Friday, February 27, 2009

D.C. Voting Measure Clears The Senate

Opponents of the current bill said it violated the constitutional provision that House representatives should be chosen by the "people of the several states." Since the District is not a state, its inhabitants don't qualify for representation, they said.

"The Constitution is short because its authors wanted it to be clear," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). He added: "It could not have been more so" on the issue of House representation.

That Constitution keeps getting in the way of all these great ideas from the Democrats.  Let's pack the Supreme Court to make sure that DC statehood can be declared by a voice vote in Congress.

How Radio Wrecks the Right

How Radio Wrecks the Right  by John Derbyshire

Limbaugh and company certainly entertain. But a steady diet of ideological comfort food is no substitute for hearty intellectual fare.

Derbyshire makes some good points, but I don't think Talk Radio wrecks the Right -- it's merely insufficient to achieve our goals.  Rush didn't drain away the political energy from what could have been a middlebrow conservatism.  Rush created his own world.  He is more an entertainer than a political leader.  He supports the good guys and has the right enemies.  It's up to political people to make the most of what Rush has to offer: an audience and a knack for publicity. Magazines like National Review and organizations like the Heritage Foundation need to promote the cause of the intellectual Right.

I think Derbyshire is a bit unfair to suggest that Limbaugh and Hannity supported Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism".  I heard them speak out strongly against it.  They didn't necessarily like Ron Paul, but that didn't make them Bush apologists.

Rush has a good sense of humor and isn't afraid to make fun of the left.  In that respect, he is somewhat of a counterweight to the late-night comedians who really dominate political talk in this country.  The liberal media shapes the news, but the comedians shape public opinion.

By the way, Derb should give himself some credit for his own "Radio Derb" podcasts.  I find his cynical attitude refreshing and funny despite the doom and gloom that pervades the broadcasts.  I encourage everyone to give "Radio Derb" a try.

The Politics of Fear by Jonah Goldberg

In 2008, when Gore endorsed Barack Obama it was in part because the Illinois senator represented a break with the "politics of fear."

What's hilarious about this is that Gore is, without question, the most successful fearmonger in America, if not the whole world. He is constantly spinning climate change in the most horrifying terms possible. He asserts global warming as the author of nearly every calamity, inflating threats in order to bully people into agreeing with him. There's no time to argue, do what I say or we're all doomed, is the central message of Al Gore's environmental shtick. And it works for him. It's made him both hugely wealthy and popular in the circles he cares about and it has advanced his agenda farther than fair-minded persuasion would.

Of course, in the process he's fueled paranoia among an entire generation of young people who think we're seconds from an environmental Armageddon.

Gore also seems to have taught Barack Obama a thing or two. President Obama, whose whole campaign was about hope over fear, has been scaring the dickens out of people lately. He has certainly terrified the stock market. He's warned of "catastrophe" and economic "disaster" from which we may never recover.

What's particularly odious about Obama's scare tactics is that he's using them for the mother of all bait-and-switches. He justifiably scares people about the magnitude of the financial crisis, but uses that fear not to sell them on a solution to the crisis but to trick them into signing up for a new Great Society. It's like convincing someone he's got cancer and then telling him that's why he needs to buy a new car.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Should We Let California Go Bankrupt?

While many states are grappling with budget problems, none are nearly as large as California's relative to its size--$41 billion in a state of 37 million, or $1,108 per resident. Even New York, the next most fiscally pressed state, clocks in with a mere $13 billion for 19 million residents, or $685 per capita.

There's good reason why most states won't fall down the fiscal black hole where California now dwells. This is a state whose politicians, public sector unions and advocacy groups have been living in a fantasy world of overspending, investment-deadening taxation and job-killing regulation. Looking out over the state's prospects and examining the budget deal that legislators have put together (jerry-rigged as it is with revenue gimmicks and unrealistic projections), the only question is who will be begging Washington for more money sooner, the banks, the auto companies or the Terminator?

