Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mark Steyn: Puncture the cocoon of denial

At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial. Tens of millions of Americans remain unaware that this nation is broke – broker than any nation has ever been. A few days before Christmas, we sailed across the psychological Rubicon and joined the club of nations whose government debt now exceeds their total GDP. It barely raised a murmur – and those who took the trouble to address the issue noted complacently that our 100 percent debt-to-GDP ratio is a mere two-thirds of Greece's. That's true, but at a certain point per capita comparisons are less relevant than the sheer hard dollar sums: Greece owes a few rinky-dink billions; America owes more money than anyone has ever owed anybody ever.

The total combined wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans is $1.5 trillion. So, if you confiscated the lot, it would barely cover one Obama debt-ceiling increase. Nevertheless, America's student princes' main demand was that someone else should pick up the six-figure tab for their leisurely half-decade varsity of Social Justice studies.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Samoa to skip Friday, lose December 30th 2011 forever

So Samoans, who currently live 20 miles east of the dateline, will go to sleep on Thursday night, skip Friday, and wake up on Saturday morning on the Asian side of the imaginary line. (American Samoa will stay where it is, timewise.)

 The 24 hour leap into the future will make trade withEast Asia “far, far easier,” Mr. Tuilaepa said.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Anti-SOPA boycott of GoDaddy will change their domain registrar:

Paul Graham will not invite SOPA supporters to Y Combinator Demo Days.

> When asked if that boycott extended to investors in those companies, Graham responded, “Several of the companies on the SOPA list have venture arms. I encourage startups to boycott them. We’ll certainly encourage all the startups we’ve funded to.”
>> The rationale? “If these companies are so clueless about technology that they think SOPA is a good idea, how could they be good investors?”

How to transfer out of GoDaddy:

> Follow these step-by-step directions to transfer all of your domains from GoDaddy to NameCheap.
>> I’m Boycotting GoDaddy because they are pro-SOPA.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

John Taylor: Want Growth? Try Stable Tax Policy

Rather than stimulate the economy, they hold the economy back by creating policy unpredictability and by distracting Washington from crucial long-term reforms that are key to restoring economic growth and creating jobs.

Indeed, this type of temporary tax change is making the entire tax system unpredictable. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the payroll tax cut is only one of 84 tax provisions expiring this year, about the same as in 2009 and in 2010. This is 10 times greater than the number of provisions that expired in 1999. As shown in a paper presented this October by economists Scott Baker and Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and Steven Davis of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, this increase in policy uncertainty is one of the factors slowing economic growth.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Obama's Justice Department joins Britain's 'Climategate' leaker manhunt

Christopher C. Horner reports:

To review: The UK police and the US DOJ, Criminal Division, are pursuing a leaker of public records subject to one or more FOIA, records that were unlawfully withheld under those laws, which leaks indicate apparent civil violations (tortious interference by seeking dismissal of certain “skeptics”), and raising reasonable questions of fraud against taxpayers.

And they are pursuing the leaker.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.
The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.
Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.
A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Scientists Behaving Badly - Jim Lacey

> Unfortunately, from the very beginning, the core group at the heart of Climategate had no interest in “scientific truth.” As one states: “The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guide what’s included and what is left out.” In other words, let’s decide on a conclusion and then use only evidence that proves that point, discarding everything else. One scientist who seems to have been slightly troubled by these methods wrote: “I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it, which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.” In another note to Phil Jones, this same scientist complained: “Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest.”
>> Of course, nothing of the sort was done. As one e-mail states: “The figure you sent is very deceptive . . . there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change].” Too bad these so-called scientists felt they could tell the truth only to one another and not the public at large. Some of the other truths they shared only with one another are astounding. For instance, one writes: “I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro greenhouse zealot here!” So, despite having no confidence in any of the models the IPCC was using in its reports, this scientist was ready to support the IPCC findings to the hilt. And why didn’t he believe the models? Easy: They were designed to tell the big lie. For example, when confronted with the problem that if all the data were included, the warming disappeared, Phil Jones turned to a novel method: He used only “[time] periods that showed warming.”
>> At one point, Jones admits that the “basic problem is that all of the models are wrong.” Of course, there is a simple reason for this. When the models do not show what the warmists want them to show, they simply apply “some tuning.” One scientist was worried enough about this “tuning” to write that he “doubt[ed] the modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer.” In this case, “tuning” means changing the model until it tells you what you want it to. When it became impossible to torture the models any further without making their uselessness apparent to all, the warmists resorted to changing the data.

