So let's recap - Krugman was wrong about the previous strategy having been "always bonds", wrong about the switch to equities being executed at the market peak, and wrong about possible losses amounting to "hundreds of billions" of dollars, we presume. He also misspelled "Guaranty". But he did find an opportunity to explain how stupid conservatives are. Mission Accomplished! -- Tom Maguire
Jeffrey A. Miron, senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University, says legalize:
Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead.
Violence was common in the alcohol industry when it was banned during Prohibition, but not before or after.
Violence is the norm in illicit gambling markets but not in legal ones. Violence is routine when prostitution is banned but not when it's permitted. Violence results from policies that create black markets, not from the characteristics of the good or activity in question.
The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize drugs. Fortuitously, legalization is the right policy for a slew of other reasons.
Prohibition of drugs corrupts politicians and law enforcement by putting police, prosecutors, judges and politicians in the position to threaten the profits of an illicit trade. This is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for prohibited industries but rare otherwise. Mexico's recent history illustrates this dramatically.
Prohibition erodes protections against unreasonable search and seizure because neither party to a drug transaction has an incentive to report the activity to the police. Thus, enforcement requires intrusive tactics such as warrantless searches or undercover buys. The victimless nature of this so-called crime also encourages police to engage in racial profiling.
One of my favorites pens a superb post on the Government's plan for GM, She points out that while the government's motives are to preserve as many jobs as possible, any real viability for the company will require huge cuts in employment and costs. If that's not good enough, she compares the Obama Administration's plan to one of my favorite South Park Episodes:
Mary Anastasia O'Grady sees a reflection of Latin American Economics as the current Congress and White House use the crisis (Hayek, call your office!) to expand government control over the finance system. Her expectation of its playing out in Mexico seems a shadow of how I expect it to play out here:
There the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ruled a corporatist state for 70 years and finally got voted out in 2000. Now, the old guard of the party is trying to launch a comeback. While most Mexicans see the economic contraction as a crisis, PRI "dinosaurs" (not unlike White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) view it as an opportunity. It offers them a chance to regain power and again practice the potent politics of economic nationalism.
"Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patton who said 'if you label me, you disregard me?'" Wayne's World viewers realize it sounds better in Cantonese.
Some comments, several posts down, blossomed into a discussion of how many axes are required to classify polities. Nanobrewer expressed some interest in continuing, and political Zoology has always been of great interest to me.
tg offers a good baseline with The Republican Liberty Caucus's RLC LiberGraph. My favorite two-axis graph is from Pew and I have cited it frequently in the context of asking my big-L libertarian friends how they expect to govern with a 9% electorate.
My gripe with the RLC's is its defining "personal liberty" as a scalar quantity. I tried to explain that I prefer a strict enforcement of just laws, and I turned to Bastiat (understandable and avoidable) to define them. I score myself high on the personal liberty scale. I'd go along with the whole libertarian agenda of legal drugs, prostitution, gay marriage, and helmetless motorcycle riding; things that do not harm me, you may do.
Two places I tend to stray off the libertarian reservation are my acceptance of strict -- almost authoritarian -- enforcement of laws that do hurt me. I cited Mayor Giuliani as an example. Let's make insider trading legal but let's put graffiti taggers in stocks in the public square It seems more than semantic to ask whether this knocks down my personal liberty score or represents a different axis.
My second libertarian heterodoxy and gripe with both the RLC and Pew scales are their domestic-only metrics. I cited Deepak Lal's Liberal International Economic Orders and my willingness to support an international military presence to defend the infrastructure of free world trade. That would get me kicked out of a Reason soiree before they ran out of cocktail wieners.
So I vote for Pew's, and I add a parameter for "crime tolerance." Many libertarian-types are willing to put up with a lot of crime to preserve expression and insulation from police.
I then add an international military axis from isolationist (Rep. Ron Paul) to adventurist (President Bush).
I propose four axes:
But then again, I'm just your typical, Authoritarian, Social Liberal, Economic Liberal, Adventurist...
"My specific reference was to dictatorial powers, that I thought that Secretary of the Treasury Geithner was asking for, where he would decide what companies to take over, he would decide under what circumstances, and let me tell ya, the American system was not built for one bureaucrat to decide whether or not they're gonna take your property. (...) And then look at what they're trying to do on the budget, where they're trying to ram through a resolution, to break the rules of the Senate, to be able to get through both an energy tax increase and a massive change in our health system on 51 votes, which is clearly a power grab of unprecedented proportions. I think dictatorial is a strong word, but it may frighteningly be the right word."
Is anyone else beginning to wonder why Obama doesn't seem concerned about re-election?
Last month Keith and I discussed Christian charity in the context of Rand's Objectivist philosophy that "altruism is incompatible with freedom, with capitalism, and with individual rights. One cannot combine the pursuit of happiness with the moral status of a sacrificial animal" she said.
The comments include a discussion of charity. Trey says, "I agree with Rand's political philosophy, but her ideas concerning charity go against my spiritual beliefs" and Laura says, "For me, and presumably for Trey, charity is a primary virtue" and "For a Christian, charity is not optional. We don't need to make other people be charitable, but we ourselves must be."
Naturally, I had to chime in.
Laura and Trey,
You may not need to make other people be charitable, but the leftists in our government do. Since you consider charity to be a "primary virtue" then you cannot fault the leftists for forcing others to "be charitable" (as you said you must be.)
This is how Christian altruism enables Marxist-Leninist policies to proliferate in western governments. (If something is "virtuous" then how is a government mandate for it not also virtuous?)
Honorable mention also for Rand's slapdown of Donahue over middle eastern oil (at the very end of the clip.)
Hat tip: Cyrano via email
UPDATE - 3/30, 01:57 EDT: Posted a new comment on Dr. Helen (number 26).
I certainly don't believe that government mandated virtue is virtuous, but was making the case that "charity as virtue" is part of the leftists' justification for implementing their statist policies within a government that, as Seerak so eloquently stated it, "vested moral and political sovereignty in the individual." Or at least did so at its inception. My intent was not to "explain Christianity to Christians" but to explain how the Christian tradition of charity is leveraged by non-Christians, anti-Christians even, to further their own collectivist, egalitarian aims.
The original subject here was Rand's opinion on charity, which you quoted from her as essentially "not a moral duty or a primary virtue." But one must also be consciously aware of the distinction between charity and altruism. Charity is, as Rand said in your quote, "helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them." But when a philosophy makes a virtue of helping other people without first making these individual value judgements or worse, after first judging them unworthy of help, then charity becomes altruism. This is the type of "charity" that is practiced by governments, for everyone must be treated "fairly" and "equally" in that context. It is not merely that this charity is forced upon the givers, but that the receivers can be completely void of any redeeming value and still receive.
At the beginning of the Donahue interview Rand said she regarded altruists as "evil." In an essay on Man's Rights by Ayn Rand she wrote: "Americas inner contradiction was the altruist-collectivist ethics. Altruism is incompatible with freedom, with capitalism and with individual rights. One cannot combine the pursuit of happiness with the moral status of a sacrificial animal." This is the moral and philosophical base for her assertion at the end of the Donahue interview, "If you made it yourself... then you should keep all of it. Why shouldn't you, you made it?"
For those who have further interest, I discussed this essay on my own blog where I attempted to show how America's founding fathers unwittingly laid the foundation for the socialist future we now see our country rushing towards. See: http://www.threesources.com/archives/006223.html
The 6:18 pm March 28 comment there by 'Seerak' is interesting too, and worth a read...
Like jk said, the Colorado wing is snowed in. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!
These pictures are a bit misleading. The snow around the house ranges from bare patches to 3 foot drifts, depending on where the wind left it. Out in the field it's about a foot deep all over. The 4-wheeler is just 2 wheel drive and I had trouble getting through in a few places.
More than a month ago, Tim Geithner announced a new website: financialstability.gov. The website will give Americans the transparency they deserve," he promised. As of today, however, the website is still under construction.
Are you feeling more confident about the adminstration now?
I got a kick out if it. But to be fair, there is quite a bit else going on on the webpage. I don't know what the wizkids at Treasury have planned (an animated Hamilton Avatar?) but I suspect they may have just forgotten to remove the "under construction" text.
Just more of that trademark ThreeSources fairness y'all tune in for.
Twice as many now believe 'U.S. evolving into socialist state'
Before Obama was elected president a good friend disputed our impassioned arguments that America is becoming a socialist country. "I've been to Europe many times and I know what socialism looks like. We're not there and we're not going there anytime soon." Every time I see him I resist the urge to ask him about this again. But TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence has been asking, and compared the answers now to those from last August.
A thumbnail summary of the results is that among Republicans and independents, the group who believes America is becoming a socialist country has doubled (from 1/3 to 2/3 of Republicans and from 1/4 to 1/2 of independents). Democrats, more eager to support the ideology than speak its name, were more likely to see socialism in our future under Bush than Obama.
