Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
The United States had 2.3 state and local government employees per 100 citizens in 1946 and has 6.5 state and local government employees per 100 citizens now. In 1947, Hodges writes, 78 percent of the national income went to the private sector, 16 percent to the federal sector, and 6 percent to the state and local government sector. Now 54 percent of the economy is private, 28 percent goes to the feds, and 18 percent goes to state and local governments. The trend lines are ominous. Bigger government means more government employees. Those employees then become a permanent lobby for continual government growth. The nation may have reached critical mass; the number of government employees at every level may have gotten so high that it is politically impossible to roll back the bureaucracy, rein in the costs, and restore lost freedoms. People who are supposed to serve the public have become a privileged elite that exploits political power for financial gain and special perks. Because of its political power, this interest group has rigged the game so there are few meaningful checks on its demands. Government employees now receive far higher pay, benefits, and pensions than the vast majority of Americans working in the private sector. Even when they are incompetent or abusive, they can be fired only after a long process and only for the most grievous offenses.It’s a two-tier system in which the rulers are making steady gains at the expense of the ruled. The predictable results: Higher taxes, eroded public services, unsustainable levels of debt, and massive roadblocks to reforming even the poorest performing agencies and school systems. If this system is left to grow unchecked, we will end up with a pale imitation of the free society envisioned by the Founders.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
For the past two decades, Democrats have specialized in insulating financial giants from the consequences of their own high-risk bets. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs alone have been rescued from their risky bets by unwitting taxpayers four times in the last 15 years.Bankers get all the profits, glory and bonuses when their flimflam bets pay off, but the taxpayers foot the bill when Wall Street firms' bets go bad on -- to name just three examples -- Mexican bonds (1995), Thai, Indonesian and South Korean bonds (1997), and Russian bonds (1998).As Peter Schweizer writes in his magnificent book Architects of Ruin: "Wall Street is a very far cry from the arena of freewheeling capitalism most people recall from their history books." With their reverse-Midas touch, the execrable baby boom generation turned Wall Street into what Schweizer dubs "risk-free Clintonian state capitalism."
Monday, January 25, 2010
All in all, not a good week for the IPCC. Two major errors, both of them integrating inflammatory, un-reviewed results into what had been advertised as the most authoritative peer-reviewed summary of the state of climate science. This follows the collapse of Copenhagen, and the Climategate emails’ evidence of pressure to influence the results of climate science. All of them working in the same direction: to slant the evidence presented to the world toward the conclusion that AGW is a current crisis, a world cataclysm.
Now, suddenly, those conclusions are hard to credit.The wheels have begun to come off.
Friday, January 22, 2010
President Obama needs to give a few more speeches, maybe get his face on TV more often, give a few more interviews to friendly journalists and everything will be all right, despite Democrats' stunning defeat in the Massachusetts Senate race this week. "(W)e were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values," the president explained to ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Yeah, that's the ticket.
The president gave only 411 speeches during his first 365 days in office; that's barely more than one a day. Maybe if he'd given two a day, the American people would have gotten through their thick skulls that he knows what's good for them, even if they don't like it.
“Head Start,” the flagship pre-kindergarten program introduced in 1965, has been a $166 billion failure. That’s the upshot of a sophisticated multi-year study just released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Why is this important? Because $166 billion has been squandered on this program over the past half century, and the Obama administration is wasting even more, even faster.
After Coakley’s defeat, Obama pretended that the real cause was a generalized anger and frustration “not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.”Let’s get this straight: The antipathy to George W. Bush is so enduring and powerful that . . . it just elected a Republican senator in Massachusetts? Why, the man is omnipotent.
And the Democrats are delusional: Scott Brown won by running against Obama, not against Bush. He won by brilliantly nationalizing the race, running hard against the Obama agenda, most notably Obamacare. Killing it was his No. 1 campaign promise.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Supreme Court today struck down key elements of McCain-Feingold legislation in a decision that could radically alter campaign finance.
In a broad 5-4 decision in Citizens United vs. FEC, the Court found unconstitutional provisions in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that prevented corporate and labor union money from funding some kinds of political communication. Under the ruling these groups may now fund political advertisements out of their general treasuries.
The decision overturns Austin vs. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and part of McConnell vs. FEC, which separated individual and collective campaign contributions into two legal classes and restricted the latter. But it upholds restrictions on direct contributions by corporate bodies to candidates, as well as requirements that the funding sources of political advertisements be disclosed to the public.
Here at Popular Mechanics, we've posted a number of special issues on disaster preparedness, with stories on the top first-aid kits you can buy, steps to save yourself when a natural disaster hits, stories about smart survival tactics that saved lives, hundreds of must-have survival gadgets and gear and a lot more. There's also lots of government help on such topics. (This L.A. Fire Department guide (pdf) on earthquake preparation is actually applicable to a lot of other potential disasters. And there's much more information available at Ready.gov.) Survival gear is important to have ready at home. In particular, water filters and water storage devices are often neglected, but critically important, since clean water is often hard to come by after a disaster.