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Pepper-Spraying Taxpayers by Heather Mac Donald

If the OWS campus campers really wanted to understand California’s growing tuition costs, they might also check out the University of California, San Francisco, which created a Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Outreach earlier this year at the height of the state’s budget crisis. Naturally, this new sinecure was redundant with UCSF’s existing Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, the Diversity Learning Center (where you can learn how to “Become A Diversity Change Agent”), the Center for LGBT Health & Equity, the Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention & Resolution, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Diversity, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Disability Issues, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women.

The OWS-ers should also look into UC San Diego, which announced the creation of a Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in May 2011, even as the campus was losing three prestigious cancer researchers to Rice University and was cutting academic programs. Needless to say, UCSD’s Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion replicated an equally fearsome mountain of diversity functions.

Do not think that the exploding diversity bureaucracy is confined to public universities. In 2005, Harvard created a new Senior Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development, responsible for $50 million in diversity funding, and six new diversity deanships. Whereas Harvard’s previous diversity bureaucrats collected mere diversity data about faculty hiring and promotions, the new SVP for D and FD would be collecting “diversity metrics.” Yale already has 14 Title IX coordinators (not enough to stave off a specious Title IX investigation by the Office of Civil Rights in the federal Education Department), but it nevertheless recently put a Deputy Provost in charge of assessing the “campus climate” with respect to gender and overseeing the 14 Title IX coordinators. All these new bureaucrats in campuses across the country — nearly 72,000 non-teaching positions added from 2006 to 2009 — cost $3.6 billion, estimated Harvey Silverglate in Minding the Campus earlier this year.

Just where do the OWS-ish student protesters think that their tuition money is going? In the vast majority of colleges and universities, there are no greedy shareholders sucking their profits from the livelihoods of workers or other “community stakeholders.” Rather, rising tuitions funnel straight into the preposterously unnecessary diversity bureaucracy and the rest of the burgeoning student-services infrastructure, as well as into the salaries of professors who teach one course a semester, the arms race of ever more sybaritic dorms and social centers, and the absolute monarchies of the football and basketball programs.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

James Hansen and the Corruption of Science | Power Line

It recently came out that James Hansen, one of the two or three most prominent global warming alarmists on whose work the IPCC reports rest, “forgot” to report $1.6 million in outside income, as required by his government contracts. Is that significant? Well, yes: A handful of scientists, including Hansen, have gotten wealthy on climate alarmism. They have an enormous financial interest in the faux science they have done so much to perpetrate.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Taxpayer Losses On GM Bailout Are Going to be Massive

If it saved one job...

The Treasury Department yesterday revised its loss estimate for the Government Motors bailout from $14.33 billion to $23.6 billion, thanks to the company’s sinking stock price. GM’s Sept. 30 closing price, on which the new estimate is based, was $20.18, about $13 less than its December IPO price and $35 less than what is needed for taxpayers to break even.

The $23.6 billion represents a 25 percent loss on the feds $60 billion direct “investment” in GM. But that’s not all that taxpayers are on the hook for. As I explained previously, Uncle Sam’s special GM bankruptcy package allowed the company to write off $45 billion in previous losses going forward. This could work out to as much as $15 billion in tax savings that GM wouldn’t have had had it gone through a normal bankruptcy. Why? Because after bankruptcy, the tax liabilities of companies increase since they have no more losses to write off.

This means that the total hit to taxpayers, who still own about a quarter of the company, could add up to $38.6 billion. That’s even more that the $34 billion on the outside I had predicted in May.

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Pelosi Leads List Of Conflict Of Interest Dems

The Democrats have a lot of Wall Street connections that they don't want to talk about...