The link is a brief essay and explains the results of the larger poll as representing three groups: Undeclared Socialists, Passionate Capitalists, and Hybrid Deniers. (Worth reading just to see those in the squishy middle called "deniers.")
Investor's Business Daily reports that CIA cybersecurity experts know he fixed his 2004 recall referendum.
Two weeks ago, at a field hearing before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in Orlando, Fla., CIA's Steve Stigall cited Venezuela, along with Macedonia and Ukraine, as examples of the risks of electronic voting.
Of course, most of us "knew" this at the time, and many had evidence:
While Carter was declaring Venezuela a democracy, the scam was not entirely unnoted. Mathematicians at universities like Yale, Johns Hopkins, MIT, University of Santa Cruz and in Venezuela all found a "very subtle algorithm" in the voting software that adjusted the ballot count in Chavez's favor, the Herald noted.
The court whiffed on McConnell v FEC. But the WSJ Ed Page reports the Roberts Court may get a shot at restoring the First Amendment in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
With Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito has previously taken a cautious, piecemeal approach to campaign finance law. But as the current case shows, McCain-Feingold is a blunt instrument that gives federal bureaucrats the power to decide what kind of campaign advertising is allowed during an election. If "Hillary: the Movie" isn't allowed, then Michael Moore's documentaries should be banned, and newspaper endorsements would also be suspect despite a specific carve-out in the law. If newspapers didn't have that carve-out, then maybe so many editors wouldn't cheerlead for this kind of law.
McCain-Feingold is a frontal assault on political speech, and President Bush's decision to sign it while claiming to dislike it was one of the worst moments of his eight years in office. Citizens United gives the Justices a new opportunity to chip away at this attack on the First Amendment, and even better if they use it to declare the whole thing unconstitutional.
Amen on that's being one of the lowest moments in two W terms. I'd add McConnell v FEC as one of the lowest of the recent Court.
A good friend of this blog sends a link to The New Yorker (and yes, the page has a cartoon in it). David Owen makes one of the more intelligent and compelling cases that energy consumption is required to advance human comfort and prosperity. Owen flatly states that "the worlds principal source of man-made greenhouse gases has always been prosperity."
The recession makes that relationship easy to see: shuttered factories dont spew carbon dioxide; the unemployed drive fewer miles and turn down their furnaces, air-conditioners, and swimming-pool heaters; struggling corporations and families cut back on air travel; even affluent people buy less throwaway junk.
Where Owen diverges from your average right wing, DAWG-denyin', knuckle-draggin' whacko is that he thinks it is great. He only worries that efforts to revitalize the world economy might succeed -- and concomitantly raise carbon footprints.
The environmental benefits of economic decline, though real, are fragile, because they are vulnerable to intervention by governments, which, understandably, want to put people back to work and get them buying non-necessities againthrough programs intended to revive ordinary consumer spending (which has a big carbon footprint), and through public-investment projects to build new roads and airports (ditto). Our best intentions regarding conservation and carbon reduction inevitably run up against the realities of foreclosure and bankruptcy and unemployment. How do we persuade people to drive lessan environmental necessitywhile also encouraging them to revive our staggering economy by buying new cars?
My e-mailer suggests (so pointedly I wish had share permission) that these people have no plans to join us in the caves when we are driven back. They'll spin off a check for carbon offsets before they climb aboard he Gulfstream. But I do appreciate Owen's honesty.
As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.
Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.
The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to name and shame, and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.
Yeah, well not New York Attorneys General. Maybe Senator Grassley will travel to this man's home and kill him with a sword in front of his family.
Michael Barone has a great column today in US News and World Report. He notes a little flaw in the current narrative of the need for more regulation. "[Geithner] is asking the most unregulated parts of the financial systemhedge funds, private equity firmsto bail out the most regulated part of the financial systemthe banks."
Democrats like Barack Obama and Barney Frank, at least on the campaign trail or in sound bites, have portrayed the financial crisis as the product of deregulation. The solution, they say, is more regulation. In that vein Frank, one of the brainiest members of Congress, is proposing that the Federal Reserve become a regulator of systemic risk, with the power to regulate firms that because of their size or strategic position are of systemic importance.
As always for Barone, great stuff, plenty germane the day after the President told us the problem with AIG was that the governmnet didn't have enough authority.
If your face is too ugly to be on TV or your voice too gravelly to be on the radio, you can still write copy for them or the teleprompter (hell, be a Presidential speechwriter even!)... because those media models seem to be surviving.
With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.
"This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat," said Senator Benjamin Cardin.
A Cardin spokesman said the bill had yet to attract any co-sponsors, but had sparked plenty of interest within the media, which has seen plunging revenues and many journalist layoffs.
Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.
Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.
So a newspaper's liberal bias becomes more important in the articles.
Does anyone else remember the Candlestickmaker and Whale Oil Distillers Revitalization Acts of 1880 and 1894? The Telegrapher and Railroad Brakeman's Relief Act of 1902?
You read that right. Instapundit links to a Jennifer Rubin piece that claims Specter's vote may kill card check:
But things havent worked out as planned for Big Labor. Red state Democrats were balking. Democratic operative Lanny Davis has been peddling alternatives in hopes of gaining support for the bill.
Then today Sen. Arlen Specter, whose vote would be needed to cut off the anticipated filibuster in the Senate, uncorked what appeared to be a knockout blow to Big Labor. He finally signaled his opposition on the floor of the Senate after weeks of speculation and the emergence of primary challengers. He announced that he would not support cloture, although he left the door open for more modest amendments to federal labor law.
Sometimes you gotta love pragmatism. This guy infuriates you 20 times a year. But, every now and then, he gives you a leadership vote or stuns you with a little Republicanism. Had Pat Toomey (may the Club for Growth bless his holy name!) won the primary, He would've likely lost the election and PA would seat one more union stooge. And we'd have card check.
Commenter V the K (don't know, don't want to know) at GayPatriot on the paucity of MSM coverage for Tea Party protests:
You know what would be a fun experiment though? Call the media and let them know theres going to be a big protest against the War in Afghanistan, or against Big Oil, or against fat cat executives. Something like that. Then, when the media shows up, all the protesters drop their left-wing cause signs and pick-up their tea party signs.
Professor Mankiw picks up on a bleak datum in a great post about expected growth rates. Much has been made of the differential between CBO, White House, and private sector estimates. No one doubts that the growth rate will determine when and if we ever get out of this insane spending. But there is no shortage of dissent on the expected rates.
The CBO forecast includes -- and Mankiw highlights -- a somber thought:
Projected growth from 2015 to 2019 is also below historical average growth rates, a difference that is more than accounted for by slower growth in the labor force because of the retirement of the baby boom generation. Over the postwar period, the labor force grew at an average annual rate of 1.6 percent; by contrast, we project it to grow only 0.4 percent per year in the period from 2015 through 2019. As a result, potential GDP grew 3.4 percent per year on average in the postwar period, but CBO expects that it will grow by only 2.4 percent annually (allowing for a tad more productivity growth) in the 2015-2019 period.
No, we're not Europe yet -- but we are not postwar America either. The birthrate is unlikely to provide the labor force we will need to work out of the coming deficit.
Let the record show that I am not a demography-is-destiny guy or even a deficit hawk. But to ignore the economic ramifications of slower population growth -- at a time when it will be needed -- is careless. The two million HB-1 visas idea is looking better to me all the time!
A good friend of this blog sends a link. Arnold Kling explains the latest Treasury plan, in March terms:
Suppose that a week ago I had entered a March Madness pool, paid $10, and filled out a bracket.
Suppose that right now my bracket is looking weak, with only about half the teams I picked to make the sweet 16 still in the tournament. I have not been mathematically eliminated from winning the pool, but I need extremely good luck the rest of the way. (Incidentally, this example is hypothetical. I don't follow college basketball, and I don't enter any pools.)
At this point, my entry is no longer worth $10. If I were to sell it, I might get fifteen cents for it. If I were a bank, my bracket would be a toxic asset.
Now, along comes Tim Geithner with a fistful of taxpayer dollars..."
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A handful of senior executives working within American International Group Inc's controversial financial products unit have resigned, said a company spokeswoman late on Monday.
The division is at the heart of the financial problems that brought AIG to the brink of bankruptcy last September, saved only by a taxpayer bailout that has now swelled to as much as $180 billion.
The spokeswoman declined to specify the exact number of resignations, noting they were expected to be "manageable," and said there were indications that more will follow.
Let's recap. We the People bought an 80% stake in AIG. Now we're chasing away any competent people who might be able to run it, unless they have no objection to being remunerated like a forklift driver.
