ThreeSources has been a sacred and quiet bastion from celebrity death news. But we who love the free market cannot not offer a loud REQUIESCAT IN PACE!!!! to the King Of Pitch, Mister Billy Mays.
Popular Mechanics has five of his infomercials posted and they are really quite compelling. Ed McMahon was proudest of his abilities as a pitchman as well. Goodbye to both -- it's great to see something done well.
On topic, this jazz snob has to actually spin off a few nice words about Michael Jackson as well. Looking at his productive years over the tabloid years, I offer a one glove salute to a performer who was known for working hard. I know a lot of players who rest on their abilities and I know a lot who work hard. Jackson was that rare breed who did both. He used to rehearse those dance chops pretty severely and was known to be pretty demanding at the quality of his recordings and videos.
Sorry to break our perfect record in non-Jackson coverage, but I don't hear anybody else saying that. If you're gonna be a pop star or a pitchman, do it right. And a few guys who did died last week. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
Or "Omnibus Legislation to Ensure Succinctness and Eschew Obfuscation and Circumlocution" when our 535 editors-in-chief are done with it.
Bob Gale makes an important point. He prints out the Constitution in 12 point Times New Roman (Dan Rather's favorite) and it clocks in at 20 pages.
Yet the bill that was passed on June 26, 2009 by 219 of our elected representatives ó people to whom weíve entrusted our Constitution, men and women who have sworn an oath to uphold it - was more than 1200 pages long. Thatís over 100 times longer than the U.S. Constitution! And not one member of Congress, NOT ONE, read the whole thing!
A word comes to my mind to describe this: "INSANE."
In "Tempting of America" Robert Bork makes the point that the Constitution is understandable. He objects to the Justices' getting too lawyerly because it breaks this bond of undestanding between the people and the law that defines their government. Bastiat's "The Law" says that just law is "understandable and avoidable."
What's in the 1200 pages of Cap'n Trade? Pure mischief. Rent-seeking opportunities for campaign donors, special carve-outs for supporters. And, perhaps most importantly a net obfuscation-through-tonnage that keeps anybody from knowing enough about it to debate it or discuss it seriously.
Gale suggests a brevity amendment:
No law, bill, resolution or any act of Congress shall exceed 2000 words, including all footnotes, amendments and signatures. Congress shall not vote on any item longer than that. Each item requiring a vote shall be read aloud in its entirety in session to a majority of members. Those not in attendance may not vote on the item.
I must, in fairness, link to a WSJ editorial today that strongly takes my blog brother br's side of the Madoff sentence.
On sentencing 71-year-old Bernard Madoff yesterday to 150 years, federal Judge Denny Chin said, "Here the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil."
"Evil" is a word that has fallen out of political fashion, suggesting as it does intent or action that is irredeemable. Politicians, especially now, prefer to routinely insinuate vaguely defined moral failure against individuals, corporations and entire industries for opposing an equally vague standard of the public good.
No such problem attends Bernard Madoff, who himself yesterday described a personality willing to defraud and debase all who came in contact with him. Madoff's sentence and Judge Chin's remarks fit the crime. They are a rare exercise in moral clarity.
I'm all for moral clarity and agree that Madoff clearly showed premeditation and mens rea. It still seems out of line to me with typical sentences for physical violence and murder, but perhaps my father and G.K. Chesterton were right about this not being a perfect world.
Does anybody really think that Bernie Madoff deserves 150 years?
NEW YORK Ė Convicted Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison Monday for a fraud that the judge called so "extraordinarily evil" that he needed to send a message to potential copycats and to victims who demanded harsh punishment.
Again, my preference would be to have fewer but more just laws and enforce them fully. But I suspect that if some kid kills me in a botched carjacking, he'll tell the judge that Mommy didn't love him and he'll be out in a few years. I'm glad this judge comprehends the importance of property rights, but I suggest that this sentence is part-and-parcel of a current bias against "money folk."
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has ruled that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge. -- AP
But Jimmy P points out that the betting markets still call her a 95% sure thing for confirmation.
UPDATE: Maybe a quote of the day for Justice Alito's concurrence, joined by Scalia and Thomas (C/O Jonathan Adler):
Petitioners were denied promotions for which they qualified because of the race and ethnicity of the firefighters who achieved the highest scores on the Cityís exam. The District Court threw out their case on summary judgment, even though that court all but conceded that a jury could find that the Cityís asserted justification was pretextual. The Court of Appeals then summarily affirmed that decision. The dissent grants that petitionersí situation is ďunfortunateĒ and that they ďunderstandably attract this Courtís sympathy.Ē Post, at 1, 39. But ďsympathyĒ is not what petitioners have a right to demand. What they have a right to demand is evenhanded enforcement of the lawóof Title VIIís prohibition against discrimination based on race. And that is what, until todayís decision, has been denied them.
I found myself in the peculiar position if defending the Keynes multiplier last week. On this very blog. It was not any fun but I felt that it needed to be done.
To get my mojo back, I pass along a Mankiw post and a recommendation that you click through and read Scott Sumner's original post. Sumner details an incident when a young JMK was caught in a quick currency flip and leaned on friends and family.
Translation, without help from his rich daddy and rich friends, this cocky, arrogant, smart-aleck would have fallen on his face, ended up digging ditches somewhere and we would never have heard of him. But he did have a rich daddy, who bailed him out...
"Despite the fact that the economics of deficit finance began with the Keynesian Revolution, it has been conclusively established by Kregel (1985) that Keynes himself did not ever directly recommend government deficits as a tool of stabilization policy. Keynes played a conservative political hand and viewed budget deficits with a 'clearly enunciated lack of enthusiasm'."
One selling feature of the model condo that I bought was the inclusion of three very nice, high-end ceiling fans. Attractive and quiet, I have really enjoyed them.
Clicking it on this morning, the cheap pull-chain broke off flush with the switch and the office fan is now stuck on "Liquefy." The wall switch controls only the light, there is no other place to cut power (except the breaker).
Charming illustration of an old aphorism, and, yet, crap!
After Senator McCain's disappointing campaign in 2008, I saw Gov. Romney on TV and wondered if I had made the wrong choice. Romney understood capitalism and did not seem to hate business. I passed on Romney because of RomneyCare. I figured that if he were rolled by the Democrats in the Commonwealth, he'd be sure to get rolled by the ones in Washington.
By then, there were not any good choices left, so I don't know if was right or wrong. But I was not wrong on RomneyCare. A big story in the Boston Globe yesterday highlighted its problems. Author Joan Vonnochi gets a mention in the WSJ's "Notable & Quotable" feature (their cheap imitation of the ThreeSources Quote of the Day):
The fuzzy math behind the Massachusetts universal healthcare law is starting to add up -- just as Washington studies the law as a possible model for the nation.
Because of a recession-related drop in state revenues and a surge in enrollment by the recently unemployed, the truth is emerging at an inconvenient time. Massachusetts doesn't have enough money to pay for the coverage envisioned by the law.
