The Refugee has decided to nominate a new category for daily award: Idiotic Idea of the Day (IIOTD). Trust him, this is going to be big.
Today, Barack Obama announced that a $5000 credit would be given to small business for each "net new" job created in 2010. Which really goes to show how little the preznit (credit to Keith) understands about running a business.
So, I'm a small businessman (and The Refugee has been one): Am I really going to hire someone at $60,000 (or pick a number) this year and every year thereafter just to get a $5,000 tax credit? Heck no. I would hire said person based on the economic business justification and a $5,000 subsidy would not even be a tipping point. However, I would gladly take the credit anyway thankyouverymuch.
So, how many jobs will this credit create that would not have been created without it? Zero. How much will it add to the deficit? About $33 billion. IIOTD.
Don't make the mistake of believing the Health Care Bill is dead. They're still trying to give us the same problems that Canadians have. But in Canada they're way ahead of us. They're already figuring out innovative ways around the socialized medicine scheme, with its 4 month waits for an MRI and 8 month waits to remove a brain tumor as shown in this YouTube video. KOA Radio's Jon Caldera, he of the Colorado Constitutional Reform Initiative, interviewed [audio link] Canadian Rick Baker of Canada's Timely Medical Alternatives and they discussed a specific case with the wait times I mentioned earlier. The conclusion they reached was that, while Canada has Universal Health Care Coverage the U.S. has Universal Health Care Treatment. This is because in Canada it is against the law to pay for private medical treatment - so many of them come here to spend their money. And it's damned affordable to boot. Baker quoted the customary price for a heart bypass procedure in the U.S. when billed to an insurer at $80,000 to $120,000. His cash client paid $16,000. Mister President! Mister President!
Here are the latest fees and wait times published on Timely's home page-
John Stossel's suggestion. I would never speak to the President in such tones.
Stossel links to Peter Suderman's Reason piece with the less imperative headline:
"Here, Obama, Let Me Google Some Health-Care Reform Alternatives For You"
Suderman provides links to a few good alternative suggestions on health care reform. For a President who said "If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know."
Ann Althouse has owned the Alito SOTU story, she gets QOTD yet again:
Oh, bullshit. He's a sideshow because he flinches when hit? He's modestly human and not a mannequin. I remember when Obama expressed a desire for Supreme Court Justices with a more sensitive emotional response. Empathy.
Almost twice as many no votes [70 - 30] as Volcker who got 16 back in 1983. BB will have to tough it out against a Congress that wants to push the Fed around. Barney Frank, for instance, wants to kick the regional bank president off the FOMC since they are not confirmed by Senate — and are often to hawkish for his tastes. -- James Pethokoukis
Isn't it fascinating that the lengthy, amplified, magnified speech of the most powerful man in the world with his big captive audience — in the magnificent room and in smaller rooms all over the country — are outweighed by one man's headshake and silent mouthing of 2 or 3 words?
And isn't it ironic that, right when we saw the judge's minimalist expression that overwhelmed the President's torrent of words, Obama was railing about the "powerful interests" that would use their great wealth to speak far too much during election campaigns?
It's not how much or how loud you speak that counts, is it? -- Ann Althouse
UPDATE -- Honorable Mention:
How can you tell when President Obama is lying? Justice Samuel Alito's lips move. -- James Taranto
I went looking for reasons why the GOP's Big Tent actually gets bigger when Progressives are kicked out of it to advance a discussion with jk and found this gem. I'm not sure yet how it relates to my premise but I have to share it, for it seems to tie in with several internecine issues around here.
The admitted Progressive author, UT-Austin professor of [not specified] argues that not only should Medicare and SoschSecurity NOT be slashed (in the name of deficit reduction or anything else) but that large, long term deficits are actually ... desirable.
So the fetish of long-term deficit reduction is politically poisonous -- and economically pointless. In reality, we need big budget deficits. We need them now. We need bigger deficits than we've got, to stabilize state and local governments and to provide jobs and payroll tax relief. And we may need them for a long time, on an increasing scale, and in the service of a sustained investment strategy aimed at solving our jobs, energy, environment and climate change problems. To pretend that expansionary policies are needed only for now, gives all this away.
But don't worry, boys and girls, nothing bad will happen.
The CAF coalition concedes that "long-term deficit reduction" is vital. But why? No reason is given. Are they worried about a threat of inflation? If so, why not look at interest rates? Last December's average 20-year Treasury bond rate was 4.40 percent -- lower than it was before the crash sent deficits soaring. Clearly, the markets aren't worried -- or the government would have to pay more to borrow. Equally obviously, the markets aren't worried about "default" or "national bankruptcy" either. Investors know those concepts don't apply to the government of the United States.
[Pause until your jaw returns to normal position.]
I mentioned tie-ins. This guy sounds like an uber-Progressive, and he's bashing CAF for doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Sound familiar?
250,000 White House Staffers, Visitors Affected by National Archives Data Breach
A data breach at the National Archives and Records Administration is more serious than previously believed. It involved sensitive personal information of 250,000 Clinton administration staff members, job applicants and White House visitors, as well as the Social Security number of at least one daughter of former Vice President Al Gore.
Of course, your private medical information will be fine.
Toyota's "reputation for long-term quality is finished," said Maryann Keller, senior adviser at Casesa Shapiro Group LLC in New York, a strategic adviser to the auto industry. "People aren't going to buy Toyotas, period. It doesn't matter which model. What's happened is sufficient to keep people out of the stores," she said in an interview yesterday.
For what it's worth, I stake my claim as creator of the brand's new pet name.
UPDATE: They missed one of my low points, but Ira Stoll picks it up:
Fourth, the command-and-control central planner aspect of his policies. "We will double our exports over the next five years," Mr. Obama said, adopting, with a tremendous tin ear, even the exact time horizon of Stalin's five year plans. Some readers will doubtless think it is over the top to invoke Stalin in the same breath as Mr. Obama, and, just to be clear, I don't think Mr. Obama is a mass murderer like Stalin. But the idea that government officials can successfully set and achieve goals for how many goods will be sold abroad is exactly the flawed logic of Communist economics.
Gee, I just can't figure out why Libertarians don't have a bigger voice in Government. Oh wait, maybe its this:
Advice to Barack Obama by Two People Who Didn't Vote for Him (or John McCain)
But just might if he ever got serious about governing.
That's the headline of an otherwise good article by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. But the headline explains why the GOP will cater more to Huck's Army that the voices of liberty. They did nothing (less than nothing if you read their magazine) to prevent the election of an unabashed statist. Now he has nationalized General Motors, tripled spending, attempted to take over health care, and -- never never forget -- appropriated the equity of GM and Chrysler bondholders for distribution to more politically aligned groups.
But even after he did all the above, even after he did nothing for gay rights, even after he continued the war policies they so despise, even after he appointed an Erlicher to be Science Czar and a drug warrior to be USAG -- even still, this does not disqualify him from future support by the myrmidons of Reason Magazine.
