Food stamps are the symbol of poverty in the US. In the era of the credit crunch, a record 28 million Americans are now relying on them to survive – a sure sign the world's richest country faces economic crisis.
I view this as the growth of the welfare state rather than signs of another Great Depression. I also wonder if the reporter read his own story which contains the following information regarding food stamps:
Recent efforts have sought to increase awareness with respect to the program.
The switch to plastic cards rather than coupons has removed some of the stigma of using food stamps.
The stamps are available even to some individuals with incomes above the poverty line.
What do these three things all have in common? They increase demand!
Here is the kicker:
And the next monthly job numbers, to be released this Friday, are likely to show 50,000 more jobs were lost nationwide in March, and the unemployment rate is up to perhaps 5 per cent.
My UK friends love to tease me about America's wicked gun culture. They'll be up on the latest Michael Moore stats. A friend who worked there for several years has a daughter who is afraid to visit the states.
I love Britain, cradle of liberty and all, but they, and my friends, and my friend's daughter purposefully miss one important crime statistic: the slope of the curve. In the UK, crime is escalating. While they lack the dramatic gang drive-bys, the risk of being beat up for your mobile phone climbs higher each year.
They have effectively disarmed the populace and convinced Britons that their personal safety and property rights will be attended to by the state. The state lacks the resources and the will to provide it. So the advice is to "not go out." I'm a big fan of Theodore Dalrymple and recommend his "Life at the Bottom." I was prepared to think that he was a little over the top in his storytelling, and that he was reporting from the worst areas in Britain.
The 40-year-old heads his own company advising on mergers and acquisitions, and usually strides through life like a Master of the Universe. This evening, though, he looks shaken. Two days earlier, he was accosted outside his central London home by eight kids — the youngest was 11 — who punched him to the ground, hustled him to the nearest cash machine and forced him to reveal his PIN number. After a series of attacks in the area, local residents have gathered in Steen's apartment to talk to the policeman handling the case. His advice: "Don't go out unless you have to."
This is the land of Churchill. "We will hide in the fields, we will hide in the beaches!"
Pardon my ghoulish flippancy. This story really does sadden me, but it also points out the first stop on the road to gun control.
The evil, populist Kaus-Reynolds axis is at it again. (Mickey & The Professor?) I have the highest respect and admiration for both Mickey Kaus and Glenn Reynolds, but their position as Lou Dobbs of the Blogosphere always gets me down.
Today, Kaus writes about a Pennsylvania farmer who is no longer planting tomatoes because of labor concerns. Kaus points out that tomatoes are not rotting in the fields (sad news in an election year), but that the farmer has chosen a less labor-intensive crop:
But note that no tomatoes are rotting in the fields in this story. Eckel has just decided to plant another, less labor-intensive crop: "45 acres of sweet corn, and 1,200 acres of corn for grain." Is this a tragedy, or a surprisingly painless transition away from a business that used illegal labor to a business that uses legal labor? We will buy fewer Pennsylvania tomatoes and more Pennsylvania corn. So? ...
So we are poorer, Sir, instead of using trade and comparative advantage to enrich our lives, we are choosing self-sufficiency. Enjoy your Bacon, Lettuce and Corn sandwich!
Blog friend Perry Eidlebus brings the heart-warming tale of a woman who was robbed of $7 and chose to turn the other cheek:
"This robbery and what's happening to this community is the result of a lack of a supportive system for our youth. We need jobs," she said. "This happened in broad daylight at noon. We need a mental health support system. This is further evidence of that."
The story identifies the victim as Democrat and Perry identifies her as "a moron."
When Harvard’s future dean of admissions and financial aid was applying to the College in 1962, the first two teachers he asked for letters of recommendation refused.
“They wouldn’t write for Harvard because they thought it was a bunch of Communists, a bunch of atheists, a bunch of rich snobs, and if you went there you’d flunk out and you’d lose your soul,” said William R. Fitzsimmons ’67.
Samizdat Thaddeus Tremayne posts the "Earth Lights" pic that we use for the ThreeSources banner and says:
I never get tired of looking at this photograph. It never fails to fill me with wonder and awe at the ingenuity of my species who, against all the odds, have carved these glorious man-made islands of light out of the primordial blackness. Whenever I am heavy of heart, I open up this photograph and stare at it to remind me that, somewhere, there is light and life.
Then he tells the sad tale of "Earth Hour" where cities are turning off the light for an hour to fight global warming. Tremayne continues:
With each passing day I become more convinced that the 'green' movement is actually a millenarian psychosis; a mental and spiritual sickness borne, perhaps, from some degree of civilisational exhaustion. Not just a belief that the end of the world is nigh, but an active desire to bring it about. And soon. Ours is not the first age to witness such pandemics of madness but, in the Middle Ages at least, there was the excuse of a near-universal poverty. In such a state of interminable plight, despair may not be the wisest response but it is at least an understandable one.
Heat and light are unalloyed goods to me. Both in moderation of course, but that people are turning off the lights to prevent warming seems a potent presentation of those who would, in Karl Popper's words, "send us back to the caves."
John Rockefeller brought heat and light to poor people; he is considered a robber baron. One thinks of the old bumper sticker: "Ban Mining. Let the bastards freeze in the dark." That's what these people want.
I am late to the party, I know. I have heard a lot of good things about "The Kite Runner," both the book and the movie. Miraculously, I had not heard much about the plot or thesis. It was about Afghanistan, and a lot of my lefty friends liked it. Trepidation rules.
It was released on DVD this week and I rented it last night. This is a five star movie. I look forward to quizzing my friends about it. It comports neatly to my worldview which is orthogonal to theirs. I frequently am forced to set my politics aside to enjoy a film for its graphic achievements, but this one is both well crafted and well thought.
It's not a plot line that would suffer from "spoilers." Yet, on the off chance that I am not the last one on the planet to see this, rent it right away and just watch it unfold.
HAVANA - First microwaves, now cell phones. Is this the new Cuba? Raul Castro is revolutionizing his brother's island in small but significant ways — the latest in a decree Friday allowing ordinary Cubans to have cell phone service, a luxury previously reserved for the select few. The new president could be betting greater access to such modern gadgets will quell demand for deeper change.
I will call it a free country when they are allowed to have boats.
Merciful Zeus! This woman doesn't like Firefly, nor Joss Whedon. And she has some pretty unusual views about sex.
I have to say that now that I have subjected myself to the horror that is Firefly, I really am beyond worried about how much men hate us, given that this was written by a man who calls himself a feminist.
I find much of Joss Whedon’s work to be heavily influenced by pornography, and pornographic humour. While I would argue that there are some aspects of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer that are feminist and progressive, there is much that isn’t and I find it highly problematic that there are many very woman-hating messages contained within a show that purports itself as feminism. But Firefly takes misogyny to a new level of terrifying. I am really, really worried that women can call the man who made this show a feminist.
For myself, I’m not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women’s faces, male voices drowning out our words.
There is so much hatred towards women contained within the scripts and action of the series that I doubt very much that this post will even begin to cover it.
But she tries. She is disturbed that Zoe calls a superior officer "Sir," she counts the number of times men talk vs. women, and she is, let's say, generally unaccepting of Inara's occupation: For those who don't watch, Inara is a "Companion:" a highly paid courtesan who chooses her own clients and is held in such esteem by society that her presence as a tenant on the ship opens many doors for the ship and crew. She is the only respectable member of Serenity.