In June, state officials announced they are cutting $100 million from Commonwealth Care, which subsidizes premiums for needy residents. The poorest residents, along with the newest -- legal immigrants -- will take the hit.
This outcome is not surprising, but it is instructive as President Obama pushes for a national healthcare plan.
On the day that Republican Governor Mitt Romney, for once, made Bay State Democrats happy, by signing the sweeping new healthcare bill into law, the Globe headline said it all: "Joy, worries on healthcare. As Romney signs bill, doubts arise about revenues.''
In Massachusetts, the numbers never added up, as everyone involved in crafting the new law understood. But for a variety of reasons, ranging from Romney's presidential aspirations to Senator Edward M. Kennedy's longstanding commitment to healthcare reform, everyone smiled for the cameras and hoped for the best out of this noble experiment.
Mitt Romney says publicly he's not considering another presidential campaign, most recently on Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." But many of his loyalists expect one and remain at the ready for 2012.
"My call to every senator, as well as to every American, is this," he said. "We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past. Don't believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth."
Misinformation? I think John Boehner said it best during his "fillibuster" yesterday (via DVR):
6:04 PM EDT [Reading from the 300 page back-door amendment.] "Now let me get to page 83. Consumer Behavior Research. The Secretary of Energy is authorized to establish a research program to identify the factors affecting consumer actions to conserve energy and to make improvements in energy efficiency. Through the program the Secretary will make grants to public and private institutions of higher education to study the effects of consumer behavior on total energy use."
"Do we really need to spend government money to do a study on why people don't want to pay twice the cost and get half the quality?"
Then there's this:
Obama said the bill would create jobs, make renewable energy profitable and decrease America's dependence on foreign oil.
Does nobody recognize this tacit admission that renewable energy is NOT profitable?
UPDATE: Investor's Business Daily is now reporting the story above, citing them as sources. This could be a stepping-stone to the MSM next week. Maybe not Diane Sawyer, but there's got to be one journalist and editor out there who are willing to risk administration blacklisting to get props for "breaking" the story.
Emissions scheme passes Australia's House - stalls in Senate
In 2007 Australian PM John Howard became Global Warming's "first major political victim." His successor, Kevin Rudd, pledged to sign the Kyoto Protocol. This year Rudd sought passage of a government mandated emissions reduction plan.
The rise in skepticism also came as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected like Mr. Obama on promises to combat global warming, was attempting his own emissions-reduction scheme. His administration was forced to delay the implementation of the program until at least 2011, just to get the legislation through Australia's House. The Senate was not so easily swayed.
Mr. Fielding, a crucial vote on the bill, was so alarmed by the renewed science debate that he made a fact-finding trip to the U.S., attending the Heartland Institute's annual conference for climate skeptics. He also visited with Joseph Aldy, Mr. Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, where he challenged the Obama team to address his doubts. They apparently didn't.
This week Mr. Fielding issued a statement: He would not be voting for the bill. He would not risk job losses on "unconvincing green science." The bill is set to founder as the Australian parliament breaks for the winter.
The preceding account by Kim Strassel uses this and many more instances to show that the US is out of step with the international community on climate change.
The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers.
Nancy Pelosi's House clearly didn't care about any of this in today's vote for global economic suicide. It's hard to imagine that the Senate will ignore it too.
"Balanced" and "sensible" climate change bill passes House
That's the spin thrown on the bill by President Obama yesterday. Surely it was far from either of those qualities at the time, but prior to passage another 300 pages were shoe-horned in ... at 3 am this morning! [What in the hell is the fixation that Washington politicians have with that time of day?] Minority Leader Boehner said the obvious:
Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican from Kentucky, said the cap-and-trade bill represented the "economic colonization of the heartland" by New York and California.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) called the bill a ďscamĒ that would do nothing but satisfy ďthe twisted desires of radical environmentalists.Ē
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) called it a ďmassive transfer of wealthĒ from the United States to foreign countries.
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that, without the bill, the United States would remain energy-dependent on people who want to ďfly planes into our buildings.Ē
I'd hoped to insert a bulleted list of ways that this bill is a colonoscopy for America but then I realized, Who the hell knows what it does... it jumped from 1200 pages to 1500 overnight!
I was stuck at the hospital all day (drug trials, I'm fine!) but blog friend SugarChuck reports that some Congressional Republicans put up a good fight today. But, as you've no doubt heard, 219 house members thought that the Federal government should control energy use and only 212 did not.
I have no consoling words, but at least we get a good Quote of the day:
Never have so few stolen so much from so many to achieve so little -- @VodkaPundit
Stephen Green (VodkaPundit) also retweets the GOP defectors: "GOP votes for #capandtrade McHugh(NY) Reichert(WA) Smith(NJ) Lance(NJ) LoBiondo(NJ) Bono Mack(CA) Castle(DE) Kirk(IL)"
The WSJ Ed Page has a home run lead editorial today. They point out that the key agenda items of the Obama Administration and the Democratic-led 111th Congress have been tried in the progressive states of New York, California and New Jersey.
They go item by item and show how these have failed in the States that have tried them.
So goes the real-life experience of progressive governance, with heavy tax burdens financing huge welfare states, and state capitals dominated by public-employee unions. Formerly rich states, they are now known for job losses, booming deficits and debt, wage stagnation, out-migration and laughing-stock legislatures. At least Americans have the ability to flee these ill-governed states for places that still welcome wealth creators. The debate in Washington now is whether to spread this antigrowth model across the entire country.
Justice Brandeis famously touted Federalism as providing "laboratories of democracy" in each of the states. I don't think he suspected that we would elevate the failed experiments.
UPDATE: Instapundit links to the same editorial and suggests they should emulate Texas but not Illinois. He missed teh Brandeis reference, maybe I should send him a link. He so enjoys it when I send him a link.
In an advisory opinion request to the Federal Election Commission made public by the agency today, Club for Growth asked for approval for its PAC to mail individual donors of Citizens for Arlen Specter with information on how to request a refund, including a preprinted form letter and envelope addressed to the Senatorís campaign. The FEC is required to reach a decision within 60 days, and the mailing would follow soon after.
"Senator Specter agreed to return the contributions he received before switching parties, and we want to help him make good on that commitment,Ē Club President Chris Chocola said. ďItís easy to request a refund with a preprinted letter and envelope, and I expect a lot of people will want their money back.Ē
The fact that multiple musical instruments turned up in the same area, not far from other artistic artifacts, strengthens the argument that Paleolithic humans developed a relatively rich culture, the researchers say.
I know ThreeSourcers will be racked with grief to hear then Senator Arlen Specter (Opportunist - PA) is in trouble, but these things happen:
The strong backing of Democratic Party leaders has done little to change slumping public support for the party's newest convert, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. Only 28 percent of all those surveyed say that he deserves re-election, according to the latest Keystone Poll, and double that number say it's time for a change.
Specter's party switch, announced April 28, has hurt his job-performance ratings among Democrats as well as Republicans, according to a telephone survey of 498 registered voters, conducted last week by the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College.
Back in March, before the switch, roughly half the voters in each party said that Specter was doing an "excellent" or "good" job in the Senate.