The similarities between California and the auto companies are especially striking. Neither can afford their workforce. California schools pay their employees 35 percent more on average in wages and benefits than the national average (17 percent more when adjusted for the state's higher standard of living), a significant bite because the state funds much of local education (to the tune of $42 billion last year). Benefits are a big part of these costs. A public employee in California with 30 years of service can already retire at 55 with more than half of his salary as pension, and public-safety workers can get 90 percent of their salary at age 50.

Japan's boffins: Global warming isn't man-made

Japanese scientists have made a dramatic break with the UN and Western-backed hypothesis of climate change in a new report from its Energy Commission.

Three of the five researchers disagree with the UN's IPCC view that recent warming is primarily the consequence of man-made industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. Remarkably, the subtle and nuanced language typical in such reports has been set aside.

One of the five contributors compares computer climate modelling to ancient astrology. Others castigate the paucity of the US ground temperature data set used to support the hypothesis, and declare that the unambiguous warming trend from the mid-part of the 20th Century has ceased.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Washington State sends $1 food stamp checks to 250,000

The state is sending out hundreds of thousands of $1 checks to its neediest residents. It's a plan that's supposed to bring millions of dollars worth of food stamps to the state by March.  [...]  He says if the state's food stamp recipients receive just $1 for energy bill assistance, that qualifies them for extra federal assistance. [...] Sending out $1 checks cost the state $250,000. DSHS says that could bring the state an additional $43 million in federal funding.

"I think it's an issue of maximizing the federal regulations to the advantage of Washington residents," said Ribas.

Obama says that he's putting Joe Biden in charge of making sure that none of the stimulus is wasted.  It looks like Washington State is messin' with Joe!

Foreclosures Concentrated in Five States

When President Obama discusses his $275 billion mortgage bailout, he talks as if it was a national problem, caused by a national decline in home prices. "We must stem the spread of foreclosures and falling home values for all Americans," he says. But there is no national market for homes and no national price for homes. Instead, most of the United States will pay for the folly of few.

The beneficiaries of taxpayer charity will be highly concentrated in just five states - California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Michigan. That is not because the subsidized homeowners are poor (Californians with $700,000 mortgages are not poor), but because they took on too much debt, often by refinancing in risky ways to "cash out" thousands more than the original loan. Nearly all subprime loans were for refinancing, not buying a home.

What Obama really meant

"It's a plan that won't help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values." VIDEO

TRANSLATION: The essence of this message – "don't listen to that blowhard Rick Santelli over at CNBC." White House officials privately admit some reckless homeowners could benefit from their rescue package. But they want the public to see the housing rescue package as the best of many bad options for keeping property values from tanking further. They know they will lose the fight if the plan is seen as a sop to the undeserving.  

Only the suckers pay for their own mortgages.  The smart guys get the government to pay.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Detroit as the Prodigal Son: Why is the government rewarding failure?

Last fall, facing bankruptcy, those companies sought and received some $17 billion in federal loans intended to keep them in business. Now they are back asking for more—$16.6 billion for GM and $5 billion for Chrysler.

That doesn't count the $7.7 billion GM wants to improve fuel economy or the $5 billion its financial arm got from the Treasury Department. Nor does it exclude the possibility that they will demand more help in the future.

And what about the automakers that have not run themselves into the ground? They get nothing. Actually, they get worse than nothing: They get the privilege of competing not just against GM and Chrysler but against the federal government, which has unlimited resources and is now in full partnership with the two.

It's not just Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, and all the other companies that sell (and often build) cars here that are seeing their wisdom and restraint punished. It's also the American people—most of whom voted with their pocketbooks not to support GM and Chrysler but now see their money forcibly diverted to those automakers anyway.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Santelli's Manifesto: Behind the Shout Heard 'Round the World

Kudlow talks to Santelli about the Whitehouse reaction to his call for another Tea Party (video at the link):

