Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bad Students, Not Bad Schools

Pat Buchanan writes:


Which brings us to "Bad Students, Not Bad Schools," a new book in which Dr. Robert Weissberg contends that U.S. educational experts deliberately "refuse to confront the obvious truth."

        "America's educational woes reflect our demographic mix of students. Today's schools are filled with millions of youngsters, many of whom are Hispanic immigrants struggling with English plus millions of others of mediocre intellectual ability disdaining academic achievement."

        In the public and parochial schools of the 1940s and 1950s, kids were pushed to the limits of their ability, then pushed harder. And when they stopped learning, they were pushed out the door.

        Writes Weissberg: "To be grossly politically incorrect, most of America's educational woes vanish if these indifferent, troublesome students left when they had absorbed as much as they were going to learn and were replaced by learning-hungry students from Korea, Japan, India, Russia, Africa and the Caribbean."

        Weissberg contends that 80 percent of a school's success depends on two factors: the cognitive ability of the child and the disposition he brings to class -- not on texts, teachers or classroom size.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Economic Optimism? Yes, I’ll Take That Bet

John Tierney wins his five-year bet on oil prices:


It’s true that the real price of oil is slightly higher now than it was in 2005, and it’s always possible that oil prices will spike again in the future. But the overall energy situation today looks a lot like a Cornucopian feast, as my colleagues Matt Wald and Cliff Krauss have recently reported. Giant new oil fields have been discovered off the coasts of Africa and Brazil. The new oil sands projects in Canada now supply more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia does. Oil production in the United States increased last year, and the Department of Energy projects further increases over the next two decades.

The really good news is the discovery of vast quantities of natural gas. It’s now selling for less than half of what it was five years ago. There’s so much available that the Energy Department is predicting low prices for gas and electricity for the next quarter-century. Lobbyists for wind farms, once again, have been telling Washington that the “sustainable energy” industry can’t sustain itself without further subsidies.

Maybe something unexpected will change these happy trends, but for now I’d say that Julian Simon’s advice remains as good as ever. You can always make news with doomsday predictions, but you can usually make money betting against them.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Monday, December 27, 2010

George F. Will - A remedy for beggar states


Less candor, realism and pre-funding are required of state and municipal governments regarding their pension plans. Nunes's bill would require them to disclose the size of their pension liabilities - and the often-dreamy assumptions behind the calculations. Noncompliant governments would be ineligible for issuing bonds exempt from federal taxation. Furthermore, the bill would stipulate that state and local governments are entirely responsible for their pension obligations and the federal government will provide no bailouts.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A California Bankruptcy, Dictatorship, and the Guarantee Clause


It got me thinking about what would happen if California went bankrupt.

In the absence of a statute, presumably the federal government would conduct some sort of bailout combined with a restructuring. If so, however, who would run the state during the proceeding?

Interesting discussion at ProfessorBainbridge.com, especially in the comments.  Personally, I don't think a state can go bankrupt.  As a sovereign entity, it can simply default on its debts and claim sovereign immunity to deflect any law suits.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Challenging the Constitutionality of the Health Care Law

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II is the Attorney General for the state of Virginia.


Virginia's lawsuit challenging the act rests on two basic arguments.  One:  The government's attempt to stretch the Commerce Clause to force individuals to buy a private product - private health insurance - fails, as the Constitution does not grant Congress such a power.  Two:  The penalty the government charges if one does not comply with the mandate cannot be redefined after the fact as a tax, justified by the government's taxing power.  Congress and the president insisted the penalty was not a tax, they passed it as a penalty, and it operates as a penalty as a matter of law.  They cannot simply change the meaning of words now that they realize their first legal argument is on shaky ground.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holder and Sebelius on Obamacare


In the wake of Judge Hudson’s decision striking down the individual mandate in the health-care law as unconstitutional, Attorney General Eric Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have an op-ed in today’s Washington Post making the case for the law.

Holder and Sebelius’s case rests on an assertion and two implicit assumptions. The assertion is that the law does things we should want to do, and the assumptions are, first, that there are not other ways to achieve these ends and, second, that the means the law employs should therefore be constitutional. If you don’t think that sounds like much of an argument, you’re right.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Obamacare’s Individual Mandate Exceeds Congress’ Commerce Clause Power


My initial impression is that, while this ruling will widely be viewed as a victory for opponents of Obamacare, there are some potential problems with the opinion that may result in this opinion being a net loss down the road (where it will inevitably be decided by the Supreme Court in any case).