It is clear from the outset that a large part of Inara’s service involves addressing issues of male inadequacy and fulfilling many other emotional needs of her clients. The ability to do this IS a resource and it is therefore a service that Inara must perform. BUT Inara services all of the male passengers and the Captain in this way. She also services Kaylee but the relationship between them is a little more reciprocal. In any case, Mal makes it pretty obvious that he expects his emotional needs to be serviced by Inara and she willingly obliges. Mal also allows the male passengers to demand her emotional services and does not tell them to stop, despite the terms of his agreement with Inara. Inara is not paid by any of these men for her time, energy and emotional support.
Hat-tip: Galley Slaves. Jonathan V. Last worries that it is a put on (as does Ace of Spades in a funny post). Maybe I have lived in Boulder County too long, but none of this lacks verisimilitude for me.
I don't care, I'm still free. You can't take the sky from me.
Many have made a big a deal about Senator & Mrs. Obama's relatively low level of charitable giving as indicated on their tax returns. That's between he and his Jew-hating clergyman as far as I am concerned (low swipe even for me, sorry!)
Indeed, even though Michelle Obama had income from the University of Chicago's Hospital System that exceeded $1 million during the period the tax returns were filed, she appears to have neither a 401(k) plan nor an IRA for retirement contributions. In another sign the Obama household wasn't into building a nest egg, the couple cashed out $6,260 from a pension or 401(k) plan in 2000.
Larry Kudlow hit this topic on his show last night. An excellent segment is posted on the CNBC site (I can link but not embed). I encourage you to watch. Especially Jerry Bowyer's remarks at the beginning of the clip. It really does speak to their beliefs that they choose -- not only to pass on tax deferral -- but to not invest in Corporate America at all.
I saw yesterday that Senator Obama had assailed Senator McCain for his taking a "wait and see" attitude like President Bush on the <JAWS Soundtrack swells up>housing crisis!</JAWS Soundtrack swells up>
On one hand, I am happy to have an ideological election. Senator Kerry hid his liberal light under a bushel in 2004 and neither VP Gore nor Governor Bush ran as firebrands in 2000. No doubt Obama will try to tack to the center in the general, but he has laid markers in the debates. We can really discuss the role of government this fall.
On the other hand, part of me is worried about the choice our nation will make. There is an American drive to do something. I cannot believe that lasseiz faire does well in focus groups, even though I am a big fan. The Wall Street Journal Ed Page nails the situation today, in a lead editorial that looks at the differences.
The media coverage of Mr. McCain's speech has portrayed his approach as laissez-faire, and the Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns quickly assailed it on those grounds. But that's true only in the sense that Mr. McCain didn't endorse any vast, new government rescue of bankers or borrowers. If this is laissez-faire, we've come a long way from Adam Smith.
I'll suggest that McCain offered as close to lasseiz faire as is practicable, and very likely went too close. Hands-off is not the press' first choice. And look at what awaits on the other side of the aisle:
Mrs. Clinton called this week for "immediate, bold" action "to unfreeze our mortgage markets." To that end, she would immediately freeze our mortgage markets. She wants a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures coupled with a five-year rate freeze on adjustable-rate mortgages.
This would amount to the broadest price controls in the U.S. economy since the Nixon Administration. Mr. Obama has said this abrogation of contracts would do nothing to help the market clear and would only drive up borrowing costs. For this accurate observation, the Clinton campaign said Mr. Obama was "to the right of the Bush Administration."
Here's to clear choices -- here's to the right ones.
The Republic is truly doomed. I was with some relatives yesterday who are pretty well informed. Not news junkies or blog fiends, but good, average-American, read-the-papers-watch-the-news types. They discussed how bad the economy is and the evils of predatory lending.
This year, Clinton has fared well among Catholic voters in early primary states and she holds a substantial lead over Obama among Catholic Democrats in Pennsylvania polls. Some analysts argue, however, that Catholic voters' race, age and economic status - rather than religion - are more likely to play a greater role in determining their vote.
Pennsylvania has an estimated 3.8 million Catholics, or just over 30 percent of the state's population, and the percentage among Democrats is estimated to be slightly higher.
Scranton is the hometown of the late Gov. Robert P. Casey, a feisty Catholic politician who stood up to the Democratic Party over abortion. Pennsylvania's version of the so-called "Reagan Democrat" willing to buck the party on such issues are called "Casey Democrats," and they are a critical voting bloc in Pennsylvania.
"Those so-called Casey Democrats will be looking for a broad agenda on social justice, economic justice and a recognition by the candidate, by our nominee that he or she will be someone who can talk about their faith, but more important than that, can listen to them, listen to what their concerns are and also listen to them about their faith and their point of view," said Bob Casey Jr., Pennsylvania's junior senator and the son of the former governor.
Bravely Bob Casey Jr is bucking the endorsement trend and standing athwart history with his finger in the wind.
Like the general population of super-delegates, whose support remains fluid, several Jewish supporters of the New York senator said in interviews that their votes still remain up for grabs. All told, more than 70 Jewish super-delegates will make the trip to Denver this summer for the Democrats’ nominating convention. They account for nearly one-10th of the party’s nearly 800 so-called super-delegates, the informal term for elected and party officials whose status as delegates to the convention does not depend on state primaries and caucuses.
If the Democratic presidential primary comes down to a photo finish, these Jewish insiders could play an outsized role in anointing a nominee at the party’s August convention. And it would be a history-making experience: Although Jews have long been considered a formidable voting bloc and have been overrepresented among the country’s cadre of liberal activists and thinkers, they have only more recently become common as Democratic establishment insiders, with unprecedented numbers of both Jewish elected officials and party leaders.
“Politics in America has become a Jewish profession, just like arts and the law,” said Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council and the author of a book about Jews and American politics. “We now are overrepresented in all these areas.”
Professor Mankiw points out that Senator Obama chooses not to defer significant amounts of income from taxation. Why?
I don't know. Maybe he is getting bad tax advice. Or maybe he is expecting vastly higher tax rates in the future when the accumulated savings will need to be withdrawn and taxed. As Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee has written, "Future increases in tax rates potentially threaten to significantly reduce the value of your retirement savings and may even mean that you should not save in 401(k) accounts at all."
Look on the bright side, Senator -- maybe you'll lose and your taxes won't go up so much.
I love this guy. Three cheers for Democratic überoperative James Carville:
First. One of my favorite lines from any debate ever. He was "debating" Bill O'Reilly during the 2000 election and he said [quoting from memory]: "It's important. Whether the US is run by the principles of George Bush or Al Gore is important, My wife thinks it's important that it is George Bush, I think it is important hat it is Al Gore, but we agree that it is important."
Second. He mentioned his wife. If Mary and James can keep it together, none of us has any cause to question our vows. I'm not kidding, it gives me great hope.
C'mon, you know you missed it! Today, John Fund pens the Huck-a-Whack denouement in OpinionJournal Political Diary:
Mike Huckabee is as busy as ever since he ended his campaign for the GOP nomination. Invitations to speak and join the boards of various organizations are pouring in. But this week the former Arkansas governor took time to contemplate why he failed to best John McCain in this winter's primaries. His partial answer: his fellow Christian leaders.
"Rank-and-file evangelicals supported me strongly, but a lot of the leadership did not," he told Ralph Hallow of the Washington Times. "Let's face it, if you're not going to be king, the next best thing is to be the kingmaker. And if the person gets there without you, you become less relevant."
Mr. Huckabee has a point. Pat Robertson of TV's "The 700 Club" was a surprise backer of Rudy Giuliani. Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer had kind words for Fred Thompson and Jay Sekulow, who heads the American Center for Law and Justice, backed Mitt Romney.