As Democrats demonize Wall Street CEOs as the "greedy" fiends of the financial crisis, they've lined their own pockets — both before and after the crisis. Nancy Pelosi's just the latest example.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Epstein: Three Cheers for Income Inequality

> A mistake, therefore, in setting tax rate increases could easily wreck the entire system. Indeed, the worst possible outcome would be for high taxation to lower top incomes drastically. Right now, for better or worse, the entire transfer system of the United States is dependent on the continued success of high-income earners whom the egalitarians would like to punish.
>> Put otherwise, if a person at the middle of the income distribution loses a dollar in income, the federal government loses nothing in income tax revenues. Let a rich person suffer that decline and the revenue loss at the federal level is close to 40 percent, with more losses at the state level. The slow growth policies of the last three years have cost far more in revenue from the top one percent than any increase in progressive taxation could possibly hope to achieve. The more we move toward an equal income policy, the more we shall need tax increases on the middle class to offset the huge revenue losses at the top. Our current political economy makes the bottom 99 percent hostage to the continued success of the rich.

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The pushback against Sharon Bialek begins

Friday, November 04, 2011

Instapundit: French Magazine Publishes Cartoon Of Mohammed, Gets Firebombed

ISLAMISTS: French Magazine Publishes Cartoon Of Mohammed, Gets Firebombed.

Here’s the cartoon. It’s important that such actions lead to the “offending” speech being seen by more people, rather than fewer. Incentives matter.


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Monday, October 24, 2011

Scott Adams: That Top 1% Thing

One problem with the top 1% simplification is that people who have college degrees aren't experiencing high unemployment. So it would be equally fair - and by that I mean equally illogical - to conclude that highly educated people are stealing the nation's wealth from less educated people. That's a bumper sticker you won't see.

I would also be willing to bet that the average math skills of the people who are doing well in this economy are better than the average math skills of the people who are suffering. In other words, the Occupy Wall Street protesters are probably comprised of more psychology majors than engineering majors. But no one is suggesting that people who are good at math are stealing the nation's wealth from people who are not. That's not a catchy slogan.

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The Vatican Should Try to Save Souls, not Ruin Economies

For all intents and purposes, they want to double down on the cross-subsidization policies that have undermined markets and crippled the global economy.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Arthur B. Laffer: Cain's Stimulating '9-9-9' Tax Reform

The whole purpose of a flat tax, à la 9-9-9, is to lower marginal tax rates and simplify the tax code. With lower marginal tax rates (and boy will marginal tax rates be lower with the 9-9-9 plan), both the demand for and the supply of labor and capital will increase. Output will soar, as will jobs. Tax revenues will also increase enormously—not because tax rates have increased, but because marginal tax rates have decreased.

By making the tax codes a lot simpler, we'd allow individuals and businesses to spend a lot less on maintaining tax records; filing taxes; hiring lawyers, accountants and tax-deferral experts; and lobbying Congress. As I wrote on this page earlier this year ("The 30-Cent Tax Premium," April 18), for every dollar of business and personal income taxes paid, some 30 cents in out-of-pocket expenses also were paid to comply with the tax code. Under 9-9-9, these expenses would plummet without a penny being lost to the U.S. Treasury. It's a win-win.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Government is the biggest job killer - John Stossel

I guess Obama doesn't know that the Transcontinental Railroad was a Solyndra-like Big Government scandal. The railroad didn't make economic sense at the time, so the government subsidized construction and gave the companies huge quantities of the best land on the continent.

As we should expect, without market discipline -- profit and loss -- contractors ripped off the taxpayers. After all, if you get paid by the amount of track you lay, you'll lay more track than necessary.

The Union Pacific and Northern Pacific -- all those rail lines we learned about in history class -- milked the taxpayer and then went broke.

One line worked. The Great Northern never went bankrupt. It was the railroad that got no subsidies.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

TARP After Three Years: It Made Things Worse, Not Better

In short, markets in the five months after TARP’s adoption were much worse off than in the previous five months, and they performed worst of all precisely in the sector (banks) that TARP was supposed to “help.” These empirics are irrefutable. Those who claim TARP was good policy have to believe bank stocks would have plunged 90-95%, except for TARP capping the loss at 72%. Such a claim would be absurd.

Plain logic explains the empirics: investors are right to view political control of banks as bearish, not bullish. Just as this principle applied to U.S. banks amid TARP’s enactment in 2008-2009, it applies this year to European banks amid the EFSF, since they too are being compelled to accept politicized capital injections (and controls) from European states that refuse to fix their own failed finances or buttress their own shoddy bonds.