Of course, they could NEVER support Mayor Giuliani after a comment he made in a 1992 Mayoral race! But President Obama, if he picks it up a bit, can still get the coveted Welch-Gillespie vote.
Neither the House nor the Senate have figured out how to pass a reconciliation sidecar first, We are being asked to pass a piece of legislation that amends another piece of legislation which does not exist yet. We are having problems with the CBO and parliamentarian on that front. -- one senior Senate aide
Last week I cast our friend McCain as a RINO. That was not quite precise. A better description would be Progressive.
McCain was best described as a progressive - like Teddy Roosevelt, whom he cited constantly. McCain tended to see politics as a contest between the national interest and the selfishness of private agendas, and he favored a role for government in counterbalancing the excesses of organized wealth.
But that's not all. He's also a flip-flip-flopper.
This is the consensus: McCain's basically a right-winger, but at least you know where he stands.
Actually, this assessment gets McCain almost totally backward. He has diverged wildly and repeatedly from conservative orthodoxy, but he has also reinvented himself so completely that it has become nearly impossible to figure out what he really believes.
Political conversions are hardly new or scandalous. McCain's ideological transformation is unusual for two reasons: First, he has moved across the political spectrum not once - like Al Smith or Mitt Romney - but twice. And, second, he refuses to acknowledge his change.
I wasn't wrr..ong only about RINO vs. Progressive, but also when I parenthetically noted, "I'm even OK with it" [McCain winning re-election on Tea Party coattails.] While consciously aware of the fact that personality often distracts voters from a politician's policies, I was subconsciously taken in. Just as our government needs massive structural reform to rescue the nation economically, the GOP can no longer include Progressives in its Big Tent. They don't help us, you see, they neuter us. There's a place for those people and it's called the DNC, as lap dogs to The One.
And it's not just McCain, to whom I had ascribed Chait's "unwavering authenticity" whose personality clouded my judgement, but Palin as well. These people are right -"Time to pick a side, Sarah - Are you with the people, or against them?" I'll reiterate my willingness to kick her to the curb if she ever strays from the small-government playbook, and if she follows through on plans to campaign for McCain that's either a massive miscalculation or an admission of guilt. Either way, it'll be tough to recover.
AP - Facing a divided Congress and a dissatisfied nation, President Barack Obama will unveil a jobs-heavy agenda in his State of the Union address Wednesday, retooling his message more than his mission...
Divided? Almost historic majorities? A filibuster-proof Senate for the first year?
Ryan lays out outstanding alternatives to Democrats' health care, taxation, and spending policies. I'll suggest you read the whole thing before the SOTU speech extravaganza this evening.
I promised an analogy. I read this and thought "like a broken clock, the GOP is right twice a day." The Democrat Clock is not broken. It provides -- on request -- a perfectly random time value. It's not ever right in a predictable matter.
Call me mean spirited, but that captures my mood these days. I can't go on about the swellness of the GOP -- but when I look at the other guys...
This is why I rail at those who would take up back to the caves. The "live simply so that others may simply live" movement misses this. Curiously, I think the Objectivists do as well. I suppose I understand -- after repetitive beatings -- that no concept of collective good can be reified, but I still find this to be a powerful selling point. Everybody gets happy as we move down the X axis toward modernity.
I read the list of GOP ayes thinking I'd find a handy checklist of big-government Republicans to campaign against in future elections, but some of the names on the list surprised me. Tennessee's Bob Corker and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, most notably. Here's the rest of the list:
Where you getting all this economic freedom all the sudden Canada? Just happen to find it laying around in the snow somewhere? Well it turns out we’ve recently misplaced a good deal of it around here. A little suspicious if you ask me. -- Adam Ozimek
Mirabile your dictu, kids, I am going to defend the President from a partisan attack. Don't worry, I will follow it with a partisan attack of my own...
Professor Reynolds links to this photo saying "Metaphor Alert: It was locked and no one had a key."
I'll let the (strained) metaphor pass. I have seen so little humor and even less possibly self-deprecating humor from President Obama, I cheer this. It's kind of clever, somewhat sweet, and speaks to a history of the White House before January 20, 2009. None of this was expected and all is appreciated.
Now that I'm on the new David Plouffe team, I will also post this. Here is the "leader of the free world" preparing to address a roomful of sixth graders -- Jesus Murphy I sure hope the teleprompter doesn't break!
Follow the link for a far more substantive attack about Federal usurpation of education. Me, I'm just enjoying the moment.
What is a RINO? As JK and I agreed, it depends who you ask. I suggested we'd agree with the definition used by the TEA Party movement but that's more than a bit nebulous since it's a movement and not a party organization. For the sake of argument, let's consider the commendable platform of the Boston Tea Party:
Platform of the Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.
Being a "black-and-white" type of guy myself I like this concise expression of a consistent policy that is applied to every issue. But where jk would probably see "reduce the scope and power of government to limit illegal immigration" I would instead point to Article I, Sections 8 and 9 and say that establishing and enforcing laws regarding migration and naturalization are Constitutional functions of government. As is the repelling of invasions.
Ultimately though, I don't see this platform standing the test of time. If the scope of the movement is allowed to creep beyond taxes, regulations and government spending it is doomed to fragment and fall through the policy planks of the established GOP and DNC parties. I'll take an impromptu swipe at a better TEA Party Platform:
Platform of the _____ TEA Party
In order to promote a just and sustainable civil society in the United States, the ____ TEA Party supports the requirement of Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution that all direct taxes be apportioned among the states according to their representative numbers and, in so keeping, calls upon the state legislatures to ratify a constitutional amendment repealing the 16th amendment.
Furthermore, the Party supports a robust exercise of Judicial power to constrain the Executive and Legislative branches to the letter and spirit of the United States Constitution, most importantly in regard to regulation of commerce and expenditures from the national treasury.
I'd love to see a poll on how many people really believe this. AP:
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is telling voters in Ohio, already wracked by high unemployment, that investments in clean-energy technologies will help boost the nation's economy.
Obama planned to use his visit Friday to test-drive an aggressive populist push on jobs, a top concern for voters across the country as the White House begins a message shift heading into fall elections expected to be difficult for Democrats.
I do appreciate the AP's telling us that it is all a political stunt. But I am curious how many folks actually believe "that investments in clean-energy technologies will help boost the nation's economy?"
Thomas Sowell wants to know why Republicans haven't given more thought to winning the black vote."If they get 20 percent of the black vote, the Democrats are in trouble-- and if they get 30 percent, the Democrats have had it in the general election."
Many of the key constituencies of the Democratic Party-- the teachers' unions, the trial lawyers, and the environmentalists, for example-- have agendas whose net effect is to inflict damage on blacks. Urban Renewal destroys mostly minority neighborhoods and environmentalist restrictions on building homes make housing prices skyrocket, forcing blacks out of many communities. The number of blacks in San Francisco has been cut in half since 1970.
But, unless Republicans connect the dots and lay out the facts in plain English, these facts will be like the tree that fell in an empty forest without being heard.