But what Mr. Huckabee fails to note is that the Christian leaders I spoke with all had passionate reasons for not backing the Baptist minister. Several singled out his critique of President Bush's foreign policy for being "arrogant," and several noted Mr. Huckabee's endorsement of a discredited "cap-and-trade" regulatory approach to global warming. "He's the leading exponent of Christian left principles in our party," one Christian leader told me. Paul Pressler, who led the successful ouster of the moderate leadership of the Southern Baptist convention in the 1980s, recalled Mr. Huckabee was on the other side in that dispute. For his part, Mr. Bauer says he "saw no evidence that [Huckabee] could bring together the three main parts of the Reagan electoral constituency -- defense, economic and social conservatives."
Mr. Huckabee does acknowledge the role of some critics in stopping his march to the nomination. He singles out the free-market Club for Growth for running damaging ads against him in South Carolina, where he narrowly lost the primary to John McCain.
"It was very frustrating to be presented as an economic liberal, because I have a very different record, as an economic conservative," Mr. Huckabee told the Washington Times. His big problem here is that so few of Mr. Huckabee's fellow Republicans in Arkansas agree with him. Only a handful of the state's 33 GOP state legislators endorsed him for president. Blant Hurt, a former owner of Arkansas Business magazine, was brutally candid on the reasons: "He's hostile to free trade, hiked sales and grocery taxes, backed sales taxes on Internet purchases, and presided over state spending going up more than twice the inflation rate."
Rather than blame shadowy "kingmakers" in the Republican Party, it's time Mr. Huckabee acknowledged that for all of his rhetorical gifts, he wasn't able to close the sale with conservative leaders -- both Christian and others -- who examined his record closely.
Emphasis mine. Goodbye and Good Luck, Governor. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!
I'm doing the work of free men today as I have been called -- for the first time -- for jury duty. I'm thinking I might fashion a "Lysander Spooner Died for Your Sins" T-Shirt. That should get me home by 11:30.
UPDATE: Home by twelve without invoking my views on jury nullification.
Talk about burying the lede, John Fund, in the OpinionJournal Political Diary, highlights The Governor of California's firing his brother-in-law:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is not much one for sentiment. He has bounced both his brother-in-law Bobby Shriver and his fellow actor and friend Clint Eastwood from the State Park and Recreation Commission.
Mr. Shriver, who chaired the commission, and Mr. Eastwood, who was his deputy, both opposed the Governator's plan to build a toll road between Orange County and San Diego that would have cut through a corner of a state park.
"It shows you how strong these developers were that [they] were able to arm-wrestle the governor into firing us," Mr. Shriver told the Associated Press last week. He noted that both he and Mr. Eastwood supported a 2006 lawsuit to block the toll road filed by then-California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
Mr. Schwarzenegger says his position in favor of the road is the true environmentalist position because the new lanes would help relieve the pollution caused by freeway gridlock in Orange and San Diego counties. Neither side seems keen to fuel the disagreement in public but Mr. Shriver didn't bat down the suggestion that the issue might come up at the next Kennedy family gathering: "He better get a taster if I get him any food," Mr. Shriver said.
I think it is much more interesting that he fired Clint Eastwood. Fund asks "What Did They Expect from the 'Terminator'?"
"Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that's what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.
"There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we're going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling."
That is just one of many stunning admissions in a transcript of a radio interview between Australian Journalist Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, "a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs." Christopher Pearson publishes it in The Australian and suggests "Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril."
Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth still warming?"
She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."
It gets worse from there for the warmies. No doubt Ms. Marohasy will be outed as a corporate shill for the petro industry.
Pearson closes with some overly optimistic suggestions that the fall of global warming hysteria will usher in a new era of reason and freedom:
With catastrophe off the agenda, for most people the fog of millennial gloom will lift, at least until attention turns to the prospect of the next ice age. Among the better educated, the sceptical cast of mind that is the basis of empiricism will once again be back in fashion. The delusion that by recycling and catching public transport we can help save the planet will quickly come to be seen for the childish nonsense it was all along.
The poorest Indians and Chinese will be left in peace to work their way towards prosperity, without being badgered about the size of their carbon footprint, a concept that for most of us will soon be one with Nineveh and Tyre, clean forgotten in six months.
I'm not so sanguine. I think recycling has been substantially discredited, yet my city council last year voted to force it onto all municipal residents.
This won't go away, but with a little luck maybe we could get a Republican Presidential candidate to disavow it.
Happy Easter, ThreeSourcers. We have a theological big tent here, but I think it is safe to say that we all believe in redemption, rebirth and renewal.
In that spirit, I am going to leap to the defense of President William Jefferson Clinton. Instapundit reports that the campaign is "clarifying remarks" after an Obama aide is shouting McCarthyism.
"I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country," said Clinton, who was speaking to a group of veterans Friday in Charlotte, N.C. "And people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."
McPeak, a former chief of staff of the Air Force and currently a co-chair of Obama's presidential campaign, said that sounded like McCarthy.
"I grew up, I was going to college when Joe McCarthy was accusing good Americans of being traitors, so I've had enough of it," McPeak said.
Methinks the aide doth protest too much.
Also an Easter shoutout to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is making the right kind of enemies:
CHENGDU, China - China attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Sunday for her recent meeting with the Dalai Lama, accusing her and other "human rights police" of double standards and ignoring the truth about the unrest in Tibet.
One could accuse me of using these stories as a cudgel against the Obama campaign and Chinese authority. That's a hell of a thing to accuse a guy of on Easter...
UPDATE ON ITEM 1: If you're not having fun... This same advisor said "I mean there's no reason why this shouldn't be a walkover" and -- even better -- "We'll be there a century, hopefully. If it works right." Both of these from a 2003 speech dug up by Tom McGuire who explains "Obama was not in the briefing that Sunday when McPeak made his controversial remarks."
I rarely write commentary from anger, preferring a properly objective, psuedo-dispassionate approach to a subject deserving my attention. But news of the details, nature and scope of pending legislation in the U.S. Senate has caused me to make an exception to that rule.
As though Americans were not already burdened with:
• Extortionate and confiscatory taxes wherever they turn on virtually everything they earn, purchase, or do, from the local level on up to the federal level;
• Myriad regulations, controls and arbitrary rules that hamper or obstruct their productivity and their lives;
• Footing the endless bills of earmarked pork barrel projects at home in the amount of billions;
• Footing the bill in the amount of the billions for bottomless altruist and "humanitarian" pork barrel projects abroad;
• Footing the bill for an ever-expanding and ever more costly welfare state to subsidize the ill, the retired, the aged, the young, etc.
• Being held hostage by, say, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other hostile "oil-producing" countries, because our government has decided that snail darters, sea cows, and caribou have a greater right to live than have human beings;
• Paying more for food because mandated ethanol, which reports prove costs more in oil to produce than it "saves," in the gas they buy is taking more crop acreage out of production;
Congress is proposing, in Barack Obama's Global Poverty Act (S.2433, based on H.R. 1302, passed by the House September 25, 2007), that Americans be delivered into a state of indentured servitude as laborers for the United Nations. Perhaps "indentured servitude" is too kind a term, for as horrendous a condition as it is, there is usually a time limit to such servitude. Slavery would be the more accurate term in this instance, for what Congress is considering is servitude by Americans in perpetuity, in exchange for nothing but the privilege of laboring to "save" the world without thanks or reward, of filling the alleged needs of others, of performing unlimited "community service" for the offense of merely existing.