Now, we'll ask investors to "partner" with the taxpayer. The sales pitch is: "If you lose money, that's great. If you make money, we'll demonize you and bill-of-attainder your ass."
I got a book for my Kindle, and I confess I did not pay much attention to its background. The book is titled "James Madison and the Future of Limited Government. edited by John Samples" And a quick search brings up the CATO page of a symposium featuring all the essayists in the book. CATO offers a paperback and an ebook; Amazon has only the Kindle edition.
I am not yet all the way through it yet but it is scarily reflective of current ThreeSources discussion. Madison on nullification, Madison on tyranny of the majority, Madison on the amendment process and potential to devolve into little-d democracy. I'll post a review corner pretty soon, but I would highly highly recommend getting your hands on it where you can. Amazon has a free Kindle reader app for the iPhone and iTouch.
It's not long but it is comprehensive and thoughtful.
It did inspire my melancholy comment on the difficulty of structuring limited government. We traffic in a lot of certainty around these parts. And I confess when it comes to economics I am pretty sure that the principles I espouse will optimize prosperity and individual freedom. But giving people the right amount of control over the law that governs them is somewhere between voodoo and art. I'm happy that we added the 13th Amendment, but I weep that the same process allowed the 18th.
I don't think anybody could have done better than Madison, and I wouldn't trust our current political class to create the menu for a lemonade stand much less seat a Constitutional Convention. Perhaps we accept the current Constitution with its flaws and failures, but find a political class that will live within its definitions.
WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency has sent a proposal to the White House finding that carbon dioxide is danger to public health, in a step that could trigger the enforcement of stringent emissions rules under the Clean Air Act.
If approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget, the endangerment finding could make regulations of greenhouse gases across the economy tougher than those prepared but not approved by the Bush administration. The EPA submitted the proposed rule to the White House on Friday, according to federal records published Monday.
The executive branch can control every aspect of the economy that uses energy. "Stroke of the pen, law of the land." It's back to the caves, friends -- game over.
Some serious choir-preaching to the ThreeSources faithful, but Don Luskin posts his SmartMoney.com column today, and it is a gem:
I've been writing here over the last several weeks that the big problem the stock market now faces is the extreme instability of the political environment. I rest my case. Now, unless this foaming mad-dog of a Congress can be subdued, the wonderful stock market rally of the last couple weeks can be declared over and done, and it's back to the bear marketwith a vengeance.
And then the Fed can print all the money it wants, and buy all the mortgage-backed securities it wants. And all we'll get for it is a lot of inflation. If it's going to turn into growth, then Congress is going to have to stop changing the rules of the game constantly. Without stable rules, it's not even a game. It's nothing but a street-fight.
A successful economy depends more than anything else on the rule of law. There has to be a stable set of rules governing the interactions between economic players, and between players and the government. Sometimes the rules need to be changed, but there need to be rules about how to change the rules.
In endorsing Obama last year, the Washington Post described the next president as "a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building." This would be a good time to employ those talents. A show of leadership, including a firm pledge to veto any punitive tax legislation that reaches his desk, could help calm the storm that threatens to make the current crisis much more destructive.-- James Taranto
I don't even have a comment for this. Just make sure to watch the whole thing, especially toward the end where Waters explains why she doesn't think that Congress should read the bills they vote for -- SERIOUSLY!
I cannot vouch for historical accuracy of this film. Several items seemed to contravene my understanding of events or basic beliefs about the personnel involved.
Disclaimers aside, "Cadillac Records," based on the the true story of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess is a lot of fun. Narrated by Cedric the Entertainer -- who makes an awesome Willie Dixon -- the movie tells the tale of Len who goes all in to create the studio and label. He plays pretty fast and loose with the rules but creates a viable enterprise and makes stars out of a young Muddy Waters and younger Little Walter. Chess does payola without apology and takes all the money coming in, capriciously providing Cadillacs and houses in lieu on any real accounting or belief in what ThreeSourcers might call property rights.
That was accepted as basic exploitation when I grew up, but the Len Chess character makes a pretty good defense of himself as providing positive impact. Howlin' Wolf, who was always known as an astute businessman, hurls a few bon mots at his less sophisticated colleagues. "I own this truck, it don't own me," he tells Muddy and his Cadillac. Later on, Muddy asks Chess for money for Little Walter's funeral and Wolf throws in a big pile of bills saying "I don't need no daddy."
The last half of the movie is lifted by the superb performance of Mos Def as Chuck Berry -- and the show is stolen by Beyonce Knowles's Etta James.
Great music, great fun. If you want history read a history book -- I give it four stars. I should confess that I am not a scholar of the period and that my misgivings do not constitute proof of inaccuracy. There were just a few parts that lacked verisimilitude.
Sounds like a great name for a band or a fruity drink with an umbrella in it, but SayUncle avuncularly posits that it is an urban myth that deserves to die. Alone. In the hot sun.
It keeps coming. Except that its not real. Testimony from law enforcement officials concludes that, generally, military hardware is not flowing into Mexico from the United States. We gun nuts have been saying that for years. More testimony here. The experts on the panel do not conclude that more gun control is the answer.
But this canard continues to be parroted by the press and the anti-gunners, but I repeat myself.
Most of us, I'm sure, are familiar with the idea that "left" vs. "right" or "liberal" vs. "conservative" are imprecise definitions of political philosophy. What I've promoted instead is that political structures are organized along a continuum from fully collectivized to complete individual liberty.
This excellent video presentation by YouTube's "notdemocracy" describes the balance as one between "total government" and "no government." Five basic types of government cover the spectrum: monarchy - oligarchy - democracy - republic - anarchy. But only two of these are "stable" forms of government: oligarchy and republic. The other three naturally evolve into one of those two. (Hint: Everything becomes an oligarchy except a republic.)
Readers who watch this will understand why I consider it so important to fight for the integrity of the original Constitution, which means removing antithetical amendments to it such as the 16th.
No, not John Stossel, but jk has got to step into the breech and defend President Obama. The President has apologized for his "Special Olympics" remark.
He expressed his disappointment and he apologized, in a way that was very moving, [Special Olympics Chairman Tim] Shriver said on ABC's Good Morning America. Its important to see that words hurt, and words do matter. And these words that in some respect can be seen as humiliating or a put-down of people with special needs do cause pain, and they do result in stereotypes."
No, no, no. I claim moral authority as the holder of a valid handicapped parking permit, and defiantly say "if you were offended by that remark, you have worse problems than your disability."
I disagree with the President on seemingly every matter of policy and economics, but I will not take up this particular cudgel. Obama was making a joke at his own expense and I cannot see it as "humiliating or a put-down of people with special needs."
Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday advocated adjusting trade duties as a "weapon" to protect U.S. manufacturing, just a day after one of China's top climate envoys warned of a trade war if developed countries impose tariffs on carbon-intensive imports.
Mr. Chu, speaking before a House science panel, said establishing a carbon tariff would help "level the playing field" if other countries haven't imposed greenhouse-gas-reduction mandates similar to the one President Barack Obama plans to implement over the next couple of years.
Well, a flat Earth would be a level playing field.
WASHINGTON Few supporters are answering President Barack Obama's call for nationwide house-party gatherings this weekend to build grass-roots support for his economic stimulus plan.
A McClatchy survey of sign-up rosters for a score of cities across the country revealed only 34 committed attendees in Tacoma, Wash., as of midafternoon Friday; in Fort Worth, Texas, only 54, and in Sacramento, Calif., just 78.
Man, I so totally forgot about that. I know all ThreeSourcers want to gather to build grass-roots support for the stimulus plan. Where are we meeting?
Hat-tip: Instapundit, who suggests the Tea Parties are doing better.
Hearing that the Blue Devils did not make the Presidential Final Four bracket (now Silence Dogood is sorry he voted for him), Coach Mike Krzyzewski suggested "[A]s much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."
AIG's managers may be this week's political target of choice, but the message to every banker in America, indeed every business in America, is that you could be next. At least we haven't yet seen the resolution that was proposed in the English parliament, in 1720 in the aftermath of the South Sea bubble, that bankers be tied in sacks filled with snakes and tipped into the Thames. But it's still early days. -- WSJ Ed Page
Good line, but the editorial includes a more important and serious point. Many of us at ThreeSources have been willing to say that if government money comes with restrictions that are too onerous, "Good!" But there are two flaws. First, a lot of Banks had this money crammed down their throat -- talk about yer predatory lending:
One consequence will be that every bank executive in America will try to repay his Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, money as rapidly as possible. The political punishment for accepting public money is becoming higher than the benefits of the extra capital cushion. According to Wells Fargo Chairman Richard Kovacevich, "If we were not forced to take the TARP money, we would have been able to raise private capital." On Tuesday, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis joined the rush for the TARP exits, saying he hoped to pay back the $45 billion BofA has received by 2010 if not sooner. It's hard to argue with the sentiment.