He has some good practical advice. "The teachers' unions are going to be against the Republicans, whether Republicans hammer them or keep timidly quiet. Why not talk straight to black voters... Blacks have been lied to so much that straight talk can gain their respect, even if they don't agree with everything you say." Come to think of it, that last part applies to voters of any race. Just ask Scott Brown.
Until April of last year many considered Senators John McCain and Arlen Specter to be RINOs based on their support for signature Democrat policies in the areas of immigration, global warming and campaign finance among others. Specter's announcement that he was switching back to the Democrat party after 44 years made big news, but John McCain stealthily embarked on another track. First he reversed his support for cap and trade. Then he bumper-hitched the Tea Party movement and started befriending candidates like Scott Brown and voting against the Obamagenda. Now, he's in pretty good shape to hold his own seat in the senate with campaign endorsements and appearances by his former running mate Sarah Palin and even the newly minted junior senator from Massachusetts.
This goes mostly to show that McCain was never as much a RINO as Specter but also that Arlen seriously misread the staying power of the Obama Express. Losing the presidential election and inspiring some primary challengers seem to have rekindled McCain's conservative sensabilities. I'm already willing to predict that McCain's strategy will succeed and he'll be re-elected in November. And I'm even OK with it. He is a war hero, after all. (I just hope he'll remember what he really believes in if he ever again becomes a media darling.)
The impact of Tuesday's Senate election in Massachusetts hit California within hours, as Republican office- seekers moved to grab opportunities and nervous Democrats scrambled to assess how vulnerable their party's largest stronghold may have become.
If Scott Brown's election was very bad for health-care reform, it looks like it was very good for financial reform. Desperate to add a new issue into the news cycle and give Democrats something they can actually fight for, the White House is set to propose a raft of regulatory reforms that go far beyond anything that Congress has suggested so far, or that the White House has hinted might be in the offing.
The dark cloud was spotted by political meteorologist James Pethokoukis a few days ago.
Scott Brown’s stunning capture of the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by Ted Kennedy was a political black swan, a near-unpredictable event.
The result ends the Democratic supermajority in the Senate and leaves key parts of the Obama agenda in deep trouble. But the biggest loser just might be Wall Street. Desperate Democrats may see anti-bank populism as a way of holding power as the November midterm elections approach.
The last days of the heated Senate race saw the first attempts at that political gambit. Democratic candidate Martha Coakley’s allies in Washington, both the White House and national Democratic officials, used President Barack Obama’s proposed bank tax as a cudgel to bash Brown via emailings and telephone calls.
Now that he doesn't have health care to worry about, he can really go after those fat cat bankers (boo, hiss!)
WASHINGTON – Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she lacks the votes to quickly move the Senate's sweeping health overhaul bill through the House, a potentially devastating blow to President Barack Obama's signature issue.
Andy McCarthy has it right in his excellent article, "It's the Enemy Stupid." Scott Brown spoke out forcefully in favor of enhanced interrogation, and won — in Massachusetts. He said of waterboarding, "I do not believe it is torture. America does not torture . . . we used aggressive, enhanced interrogation techniques." And his own top strategists say their polling shows his victory was not in spite of this public stance, but because of it.
Here's hoping that Brown's leadership inspires other GOP candidates to "grow a pair."
I gotta admit I had not heard that one until Ed Morrissey shot it down. He cleverly asks "do we really need another former state Senator with next to no experience in national politics on a major-party ticket?"
But then he says the first thing that has ruined my elation and euphoria since last night's miracle:
Brown has a good sense of fiscal conservatism, but falls closer to Rudy Giuliani than to Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin on social issues, which is one of the reasons Rudy got an invite to Massachusetts and prominent social conservatives did not.
Closer to Hizzoner than the Huckelmeister? We can't have that!
Wondering aboot freedom's next home, I suggested that out neighbors to the North have been heading in the right direction.
Holy Hockey Pucks, eh? They've now passed us in the Heritage/WSJ Freedom Index.
The U.S. lost ground on many fronts. Scores declined in seven of the 10 categories of economic freedom. Losses were particularly significant in the areas of financial and monetary freedom and property rights. Driving it all were the federal government's interventionist responses to the financial and economic crises of the last two years, which have included politically influenced regulatory changes, protectionist trade restrictions, massive stimulus spending and bailouts of financial and automotive firms deemed "too big to fail." These policies have resulted in job losses, discouraged entrepreneurship, and saddled America with unprecedented government deficits.
Canada is now #7, with the United States right behind at #8.
The late Senator Ted Kennedy was called the "Liberal Lion" of the senate. The man elected to fill his vacant seat today certainly came in like a lion himself. After giving gracious and non-partisan recognition to his opponent, interim Senator Paul Kirk, to Ted Kennedy and his wife, and to President Obama, Senator-elect Brown then criticized specific policies that have materialized in the past 12 months.
A "trillion-dollar healthcare bill" that is "not being debated openly and fairly."
"No more closed-door meetings, back-room deals with an out of touch party leadership. No more hiding costs, concealing taxes, collaborating with the special interests and leaving more trillions in debt for our children to pay."
"I will work in the senate to put government back on the side of people who create jobs and the millions of people who need jobs. And remember as John F. Kennedy stated that starts with across the board tax cuts for businesses and families to create jobs, put more money in people's pockets and stimulate the economy. It's that simple."
"And let me say this with respect to the people who wish to harm us. I believe and I know all of you believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation. Let me make it very, very, very clear. They do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. And the message we need to send in dealing with terrorists: Our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them and not lawyers to defend them."
"And across this country to all those folks who are listening - if they're covering me - we are united by basic convictions that only need to be clearly stated to win a majority."
An endless stream of adjectives has been used to describe today's unlikely outcome. And they are all deserved, for his election makes forty other senators in Washington relevant once again. If this is indicative of a new tone in Washington then I think I just might be proud of my country once again.
"The perception has formed, perhaps indelibly, that the reason Democrats will get hammered in the 2010 elections is that the party moved too far left in general and tried to reform health care in particular."
"Nope" says Chait.
"While the Democrats may have committed sundry mistakes, the reason for their diminished popularity that towers above all others is 10 percent unemployment."
Of course there's no possibility the two could be related. And while I'm cautioned not to gloat over a potential Scott Brown victory today, Chait matter-of-factly concedes that "Democrats will get hammered in the 2010 elections."
My one fear of a Brown victory today is that the Dems will pivot and start governing reasonably, although still pursuing the statist agenda slightly less brazenly. Stuff like this from "thought" leaders on the other side gives me great comfort and joy.
White Massachusettsians who are "lifelong Irish Catholic Democrats" are a big reason why the state has reliably elected Democrats for decades. But today they are "disgusted with Obama's handling of terrorism, health care and taxes." As a result they "told The Post yesterday they intended to vote for Brown."
Why would you hand the keys to the car back to the same guys whose policies drove the economy into the ditch and then walked away from the scene of the accident?-- Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) (via Ann Althouse, Jonah Goldberg, FOXNews, Instapundit, &c.)