He does an expert job of concretizing the issue, of developing the consequences of the Global Poverty Act, and of identifying the principles which the act violates: freedom and natural individual rights.
P.S. Dr. Yaron Brook has an excellent article, entitled "War On Free Political Speech," on "campain finance" law published on Forbes.com. Dr. Brook says:
"Without [campaign finance laws], advocates say, the wealthy would control political speech.
What is the actual effect of wealth on political speech? Is it true that a diversity of political viewpoints would be shut out without campaign finance restrictions? Clearly not, when wealthy Americans include a vast diversity of individuals, and when we are free to watch Fox News or CNN, read the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, listen to Rush Limbaugh or Air America, visit Instapundit or Daily Kos. No private citizen (or corporation), however wealthy, has the power to censor the speech of others. He can refuse to support, finance or promote ideas or candidates he disagrees with--which is his inalienable right--but he cannot forcibly suppress them. Jack Welch could choose not to contribute to MoveOn.org; he can't forbid them to speak or us to listen.
It's not money that corrupts--it's the lure of arbitrary political power."
The article has solid reasoning and good examples, and it puts the issue in proper context: in context of individual rights, including the rights to property and free speech.
If you’re not having fun, you’re not paying attention!
The Junior Senator from NY was awarded “Four Pinocchios” out of a possible four for her depiction of landing in Bosnia “under heavy sniper fire” and running “heads-down” to the base.
The WaPo Fact Checker, gives its highest prevarication rating. Click through to see Clinton kissing an eight year old Muslim girl who read a poem in English at the welcoming ceremony (no doubt the bullets whizzing around their heads are moving too fast to be captured on film).
I had read several blog posts and references to David Mamet's Village Voice piece "Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." It's always good to have somebody discover Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman. I smiled and moved on.
Daniel Henninger writes about it today in his Wonderland column. His piece, as usual, is pretty good. But it got me to go to the source and read Mamet's piece in its entirety.
I am not going to excerpt it. Mamet is a writer and artist by trade, and he has written a work of art. It does not hurt that it highlights what I believe, but it is an honest, introspective finding of the values I cherish. He gets it -- whether he discovered it last week or last century.
ABC News reports that Hillary was for NAFTA before she was against it:
One interesting event in Sen. Hillary Clinton's just-released schedules from the 1990s comes on Nov. 10 1993, when the former first lady was to serve as the closing act during a briefing on NAFTA, the trade agreement she now assails.
Two attendees of that closed-door briefing, neither of whom are affiliated with any campaign, describe that event for ABC News. It was a room full of women involved in international trade. David Gergen served as a sort of master of ceremonies as various women members of the Cabinet talked up NAFTA, which had yet to pass Congress.
"It wasn’t a drop-by it was organized around her participation," said one attendee. "Her remarks were totally pro-NAFTA and what a good thing it would be for the economy. There was no equivocation for her support for NAFTA at the time. Folks were pleased that she came by. If this is a still a question about what Hillary's position when she was First Lady, she was totally supportive if NAFTA.
That first attendee recalls that the First Lady's office in the East Wing put together "the invitation list, who was invited authorizations and all that stuff."
And what is this attendee's response to Clinton today distancing herself from NAFTA? "For people who worked hard to pass NAFTA and who support the importance of markets opening for the economy in the long term, they're very upset. A number of the women who were there are very upset. You need to have some integrity in your position. The Clintons when Bill Clinton was president took a moderate position on trade for Democrats. For her to repudiate that now seems pretty phony."
Dr Madsen Pirie at adamsmith.org thinks it is thinking "It is important for us to understand the causes of poverty." Against which he offers this superb rejoinder:
There are no causes of poverty. It is the rest state, that which happens when you don't do anything. If you want to experience poverty, just do nothing and it will come. To ask what causes poverty is like asking what causes cold in the universe; it is the absence of energy. Similarly poverty is the absence of wealth. For most of humanity's existence on this planet, poverty has been the norm, the natural condition. People hunted to survive or lived by subsistence farming, and they were poor. In some parts of the world this is still the case.
The unusual condition is wealth. This is what changes things.
It's not much longer and is well worth a read in full. Hat-tip: Samizdata
Buried in his eloquent, highly praised speech on America's racial divide, Sen. Barack Obama contradicted more than a year of denials and spin from him and his staff about his knowledge of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermons.
That’s the lead. And the second paragraph has a word that starts with T and rhymes with Pez Co, (Mmm, Pez®...)
Hanging around with Libertarians on the Internet (It's fun, but remember to wash your hands), I am often challenged to reassess my party affiliation. Yup, the GOP has some positions which are not friendly to liberty and a poor track record of success on its good positions.
Reading Reason Magazine, or Ann Althouse, or Megan McArdle, I encounter serious, sane, sentient people who love liberty and look first to the Democratic Party for candidates to pursue it. One tries to be open minded and all -- BUT
But then I watch the Democratic debates, or read something like this. Comprehensive "Fisking" is not my blogging style, but I am tempted to try it here. I think I disagree with every sentence in Rep Rahm Emmanuel's "A New Deal for the New Economy." To be fair, Congressman, I didn't think so highly of the Old New Deal.
He starts with Nafta, the thesis being that the trade deal is not the cause of anxiety so much as the lack of a social contract. Even still, he is not willing to defend Nafta, with which he was closely involved.
In 1993, I was President Clinton's point man in ratifying Nafta. And, I am the first to admit, the fact that our party is still debating this trade agreement 15 years later is proof it hasn't lived up to its hopes. It is true that if we were to negotiate Nafta today, we'd insist on tough labor and environmental standards that never mattered to negotiators in the first Bush administration, who hammered the agreement together before Bill Clinton took office.
Evil, wicked, Republican pact it was -- I always thought so too.
But the problem is not Nafta, the problem is that we are not Sweden. The way to make an anxious middle class feel better is to:
Add another year of compulsory education (the first twelve rock!)
Expand Schip for all kids (why shouldn't I take care of Warren Buffet's grandchildren?) and those between 55 and 64 years of age.
"[C]reate a new institute -- funded at the same level as the National Institutes of Health -- that will support critical research into energy technologies for the future." Millions of green collar jobs, energy independence, yadda. (Because government develops and selects technology so much better than the private sector -- look at Ethanol!)
Finally [at last!] Universal Savings Plans,"Like 401(k) plans, these accounts would supplement, not supplant, Social Security. Employers and employees would contribute 1% of their paychecks on a tax-deductible basis, and workers could make additional contributions if they chose."
He learned at the foot of the master, only a Clinton aid could use the word "contribute" in the sense of a forced, coercive mandate.
Rep. Emmanuel is not a crazed lefty or ideological outlier. He's a party centrist in the mold of President Clinton. This is their best plan. Greater regulation of trade pacts abroad and a huge increase in the size, scope and cost of government at home.
Wonder if they still have the green St. Pat's Pachyderms for sale at gop.com...
Slate magazine is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the invasion (liberation, anybody?) of Iraq. And boy, do they know how to party:
Slate has asked a number of writers who originally supported the war to answer the question, "Why did we get it wrong?"
They made the mistake of asking the question of Christopher Hitchens, and he delivers a beauty:
I am one of those who, for example, believes that the global conflict that began in August 1914 did not conclusively end, despite a series of "fragile truces," until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is not at all to redefine warfare and still less to contextualize it out of existence. But when I wrote the essays that go to make up A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq, I was expressing an impatience with those who thought that hostilities had not really "begun" until George W. Bush gave a certain order in the spring of 2003.