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How Herman Cain can help GOP field

> Cain’s strengths? His simple “9-9-9” economic platform (a 9 percent business tax, income tax and national sales tax), an affability that coats an unmistakable inner strength and a sunny disposition that projects self-confidence without arrogance.
>> Plus, in a year when voters are heartily sick of professional politicians, he’s an outsider with both a record of accomplishment in business and a compelling personal story. This includes his upbringing in the segregated South, his service as a Navy systems analyst, a successful term as the head of Godfather’s Pizza and a stint as Federal Reserve Bank chief in Kansas City. He’s even a Baptist preacher.
>> There’s not a whiff of the grievance industry about Cain, a throwback to the up-by-your-bootstraps philosophy of Booker T. Washington. His parents were working class (chauffeur, maid) and he graduated from historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta -- the first member of his family to get a college degree. He’s solidly tied to the African-American experience, yet he’s not running as a “black candidate,” but as an American.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Rep. Wolf Slams Grover Norquist on House Floor

> Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) took to the House floor this morning to deliver a blistering critique of American for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist.

> “I want to be perfectly clear: I do not support raising taxes on the American people,” Wolf said. “My concern is with the other individuals, groups, and causes with whom Mr. Norquist is associated that have nothing to do with keeping taxes low.”
>> Wolf listed the following as concerns about Norquist’s personal associations:
>> • His relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff
> • His ties to known terrorist financiers Abdurahman Alamoudi and Sami Al-Arian
> • His support for the Ground Zero Mosque
> • His advocacy for transferring Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil
> • His lobbying on behalf of Fannie Mae
> • Hi representation of the Internet gambling industry
>> “Simply put, I believe Mr. Norquist is connected with or has profited from a number of unsavory people and groups out of the mainstream,” Wolf said.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Power Line posting on Amanda Knox


> Amanda Knox was freed from prison in Italy after an appeals court on Monday overturned her conviction for the sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher and the judge ordered her immediate release.

Power Line comments:

> I think the conviction of Knox and Sollecito was an outrageous miscarriage of justice, driven by preoccupations on the part of the prosecutor, and maybe some policemen, that can only be described as medieval. There was no meaningful evidence against them. None. And–this is a fact that is often lost sight of–we actually know who killed Meredith Kercher. It was Rudy Guede.
>> Let me amend that. We know for sure that Guede raped Kercher, based on DNA evidence that, as far as I know, is undisputed.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Land Without Peace - Charles Krauthammer

> After all, why did Abbas go to the U.N. last week? For nearly half a century, the United States has pursued a Middle East settlement on the basis of the formula of land for peace. Land for peace produced the Israel-Egypt peace of 1979 and the Israel-Jordan peace of 1994. Israel has offered the Palestinians land for peace three times since. And been refused every time.
>> Why? For exactly the same reason Abbas went to the U.N. last week: to get land without peace. Sovereignty with no reciprocal recognition of a Jewish state. Statehood without negotiations. An independent Palestine in a continued state of war with Israel.
>> This is the reason that, regardless of who is governing Israel, there has never been peace. Territorial disputes are solvable; existential conflicts are not.
>> Land for peace, yes. Land without peace is nothing but an invitation to suicide.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Firefly poster deemed Unacceptable by university


The poster you see above refers to a short-lived show on Fox, Firefly, which has since gone on to become a cult hit. Apparently the poster was deemed offensive by someone(s) at the school. (For the record, I don’t think anybody has a problem with actor Nathan Fillion, who’s gone on to star in the ABC hit Castle.) Evidently, the text was the problem. Specifically the mention of killing, and the implication that weapons (ie: GUNS) would be used in the crime. If you’re having a little problem with your browser reading the text, here’s what you’re missing:

You don’t know me son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Logging out of Facebook is not enough

Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Zurbin: Crushing America's inventors

On Sept. 16, at a ceremony involving some fanfare, President Obamasigned the ironically-styled America Invents Act into law. While posed as an effort to “modernize” U.S. patent law by “harmonizing it with the rest of the world,” the bill actually represents an effort by multinational and foreign corporations to crush America’s vital culture of independent inventors.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Obama’s Solar Scandal - Michael Barone
>> One of the original investors in Solyndra was Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, who was also a major contributor to Obama’s 2008 campaign. In early 2011, Kaiser and other investors provided an additional $75 million in financing to Solyndra. They did so on condition, approved by the Energy Department, that they receive priority over previous creditors, including the government.
>> On August 31, while Obama was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy. On September 8, the day of Obama’s “American Jobs Act” speech to a joint session of Congress, FBI agents conducted searches of Solyndra’s headquarters and the homes of the firm’s CEO and founder. Newspaper accounts speculate that the government may wind up losing the whole $535 million.