-- unless, of course, it interferes with our politics!
Scientific findings at odds with the Obama Administrationís views on carbon dioxide and climate change are being suppressed as a result of political pressure, officials at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) charge.
"This suppression of valid science for political reasons is beyond belief,Ē said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. ďEPAís conduct is even more outlandish because it flies in the face of the presidentís widely-touted claim that Ďthe days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.íĒ
This is from the CEI which I consider a reputable group. I have no proof beyond their assertion and do not expect many media outlets to dig too hard on this. But this would be huge if proven true.
I do not understand, yet I accept, that phramaceutical firms are considered evil. "Bastards! Curing our diseases -- for money!" But I do not believe that people feel the same about physicians.
Derek Thompson at the Atlantic asks "Do Doctors Deserve to be Paid Less?"
It's a fair article but Thompson does not say "No;" I will. I think attracting the best and the brightest to the medical profession and then compensating them well for the stress and difficulty is pretty well accepted.
Yeah, I'll defend Tiger Woods's income and Dick Grasso's retirement package. But I think most Americans are pretty cool with thier doctor making money, and I do not think paying them less will poll well.
Speaking of wealth, the subject of government stimulus came up in a conversation with my twenty-something sister-in-law:
"Does Keynsian economics say that government spending will stimulate the economy?"
Well, in effect it does because it claims all spending stimulates economic growth and that is music to the ears of a politician who will fall all over himself to outspend his opponents. But how is it supposed to do any good to inject a bunch of worthless paper currency into our economy? They borrow it or print it and then throw it out there but it doesn't actually have any intrinsic value. What has intrinsic value? Resources like agricultural products, mining products, oil and coal and nuclear fuel, or forest products.
"Wow, I've never looked at it that way," says my dear sis-in-law.
And while the government makes a big deal out of "stimulating" the economy with all of this ink-still-drying paper money what have they been doing for the past forty years with all those things that have real intrinsic value? They've been doing everything they can think of to control or outlaw their production and use! In a world like that what use is all of that paper money? Well, I guess paper money does have some intrinsic value. We can put it in our fireplaces and use it to heat our homes.
When I talk about wealth, and the importance of perpetuating growth, eyes glaze over. "All you care about is money" and you're more interested in junior's bond portfolio than happiness. You heartless bastard. And so on. And so forth.
But Greg Beato knows what it's about. He pens a paean to the Sony Walkman on its 30th Anniversary. I'll excerpt the last paragraph, which is comically over the top (on purpose) but it is true. And it speaks to the personal freedom we get from living in a wealthy society.
With a Walkman, every moment could be, if not ideal, then at least more ambient, more aligned with one's particular tastes, more fulfilling. It made us realize we didn't have to just sit on a bus, as dead to the world as a plastic plantóor even worse, reading. We could be listening to Billy Joel! And if we could be listening to Billy Joel, couldn't we also be playing videogames, or watching movies, or laboriously tapping out 140-character messages to strangers on keyboards the size of a business card? And if we could do such things while stuck on a bus, or waiting in line at a grocery store, then surely we could do them while stuck in our cubicles at work, or eating lunch with our less interesting friends. Indeed, as soon as the Walkman hit store shelves, the looming promise of our highly mobile, super-empowered, hyper-productive future grew clearer: Never again would we have to endure the tedium of doing one thing at once.
Listening to that little chia-head dictator in North Korea threaten to "wipe the US off the globe once and for all" can't help but remind The Refugee of the 1959 comedy "The Mouse that Roared" starring Peter Sellers. In the movie, the backward little country of Duchy of Grand Fenwick, on the brink of economic collapse, determines that the best course of action is to attack the US, lose, and wait for reconstruction. The Refugee won't spoil the plot for all Netflix subscribers, but you get the idea.
Kim Jong Il is rumored to be a real movie buff, so is this the Big Screen coming to life? Maybe, but The Refugee is still more inclined to bet on syphilitic insanity.
Citi has to raise salaries for retention, because of restrictions on bonuses. AP:
NEW YORK -- Citigroup Inc. is increasing base salaries for many of its employees as it restructures its compensation program amid new restrictions on bonus payments.
The increased salaries will offset lower bonuses, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because the plans have not been made public. The higher salaries are not the equivalent of annual raises, the person added.
Citi faces restrictions on bonuses as part of a new government compensation oversight plan because the bank received bailout funds from the Treasury Department.
Of course, salaries are paid irrespective of personal or corporate performance, so this will be a drag on Citi's balance sheet and give the firm less flexibility to manage labor -- but at least there will be no embarrassing (to Congress) bonus stories.
Ahh, let's see, what can we fix next? Chairman Barney Frank has a great idea: lower the standards for Fannie and Freddie to underwrite Condo loans. What a brilliant idea. WSJ Ed Page:
Back when the housing mania was taking off, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank famously said he wanted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to "roll the dice" in the name of affordable housing. That didn't turn out so well, but Mr. Frank has since only accumulated more power. And now he is returning to the scene of the calamity -- with your money. He and New York Representative Anthony Weiner have sent a letter to the heads of Fannie and Freddie exhorting them to lower lending standards for condo buyers.
You read that right. After two years of telling us how lax lending standards drove up the market and led to loans that should never have been made, Mr. Frank wants Fannie and Freddie to take more risk in condo developments with high percentages of unsold units, high delinquency rates or high concentrations of ownership within the development.- this is the kind of thinking we cant get in the provate sectpor. WSJ Ed Page:
Imagine what these people could to health care -- no, wait, you don't have to! They're already running the VA. Take it away, AP:
WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is calling for more centralized control of the VA medical system after recent breakdowns in cleaning colonoscopy equipment exposed thousands of veterans to the risk of contracting HIV and other infections.
In prepared remarks to be delivered at a Wednesday hearing, Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii said that disparities in quality control procedures at VA medical centers raise questions about whether local or national leaders are in charge.
Don't thank them -- it's all in a day's work for The Government!
Ezra Klein, the President's economy-apologist-in-chief at the WaPO, cannot quite handle the complexities of movies by mail:
My Horrible Relationship With Netflix
Matt Yglesias has a quick post on the Netflix movies he rented this weekend. I don't. Because I've had the same three sitting in my drawer for almost two years now. That's literally hundreds of dollars I've donated to Netflix to help subsidize the fees of people who actually use the service. Meanwhile, one of the movies is cracked and I can't find the envelopes for the other two. So I continue my philanthropic donations to the Netflix Fund for the Needy. And every month, I loathe myself just a little bit more.
All pretty handleable at the website, Mister K. I've got my things I put off, too. But you could have fixed this faster than blogging it.
Via @mkhammer who says "Isn't this same relationship @ezraklein wants lots of young, healthy people to have with insurance?"
Ezra Klein says that the latest poll results find that national health care is very popular with the public, so failing to enact it would be "resolutely, aggressively, anti-democratic" -- a denial of our responsibility in a democracy.