Though "a hash" was made of the effort so far, Hitchens enumerates the successes:
But I would nonetheless maintain that this incompetence doesn't condemn the enterprise wholesale. A much-wanted war criminal was put on public trial. The Kurdish and Shiite majority was rescued from the ever-present threat of a renewed genocide. A huge, hideous military and party apparatus, directed at internal repression and external aggression was (perhaps overhastily) dismantled. The largest wetlands in the region, habitat of the historic Marsh Arabs, have been largely recuperated. Huge fresh oilfields have been found, including in formerly oil free Sunni provinces, and some important initial investment in them made. Elections have been held, and the outline of a federal system has been proposed as the only alternative to a) a sectarian despotism and b) a sectarian partition and fragmentation. Not unimportantly, a battlefield defeat has been inflicted on al-Qaida and its surrogates, who (not without some Baathist collaboration) had hoped to constitute the successor regime in a failed state and an imploded society. Further afield, a perfectly defensible case can be made that the Syrian Baathists would not have evacuated Lebanon, nor would the Qaddafi gang have turned over Libya's (much higher than anticipated) stock of WMD if not for the ripple effect of the removal of the region's keystone dictatorship.
All those writing ass-covering essays in the series need to address why those goals were wrong or not worth the effort expended.
Welcome back, James Taranto! Get better soon and know that we missed prose like this:
Could Obama really have been unaware for all these years that his spiritual mentor follows a racially adversarial theology, one that demands of God that he be "for us and against white people" and that he participate "in the destruction of the white enemy"? It doesn't exactly sound like the sort of change we can believe in.
Professor Mankiw has a smart piece in the NYTimes today on trade and politics. While economists see the benefit, new polls show the electorate moving farther away.
The general public, however, is less likely to take its cue from Adam Smith than from Lou Dobbs. In December, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked Americans, “Do you think the fact that the American economy has become increasingly global is good because it has opened up new markets for American products and resulted in more jobs, or bad because it has subjected American companies and employees to unfair competition and cheap labor?”
He then provides a nice enumeration of Senator McCain's votes and support for free trade, before closing with Democrats' opposition:
BUT another reason is that many economists don’t really believe the populist rhetoric coming from the Clinton and Obama campaigns. They expect that once in office, either candidate would pursue a policy more like that of Mr. Clinton, who relied heavily on the advice of economic moderates like Mr. Summers and Robert E. Rubin, another former Treasury secretary. When reports surfaced recently of an Obama economic adviser telling the Canadian government to ignore his candidate’s anti-Nafta rhetoric, some people were appalled, but many Democratic economists I know were secretly relieved.
It is hard to be confident, however, that on issues of trade policy either Democratic candidate would act like the last Democratic president. Maybe the candidates’ records as legislators are not good indicators of what their policies might be as president. Maybe campaign rhetoric about Nafta is nothing more than that. But counting on it requires, one might say, the audacity of hope.
Mister Lileks on the economy (Hey, I trust him more than about 532 members of Congress):
Speaking as an utter amateur, I’m worried less about a recession than inflation. I’m worried most about a recession, inflation AND a jolly round of trade wars, coupled with fragile banks, overcapacity, diminished consumer confidence and aggressive messianic collectivism. Something about that smells familiar. I love studying the thirties and forties, but not first hand.
James Lucier, suggesting Gov. Bobby Jindal for VP:
Do some people think that Mr. McCain is too old at 71? The Constitution does require a backup, no matter how old the President. Mr. Jindal can balance the ticket. At 36, he has the accomplishments you would expect at 47. Mr. Obama, at 47, has the accomplishments you would expect at 36.
The word "recession" has a very, very specific meaning in classical economics. In fact, this same article admits that (emphasis mine), just before it starts to lie: "Although the classic definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of declines in the gross domestic product ...." If these people were being candid, they would complete this sentence by saying, "... but in this article we're using that same word, 'recession,' to mean something different, something poorly defined, something vague, and something ominous, all because it suits our purposes better and we don't mind being liars."
I read the same story in the Wall Street Journal and had the same thought. Even on Kudlow and Company, where I expect a little better, they are pretty cavalier about the technical and the casual use of the R word.
The thesis of the WSJ article is that "a majority of economists" in a forecasting survey say that the US is already in recession. Aggregate Economic predictions, huh. Insert joke here.
UPDATE: Steve Horwitz at the Austrian Economics Blog asks if we'd expect the following headlines:
Senator Obama has never been vetted by any conservatives or faced a serious challenger on his right. As Senator Clinton starts to take off the gloves and some in the media start to take off their blinders, it seems there are a lot of vulnerabilities:
There has been a lot of blog chatter about the Pastor at his racial hatemongering super center church. Ronald Kessler has a succinct and damning collection of Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. quotes as well as a recap of the Obama's extensive and long lasting involvement with the church and its "controversial" pastor. (Controversial would be Senator Obama's word).
He may be pushing a lot of transcendent, new politics, but it doesn't look a lot different from the "old" Chicago politics. Jim Geraghty finds "In 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mrs. Obama’s compensation at the University of Chicago Hospital, where she is a vice president for community affairs, jumped from $121,910 in 2004, just before her husband was elected to the Senate, to $316,962 in 2005, just after he took office." In 2006, Hubby requested a $1 Million earmark for the hospital. That's pretty good Return On Investment.
Rezko trial, indictment?
I think when you bundle this with Michelle's negative comments and his refusal to wear a flag pin, the Senator will be a tough sell against a war hero. Y'know, if he wears an American Flag on his lapel, people might misconstrue it, but attending a church that blames America for 9/11, we're supposed to be able to filter it out.
UPDATE: John Podhoretz makes a good point that Senator Clinton is staying in the race just in case of an Obamaplosion (HT: Insty)
When Hillary and her people talk about Obama’s lack of experience, they are not just talking about foreign policy and Washington voting. They are, implicitly, talking about his lack of experience with a hostile media. He has never been subjected to the withering examination of a reportorial or even punditorial pack — not in his service in the Illinois state senate, not in his 2004 Senate race, and not even when it came to his well-reviewed books. One never, ever knows how someone will hold up under such circumstances, or how quickly a reputation can be damaged.
UPDATE II: A relative who does not read blogs just called and said "he's toast." This is actually getting some play in the MSM.
"Jimmy P" previews a bit of Larry Kudlow's interview with President Bush tonight, and it is not good news:
But just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians during financial crises, at least not if it's their dough at stake. And while there are plenty of economists out there who are advocating a hands-off approach to the credit crisis and housing implosion—echoing Andrew Mellon's infamous advocacy of "liquidate...liquidate...liquidate"—they will be disappointed. Uncle Sam will probably continue to intervene during this financial turmoil.
Indeed, President Bush has almost gone out of his way not to rule out a bailout. Nor did he do so in a speech to the Economic Club of New York this morning. And in an interview on CNBC today with Lawrence Kudlow, the president basically said that in extraordinary situations, extraordinary action is required.
And --as Bluto said, "This calls for a pointless gesture!"
I easily scored a new loan for my new Condo the other day. I have approval but have not locked the rate or selected the exact vehicle. I am thinking I should get a 2-year ARM and wait for our new Democratic overlords to pay it (Sorry for the density of pop culture references, I'm pretty upset.)
I look forward to watching the interview (5 PM EST on CNBC). I doubt Larry will let that go easily.
Two items segued by the Rush Limbaugh - Glenn Reynolds nexus:
My brother-in-law is painting inside my house and listens to Rush. So I heard him yesterday. I'm not a huge fan, but he said something I really enjoyed. Talking about the arcane delegate, superdelegate rules in the Democratic nomination process he said "These people can't even pick their own candidate -- and they want to run your health care!"