Quoting from Senator Sessions' statement released after hearings regarding the Christmas Day bomber:
I am deeply disturbed by the stunning revelations from today's oversight hearings in the Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees. The decision to prosecute Umar Abdulmutallab in civilian court, which required him to be given a Miranda warning and access to a defense lawyer, may have cost us crucial intelligence about current and future plots against our country. Even more alarming, we learned today that these rash decisions were made without consulting key counter-terrorism officials in the administration, including the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair. In his testimony today, Mr. Blair stated that the administration failed to deploy the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group that was put in place for this very purpose. We learned that the administration had no policy in place to determine whether Abdulmutallab would be treated as a civilian or as an unprivileged belligerent-that, in effect, these decisions were made "on the fly" without any meaningful consideration of the consequences. And we learned from FBI Director Mueller's questioning that responsibility for the decision to switch gears from intelligence collection to criminal processing lies with an unnamed high-ranking official at the Department of Justice.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
America’s national debt is an economic burden, a moral failing, and a foreign policy vulnerability. It’s the single most important problem we face, and that’s why I’m running for the US Senate. The sheer dimension of the federal budget deficit, and debt, is almost beyond comprehension. We owe 12 trillion dollars. Our entire economy produces 14 trillion every year. So, we’ve now borrowed the value of almost an entire year’s production of every good and service by every worker in America. If we stopped borrowing today, and tried to pay back what we owe at the rate we’ve been paying it back, it would take 293 years.Every child born in our country inherits a $40,000 obligation to pay back money her or his parents borrowed. That’s the moral issue. Parents should save to give something to their children. The federal government, however, has done the opposite. It has borrowed from our children, to buy favor with current voters. That’s immoral.
Read the whole thing.
And let me say this, with respect to those who wish to harm us, I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation - they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.
Raising taxes, taking over our health care, and giving new rights to terrorists is the wrong agenda for our country. What I've heard again and again on the campaign trail, is that our political leaders have grown aloof from the people, impatient with dissent, and comfortable in the back room making deals. And we can do better.
But it was national security that put real distance between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley. “People talk about the potency of the health-care issue,” Brown’s top strategist, Eric Fehrnstrom, told National Review’s Robert Costa, “but from our own internal polling, the more potent issue here in Massachusetts was terrorism and the treatment of enemy combatants.”
Scott Brown went out and made the case for enhanced interrogation, for denying terrorists the rights of criminal defendants, for detaining them without trial, and for trying them by military commission. It worked.
The laws of war are the rule of law. They are not a suspension of the Constitution. They are the Constitution operating in wartime. The Framers understood that there would be wars against enemies of the United States — it is stated explicitly in the Constitution’s treason clause (Art. III, Sec. 3). The American people understand that we have enemies, even if Washington sees them as political “engagement” partners waiting to happen. Americans also grasp that war is a political and military challenge that the nation has to win, not a judicial proceeding in which your enemies are presumed innocent. The rule of law is not and has never been the rule of lawyers — especially lawyers we can’t vote out of office when they say we must let trained terrorists move in next door.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
For Boxer, a favorite Republican target, a GOP win in Massachusetts would be a particularly dark sign representing "not just the canary in the coal mine," said Wade Randlett, a leading Silicon Valley fundraiser for Obama. "It's the flock of dead ravens landing on the lawn."
It's been a week since Port-au-Prince was destroyed by an earthquake. In the days ahead, Haitians will undergo another trauma as rescue efforts struggle, and often fail, to keep pace with unfolding emergencies. After that—and most disastrously of all—will be the arrival of the soldiers of do-goodness, each with his brilliant plan to save Haitians from themselves.
Monday, January 18, 2010
The Senate subcommittee and committee concluded, based on its hearing and review, that “the term of service of a Senator appointed to fill a vacancy in an unexpired term ends on the day when his successor is elected by the people.” 1939 Congressional Record, p. 998. There was evidently no controversy among either the subcommittee or full committee regarding this legal conclusion, and the committee then presented a resolution to the Senate for adoption, expressing the view that Berry’s term of service expired on November 8, 1938, the date of the special election. As Senator Connally, a member of the subcommittee, explained to the Senate, the fact that the Tennessee statute purported to extend Berry’s term until the qualification of his successor was of no force because the statute was “plainly in conflict with the provisions of the seventeenth amendment.” Accordingly, the Senate adopted the proposed resolution without dissent. 1939 Congressional Record, p. 1058.Based on this authority, it would appear that a valid point of order could be raised as to Senator Kirk’s participation in Senate proceedings after January 19, 2010.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Summary: Unprecedented warming did not occur in central England during the first decade of the 21st century, nor during the last decade of the 20th century. As the CET dataset is considered a decent proxy for Northern Hemisphere temperatures, and since global temperature trends follow a similar pattern to Northern Hemisphere temps, then the same conclusion about recent warming can potentially be inferred globally. Based on the CET dataset, the global warming scare has been totally blown out of proportion by those who can benefit from the fear.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Just last week, the Obama administration repatriated six Yemenis who had been held at Gitmo. Among them, Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi, a graduate of al Qaeda's famous Khalden training camp. Batarfi has been waging jihad since the late 1980s, when he fought the Soviets. Batarfi, an orthopedic surgeon, also stayed at al Qaeda guesthouses, worked for an al Qaeda front group, met with a "Malaysian microbiologist" who was almost certainly the head of al Qaeda's anthrax program, and spent time with Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora. How do we know all of this? Batarfi told us -- he chose to volunteer it in his administrative review board hearing.