Paul Krugman says that the latest poll results find that the public prefers reducing the deficit over increasing government spending. But the voters "don't know much" about policy, "So the moral for Obama is, of course, to ignore this poll" -- anything else would be a denial of our responsibility in a democracy.
This, from the president of France: ďI will not increase taxes,Ē he said, ďbecause an increase in taxes would delay the end of the crisis and because by increasing taxes, when we are at our level of taxation, we would not reduce deficits ó we would increase them.Ē
In the minus column, do I remember his letting Carla get away? That's a bad move.
WASHINGTON ó The subway train that plowed into another, causing a crash that killed seven and injured scores of others in the nationís capital, was part of an aging fleet that federal regulators had recommended three years ago be phased out or retrofitted, a safety investigator said Tuesday.
Debbie Hersman of the National Transportation Safety Board said the Metrorail transit system ďwas not able to do what we asked them to do.Ē
The rush-hour crashed sent more than 70 people to area hospitals and killed at least seven people. The three-decades-old Metro system shuttled tourists and local commuters from Washington to Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
I hate to be callous after such a tragedy, but why don't other people immediately -- or shortly -- think what I thought: "There's government for you, wait'll they take over health care!" Every news report is rife with tales of public misfeasance and malfeasance. Yet I'm an outlier for suggesting that maybe government should not take on additional responsibilities.
I don't expect everyone to read to read Hayek, but how can they continue to never put two and two together? Megan McArdle suggests that Obama fixes Medicare first, That's a great idea -- I'd suggest they fix anything first.
UPDATE: John Stossel offers a slightly less macabre example:
It amazes me that on the front page of the Sunday New York Times there is an article that says there is ďwide-support for government-run healthcareĒ, and yet right adjacent is a giant story on how the veterans administration is botching operations . Donít they draw connections? Government can botch and botch again but the public and the New York Times still see more government as the solution
The Refugee will not presume to usurp "Quote of the Day" priviledges, but thinks the one below is a worthy nominee. Fouad Ajami, writing in today's WSJ, pens an excellent piece on Obama's naivite and education about Iran.
Days into his presidency, it should be recalled, Mr. Obama had spoken of his desire to restore to America's relation with the Muslim world the respect and mutual interest that had existed 30 or 20 years earlier. It so happened that he was speaking, almost to the day, on the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution -- and that the time span he was referring to, his golden age, covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the American standoff with Libya, the fall of Beirut to the forces of terror, and the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Liberal opinion would have howled had this history been offered by George W. Bush, but Barack Obama was granted a waiver.
The White is now admitting that many of the President's promises in his speech to the AMA on health care will not be possible. Jim Lindgren at Volkh has the details and this handy translation:
In other words, if you believed something closer to the opposite of what Obama promised, that would be closer to the truth. When Obama said he ďwill keep this promiseĒ:
If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.
he actually meant:
If you like your doctor, many of you will NOT be able to keep your doctor. Period.
And when Obama said he ďwill keep this promiseĒ:
If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.
Obama really meant:
If you like your health care plan, many Ė perhaps most Ė of you will NOT be able to keep your health care plan. Period. Someone Ė perhaps your employer Ė may take it away. It all depends on how things work out.
About as fulsomely as I defended David Letterman, I'll give an eye-roll to an amusing example of your government's squandering almost half a million dollars. A good friend of this blog sends a link:
NIH Funds $423,500 Study of Why Men Donít Like to Use Condoms
In what government watchdogs are calling a waste of taxpayer money, the National Institutes of Health is spending nearly half a million dollars to determine why men donít like to wear condoms during sex.
Thatís only the start. You can be certain that once the researchers find out that men donít like condoms because a. they have to first think ahead and buy them b. actually put them on, and c. condoms donít feel the same as bare skin, which any conversation with any guy at the local bar could have told you, then weíll have to fund the billion-$ project to change behavior so everybody will be using condoms, whether they want to or not.
We'll not ask President Madison to lay any fingers on this post. Of course it is unconstitutional and of course I would get them to stop if I could.
But in the bigger picture of freedom's demise, this concerns me a lot less than expenses or regulation that destroy liberty. This represents a bit of research that should be done by the private(s) sector if it is done at all. But, beyond the theft of $423,500 it strikes me as a small threat.
We're socializing medicine and putting the Fed in charge of credit card interest and home mortgage options. The EPA will dictate energy usage, the FDA now controls the composition of cigarettes and seethes that it cannot design the Cheerios® box. If they want to waste a half million on this, or cow flatulence, or whatever the outrage du jour -- I'm happy to see them staying out of bigger trouble.
Hearty congratulations to all the newly minted graduates running around.
Blog friend TGreer did not deliver the commencement address at his school but has written one for a column he does in his local paper. I enjoyed it and asked his permission to link, implicitly outing him (which I had clumsily done once before).
He graciously acquiesced but wants us all to know that he is really much better looking than the picture used by the Post Bulletin.
"If you are dressed in blue before me tonight, it means that you have been taught by two dozen teachers, you have sat through several hundred lectures, and have read more than 10,000 pages worth of school material. You've been forced to endure exposure to subjects you hate and take classes of no seeming practical utility.
"You have paid a small fortune for lunches, club fees, parking passes and field trips. You have spent days on the hard seats of cold buses or stuck in the school parking lot watching sophomore-driven SUVS fight to squeeze out of the exit all at the same time. You have walked, ran and shuffled the length of Century High School more times than can be counted, with books, backpacks and the occasional late pass in hand. Heck, there is a rumor going around that a few of you may have even been suspended.
"Now that this life is over, I must ask: Was it worth it?
To be fair, the story did not quite support the bellicosity of the headline writer. But the President did say "While I'm not spoiling for a fight, I'm ready for one." Well, Mister President, it appears we have a lot to fight about:
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency would take over oversight of mortgages, requiring that lenders give customers the option of "plain vanilla" plans with clear and affordable terms.
"It will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want and actually understand," Obama said. "Those ridiculous contracts ó pages of fine print that no one can figure out ó will be a thing of the past. You'll be able to compare products, with descriptions in plain language, to see what is best for you."
The government knows which loans are good for you: vanilla loans that you can understand. I'm in a pretty "vanilla" loan at this time, but over the years I made great use of an Interest Only mortgage while I was patching things together from a failed startup. And although I have avoided them, some people have reasons to go with adjustable rates. But no, we can't have AM and FM, some people will be confused.
You already spend a half hour at a closing signing 30 things that some legislator insisted that something be explained to you. President Madison, can you "lay your finger" on the part of the Constitution that allows the President to define what loan vehicles will and will not be offered?
Do you need more than the url? The Heritage Foundation has set up a website that allows you to send comments to the EPA.
Also don't miss their blog post on Crony-enviro-capitalism.
But don't worry, says Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. She told the New York Times earlier this year, "We are poised to be specific on what we regulate and on what schedule." In other words, just as the Obama Treasury Department played political favorites when bailing out General Motors and Chrysler, rewarding big labor allies while punishing average investors and secured creditors, the Obama EPA is poised to play the exact same games while enforcing the Clean Air Act.