Instapundit echoes that riff today, suggesting that "IS THIS SCREWY OR WHAT? Obama gets no net gain after Mississippi win. If I were John McCain, I'd be asking why the party that put together these primary rules thinks it can run a health-care plan. Or the country . . . ."
Brother Glenn also links to Bull Dog Pundit, switching his PA registration to 'D' so that he can vote for Senator Clinton.
BDP gives six good reasons, and his first commenter decries that this is associated with Limbaugh.
I'm still rooting for Clinton, mind you, because I would truly rather have her at 1600 Pennsylvania than President Obama. Yet I think these tactical plays are stupid, undemocratic, and wrong.
Stupid because I find it unlikely that there are enough übertacticians in a big state like PA to be anything more than noise;
Undemocratic because I believe that parties have the right to nominate the candidate of their choice. I don't want Democrats to stick me with David Duke or Governor Huckabee next time they have a presumptive.
Wrong because there are too many variables. Kids, I'd trust computer climate models more than some of these "too clever by half" strategies. Ol' Bull Dog himself points out the ways that Senator Clinton can call herself the stronger candidate if she wins PA. Sadly, they are true. Obama has received the limousine liberal vote in some Red states that will not be in play.
Yes, I enjoy watching them spend their war chests and disillusion their youth with a protracted primary battle, I am just not sold on the capability or the wisdom of keeping it going.
Anarcho Capitalists love to point out that it is often better to deal with pirates than with governments. For many governments and some pirates I agree (Robert Mugabe vs. Kiera Knightly comes to mind).
Blog friend Perry Eidlebus has proudly invoked Chiquita's paying protection money as an alternative to my cherished Liberal International Economic Order (LIEO). There are a million opportunities for liberty infringement by government -- else we wouldn't have a ThreeSources -- but if there is rule of law, some self determination, and power of redress and remedy, I still like it over piracy.
I whack Perry not to be personal, but his favorite pirates have been in the news. It seems not everybody is so keen on paying off FARC to get their potassium fix:
The case sheds much-needed light on the role that U.S.-based companies (and certainly others) play in fomenting conflicts that cost thousands of lives. Chiquita has admitted to being one of them.
The new suit is part a series of legal battles Chiquita has been fighting since the Cincinnati-based company acknowledged paying armed parties in the Colombia conflict. Last year Chiquita agreed to pay a $25 million fine to settle Justice Department charges in these matters.
It is often forgotten that the FARC has abducted and killed U.S. citizens throughout its history. None except the three U.S. contractors being held now had anything to with the war on drugs or Colombia's internal strife.
For all it Bolivarian rhetoric and calls for a "humanitarian" agreement, the group has a remarkable track record of shedding innocent blood.
And Chiquita, it seems, in the interest of protecting its profits, made several costly deals with numerous devils in the Colombian conflict. Unfortunately for Colombia, it chose the two worst groups to try to pay off so bananas could keep flowing north.
A spokesman for Chiquita, which claims it made the payments under duress, reportedly said: “Our actions were always motivated to protect the lives of our employees and their families. We are contesting the suits vigorously and believe we have a strong defense.”
I'm not commenting on the case, but I still say Pax Americana is a better way to go.
When I saw the title from Johngalt's post this morning, I was thinking that it would be about this:
After 1,500 years the Vatican has brought the seven deadly sins up to date by adding seven new ones for the age of globalization. The list, published yesterday in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, came as the Pope deplored the “decreasing sense of sin” in today’s “secularized world” and the falling numbers of Roman Catholics going to confession.
The new deadly sins include polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.
I was raised Catholic and know we have some "practicing" among ThreeSources. While I don't wish to disparage, I find this extremely troubling. "Obscenely rich?" Theologian heal thyself!
More to the point, one part of the bible I always liked was "What is Caesar's render unto Caesar." I respect other people's faith and beliefs. And I always considered that scriptural delimiter a great gift to Christian faith: an invitation to separate your secular and religious life.
This is the Vatican equivalent of President Bush's "Faith Based Initiatives." Separation of Church and State may not be mandated (as the Left always claims) but it remains a pretty damned good idea. One can make "obscene wealth" by doing great good. The bible challenged the rich to the hard work of leading virtuous lives, not divestment of capital.
Okay, a serious comment on l’Affaire Spitz: The GOP is overreaching one more time. They can't help it. Rep Peter King was fulminating on Kudlow Last night, and a Yahoo/AP Headline (since changed) was "Republicans Push for Spitzer Impeachment."
Folks, just look grave and mouth about how serious this is and how the Governor will have to make up his mind. Let his own party push him out or allow him to stay damaged for a while. There is no good that can come from Republicans pushing this, and plenty of bad from appearing to capitalize.
UPDATE: And one more, unserious, comment. Don Luskin points out "There's one advantage of having Spitzer replaced by his legally blind lieutenant governor: the new guv can make do with less expensive hookers." I really wish I were too good to post that. That's not what ThreeSources is about. Maybe tomorrow.
And I fear for Senator McCain. It seems that anything short of fainting dead at the awesomeness that is the Junior Senator from Illinois is proof of racism.
Orlando Patterson, "a professor of sociology at Harvard and the author of 'The Ordeal of Integration: Progress and Resentment in America’s 'Racial’ Crisis.''” pens a NYTimes OpEd to declare Senator Clinton's 3AM ad racist. It's not what it says, mind you, but a smart professor like Patterson, who has the proper experience in finding sub rosa racism, can see it plain as a big red pimple on your fat, white ass:
I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.
The ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father — or by stating that the danger was external terrorism. Instead, the child on whom the camera first focuses is blond. Two other sleeping children, presumably in another bed, are not blond, but they are dimly lighted, leaving them ambiguous. Still it is obvious that they are not black — both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino.
Finally, Hillary Clinton appears, wearing a business suit at 3 a.m., answering the phone. The message: our loved ones are in grave danger and only Mrs. Clinton can save them. An Obama presidency would be dangerous — and not just because of his lack of experience. In my reading, the ad, in the insidious language of symbolism, says that Mr. Obama is himself the danger, the outsider within.
If they will go after Senator Clinton, imagine the disparagements we'll see when Senator McCain starts advertising.
"This is a part of our people's path and, God willing, our people will achieve victory," Khalil al-Haya said.
He has himself escaped assassination attempts, including an Israeli strike last May that killed two of his brothers and six other relatives gathered at a family home. Al-Haya was not in the building at the time.
How unfortunate for mister al-Haya that God frowns upon him so, and denies him the glory of martyrdom. Many others in his family were apparently in good graces with Him, however.
"I thank God for this gift," Khalil al-Haya said. "This is the 10th member of my family to receive the honor of martyrdom."
Man, that's a lot of virgins!
Seriously though, if Islamists really believed that being blown to bits by Israeli helicopters in the "conflict with Israel" was a gift from God they'd be lining up with targets on their heads.
I consider Spitzer the archetype of government power gone bad. Allahpundit says "Wife and kids, so schadenfreude isn’t in order." I will worry about his kids just as long as he worried about Hank Greenberg's family, or Dick Grasso's before he launched unfounded attacks on them from the New York AG's office.
UPDATE: Try this fun blogger-media quiz! Find any story anywhere on this that does not use the word 'schadenfreude." Bet you can't...
What's the appropriate output for CO2, considering the delicate balance of economic growth, human comfort, and environmental concerns? Zero! WaPo:
Carbon Output Must Near Zero To Avert Danger, New Studies Say
The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures may be far more difficult than previous research suggested, say scientists who have just published studies indicating that it would require the world to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades.
