Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Will - A law Arizona can live with

Some critics say Arizona's law is unconstitutional because the 14th Amendment's guarantee of "equal protection of the laws" prevents the government from taking action on the basis of race. Liberals, however, cannot comfortably make this argument because they support racial set-asides in government contracting, racial preferences in college admissions, racial gerrymandering of legislative districts and other aspects of a racial spoils system.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A carefully crafted immigration law in Arizona

Contrary to the talk, it is a reasonable, limited, carefully-crafted measure designed to help law enforcement deal with a serious problem in Arizona. Its authors anticipated criticism and went to great lengths to make sure it is constitutional and will hold up in court. It is the criticism of the law that is over the top, not the law itself.

The law requires police to check with federal authorities on a person's immigration status, if officers have stopped that person for some legitimate reason and come to suspect that he or she might be in the U.S. illegally. The heart of the law is this provision: "For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency…where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person…"

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The Congressional Black Caucus Owes America an Apology

Read the whole thing.

It’s not just that Congressmen Carson’s accusation of an extraordinary racist verbal assault by the tea party participants on March 20 doesn’t appear to have occurred, it’s that the accusers have now gone into the bunker and, having raised the incendiary subject, are doing everything they can to avoid the discussion. Why? What’s changed?

When the accusation was made, the mainstream media made it the number one topic on every news show. The Democratic Party was leading the discussion. But when confronted on the baseless accusation, without even a modicum of evidence that it actually happened, other than an assertion, the Democratic Party, and its symbiotic allies the mainstream media, want to have another “beer summit.”
No. The Democratic Party and the political left cannot use the race card to shut up its opponents based upon pure fabrication any longer. This failed tactic ultimately serves to mitigate accusations of real racism — which we are not saying doesn’t exist.
When I offered a reward of $100,000 to be donated to the United Negro College Fund if anyone produced video and audio evidence that this occurred, I was accused of a publicity stunt (because everyone knows that the best way to get publicity in America is to accuse a civil rights icon of lying about racism). Rep. Carson himself suggested that my challenge was “a veiled attempt to justify actions that are simply unjustifiable.” Get it? He calls protesters racist and if you ask him to prove it, you’re a racist, too.
Needless to say, no one has claimed the $100,000.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Don’t believe the hype on GM’s loan repayment

The entire notion that GM can repay anything is laughable at best. Ed Whitacre, GM’s CEO, was all aglow this week in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal as he described the great condition of the new company — or should I say our company since taxpayers own about 60 percent of it.

He forgot to mention the $52 billion bailout from the U.S. government, i.e. you and me, and $9.5 billion from the Canadian government. Then there’s that little matter of Congress allowing the company to change $43.3 billion of our $52 billion loan into equity (stock) in the company, therefore taking the loan off the books. This left just a $6.7 billion loan from the U.S. and $1.4 billion from Canada, which they recently have repaid with some of the $43.3 billion in equity investment. 

Look carefully at that last sentence again. We were literally repaid with our own money. I’ve seen shell games that were less rigged than that. To use a very technical economic term, we got taken to the cleaners.

I know Whitacre is pretty busy right now trying to stop this falling rock, so I guess it’s understandable that he forgot to mention the path of financial destruction that GM left behind. This also includes the financial beating that the GM bondholders took, plus the GM retirees and the pension funds that invested in them, all so the UAW could jump to the front of the line and get their money first. That is unprecedented. 

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Instapundit: What the Tea Party Movement Is Really About

Cogent quotes (via about the Tea Party movement:

FRANCIS CIANFROCCA: What the Tea Party Movement Is Really About:

Here’s what the TP itself really fears, in an inchoate way that for most of its members doesn’t rise to the level of clear understanding, but is still intuitively very powerful: the US is embracing central planning as a governing theory, as fast as our legislative processes will allow. . . . Central planning has two primary flaws, when compared with economic freedom: it misallocates resources, and it magnifies the impact of corruption. I could write a decent-sized book explaining both of those mechanisms, but because I’ve never been busier in my life than I have been these past few weeks, I’ll cut to the conclusion.

The endpoint of central planning, if not outright failure, is a much deeper and more intractable division of society into haves and have-nots. After promising a better world for everyone, the progressives will end up creating a society that is more polarized than ever. . . . And we’re already seeing everywhere, from David Brooks to Noam Chomsky, the signs of how the elites will have to deal with the polarization: by loudly proclaiming in their captive media that the have-nots are stupid and, eventually, evil.

