Monday, January 31, 2011

To Go or Not To Go

To go, or not to go: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the car to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous icing,
Or to sit here in the office,
And by ignoring it avoid them? To sit here: to sleep;

Or to go next door to the Pub and hoist a few until the crazies get off the road. Aye, that's the rub. Tricky.

It's icing up pretty bad here....

Global income inequality - an interesting perspective

The 5% poorest Americans have a standard of living higher than 68% of the world's population.  Indeed the bottom five have a standard of living comparable to most of the top five percent in India.  The good news?  Global income inequality has been falling rapidly with the rise of India, China, Indonesia and Brazil among others.

Please note:  no death taxes, inter-country taxation or other trans national policy caused this:  just nations reforming their economies and following the US towards the productivity horizon.  Perhaps if the US freed up the states to run their own economies we'd see similar results from the poorer ones as they chased the ones at the top.

The other thing to note:  The US curve is much flatter, meaning that US incomes are far more equal than these other mega-nations.  Yes, small European nations have less inequality but so do small US states.  Continental scale nations naturally have more inequality simply because of the incredible geographic and social diversity that they encompass.  And by the valid continental standard, the US does very well.

One other point:  the US income distribution is better mostly because our poor do so much better.  The difference between our richest ventile (5%) and these other countries is smaller than between the smallest 5%.  And even that overstates the difference in standard of living between the rich - those in very poor countries have access to far more personal services that all but the richest Americans.

Hat tip Carpe Deim

Sara Palin is the left's Emmanuel Goldstein

Hat tip instapundit

This is more like the truth: “Palin is MSNBC’s Emmanuel Goldstein, the fictional villain from Orwell’s 1984. Their coverage (and that of much of the MSM) amounts to a daily two minute hate which serves their political and business interests even if–-as in the case of the Arizona shootings-–it has little to do with reality.”

The disconnect between power and knowledge

Most economists hold that technological changes are the underlying driver of economic and social change - that technology is the 'endogenous' variable that culture and politics react to.  Tyler Cowen's book,  The Great Stagnation essentially takes this view.  But the question is what is the broad technological process that is doing the 'driving' so to speak?  Arnold Kling hits the nail on the head here (hat tip Reihan Salam of NRO):

My view of the arc of technology is that from 1800-1950, the technologies promoted mass society. Mass workers, mass consumers, mass media, large-scale factories, etc. However, since then, the most important technologies have favored decentralization. The computer and the Internet enhance the power of individuals and make it more difficult for large corporate congomerates and centralized governments to work effectively. Economies of scale still exist, but do niche markets. Most important, the diseconomies of scope are now severe.
Cowen attributes political dissatisfaction and turmoil to the phenomenon that our expectations have gotten out of hand relative to what the economy can provide. I attribute political dissatisfaction and turmoil to what I call the discrepancy between knowledge and power. Power became more concentrated in the era of mass technologies and it has continued to become more concentrated.. However, knowledge has become more dispersed. This dispersal of knowledge eventually will lead to the dispersal of power, but the incumbent political powers will resist that dispersal.
Cowen wants to explain the financial crisis as a result of people not perceiving the slowdown in economic growth. They borrowed too much against future income that could not be realized. I want to explain the crisis in part as a result of the knowledge-power discrepancy. The largest banks and their regulators had too much power and too little knowledge.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kevin Williamson talking about the small difference between the parties on the issue of fiscal reform

I tend to give the Repubs a little more credit simply because if they were left to their own devices, they wouldn't have gotten us into this predicament.  When one parent is offering ice cream and cake for every meal, it makes it hard for the other one to make kids eat their vegetables.  Hat tip

Back to Obama: I’m starting to think that we despairing deficit hawks have to be more politically engaged. I’ve operated for the past several years under the theory that when it comes to the big, macro debt-and-deficit issues, it does not much matter who holds political power: I did not see much evidence that a Republican Congress or a Democratic Congress was going to act before the market acts, forcing fiscal discipline on the United States by jacking up borrowing costs. Yes, there are differences, but the differences between the parties is very small compared with the difference between either of the parties and what reality requires.

Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?

The Chief Actuary of Medicare went before Congress last week and stated flatly that Obamacare would not reduce costs or even restrain them.  He added that the approach most likely to restrain costs was a "Defined Contribution" model - essentially the Republican position.  But yesterday the Administration came out with a study flatly contradicting his sworn testimony and claiming to 'show' that Obamacare would save $2300 to $10000 per year per family.

Which is ludicrous.  It appears that our President has decided that since he owns the Mainstream Media, he can will facts into existence.  I have never seen such cynicism.  If you love your country, why would you publish risible, made up studies to deceive people?  I do not understand.  I honestly do not.

The people who voted for him trusted him.  He has betrayed that trust.

Why am I not surprised?

This why government agencies should not provide services:  they end up performing poorly and since they regulate their competition, well, you get the picture.  Pathetic.  Hat tip Instapundit

CLOSING DOWN THE COMPETITION: TSA shuts door on private airport screening program. “A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was ‘neutral’ on the program. TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.”
No advantage for him, as it was making TSA look bad. Er, I mean, worse.

Real eliminationist rhetoric

One of the reasons that I and others got so angry about the bogus charges that 'right wing rhetoric' caused the Tuscon tragedy is our regular experience being the butt of hostile and cruel rhetoric from the nation's cultural institutions.  We don't have a problem with political rhetoric, we give as good as we get, but when gratuitous politics are shoved into art it almost always is in a manner that shows contempt for conservatives and traditional American values.  James Taranto has a classic example.  From a Children's Theater no less.