But the other problem with mixing pepper sauce into the lemonade to keep folks away is that the marginal banks will not accept it and only the most troubled institutions will consent to participate. We'll inject liquidity in all the zombies and let banks with the flu waste away (couple too many metaphors, but you get my drift).
If you say the way to fix this is to have government stay out altogether, it's hard to argue.
But now, legislators are close to passing a seat-belt law under a push by Democrats who gained control of the state Senate, House and governorship in 2006 for the first time in a hundred years. The Democrats have been boosted in the polls by a wave of migration from other states, including famously liberal Massachusetts, over the past decade.
This, good people, is why the "liberaltarian" Democrat-libs will never be anything. Down deep, they just do not get the idea of liberty.
I had read a little bit of this, but the BBC has a nice compendium of "The Wizard of Oz as Economic Parable:"
At a time when some economists fear an onset of deflation, and economic certainties melt away like a drenched wicked witch, what can be learnt from Oz?
In 1964, high school teacher Henry Littlefield wrote an article outlining the notion of an underlying allegory in Baum's book. He said it offered a "gentle and friendly" critique of Populist thinking, and the story could be used to illuminate the late 19th Century to students.
Since its publication, teachers have used this take on the tale to help classes understand the issues of the era.
Timely and germane. Sadly, I also learned recently that E. Y. Harburg who wrote all those fantastic lyrics for the movie "She's not only merely dead, she's reall most sincerely dead" was a Communist and a Moonbat. Sigh.
Here's a new topic for Mankiw to ponder: Screw the "carbon footprint" nonsense (on the basis of Global Warming cum Climate Change being no more than a massive swindle - sorry TG, I'm still not convinced) and focus on the principle of subsidy inflows and outflows, for individuals and corporations.
A Bangladeshi blogger talked about it last July as 'Subsidy-neutral lifestyles and businesses.' He's got a good start but some of his underlying ideas are crap. (Such as "... some part of that fuel price is being paid by those poor kids ...") But he captures the essential idea in his closing paragraphs:
There is also another dimension. In many capital markets of the world, there are separate indexes that include only companies that fulfill certain kind of benchmark. For example, an investor who is looking for Sharia complaint investment, there is an index in NYSE that helps you do that. If you are looking for companies who are environmentally responsible (i.e. green), there are many services available to help with that.
In line with this, in Bangladesh, some civil society or NGO organiation should offer a service to identify the amount of money that different business houses are getting as government subsidy, they get it through different generalized subsidy mechanisms of the government (e.g. fuel subsidy, electricity subsidy, water subsidy, etc) even though the business might not need it. Once that information is public, the individual companies can try to become subsidy-neutral. Once they become subsidy-neutral, only the amounts above that should be treated as tax-deductible CSR expense, if government wants to go that route.
Any takers for this initiative, to offer services to the individuals and to the businesses, so that they can become subsidy-neutral if they want to?
But this omits the other half of the subsidy-balance equation: How much did each business/individual pay in taxes, fees, regulatory compliance costs, etcetera, etcetera?
Let all the peoples of the world see an objective calculation of this balance - for individuals, for corporations, for governments. Then and only then can we engage in a conversation about "fairness."
WASHINGTON Talking tougher by the hour, livid Democrats confronted beleaguered insurance giant AIG with an ultimatum Tuesday: Give back $165 million in post-bailout bonuses or watch Congress tax it away with emergency legislation.
Read that again, Read it in context if you want. These bonuses were part of people's compensation package (probably in some part because of government meddling that people take more pay as "bonus," but let's not even go there now). Now the Federal government says "take that pay back, break your contract" or we will tax it away from you (AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO'S EVER HEARD OF A BILL OF ATTAINDER?)
Mexican truckers, the bete noir of The Teamsters, got smacked down. Now our friends to the South retaliate:
Mexico said it would increase tariffs on 90 industrial and agricultural goods, likely to include politically sensitive farm products, after Congress last week killed a pilot programme allowing a limited number of Mexican trucks on American highways. Mexico obtained a judicial ruling in 2001 under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) allowing it to impose such sanctions, but has held off since the US introduced the pilot scheme.
So glad that everybody loves us now that Obama is President!
By rejecting Mexican trucks, the Administration violated the North American Free Trade Agreement and picked a needless fight with a good neighbor. The White House scrambled yesterday in the wake of the Mexican announcement, saying it wants to work with Mexico to come up with a new trucking plan. But unilateral treaty violations aren't the way to get other nations to negotiate concessions.
President Obama may think 90 products is no big deal, but from such little tariff fights do larger trade wars sometimes develop. Especially in a time of economic hardship, populist and nationalist passions are dangerous and can be hard to control. Mark this episode as another early example in which Mr. Obama has refused to stand up to a powerful Democratic interest group, with damaging consequences.
Pay no attention to those Demagogues Behind the Gavel
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R - C2H5OH) is in the news. The headline reads "Senator suggests AIG execs should kill themselves"
"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," Grassley said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.
Now, I was going to write a humorous post and say, finally, I agree with the Senior Senator from Ethanol on something. But by the time I clicked "New Blog Entry" it wasn't funny anymore.
Let's recap. These villains, guilty of the crime of selling insurance and financial services, have lost more than anybody in the downturn: as a percentage or in dollars, nobody has lost a lot more. Barney Frank and President Obama want to take modest bonuses away. Don't look at the total number the AP shouts at you, AIG is a huge company and much of their pay comes from bonuses.
Now a (kinda, sorta) Republican on the banking committee -- let's not spend too much time discerning how much jest is involved -- suggests this "honorable" solution.
How about you, Senator? How about your lack of oversight in your 673 years on the banking committee? How about Rep. Frank in the House and all the apologists for Fannie and Freddie in both chambers? We want scalps from business but automatic pay raises for legislators.
It is so awesome now that President Obama is in charge that everyone once again loves the United States. Like, say Colombia:
"The treatment we have received from sectors within U.S. society and by sectors of that country's Congress is unjust to Colombia. And I will tell you something more: it is undignified. Look, like many Colombians I have felt humiliated when they mistreated us," [Colombia's vice-President Francisco Santos] told newspaper El Tiempo in an interview published Sunday.
"While we are not just allies and friends, but the only country in Latin America where the United States has a positive image, they mistreat us anyway. And how! This is the cost we need to evaluate when discussing plan Colombia," Santos added.
Now that we've sent that unilateralist cowboy back to Texas, I can hold my head high once again.
Oh man, has everybody seen this? (Very not safe-for-work language, unless you actually work on a dock as a longshoreperson.) Funny stuff!
Hat-tip: Don Luskin, who is concerned that AIG will get the same %^&*! treatment. We The People now own it, and our new Democrat Overlords are convinced that we should not pay anybody more than $95K to run it.
"I'm telling you right now," Mr. [Alec] Baldwin declared, "if these tax breaks are not reinstated into the budget, film production in this town is going to collapse, and television is going to collapse and it's all going to go to California." Well, well. Apparently taxes do matter, at least when it comes to filming "30 Rock" in Manhattan.....-- Dr. Helen
"There are certain things only a government can do," Obama says in the address. "And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and do not cause us harm."
That's all of politics in a nutshell my friends I'm not sure that that appeared in the print edition or is a blog feature, but click through if you want to read about how evil Bush politicized, underfunded and ignored the FDA at the expense of our safety. (You try doing all three of those!)
But this is what one of my favorite bass players would call "the crux of the biscuit." How many voters believe that? I'm afraid too many. A Republican-leaning relative of mine assured me one day that the only reason the grocery store doesn't sell bad meat is USDA regulation. Most people treat me like a crazy old delusional uncle when I tell them stories of the FDA, ImClone, Sam Waksal, and Martha Stewart. They think I am making it up.
A little flare up a few weeks ago did not rekindle (Why didn't Amazon name the Kindle 2 the "ReKindle?") a continuing discussion of what blog friend nanobrewer calls "dramatech."
I had worried that the new "Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles" was heading in a bad direction, and I have to confess that I was not sure Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku's "Dollhouse" was going to live up to my overinflated expectations.
I never mind admitting I was wrong, as long as it is in very inconsequential matters, and I must say Mea Maxima Culpa, I was way off. I haven't really enjoyed a show, while it was airing, in decades. I watch things I expect I will like on DVD or digital delivery. But I confess I have fallen for FOX's Friday lineup in a big and geeky way. I started watching Sarah Connor just for Summer Glau, and the show got better and better. I can't wait for Friday now to see "my shows;" I like my work well enough that Friday's otherwise another day.
The plotline and the pacing of the Terminator series is pitch perfect. I think they are losing some of the artistic cinematography and creative use of music that captured me last season, but I am hooked on the plot and characters. I read that the show hurts for female viewers and I wonder if it is because all the interesting characters are women. Watching Jesse command the USS Jimmy Carter in 2027 opens another window into that complex personality. But it occurred to me that guys are all drones in the hive. They don't really do anything interesting -- I hope they're at least attractive.