Indeed. Related thoughts here: “Money can be used to create value, or it can fuel the exercise of power, but not both. . . . Free people multiply. The all-powerful State is only good at division.”

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Obamacare’s Danger Signs

Not one of its major programs has gotten started, and already the wheels are starting to come off of Obamacare. The administration’s own actuary reported on Thursday that millions of people could lose their health insurance, that health-care costs will rise faster than they would have if the law hadn’t passed, and that the overhaul will mean that people will have a harder and harder time finding physicians to see them.

Read the whole thing.  (via

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Next on Cowardly Central - Motooning censorship

This homegrown radical group, called Revolution Muslim (no thanks), warned the show's architects, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, that they would "probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh" because of the depiction in the episode.

Van Gogh, for those unaware, was a Dutch filmmaker who documented (along with feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali) the abuse of women in the Islamic world. Consequently, Ali now lives in hiding and Van Gogh was last seen dead in the middle of an Amsterdam street -- a thoughtful dissertation on Islamic tolerance affixed to his chest with a knife. (If only the Dutch were less warlike, obviously, this never would have happened.)

Comedy Central initially banned "South Park" from showing any depictions of Muhammad in 2006, as Muslims consider a physical representation of the prophet blasphemous. There is an appropriate response to this: Watch something else. Instead, the cable channel released a statement: "In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision." The "recent world events" was a reference to the plight of 12 editorial cartoonists who were trying to steer clear of Van Gogh's fate after they had drawn cartoons that offended Muslims.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Center City race has candidate 'outed' as straight

Veteran Rep. Babette Josephs (D., Phila.) last Thursday accused her primary opponent, Gregg Kravitz, of pretending to be bisexual in order to pander to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender voters, a powerful bloc in the district.

"I outed him as a straight person," Josephs said during a fund-raiser at the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, as some in the audience gasped or laughed, "and now he goes around telling people, quote, 'I swing both ways.' That's quite a respectful way to talk about sexuality. This guy's a gem."

Kravitz, 29, said that he is sexually attracted to both men and women and called Josephs' comments offensive.

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Obama should return Wall Street's money

On the other hand, the reality is that Obama-Dodd puts satin sheets on that king-sized bed federal regulators have shared for years with favored Wall Street executives. That's why Goldman Sachs and other huge Wall Street securities firms are quite comfortable with being bashed by Obama even as he makes deals with them and cashes their checks. By the way, Obama-Dodd does nothing about Fannie and Freddie, the government-created mortgage giants whose obsession with subprime mortgages and paying off influential congressmen to look the other way actually led to the economic meltdown.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Limits of Power by Thomas Sowell

Our current leaders in Washington operate as if they can just set arbitrary goals, whether “affordable housing” or “universal health care” or anything else — and not concern themselves with the repercussions — since they have the power to simply force individuals, businesses, doctors, or anyone else to knuckle under and follow their dictates.

Friedrich Hayek called this mindset “the road to serfdom.” But, even under serfdom and slavery, experience forced those with power to recognize the limits of their power. What this administration — and especially the president — does not have is experience.

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A Delayed Bush Backlash by Jonah Goldberg

Recall that Bush came into office promising to be a “different kind of conservative,” and one of his first legislative victories was the No Child Left Behind Act, sponsored by Teddy Kennedy. 

Throughout his presidency, Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” surrendered — either rhetorically or substantively — to the assumptions of welfare-state liberalism, i.e. that your decency was best measured by your commitment to large, inefficient government programs. “When somebody hurts,” Bush insisted, “government has got to move.”

Many conservatives disliked this whole mindset and the policies behind it, from comprehensive immigration reform to Medicare Part D.

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Hitler Parodies Removed from YouTube

An Age of Untruth

The real diversity — that of differences in thinking and independence of opinion — was hardly welcome, and any sort of call for such genuine diversity of thought was seen as hostile and sometimes had to be dubbed “reactionary,” “racist,” “homophobic,” “sexist,” etc.

So we ended up with “diversity” meaning “university” — a synonym for monolithic intolerance, for everyone worshiping “diversity” without exception. If that seems harsh, it is also the way things are.

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Gangster Government becomes a long-running series

"The Dodd bill," Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman writes, "has unlimited executive bailout authority. That's something Wall Street desperately wants but doesn't dare ask for."

Politically connected creditors would have every reason to assume they'd get favorable treatment. The Dodd bill specifically authorizes the FDIC to treat "creditors similarly situated" differently.