I was concerned at first that it might be environmental alarmism. But no, this is science. They have proved this through computer modeling. Just because none of the models predicted the coldest winter in 100 years or record snowfall across North America does not mean that computer modeling is not legitimate science.
Blog friend Everyday Economist has a comprehensive and well supported critique of the stimulus package (not that it had a lot of fans around ThreeSources to begin with).
First, in order to consume, one must earn an income that allows for consumption (even borrowing is based upon one’s income and credit standing). If one is not producing, one cannot consume. As we have previously detailed, this is the major insight of Say’s Law. Without getting into a discussion of which comes first, demand or supply, it should seem quite obvious that if Keynes is true and Say’s Law does not hold up in the short run and that government intervention could facilitate the lack of demand, it would only be admissible to follow such a policy if the benefits exceed the costs. However, a Wicksell-based understanding of intertemporal coordination suggests that the cost could be substantial given the potential subsequent macroeconomic discoordination. Thus, it is doubtful that the benefits of temporary stimulus could exceed the costs of future discoordination.
Second, financial news pundits love to highlight the fact that over 60% of GDP is consumption. Thus, it must follow that consumption is what drives economic growth, right? Wrong. GDP accounting is merely, as the name would suggest, an accounting device. Given the fact that GDP is the total of new final goods and services produced in a given year, it is hardly a surprise that a majority of those final goods would be consumed by a developed country. Discussing the share of GDP as though it were a predictor of relative importance is incorrect. The large consumption share of GDP is not a signal of begin the driver of economic growth, but rather a reflection of the prosperity in the United States. Economic growth is caused by technological innovation and productivity. The result of economic growth.
Read the whole thing. Send it to your favorite Keynesian.
It's not only Senator Obama that might face a little scrutiny from a bored press corps awaiting Pennsylvania’s primary on April 22. We can, perhaps, check up on the Clinton pardons scandal. Y'know, if the Clintons were to demand that the archive be released...
John Fund, Political Diary:
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe isn't mincing words about what he thinks of Hillary Clinton's attacks on his candidate's ethics. "Sen. Clinton is the most secretive politician in America today. This has been a pattern throughout her career of the lack of disclosure," he told reporters this week.
Some backup for Mr. Plouffe's statement arrived yesterday when it was revealed that archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are declining to release material on just how President Clinton issued dozens of suspect pardons in the final hours of his administration in 2001, including the infamous pardon of Marc Rich, the fugitive commodities trader convicted of tax evasion and selling oil to Iran in violation of a U.S. embargo.
The archivists acted according to guidelines set down by Mr. Clinton. All told, some 1,500 pages of documents are being redacted or kept secret, including 300 pages on the pardon selection process, including reports on why the Clinton Justice Department opposed certain pardons. Mr. Clinton pardoned two men who each paid Hugh Rodham, Hillary Clinton's brother, some $200,000 to lobby the White House in search of a pardon. One was sought for a drug dealer and another for someone convicted of mail fraud and perjury. Mr. Clinton denied knowing anything about the payments before making his decisions.
While the decision to withhold the pardon materials was made by Clinton library archivists, who work for the federal government, Mr. Clinton had the right to review their decision and have the documents released. But Bruce Lindsey, his former deputy White House counsel, declined to examine them, which means they will remain under lock and key for the duration of this presidential campaign. How convenient.
Ms. Kael famously (yet perhaps apocryphally) said of Richard Nixon's landslide presidential victory in 1972 "How can that be? No one I know voted for Nixon."
Searching to confirm the quote, I came across this great riff from David Harsanyi:
"How could such a destructive man be so popular with the American people?" singer Barbra Streisand asks about George W. Bush's popularity. After all, she didn't vote for him. This arrogant mind-set is reminiscent of theater critic Pauline Kael's reaction...
Her Babsness will be Her Babsness, and I don't think any ThreeSources reader is surprised.
But, dang it, I am still surprised to hear such arrogant, elitist, snobbish nonsense from somebody whom I admire -- or once admired. Peggy Noonan writes about the Democrats today, but she cannot resist throwing a quick blade at President Bush:
This is slightly good for John McCain. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hemorrhage money, exhaust themselves, bloody each other. He holds barbecues for the press and gets rid of a White House appearance in which the incumbent offers his dread embrace. Do it now, they'll forget by the summer. The president does not understand how unpopular he is and after a year on the trail with the faithful neither does Mr. McCain. Mr. Bush confided to a friend a few months ago, as he predicted a Giuliani win, that he'll eventually come out and campaign for the nominee big time. Talk about throwing the drowning man an anvil.
The President does not understand how unpopular he is with the people in West Manhattan who throw lovely dinner parties with canapés and all of Peggy's and Barbra's friends...
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Narito, of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, gives a child a high-five during a patrol in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, Feb. 17, 2008.
Accused Illinois fixer Antoin "Tony" Rezko is in debt by $50 million and relies on "family" handouts of $7,500 a month to pay monthly costs, according to a previously sealed court transcript reviewed by ABC News.
I wish my family would handout $7500 a month. I could buy a nice little place in Chicago...with some adjacent land...
Blog friend Perry at Eidelblog finds a jewel on Senator McCain's website: a letter to Senator Obama dated February 6, 2006.
I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.
For the bruised and bitter staff around Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tuesday's death-defying victories in the Democratic presidential primaries in Ohio and Texas proved sweet indeed. They savored their wins yesterday, plotted their next steps and indulged in a moment of optimism. "She won't be stopped," one aide crowed.
And then Clinton's advisers turned to their other goal: denying Mark Penn credit.
With a flurry of phone calls and e-mail messages that began before polls closed, campaign officials made clear to friends, colleagues and reporters that they did not view the wins as validation for the candidate's chief strategist. "A lot of people would still like to see him go," a senior adviser said.
Clearly, these are the "bruised and bitter staff " we need to restore America's battered image in the world.
I don't know that the talk radio doyen is actually claiming credit, but I have heard a lot about this today. Rush Limbaugh tells his Republican listeners to vote for Senator Clinton in the primary. Too tactical by half for my taste. Even though I still root for her to win the nomination, I don't think I'd've done it.
I turned on Fox & Friends this morning to see the final numbers and the hosts were pushing this story hard. "We've received 1200 emails from Texas Republicans who claim they did!" I would question how many of the 1200 really did, but I'd further call that noise against millions of votes cast. Tom Bevan at RCP does a back-of-the-envelope and is pretty skeptical as well:
It's a close call, but unless the vast majority of Republicans who voted for Clinton (more than 80%) did so at Rush's suggestion, they probably didn't put Clinton over the top. They may have given her a point or two bump in the end, but it seems unlikely they were the deciding factor for Clinton last night.
If she is elected, these people are going to have to look themselves in the mirror for four to eight years. I still tell my wife to forgive herself for voting for Perot in 1992.
"The first rule of politics is, 'Never count out the Clintons.' Their political conglomerate, Clinton Inc., is like Glenn Close in that bathtub scene in the movie 'Fatal Attraction.' It always comes back to life a second or third time" -- columnist Salena Zito, writing in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Robert Zubrin did a podcast with Glenn Reynolds a while back, and I am thinking that he slipped a bit of biomass ethanol into the good Professor's drink. Glenn has since run about 754 positive blurbs about "The Zubrin Plan" to mandate that new cars sold in the US can run on gasoline or ethanol.
"You had me up until 'mandate,'" says I.