[Spoiler alert for Dollhouse...]
Dollhouse is starting to show its Whedonesque manner. "Oh please oh please oh please," I said last night "please let the ATF be the bad guys and not the Branch Davidians cult." I've spoiled too much already for those with it sitting on your TiVo, but let's say that there was some classic Whedon ambiguity.
Whedon's real gift is the story arc. He's good at dialog and presentation. But you have to watch his shows in seasons. One or two episodes may or may not grab you, but the characters travel in multi-seasonal story arcs. When Spike reads his poem to the coffeehouse in "Not Fade Away," an arc is resolved that spanned multiple series -- and you feel that life has meaning. There are some nice subplots brewing on Dollhouse; I hope the good folks at FOX have the foresight and perseverance to see it through. I'll be there.
I thought these were cool and I could not resist when Professor Reynolds said they had dropped to $69.95. It just showed up, and this thing is major cool. Look, it even does dogs:
UPDATE: I have a crazy idea. I just emailed the singer in "Berkeley Square" to see if she'd like to join me in a project. I want to do a Virtual Coffeehouse. Each week I will put up a new YouTube of a single song. I will put up a web page with archives, but want to release them serially, like Charles Dickens. Low tech, no overdubs -- just try to catch a live coffeehouse vibe.
I'll let you know how it goes. I'll link here and on Facebook when anything happens. In the meantime, shoot me any ideas you have that would make it better. I said I was not gonna do stuff like this...
[Senator Kent (D - ND)] Conrad, for his part, has been reminding everyone that he was a key player at the president's Fiscal Responsibility Summit -- which took place somewhere after his votes for the $33 billion increase in children's health insurance and $787 billion stimulus, though before his vote for the $410 billion omnibus and its 9,000 earmarks. He's also been talking about the deficit Mr. Obama "inherited," just to keep things in perspective as his committee works on the president's $3,600,000,000,000 budget blueprint. -- Kim Strassel, WSJ Ed Page
WASHINGTON Congress' automatic pay raises are in little immediate danger of being scrapped for good, even with the economy slumping and millions of Americans unemployed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday would not commit to holding a vote on a bill to do away with the annual cost-of-living increases. She pointed out that Congress recognized the economic crisis by voting this week to skip next year's raise.
In so doing, though, lawmakers defeated a Senate measure to abolish the automatic pay hikes and force them into the deep discomfort of casting actual votes to give themselves raises.
No one is rushing to defend the current system in a tanking economy that has rendered the annual raise a quaint memory for many outside Washington.
Hey, when you're getting the job done, you deserve to get paid!
The absence of any statutes creating a specific liability for subtitle A income taxes means, quite simply, that federal income taxes are totally and completely voluntary, in the common everyday meaning of that term. Liability only begins when Form 1040 is signed.
So it would seem that refusing to complete a tax return, or even completing it and refusing to sign it, may legally absolve an individual of any federal income tax liability. I met a man who actually adhered to this strategy in the early 1990's. At the time I thought he was a madman. Now I believe I've found his justification.
Further stunning proof that these taxes are truly voluntary can be found at IRC section 3402(n). Here, Congress has authorized a form called the withholding exemption certificate abbreviated WEC. The term withholding exemption certificate occurs a total of seventeen (17) times in that one statute alone.
However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has never created an official form for the WEC.
I haven't yet found any information on the status of the legal action since the date of this press release. (Is there an honest judge left anywhere in the United States Federal Government?) Here, however, is Counselor Mitchell's brief essay "Let's Dismantle the IRS: This Racket is Busted"
Lets Dismantle IRS:
This Racket is Busted
Paul Andrew Mitchell
Private Attorney General
All Rights Reserved without Prejudice
Its time to dismantle the Internal Revenue Service. This organization has outlived its usefulness.
The hunt was on, several years ago, when activists like this writer confirmed that IRS was never created by any Act of Congress. It cannot be found in any of the laws which created the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The U.S. Supreme Court quietly admitted as much, at footnote 23 in Chrysler Corp. v. Brown. In a nation governed by the rule of law, this omission is monumental.
The search for its real origins has taken this nation down many blind alleys, so convoluted and complicated are the statutes and regulations which govern its employees rarely, if ever.
The best explanation now favors its links to Prohibition, the ill-fated experiment in outlawing alcohol.
The Womens Temperance Movement, we believe, was secretly underwritten by the petroleum cartel, to perfect a monopoly over automotive fuels. Once that monopoly was in place, Prohibition was repealed, leaving alcohol high and dry as the preferred fuel for cars and trucks, and leaving a federal police force inside the several States, to extort money from the American People.
All evidence indicates that IRS is an alias for the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA), which was declared unconstitutional inside the several States by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1935. The result of the high Courts decision in U.S. v. Constantine confined that FAA to federal territories, like Puerto Rico, where Congress is the state legislature.
Further confirmation can be found in a decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Used Tire International, Inc. v. Manual Diaz-Saldana, which identified the latter as the real Secretary of the Treasury. The Code of Federal Regulations for Title 27 also identifies this other Secretary as an office in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
This is ominous data. It serves to suggest that IRS has no authority whatsoever to mail envelopes from the Department of the Treasury. Such obvious deception is prohibited by federal mail fraud statutes, and defined as a predicate to racketeering.
Moreover, the vagueness now proven to frequent the Internal Revenue Code forces a legal conclusion that the entire Code is necessarily void, read no legal effect. The high Courts test for vagueness is obviously violated when men and women of common intelligence cannot agree on its correct meaning, its proper construction, or its territorial application.
Take, for instance, a statute at IRC section 7851. Here, Congress has said that all the enforcement provisions in subtitle F shall take effect on the day after the date this title is enacted. These provisions include, for example, filing requirements, penalties for failing to file, and tax evasion.
Title 26 has never been enacted into positive law, rendering every single section in subtitle F a big pile of spaghetti, with no teeth whatsoever. Throughout most federal laws, the consistent legislative practice is to use the term this title to refer to a Title of the United States Code.
To make matters worse, conscientious courts (an endangered species) have ruled that taxes cannot be imposed without statutes assigning a specific liability to certain parties.
There are no statutes creating a specific liability for taxes imposed by subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code. This is the set of statutes that impose the federal income tax.
Look at it this way: if Congress imposed a tax on chickens, would that necessarily mean that the chickens are liable for the tax?
Obviously not! Congress would also need to define the farmer, or the consumer, or the wholesaler, as the party liable for paying that tax. Chickens, where are your tax returns?
Without a liability statute, there can be no liability.
This now opens another, deeper layer in this can of rotting worms. If IRS is really using fear tactics to extort an unlawful debt, then it qualifies for careful scrutiny, and prosecution, under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act aka RICO.
How fitting, and how ironic, that IRS is legally domiciled in Puerto RICO.
When we get down to brass tacks, we find that Congress encourages private Citizens to investigate and bust rackets, mainly because it perceived a shortage of public prosecutors talented enough to enforce RICO statutes against organized crime syndicates.
This shortage is the real reason why the RICO statute at 18 U.S.C. 1964 awards triple damages to any party who prevails, using the civil remedies it provides. And, happily, State courts like the Superior Court of California also enjoy original jurisdiction to litigate and issue these remedies.
All of this would approach comedy in the extreme, were it not also the case that IRS launders huge sums of money, every day, into foreign banks chiefly owned by the families that founded the Federal Reserve system.
Did you think the Federal Reserve was federal government? Guess again!
One of the biggest shocks of the last century was an admission by President Reagans Grace Commission, that none of the income taxes collected by IRS goes to pay for any federal government services.
Those taxes are paying interest to these foreign banks, and benefit payments to recipients of entitlement programs, like federal pension funds.
So, the next time your neighbors accuse you of being unpatriotic for challenging the IRS, we recommend that you demand from them proof that IRS is really funding any federal government services, like air traffic control, the Pentagon, the Congress, the Courts, or the White House.
Dont hold your breath.
Honestly, when all the facts are put on a level table top, there is not a single reason why America should put up with this massive fiscal fraud for one more day.
Its now time to dismantle the Internal Revenue Service.
Keeping all those laundered funds inside this country will result in economic prosperity without precedent in our nations history.
Lets bury IRS beneath the Titanic, where it can rust in peace forever along with the rest of the planets jellyfish.
America deserves to be a living, thriving Republic, not another victim of Plank Number Two in the Communist Manifesto.
About the Author:
Paul Andrew Mitchell is a Private Attorney General and
Webmaster of the Supreme Law Library on the Internet:
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Falls Silent in Face of SUBPOENA for Tax Liability Statutes
31 Questions and Answers about the IRS
What Is the Federal Income Tax?