To begin with, Judge Hudson specifically refused to enjoin the Act’s enforcement pending appeal (a decision which will likely not be revisited by the Fourth Circuit whenever they get around to hearing the appeals). More importantly, Judge Hudson - improperly, in my view - severed the individual mandate from the Act as a whole.  If that decision stands, it could well result in the wholesale destruction of private health insurance companies in the United States. It is also worth noting that this lawsuit did not address the potential capitation problems being litigated in the Florida lawsuit.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Monday, December 13, 2010

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Virginia Challenge to Health Care Law


Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled Monday for the state's claim that the requirement for people to purchase health care exceeds the power of Congress under the Constitution's Commerce Clause.

Hudson's eagerly awaited decision invalidates the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance by 2014 or face a federal fine. Hudson's decision is the first striking down part of the controversial legislation.

"It is not the effect on individuals that is presently at issue -- it is the authority of Congress to compel anyone to purchase health insurance," wrote Hudson who was appointed to the federal bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush. "An enactment that exceeds the power of Congress to adopt adversely affects everyone in every application."

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

DeMint comes out against tax deal, says GOP must do ‘better than this’


> Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who bucked his party leadership during the midterm elections, was back at it again Tuesday night, saying he would not vote for the tax cut deal brokered between the GOP and President Obama because it increases the deficit.

Jim DeMint (talking to Hugh Hewitt):

>> I’m glad the President recognizes that tax increases hurt the economy. I mean, I guess that’s progress. But frankly, Hugh, most of us who ran this election said we were not going to vote for anything that increased the deficit. This does. It raises taxes, it raises the death tax. I don’t think we needed to negotiate that aspect of this thing away. I don’t think we need to extend unemployment any further without paying for it, and without making some modifications such as turning it into a loan at some point. It then encourages people to go back to work. So there’s a lot of problems with it. I mean, and frankly, the biggest problem I have, Hugh, is we don’t need a temporary economy, which means we don’t need a temporary tax rate. A permanent extension of our currenttax rates would allow businesses to plan five and ten years in advance, and that’s how you build an economy.

DeMint is of course correct on the specifics. I wish he had been in on the negotiations. It's good that there's criticism from the right. Maybe we make some changes after the new Congress is seated. But at this late date, I think we have to take the deal.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Obama, GOP Reach Deal on Taxes


President Barack Obama reached agreement Monday with Republican leaders in Congress on a broad tax package that would extend the Bush-era income tax cuts for two years, reduce worker payroll taxes for one year and give more favorable treatment to business investments.

Jennifer Rubin comments on the news:

There really is no other way to say it: the Republicans won, the liberal Democrats lost, and the president sided with the Republicans. The subject, of course, is an agreement to extend all the Bush tax cuts. The president tonight announced a "bipartisan framework" for agreement on, among other things, to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years. A Republican House aide tells me tonight it is "a damn good deal." And so it is, from the perspective of conservatives.

My comments: If they had not extended the capital gains rates, there would have been a huge stock crash in the next couple of weeks as everyone sold off.  This was a reasonably good deal for the Republicans, made to look better by the gnashing of teeth on the left.  The truth is that it merely avoids making things worse, it doesn't necessarily help much.  But it's probably the best we could hope for from the Lame-Pelosi congress.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Friday, December 03, 2010

Haley: Obama might let S.C. opt out of health care


Haley says she told Obama that South Carolina could not afford the health care mandate, and that it would cripple small businesses.

"I respectfully asked him to consider repealing the bill," she said, to which he clearly stated he would not. "I pushed him further and said if that's the case, because of states' rights, would you at least consider South Carolina opting out of the program?"

Obama told her he would consider letting South Carolina opt out, she said, if the state could find its own solution that included a state exchange, preventing companies from bumping people for preexisting conditions and allowing insurance pooling.

Haley said she also asked the president if he would honor the federal government's commitment on developing a nuclear waste repository. When he said he would not revisit opening Nevada's Yucca Mountain, "I said, 'Then give us our money back.' "

The site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas was proposed to house more than 4,000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste from South Carolina's Savannah River Site. The state and Washington have sued over Obama's attempt to kill plans for the storage site after decades of study.