For some perspective on the recent "debate" over "civility" and "eliminationist rhetoric," let's turn to Montana, home of the Missoula Children's Theater. A recent production there gets a bad review today in a letter to the editor of the Missoulian, the local daily:
Open letter to MCT director Curt Olds:
First I would like to compliment you and the entire staff of "The Mikado" on the beautiful sets, costuming and professional performance we experienced on Sunday, Jan. 23. However, I must call you on something that was inserted into the play which I am almost positive was not in the original book.
The comments made in such a cavalier and oh-so-humorous way were uncalled for. Now, I realize you play to a mostly liberal audience in Missoula and so, I am sure, felt comfortable in your calling for the beheading of Sarah Palin. I am painfully aware that most in the audience tittered with laughter and clapped because "no one would miss her" but there were some in your audience who took great offense to this "uncivil tone" about another human being.
We are in the midst of a crisis that took place in Tucson where many started pointing fingers at that horrible right wing with all their hatred and targeting and standing for the second amendment and on and on and on. So, here we are in a lovely play with beautiful voices serenading us and we have to hear that it is okay to call for the killing of Sarah Palin because we don't like her and no one would miss her. Unbelievable.
As a professional you should be ashamed of yourself, the audience should be ashamed of themselves and I am ashamed of myself for not standing up and leaving at that very moment. I would like to see an apology from you not because I want to hinder free-speech but for the hypocrisy this so clearly shows.
Rory Page, Clinton
Well, perhaps Olds made a clerical error and one of Andrew Sullivan's works got into the Arthur Sullivan file.
[botwt0128]Associated Press
Off with her head!
In all seriousness, though, like much of what we have been writing about in the past few weeks, this incident is shocking but not surprising. For all the bogus accusations being thrown at Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, genuinely hateful political rhetoric is commonplace in the art world, even in art that is not overtly political.
What makes it so hard is that by engaging so regularly in this type of rhetoric, most Americans are in effect told that they are not welcome in our institutions of high culture.

Shameful. Typical. Read the whole thing.

Even the IMF is raising the red flag about US Solvency

Seen at Instapundit:

“Offering the discretionary-spending freeze as an answer to the IMF’s legitimate concern is akin to telling your mortgage holder that you’ve started an austerity program by deciding not to buy more pay-per-view porn each month than in the previous few years.”

About captures it, don't you think?


Imagine that:  Sweden is Friedmanite on schools.  In that Socialist Paradise schools compete for students.  Hat tip Carpe Diem
1. USA: Convict an Akron, Ohio mother of a felony and sentence her to 10 days in jail for illegally sending her children to a school in a better school district.   

2.  Sweden:  "In 1993, Sweden introduced a system of school choice and vouchers, inspired by the ideas of American economists Milton and Rose Friedman. Even though the system was just as controversial then as any U.S. voucher proposal, the right to chose your school and bring the funding with you is today considered a natural right for families and is widely accepted by all political parties.

As American state legislatures begin to convene this winter and again consider education reform, they should empower families and create conditions for entrepreneurship. And as school choice gains popularity among parents and taxpayers, particularly as this is National School Choice Week in the U.S., vouchers should absolutely be on the agenda."

~ From the article "Sweden’s School Voucher System is a Model for America" by Odd Eiken, who was State Secretary of Schools in Sweden 1991-94 and helped develop the nation’s voucher reform. 

The US Economy is bouncing back - but not everywhere

Evidence from a lot of places - hat tip Carpe Diem

Shorts are going long

Consumer spending is back and GDP growth is rebounding

The manufacturing sector is adding jobs for the first time in a decade

The Obami no longer have the ability to unilaterally do things

But not everywhere - states that have not managed their affairs continue to run off businesses - California's rate of major business relocation out of state has quadrulpled.

What about what's right?

We're bankrupt.  Everyone knows it.  Some people are talking about it and a smaller group is trying to do something about it.  But what about our chief magistrate?  The one we elected to lead us and to guide us through the shoals of crisis?  We are facing an existential crisis borne of generations of lies and self dealing by politicians and voters who so long as their personal circumstances were good, did not look to the common good.  And what is President Obama doing?  After campaigning on fixing it and spending two years making it much much worse, now he ignores it.

His dereliction of duty is far more than's a fundamental moral failing.  We need a leader.  He put himself forward as that leader.  He is not that leader.  So now the indispensable nation is drifting towards the falls, dragging most of the other ships of state with it.  A few lower level sailors are madly scrambling to jury rig a solution but the Captain - our captain - is sitting in his cabin reading a paperback novel.

The MSM and Academe might love him but history will not judge Barack Obama kindly.

Friday, January 28, 2011

How is it that Obama's 'liberals' are far less interested in democracy and pluralism around the world than Bushes' conservatives?

I think it is part and parcel with the flight from exceptionalism.  The left does not believe that the US is unique or even particularly noteworthy - after all there are many more 'progressive' countries.  In their view politics is about power, not principle and therefore each situation has it's own circumstances.  To the leftist, when it comes to politics, there is no morally right side, just your side or the powerful side.  This is what happens when you abandon transcendent faith for the latest scientific nostrum - you become and organism, with no moral center - just lusts.  And shorn of your humanity, you stop recognizing it in others.

The Obama Administration has ignored the desires of people for liberty:  Elliott Abrams

U.S. officials talked to Mubarak plenty in 2009 and 2010, and even talked to the far more repressive President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, but they talked about their goals for Israeli-Palestinian peace and ignored the police states outside the doors of those presidential palaces. When the Iranian regime stole the June 2009 elections and people went to the streets, the Obama administration feared that speaking out in their support might jeopardize the nuclear negotiations. The “reset” sought with Russia has been with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, not the Russian people suffering his increasingly despotic and lawless rule.
This has been the greatest failure of policy and imagination in the administration’s approach: Looking at the world map, it sees states and their rulers, but has forgotten the millions of people suffering under and beginning to rebel against those rulers. “Engagement” has not been the problem, but rather the administration’s insistence on engaging with regimes rather than with the people trying to survive under them.
Hat tip Contentions.