Electronic Censors Found at U.C. Berkeleys Law School
Private Attorney General Backs UCBs Graduate Instructors
Paul Mitchell Blasts Clinton, Rubin for Racketeering
Paul Mitchell Applauds House Vote to Kill IRC
Paul Mitchell Urges Nation to Boycott IRS
The Kick-Back Racket: PMRS
Congresswoman Suspected of Income Tax Evasion
Our Proposal to Save Social Security
Charitable Contributions by the Federal Reserve
Legal Notice in re Withholding Exemption Certificates
Where goods cross borders, armies (and terrorists?) don't.
Daniel Doron proposes free trade as a not-so-new idea to Mideast peace:
Following Israel's conquest of the West Bank and the Gaza strip in 1967, Gen. Moshe Dayan wisely let the Palestinians manage their economic affairs. His "open bridges" policy facilitated the free movement of goods and people, and brought prosperity to the private sector. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were employed in Israel for much higher wages than under Jordanian and Egyptian rule. Living standards quintupled and agriculture, manufacturing, education, health and the status of women and children rapidly improved. Arabs enjoyed freedom of movement in Israel, yet there were practically no incidents of terrorism. Israelis shopped and ate in Arab towns. Their spending provided a lion's share of a skyrocketing Palestinian GDP.
Then the UN moved in and we got an extensive aid and refugee regime...
Promise Written in Blood still not a binding contract, when the legal requirement of consideration is absent. No word on whether saying "cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye" would have changed the analysis. -- Eugene Volkh
Pelosi, who clashed with the military to get nonstop service when she flies home to California with police protection on government planes, revealed a particular fondness for Gulfstream's sleek G-5 - a plane glamorized in Hollywood films and rap videos.
"It is my understanding there are no G-5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable . . . The speaker will want to know where the planes are," a Pelosi aide wrote in an angry e-mail to the military.
I wish to clarify my position on climate change. If you've heard it, skip to the link and enjoy John Fund's brutal takedown of VP Gore.
If you're new 'round here, please accept my argument with the proponents: they do not use accepted scientific methods to evaluate their theories and resolve differences. One of my heroes is Dr. Karl Popper. His writings on philosophy and politics are superb, but he is best known for his scientific epistemology. Popper is - among many things -- the codifier of what we know as the scientific method.
To be accepted by the scientific community, a theory must display predictive power. Most famously, Albert Einstein's Special and General Relativity both predicted complex phenomena that could not be verified by the instruments of their day. Yet, as atomic clocks, and rocket ships, and radio telescopes were invented, underpaid graduate students used those devices to test Einstein's assertions. So far, they have all come true, and Einstein's theories are well accepted.
But it's worth noting that Einstein's theories are still not completely accepted and that a scientist who questions them is not shunned as "A Relativity Denier." He better have something to back up his claims, but his claims can be heard.
Not so to one with the temerity to suggest that Global Warming is not Anthropogenic and Deleterious. Nope, then you're a denier. Segue to John Fund (which must be read in full). VP Gore will not debate Vaclav Klaus, who doubts the W; Bjorn Lomborg, who questions the D; or Dr. Willie Soon of Harvard who asks what VP Gore hopes to accomplish.
At the Wall Street Journal's ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, California, Mr. Gore was initially scheduled to appear with Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a noted skeptic on global warming. Mr. Gore changed his schedule so he could appear the previous day. President Klaus told me this week that the major reason he agreed to travel from Europe was the chance to interact with Mr. Gore. "I don't understand all of this reluctance to engage with others," he told me.
Back to Popper, and real science: the heroes are the iconoclasts who buck "consensus" and say the Earth is not flat, the Sun does not revolve around the Earth, and a four pound stone does not fall four times as fast as a one pound stone. "Eppur Si Muove."
I don't like to overestimate the influence of bloggers and new media -- but I think they can claim credit for this:
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair announced today that Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. has requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed. Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freemans decision with regret.
Obama's Jew-hatin' pick will not head the NIC. Conventional MSM took no interest in this story at all. I think it was kept alive by blogs, (and perhaps talk radio). Bret Stephens had a devastating piece in the WSJ Ed Page today that Chinese dissidents disapproved the pick and can hardly be considered part of the all powerful Israeli lobby.
I never thought the day would come when I would be sad to see a big corporate takeover. It generally brings out my inner Schumpeter. Especially in this economy, we need deals, deals, and deals.
Two great articles, however, have ruined my enthusiasm for Merck - Schering Plough. Derek Lowe, blogging at the Atlantic, doesn't see the move as friendly to R&D:
I have to say, I'm sorry to see the end of both. Drug discovery is risky and complicated, and it needs as many different viewpoints and shots on goal as possible. Big mergers like this don't help the industry's ecology much. Today's merger isn't as disturbing as the Blob-like growth of Pfizer, but it's still not happy news.
Even worse is the WSJ Ed Page's clear refutation of animal spirits in the deal. They see it as Big Pharma (boo! hiss! bastards!!!) retrenching in advance of a bad government climate disfavoring innovation.
These deals are good short-term news for shareholders of the target companies, some of whom have been beaten down for years. Merck's offer for Schering-Plough, for example, is a 34% premium over Friday's close. But the deals also come amid a worsening political (and hence economic) climate for drug makers and health-care stocks generally. Aside from the merger premiums of recent few days, health stocks have been hammered in 2009.
So it's no wonder that, this time, drug companies are looking to diversify both geographically and into biotechnology. Yet neither one is all that safe a haven. The U.S. is the last major pharmaceutical market without universal price controls, and as such has been the world's main financier of new drug discoveries. In a world of government-run and -priced health care, biotech innovation will also be as much at risk as traditional drug development. The biggest price we may pay for a health-care system run from Washington are the therapies we never get as a result.
For investors and the economy, the recent rout in health stocks is a case of wealth destruction. For the rest of us, it's also a sign of the health destruction that will result if Washington's current policy trajectory becomes law.
The greatest tyranny has the smallest beginnings. From precedents overlooked, from remonstrances despised, from grievances treated with ridicule, from powerless men oppressed with impunity, and overbearing men tolerated with complaisance, springs the tyrannical usage which generations of wise and good men may hereafter perceive and lament and resist in vain.
At present, common minds no more see a crushing tyranny in a trivial unfairness or a ludicrous indignity, than the eye uninformed by reason can discern the oak in the acorn, or the utter desolation of winter in the first autumnal fall. Hence the necessity of denouncing with unwearied and even troublesome perseverance a single act of oppression. Let it alone, and it stands on record. The country has allowed it, and when it is at last provoked to a late indignation it finds itself gagged with the record of its own ill compliance. -- from the Times of London, Aug. 11, 1846.Hat-tip: WSJ
But even if man-made climate change was real (sorry tg, is real) and even if "renewable" energy sources were beneficial to counter it, the least effective entity to make them a reality is - wait for it - government.
Industries generally develop in three stages. First is scientific feasibility, second is engineering feasibility, and third is economic feasibility.
Using the airline industry as an example, the question in the 1800s was: "Is long-distance air travel possible?"
In the 1800s, balloons were already in use but were not practical. The problem to solve was the heavier-than-air machine.
The Wright Brothers in 1903 proved scientific feasibility. They risked their time, money and lives to show that a heavier-than-air machine could fly.
Lindbergh, in 1927, proved engineering feasibility. He risked time, money and his life to show that long-distance air travel was possible.
This gave investors enough confidence to risk their money in the aircraft industry. In 1935 the Douglas Company came out with the DC-3, which was the beginning of economic feasibility.
The modern airline industry resulted from all this risk-taking. Today, a middle-class American can go anywhere in the world much faster, and in much greater comfort, than a Roman emperor could. Travelers fly because the benefits are greater than the costs. This is economic feasibility.
This three-step model explains why governments are terrible at economic development. The "experts" who comprise the government gamble with other people's money, so they tend to confuse scientific and engineering feasibility with economic feasibility.
Once science and engineering prove something can be done, those who comprise the government will do it - even if the costs are greater than the benefits. [emphasis mine]
This economic development of the economically unfeasible is precisely the modern story of:
Solar photovoltaic power
Ethanol (both glucosic AND celluosic)
Hydrogen fuel cells
Dual-mode hybrid cars
The list goes on...
I don't know that this is fair, but I present it for your viewing pleasure:
UPDATE: My gut instinct to question fairness was right:
Okay, Greyhawk weighing in: I can't see the video right now, but I'm concerned it might be one compiled to give the impression that the current President of the United States lacks the support from the military his predecessor had. That is not the case, and to imply otherwise is an insult to the integrity of the US military, and in my mind reflects both wishful thinking and ignorance on the part of anyone making the claim.