Overblown rhetoric no doubt, but it ain't mine. It's the sub-head of a TNR article that tries to argue in favor of passing the cap-and-trade bill this year. So what's their definition of "Democrats are doomed?"
"Worst of all, Democrats are likely to lose at least a few seats in November--and with them, their chances of overcoming a GOP filibuster--so this may be their last chance for some time to set limits on greenhouse gases."
With "doomed" now wasted, what superlative will TNR use if Democrats actually lose the majority too?
Technically this quote was uttered yesterday but I didn't hear it until this morning. President Obama, stumping for his candidate in the Massachusetts race for US Senate:
"So understand what's at stake here, Massachusetts. It's whether we're going forward, or going backwards. It's whether we're going to have a future where everybody gets a shot in this society, or just the privileged few."
It's Sunday: treat yourself to a read of Grover Cleveland's 1887 State of the Union message to Congress.
I call President Coolidge the last Constitutional Executive. He was the last "Chief Magistrate" who felt duty bound to keep his actions confined to those inscribed by the Constitution. President Cleveland was the last Constitutional Democrat. He favored internal improvements and, though he makes a compelling case against protectionism, he would not call himself a free-trader.
But this, his third message of his first term, falls on modern ears like a speech from ancient Rome or Sparta. He felt bound by legislation and legislation bound by the Constitution. He omits the usual folderol to address the serious problem the Treasury faces: there is a $140Million surplus and no legislative mechanism to return it! Revenues outstrip expenses every year, and President Cleveland knows this pot of money will attract government flies.
But all matured bonds have been purchased, and as he sees it, the Executive branch lacks the authority to offer longer bond holders a premium for prepayment. Oddly enough, neither TARP nor buying GM seems to cross his mind.
I got the address in a compilation of Cleveland's papers and positions, but the link I provided has a free copy of the entire message.
As I typed my post below that "A [Scott Brown MA Senate] win would be the biggest stand for freedom since they tore town the Berlin Wall." I heard Silence's voice in my ear about "overheated rhetoric." And yet, when I compare the Cleveland and Coolidge view of the Constitution to (let me be bipartisan) President Bush and Obama, it is hard to consider any description overheated.
In the same vein, blog friend TGreer is not very sanguine about the state of freedom today. (Perhaps he will mail stupid me the direct link to the post I cannot find. Else scroll to "America's Greatest Challenge -- and Danger.")
Insty links to Boston Conservative Talk Show Host (and you thought you had a rough job!) Michael Graham's blog post "Brown Supporters: The Most Motivated Voters Ever?" I corrected the spelling in my title to provide regional flair.
I ran campaigns for six years, and I’ve been watching campaigns for years more, and I’ve never seen the “We’ve got to win this race” attitude from regular voters like I’m seeing for Scott Brown.
In a typical campaign, the hardest part is getting people to actually do things—show up at events, make phone calls, etc. They all talk a good game, but what you usually end up with is a hard core group of activists begging folks just to put a sign in their yards. That’s why money is so important—so campaigns can pay people to do the work. Even Obama had to use money to get his “community activist” campaign off the ground in early 2008.
Scott Brown is having the opposite problem. People are begging for stuff to do, and the campaign can’t keep up with the demand. On Saturday, driving between Ashland and Littleton, I saw more people displaying home made signs than printed ones.
I'm daring to believe. A squeaker, we must remember, is a strong signal to legislators with purpler constituencies. A win would be the biggest stand for freedom since they tore town the Berlin Wall.
If you were at the Hopeychange inaugural ball on Jan. 20, 2009, when Barney Frank dived into the mosh pit, and you chanced to be underneath when he landed, and you've spent the past year in a coma, until suddenly coming to in time for the poll showing some unexotically monikered nobody called Scott Brown, whose only glossy magazine appearance was a Cosmopolitan pictorial 30 years ago (true), four points ahead in Kennedy country, you must surely wonder if you've woken up in an alternative universe.
If you're one of the dwindling band of Bay Staters who rely on the Globe for your news, you would never have known that a Massachusetts pseudo-"election" had bizarrely morphed into a real one – you know, with two candidates, just like they have in Bulgaria and places.
And if I can only nominate three, the last would be this...
And, while Barack may be cool and stellar if you're as gullible as "the educated class," Nancy Pelosi and Ben Nelson most certainly aren't: There's no klieg light of celebrity to dazzle you from the very obvious reality that they're spending your money way faster than you can afford and with no inclination to stop.
"The educated class" is apparently too educated to grasp this insufficiently nuanced point.
Before I'm chided for overconfidence, the title comes from the linked article by Boston political analyst Jon Keller, who has standing to make a Paul Revere analogy. He makes some interesting points.
Independents are breaking for Mr. Brown by a three-to-one margin, Rasmussen finds. And many people do not realize that independents outnumber Democrats—51% of registered voters in the state are not affiliated with a party, while 37% are registered as Democrats and 11% as Republicans.
"Around the country they look at Massachusetts and just write us off," longtime local activist Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government told me. "But people around here are really not happy with the extremes in the Democrat Party."
Keller enumerates some of the extremes as being civilian legal rights for terror suspects, tax hikes both locally and nationally, crashing poll numbers for Governor Duvall Patrick who was prototypical in many ways for the Obama presidency, and of course - Obamacare.
Support for the state's universal health-care law, close to 70% in 2008, is also in free fall; only 32% of state residents told Rasmussen earlier this month that they'd call it a success, with 36% labeling it a failure. The rest were unsure. Massachusetts families pay the country's highest health insurance premiums, with costs soaring at a rate 7% ahead of the national average, according to a recent report by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund.
JK worried that Brown may be "peaking too soon." I have to wonder when would be better - Monday afternoon? But according to Keller, Boston Democrat consultants are still in denial. If Coakley makes a comeback I predict it will be by chicanery, not by heavier turnout among the 37% Dems and 12% pro-Coakley independents.
To his credit, Obama didn't just come to Washington to be someone. Like Reagan, he came to Washington to do something -- to introduce a powerful social democratic stream into America's deeply and historically individualist polity.
Perhaps Obama thought he'd been sent to the White House to do just that. If so, he vastly over-read his mandate. His own electoral success -- twinned with handy victories and large majorities in both houses of Congress -- was a referendum on his predecessor's governance and the post-Lehman financial collapse. It was not an endorsement of European-style social democracy.
Hence the resistance. Hence the fall. The system may not always work, but it does take its revenge.
No posts here on the MA senate race in 4 days... shameful! (Brown by 15 points?)
Public Policy Polling, the first to notice that Coakley was croaking, has some inside baseball on registered Democrats and their attitudes about healthcare reform.
In Massachusetts it's a similar story with Scott Brown up 61-24 with those folks, [Democrats who opposed the health care plan] which based on our current projection of likely voters accounts for 20% of Massachusetts Democrats. One of the keys to Democratic success in 2008, for all the bluster about the PUMA crowd, was a high level of party unity. Barack Obama held onto 89% of his party's voters. If health care creates bigger divisions within the party ranks than that this year it's just going to be one more strike against Democratic candidates in close races.