Friday, February 20, 2009

Housing Flop by The Editors on National Review Online

Put simply, this program is designed to benefit Fannie and Freddie shareholders, not the great majority of Americans struggling with their mortgages. The only loans that can be restructured are those held in Fannie/Freddie portfolios or securitized by the twins. Just in time to benefit from a refinancing boom, Fannie and Freddie plan to raise their fees to as high as 3.5 percent on April 1. (Note that date, taxpayers, and ask yourselves who is being played for the fool.) And only a tiny slice of homeowners will be eligible — those who are in relatively weak positions (house payments exceed 31 percent of gross income) but not too weak (house payments do not exceed 38 percent of gross income) and who are, despite their mortgage difficulties, still creditworthy enough to pass bank underwriting standards. Fannie and Freddie get new capital, new income, and better loans in their portfolios. Most homeowners get nothing, and taxpayers get the bill. Fannie and Freddie, which ought to be disbanded, will survive to continue distorting both markets and politics.

More from Santelli on the mortgage bailout

Video at the link:

What this boils down to is you have to treat everybody fairly.

So far, it looks like the regular people, who worked hard and sacrificed to make their mortgage payments, are going to end up subsidizing the people who decided to stop making their payments.  The best way to get a government hand-out is to act irresponsibly.  Rick Santelli is pushing back.  I'm with Rick!

Rebel Yell: Taxpayers Revolt Against Gimme-Mania

The first revolt took place on Presidents Day in Smurf-blue Seattle, where mom-blogger Keli Carender hastily organized a downtown demonstration to oppose what they called the "stimulus rip-off." A motley band of nearly 100 protesters -- moms and their kids, college students, libertarians, taxpayer groups, GOP activists -- raised their voices and dined on pulled pork (donated by yours truly). They assailed both the substance of the overstuffed stimulus package and the short-circuited, nontransparent process by which it was passed.

Some wore pig noses. Others waved Old Glory and "Don't Tread on Me" flags. Their handmade signs read: "Say No to Generational Theft"; "Obama'$ Porkulu$ Wear$ Lip$tick"; and "I don't want to pay for the SwindleUs! I'm only 10 years old!"

The entitlement theme played well last week in Florida, where Obama played Santa Claus to enraptured supporters shamelessly seeking government presents. But nearly 500 protesters in Mesa came to reject the savior-based economy with signs mocking gimme-mania.

Their posters jeered: "Give me Pelosi's Plane"; "Annual Passes to Disneyland"; "Fund Bikini Wax Now"; "Stimulate the Economy: Give Me a Tummy Tuck"; "Free Beer for My Horses."

And my favorite: "Give me liberty or at least a big-screen TV."

Now is the time for all good taxpayers to turn the tables on free-lunching countrymen and their enablers in Washington. Community organizing helped propel Barack Obama to the White House. It can work for fiscal conservatism, too.

Obama Subsidizes Bad-Mortgage Behavior

Obama's so-called mortgage-rescue plan amounts to $275 billion in new debt that will have little if any lasting impact on deeply corrected housing prices or the mortgage-default problem that stemmed from the insistence of government to throw home loans at lower-income people. A modest reduction in mortgage rates will have little impact on home prices, as Harvard professor Ed Glaser has shown. And by the way, re-default rates on modified mortgages have been running 50 to 60 percent. This is not going to change. So why should we throw more good money after bad?

Meanwhile, Wall Street is awakening to the disappointment that the securitized mortgages behind the toxic assets that have done so much damage to banks and the credit system are not being treated in the Obama program. The oversight is incredible.

The Market Is Shorting Obama's 'Stimulus'

Yet, from Nov. 4, 2008 through Feb. 12, 2009, the DJI overall fell 18% -- a larger drop than during the Sept-Oct plunge. In January, when the Obama plan, promising far greater deficits than the two much smaller "emergency stimulus" plans signed by Pres. George W. Bush in 2008, was unveiled, the market tanked – the worst January performance in 113 years.