"SRS has done a good job, but that was a temporary solution. It was never meant to be a permanent solution," Haley said she told him. "The federal government has reneged on its promise, and the people of South Carolina want their money back."

South Carolina's power plants and its customers have contributed more than $1 billion over nearly 30 years to a permanent repository.

She says Obama pledged that he would have Energy secretary Steven Chu call her promptly.

I doubt anyone believes that Obama would actually let a state opt-out, but it's worth a try.  I give Haley credit for standing up to the president and putting him on notice that he's got a fight on his hands.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Democrats Give Charlie Rangel Standing Ovation


The 111th Congress was far from “the most honest, most open, and most ethical” in history.  

House Democrats proved it by openly applauding the concept of a ruling class completely above the law, able to break both House rules and federal tax law with impunity.  Their applause was a frank declaration of war by the Democrat Party against the law-abiding American citizen.  The only penalty Rangel ever faced was a tiny measure of humiliation.  The standing ovation was an attempt to erase even that.

Rangel and some of his defenders characterized his tax cheating as a “mistake,” thus assuming their listeners are complete imbeciles.  Rangel chaired the panel that writes tax laws.  He under-reported his income by hundreds of thousands of dollars for a decade.  He was eventually compelled to pay federal and state treasuries $16,000 in back taxes, with absolutely no penalty or interest.  Republican John Carter of Texas introduced a bill called the “Rangel Rule” to extend this penalty-free privilege to all taxpayers in 2009, but of course it went nowhere.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

House censures Rangel for ethics violations on 333-79 vote


The House has voted to censure Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), the once-powerful chairman of the Ways and Means panel, for a string of ethics violations.

Nothing to see here, time to move on...

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Zuckerman: The Danger of a Global Double Dip Recession Is Real


> But now we are running annual deficits of $1.4 trillion, about 10 > percent of the total economy. We have compounded the deficits we > accumulated over the last decade, so they now reach 61 percent of > GDP. Only once before has the ratio of federal debt to GDP come in > above 60 percent. That was after World War II. And our federal debt > ratio today doesn't even take into account Social Security and > Medicare. Total liabilities and unfunded promises for Medicare and > Social Security were about $62 trillion at the end of the last > fiscal year, tripling from the year 2000, according to the > calculations of former Comptroller General David Walker. Sixty-two > trillion dollars is $200,000 per person and $500,000-plus for the > average household. As Walker put it, the problem with these trust > funds is "you can't trust them [and] they're not funded." Therefore, > he asserts, we ought to count them as a liability, which would bring > the debt-to-GDP ratio to 91 percent.

> In the United States, gloom has spread to our policymakers on how to > deal with our economic dilemmas. Monetary policy is relatively > ineffective because we are in, or near, liquidity trap conditions. > Our economy is so weak that lower interest rates and other monetary > tools are not working. In the liquidity trap, no matter how much > money is thrown into the system, people have so little confidence > that they tend to hoard it. Similarly, fiscal policy is beginning to > reach its limits. High debt levels can raise concerns about the > creditworthiness of our government. This in turn could lead to > higher long-term interest rates that would aggravate the economic > contraction.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There's No Escaping Hauser's Law


None of the personal income tax or capital gains tax increases enacted in the post-World War II period has raised the projected tax revenues.

Over the past six decades, tax revenues as a percentage of GDP have averaged just under 19% regardless of the top marginal personal income tax rate. The top marginal rate has been as high as 92% (1952-53) and as low as 28% (1988-90). This observation was first reported in an op-ed I wrote for this newspaper in March 1993. A wit later dubbed this "Hauser's Law."

Over this period there have been more than 30 major changes in the tax code including personal income tax rates, corporate tax rates, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, investment tax credits, depreciation schedules, Social Security taxes, and the number of tax brackets among others. Yet during this period, federal government tax collections as a share of GDP have moved within a narrow band of just under 19% of GDP.

Why? Higher taxes discourage the "animal spirits" of entrepreneurship. When tax rates are raised, taxpayers are encouraged to shift, hide and underreport income. Taxpayers divert their effort from pro-growth productive investments to seeking tax shelters, tax havens and tax exempt investments. This behavior tends to dampen economic growth and job creation. Lower taxes increase the incentives to work, produce, save and invest, thereby encouraging capital formation and jobs. Taxpayers have less incentive to shelter and shift income.