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The Great Social Security Debate - Charles Krauthammer

> Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program. A current beneficiary isn’t receiving the money she paid in years ago. That money is gone. It went to her parents’ Social Security check. The money in her check is coming from her son’s FICA tax today — i.e., her “investment” was paid out years ago to earlier entrants in the system and her current benefits are coming from the “investment” of the new entrants into the system. Pay-as-you-go is the definition of a Ponzi scheme.

> Now, the average senior receives in Social Security about a third of what the average worker makes. Applying that ratio retroactively, this means that in 1940, the average worker had to pay only 0.2 percent of his salary to sustain the older folks of his time; in 1950, 2 percent; today, 11 percent; in 20 years, 17 percent. This is a staggering sum, considering that it is apart from all the other taxes he pays to sustain other functions of government, such as Medicare, whose costs are exploding.

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George Will: Our floundering ‘federal family’

> For two years, there has been one constant: As events have refuted the Obama administration’s certitudes, the administration has retained its insufferable knowingness. It knew that the stimulus would hold unemployment below 8 percent. Oops. Unemployment has been at least 9 percent in 26 of the 30 months since the stimulus was passed. Michael Boskin of Stanford says that, even if one charitably accepts the administration’s self-serving estimate of jobs “created or saved” by the stimulus, each job cost $280,000 — five times America’s median pay.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Solyndra Gets More Scandalous

The problem with Solyndra is not George Kaiser. It's the whole concept behind a program that is supposed to enable politically favored technologies, using loan guarantees that look cheap when they're issued, and end up costing us half a billion dollars because we rushed the due diligence to make sure top officials got a good photo op.  As I wrote the other day, "When banks engage in this sort of behavior, we call it a bubble, and try to figure out how to fix things so they won't do it again. When government agencies do this, we call it a weekday."

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Paul Ryan: Restoring the Rule of Law

Freedom is lost by degrees, and the deepest erosions usually take place during times of economic hardship, when those who favor expanding the sphere of government, abuse a crisis to persuade free citizens that they should trade in a little of their liberty for empty promises of greater economic security.

We all remember what Benjamin Franklin said about that trade – that those who would make it deserve neither liberty nor security. But in such cases, when liberty is lost, it is our fault as champions of the Constitution, for failing to mount a sufficiently persuasive and effective defense. 

Read the whole thing

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Strange Facts about America’s ‘Poor’ - By Robert Rector - The Corner - National Review Online

> Here are more surprising facts about Americans defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, all taken from various government reports and included in my new paper from The Heritage Foundation called “Understanding Poverty in the United States”:
>> ● Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
>> ● Fully 92 percent of poor households have a microwave; two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR.
>> ● Nearly 75 percent have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.
>> ● Four out of five poor adults assert they were never hungry at any time in the prior year due to lack of money for food.
>> ● Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television.
>> ● Half have a personal computer; one in seven have two or more computers.
>> ● More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as Xbox or PlayStation.
>> ● Just under half — 43 percent — have Internet access.
>> ● A third have a widescreen plasma or LCD TV.
>> ● One in every four has a digital video recorder such as TiVo.>

Read the whole thing.

Link to paper:

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Barone: The unhappy warrior

When Barack Obama says, “This isn’t political grandstanding,” you have a pretty good clue that that is exactly what it is. Lest anyone doubt that, consider this from the third-to-last paragraph. “You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of the country.”

In other words, this was a campaign speech.

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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Goodbye Ankara - By Daniel Pipes

Although I am disappointed and saddened by the shift taking place in Turkey — as recently as a decade ago, I saw it as a model of modernity and moderation for other Muslims to follow — I am quite content to see the Israeli emissary pack his bags and leave Ankara, for this small drama helps anyone still myopic about 

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
 and the AKP to understand just how much they are repositioning Turkey as a state hostile to the West.