So where is our "Savior" when we need him?

The consensus is that we are bankrupt.  This consensus holds that the only way to get out of this is root and branch reform of our state and Federal governments.  Likewise there is consensus that it will take the cooperation of both parties to do this because the choices are all painful and neither party is willing to do it alone because it will inevitably suffer defeat from the angry losers.  One party, the Republicans, has been (somewhat unwillingly) levered by its Tea Party base into a stance of willingness to make the hard choices.  The other party, led by Barack Obama, has the opportunity to accept this willingness and join in making the hard choices bipartisan.  By doing so, they could put the nation first and do what a clear majority of Americans want.

President Obama had a golden opportunity to take up this partnership at the SOTU.  Instead we got high speed rail and solar shingles.

Yes Republicans opposed his initiatives and said nasty things about him - that's their job, one that Democrats performed admirably for 8 years under W. Bush.  That does not justify him refusing to take up the central challenge (or in his parlance, the Sputnik) of our time.  He has the keys, it's his job to lead and he's chosen not to.  Why?

My answer's really simple:  he's incompetent and a coward.  We deserve better.

Why we fight: to stop evil done in the name of God

Hat tip

A video posted on the BBC website shows the Taliban stoning to death a couple accused of adultery in northern Afghanistan. It includes only short clips because “most of the video is too graphic to be shown.” The website describes the event as follows:
The video begins with Siddqa, a 25-year-old woman, standing waist-deep in a hole in the ground. She is entirely hidden in a blue burka. Hundreds of men from the village are gathered as two mullahs pass sentence. As Taliban fighters look on, the sentence is passed and she is found guilty of adultery. The stoning lasts two minutes. Hundreds of rocks – some larger than a man’s fist – are thrown at her head and body. She tries to crawl out of the hole, but is beaten back by the stones. A boulder is then thrown at her head, her burka is soaked in blood, and she collapses inside the hole. Incredibly Siddqa was still alive. The mullahs are heard saying she should be left alone. But a Taliban fighter steps forward with a rifle and she is shot three times.  Then her lover, Khayyam, is brought to the crowd. His hands are tied behind his back. Before he is blindfolded he looks into the mobile phone camera. He appears defiant. The attack on him is even more ferocious. His body, lying face down, jerks as the rocks meet their target. He is heard to be crying, but is soon silent…

The American Nomenklatura

Forbes Magazine explains that it isn't really R vs. D or even Red vs. Blue but the Tribute Imposers vs. the Tribute Beaerers.  Hat tip

THE AMERICAN NOMENKLATURA: “Increasingly our nation is divided, not between Rs and Ds, but between TIs and TBs: tribute imposers and tribute bearers. The imposers are gigantic banks, agri-businesses, higher education Colossae, government employees, NGO and QUANGO employees and the myriad others whose living is made chiefly by extracting wealth from other people. The bearers are the rest of us.”

A leftist conundrum

From my good friend Al Colby.

"Fathom the odd hypocrisy that Obama wants every citizen to prove they are insured, but people don't have to prove they are citizens."

- - Ben Stein

Andrew Klavan: The Highway to Hell is paved with good intentions

Noted author Andrew Klavan is a true blogosphere gem.  And this video is one of his diamonds.  Hat tip

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Well, that's why he pays them

The Illinois Supreme Court, contradicting the plain language of the statute and the decision of the electoral commission ruled today that the machine's candidate (their candidate) could run despite not being a legal resident of the city.  Natch.

The state of Illinois is run like a crime family.  And it shows.

Billy Graham: "I would have steered clear of politics"

Pete Wehner has a fine post on the challenges of being a Christian and being politically engaged in our nation.  He points out that Christians need to walk a fine line:  we have an obligation to participate in our nation's governance but we cannot let our political passions replace the grace and charity that should  characterize our lives.

But what Graham was saying — and what Christians need to pay special attention to — is that politics is an arena in which the witness of believers can be easily harmed. Issue by issue, act by act, faith can become — or can be reasonably seen to become — subordinate to a political party or ideology. In addition, the passions and emotions politics can stir up can cause people to act in troubling ways. Grace can give way to bitterness and brittleness, to viewing political opponents as political enemies.
Good advice.  Definitely worth a read here.

We should be pro-growth, not pro-business

From Don Boudreaux's excellent editorial making a very important point that Obama should be "pro-growth," and not "pro-business":

"An economy’s success is best measured by how well it pleases consumers, not by how well it pleases businesses. Each business sees matters differently. It wants to profit as much as possible. In a free market, businesses profit only by pleasing consumers. But a business that obtains special favors from government can profit without pleasing consumers. And it’s here that trouble starts.

Consider Obama’s commitment to make America more “competitive.” “Competition” sounds good. But businesses don’t like competition; they like protection from competition – along with subsidies, special tax breaks, and other government favors that relieve them from the need to cater energetically to consumer demands. So a pro-business president is prone to curry favor with businesses by shielding them from competition.

Tariffs and other import restrictions are examples of pro-business policies. They increase the bottom lines of those businesses that no longer must compete vigorously against foreign rivals. Such pro-business policies are also anti-consumer and anti-market. They rob consumers of choice; they shrink consumers’ spending power by enabling protected businesses to raise prices; and they stymie economic growth, in part by channeling entrepreneurs’ efforts into lobbying government for favors and away from figuring out how to build better mousetraps.