A post by JK two days ago regarding the current events in Iran spawned a spirited debate and some excellent comments. The events are so important, however, that The Refugee decided to enter this post to bring the central issue to the fore. Bottom line, an internal Iranian regime change would be the most transformative global event since the fall of the Berlin wall. Without a bellicose Iran and its funding, the Syrian, Hezbollah, Hamas and maybe even al-Qaida dominos would fall. This is a seminal event, and as others have pointed out, Obama is voting "Present." This is neither hope, nor change nor leadership.
Blog Brother TG, rightly, critisized The Refugee's supporting data as anecdotal (positions from two Iranian ex-pats). This is true, though in defense The Refugee will take the opinions of two Iranians whose families still live there over a country full of pundits who apply analysis-by-projection to the situation. The core argument is whether or not the Iranian people want regime change or are satisified with the current theocracy.
Writing in today's WSJ, Afshin Ellian, another Iranian expat and European professor, has this to say:
This week's protests prove that the people of Iran -- the children of the revolution -- will accept the rule of the mullahs no more. The regime is no longer able to exercise sovereignty over the Iranian people without resorting to extreme violence.
Iran is now at a crossroads. Either the will of the people will be accepted and a peaceful transition to democracy will take place, or the regime will respond to these massive demonstrations by unleashing a bloodbath.
The essential question: Can a regime, despised by a huge majority of the population, transform itself into a democracy that recognizes the rule of law? Has such a transition ever taken place without bloodshed?
The Refugee will assert that the majority of Iranians do want a change and that this is an opportunity to save millions of lives and billions of dollars. The alternative is almost inevitable war with a nuclear Iran. Barack Obama needs to seize this opportunity. He has yet to make the transition from Candidate Obama to President Obama. Now is the time.
We've had a good run at the Letterman contrtemps and I think everybody knows where everybody stands.
Blog friend SugarChuck has this great riff he does and I hope he won't mind my paraphrasing. When somebody is discredited, sc says "Oh, he|she will go cry on Oprah and be back in a year." It is a little cynical but damned if it is not a universal law. (It applies only to the left-of-center, don't look for a reemergence of Senator Trent Lott or Senator Ensign.)
But I will bet the price of my depreciating condominium that we'll see both Senator John Edwards and Gov. Eliot Spitzer back. The corpses will still be warm. Mickey Kaus is doing his best to stop an Edwards rapprochement, but I fear he'll fail:
ohn Edwards thinks he can come back. And somehow in theoretically humble disgrace comes off as smugger and phonier than ever! (Sample: "The two things I'm on the planet for now are to take care of the people I love and to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves.") ...
MacGillis also buries a solid lede: The last web page of her piece features an impressive, reported survey of broken Edwards promises to various actual impoverished Americans--scholarship programs cancelled, Katrina foreclosure cases unaided--complete with victim quotes. ("I just thought he was trying to cover his tracks while he was a candidate. ... It was probably all for show in the end." ).
Never has the GOPís lack of funnybone been on sharper display than the last 5 months. For a party that claims to ďshun political correctness,Ē weíve certainly done a good job of embracing it. Over the past 150 days there have been three ďmedia-worthyĒ politically incorrect moments related to this administration and Republicans have managed to jump on each one of them for political gain. All to no avail.
Author Steve Crowder then enumerates the "Special Olympics" joke, Wanda Sykes's comedy routine and the Letterman contretemps.
President Obama appears to be giving short shrift to Iran's newly resurgent pro-freedom and anti-theocracy uprising. Many of this blog's luminaries are debating the wisdom, or lack thereof, of that strategy. One question that is missing, however, is whether Obama actually prefers that Ahmadinejad stay in office. I don't have the answer but I'll offer two observations for readers to ponder.
In a telephone conversation with the Iranian president, Chavez said, "The victory of Dr. Ahmadinejad in the recent election is a win for all people in the world and free nations against global arrogance," Iran's Presidential Office reported.
Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez congratulated US president-elect Barack Obama Wednesday on his "historic" win and said the time had come for the two countries to establish new relations.
UPDATE: Reformatted 6/18 in an attempt to sharpen the point. (The openly socialist Chavez cheered the "against global arrogance" victory of Ahmadinejad and the "time to establish new relations" victory of Obama.) They are all, at least in Chavez' eyes, birds of a feather.
I'm going to reach back to the long ago and far away year of 2001. If you need a rental and maybe missed this like I did, you are in for a treat.
Blow Dry, with Alan Rickman and Natasha Richardson comes from that British indie comedy community that brought Full Monty (they call this "Full Monty with Hair") and my favorite, "Kinky Boots." Like Kinky Boots it concerns the inflow of London culture into a small rural town. This time, Keighley, as it is selected to host the annual British Hairdressing Championship.
It is laugh out loud funny but punctuated with some very poignant serious moments. It is available on the Netflix Instant Queue. Five Stars.
Small point of order. I have changed my profile to sign my posts with my real name. I have been thinking I wanted to do this for a while and with a lot of talk about anonymous blogging, now seems the time.
I appreciate anonymous blogging and my brothers can do what they choose. I am the owner of this domain and publish my real in my bio -- so I had no real protection or plausible deniability.
On the one hand we have democratically elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reputed hardliner, who on Sunday abandoned his own long-held position and, to the immense disappointment of much of his political base, spoke of his willingness to accept a Palestinian state -- provided only that the Palestinians forswear military pursuits, resettle Palestinian refugees in their own territory, and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, just as the U.N. did at the country's founding.
On the other hand there's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Holocaust-denier and nuclear aspirant, who on Friday was declared the winner of an election so transparently rigged that the only serious question is whether the regime even bothered to stuff the ballot boxes. Since then, scores of reformist politicians have been arrested or intimidated, rallies have been banned, and the possibility of an Iranian Tiananmen hangs in the air.
Question: Toward which of these two leaders does President Obama intend to play the heavy?
I guess we all know the answer. The whole Stephens piece is great.
Someday a future president may have to apologize to Iranians for Mr. Obama's nonfeasance, just as Mr. Obama apologized for the Eisenhower administration's meddling. But the better Eisenhower parallel is with Hungary in 1956. Then as now a popular uprising coalesced around a figure (Imre Nagy in Hungary; Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran), who had once been a creature of the system. Then as now it was buoyed by inspiring American rhetoric about freedom and democracy coming over Voice of America airwaves.
The same fatal conceit behind the setting up of a pay Czar is also responsible for the belief that members of Congress and Washington officials are capable of steering GM and Chrysler toward profitable directions. This is behind the government pressure on these companies to shift toward small fuel-efficient cars, even though GM and Chrysler have been best at producing trucks and larger cars. Perhaps they will be able to make this shift, but it is far more likely that Honda, Kia, Toyota, and other foreign auto manufacturers that have been making small cars for decades will eat their lunch.
In Iran today, a sham election has been met with an open revolt. This takes great courage. The world's free nations need the courage to do better than respond with the sham policy of making nice with an illegitimate regime. -- WSJ Ed Page
And unfortunately, Buckleyīs insecure rants against Rand retarded the intellectual progress of the right for decades.