More pointedly, key political victories for the Team Obama spending plan have not been viewed as buying opportunities on Wall Street. A string of negative market reactions began with the December 18 announcement of a stimulus bill of $700 billion (Dow down 2.5%), continued with the January 7 announcement that the actual plan would be "on the high side" (-2.7%) and continued with last week's 61-36 Senate vote supporting the Administration's fiscal plan. The White House victory and the new bank bail-out plan announced the following day by Treasury Secretary Geithner were met with a 5% wipe-out in the DJI, and a decline in Treasury bond yields, indicating a "flight to quality."

Government deficits are nonetheless being sold as doctor's orders, an elixir that – while it looks ugly and tastes bitter – will propel us back to economic health. Yet the best forecast currently on the table is the one made by investors risking their own money. They are shorting the "stimulus."

Phil Gramm Says Loose Money and Politicized Mortgages Caused the Financial Market Crisis

I believe that a strong case can be made that the financial crisis stemmed from a confluence of two factors. The first was the unintended consequences of a monetary policy, developed to combat inventory cycle recessions in the last half of the 20th century, that was not well suited to the speculative bubble recession of 2001. The second was the politicization of mortgage lending.

Bill Moyers doesn't remember if he used the FBI to investigate political opponents and staff

There are few things more insufferable than Bill Moyers on PBS every week holding forth on how intolerant conservatives are. This is because given his history of political activities in LBJ's administration, he has no standing to do so. Moyers and J. Edgar Hoover worked together to illegally bug Martin Luther King jr. as well as leak unflattering information about political enemies to the press. Andy Ferguson wrote the definitive Bill Moyers takedown years ago, but sadly it's not online (it is collected in one of Ferguson's books). Anyway, in lieu of the main course, as an appetizer here's a very damning excerpt on Moyers from Morley Safer's autobiography.

Well, as it turns out things are even worse than that. The Washington Post has unearthed FBI files showing that Moyers might have been a party to investigating whether Jack Valenti and any White House staff members were in the closet:

Even Bill Moyers, a White House aide now best known as a liberal television commentator, is described in the records as seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members. Moyers said by e-mail yesterday that his memory is unclear after so many years but that he may have been simply looking for details of allegations first brought to the president by Hoover.

His memory is "unclear"? Moyers' defense here is severely lacking given the charges that have been leveled at him over the years.

Santelli's Chicago Tea Party

CNBC's Rick Santelli and the traders on the floor of the CBOE express outrage over the notion they may have to pay their neighbor's mortgage, particularly if they bought far more house than they could actually afford

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Associated Press: Analysis: Democrats self-destructing over ethics

The Obama administration and the new Congress are quickly handing over to Republicans the same "culture of corruption" issue that Democrats used so effectively against the GOP before coming to power.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We Are All Fascists Now

What is happening now–and Newsweek is honest enough to say so down in the body of the article–is an expansion of the state's role, an increase in public/private joint ventures and partnerships, and much more state regulation of business.  Yes, it's very "European," and some of the Europeans even call it "social democracy," but it isn't.

It's fascism.  Nobody calls it by its proper name, for two basic reasons:  first, because "fascism" has long since lost its actual, historical, content;  it's been a pure epithet for many decades.  Lots of the people writing about current events like what Obama et. al. are doing, and wouldn't want to stigmatize it with that "f" epithet.

Second, not one person in a thousand knows what fascist political economy was.  Yet during the great economic crisis of the 1930s, fascism was widely regarded as a possible solution, indeed as the only acceptable solution to a spasm that had shaken the entire First World, and beyond.  It was hailed as a "third way" between two failed systems (communism and capitalism), retaining the best of each.  Private property was preserved, as the role of the state was expanded.  This was necessary because the Great Depression was defined as a crisis "of the system," not just a glitch "in the system."  And so Mussolini created the "Corporate State," in which, in theory at least, the big national enterprises were entrusted to state ownership (or substantial state ownership) and of course state management.

The Obamateur Hour by Mark Steyn

America has a choice: It can reacquaint itself with socioeconomic reality, or it can buckle its mandatory seatbelt for the same decline most of the rest of the West embraced a couple of generations back. In 1897, troops from the greatest empire the world had ever seen marched down London's mall for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. Seventy years later, Britain had government health care, a government-owned car industry, massive government housing, and it was a shriveled high-unemployment socialist basket-case living off the dwindling cultural capital of its glorious past. In 1945, America emerged from the Second World War as the preeminent power on earth. Seventy years later . . .