Second, as former Bush administration economist Larry Lindsey points out, the Dodd bill gives the Treasury and the FDIC authority to grant an unlimited number of loan guarantees to "too big to fail" firms. Chief executive officers might want to have receipts for their contributions to Sen. Charles Schumer and the Obama campaign in hand when they apply.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why Government Regulation Fails

> If we want to restore our economic freedom and recover the wonderfully productive free market, we must restore truth-telling on markets. That means the end to price-distorting subsidies, which include artificially low interest rates. No one admits to preferring crony capitalism, but an expansive regulatory state undergirds it in practice.
>> Piling on more rules and statutes will not produce something different than it has in the past. Reliance on affirmative principles of truth-telling in accounting statements and a duty of care would be preferable. Deregulation is not some kind of libertarian mantra but an absolute necessity if we are to exit crony capitalism.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Peggy Noonan: How to Save the Catholic Church

Once, leaders of the Vatican felt that silence would protect the church. But now anyone who cares about it must come to understand that only speaking, revealing, admitting and changing will save the church.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Understanding Illegitimacy

The steady growth of childbearing by single women and the general collapse of marriage, especially among the poor, lie at the heart of the mushrooming welfare state. This year, taxpayers will spend over $300 billion providing means-tested welfare aid to single parents. The average single mother receives nearly three dollars in government benefits for each dollar she pays in taxes. These subsidies are funded largely by the heavy taxes paid by higher-income married couples. 
America is rapidly becoming a two-caste society, with marriage and education at the dividing line. Children born to married couples with a college education are mostly in the top half of the population; children born to single mothers with high-school degrees or less are mostly in the bottom half. 
The disappearance of marriage in low-income communities is the predominant cause of child poverty in the 
U.S. today. If poor single mothers were married to the fathers of their children, two-thirds of them would not be poor. The absence of a husband and father from the home also is a strong contributing factor to failure in school, crime, drug abuse, emotional disturbance, and a host of other social problems. 

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How Tax Day Became Payday

Passing the point at which less than half of all tax filers pay income taxes is dangerous because beyond that threshold, approximately a majority of voters could vote themselves an increasing share of government benefits at no cost to themselves. In fact, when the U.S. passes that point, a shrinking minority of tax filers will be financing almost all government spending. In this situation, politicians have even less incentive to restrain government spending because more votes could be won by increasing spending than lost by increasing the tax burden. That is a deadly recipe for never-ending increases in government spending that will inevitably lead to a fiscal implosion when there are no longer enough productive taxpayers to pay the bill for the expanding welfare state.

The families receiving cash from refundable credits are growing dependent on the government for an increasing share of their income each year. Growing dependence reduces individual initiative to achieve for those that receive cash payments and at the same time decreases the incentive for top performers to work harder and earn more. These effects will stifle the economy and ultimately lead to a lower standard of living, should these conditions persist. 

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Top Three Motivators For Developers (Hint: not money!)

The assumption
: People perform better when given a tangible, and even substantial, reward for completing a task.  Think bonuses, stock options, and huge booze-driven parties.

The reality

: In a narrow band of actual cases, this is true.  (And by narrow, I mean anything that isn’t a cognitive task, simple or complex, according to the research I quote below).  By and large, the reward-based incentive actually creates poorer performance in any group of workers for cognitive tasks, regardless of economic background or complexity of the task involved.
Follow the link for an interesting video from a TED talk by Daniel Pink.  He explains how these factors are the true motivators for most knowledge workers:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

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Kudlow: A V-Shaped Boom Is Coming

Conservatives shouldn’t fight the tale of the tape.

Sometimes you have to take out your political lenses and look at the actual statistics to get a true picture of the health of the American economy. Right now, those statistics are saying a modest cyclical rebound following a very deep downturn could actually be turning into a full-fledged, V-shaped, recovery boom between now and year-end.

At this point it’s impossible to project a long-lived economic boom, such as we had following the deep recession of the early 1980s. For one thing, tax rates will rise in 2011 for successful earners and investors, quite unlike the Reagan cuts of the 1980s. So it’s possible that entrepreneurs and investors are bringing income, activity, and investment forward into 2010 in order to beat the tax man in 2011. This would artificially boost this year’s economy, stealing from next year’s economy.