More from Veronique de Rugy on The Corner:

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Charles Krauthammer - Don't touch my junk


We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety - 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling - when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.

The junk man's revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Charles Krauthammer - Don't touch my junk


We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety - 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling - when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.

The junk man's revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

House panel finds Rangel guilty on 11 ethics charges

He's guilty of course. He'll get a slap on the wrist, and nothing will change.  If a Republican had been convicted of these charges, his own party would disown him.  The Democrats waited until after the election to hold his trial -- during the lame duck session -- to avoid any serious consequences.  Well played, Speaker Pelosi.  Next time, Charlie might not be so lucky.


A congressional ethics panel found Rep. Charles Rangel guilty Tuesday on 11 counts of violating rules of the House of Representatives and is now weighing how to punish the New York Democrat.

A special eight-member bipartisan panel of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced its findings against Rangel after deliberating for hours behind closed doors following a rare trial.

"We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the fact of law," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the chairman of the full committee. "And I believe we have accomplished that mission."

Rangel, 80, was accused of failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets, improper use of several rent-controlled apartments in his district, questionable fundraising efforts for a college center in New York that bears his name, and failing to pay taxes on property he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Rangel, who was elected to a 21st term earlier this month, could face expulsion from the House, censure or a reprimand. Congressional experts say that he'll likely be reprimanded, the mildest form of punishment.

Rangel, the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax law, wasn't present when Lofgren read the ethics panel's findings. He refused to participate in the proceedings after it declined his request Monday for a postponement because he didn't have - and couldn't afford - legal representation after already spending $2 million on his defense.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

GOP Senate leader McConnell backs down, agrees to earmark ban


> Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) announced Monday that he would join a GOP effort to ban congressional earmarks, a stunning turnaround that reflects a huge victory for the Tea Party movement.>> A senior member of the Appropriations Committee, McConnell has been one of the Senate’s strongest proponents of local pork, but watched the practice fall into disfavor amid growing public anger over Washington spending that fueled GOP victories in this month’s midterm election.

>> “There is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight,” McConnell said Monday in a speech on the Senate floor.
>> “And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government,” he said.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Monday, November 15, 2010

The ever-expanding Obamacare escapee list

Michelle Malkin links to the waiver list:


The list of most recently approved refugees is here. Make no mistake: Team Obama isn’t granting the waivers out of bleeding-heart compassion for the affected workers, but out of a panicked urgency to avoid a public relations disaster.
As I’ve boiled it down before:
Old Democrat promise: Everyone gets to keep their health insurance.
New Democrat promise: You can keep your health insurance…if you BEG hard enough for an Obamacare waiver.
Yep: The only way for hundreds of thousands of workers to keep their health insurance is to exempt them from the government-imposed “fix.”


Jim Hoft notices that a bunch of major unions are on the waiver list, including SEIU.  We're up to 111 waivers and counting.  Wouldn't it be easier to make ObamaCare opt-in only?

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A 'Separate But Equal' Whip for the Democrats

The Politico.com report: "House Dems reach deal on leaders"


> House Democrats have reached a deal to keep both Reps. Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn in the leadership, with Hoyer (D-Md.) serving as minority whip and Clyburn (D-S.C) taking a new, as-yet-still-undefined number three position.>> Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) who is seeking the minority leader's job in the next Congress, reached an agreement with Clyburn on late Friday night, and Democratic leaders quickly announced the deal.>> Clyburn's title and responsibilities were not specified in the announcement from Pelosi's office, and Democratic leadership aides scrambled to explain the deal to reporters.
> A source close to Clyburn said one of his "primary concerns was maintaining a diversity in leadership that reflected" the makeup the Democratic Caucus.

Clyburn gets the honorary diversity post without any official duties. He'll need a big office and a staff to develop new diversity programs for the Democrats who survived Pelosi's speakership. I didn't notice any Blue Dogs getting a diversity appointment but I'm sure the new minority leader will deal with them soon enough.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Friday, November 12, 2010

Government Salaries Soar Under Obama


In the last five years, the number of federal employees making $150,000 or more per year increased tenfold, according to an investigation by USA Today. Those high wages increased by twofold under the Obama administration. "The biggest pay hikes have gone to employees who have been with the government for 15 to 24 years," the paper reports. "Since 2005, average salaries for this group climbed 25% compared with a 9% inflation rate."