We voters are repeatedly chided that "elections have consequences." Looks like Democrats should have heeded the corollary: "Pissing on taxpayers has consequences."
UPDATE: From the "Pajamas Media/Cross Target" poll taken yesterday that shows Brown at 15%, a couple of choice questions:
1. Thinking about next Tuesday’s special election for US Senate. The candidates are Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley. If the election were today, who would you vote for? If Scott Brown press 1, if Martha Coakley press 2. If you are undecided press 3.
1. Scott Brown 53.9%
2. Martha Coakley 38.5%
3. Undecided 7.6%
6. Thank you. Now for the last question. Do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or something else. If a Republican press 1. If a Democrat press 2. If something else press 3.
1. Republican 20.3% 2. Democrat 36.6%
3. Something else 43.1%
Registration may be 3:1 Dem but "consider yourself" is running closer than that.
Let's stipulate that Americans consume what is for some an unhealthy amount of salt. But there are many things Americans consume too much of: reality TV; Ke$ha CDs; stories about hunky, sensitive vampires; Facebook. If Mr. Bloomberg were only prepared to do something about "Twilight," I might look the other way when it comes to his morbid preoccupation with food. -- Eric Felter
Ahh, my favorite argument. The Europhiles versus the forces of liberty and reason.
We started with Mankiw vs. Krugman. Hopping over the pond to pick up his Nobel, Krugman looks around his five star hotel and says "Europe is doing great!" Mankiw lists the per capita GDP numbers and begs to disagree.
Megan McArdle goes toe-to-toe, anecdote-to-anecdote with Krugman and says something I've always seen and argued. People go to Europe for two weeks and fall in love with its aesthetics, charm, and history. And it's great. When you spend more time or look a little deeper, you see that they are poorer than us. Period, the end, QED.
I don't want to sound as if I'm saying Britain's a terrible place--it's lovely, and I miss it. But the amount that people are able to consume is much less than the amount Americans are able to consume, and many of the things they forego make real difference in things like personal comfort. (Based on my admittedly limited sample of British mattresses, they must be unimaginably hardy sleepers). Consumption isn't everything. But it is something, and that is what's being captured in the GDP differences.
They have these microscopic refrigerators. And all my friends, especially my progressive friends, say "isn't that cute -- we could learn a lot from them on how to live simply."
But my European friends were rich. And they had American-sized refrigerators. So my takeaway was that you had to be a millionaire in the UK or Ireland to live like a US plumber. Same for those adorable dinky-ass cars. Millionaires drive Mercedeses and Range Rovers.
Colorado Republicans will choose between former Lt. Governor Jane Norton and Current Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck as replacements for the ignominious Michael Bennet. Despite being our Lieutenant Governor I know little about Mrs. Norton other than her self-described Issue positions. (I did write her about one of them. Read below the fold.) My brother seems to have a better sense of things, however, encouraging me to attend the March caucuses to support Buck over Norton because "she is the establishment candidate - read: RINO."
Well, I have to say I did see Ken Buck at the 4/15 TEA Party. If Norton was there I didn't see her.
I'm a 46 year-old pro-choice Republican and Tea Partier. I've just read your Issues page and have just one objection - to your belief that "abortion should be outlawed" with limited exceptions.
I agree that life begins at conception.
I oppose all federal funding of abortion.
I support constructionist judges.
I agree that the Constitution does not specifically speak about a right to an abortion.
However, your exception for the "life" of the mother must include the mother's freedom to direct her own life. THIS protection IS provided in the Constitution. (Amendments 4, 5, 9 and 10.)
I agree that the unborn should be valued but I disagree that it is moral or possible for the State to coerce individuals to do so. Instead advocacy, counseling, and good role models can change women's hearts.
I have no objection to your personal opposition to abortion - only to your desire to use the power of the State to enforce your will on others. I think many Colorado voters would agree with me.
Jimmy P suggests, not so well, lining to Igor Volsky:
- Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY): “Normally you’re just dealing with the Senate and they talk about 60 votes and you listen to them and cave in, but this is entirely different,” he said. “I’m telling you that never has 218 been so important to me in the House.”
- Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): “We keep hearing them squeal like pigs in the Senate that they had a tough time getting to 60,” Weiner said. “Well, it wasn’t particularly a picnic for us to get to 218. Generally speaking, the Senate kabuki dance has lost its magic on those of us in the House.”
- Rep. Pete Defazio (D-OR): “They only got two votes to spare in the House. I think this will be a tougher negotiation than they think.”
A risk analysis on the Large Hadron Collider's destroying the entire world:
One way round this is to carry out a cost-benefit analysis but this soon runs into problems too. How do you value the future of entire planet? You could argue that it is infinite in which case any risk that it will be destroyed, no matter how tiny, is too much. Another argument, well established in law, is that there can be no award to a dead person's estate. "Death is simply not a redressable injury under American tort law," says Johnson.
By this argument, the downside of a particle-accelerator disaster that destroys the planet--assuming it is quick--is nothing. The cost-benefit analysis simply blows up in our faces.
There is a way out of these legal conundrums, however. Johnson describes four categories of meta-analysis that could be used to address the black hole case.
Very interesting article. Hat-tip Scrivener, who suggests "if you want to protect yourself from the risk that the world will be destroyed, you can join the wagering at Long Bets on the "it will be" side, and then if it is be compensated by your winnings ... Oh, wait..."
Christopher Caldwell also weighs in, apropos the attempt to kill Kurt Westergaard . . . and, in a very explicit sense, intellectual freedom. Few industries congratulate themselves on their "courage" and "bravery" more incessantly than artists and journalists — at least when it comes to plays about a gay Jesus, or joining the all-star singalong for Rock Against Bush. But it's easy to be provocative with people who can't be provoked. Faced with an opportunity to demonstrate real courage, the arts and the media shrivel up like a bunch of dying pansies. -- Mark Steyn
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will switch off lights for hours at a time in Caracas and other cities such as oil town Maracaibo in planned blackouts to tackle power shortages that threaten President Hugo Chavez's support.
In a short ThreeSources discussion, jg commented that "If putting the Democrat majority leader of the Senate on the defensive for a few cycles can help keep them from peaking too soon, so be it." It's hard to argue with that, but my concern is that we are adopting the victimologists principles and rhetoric.
Richwine asks how the GOP can govern when it makes short term plays like demanding Reid's resignation and foreswearing Medicare cuts.
Senator Reid’s remarks, unremarkable as they were, should have elicited no comment whatsoever from GOP leaders. Instead, party chairman Michael Steele called for Reid to resign his leadership post. Why is this bad? Because for decades the Left has attempted to enforce a strict set of rules regarding what may be publicly stated about race. We are safe if we stick to platitudes like “diversity is our strength,” but any critique of affirmative action or mention of racial differences is immediately suspected to be insensitive, intolerant, or just plain racist. For conservatives to make progress on racial issues, it is essential that the boundaries of the debate be expanded to allow a more open discussion.