The irony is that such policies – which really should be labeled “crony capitalist” – are often labeled “competitiveness” policies. Because these policies increasethe profits of some domestic businesses, they are mistakenly believed to make the domestic economy more “competitive” when, in fact, they make it less so."

Hat tip Carpe Diem

Marijuana legalization withing ten years

Look at recent survey results from Washington state.  In particular look at the over 60s vs. everyone else.  As the elders die the polities in the Northwest and Northeast are very likely to legalize weed.  And once they do so, the same state by state competitive dynamic that has driven gambling across the nation will take off.  The dominoes will fall one by one.

And that will be a very good thing indeed.

A new Obama campaign logo

This one makes more sense....
What?  Win the Future, natch.  What do you think I meant?

The Obami put the CYN in cynical

Pointed out after the latest SOTU speech:

Tuesday's speech was filled with rhetorical flourishes that raise questions about the president's seriousness and his slipperiness. Witness his offer to back the GOP on medical liability reform. He's made that offer before: in his July 2009 address on health care to the Joint Session of Congress.

His declaration of support for legal reform during that address brought Republican Senators and Congressmen to their feet cheering. A couple of weeks later, the White House sent forward its proposal: a small pot of money for states to run demonstration projects on increasing patient safety. There was one hitch: if a state had passed medical liability reform, it couldn't apply for the funds.

Read more:

St. Augustine on sovereignty

"In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery? "

- - Saint Augustine

In other news, the Obama Administration announced yesterday that it was granting 500 new waivers from the requirements of the new Health Care reform law....

Chief Actuary of Medicare says that Obamacare has no clothes

Now that Republicans control the House, skeptics of Obamacare are able to call witnesses that have the expertise and knowledge to truly opine on the regulation.  For example, they have asked the CBO to score Obamacare realistically rather than as directed.  One recent visitor was the Chief Actuary of Medicare and he essentially debunked the core claims of the legislation and effectively endorsed the approach favored by conservatives.  Amazing really.  Hat tip Contentions.

According to the AP, two of the central promises of President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul law are unlikely to be fulfilled, Medicare’s independent economic expert told Congress today.
The landmark legislation probably won’t hold costs down, and it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it, Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Budget Committee. (Foster’s office is responsible for independent long-range cost estimates.)
Mr. Foster was asked by Republican Tom McClintock for a simple true or false response on two of the main assertions made by supporters of the law: that it will bring down unsustainable medical costs and it will let people keep their current health insurance if they like it.
On the costs issue, “I would say false, more so than true,” Foster responded. As for people getting to keep their coverage, “not true in all cases.”
Foster also sided with those who argue that moving toward a defined contribution model is much more likely to keep health-care costs down than the kind of centralized, top-down price controls that are in ObamaCare.
Finally, in an exchange with Representative John Campbell of California, Foster blew up the claim that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Medicare provisions could both reduce the deficit and extend the solvency of Medicare, as President Obama has claimed. Mr. Foster pointed out the obvious: this isn’t possible unless you double-count the savings.
“Is it legitimate to say,” Campbell asked, “that you can add a dozen years to the solvency of Medicare or that you can reduce the deficit, but it is not correct to say both simultaneously?”
“Both will happen as a result of the same one set of savings, under Medicare,” Foster said. “But it takes two sets of money to make it happen. It happens directly for the budget deficit, from the Medicare savings, and then when we need the money to extend the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, we have a promissory note — it’s an IOU, not a worthless IOU, but it is an IOU — and Treasury has to pay that money back. But they have to get it from somewhere. That’s the missing link.”
Unraveling the false claims of ObamaCare continues apace.

Credit where credit is due - Obama calls for ROTC everywhere

Obama calls on universities to allow ROTC back on campus. Hopefully this marks the end of the controversy surrounding the anti-ROTC policies: “And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CBO: Social Security is now officially insolvent

I just thought you should know that.

Either things are going to hell or getting great.....

Standard Chartered on the projected doubling in world GDP by 2027.  Assuming that general peace holds, the prospects for huge prosperity are great.  This would be a great help as the 'social democracies' struggle with how to most effectively default on their untenable promises.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Of course at Daily Kos, the end of reality happened a long time ago

Daily Kos: End of Olbermann Show Is End of Democracy, Free Speech

Hat tip 

Run Away Run Away Mrs. EPA

Carol Browner is stepping down just as she would have to go before the Republican House and testify about her role in the remarkable number of legally questionable actions she's been involved with.  Chris Horner has more:

Climate and energy czar Carol Browner, a former commissioner of the Socialist International whom the president appointed to a previously non-existent position to avoid the Senate confirmation process, is stepping down from her post. Some knowledgeable sources say Browner is resigning to avoid testifying under oath to a House oversight committee.
For example, she was the one who the President's Commission on the Oil Spill claim doctored their report to suggest that they recommended a drilling moratorium when they did no such thing.  

I'd be surprised if Eric Holder doesn't fold up  his tent soon as well.

Read the whole thing.

Rahm Emmanuel back on the ballot! Order restored in the universe.

The Illinois SC has put the Rammer back on the ballot.  Personally, I can’t help but root for a guy who volunteered for the Israeli Military, sends dead fish to reporters and has political shouting matches while nude.  The fact that his last name means “God with us” is just a lagniappe to what promises to be fascinating reality TV.

I mean if Chicago wasn't crooked it would just be just another midwestern city with a few more tall buildings.  And what's the fun in that?

As Tiny Tim (no, not the tax fraud, the other one) said (sort of):  God help us, every one.