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Deficit Commission proposal

Rush Limbaugh recommended this article:


Putting aside all the minutiae and detail, the crux of the proposal comes down to two points: capping federal government expenditures at 22% -- and eventually 21% -- of GDP, and capping revenues at 21% of GDP. And each of these represents a BIG problem. The first is on the spending side. Except for the anomalous stimulus/bailout/recession years of 2009-2011, federal government expenditures haven’t reached 21% of GDP since the collapse of the Soviet Union – and since World War II only exceeded 21% of GDP during the Reagan-Bush military buildup of the 1980s and early 90s. For virtually all of the Clinton and G.W. Bush years – and during all the Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon years – federal expenditures ranged between 18 and 20% of GDP. So while the 21% figure represents something of a cut versus the out-year projections of the President’s most recent budget, it leaves plenty of headroom to establish and make permanent even more government than we had in the immediate pre-Obama years.

The more important problem is on the revenue side. According to Office of Management and Budget figures, federal revenues have NEVER reached 21% of GDP. In fact, only in Bill Clinton’s final year in office – and during WW II – did revenues even exceed 20% of GDP. During the whole time from 1960 through 2008, federal tax revenues almost always fell between 17 and 19% of GDP, only occasionally rising above 19% (chiefly in Clinton’s second term) or below 17% (G. W. Bush’s first term). Even President Obama’s FY 11 Budget has federal revenues rising only to around 19% of GDP by 2015. So the 21% “cap” represents two full percentage points of GDP above what we have experienced even during historically “high” tax environments.

By way of comparison, the last time we had a “balanced” federal budget – FY 2001 – revenues were 19% of GDP and expenditures 18%. The Commission’s draft, in effect, proposes solving our deficit problem by allowing the federal government to grow 15-20% larger than it was under Bill Clinton, then raising taxes as much as necessary to pay for it. It institutionalizes President Obama’s expansion of the role of government – maybe not quite as much as he and Nancy Pelosi would like – and lays the burden squarely on the shoulders of American taxpayers.

As several commenters have pointed out, the Federal Government should not be entitled to a percentage of GDP.  The taxpayers are not here to serve the government "needs".  The politicians should balance the budget by spending less.

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Earmark Myths and Realities - By Sen. Tom Coburn


As Senate Republicans prepare to vote on an earmark moratorium, I would encourage my colleagues to consider four myths and four realities of the debate.

Our founders anticipated earmark-style power grabs from Congress and spoke against such excess for the ages. James Madison, the father of the Constitution said, “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison, spoke directly against federally-funded local projects. “[I]t will be the source of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get the most who are the meanest.” Jefferson understood that earmarks and coercion would go hand in hand.

Read the whole thing.  

This is a test for the GOP.  I'm not sure the Senate Republicans appreciate how serious the Tea Party activists are about this.  If the senators vote to keep earmarks, they will face primary opposition next time, and the Republican party isn't going to save them.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What Happens When a State Goes Bankrupt?

Richard Epstein on Ricochet.com:


[T]here is no obvious mechanism for state bankruptcies, even if there are some procedures, I believe, for municipal bankruptcies. This is a ticklish issue because states are sovereigns and it is a frightening prospect to think that when mired in bankruptcy, they could not discharge their essential functions because they could not pay their pension obligations, among others. So the battle over the form of bankruptcy will be acute, and I have no idea how this would play out -- except badly.

[...] I don’t think that full-fledged bankruptcy is a realistic prospect as of now. I think that the much more sensible approach is to side-step the bankruptcy proceedings and find ways to attack the union pension obligations directly, given their enormous size. It is odd that these days the only sacred contracts are those which the state enters into with unions for the benefit of their members.

I doubt that any state could actually go bankrupt.  Where would they file in the first place?  They might default on bonds and debts, but the creditors will not be able to collect anything without the cooperation of the state.  I can't imagine the Feds telling California to pay up ... or else?  Maybe they might threaten to withhold highway funds.  That's really going to scare Jerry Brown!  It's much more likely that the Feds will decide that California is too big to fail, so the rest of us must pitch in with our federal tax dollars to bail them out.  There will be harsh words and demands for reform, but the money will be air-dropped before chaos breaks out. Eventually everyone will forget how the state got into such trouble in the first place, and re-elect Jerry Brown, who did such a wonderful job of dealing with the federal government to save California.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Jim DeMint: Welcome, Senate Conservatives


Lastly, don't let your re-election become more important than your job. You've campaigned long and hard for the opportunity to go to Washington and restore freedom in America. People will try to convince you to moderate conservative positions and break campaign promises, all in the name of winning the next race. Resist the temptation to do so. There are worse things than losing an election—like breaking your word to voters.