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Hot Air: ObamaCare may have accidentally stripped Congress of health coverage

The new exchanges do not have to be in operation until 2014. But because of a possible “drafting error,” the report says, Congress did not specify an effective date for the section excluding lawmakers from the existing program.

Under well-established canons of statutory interpretation, the report said, “a law takes effect on the date of its enactment” unless Congress clearly specifies otherwise. And Congress did not specify any other effective date for this part of the health care law. The law was enacted when President Obama signed it three weeks ago.

In other words, theoretically the law kicks them out of the federal health plan now in order to force them to join insurance exchanges … that don’t exist yet.

Hey, it's not like anyone had time to read the bill.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

George F. Will - GM's big turnaround at the federal trough

When Washington bailed out Chrysler in the late 1970s, Alan Greenspan, then a Wall Street consultant, said the danger was not that the rescue would fail but that it would work, thereby whetting Washington's appetite for interventions. The bailout "worked" in that the government made money from it and Chrysler survived to be rescued 30 years later by an administration that, as a wit has said, can imagine the world without the internal combustion engine but not without Chrysler.

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Stimulus Facts from Veronique de Rugy

The full article includes links to the report and all the data.  It seems that the Stimulus was mostly about stimulating big government and Democrat-voting districts.

First, how and where the money is spent doesn’t seem to be related to unemployment or decline in employment in the district where it is spent.

Second, the district’s party affiliation matters in where the money is spent. (We still don’t know how much it matters compared to other factors.) The average Democratic district receives 81 percent more than the average Republican district. Even after taking out the money spent through state capitals, the average Democratic district receives at least 30 percent more than the average Republican district.

Third, whether a district has part of a state capital in it is an important factor in how stimulus money is spent. However, controlling for this factor, or even taking the money going to state capitals out altogether, doesn’t negate the finding that the district’s party affiliation matters in where the money is spent. 

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Stossel on Libertarianism

"The most important way that people get out of poverty is economic growth that free markets allow. The second-most important way -- maybe it's the first -- is family. There are lots of income transfers within families. Third would be self-help and mutual-aid organizations. This was very big before the rise of the welfare state."

This is an important but unappreciated point: Before the New Deal, people of modest means banded together to help themselves. These organizations were crowded out when government co-opted their insurance functions, which included inexpensive medical care.

Boaz indicts the welfare state for the untold harm it's done in the name of the poor.

"What we find is a system that traps people into dependency. ... You should be asking advocates of that system, 'Why don't you care about the poor?'"

I agree. It appears that when government sets out to solve a problem, not only does it violate our freedom, it also accomplishes the opposite of what it set out to do.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax

The result is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for programs that benefit everyone, including national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education. It is a system in which the top 10 percent of earners -- households making an average of $366,400 in 2006 -- paid about 73 percent of the income taxes collected by the federal government.

The bottom 40 percent, on average, make a profit from the federal income tax, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they would otherwise owe in taxes. For those people, the government sends them a payment.

"We have 50 percent of people who are getting something for nothing," said Curtis Dubay, senior tax policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Yale faculty to stop openly sleeping with undergrads
> After more than a quarter century of debate, Yale faculty members > are now barred from sexual relationships with undergraduates—not > just their own students, but any Yale undergrads.
This is a shocking restriction on academic freedom. I don't expect professors to take this one lying down.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Krauthammer: Slapping Friends

“We British not only speak the same language. We tend to think in the same way. We are more likely than anyone else to provide tea, sympathy, and troops,” writes Bruce Anderson in London’s Independent, summarizing with admirable concision the fundamental basis of the U.S.-British special relationship.

Well, said David Manning, a former British ambassador to the U.S., to a House of Commons committee reporting on that very relationship: “He [Obama] is an American who grew up in Hawaii, whose foreign experience was of Indonesia and who had a Kenyan father. The sentimental reflexes, if you like, are not there.”

I’m not personally inclined to neuropsychiatric diagnoses, but Manning’s guess is as good as anyone’s.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

US Rep. Hank Johnson: Guam might tip over

And you thought Global Warming was dangerous...

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Spend Your Own Money for a Change

So I [Don Boudreaux] challenge you [Mr. Orszag and/or Ms. DeParle] to put your money where your words are. Let’s make a real bet.

Pick any year in the future between 2021 and 2046. Tell me your estimate today of how much Uncle Sam will spend on health care that year. I’ll bet each of you $5,000 that Uncle Sam’s actual expenditures on health care in that year — adjusted for inflation — will be at least 25 percent higher than your estimate.

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