Friends of Keith Olberman

Keith Olberman's personal Twitter hashtag is #FOK - Friends of Keith

And all I can say to that is:  #FOK

Sunday, January 23, 2011

So this is what China thinks of the Obama Administration

SO, HOW’S THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” GOING? “Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House: US humiliated in eyes of Chinese by song used to inspire anti-Americanism.” This seems like quite an expression of contempt toward one’s hosts. It’s certainly quite a slap in the face to Obama, and a demonstration that our State Department remains not ready for primetime. On the other hand, it should remove any shreds of guilt I might otherwise feel when China dissolves into civil war after we default on our bonds. . . .
I don't think that the Chinese are foolish enough to underestimate American capabilities. Indeed, fueled by Hollywood, most of the world believes we can do pretty much anything. But the Chinese leadership class by doing the above has signaled by its contempt that it believes that regardless of the nation's strengths, its current leadership lacks the will to lead. 

Let me see, last time this happened there was another 'new' 'different' and faux moderate politician in the White House and it was the Soviets that ran wild. 

All hail King Jimmy II

In honor of the State of Illinois recent large contribution to Missouri's prosperity, a Robert Heinlein quote

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

GE's Jeff Immelt: America's Corporatist in Chief

Corporatism is the economic arm of fascism - it generally (it's not that coherent) holds that the means of production should remain private but guided in the interests of the 'state' with societies 'representative' institutions (big business, labor, government) meeting to 'coordinate' policy.

It is the antithesis of American Free Market capitalism and it describes Jeff Immelt and the Obami to a tee:

Yesterday President Obama named Immelt to head his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness panel. Immelt took to the pages of the Washington Post to explain: "The president and I are committed to a candid and full dialogue among business, labor and government to help ensure that the United States has the most competitive and innovative economy in the world." Fred Barnes briefly explicated the appointment more straightforwardly in "Jeffrey Immelt, Obama's pet CEO."
 Read the whole thing,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Brass balls or brass brains?

Looks pretty dramatic....until you remember that most spending is on autopilot and is scheduled to bankrupt us regardless of what is done here.  However, this will send a lot of bureaucrats and subsidy-crats to bed without their dinner permanently so it is to be hoped for.

Just do your job.

Victor Davis Hanson asks why local officials feel compelled to focus on cosmic issues rather than getting the job they were elected to do done.  It appears that Sheriff Dupnik was much better at blaming others than responding to the many calls of concerned citizens about a certain homicidal nutjob in his jurisdiction.  While Mayor Bloomburg is saving his city from Trans Fats, the snow piles up.  Hat tip Jim Geraghty and

The always great Victor Davis Hanson: "Dupnik is a good example of the increasingly common bad habit of local politicians to resort to cosmic sermonizing when more mundane challenges go unaddressed. In Dupnik's case, it is hard to monitor all the nuts like Loughner in the sheriff's department files to ensure they don't get guns and bullets and pop up at political events, but apparently far easier to deflect subsequent responsibility by sounding off on political issues.

"New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was a past master of lecturing about the cosmic while at times ignoring the more concrete. Governing the boroughs of an often-chaotic New York City is nearly impossible. Pontificating on the evils of smoking, fatty foods, and supposed anti-Muslim bigotry was not only far easier but had established the mayor as a national figure of sensitivity and caring. He was praised for his progressive declarations by supporters of everything from global warming to abortion. But Bloomberg's carefully constructed philosopher's image was finally shattered by the December 2010 blizzard and his own asleep-at-the-wheel reaction. An incompetent municipal response to record snowfalls barricaded millions in their borough houses and apartments, amid lurid rumors of deliberate union-sponsored slowdowns by Bloomberg's city crews."

There is enormous opportunity for the Republicans elected in 2009 and 2010; if they just do their jobs, they will prove exponentially more satisfying to the electorate than the recent breed of aspiring philosopher-kings. To paraphrase FedEx's
Fred Smith, the first priority is making sure that the first priority remains the first priority.

Horrors: Wisconisn puts up signs at border saying "Open for Business"

Let slip the dogs of hell, you capitalists, you  How dare you offer Illinois and Minnesota wealth producers a better deal.  I can't say that it will be fun to watch Illinois circle the drain faster and faster and faster, but it will certainly be instructive.  Read the whole thing:

Competition is always an act of aggression toward systems that can survive only by coercion.

We have also always been at war with Eastasia

Greg Mankiw points out the fallacy in the Obami's argument that repealing Obamacare will increase the deficit.

I have a plan to reduce the budget deficit. The essence of the plan is the federal government writing me a check for $1 billion. The plan will be financed by $3 billion of tax increases. According to my back-of-the envelope calculations, giving me that $1 billion will reduce the budget deficit by $2 billion.

Now, you may be tempted to say that giving me that $1 billion will not really reduce the budget deficit. Rather, you might say, it is the tax increases, which have nothing to do with my handout, that are reducing the budget deficit. But if you are tempted by that kind of sloppy thinking, you have not been following the debate over healthcare reform.

Healthcare reform, its advocates tell us, is fiscal reform. The healthcare reform bill passed last year increased government spending to cover the uninsured, but it also reduced the budget deficit by increasing various taxes as well. Because of this bill, the advocates say, the federal government is on a sounder fiscal footing. Repealing it, they say, would make the budget deficit worse.

So, by that logic, giving me $1 billion is fiscal reform as well. To be honest, I don’t really need the money. But if I can help promote long-term fiscal sustainability, I am ready to do my part.
Me Too.

Hat tip Instapundit

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The squeals of pain from blue land will be pitiful to behold: no state bailouts: Republicans

Republican leaders say they will not allow Congress or — more important — the Fed to bail out states struggling under suffocating pension burdens and other spending excesses. This is excellent news for budget hawks, and probably very bad news for municipal-bond investors. (Not that I’m giving investing advice, but — egad.)