At your swearing-in ceremony, you will, as all senators do, take an oath to "support and defend the Constitution." Most will fail to keep their oath. Doing these five things will help you maintain a focus on national priorities and be one who does.

Read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sowell: Spending Money Does Not Work



uess who said the following: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.” Was it Sarah Palin? Rush Limbaugh? Karl Rove?

Not even close. It was Henry Morgenthau, secretary of the Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt and one of FDR’s closest advisers. He added, “after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . .  And an enormous debt to boot!”

This is just one of the remarkable and eye-opening facts in New Deal or Raw Deal?, a must-read book by Prof. Burton W. Folsom Jr. of Hillsdale College.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

John Carmack on Government


Given the inefficiency, why is the federal government called upon to do so many things?  A large part is naked self interest, which is never going to go away -- lots of people play the game to their best advantage, and even take pride in their ability to get more than they give.

However, a lot is done in the name of misplaced idealism.  It isn’t hard to look around the world and find something that you feel needs fixing.  The world gets to be a better place by people taking action to improve things, but it is easy for the thought to occur that if the government can be made to address your issue, it could give results far greater than what you would be able to accomplish with direct action.  Even if you knew that it wasn’t going to be managed especially well, it would make up for it in volume.  This has an obvious appeal.

Every idealistic cry for the government to “Do Something” means raising revenue, which means taking money from people to spend in the name of the new cause instead of letting it be used for whatever purpose the earner would have preferred.

It is unfortunate that income taxes get deducted automatically from most people’s paychecks, before they ever see the money they earned.  A large chunk of the population thinks that tax day is when you get a nice little refund check.  Good trick, that.  If everyone was required to pay taxes like they pay their utilities, attitudes would probably change.  When you get an appallingly high utility bill, you start thinking about turning off some lights and changing the thermostat. When your taxes are higher than all your other bills put together, what do you do?  You can make a bit of a difference by living in Texas instead of California, but you don’t have many options regarding the bulk of it.

Also, it is horribly crass to say it, but taxes are extracted by the threat of force.  I know a man (Walt Anderson), who has been in jail for a decade because the IRS disagreed with how his foundations were set up, so it isn’t an academic statement.  What things do you care strongly enough about to feel morally justified in pointing a gun at me to get me to pay for them?  A few layers of distance by proxy let most people avoid thinking about it, but that is really what it boils down to.  Feeding starving children?  The justice system?  Chemotherapy for the elderly?  Viagra for the indigent?  Corn subsidies?

Helping people directly can be a noble thing.  Forcing other people to do it with great inefficiency?  Not so much.  There isn’t a single thing that I would petition the federal government to add to its task list, and I would ask that it stop doing the majority of the things that it is currently doing.  My vote is going to the candidates that at least vector in that direction.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Job-Creation Canard - Thomas Sowell


Unemployment never hit double digits in any of the twelve months following the stock-market crash of 1929. But it hit double digits within six months after government intervention — and unemployment stayed in double digits for the entire remainder of the decade, as the government went in for one intervention after another.

The first federal intervention in June 1930 was the passage of the Smoot-Hawley tariffs by a Democratic Congress, a bill signed into law by Republican president Herbert Hoover. It was “bipartisan” — but bipartisan nonsense is still nonsense, and a bipartisan disaster is still a disaster.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Instapundit on the College Bubble

Instapundit has been covering the "College Bubble" for a while.   I like this comment:


college is the only place where they demand a complete financial statement from you before they tell you what it’s going to cost

There's also an indirect link to this article: "Is College Worth the Investment?"

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Monday, October 11, 2010

A McCarthyite Attack from the Stanford Daily

Victor Davis Hanson challenges the Stanford Daily...