The important point here involves Buckley, but it involves a lot more. The issue with Buckley is that he truly had nothing to contribute intellectually. And when faced with a true intellectual like Rand, all he could do was guttersnipe. Yet the wider point pertains to conservatism today.
Until it begins to intellectually justify itself in a logical way, conservatism will remain lost, and statism will continue its march. Rand provided the intellectual justification for capitalism and liberty and she did so by reference to the fundamental metaphysical facts of reality and human existence. She did not appeal to tradition or the supernatural. She appealed to the rational. And the public has been responding to her ever since.
Buckley and his cohorts brag about their electoral successes-"we elected Reagan" they chime. But what permanent changes have been made? The procession of the welfare state goes on. And who can stop it, people who say God went "poof" and then there were rights?
Rand made the case against the welfare state root and branch. She was the first to make a secular case against Communism and Socialism, and the first to make a fully secular defense of American values. The fact that her ideas were shut out by Buckley hurt the entire cause of Americanism.
This is a good story. Myopic political hacks like me need to remember there are other plays outside of regulation. Until, of course, the government hears about it.
James Hamilton at Econbrowser explains the trade, which is handy if you do not have a subscription to the original WSJ story.
The short story is that a small investment firm in Texas sold Credit Default Swaps to large firms against some shaky real estate holdings. When they got more revenue than the asset they were guaranteeing, they bought the underlying debt and made it good. The big guys who bought the swaps are not amused:
It appears from the WSJ account as if little Amherst Holdings of Austin, Texas was happy to sell the big guys like J.P. Morgan Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Bank of America something like $130 million notional CDS on a $27 million credit event, used the proceeds to buy off and make good the underlying subprime loans, and pocketed $70 million or so for their troubles. The big guys, on the other hand, paid perhaps a hundred million and got back zip.
One might speculate that that is why the big guys took TARP funds and Amherst did not.
Mercy Health Partners said Thursday it has shelved plans to build a new downtown hospital because of the economy and uncertainty over the national health care debate.
The unanimous decision made by Mercy's board of directors comes a year after the health system announced that it would build a $400 million replacement facility on the site of the former Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee if certain financial benchmarks were met.
But, but, they're just going to tax the rich!
Hat-tip: Instapundit -- your go-to source for Knoxville news!
Good Friend of this blog, T Greer, has an excellent post on "Death by Climate." An NGO headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asserts that climate change currently is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year. Our friend disagrees.
From here it is easy to see the fallacy inherit in any attempt to label a death (or even a group of deaths) as "caused" by climate change. There does not exist a single causality attributed to climate change whose death cannot be sourced more directly to factor of the socio-economic sort. In cases where the deaths are indirectly attributed to climate change** (such as the cholera epidemics or crop failures that often follow flooding in underdeveloped areas) the link between death and weather is even more tenuous; each degree of separation between climatic trends and causality trends simply multiplies the number of factor leading to the end result that are more important than climate change.
TG is a lot more generous with Annan and the Global Humanitarian Forum than I am (as I mention in a lenghy, black-helicopterish comment) but there is much I agree with in his thoughtful post.
A frequent whine of mine, right after "What? It's not a drive-thru Starbucks?", is the lack of technical innovation in the field of dentistry.
My paternal grandfather graduated Vanderbilt Dental school in 1903 (one of my favorite pieces of home art is his class graduation picture). And I have always suspected that he would be keenly at home in a modern dentist's office. He practiced through the end of WWII and I can't name a lot of equipment that they didn't have. A doctor from WWII would be stunned with MRIs and artierial cameras -- the 1940s black bag would be an anachronism.
Nor can I put my finger on a reason. There is money in improved dentistry, there are enough self-payers to create a vibrant free market. Where is the oral equivalent of Lasik eye surgery?
These questions remain and I am up to any answers in the comments. But at least Insty links to a cool thing: using a plasma blowtorch to kill plaque.
Plasma, the forth stage of matter along with gases, solids and liquids, is a soup of ions and electrons. Like a cross between a lightsaber and Listerine, the plasma flame creates free radical oxygen ions that tear apart the plaque membrane and kill the bacteria. Even better, the torch is so fluid and adjustable, it can get to bacteria in the mouth's most hard to reach places.
President Madison, can you lay your finger on the line in the Constitution that empowers the Federal government to do this Historic Anti-Smoking Bill?
WASHINGTON Ė No more "light" cigarettes or candy-flavored smokes. Bigger, scarier warning labels. Fewer ads featuring sexy young smokers. Historic anti-smoking legislation sped to final congressional passage on Friday ó after a bitter fight lasting nearly a half-century ó and lawmakers and the White House quickly declared it would save the lives of thousands of smokers of all ages.
I Donno, for $23M, I Might Take a Couple Uighurs...
It seems the good people of Bermuda did not get the message of Hope and Change®:
"People are outraged in this country," says Crockwell. "I've never seen the people in this country get so exercised so quickly over an issue."
Crockwell tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that Bermudians are very concerned about the potential threat the Uighurs pose to the security and economy of Bermuda, and outraged by the secretive and unilateral manner in which Bermuda's premier Dr. Ewart Brown decided to accept the detainees.
"There's a great deal of anxiety right now," says Crockwell. "We have not received any information at all in terms of who these individuals are."
Democrats lock the doors to the New York State Senate. Life lessons from this for us all.
If it doesn't rain, today New York's state senators will be meeting in the park across the street from State Senate Chamber in Albany. The Democrats who ran the senate until yesterday and still possess the keys to the iron gates at the Chamber door have locked them, to keep the newly ascendant Republicans outside.
Thus the Empire State is governed.
Megan McArdle, commenting on the "coup" pulled by the Republicans yesterday in getting two senate Democrats to switch to their side and turn the balance of power, wrote that where she is the story "... is being reported nearly exclusively as a gay marriage thing. Yes, I understand that this is a blow to gay marriage..." So I'll take it that outside of New York that political spin being applied.
Screw the cats -- here's your ThreeSources humor for the day.
Senators Feinstein and Collins are shocked, shocked! that a little plan for government meddling went astray. It was a great idea mind you, they cooked it up with the help of Sen. Schumer:
It's amazing how quickly a good idea can go bad in Washington. In January, we joined with Sen. Charles Schumer to introduce a bill that would allow Americans to trade in gas-guzzling cars in exchange for vouchers worth up to $4,500 toward the purchase of vehicles with greatly improved fuel economy. This legislation was modeled after programs in California and Texas that improved fuel efficiency, reduced pollution, and stimulated auto sales.
But then some of those evil lobbyists -- who still are so misguided as to think they have a right to petition the government when it writes rules for their industry -- stepped in and messed it all up.
Our "Cash for Clunkers" proposal was a win-win for the environment and the economy. Then Detroit auto industry lobbyists got involved. Soon a rival bill emerged in the House, tailored perfectly to the auto industry's specifications.