These people are murderers

Read this excerpt:

The Stockholm Convention is a UN Environment Program convention that regulates the use of DDT. The financial mechanism of this convention is the Global Environment Facility (which is a UN partnership and housed at the World Bank) and it is funneling millions of taxpayers’ dollars into projects to find alternatives to DDT. Their first project was in Mexico and Central America. Between 2004 and 2007 they ran demonstration projects to show that you can control malaria without any insecticides and instead put in place various ‘environmental’ interventions such as planting trees and using fish to eat mosquito larvae. As with any good experiment, they set up controls where they had none of these environmental interventions. At the end of the project they claimed an extraordinary 63% reduction in malaria cases and attributed it to their interventions. We looked more closely at the data and other reports and found that in reality there was no difference between their demonstration areas and the controls. The epidemiological review found that their project showed nothing – yet they claimed great success.

What accounts for this? Well, these UN officials ignored their own experimental design and the controls and just looked at malaria rates in the demonstration areas. Malaria cases did indeed come down, but this was due to the widespread distribution of malaria medicines by health officials in these countries — it was completely unrelated to their ‘environmentally sound’ interventions, which is why they ignored the controls. Their own evaluation and the epidemiological assessment said that their experiments should be re-done – yet the officials seemingly ignored this and just came out with these great claims of success. This matters a great deal because they are using these false data to claim that malaria can be controlled without insecticides and are attempting to influence malaria control in other parts of the world.

In addition to publishing false data, these environmental agencies have boldly and publicly said that they seek to reformulate the WHO Global Malaria Program so that it is more focused on eliminating DDT and other insecticides. The WHO’s Global Malaria Program though is focused on eliminating malaria and quite rightly doesn’t want to eliminate the very tools it needs to achieve its goals.

Science knows of one effective preventative for malaria:  indoor spraying with DDT.  Period.   Because  DDT had been banned, millions died every year.  Recently the WHO has begun funding DDT spraying again and hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved.  The 'scientists' who made up the bogus 'findings' that 'environmental' solutions reduce Malaria incidence are doing so in an attempt to get DDT and other insecticides banned.  Doing this will kill millions.  Their act is premeditated and dishonest.  They are attempting murder on a genocidal scale.  May God have mercy on their souls.

You know, I don't think this Obamacare thingy was such a good idea after all

The House just decisively voted for repeal by 56 votes (it had only won by 7 votes in the most Liberal House in history) and now fully 27 states are suing to have the law's key provisions declared unconstitutional.  Perhaps substantive executive and legislative experience should be a prerequisite for the office of President.

Just a thought.

Larry Summers is mad, isn't he?

After reading this, it is frightening to note that Larry Summers - now leaving the Obama Administration - is considered the 'adult' in the Obami playpen.  Terrifying really.

It takes a worried man to sing a worried song, and in a recent speech that seemed like Larry Summers's swan song, the president's now-departed economic adviser warned that America is "at risk of a profound demoralization with respect to government." He fears a future in which "an inadequately resourced government performs badly, leading to further demands that it be cut back, exacerbating performance problems, deepening the backlash, and creating a vicious cycle."

Words fail me.  Our problems are due to not enough government.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  No wonder the Harvard faculty ran him out.  Although I note they are taking him back.  No wonder the Harvard faculty are taking him back....

“If I have to suffer economically in order not to steal from my grandchildren, so be it.”

Tony Blankley pointing out that more people self identify with the Tea Party than with the Party that just won the greatest legislative victory in more than a century.  People are ready for Tough Love.

The American people feared the permanent loss of liberty more than they feared the temporary loss of their income or property. 
The tea parties self-formed without leadership from above. But millions of people who didn’t join the tea parties nonetheless endorsed their sentiments and values — so that by last month, polls showed that the tea parties were more identified with than the Republican Party, which itself had just won the greatest election victory in well over half a century.
No other people in the world would have responded to economic danger by seeking more liberty and less government protection.
No other people would have thought to themselves, “If I have to suffer economically in order not to steal from my grandchildren, so be it.” 

Read the Whole Thing

Bail them out, regulate them, work for them (at inflated salaries)

This is how the power game works in Washington. The Federal government is too big, too distant, and too able to print money to be accountable to the people. We need to break it up and devolve most of its domestic responsibilities to the states where competition, proximity and resource limits keep everyone more honest.

So long as the Federal Government reigns as it does today we cannot say that we govern ourselves.  And we shall pay the price while our 'rulers' reap the rewards.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quite possibly the lowest point in James Mason's distinguished career

Me, I never drank Thunderbird wine without my Ascot firmly in place.  Just like James Mason.  Perhaps the unintentionally funniest ad ever.  Jimmy, we hardly knew ye.

The hidden dangers of overreaching

One of the risks of political arrogance and overreaching is that when you press far beyond the nation's support, you call into being an opposition that can be far stronger than the forces you were leading.  And by doing so you can initiate a chain reaction with repercussions that reach far, far beyond the scope of the change in the first place.  Obamacare seems to be such an act.

There are now 26 states suing the Obama administration in Florida, along with two individual plaintiffs and the National Federation of Independent Business. This means that a majority of state governments are fighting the federal government. If not unprecedented, it’s certainly a rarity. It’s also powerful testimony that most Americans — and their elected leaders in state government — feel the administration’s approach to health care is completely wrong-headed.

The fact that a majority of state governments are contesting the power of the federal government under the Constitution on this issue will certainly have an impact not just on Judge Vinson, but on the appellate court and ultimately the justices of the Supreme Court. The gravity of that fact cannot fail to influence the outcome of this case.