Let's not go there.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stimulus measures that may help your wallet

Here's a look at some of the provisions that will have a direct effect on individuals in their paychecks, on their tax returns, and with regard to their unemployment benefits and health insurance if they've lost a job.

Here's What $800 Billion Buys Today: The final stimulus package is the final insult to taxpayers

Supporters of the package describe the legislation as transportation and infrastructure investment, the idea being to use new spending to put America back to work while at the same time fixing decrepit infrastructure. However, only 17 percent of the discretionary spending in this package is for infrastructure items. More worrisome still, the final version lacks any mechanism to ensure that spending will be targeted toward infrastructure projects with high economic returns.

The conference report dedicates 30 percent of all discretionary spending to 33 new programs totaling $95 billion and expands 73 programs which are normally part of the regular appropriations process by $92 billion.

Follow the link for a long list of expenditures.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Audacity of Doing Nothing

Barack Obama promised on Monday not to rest as long as this economic downturn persisted.  He promised to act decisively, change whatever had to be changed, spend whatever had to be spent.  This is precisely what worries the investors to whom I spoke.  They'd rather see the audacity of doing nothing.

A generation’s worth of liberal policymaking

Over the last three weeks the policy experts at my institution, The Heritage Foundation, have published dozens of biting critiques of literally every aspect of the House and Senate versions of this legislative monstrosity. They agree on one thing: Under the guise of stimulating the economy, this one bill contains a generation's worth of liberal policymaking, an entire Great Society-scale agenda, one that advances the liberals' view of man and his relationship to government enough to cause LBJ himself to turn red with envy.

The pork and the overall spending are every bit as bad as the critics say, but in the long run, they are mere distractions. The real damage comes from other, less noticed provisions in the bills.

The House and/or Senate stimulus bills would undo the 1996 welfare reforms, explode entitlement spending by a cool quarter trillion dollars, lay the groundwork for the federal government's takeover of our health care system, double Uncle Sam's already overbearing role in education, require taxpayers to pick up the bail tab for potentially dangerous felons, allow unemployed Wall Street executives to qualify for Medicaid, and reignite the fires of trade protectionism, thereby risking a global trade war.

Read the whole thing for a good summary of several important issues.

Do Democrats Have a Corruption Problem?

In case you haven't been following the news...

Instapundit on the Geert Wilders Ban by the UK

MORE ON THE GEERT WILDERS BAN: The lesson to me is that if you want freedom of speech, then, like the Muslims in Britain, you must make the authorities afraid to bother you. If you seem harmless, you will be silenced at the demand of those whom the authorities fear. Once again, I note that this is an incentive structure that the British authorities will likely come to regret.

Satellites Destroyed in Orbital Collision

A commercial satellite owned by a U.S. company was destroyed in a collision with a defunct Russian military satellite in what NASA said was the first such accident in orbit, raising new concerns about the dangers of space debris.

The crash, which happened Tuesday in low-earth orbit, involved one of the satellites owned by closely held Iridium Satellite LLC and a crippled Russian military satellite that apparently stopped functioning years ago, according to U.S. government and satellite-industry officials.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Shrine of FDR by Jonah Goldberg

In 1940, when Alvin Hansen, an influential economic adviser to the president, was asked whether "the basic principle of the New Deal" was "economically sound," he responded, "I really do not know what the basic principle of the New Deal is." 

In fact, when it's convenient, liberals usually brag about the fact that it wasn't a coherent plan at all. They praise FDR's "bold experimentation" and "pragmatic trial and error" on a colossal scale. In his famous Oglethorpe University commencement speech in May 1932, FDR himself said some of his proposed program wouldn't work—and he was right. In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, Obama echoed this argument. "What you see in FDR that I hope my team can emulate is not always getting it right, but projecting a sense of confidence and a willingness to try things and experiment in order to get people working again." 