So I offer an open challenge to the Stanford Daily: either apologize for the baseless slur of racism and the cheap language (e.g., “trash,” “toxic,”"despicable”), or at least show how I was in error, and that, in fact, there are logical and consistent criteria that qualify some groups for racial preference in admissions and hiring in the university and not others. Second, if race is used as a criterion, what then qualifies one as belonging to a particular targeted race or group? Does one warrant special consideration if he is one-half, she one-fourth, they one-eight of a particular targeted lineage? Or is the distinction merely ad hoc and impressionistic? Does the university employ such percentages? If so, such usage has a nightmarish tradition dating back to the antebellum South. Simply invoking the generic idea of “diversity” does not mean, de facto, that racial profiling should not require some concrete, explicit rationale.

These are not racist inquiries, but genuine concerns, as I wrote, that universities themselves are race-obsessed in an increasingly multiracial society where intermarriage, immigration, and assimilation are making race an obsolete criterion for addressing past collective discrimination.

For the Daily to level charges as “despicable” and “cheap,” then surely it must provide proof that they are so. Note again, the anonymous authors of the editorial did not refute anything I wrote as untrue; they only stooped in McCarthyite fashion to invoke charges of racism and to challenge my institution to silence my views that they found unappealing. All that is beneath the daily newspaper of a great university.

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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Hal Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society


For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

Read the whole thing.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

Reps. Rangel, Waters' public ethics trials won't start until after midterm election


The House ethics committee announced Thursday that Rangel’s trial will begin Nov. 15 and Waters’s will start Nov. 29.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the panel, made the decision unilaterally after Republicans publicly balked last week about the delay in setting the schedule and argued the trials should be held before the November midterms.

There's no doubt that a lame-duck session of Congress will be the fairest way to "drain the swamp".  There's no sense confusing the public with trials before the election, and it certainly would be wrong to wait until January when a Republican majority is expected to take over the House.  The only question remaining is: which comedian will Lofgren appoint as judge for the ethics trials?  I nominate John Stewart.

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If You Want To Understand What Makes This Recession Continue


Quotes from the Federalist 62:

In another point of view, great injury results from an unstable government. The want of confidence in the public councils damps every useful undertaking, the success and profit of which may depend on a continuance of existing arrangements. What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not but that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed?

Read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Michael Ramirez on Rahm Emanuel

Our Amicus Brief in the Virginia Case Challenging the Constitutionality of the Obama Health Care Plan


The brief signers include VC co-conspirators Jonathan Adler, David Kopel, and Todd Zywicki, along with other well-known constitutional law scholars such as James Ely (Vanderbilt), Kurt Lash (University of Illinois), Gary Lawson (BU), Steven Presser (Northwestern), and others. Also among the signers is Professor Steven Willis of the University of Florida, coauthor of an important article explaining why, even if the mandate is a tax, it is not a tax authorized by the Constitution. Co-blogger Randy Barnett is filing his own amicus briefalong with the Cato Institute and Competitive Enterprise Institute. 

If nothing else, I hope the brief will help dispel the myth that there is an expert consensus to the effect that the mandate is constitutional (see also here). It should by now be obvious that many well-known and highly respected scholars believe otherwise.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Obama Activist Tied in With Organization Accused of Voter Fraud


You may have read that there is strong evidence of voter fraud in Houston. Here’s what you may not have heard: the organization accused of shady behavior is linked to a former head of an Obama campaign office. She is a fan of Che Guevara. She is also the person who invited to a town hall meeting a woman who then posed as a doctor at that meeting during the health care debate.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Obama Stimulus Made Economic Crisis Worse, `Black Swan' Author Taleb Says


U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration weakened the country’s economy by seeking to foster growth instead of paying down the federal debt, said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan.”

“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Colbert testifies; Lofgren clueless

Catching up on the comedic offerings of the current Congress from Friday...


Colbert, playing his blowhard-conservative-pseudo-O’Reilly character, was screamingly funny (you can watch him here). Among other things, he attempted to introduce the results of his colonoscopy into the Congressional Record. The members of Congress were screamingly funny too, only unintentionally. There were expressions of surprise, motions to get Colbert off the stage, pained stabs at making jokes alongside a professional, and so on.

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Which Malik Shabazz Visited White House in July 2009, Mr. President?