Politicians likes to talk about intentions and inputs. Results usually don't look so good. If a government program doesn't work, the answer is always more spending.
In a little-noticed December 18, 2009 memo from Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag the Obama administration is changing the way stimulus jobs are counted.
The memo, first noted by ProPublica, says that those receiving stimulus funds no longer have to say whether a job has been saved or created.
“Instead, recipients will more easily and objectively report on jobs funded with Recovery Act dollars,” Orszag wrote.
In other words, if the project is being funded with stimulus dollars – even if the person worked at that company or organization before and will work the same place afterwards – that’s a stimulus job.
“With all due respect,” said Brown, “it’s not the Kennedy’s seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it is the people’s seat.” You could hear the roars from South Boston to Cape Cod. Coakley looked dumbfounded. Here’s why: Brown’s words hit at the heart of the question that’s driving this special-election campaign: Will Massachusetts' vote be based on its past or on its future?
Coakley is betting on the past. She repeatedly tried to tag Brown as just another Bush-Cheney automaton. It didn’t work. “Ms. Coakley, you can run against Bush-Cheney all you want, but I’m Scott Brown,” he said. “I live in Wrentham. I drive a truck. And, yes, it has 200,000 miles on it now. You’re not running against them. You’re running against me.”
Conservatives and to a lesser extent libertarians are often accused of being racist for things like opposing affirmative action, skepticism about broad antidiscrimination laws, claiming that intergroup differences in income are not necessarily due to discrimination, arguing that some cultures are better than others, and so on. If the GOP wins this particular fight and Reid is forced to resign, there will be a new norm in public discourse under which no prominent person can openly say the same kinds of things as Reid without being labeled a racist. This norm will ensnare some people of all persuasions. It will also have the unfortunate effect of making honest discussion of racial issues even more difficult than it often is already. But in many settings — especially the media and the intellectual world — it is likely to be used most aggressively against conservatives and libertarians. And if conservatives complain that such attacks are unfair, their credibility will be undermined by their own previous attacks on Reid.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The Christmas terrorist attack demonstrates that we need more effective communication and analysis within the IC [Intelligence community]. Achieving this goal does not require more centralization of authority, more hierarchy, and more uniformity of opinion. The IC's problem stems from a culture of anonymous conformity. Greater centralization will only reinforce existing bureaucratic obstacles to providing decision makers with a full range of intelligence analysis.
The problem is often not the intelligence we collect, but assessing its implications. Solving that problem requires not the mind-deadening exercise of achieving bureaucratic consensus, but creating a culture that rewards insight and decisiveness. To create that culture we should abolish the DNI office and NIEs.
Friday, January 08, 2010
But after 10 days of tropical silence, this week there is a sudden flurry of security reviews, media statements, ass-covering and more misstatements coming out of Washington from the Obama Administration. But we still don’t know why the State Department didn’t revoke the visa of a man they knew had ties to al-qaeda.Even the normally workaholic Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was enjoying a silent 10 nights on the matter. Taking her time to get the facts and pack up the Christmas decorations, Hillary finally came out looking like she had just landed in Yugoslavia under sniper fire.Secretary Clinton joined Janet Napolitano in glossing over the facts surrounding the Christmas Day attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253. Not to be outdone that all went well with her agency while the boss was on vacation, Secretary Clinton said that the State Department “fully complied with the requirements set forth in the interagency process” about sharing threat information.
Reader Josh Dunn writes: “Here’s betting that a lot of Democrats in the House and Senate secretly want Brown to win so Obamacare can be euthanized.” Yeah, it would get a lot of folks off the hook.
Reader Andrew Solovay writes: "And could there be a more fitting memorial to Ted Kennedy, than to have his successor be the one who drives Obamacare off a bridge?"
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Like California, the Obama team and their congressional allies seem to think that entrepreneurs and business leaders will simply sit there and take it, doing their “civic duty” by paying new direct and indirect taxes, and complying like obsequious puppies with new regulatory requirements. California provides pretty good evidence that this type of “civic duty” wears thin. The best and the brightest won’t just sit there and take it.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Saturday, January 02, 2010
This absurdity renders hollow Obama's declaration that "we will not rest until we find all who were involved." Once we've given Abdulmutallab the right to remain silent, we have gratuitously forfeited our right to find out from him precisely who else was involved, namely those who trained, instructed, armed and sent him.
This is all quite mad even in Obama's terms. He sends 30,000 troops to fight terror overseas, yet if any terrorists come to attack us here, they are magically transformed from enemy into defendant.
The logic is perverse. If we find Abdulmutallab in an al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen, where he is merely preparing for a terror attack, we snuff him out with a Predator -- no judge, no jury, no qualms. But if we catch him in the United States in the very act of mass murder, he instantly acquires protection not just from execution by drone but even from interrogation.