On this point Amity Shlaes is surely onto something when she argues that bold experimentation fosters an atmosphere of uncertainty—"What's FDR going to try next?!"; "What's Obama up to now?!"—and uncertainty is not necessarily good for economic growth or employment. 

Yet, again, from the liberal perspective, this misses the point entirely. Some of the New Deal surely helped, and much of it definitely hurt, they might grudgingly concede; but to get mired in such questions is to overlook the true meaning and majesty of it all. This was the first time while the country was not at war that the American people gave war powers to liberals to do whatever they thought best. That's what liberals love about the New Deal, and that's the real reason they want to bring it back.

TARP and Political Contributions

Rush Limbaugh says:

> "It's not okay to give bonuses if you took TARP money, or buy a
> corporate jet, or remodel your office. However, it is perfectly
> fine to give money to politicians. In fact, it's probably required
> -- under the table. Members of Congress don't say, 'You can't use
> TARP money to make contributions to us.' That's perfectly fine!
> Now, is that stimulus?"

Good point. I think anyone getting bail-out money should be
prohibited from making any political donations.

Andy Kessler Explains Why Markets Rejected the Geithner Plan

Mr. Geithner should instead use his "stress test" and nationalize the dead banks via the FDIC -- but only for a day or so.

First, strip out all the toxic assets and put them into a holding tank inside the Treasury. Then inject $300 billion in fresh equity for both Citi and Bank of America. Create 10 billion new shares of each of the companies to replace the old ones. The book value of each share could be $30. Very quickly, a new board of directors should be created and a new management team hired. Here's the tricky part: Who owns the shares? Politics will kill a nationalized bank. So spin them out immediately.

Some $6 trillion in income taxes were paid by individuals in 2006, 2007 and 2008. On a pro-forma basis, send out those 10 billion shares of each bank to taxpayers. They paid for the recapitalization.

Hillary’s incredible, shrinking role

The power of the secretary of State flows directly from the president. But Hillary does not have the inside track with Obama. Rice and Powers, close advisers in the campaign, and Gen. Jones — whose office is in the White House — all may have superior access. Holbrooke and Mitchell will have more immediate information about the world's trouble spots. 

So what is Hillary's mandate? Of what is she secretary of State? If you take the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan out of the equation, what is left? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Consensus for the “Stimulus?”

The Obama administration has claimed that virtually all economists support their approach to "stimulus" spending. This is patently untrue. Nobel Laureates Ed Prescott, James Buchanan, and Vernon Smith recently joined 200 other economists signing a letter opposing the legislation. Other notable economists critical of the stimulus package include Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, as well as Robert BarroGreg MankiwArthur Laffer, and Larry Lindsey.  Martin Feldstein, who had been the only notable conservative economist loudly supporting the stimulus, has since changed his mind.

More liberal economists such as Alice Rivlin and Alan Blinder have also strongly criticized certain aspects of the spending bill. 

read the whole thing

Ex-D.C. mayor Barry fails to pay taxes

I wonder if he's angling for a job in the Obama administration...

Prosecutors asked a federal judge Monday to send former Washington mayor Marion Barry to jail for failing to file his tax returns for the eighth time in nine years.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Zeno said Barry, who's also a current District of Columbia Council member did not file his taxes in 2007, violating his probation for previous tax offenses.

Stimulus: A History of Folly

Not only was the stimulative effect of Great Depression fiscal policy non-existent, but follow-on efforts during the ten subsequent recessions proved equally ineffective. As a result of that hard-won experience, the consensus until recently among economists was that attempts at stimulus through emergency fiscal policies—as opposed to monetary policies and the automatic effects of increases in unemployment assistance and decreases in tax payments—were useless at best. Typical was the statement of Martin Eichenbaum of Northwestern University in the American Economic Review in 1997: "There is now widespread agreement that countercyclical discretionary fiscal policy is neither desirable nor politically feasible." Martin Feldstein, then president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, agreed. Fiscal stimulus, he said in 2002, "has not contributed to economic stability and may have actually been destabilizing."