I have argued before and repeat here: The time has come to remove, or at least to suspend, the Turkish government from the NATO alliance. 

Posted via email from The Blue Pelican

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Anti-Science Smear - By Jonah Goldberg

Why does the Left get to pick which issues are the benchmarks for “science”? Why can’t the measure of being pro-science be the question of heritability of intelligence? Or the existence of fetal pain? Or the distribution of cognitive abilities among the sexes at the extreme right tail of the bell curve? Or if that’s too upsetting, how about dividing the line between those who are pro- and anti-science along the lines of support for geoengineering? Or — coming soon — the role cosmic rays play in cloud formation? Why not make it about support for nuclear power? Or Yucca Mountain? Why not deride the idiots who oppose genetically modified crops, even when they might prevent blindness in children?

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Sun Causes Climate Change Shock

This is exactly what has happened with <a href="

George Monbiot – The Lairds of Learning

Academic publisher's charge outrageous fees to universities and effectively deprive the general public of access to knowledge.  It's about time that the internet routed around them.

The publishers claim that they have to charge these fees as a result of the costs of production and distribution, and that they add value (in Springer’s words) because they “develop journal brands and maintain and improve the digital infrastructure which has revolutionized scientific communication in the past 15 years.”(10) But an analysis by Deutsche Bank reaches different conclusions. “We believe the publisher adds relatively little value to the publishing process … if the process really were as complex, costly and value-added as the publishers protest that it is, 40% margins wouldn’t be available.”(11) Far from assisting the dissemination of research, the big publishers impede it, as their long turnaround times can delay the release of findings by a year or more(12).

What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning.

It’s bad enough for academics, it’s worse for the laity. I refer readers to peer-reviewed papers, on the principle that claims should be followed to their sources. The readers tell me that they can’t afford to judge for themselves whether or not I have represented the research fairly. Independent researchers who try to inform themselves about important scientific issues have to fork out thousands(12). This is a tax on education, a stifling of the public mind. It appears to contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says that “everyone has the right freely to … share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”(13)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rubio speech at Reagan Library

Marco Rubio gave a great speech at the Reagan Library.

Watch the video at the link:

> He said that “poverty does not create our social problems; our social problems create our poverty.”

> "The free enterprise system has lifted more people out of poverty than all the government anti-poverty programs combined"

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Epstein: How Is Warren Buffett Like the Pope?

They are both dead wrong on economic policy.

The great advantage of competition in markets is that it exhausts all gains from trade, which thus allows individuals to attain higher levels of welfare. These win/win propositions may not reach the perfect endpoint, but they will avoid the woes that are now consuming once prosperous economies. Understanding the win/win concept would have taken the Pope away from his false condemnation of markets. It might have led him to examine more closely Spain’s profligate policies, where high guaranteed public benefits and extensive workplace regulation have led to an unholy mix of soaring public debt and an unemployment rate of 20 percent. It is a tragic irony that papal economics mimic those of the Church’s socialist opponents. The Pope’s powerful but misdirected words will only complicate the task of meaningful fiscal and regulatory reform in Spain and the rest of Europe. False claims for social justice come at a very high price.

On this logic, lower capital gains rates generate more tax revenue for the federal government. Yet Buffett doesn’t grasp the point when he writes:

In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

I’d take 2008 any day. In 1992, the country’s top 400 earners paid a total of $4.9 billion in taxes, which is a nifty sum to come from so few. But 16 years later, that amount rose to about $19.55 billion, leaving those most successful investors with an extra $71 billion in cash to invest in new ventures that could promise greater returns. This is win/win with a vengeance.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

The Secret Language Code: Scientific American

> PENNEBAKER: Almost everything you think you know is probably wrong. Take this little test. Who uses the following words more, women or men?
>> > 1st person singular (I, me, my)
> > 1st person plural (we, us our)
> > articles (a, an, the)
> > emotion words (e.g., happy, sad, love, hate)
> > cognitive words (e.g., because, reason, think, believe)
> > social words (e.g., he, she, friend, cousin)
>> Most people assume that men use I-words and cognitive words more than women and that women use we-words, emotions, and social words more than men. Bad news. You were right if you guessed that women use social words more. However, women use I-words and cognitive words at far higher rates than men. There are no reliable differences between men and women for use of we-words or emotion words (OK, those were trick questions). And men use articles more than women, when you might guess there’d be no difference.