Breitbart asks about Malik Shabazz on the Big Goverment blog (someone by the same name was involved in the New Black Panther voter intimidation case):


Coates’ testimony calls into question the Justice Department’s earlier denials that the handling of the New Black Panther case was politically motivated.  And their refusal to allow attorneys at Justice to testify under oath about this case recalls the same attitude toward transparency exemplified by the White House visitor’s log policy:  “We didn’t drop the charges against the Black Panthers because of politics, TRUST US.”
Continuing to say you’re transparent does not mean you are transparent.
The idea that an individual named Malik Shabazz had a private meeting in the White House residence in July 2009 is highly relevant because throughout July, Congressmen Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) were beginning to ask questions about the dropped charges against the NBPP. So was the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christopher Coates testimony on the Black Panther Case


Friday’s testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by Christopher Coates — a career Justice Department lawyer and supervisor — knocked down the Potemkin Village that the Obama administration has built to obscure why Justice officials dismissed a voter-intimidation case against two members of New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia.

Coates, former chief of the Voting Section in the Civil Rights Division, testified that Justice officials purposefully dropped the New Black Panthers case because they didn’t want to enforce the Voting Rights Act against minority defendants accused of violating the law.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Malkin: The Eternal Flame of Muslim Outrage


Shhhhhhh, we're told. Don't protest the Ground Zero mosque. Don't burn a Koran. It'll imperil the troops. It'll inflame tensions. The "Muslim world" will "explode" if it does not get its way, warns sharia-peddling imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Pardon my national security-threatening impudence, but when is the "Muslim world" not ready to "explode"?

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

George Will: Who's beating the GOP establishment?


Scott's and Haley's candidacies are pebbles in an avalanche of evidence that the identity politics of race and ethnicity has become a crashing bore. That, in turn, is evidence of this:

If the question is which state has changed most in the last half-century, the answer might be California. But if the question is which state has changed most for the better, the answer might be South Carolina.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Barone: Higher education bubble poised to burst


As often happens, success leads to excess. America leads the world in higher education, yet there is much in our colleges and universities that is amiss and, more to the point, suddenly not sustainable. The people running America's colleges and universities have long thought they were exempt from the laws of supply and demand and unaffected by the business cycle. Turns out that's wrong.

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Payne: The irony of Jesse Jackson's stripped SUV


Add Jesse Jackson’s ride to prominent vehicles being stripped in Detroit.  ... Detroit’s Channel 7 reports that the Reverend’s Caddy Escalade SUV was stolen and stripped of its wheels while he was in town last weekend with the UAW’s militant President Bob King leading the “Jobs, Justice, and Peace” march promoting government-funded green jobs.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

What's Wrong with Notre Dame?


The decision by Father Tom Doyle, Notre Dame’s new Vice-President for Student Affairs to fire Bill Kirk from his position as Associate Vice-President for Residence Life has left many of us with an empty feeling.  It has also put another dent in Notre Dame’s reputation as a family-friendly and compassionate employer.   The decision was both unfair and imprudent.  It was unfair, because, as a loyal employee of Notre Dame for almost 22 years—and one who had been placed repeatedly in positions where he took the brunt of public criticism for enforcing policies adopted by his superiors—he deserved better from those superiors than to be removed from office with no notice and with no public explanation for his removal.   It was imprudent, because administrators of Bill Kirk’s talent, compassion and principled commitment to the good are rare.  He loved Notre Dame and he loved and respected the students whose welfare he vigorously pursued.  

    In addition, his removal from office took place against the background of other events at Notre Dame that inevitably raised questions about its real motivation.  Bill Kirk’s office had been the target of the much publicized ire of a grumpy Charlie Weis who,  on his way out of town, told the South Bend Tribune that the Office of Residence Life was “the biggest problem on the campus” (SBT, 12-5-09). Perhaps, it seemed to some, Coach Weis, unable to take a scalp from USC, took pleasure in participating in taking one from the less well-armed Bill Kirk.

As official faculty advisor to the Right to Life Club, Elizabeth served as primary advisor to the student coalition formed in the spring of 2009 as “NDResponse” and served as a conduit for many, including junior, untenured faculty members, who were unwilling to get involved directly for fear of reprisal.  Without compromising his administrative duties, Bill stood with the students of NDResponse at their rally on the South Quad on Commencement day.  He  was the only senior administrator at Notre Dame willing to do so.

 At the time Bill took part in the NDResponse rally, many people commented on the courage it took for him to stand with his wife and other witnesses to  this protest of Notre Dame’s decision to award President Obama an honorary degree.

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