The House bill was written so quickly that one of its main components -- a provision that would have excluded any vehicle manufactured overseas -- had to be removed because it violated trade laws. But the worst item on the auto industry's wish list is still at the heart of the bill -- a provision that undermines fuel-efficiency standards.
On Tuesday, the House approved this legislation, which would subsidize the purchase of a new Hummer H3T (16 mpg) or a new Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 truck (15 mpg), but not a two-year-old Ford Focus (27 mpg) or used Chevy Colorado (20 mpg). A companion bill is pending in the Senate.
I dare you to read this with a straight face as it only gets worse. It never strikes these two leading intellectual lights of the Senate that maybe the problem is government intrusion.
We're closing Gitmo! My soul will feel so cleansed when this process is complete. Finally, to have a President that understands complex moral imperatives. The WSJ Ed Page reports that a little American lucre has solved the nasty problem of the Uighurs:
Months of moral grandstanding and intense diplomacy are finally yielding dividends: President Obama has convinced Palau, a Pacific archipelago and long-standing U.S. ally, to resettle a small group of the least dangerous Guantanamo detainees. All it took was $200 million in foreign aid to a country with 20,000 residents and a GDP of about $164 million.
Headed to Palau are the Uighurs, ethnic Chinese Muslims who were picked up in 2002 near Tora Bora. Some of them received weapons training at Afghan camps affiliated with al Qaeda or the Taliban as part of their separatist movement -- the Uighur minority is brutally repressed by the Chinese government -- though they are not considered threats to the U.S. or other Western nations. But they were left in legal limbo because they could not be returned to China, where they would likely be tortured or worse, and no other country would give them sanctuary.
So the least dangerous are gone, at a cost of only $11.7 million per detainee. No doubt that Palau will treat them much better than the American military -- and less doubt that they are secured from future terrorist activity. It's a proud day for this great nation!
Sort of. He's an irrelevant, not-funny, non-entity. And the YouTube clip of his attacking Governor Palin's daughter certainly yells "creepy old man" more than "hip, sophisticated cultural icon." (Aren't you glad I am not "defending" you?)
But conservatives are over-reacting when they paraphrase it as a joke about rape. Even without it, the joke is out of bounds. And I will join with my social conservative buddies in the big GOP tent to ask why the feminist left is so silent because the Palins are Republicans.
But my Twitter is atwitter and they all use the word rape which Letterman did not imply. The joke plays off the family's fecundity and supposed promiscuity. Any allegation of coercion works against the joke, not for it.
I'm not defending the humor value or appropriateness of the joke. But I do think that a lot of conservatives are overreaching. I call it "Swift Boating" because the Swift Boat Veterans had legitimate, verifiable complaints about Senator Kerry's character and service record. Because they overreached and claimed things which could not be proven, their legitimate points were dismissed.
Mary Katherine Ham and Jim Treacher have been guilty of this. It has been a huge twitter topic for days, and Treacher links today to a Doctor Zero post on Hotair. It's overwrought.
Glad we got rid of that Rick Waggoner guy, the new Government Motors chief, Brain Deese, really has an impressive resume:
A fresh-faced 31-year-old, Deese dropped out of Yale Law School last year to work for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. When Clinton sank, Deese skipped over to the winning ship, impressed everybody who counts, and landed a desk in the White House. The big guns like Larry Summers and Christina Romer are busy cooking up hilariously sunny budget projections while trying to look like they're keeping the economy from collapsing. So Deese, armed with an undergrad degree in political science, finds the GM portfolio and the fate of millions in his hands.
Some are grumbling about Deese's lack of relevant experience. (He has driven a car and once slept in the parking lot of a GM plant!) But the real issue isn't Deese's rťsumť. The real issue is why anyone should have the power to "rewrite the rules of American capitalism." Unlike Deese, treasury secretaries Paulson and Geithner are men of experience. But what kind of experience could justify the immense, arbitrary power they've exercised in the wake of the financial meltdown? Experience centrally planning the global economy?
ThreeSourcers will enjoy the whole, painful, piece.
We don't worry these days about the rule of hereditary monarchs. But as the modern nation-state has expanded, taking on ever more functions, the powers of the state bureaucracy have come to resemble the powers of an unaccountable aristocracy. Periodic elections merely deliver a somewhat different batch of aristocrats to the throne.
American liberals talk a good game about equality, but their rhetoric, like conservative talk about liberty, is mostly empty. There's a respectable liberal argument that individuals can be truly free and equal only if they command resources sufficient to develop their capacities and enjoy the exercise of their basic rights. But this is an argument for a government-provided social safety netófor making sure everyone starts on a decent footing. It is not an argument for putting a ceiling on income and wealth.
I don't link to BOTW a lot because I cannot imagine any ThreeSourcer not reading it in full every day. But today's lead post is completely perfect. Read it again.
When I heard that Justice Ginsburg was throwing an S.A.E. monkey wrench into the Fiat-Chrysler deal, I thought "You live long enough and everything happens -- I never though I'd side with Justice Ginsburg on anything jurisprudential." Or as Taranto would say " "Speaking Ruth to Power."
Congress established bankruptcy courts to provide for the orderly restructuring and liquidation of financially distressed companies, and the decisions of these tribunals are subject to review by the ordinary judicial courts. The Obama administration's plan for Chrysler--which involved giving a politically favored constituency (the United Auto Workers) priority at the expense of both taxpayers and legally privileged secured creditors--was an effort to circumvent the rule of law.
In addition to the principle at stake, the Supreme Court has an institutional imperative to intervene in this case. The administration is attempting to seize power that rightly belongs to the courts (and to Congress, since lawmakers could rewrite the bankruptcy law if they chose). We have often criticized the Supreme Court for overstepping its power, but it would be just as wrong for the court to shirk its responsibility to exercise its power legitimately.
It's a superb short and well-reasoned description of what I think to b the worst failure of the current Administration. I plan to send a lot of thinking Obama supporters to the piece.
This Associated Press article does not read like an Administration press release. Anomoly or sign of the times?
Obama repackages stimulus plans with old promises
By now, according to earlier White House economic models, the nation's unemployment rate should be on the decline. The forecasts used to drum up support for the plan projected today's unemployment would be about 8 percent. Instead, it sits at 9.4 percent, the highest in more than 25 years.
Some analysts believe the White House is still not being realistic, that Obama will be lucky if any real job creation from his recovery effort is seen by the end of the year, let alone the employment explosion he predicts.
"I think these estimates are overly optimistic," said Arpitha Bykere, a senior analyst with RGE Monitor.
I'll not excerpt. All fifteen are pretty bad, Hennessey expresses them clearly and concisely. The sum is that no semblance of a private system would remain. Private plans would be so regulated as to become government plans. There will be no remnant of "insurance" as coverage will be guaranteed without allowance for any extra charges for risky behavior or existing condition. "Children" (I borrow Hennessey's scare quotes) up to age 26 would have to be covered on a parent's plan. People with up to 500% of the poverty line would qualify for a Federal subsidy.
Oh, and there will be both individual and employer mandates. Yes, this is just what a weak economy needs.