> Men and women use language differently because they negotiate their worlds differently. Across dozens and dozens of studies, women tend to talk more about other human beings. Men, on the other hand, are more interested in concrete objects and things. To talk about human relationships requires social and cognitive words. To talk about concrete objects, you need concrete nouns which typically demand the use of articles.

> One of the most interesting results was part of a study my students and I conducted dealing with status in email correspondence. Basically, we discovered that in any interaction, the person with the higher status uses I-words less (yes, less) than people who are low in status.

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The Terrible Cost Of Patents

Patents were originally conceived to protect inventors—people and companies who contribute to the advancement of society by creating new products. But in the past decade, something went horribly wrong. Patents are increasingly became nothing more than financial and legal weapons, to be amassed in portfolios by “non-practicing entities” (i.e. patent trolls) and used to extort protection money from economically productive companies.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Michael Barone: The Fall of the Midwest Economic Model -

Michigan is an extreme example of what has afflicted the industrial Midwest. Big corporations were replaced by big government as the leading employer, and public-employee unions replaced industrial unions as the chief financiers of the Democratic Party. In effect, public-employee unions have been a mechanism by which taxpayer money, in the form of union dues, permanently finances a lobby with a vested interest in higher spending and less accountability. It's a lobby that's benefited from the Democratic Party loyalties of black voters, of Latinos in Chicago (the only large Hispanic presence in the Midwest) and of culturally liberal suburbanites.

This Midwestern model is unraveling before our eyes. The Midwest has not been hit as hard by foreclosures or unemployment as some other places, with Michigan an exception on both counts, but you have to look hard for green shoots of growth. They may be most evident in North Dakota, where low costs and light regulation have produced booms in energy and high tech.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

IRS: Not enough rich to cover the deficit « Don Surber

A report from the Internal Revenue Service found that the rich — 8,274 people with incomes of $10 million per year or more — earned a total of $240 billion in 2009.

Even of you confiscated every dime they earned, you would barely have enough money to cover government spending for 24 days.

Of course, about a quarter of that money already goes to the federal government for federal income. So make that 18 days.

Read the whole thing.

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Obama partisans ignore facts when bashing Bush - Byron York

The debt stood at $10.6 trillion when Barack Obama took office in January 2009. Now, it's about $14.4 trillion. The president has increased the national debt nearly $4 trillion in his first two and a half years in office. By the time Obama finishes his first term, he will have increased the national debt by somewhere in the $5 trillion-to-$6 trillion range -- more than Bush did in two terms.

None of this is to say that George W. Bush had a good record on spending. He didn't, and he's fair game for criticism. But is it honest to condemn reckless spending in "eight years of Republican rule" when Democrats controlled the Senate for four of those years and the House for two? Is it honest to talk about the "cost" of the Bush tax cuts when federal revenues increased significantly while they were in effect? And is it honest to refer to Bush's ballooning deficits when deficits actually trended down for much of his presidency -- at least before Democrats won control of Congress?

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Downgrade shows DeMint was right

DeMint predicted ahead of time that none of the debt deals on the table except for "Cut, Cap and Balance"would prevent a downgrade. He has been vindicated.

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Monday, August 01, 2011

Strategic analysis of the Budget Control Act - Keith Hennessey

$2 trillion of spending cuts is big for Congress but small relative to our underlying fiscal problems. If this bill becomes law and if the fall Joint Committee process is successful, the remaining spending problem will be more than an order of magnitude larger than this accomplishment. If you think this summer has been painful or dread the battle of this fall, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Wait until Congress wrestles with the big stuff.

Three times in the past year Congressional Republicans have played brinksmanship with the President and come out ahead:  the December 2010 tax rate fight, the Spring 2011 CR fight, and now the Summer 2011 debt limit fight. They have a game plan that has delivered multiple incremental wins so far, and a playing field that favors them for the Fall 2011 Joint Committee fight. In a balanced Washington they have successfully leveraged a debt limit increase to cut spending and not raise taxes.