The proponents wash over the mandates with the assumption that these will replace other and worse pieces of legislation. The way Professor Mankiw sells his carbon tax as being better than cap and trade, The Zubrin Plan is always better than some other government abomination -- yet there's very little evidence our benighted 535 won't give us both. Reynolds and Zubrin claim it is better than CAFE standards and are likely right. But how bad would increased CAFE standards and mandated flex-fuel capability suck?
Zubrin defends himself from the mean old attackers at Science Magazine and the WSJ Ed Page -- and Reynolds dutifully links. Where Reynolds likes biomass ethanol, Brother Zubrin is still pretty pleased with the corn ethanol subsidies. By his math they provide a 600% ROI:
Let's start with the allegedly misbegotten incentives. The United States invests roughly $3 billion a year through a 51-cent per gallon credit to promote the production and use of renewable fuels like ethanol. The return on that investment? Taxpayers are saving approximately $6 billion that would otherwise be spent on counter-cyclical crop price supports, plus an additional $15 billion reduction in the country's petroleum import bill.
"The attacks continue." "That, not a blind and dangerous reliance on the status quo, should be our course." Defensive much? It's like watching Senator Clinton complain about getting the first question at debates.
I remain pretty excited about biomass. But I don't want to mandate solutions onto car manufacturers. Mr. Zubrin does his cause no favors with a petulant essay.
Fair to say that I acquired my dove-ness on inflation from Art Laffer and Larry Kudlow. Now, I am ready to follow Larry into greater concern. I still hold my lonely beliefs in the disinflationary effects of trade, technology, and productivity. And I am still moderately comfortable with a 2.5% core CPI.
But I am not comfortable with a $1.50 Euro. While I'm willing to defend all the Fed's actions to date as protection from deflationary shocks, I'll join Mr. Kudlow in suggesting no further cuts.
Kudlow presents a strong dollar as an opportunity for John McCain. I think he is on to something here. The GOP is always called callous because the Democrats are always quicker to enact a program to help those who are hurting. A dollar restoration platform could speak to those who are struggling, without abandoning free market principles. This is the way to close the Huckabee gap, to get Sam's Club and Country Club Republicans on board:
Folks are making fun of the dollar. Our enemies around the world are pointing to the unreliable dollar as evidence of American weakness. It’s as though the administration’s neglect of the dollar is “peso-izing” or “Latin-Americanizing” the greenback.
Something must be done to reverse this trend, and McCain is in a good spot to do it. Remember, McCain was a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution. Borrowing a page from the Gipper — who always said a great nation has a strong currency — he should argue on the campaign trail for a dollar surge.
For patriotic reasons alone it is time to reverse the decline of the dollar. A strong dollar should be emblematic of a strong America and a strong defense. Sen. McCain should insist that a President McCain will order the Treasury Department to back up its stale “strong dollar is in the nation’s interest” rhetoric with real open-market actions to boost the greenback. He should say that his Treasury will take actions to strengthen the greenback by conducting dollar diplomacy with Europe, Britain, Canada, and Japan. He should also state that a President McCain will appoint a Federal Reserve chief who will stop ignoring the dollar, as Fed Head Ben Bernanke did last week before Congress.
Jack Kemp and Phil Gramm could set up some fiscal and monetary benchmarks that would allow McCain to speak to oil and food prices, and underscore his advantages in strength and patriotism.
As crude-oil prices climb to historic highs, steep gasoline prices and the weak economy are beginning to curb Americans' gas-guzzling ways.
In the past six weeks, the nation's gasoline consumption has fallen by an average 1.1% from year-earlier levels, according to weekly government data.
This time, however, there is evidence that Americans are changing their driving habits and lifestyles in ways that could lead to a long-term slowdown in their gasoline consumption.
The article then points out that a rally in crude prices has kept this from feeding back into lower gas costs, so don't reprint the textbooks just yet.
I point it out because I see a new promising free market solution to our soi disant oil addiction every week, and yet the insane calls for gub'mint solutions come every day.
I think Economics textbooks will be updated in a few years to include the folly of subsidizing corn-based ethanol. A corn-producing state has two powerful Senators, one in either party, so the government throws [insert magnitude here]s of dollars at a "solution" which costs more, requires more energy, and emits more greenhouse gases -- a policy trifecta!
A great friend of this blog always made me laugh by calling the inexpensive -- and good quality -- guitars that Fender started importing from Mexico "NAFTA Strats." My positions on trade were not well developed at that time and I was suspicious of NAFTA because it had President Clinton's signature.
What a difference a decade makes. I think most of the less expensive Fenders are coming from the Pacific Rim and, as we have noted, the Democrats have turned away from one of the great achievements of the last Democratic president.
An editorial in the Financial Times makes the important point to dissever jobs and trade (WARNING: British spelling and punctuation):
The purpose of liberal trade is not to “create jobs” – the term is a badge of economic illiteracy – but to change the pattern of work and raise living standards overall. As with new technology, there are winners and losers. The right policy is not to turn back integration, any more than it would be to ban the fork-lift truck. It is to ensure that the overall gains are widely shared and the victims get help.
The saddest thing is that the Democrats who understand this reasoning believe that the party’s supporters are too dull to grasp it, and must be fed some protectionist red meat. The challenge, they believe, is to pander to ignorance while doing the least harm. Good policy rarely happens that way. And is the logic of trade really so hard to grasp – or to sell? Bill Clinton gambled on making the forward-looking case for economic integration, and NAFTA was one of his signal political wins. Today’s economic conditions are less favourable, to be sure, but the substance of the matter has not changed.
On this crucial issue, Mr Obama and the Democrats have been seized with a kind of intellectual and political cowardice. The implications of this lack of spine are grave – and extend beyond economics. The next Democratic administration promises to repair US alliances and standing in the world. A worthy aim. Yet its first act, the party says, will be to tell its closest neighbours that the rules they are all agreed to are defunct – and if they do not like it, tough luck.
Not NITRO-BURNING FUNNY CARS!, sorry, but this education video from Drew Carey at ReasonTV. Some parents and a caring principal at Locke High School in Watts try to wrestle a failing school away from the teachers' union.
Vikki Reyes has had it with Locke High, the school her daughters attend in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. She walked in on class one day and recalls “the place was just like a zoo!” Students had taken control, while the teacher sat quietly with a book.
Frank Wells has also had it with Locke High. When he became principal he says gangs ruled the campus. He tried to turn things around but ran into a “brick wall” of resistance from the school district and teachers union.
Locke seemed destined to languish in high crime and low test scores until Wells, Reyes, and many reform-minded teachers joined with a maverick named Steve Barr in an attempt to break free from the status quo. Their battle is just one example of the charter school education revolt that’s erupting across the nation.
Stunning. Please watch it. I elected to link instead of embed the video viewer on the blog because I have had some trouble with their player. One extra click if you don't mind.
SIDE NOTE: I remain suspicious about the propaganda aspect of video. One watches what Michael Moore can do when he controls the editing block, or VP Al Gore, or 60 minutes. I agree with every syllable, spoken or implied on this video -- yet part of me wonders is it is fair,
The Union stooge is easy to demonize and seems to deserve it. I just wonder now that every kid with a Mac can get his inner Reni Riefenstahl on. The ReasonTV stuff is well done and carries the credibility of the magazine. I read this morning that Nick Gillespie is leaving the book for the ReasonTV site.
I have cheered the rise of blogs, the long tail, and the "Armies of Davids" but it is naive to not appreciate the polemic power of plentiful and professional-looking video.