According to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, it seems Chairman Frank went to bat for a GM Warehouse in Massachusetts. Y'know, a little "constituent support;"
Mr. Frank's spokesman, Harry Gural, says the Congressman discussed, among other things, "the facility's value to GM." We'd have thought that would be something that GM might have considered when it decided to close the Norton center, but then a call from one of the most powerful Members of Congress can certainly cause a ward of the state to reconsider what qualifies as "value." A CEO who refuses the offer can soon find himself testifying under oath before Congress, or answering questions from the Government Accountability Office about his expense account. To that point, Mr. Henderson spent Wednesday with Chrysler President Jim Press being castigated by the Senate Commerce Committee for their plans to close 3,400 car dealerships. Every Senator wants dealerships closed in someone else's state.
I can appreciate a Presidential honeymoon and all, but how many people are left who really believe that this new corporatism is going to work? Closing a parts warehouse will now be like closing a military base.
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration plans to appoint a "Special Master for Compensation" to ensure that companies receiving federal bailout funds are abiding by executive-pay guidelines, according to people familiar with the matter.
Oh please Sir, my wife has been ill and the children need new shoes...my projects have all been completed on time this quarter and the five year plan for my Department is on track...just another hundred dollars a week would be a big help...
PIMCO Managing Director William Gross offers some historica;l perspective, sound investment advice, and a bit of political punditry in a web address that is well worth a read.
I remember as a child my parents telling me, perhaps resentfully, that only a doctor, airline pilot, or a car dealer could afford to join a country club. My how things have changed. Now, as I write this overlooking the 16th hole on the Vintage Club near Palm Springs, the only golfers who shank seven irons into the lake are real estate developers, investment bankers, or heads of investment management companies. The rich are different, not only in the manner intoned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but also in who they are and what they do for a living. Whether some or all of them are filthy is a judgment for society and history to make. Of one thing you can be sure however: over the next several decades, the ability to make a fortune by using other peopleís money will be a lot harder. Deleveraging, reregulation, increased taxation, and compensation limits will allow only the most skillful Ė or the shadiest Ė into the Balzac or Forbes 400.
His Batting is Poor, But He's Also a Bad Fielder...
Francis Cianfrocca has a devastating column in Commentary. Where Larry Kudlow and James Pethokoukis see green shoots and mustard seeds. Cianfrocca sees high taxes, inflation and slow growth.
Since we must scale back fiscal borrowing as we move into the future, there are only two alternatives: to accept far higher levels of taxation, or to accept a U.S. economy that is significantly smaller and slower-growing than it would otherwise have been. (The consequences of the latter, of course,are high unemployment and less material well-being for individuals.)
What would be a logical way to navigate between those alternatives? Adopt a high-tax policy that does as little as possible to burden highly-productive individuals, businesses and capital, thus lessening the impact on the size and dynamism of the economy.
But we already know that the President wants to do exactly the opposite. Faced with an evil choice between much higher taxes and a smaller economy, Obama is on track to give us both.
Not too often that one guy owns a big story, but Richard Epstein has published two columns on the nomination of Judge Sotomayor that have contained more fact and wisdom than the rest of the world put together.
The first one was pretty tough on Sotomayor and provided substantive reasons to oppose her nomination, beyond an eight year old academic speech.
Today's questions the tactics and ideas of Karl Rove's -- and conservatives in general -- opposition as he separates conservative versus libertarian opposition to the pick.
He even takes a whack at those (rhymes with eh, jay?) who believe in a Borkean standard of strict constructionism:
Accordingly, [The Founders] crafted our Constitution as a complex compromise. In one breath, they conferred extensive powers on federal government and recognized broad powers in the states. In the next, they imposed strong limitations on federal and state power, such as the Takings Clause, which states "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."
These complex institutional arrangements raise insuperable difficulties for any simple program of strict construction that stresses the first point to the exclusion of the second. A faithful interpretation of those clauses that limit government power in broad terms--e.g. the Bill of Rights--cannot be read to hold that judicial review only comes into play in the most extreme cases.
Libertarians, says Epstein, needed activism in Kelo.
We pored over Article II of the Constitution, known as the Executive Powers Clause. Nowhere is the White House granted the right to override the time-tested bankruptcy process, to use Treasury money raised by taxing Americans to buy or bail out companies, to fire CEOs, to micromanage corporate policy, or to abrogate lawful contracts made by private parties.
Yet, our government has done these things and more ó leading to a corrupt GM bankruptcy. The damage to our system of corporate capitalism and the rule of law is severe. Next stop: Federal court?
If you read the whole thing you'll learn, as I did, that the GM Bailout TM is being orchestrated by a 31-year-old Yale Law STUDENT. Oy.
This recent Michael Ramirez cartoon reminds me of a thought I had while riding around on the tractor last Friday baling hay.
When it comes to racial politics it appears there are two distinct points of view amongst people of color: One is that of Dr. Martin Luther King who dreamed of the day that one would be judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin; the other is akin to "now that there's a 'brother' in the White House it's OUR turn to be the cracker." The question for Ms. Sotomayor is, to which of these views does she subscribe?
Thomas Sowell recently told Glenn Beck that the racism franchise in America isn't being dismantled, it's just being put under new management.
When surveyed, most people say they would support Congress placing "price caps" on cell phone service and automobiles, and 39% say they would support Congress placing price caps on televisions and "coffee and other hot beverages". Yet more evidence that Americans shouldn't be allowed to vote. -- Scrivener.net
Jimmy P. goes for a movie allusion from 1987's "Moonstruck."
There are three kinds of pipe. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where thatís gotten you. Then thereís bronze, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then thereís copper, which is the only pipe I use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.
Or as Team Obama might put it:
There are three kinds of healthcare systems. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where thatís gotten you. Then thereís the GOP free market system, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then thereís Obamacare, which is the system America should use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.
Both Don Luskin and the Heritage Foundry Blog have a little sport with Paul Krugman's column today. The Foundry says "We Didnít Know Krugmanís Nobel was for Fiction" and Luskin calls it "One of Paul Krugman's most evil columns yet, this morning, in which he blames Ronald Reagan for today's financial crisis, thanks to his signing of the in 1982,"
Clearly, everything was going along just fine, until that no-good B actor deregulated the banking system. We'd have been fine with Freddie and Fannie, we could handle the CRA, monetary policy is pretty much irrelevant. But the Garn-St. Germain Act set the stage...
Maya MacGuineas has a superb column in the WaPo today, exploding the myth that the problem with health care is that government is not buying enough of it.
"Health-care reform is entitlement reform" has become a mantra of the Obama administration. The idea is that Congress can add a massive health-care program this year -- covering the uninsured -- and use the same measures that pay for the health reform to fix the broader budget problems. If that sounds too good to be true, there's a reason.
She takes the proponents' arguments seriously enough to refute them. Yes, it would help some to broaden the risk pool; yes it would help some to move patients from the ER to scheduled office visits. But to think that marginal savings would cancel or seriously mitigate the cost of providing coverage for tens of millions of additional recipients is absurd.