Steele’s extreme over-reaction is a surrender to political correctness, just for the sake of having a talking point to emphasize for a few days. Republicans will never have anything useful to say about racial issues if they allow the Congressional Black Caucus and NAACP to set the terms of the debate. Yet that could easily be the long-term effect of their latest rhetorical misadventure.
The WSJ Ed Page runs a sobering but essentially correct synopsis of this year's freedom report:
Democracy's troubles are summed up in "Freedom in the World 2010," the yearly report card published today by Freedom House. We're in a "freedom recession," the advocacy group says. For the fourth consecutive year, more countries saw declines in political and civic rights than advances, the longest such period of deterioration in the 40 year history of this widely cited report.
Start with the "axis of engagement" states that President Obama sought to butter up diplomatically in his first year in office. The authoritarian regimes in Russia, Venezuela, Iran and China all became more repressive in 2009, according to Freedom House measures. America's attempts to play nice didn't make the other side any nicer.
I think they short-shift President Bush a bit, for backing down after the 2006 midterms. I suggest that he had his hands full with the Iraq surge and a possible unraveling from all the gains made. He was less of a Sharanskyite in the last two years, but he focused diminished political capital on what was important.
Gotta read the whole thing, but the end is worth excerpting as well:
If in the days of Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan, we worked to fashion the world into a better place guided by the belief that the urge to live in freedom is universal, today we act as if we are resigned to taking the world as it is. We used to nudge countries toward liberal democracy. Now we assume the price of nudging is too high.
Meanwhile, the enemies of democracy have set out to undo the gains of the post-Berlin Wall era, and many are succeeding.
Perhaps you cannot blame the Administration for this AP lede, but I suspect it is not far off the mark:
WASHINGTON – Targeting an industry whose political deafness has vexed his administration, President Barack Obama is weighing a levy aimed at recovering tax dollars from government-rescued financial institutions.
The proposed levy could put Obama on the popular side of public opinion that is decidedly against Wall Street and angry over shortfalls in a $700 billion bank bailout fund.
Get out your pocket Constitution and send me the page that allows the Executive branch to create special levys against industries whose " political deafness has vexed" him.
Procrastination pays in blogging. I wanted to post on John Taylor's guest editorial in the WSJ today. Taylor is the author of the "Taylor Rule" and he takes Chairman Bernanke to task for quoting it but not using is correctly.
Blog friend Josh Hendrickson at The Everyday Economist has beaten me to the punch:
The entire piece is a must-read, but I would like to focus attention on Bernanke’s use of the Taylor rule. What is troubling about the recent debate and framing it in terms of the Taylor rule is that it seems that everyone has their own definition. Over time, many economists have statistically fit the parameters of the Taylor rule in order to estimate the Fed’s reaction function. However, we have to be careful about what these estimates actually mean. These types of estimates are certainly useful for policy comparisons and other positive analyses. However, they are not useful for drawing normative conclusions because the fitted parameters incorporate policy mistakes in the estimation period.
Aah, you know those right wing nutjobs at the Boston Herald Editorial Page.No surprise here:
Massachusetts voters have to ask themselves a serious question before they head to the polls next week: Are they content with the current state of affairs in Washington?
Are they content with a sweeping health care bill, now being negotiated behind closed doors by principals from only one political party? (So much for a new era of bipartisanship promised by our president.)
And are they prepared for the impact that bill will have on the health care industry in our own state, where we already insure 97 percent of our population?
UPDATE: He's having a special fundraising day with a $500K goal and it's now pushing 750. I gave another $35. You guys have seen how I dress, I'm not a wealthy man. What's it worth to stop ObamaCare? Donate
UPDATE II: $1.3 Million -- I am going to share this information with Senator Michael Bennet today. Y'know it is almost like people hate socialized medicine and will mobilize against those candidates who support it...
I don't have a lot of money, but I did give $85 yesterday to Scott Brown in Massachusetts -- in hopes that we might stop this monstrous health care bill. I will donate $1000 to your opponent if you continue to vote for it.
I suggest you save me $1000 and save your Senate seat. You could still vote against this, citing the non-democratic methods used in the reconciliation process.
How 'bout it Senator? I've got much better things to spend $1000 on.
Mike Huckabee never looked so good as he has since becoming a regular contributor on Fox News Channel. This flattering exposure has concerned me since he might harbor ambitions for another presidential run. So I'm pleased to see someone I'd actually want to run now following his lead:
As health care reform nears the finish line, there is much wailing and rending of garments among conservatives. And I’m not just talking about the tea partiers. Even calmer conservatives have been issuing dire warnings that Obamacare will turn America into a European-style social democracy. And everyone knows that Europe has lost all its economic dynamism.
Strange to say, however, what everyone knows isn’t true.
Why so gloomy, jk? Well, Michael Steele was on FOX News Sunday and...
I don't think anybody at GOP HQ will read this, but ThreeSourcers should. Clark Judge lays out "10 Tips for the GOP in 2010." I don't know that it would match any of our individual list, but I don't think there's a thing on there anybody around here would disagree with.
We could do much worse for an agenda -- and, of course, we will.
ThreeSourcers should enjoy their six weeks of Silence Dogood. Our favorite left-of-center commenter has posted some interesting items today, including this, which I had not heard before:
The real term limits we need - limits on time as a committee chair. Stay in congress as long as you like (and can get elected). But you have to do it on more than your ability to deliver pork through the power of a committee chair.
I like that a lot. I am very torn on term limits. They seem arbitrary and counter to liberty. And yet, the problems of incumbency...
Next March, College basketball will take him away. So like I say, enjoy while you can!
"How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?" [Candidate-Senator Barack Obama] demanded of his advisers on a conference call, a moment at which most people on the call said the candidate was as angry as they had ever heard him... -- via Allahpundit
Buoyed by a huge advantage with independents and relative disinterest from Democratic voters in the state, Republican Scott Brown leads Martha Coakley 48-47.
Here are the major factors leading to this surprising state of affairs:
-As was the case in the Gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia last year, it looks like the electorate in Massachusetts will be considerably more conservative than the one that showed up in 2008. Obama took the state by 26 points then, but those planning to vote next week only report having voted for him by 16.
This comes from the documentation accompanying a $15 USB CD Rom drive. The cover is in Chinese and English. The title is "Manual Content." Like an old horror movie, that title screams "don't go in there!" But I bought a defective one and had to see if there was something I needed to do to open the door. The last sentence is a perfect example of translated-documentation-speak:
"Please do not place the driver under easy pressure to guarantee the proper operation of the drive."
It may not pack the punch of "Quote of the Day" or "Quotidian Huck-a-Whack," but we're trying it out.
Today's Friday Heterodoxy is my admission that I cannot summon high dudgeon when the media call Tea Party movement members "teabaggers." I know, I know! Anderson Cooper is calling me gay! I'm outraged! I haven't eaten in weeks!
Firstly: there really isn't another term. "Teabaggers" rolls off the tongue (stop snickering on the back!) "Tea Party Protest Movement Members bla bla bla...it goes on forever.