The truth is that we have learned almost nothing about the use of fiscal stimulus since the Great Depression, and it is a fatal conceit to assume that we can hurriedly construct a fiscal policy that will produce the prescribed results today. Economists seem to admit this fact by advocating what they prefer anyway, for political or ideological reasons.

In fact, stimulus may be precisely the wrong metaphor. Rather than getting jazzed up, we need to be calmed down and to take the time to learn from the Great Depression, a time when government did too much, not too little. Amity Shlaes makes the argument in The Forgotten Man, her book about the Great Depression, that the constant experimenting and meddling of the New Deal froze investors and business operators in fear: "Businesses decided to wait Roosevelt out, hold on to their cash, and invest in future years."

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Great Overreach by Jonah Goldberg

The stimulus bill has failed. Barack Obama has failed. The Trojan Horse of Hope and Change crashed into the guardrail of reality, revealing an army of ideologues and activists inside.  [...] The stimulus bill was a bridge too far, an overplayed hand, ten pounds of manure in a five-pound bag. The legislation's primary duty was never to stimulate the economy, but to stimulate the growth of government, the scope of the state.

The economic crisis was almost too good to be true. Like FDR and Lyndon Johnson, Obama was poised to act on Rahm's Rule of Crisis Exploitation in a way that would not only guarantee a newer New Deal and an even greater Great Society, but would also receive bipartisan approval. That's why Obama wanted so much GOP support—so as to ratify the left turn to European-style social democracy, particularly when voters cottoned on to the con.

But that didn't happen. Obama and his party were undone by their hubris.

The Fierce Urgency of Pork

"A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe."

-- President Obama, Feb. 4.

Catastrophe, mind you. So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared "we have chosen hope over fear." Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill. [...]

It's the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus -- and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress's own budget office says won't be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.

Not just to abolish but to create something new -- a new politics where the moneyed pork-barreling and corrupt logrolling of the past would give way to a bottom-up, grass-roots participatory democracy. That is what made Obama so dazzling and new. Turns out the "fierce urgency of now" includes $150 million for livestock (and honeybee and farm-raised fish) insurance.

The Age of Obama begins with perhaps the greatest frenzy of old-politics influence peddling ever seen in Washington.

Fla. doctor investigated in badly botched abortion

According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.

What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic's owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant's umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.

Police recovered the decomposing remains in a cardboard box a week later after getting anonymous tips.

A post-birth "badly botched abortion" is the unlawful killing of a human being.  That's not just a "choice", it's murder.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

50 De-Stimulating Facts

No one who reads this will support the bill.  That's the main reason it's such an emergency.

Bill Gates Unleashes Swarm of Mosquitoes on Crowd

"Malaria is spread by mosquitoes," Gates said while opening a jar onstage at the Technology,Entertainment, Design Conference — a gathering known to attract technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars.

"I brought some. Here I'll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected."  [...]

The unusual presentation on malaria prevention was confirmed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's media office. A spokesman said the insects released were not carrying malaria.

This is the same guy who made sure that Microsoft Windows was safe from viruses.  Nothing to worry about.

Audit every congressman

With government spending exploding and federal regulation about to become more pervasive than ever before, having power and influence in Washington, D.C. is the ticket to riches. With Big Government comes abundant opportunities for smart guys to make more "honest mistakes" like not knowing a limo and driver provided at no cost to you is taxable as income.
There is only one way to change the perception of a double standard in the law that favors the big guys – Audit them all and make the results public every year.

Great idea!  I want to add one more provision: every congressman should be required to fill out his own tax return -- not just sign a form prepared by an accountant, actually fill out the paperwork.  They should have to suffer with the rest of us.  If they can't figure out the tax code, maybe they'll be motivated to make it simpler.

On Washington's new culture of impunity

A nice summary of the current crop of scandals in Washington...