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We either save this country or we do not. And to save it, we must seek solutions

An excellent speech by Macro Rubio.  He could make a fine president some day.

“Compromise without solutions is a waste of time,” Marco Rubio said on the Senate floor today. Here is the video — be sure to catch his exchange with John Kerry: 

video at the link.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Reagan the Statesman - Rich Lowry

> As for raising taxes, Reagan acceded to a big tax increase in 1982 only after a historic, much larger cut in 1981. He gave a little back after finding a shift in the political climate on Capitol Hill too difficult to resist. (He later regretted surrendering, since the budget cuts promised in exchange for the tax hike never materialized.) With the Soviets, he negotiated only when he knew he had a position of strength. These moves were the zigs and the zags of Reagan pursuing his highest goals of fundamentally lower taxes, a freer economy, and the defeat of the Soviet Union.
>> Few on the left considered these goals reasonable at the time. They seem so commonsensical now because Reagan effected them, against the pitched resistance of his adversaries and the contempt of polite opinion. Reagan changed the definition of “reasonable.”
>> The liberals’ hankering for Reagan is only possible when they abstract him from the context of his times and focus on his pragmatic tactics to the exclusion of his fixed ideological goals. Some conservatives make the opposite mistake by ignoring Reagan’s adept maneuvering, as if the only ingredient to his success was maintaining the right convictions.
>> Both sides, then, tend to misunderstand the well-springs of Reagan’s achievement. Having grand goals is easy, if you don’t care much about reaching them. Cutting deals is easy, if you don’t care much about where they take you. Knowing how to accommodate reality, when to give way and when to stand firm, while never deviating from your ultimate purposes, is the stuff of statesmanship.

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The Great Debate: Candidate Obama Vs. President Obama

Both agree that it's all George Bush's fault!

Video from Breitbart at the link:

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reagan’s Error - By Yuval Levin

Well, yes, those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan (in August of 1982) in reference to TEFRA—the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act—which congressional Democrats promised would involve a ratio of $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases (which they said would consist only of closing loopholes). TEFRA passed later that year, and the tax increases certainly happened but, as Reagan later put it in his autobiography, “the Democrats reneged on their pledge and we never got those cuts.”

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Raise Taxes on the Poor?

Richard Epstein writes:

A sound flat tax policy will benefit people on all portions of the income spectrum. Unfortunately, Democrats think that progressive taxation has desirable redistributive effects with few adverse economic effects. But today’s profound fiscal malaise should offer them a wake-up call: their views on taxation hurt the constituency that they most want to help. If Democrats could learn that income redistribution has real limitations as a social strategy, and if Republicans could work hard to make sensible reforms to tax policy, then we would be well on our way to a sound budget deal. Until then, the road to true reform remains rocky even if the United States manages to avoid default this time around.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Democrat Downgrade: Reality and Repercussions - By Kevin D. Williamson

The thing that has not been sufficiently understood,  I think, is this: The United States is not on a downgrade watch because the markets fear we won’t raise the debt ceiling in time to avoid a default; the United States is on a downgrade watch because the markets believe the debt-ceiling debate presents the last real opportunity for the government to enact a meaningful fiscal-reform program before it is well and truly too late to avoid a national crisis. The credit agencies, wisely or not, aren’t worried about the short-term political fight leading to an immediate default, but about the near- to medium-term fiscal situation, which is plainly unsustainable.

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Contrary to the President, Social Security Checks Are Not At Risk

Michael McConnell writes:

The Social Security trust fund holds about $2.4 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds, which its trustees are legally entitled to redeem whenever Social Security is running a current account deficit. Thus, if we reach the debt ceiling (which I continue to think is a remote prospect, even if less remote than it seemed a week ago), this is what will happen. The Social Security trust fund will go to Treasury and cash in some of its securities, using the proceeds to send checks to recipients. Each dollar of debt that is redeemed will lower the outstanding public debt by a dollar. That enables the Treasury to borrow another dollar, without violating the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is not a prohibition on borrowing new money; it is a prohibition on increasing the total level of public indebtedness. If Social Security cashes in some of its bonds, the Treasury can borrow that same amount of money from someone else.

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