And more: Okay - now that I've had a chance to see it I can say it's worse than what I thought. The first video above is the cheapest of cheap shots. Marines in the Obama video have been clearly called to attention, and are standing at attention when he enters. Whooping it up for the Commander in Chief therefore is not an option. Period. As for the fadeout, cheers can be heard (and they aren't 'tepid') until the audio is cut to go "back to the newsroom".
A bit of comment persiflage last week about how DAWG has become a left-vs-right issue. Randall Parker lays out the problem and even a few solutions:
Why has the debate over global warming become so partisan with most on the Left and Right taking opposing positions? Some on the Left argue that people on the political Left are more willing to consider the evidence of science. But I see a more likely reason: People on the Right do not like high taxes and suspect the argument for restrictions on carbon dixoide emissions is just a convenient opportunity to increase tax revenues and the size of government. The Obama Administration demonstrates the truth of these suspicions. A half trillion dollars a year is a lot of money.
I'll let you click though to see the solutions, but it is basically Mankiw's point of making carbon taxes neutral. I've made my voice heard enough on that, but compared to a huge revenue windfall for government, I'd like it just fine.
Not wowed by the President's first budget across the pond:
Sadly, these plans are deeply flawed. First, Mr Obamas budget forecasts that the economy will shrink 1.2% this year then grow by an average of 4% over the following four years. It might if the economy were to follow a conventional path back to full employment. But this is not a conventional recession. The unprecedented damage to household balance sheets could well result in anaemic economic growth for years, significantly undermining the presidents revenue projections. The economic outlook continues to darken and the stockmarket has already tumbled to 12-year lows. Mr Obama may either have to renege on his promise to slash the deficit to 3% of GDP in 2013 from more than 12% now, rein in his spending promises or raise taxes more.
Second, Mr Obamas scattershot tax increases are a poor substitute for the wholesale reform Americas Byzantine tax code needs. Limiting high earners deductions for mortgage interest, local-government taxes and other things is certainly more efficient than raising their marginal tax rates even more. But it would be better to replace such deductions for everyone with targeted credits, abolish the alternative minimum tax (an absurd parallel tax system that ensnares a sizeable chunk of the upper middle class), and implement a broad sales tax. Rather than simply eliminating the sheltering of corporate income from abroad, Mr Obama could have broadened the corporate tax base and lowered the rate. In sum, Mr Obama could simultaneously raise more revenue and make the tax code simpler and more conducive to growth. But he hasnt.
Glenn Reynolds was asking readers to name just one area where the Obama Administration has shown competence. "Just one," asks the Professor. A reader suggests his keeping Gates on as SecDef and following through with Bush's victory strategy in Iraq. I'd give a few points for that but it's more status quo ante than hope and change.
Ive suggested that his picking Senator Clinton for SecState was pretty inspired. She's about the best Democrat I can imagine in the post.
GENEVASecretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administrations vow to press the reset button on U.S.-Russia relations.
She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift: a red button on a black base with a Russian word peregruzka printed on top.
We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it? Clinton asked.
You got it wrong, Lavrov said.
Instead of "reset," Lavrov said the word on the box meant overcharge.
Stunning! I don't believe Russian scholar Secretary Rice would have missed that, but can you imagine the howls? This Administration was gonna "repair our relations in the world community" and I know a lot of moderates and Libertarians who were excited about that aspect of his candidacy. The early signs are not good. We dissed our best allies during PM Brown's visit, now a goofy antic goes awry with Russia. Iran has enough Uranium for a bomb, an Israel-hater is put up to head the NIC, we go to the UN racism festival and then pull out.
Did we need more bad news right before the weekend? Don Luskin has got it.
Over the last couple years I loved to ridicule all the scaremongers who always said this, that or the other thing is the worst since the Great Depression. I stand by my ridicule, for the most part -- those prophets of doom were mostly broken clocks who look right now just by sheer luck. But there's no question now that things have gotten quite bad in the economy and the markets.
So let me do the preachers of Armageddon one better. Today's stock market isn't just the worst since the Great Depression, like they're so fond of saying. No, it's even worse than the Great Depression.
[...]In other words, to be no worse than the catastrophe that happened to stocks in the Great Depression, the S&P 500 today would have to rally 17%.
Which it ain't doin' (S&P500 up 0.83). Read the whole thing.
UPDATE; Original post said "DJIA down 97 and change." I needed a browser refresh. ThreeSources apologizes for the error.
Yesterday I commented that there's "another important dragon to be slain before" the next elections for congress and for president. That dragon is the myth of man-made global warming caused by our use of economical, safe and abundant energy sources. Many of us have long contended that the idea is founded upon pseudo-science. The late Michael Crighton agreed and in an appendix to his wonderfully entertaining and thought provoking novel 'State of Fear' he wrote "Why politicized science is dangerous."
Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.
This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high-school classrooms.
I don't mean global warming. I'm talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.
Steve Forbes was on Fox's 'America's Newsroom' with Megyn Kelly this morning advocating the repeal of the "mark-to-market" accounting rule. He said it was rescinded in 1938 by FDR and led to economic recovery at the time - doing so now to reverse the Bush administration's return to it would have a similar benefit, he claimed.
I'm sympathetic to this cause based only on what I've learned from watching news stories over the last many months, so Forbes' plea to "call your congressman" because the president can change the rule by executive order got me back on the 'net to learn more.
According to Wikipedia, "Mark-to-market" was instituted by FASB's FAS 157 effective for fiscal years starting after November 15, 2007. It required assets to be valued on balance sheets for what they could be sold for, not their maturity value. [This is my non-financial professional interpretation of a bunch of technical jargon.]
In last year's TARP bill responding to the banking crisis was the authority (section 132) to suspend mark-to-market. Section 133 also directed SEC, Federal Reserve and Treasury to conduct a study on the policy and report back to congress within 90 days. SEC issued a report on December 10, 2008 concluding that mark-to-market would remain.
In the interim FASB issued new guidance that attempted to show how mark-to-market should be applied to determine the fair value of an asset "when the market for that financial asset is not active." Essentially, although the valuation should be made based on market value at the time it should reflect "the price that would be received by the holder of the financial asset in an orderly transaction (an exit price notion) that is not a forced liquidation or distressed sale at the measurement date."
Even in times of market dislocation, it is not appropriate to conclude that all market activity represents forced liquidations or distressed sales. However, it is also not appropriate to automatically conclude that any transaction price is determinative of fair value. Determining fair value in a dislocated market depends on the facts and circumstances and may require the use of significant judgment about whether individual transactions are forced liquidations or distressed sales.
To my untrained eye there appears to be much hocum, wet-finger gauging and other assorted subjectivities inherent in the rule. By way of example:
In determining fair value for a financial asset, the use of a reporting entitys own assumptions about future cash flows and appropriately risk-adjusted discount rates is acceptable when relevant observable inputs are not available.
Broker (or pricing service) quotes may be an appropriate input when measuring fair value, but they are not necessarily determinative if an active market does not exist for the financial asset.
So the question is, "Is this any way to run a transparent free-market?" Seems more like job security for accountants and auditors to me. What was so bad about mark-to-value in the first place that we had to employ this inanity? There's some intelligent-looking discussion of it here.
Help us Perry! You're our only hope!
UPDATE: Hate to but in another's post, but Forbes has a guest editorial in the WSJ today which collects a lot of this.
Continuing on... what is his deal with Great Britain?
First was shipping the bust of Winston Churchill back, then a photo-op snub with Prime Minister Brown... and now we find out about the Obama - Brown gift exchange.
Mr Brown's gifts included an ornamental desk pen holder made from the oak timbers of Victorian anti-slaver HMS Gannet, once named HMS President.
Mr Obama was so delighted he has already put it in pride of place in the Oval Office on the Resolute desk which was carved from timbers of Gannet's sister ship, HMS Resolute.
Another treasure given to the U.S. President was the framed commission for HMS Resolute, a vessel that came to symbolise Anglo-US peace when it was saved from ice packs by Americans and given to Queen Victoria.
Finally, Mr Brown gave a first edition set of the seven-volume classic biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.
That's classy stuff, from the nation that gave birth to us AND still leads the world in class.
In reaction, Republicans, true to form, set sail for a deserted island to ponder a dispute between Rush Limbaugh and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. At issue: Who's captain of the GOP Titanic. -- Dan Henninger, in a great column "Has Obama Buried Reagan?"
I've been a little tough of the folks at Reason, especially since I devoted my life to Libertario Delenda Est! (maybe blog friend tg will supply a real translation for me -- "How Many Libertarians??")
But Jacob Sullum hits this out of the park. I cringed when I heard the President say this:
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your countryand this country needs and values the talents of every American.
The collectivism implicit in this rhetoric is pretty creepy. Evidently all of us have a duty to optimize our educations so we can maximize our earnings and give our country the full benefit of our talents.