Another reason totalist governments are so vulnerable

Hat tip Marginal Revolution

Indeed, the Chinese government often overreacts to what it believes to be public opinion precisely because, as one diplomat resident in Beijing remarked, there are no institutionalised ways of gauging it, such as elections or free media.
No avenues for real communication mean no outlets for dissatisfaction short of strike or violence.  It makes for a rather dicey political environment.

You knew this was going to happen

The moment that the MSM started pretending that 'right wing' rhetoric was uniquely 'toxic' and that specific images like crosshairs were incitement to murder they gave us righties the incentive to find the literally thousands of examples where they have done the same thing.  Here's but one:
BYRON YORK: Before banning ‘crosshairs,’ CNN used it to refer to Palin, Bachmann. I blame the network for creating a climate of hatred and violence. There’s blood on your hands, CNN!
People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  Hat tip

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Obama has won the war on terror debate: for the right"

Glen Greenwald bemoans the fact that everything (and I mean everything) that the Bushies implemented in the GWOT has been ratified or in some cases (drone attacks) radically intensified under Obama.  All of the anti-war arguments made by The One as he peddled his hope and change turn out to have been lies.  And the believing left is suffering the torments of the damned (and ignored) for it.  Couldn't happen to a sweeter bunch of guys.  In Mr. Greenwalds own words:

But Obama's impact in this area extends far beyond that.  Dick Cheney is not only free of ignominy, but can run around claiming vindication from Obama's actions because he's right.  The American Right constantly said during the Bush years that any President who knew what Bush knew and was faced with the duty of keeping the country safe would do the same thing.  Obama has provided the best possible evidence imaginable to prove those claims true.
...Obama has won the War on Terror debate -- for the American Right.  And as Dick Cheney's interview last night demonstrates, they're every bit as appreciative as they should be.
Read the whole thing.

NYT: There is no such thing as 'green jobs' - ignore everything we've said to date on this subject

That's right, the NYT who reported the left's 'green jobs' mantra through at least 4 electoral cycles with a gap jawed credulity available only to true believers now says 'never mind'.  It doesn't matter where the massively expensive subsidized 'green energy' solutions are manufactured so long as these ludicrous boondoggles get subsidized by the tax payer.  Or something like that.

Does the NYT have no shame or simply lack the capacity to remember what it said last week?

On cruelty

I'm reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment in my friend Robbie Grigg's book study.  Robbie is an impressive combination of charm, intellect and faith wrapped in a package that looks like one of the classier Greek gods.  Needless to say, I like being seen with him.  From time to time he leads a 'serious' book study at our Church that I go to every chance I get - I guess I need some leavening for my inherently frivolous nature.

There is a passage in the book where several drunken friends beat to death a pony that was not strong enough to pull them where they wanted to go.  It is a horrifying scene and brought tears to my eyes.  But after the tears dried I wasn't exactly sure what I had witnessed.  As an act of cruelty it didn't ring true to me.  I grew up - and from time to time do business - in very poor countries where cruelty happens out in the open.  But in all my years I have never seen anything approaching the beating described in the book.  In my experience cruelty down at the bottom looks very different than what the author portrayed.  It isn't hot, like the scene but unbearably cold, indifferent, implacable and unending.  No, after some reflection I believe that what Dostoevsky was portraying in that scene wasn't cruelty but madness.  The madness you would infer if you saw someone smashing their own car with a sledgehammer when it broke down.

Reading Dostoevsky's tale reminds me of a similar event I witnessed a few years ago that to my mind better illustrates cruelty's true nature.  I was riding in from the Lahore airport with my partner.  While I listened to him chatter gaily about our plans for the evening, I spied a donkey by the side of the road.  Donkeys are a major mode of transportation in the sub continent - they pull heavily laden two wheeled carts.  They are small and almost always overburdened, but so are their masters.

This donkey was different.  First, he was alone, not harnessed to a cart and with no owner in view.  Second, he was standing perfectly, unnaturally still.  I soon saw why:  next to him was a high curb that the donkey rested his right forelimb on.  Only the leg did not lie backward from the knee but forward.  Apparently, overburdened by the cart and moving too fast, the donkey had hit an obstacle that snapped his leg forward at the knee, it now lay sickeningly on the curb attached only by skin.  The donkey stood so still because to move must have been agony.  I looked for the owner but he was nowhere to be found.  I pieced together in my mind what must have happened:  the owner, finding his donkey fatally injured, had unharnessed him and taking the harness over his own shoulders, dragged the heavy cart step by agonizing step home - what else could he do?  He must have mourned the loss of his donkey - if not out of love, then out of a realization that the loss of his beast threatened ruin for his family.

So late at night on the busy airport road, the donkey stood:  in perfect stillness, perfect agony, waiting, alone and uncomprehending for its inevitable death.  I've seen (and sometimes participated in) quite a bit of cruelty in this world and I can tell you that this is what it looks like:  cold, dead indifference, physical, mental, spiritual agony by the side of a busy road filled with people who won't stop, won't help.  Unto death.

I looked away from the donkey and at myself in the rear view mirror:  blue-grey eyes, cold, indifferent and cruel stared back at me.  Had I any courage on that foggy Punjabi night, I would have stopped the car, gotten the tire iron out and beaten that donkey to death.

And that act would have been neither a cruelty nor a madness but a mercy.

Walter Russell Mead - The next American Upgrade

An Important piece that explains that the notion that there are 'developed' countries:  that there is a path to a pinnacle and certain countries are in some respects 'there' is among the most pernicious and widespread notions in our world today.  The rapidly accelerating pace of change and the weaknesses of the current order almost guarantee radical changes in social arrangements here at the 'end of history'.  Read the whole thing here.