Ordinary Americans can be excused for thinking that there are two sets of rules:  One for the bigshots, the connected, the Made Men of Washington D.C., and another for everyone else.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Leno on Daschle

US News reports:

Jay Leno: "Today, Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination for secretary of health and human services after being forced to pay $128,000 in back taxes." Daschle "was extremely upset because now it looks like he paid his taxes for nothin'!"

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Daschle withdraws as nominee for HHS secretary

Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, dealing potential blows to both speedy health care reform and Obama's hopes for a smoother start as president.

"Now we must move forward," Obama said in a written statement accepting "with sadness and regret" Daschle's surprise request to be removed from consideration. A day earlier, Obama had said he "absolutely" stood by Daschle in the face of problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.

Daschle's stunning statement came less than three hours after another Obama nominee also withdrew from consideration, and also over tax problems. Nancy Killefer, nominated by Obama to be the government's first chief performance officer, said she didn't want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to be a distraction.

Daschle was the third high-profile Obama nominee to bow out. Obama initially had tapped Bill Richardson to be Commerce secretary, but the New Mexico governor withdrew amid a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors.

I guess things didn't look so good for Daschle after the Sunday news shows.  Obama didn't want his cabinet's motto to be: "Only the little people pay taxes".

Monday, February 02, 2009

Government Policies Prolonged Depression

The New Deal is widely perceived to have ended the Great Depression, and this has led many to support a "new" New Deal to address the current crisis. But the facts do not support the perception that FDR's policies shortened the Depression, or that similar policies will pull our nation out of its current economic downturn.

The goal of the New Deal was to get Americans back to work. But the New Deal didn't restore employment. In fact, there was even less work on average during the New Deal than before FDR took office. [...]

The main lesson we have learned from the New Deal is that wholesale government intervention can -- and does -- deliver the most unintended of consequences. This was true in the 1930s, when artificially high wages and prices kept us depressed for more than a decade, it was true in the 1970s when price controls were used to combat inflation but just produced shortages. It is true today, when poorly designed regulation produced a banking system that took on too much risk.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Daschle takes 'a bad first-day hit'

"If a Bush appointee got rich off of Wall Street in this climate, had a chauffeur from one of his fat cat cronies, had unpaid taxes that amounted to more than what most people make in a year, and then the administration tried to fix it behind closed doors. Democrats would call for his head and would demand 'accountability,'" said a top Senate GOP aide.

In addition, the Democratic fundraiser who provided the free car and driver to Daschle is Leo Hindery, who founded InterMedia Advisors, where he paid Daschle at a rate of $1 million a year to be an consultant. Hindery was an economic consultant to Obama during the campaign and was believed at one point to have been under consideration for the Commerce secretary post.

Obama Dozed, People Froze!

That's a headline you won't see in the mainstream media.  While Obama is turning up the thermostat in the White House, people are freezing to death in Kentucky.  The press would be going crazy if Bush were still president.

At least 42 people have died, including 11 in Kentucky, and conditions are worsening in many places days after an ice storm knocked out power to 1.3 million customers from the Plains to the East Coast. About a million people were still without electric Friday, and with no hope that the lights will come back on soon, small communities are frantically struggling to help their residents.

Ed Driscoll comes up with the headline: "Obama Dozed, People Froze!":

More at The Anchoress:

Why the Size of Government Matters

In his inaugural address, President Obama said that "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." This is a commonly heard argument in response to concerns about the growth of government. Who could possibly be against government when it "works"? Why not instead consider each proposed expansion of the state on a case by case basis, supporting those that "work" and opposing any that don't?

Taken seriously, this argument leads to the rejection of any systematic constraints on government power. Why should we have a general presumption against government regulation of speech or religion? Why not instead support censorship when it "works" by improving the marketplace of ideas, and oppose it when it doesn't? Think of all the misleading speech and religious charlatans that government regulation could potentially save us from! The answer, of course, is that government regulation of speech and religion has systematic dangers that are not unique to any one particular regulation. Given those systematic flaws, it makes sense to have a general presumption against it.

The same holds true for government intervention more generally, including in the economy. It too has systematic flaws that justify a presumption against it.