Sure, Cooper and Olberman and Chris Matthews love to use it pejoratively. Yankee Doodle was the height of distain until some brave young teabaggers -- I mean original Tea Party Movement Members -- took it on as their sobriquet. How many police departments adopted pet pigs?
Lastly, are we not adopting the volatile victim mentality that most of us decry in others? If it's not racist to oppose President Obama's health care agenda -- it ain't homophobic to call Members of the Tea Party Movement teabaggers.
Outside the CNN/MSNBC/Andrew Sullivan axis, I don't think many people parse tea bag as a verb. I'm secure enough in my heterosexuality -- you can call me a teabagger if you like.
Wisconsin's Mr. Duffy describes it this way: "I'm running because this is the fight of my generation. The prior one fought the Cold War, before that it was World War II. But our fight is becoming one for the principles of free markets and against creeping socialism." He's targeting Mr. Obey for writing the $787 billion stimulus, highlighting Democrats' failed economic program. The DA (who is also a professional lumberjack athlete) is crisscrossing the district to warn about rampant spending, Medicare cuts, higher taxes and overregulation.
The normally solidly Democratic Denver Post Ed Page:
Despite repeated promises of transparency by Obama and Democratic leaders, the House and Senate will forgo the usual approach of combining bills through a conference committee, which would allow for floor debate and television coverage, and instead craft a compromise behind closed doors.
Democrats say Republicans, who have rejected the plan, could otherwise filibuster the process, delaying negotiations and the legislation.
But Democratic leaders even rejected a request from C-SPAN to allow cameras to capture the important negotiations. That's an outrage
Actually, Prof Mankiw has an interesting take on the oft-rumored upcoming under-the-bus-throwing of Larry Summers. (My favorite tale was that the left is disturbed because Summers brings too much frugality to the Obama Administration -- yikes!)
Mankiw thinks that Summers is a valuable voice, but might be miscast as a policy guy:
On the other hand, the job Larry has--NEC Director--traditionally has the responsibility of coordinating the policy process, which requires more people skills than deep insights into economic policy. Maybe what the White House needs is a reorganization. Put a hard-working but easy-going person like Jason Furman or Doug Elmendorf in charge of organizing the economic policy process and then give Larry a position such as "senior adviser" from which he can kibitz on a wide range of policy topics. There is really no one better at asking the hard questions that need to be asked.
He did have a policy role in the Clinton Administration, and presumably as President of Haaavaad, but a reorg might be better in this than another underbussing.
Yup, everybody's posting this, and yup, I did not bother to watch because I have seen it before. But Allahpundit says " Lies this shameless, especially from the lips of our modern-day Lincoln-Jesus, must be cherished." And he has got a point.
Bonus, web-only feature. Follow the Hot Air link to see Robert Gibbs actually face some tough questions on this.
The Tea Party Patriots (very official spokespeople for the movement as they have Facebook, Ning, and Twitter accounts) renounce the move to create a Judean People's Front Party. Good for them.
There is much talk of the formation of a third political party based on the tea party movement. In Florida, a Democratic operative with absolutely no connection to the tea party movement has filed papers to form a third party called the Florida Tea Party. He has issued legal threats against local tea parties demanding that they cease using the name "Florida Tea Party."
Tea Party Patriots is issuing this statement in order to make it clear that we are not associated with this, or any attempts to form a third party. Additionally, we believe that such efforts are unproductive and unwise at this time. The history of third party movements in this country is one of division and defeat. We believe that it is instead time for all Americans to rise up and demand appropriate reform within their own parties. The mechanisms exist for citizens to participate in their parties, and to drive their parties in the right direction.
The Tea Party Patriots encourage all citizens to get involved in the party process, and to reshape their parties into something in which they may once again believe. This country does not belong to any one party, nor does it belong to the career politicians. This country belongs to the citizens. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "We have given you a republic madam, if you can keep it." The founders knew that it would be our sacred obligation as citizens to get involved, and to work hard to hold on to this great nation. We have much work to do, and future generations will look back in judgment. We hope you will join us in preserving the republic.
I am not making up this headline: Are Democrats exiting the sinking ship? Part 11: Colorado
I’ll get to Dodd in a later post, but it’s interesting to ponder what’s happening in Colorado. In 2008 it was a showcase for the popularity of Barack Obama. He accepted the Democratic nomination in Invesco Field, in front of a stage setting with fake Roman columns, to the cheers of tens of thousands. I remember seeing Ritter speak triumphantly at an earlier event, a concert in an amphitheater in the mountains above Denver, celebrating his own and Obama’s support of environmental causes (his official website calls him “Greenest Gov. in U.S.”).
A friend of this blog sends a link to an item of great interest to me. He says "You have mentioned a few times your fear that once America socializes, there will be no where left to see the light of liberty. I would not be so sure." And the link summarizes a Pew global poll:
To the question “whether you completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree or completely disagree with the following statements: Most people are better off in a free market economy, even though some people are rich and some are poor“, 81% of the (mostly urban) Indians said they agreed. As Dr Shah writes “In 2002, India was halfway in the list with 62% support. In 2009, India is at the top of the list, with 81% support.”
Similarly, to the question “What do you think about the growing trade and business ties between (survey country) and other countries – do you think it is a very good thing, somewhat good, somewhat bad or a very bad thing for our country?” 96% of the Indian respondents said that it’s a good thing, compared to 88% in 2002.
My emailer notes that "Ayn Rand's works have become incredibly popular among Indian elites as well."
The title refers, of course, to Dr Deepak Lal's "Reviving the Invisible Hand." Lal delineates two Liberal International Economic Orders: One headed by Britain from the repeal of the Corn Laws to WWI, and a "Pax Americana" version from the end of WWII to the present.
I've always wondered if India, with its British colonial rule of law history, might take up the third. A couple friends who did Econ PhD dissertations on India are less sanguine than I am.
Of late, Canada's been showing good signs. It's a lot closer and I really enjoy hockey.
Some are calling it the best chance to stop ObamaCare. I gave $50 and follow @ScottBrownMA on Twitter.
And that was before I saw how cute his daughters are! You want to make a difference, I don't think this is a bad place to start. The national GOP has given up but some bloggers are thinking of making it a race, He's nine points down, and the race is in Massachusetts, but...
Sure, I could spend an hour and crank out a second-rate blog post ridiculing David Brooks's elitism. But why? Will Collier hits it out of the park -- and I just gotta link!
Read the whole merciless pounding, but here's a taste:
First, David, until you can explain--without consulting Google--say, Bernoulli's theorem and how it relates to flight, don't bother passing yourself and your like-minded NYDC pals off as the country's sole "educated class." Out here in the hinterlands, we're well aware that you and your Ivy League buddies believe that you are the only actual educated people on the planet, but you ought to have learned somewhere along the way that belief in an idea does turn that idea into reality. Asserting as much, to borrow a line from the late John Hughes, just makes you look like an ass.
You think I won't link to Mother Jones? Y'think? You dare me?
Kate Sheppard asks Is Whole Foods Bad for the Planet?