Will the last Democrat please turn out the lights...
That's the last Democrat who values business, and I have long guessed it to be CNBC's Jim Cramer. Not speaking his mind is not among his faults, and he has criticized Secretary Geithner and President Obama enough to get a dismissive rebuke at the WH Press Conference (Nixon is looking pretty level-headed by comparison).
He says it all here, complete with trademark sound effects:
Evan Bayh (D IN) takes to the WSJ Ed Page today against the omni-porcine spending bill:
The Senate should reject this bill. If we do not, President Barack Obama should veto it.
The omnibus increases discretionary spending by 8% over last fiscal year's levels, dwarfing the rate of inflation across a broad swath of issues including agriculture, financial services, foreign relations, energy and water programs, and legislative branch operations. Such increases might be appropriate for a nation flush with cash or unconcerned with fiscal prudence, but America is neither.
Senator Larry Kudlow? Professor Reynolds links, but I had to view a cached copy, so I have reprinted the entire post:
As conservative economist on the weeknight CNBC show "Kudlow and Co.," Larry Kudlow just last month was poking at U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.
Dodd "has yet to divulge fully his sweetheart mortgage deals with the former Countrywide," Kudlow said in a Feb. 13 screed. "He's re-fi'ed his mortgages, but we don't know those documents, either. Instead of being impeached, he's still around."
Now, it appears as if the TV show host and economic consultant and syndicated columnist may be going directly after Dodd.
Politico reporter Josh Kraushaar reported Monday that Kudlow "confirmed his interest" in running against Dodd in 2010.
"It's the kind of thing where I'm talking to friends, talking to strategists, talking to my wife, and praying on it," Kraushaar reported Kudlow as saying. And Kudlow also told him he had met with National Republican Senate Committee chairman John Cornyn of Texas over dinner last week to discuss the idea. "He seems to think it would be a good race and a national race," Kudlow said.
He wouldn't be the first TV commentator to leave the media world for politics. But it's generally felt that one shouldn't remain in a bully pulpit of TV advocating impeachment for a politician while planning to run against him.
"While Kudlow said he has been talking to 'friends,' 'strategists,' his 'wife,' and NRSC chairman John Cornyn about a potential run against Sen. Dodd in 2010, the one group of people noticeably not on this list are Kudlow's superiors at CNBC," says Erikka Knuti, communications director for the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters. "Until Kudlow makes a final decision, CNBC has an obligation to their viewers to make certain he never uses their airwaves to attack a potential political rival."
Previously at the NBC owned cable news networks, first Chris Matthews and then Joe Scarborough toyed with entering (or re-entering in Scarborough's case) the political arena, but in the end neither did.
When you are dealing with kids, who are our future, how can you consider it pork or unreasonable spending? -- Tony Pearsall, former police captain and city councilman in Vallejo,, CA, whose nonprofit group would get one of those earmarks.
You can't waste money on children? I think I might be able to find some emprical dispositives.
Dont get me wrong here - I am NOT in favor of tax increases, and I do generally believe that higher taxes will discourage the thing being taxed. But in the case of income, when were talking about highly successful and motivated people, it just doesnt make sense for someone to drop out and stop working when their business earns $250K due to higher marginal tax rates.
Dammit. I was hoping to take off October through the end of December. ;)
I much prefer to read a blog entry than watch a long video where some boring old lawyer is going on and on about his politics. Yet I am prepared to make an exception for this. Tigerhawk preaches to the ThreeSources choir a little here, but it is very very well said.
Building upon the success of the February 27th "Chicago Tea Party" Rallies, many of the organizers are now working to develop an even larger day of protests set to happen on April 15th, 2009.
These protests are known as the Tax Day Tea Party rallies.
It's really the perfect day.
Likely a beautiful spring Wednesday spent standing around with fellow conservatives and libertarians with signs and chants.
Completely not like the original Boston Tea Party.
In fact, looking at the Wikipedia article, these protests are exactly NOT like the Boston Tea Party.
There's no inspired action.
Samuel Adams said to the assembly "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country". As though on cue, the Sons of Liberty thinly disguised as either Mohawk or Narragansett Indians and armed with small hatchets and clubs, headed toward Griffin's Wharf (in Boston Harbor), where lay Dartmouth and the newly-arrived Beaver and Eleanor.
The Sons of Liberty was a revolutionary secret society... and they were likely Longshoreman on this night.
The casks were opened and the tea dumped overboard; the work, lasting well into the night, was quick, thorough, and efficient. By dawn, over 342 casks or 90,000 lbs (45 tons) of tea worth an estimated Ł10,000 or $1.87 million USD in 2007 currency) had been consigned to waters of Boston harbor. Nothing else had been damaged or stolen, except a single padlock accidentally broken and anonymously replaced not long thereafter.
I think it's a disservice to our earliest patriots to call a tax protest a Tea Party. Standing around like a bunch of dopey lib-tards swinging signs and chanting is no way to run a protest.
You say you want a revolution? Don't wear a seatbelt.
You say you want a revolution? Buy your cigarettes or prescription drugs duty-free or in Mexico.
You say you want a revolution? Idle your car in the driveway all day long, polluting the earth, making Gaia cry. I'd settle for burning leaves in a barrel.
You say you want a revolution? Dig around your drawers and find old stamps and mail envelopes around!
You say you want a revolution? If you're on a 1099 don't file quarterly estimated payments. W2ers are hosed. *
You say you want a revolution? Make a bon-fire / marshmallow roast with stacks of tax forms and tax guides. Invite your neighbors.
You say you want a revolution? On April 15th, don't file your 1040... or send it back empty.
That, my friends, would be a real tea party. How many tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of tax payers (out of the 150 million) would it take to put a wrench in the works? (I guess you would have to mail it back though)
It is tax fraud, however... and you're guilty until proven innocent in the IRS's eyes. That's where you need to focus, if you want a "tax" revolution.
Standing around with your friends and future friends? Really inspirational... for the history books.
* It's a sign of how f'd up our system is that your government forces you to pay your taxes! You can't withhold your withholding!
The good folks at Playboy have the scoop of the century. Rick Santelli? The Tea party? Protests? All a big plot -- a shadowy, nefarious conspiracy to take down The One:
As you read this, Big Business is pouring tens of millions of dollars into their media machines in order to destroy just about every economic campaign promise Obama has made, as reported recently in the Wall Street Journal. At stake isn't the little guy's fight against big government, as Santelli and his bot-supporters claim, but rather the "upper 2 percent"'s war to protect their wealth from the Obama Adminstration's economic plans. When this Santelli "grassroots" campaign is peeled open, what's revealed is a glimpse of what is ahead and what is bound to be a hallmark of his presidency.
Don't rush out to buy the next issue so you can drown yourself in all this lascivious content. It seems they have airbrushed the story out of existence. But Megan McArdle had a copy open in a browser...
With the string of tax cheats nominated to key positions in the Obama administration, most recently Ron Kirk, the Machiavellians among us believe that he is having difficultly finding prominant Democrats who are not tax cheats. But The Refugee now understands that Obama's nominations are actually an incredibly clever ruse to enhance government revenue. He simply finds a Democrat who failed to pay his/her taxes, nominates said person to an important post and - voila! - a check arrives at the IRS. Brilliant! The Refugee is worried, however that Obama will run out of positions before he runs out of Democrats.
"It took longer than it should have," notes the WSJ Ed Page, " but the State Department finally decided late last week to drop out of the horror show that is the United Nations conference on racism."
The new Obama team first thought its diplomatic charms could deter a repeat, and it dispatched negotiators to Geneva for the preparatory meetings. They got nowhere, which isn't surprising given that the preparatory committee is chaired by Libya, aided by vice chairs Iran and Cuba. "The document grew from bad to worse," said a U.S. official, in explaining the walkout.
Libya, Cuba and Iran co-chairing a conference on racism. We passed irony a long time ago and have driven completely through self-parody -- I don't know what you call this new uncharted territory. The short piece is worth a read in full, reminding that "[Obama diplomats'] animating conceit is that the world dislikes America merely because the Bush Administration wasn't solicitous enough of world opinion. But Durban II shows that many countries hate us merely for who we are and what we stand for."
Sales of Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged have almost tripled over the first seven weeks of this year compared with sales for the same period in 2008. This continues a strong trend after bookstore sales reached an all-time annual high in 2008 of about 200,000 copies sold.
Americans are flocking to buy and read Atlas Shrugged because there are uncanny similarities between the plot-line of the book and the events of our day said Yaron Brook, Executive Director at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. Americans are rightfully concerned about the economic crisis and governments increasing intervention and attempts to control the economy. Ayn Rand understood and identified the deeper causes of the crisis were facing, and she offered, in Atlas Shrugged, a principled and practical solution consistent with American values."