognition” among voters. Moreover, as the long-running NBC television series Law & Order, that he was a star of, was especially popular among women, a Thompson race would smooth the gender gap which is prevalent in the GOP.

He is a lawyer, an actor and a former Republican senator from Tennessee.

Thompson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and he takes part in researching national security and intelligence as a Visiting Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. Thompson is a public speaker of the Washington Speakers Bureau, and an analyst for ABC News Radio. In addition, he publishes a blog and podcast daily on the ABC Radio web site.

Thompson was a senator from 1994 to 2003. His record in the Senate shows that he was on the right side of every significant issue. Being a Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs he voted for national-debt reduction, efforts to privatize elements of Social Security and other problems. He was strongly for the legislation in the interest of free enterprise. He opposed many tax measures and was against the growth in social-welfare programs. He sustained the “decentralization and disfranchising of unconstitutional government programs” and an amendment to prohibit flag burning. Being, a strong conservative, he opposed partial-birth abortion, and cloning. Most importantly, Thompson was and up to this time is steadfastly supporting democratic initiatives in the Middle East.

What is astounding is that although being conservative Thompson is liked “by people on both sides of the aisle”. He is also well liked in the Senate, even though he has been out of it for several years. He exudes poise, buoyancy, confidence and leadership which people seek in a President, especially today. He has a realistic and trustworthy seize of national-security issues necessary for a President, predominantly in the light of the terrorism threat. Fred Thompson certainly cares about the future of the country and the people and he is clearly vigorous and active enough to make a Presidential run.

What is of abundant paramountacy is that Fred understands the everyday American and they understand him. He has stalwart bipartisan appeal and he is open for the efficacious advancements still he is a firm conservative.

Fred Thompson has collected in himself the best leadership qualities of the past Presidents: tenacity of Harry Truman, perseverance of Franklin D. Roosevelt, charisma and charm of John F. Kennedy, and communication skills of Ronald Reagan. Thompson is expected to announce whether he is joining the electoral race sometime in July. All facts are telling he will join the game, however his decision cannot be predicted. Up to August, the voters should hold their breath waiting for his decision to come and repeat what Ronald Reagan once so eloquently said “how can a President, not be an actor?”

Slater Bakhtavar is president and founder of Republican Youth of America, a frequent commentator and respected analyst on foreign policy issues and an attorney with a post-doctoral degree in International law.