The word ‘developed’ contains an important assumption: that a historical process known as development (closely related to modernization — another problematic word) not only exists throughout the world, it culminates in a known end which has already been reached.  This word implies that countries like France, Canada and our own happy United States of America have reached the end of history, the summit of human achievement, stable and enduring arrangements in political economy that are unlikely to change much going forward.
Nothing could be stupider or less historically defensible than this belief, yet few assumptions are more widespread among the world’s intelligentsia, planners and, especially, bureaucrats.  Technological change has never been moving faster or with greater force than it is today as the implications of one revolution in IT after another work themselves out; the foundations of the global economic and political order are being shaken by the dramatic rise of new powers. Yet somehow many of us believe that the  western world is an end state: the comfy couch at the end of history rather than the launching pad for another great, disruptive leap into the unknown.
Hat tip

Reclusive lefty on the airbrushing of Lee Harvey Oswald's communism from history

His money graf:
Ironically, people will accuse me of having an ulterior motive for even saying this. So you’re defending right-wing hatred? So you’re arguing that the left is just as bad? Blah blah blah. Actually, here’s my ulterior motive: truth. I like truth. I like facts. I like knowing what really happened.
Read the whole thing.  Hat tip

Another one bites the dust - ND Sen Kent Conrad to retire

North Dakota was anomalous in that it had popular democrats leading a Republican state.  Kent was the last Mohican of this trend, so to speak.  And now he is going - probably jumping before frustrated voters pushed him.  First R pickup of the 2012 season.

Hat tip Instapundit.

Of course compared to the Feds $100 Trillion hole, $2.5 Trillion is peanuts

The simple fact of the matter is that if you don't have the ability to make future promises, you can't get into this type of trouble.  Defined benefit anything should be banned by Constitutional amendment.  There can be no liabilities imposed on future Congresses - if a Congress wishes to do something they need to fund it.  Period.  The inability to do 'Keynsian' countercyclical fiscal policy will be a small price to pay to protect us from the intergalactic scale profligacy that our so called 'leaders' have imposed on us.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): States warned of $2,500bn pensions shortfall. “US public pensions face a shortfall of $2,500bn that will force state and local governments to sell assets and make deep cuts to services, according to the former chairman of New Jersey’s pension fund.”

We have been looted and we need strong barriers to its repetition.  Hat tip instapundit

Monday, January 17, 2011

Holy Irony, Batman, Jared Lee Loughner was a 'truther'

If you recall, 'Truthers' were the most radical opponents to the war on terror, arguing that President Bush instigated the 9/11 attacks as a pretext for invading oil bearing countries like Afghanistan (I know, I know, it makes no sense, what can I do, it was their argument).  Imagine that:  to the extent that Mr. Loughner had any coherent political views at all, they were the opposite of those held by Conservatives, Republicans and Tea Partiers.  
UPDATE: Related: Loughner a Truther/Anarchist: “I am very familiar with this kind of idiot: I saw them all the time at the anti-war rallies I covered between 2003 and 2008. They hate Bush, they hate America, and they ‘hate war’ in that America is usually the dominant combatant in any war and thus it’s an endeavor that tends to solidify American strength. . . . Not that Loughner was sane, or part of a ’scene.’ We know that now. But to the extent that he was ‘informed’ by a political worldview, it was that of the left-leaning anarchists — at the exact opposite pole from Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.”

What I want to figure out is how Sarah Palin incited a 'truther' - perhaps she made him mad by disagreeing with him so he killed.....her opponents.  

Meanwhile in the NYT/MSNBC/MSM bunker silence reigns supreme.

The police are not on your side Number 100

Bureaucrats with guns.  Interact with them at your peril.  Hat tip instapundit.

COVERUP? The Eurie Stamps Investigation Goes Into Lockdown. “Last week, Framingham, Massachusetts, District Court Judge Douglas Stoddart imposed a seal on the search warrants and return sheets for the raid in which police shot and killed 68-year-old Eurie Stamps. Stamps wasn’t a suspect in the drug raid, and he was unarmed when he was shot. . . . Leone also says the name of the police officer who shot Stamps won’t be released until after the investigation has been completed.” Why not? How can you possibly have a right of privacy when you’ve shot someone? No private citizen would receive this sort of protection.

Too good to honestly check

Salon finally pulls a hysterical piece by RFK Jr. that frightened parents into avoiding vaccinations for their children.  It and others like it (and more importantly RFK Jr.'s ignorant, self righteous huckstering on the subject) has sickened tens of thousands and led to the death of hundreds.  I guess this explains how they can blame Sarah Palin for the acts of paranoid schizophrenia:  they don't know science and instead believe lucky sperm Kennedys and articles fact checked by Rolling Stone.  So this is what it looks like when institutions die.

Five years after printing an “exclusve” article by Robert F Kennedy, Jr. indicating  he was “convinced that the link between thimerosal and the epidemic of childhood neurological disorders is real,” and following recent revelations that the research upon which that link was based was fatally flawed, Salon finally yanks the piece. The editors note that the story was “fact checked” by Rolling Stone  and that it had printed five corrections shortly after the story was published.  Here’s the explanation for the five year delay:
“I regret we didn’t move on this more quickly, as evidence continued to emerge debunking the vaccines and autism link,” says former Salon editor in chief Joan Walsh, now editor at large. “But continued revelations of the flaws and even fraud tainting the science behind the connection make taking down the story the right thing to do.” The story’s original URL now links to our autism topics page, which we believe now offers a strong record of clear thinking and skeptical coverage we’re proud of — including the critical pursuit of others who continue to propagate the debunked, and dangerous, autism-vaccine link.
Maybe it’s not such a hot idea to get your science reports from politicians and former politicians even if “fact checked” by Rolling Stone, but Salon doesn’t concede that.
Hat tip Instapundit