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has probably brought more people to organic foods than anyone else in the United States. And many of the folks shopping at his markets undoubtedly consider themselves to be environmentally aware. They might even believe that by purchasing their groceries at Whole Foods outlets they are doing their part to help the planet. But certainly many of them would probably be startled to learn of of [sic] Mackey's position on climate change: he's a global warming denier.
If only a reliable media outlet had predicted this disaster...
To be fair, I think Whole Foods is bad for the planet because they promote organic farming which threatens animal habitat and fair trade coffee which impoverishes the poorest farmers to subsidize middle-class (well, less poor) farmers. But those don't seem to be the faults that Mother Jones has in mind.
I hesitate to post this. I don't want to get they guy in trouble and I don't want to see the Boulder store close down.
But Whole Foods chief John Mackey has gone from criticizing ObamaCare (high crime or misdemeanor enough that he had to step down) to suggesting -- in The New Yorker -- that he is reading a book which is skeptical of Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe.
As Mackey warns, the higher energy prices, compliance costs of new regulations, and the litigation nightmares will lower our standard of living. One thing he forgot to mention is that these new energy taxes and regulations won’t do anything to reduce the earth’s temperature and reducing our economic prosperity cripples our ability to tackle real environmental problems.
Yeah, he is still no Friedmanite, his company has a duty to help the poor and save the planet &c. But damn, you have got to salute us candor and dedication to principles.
The Fact (well, I heard it on the TV news...): The city of Denver now has more licensed medical marijuana dispensaries than it has Starbucks®
The Gag: Obviously, we need more Starbuckses...
The serious observation: One unintended consequence I missed as a fierce proponent of medical marijuana was the incredible cheesiness of the establishments. (Again, I am trusting local TV news, so NaCl a bit, but) most of the dispensaries have much more the vibe of a head shop than a Doctor's office. I remain a proponent of full-out legalization and can classify this as freedom's exploiting a loophole. But I remain disappointed that I was thinking of serving Angel Raich more than Snoop Dogg. Not as far as regret, but definitely disappointment.
Words fail even worse, NBA edition. Washington Wizards (formerly Bullets) player Gilbert Arenas reportedly could lose a $100 million contract as the result of bringing guns (plural) into the locker room in a city where possession of them is as illegal as it is here in NYC -- and then deciding to threaten teammate Javaris Crittenton with one, rather than pay off on a bet ... only to have Crittenton draw his own gun in return!
This is post-Plaxico, no less. When members of a local NBA team were asked for comment, "Nets say 3 out of 4 players pack heat"..
I was in a band where the guys would threaten each other with guns at rehearsals. That probably set back my appreciation for the Second Amendment by ten years.
UPDATES: Taranto adds: "This is almost as embarrassing to the Wizards as their record, although perhaps they'll make a virtue of necessity and embrace the tough-guy image. They could even change the team name to something firearm-related--say, the Washington Bullets."
Reason TV did a stupid and snarky video about how bad the last decade was, seemingly based mostly on a few phrases from the Presidential debate in its first year.
GMU Econ Professor (and general deity) Tyler Cohen gives the decade a far more measured evaluation in the NYTimes today.
Putting aside the United States, which ranks third, the four most populous countries are China, India, Indonesia and Brazil, accounting for more than 40 percent of the world’s people. And all four have made great strides.
One lesson from all of this is that steady economic growth is an underreported news story — and to our own detriment. As human beings, we are prone to focus on very dramatic, visible events, such as confrontations with political enemies or the personal qualities of leaders, whether good or bad. We turn information about politics and economics into stories of good guys versus bad guys and identify progress with the triumph of the good guys. In the process, it’s easy to neglect the underlying forces that improve life in small, hard-to-observe ways, culminating in important changes.
In a given year, an extra percentage point of economic growth may not seem to matter much. But, over time, the difference between annual growth of 1 percent and 2 percent determines whether you can double your standard of living every 35 years or every 70 years. At 5 percent annual economic growth, living standards double about every 14 years.
Cohen cedes that it was not a banner decade for the America economy. But the world, as a whole, got "ten years richer" and we all got iPods. I'm cool with that.
The U.S. Government is offering the suspect charged with attempting to bomb an aircraft on Christmas Day, Omar Abdulmutallab, some kind of incentives to share what he knows about Al Qaeda, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Sunday.
Asked why Abdulmutallab should cooperate given his right, as criminal defendant, to remain silent, Brennan replied: "He doesn't have to but he knows there are certain things that are on the table... if he wants to engage with us in a productive manner, there are ways he can do that."
Instead of strapping this guy to a board and pouring water down his throat till he talks, we get this.
"Call off the Dogs!" says the deeply deliberative Senator Ben Nelson. Who stood up to his own party in a matter of deep conscience until the Senate Bill made provisions about Federal funding of abortions gave his State $100 Million. You know the guy I'm talking about -- another Damn Webster if I ever saw one!
The "dogs" in this instance being 13 state attorneys general who were suing against the "Cornhusker Kickback." Senator Webst -- I mean Nelson, said that it would be fixed.
How would the kickback be fixed? The memo explains: "Senator Nelson said it would be 'fixed' by extending the Cornhusker Kickback (100% federal payment) on Medicaid to every state."
In no time, we'll all be drinking free bubble up and eatin' rainbow stew!
I read this yesterday and did not think it was too big a deal. But Mark Tapscott says it is, and I am starting to see his side.
[Personal Democracy Forum's Tech President Micah] Sifry summarizes the difference between the truth and the myth at the outset of his post, noting "the truth is that Obama was never nearly as free of dependence on big money donors as the reporting suggested, nor was his movement as bottom-up or people-centric as his marketing implied.
"And this is the big story of 2009, if you ask me, the meta-story of what did, and didn't happen, in the first year of Obama's administration. The people who voted for him weren't organized in any kind of new or powerful way, and the special interests--banks, energy companies, health interests, car-makers, the military-industrial complex--sat first at the table and wrote the menu. Myth met reality, and came up wanting."
I did not believe anything else from the Obama campaign, but I must admit that I did buy in to grassroots, little-guy, small donation fundraising story. Naďf.
Did anyone else watch JK's Merry Christmas video with Larry Kudlow interviewing Don Luskin and CNBC business correspondent Jerry Bowyer on the significance of Ayn Rand's resurgence in the Obamanomics era? It really is quite revealing. [Better quality audio and video here.] You see, Bowyer is a Chief Economist and a Christian though not necessarily in that order. He says that Ayn Rand's philosophy actually "handicaps our message. The American people will not be persuaded by that case for capitalism."
Later he said, "The Randians have never been able to really make the sale because Americans have an inherent sense that selfishness is not a good thing. So the Rand case that says selfishness really is good and embrace capitalism because it's selfish probably hurts us more than it helps us." This statement, however, and Jerry's meaning of "selfish" must be put into context by Bowyer's later assertion that "freedom is not a selfish thing."
Probably worse that the true-believer Bowyer is Kudlow. After saying that he "totally regards himself as a free-market capitalist" he conducts the entire interview from a sort of "Rand was half-right" point of view.
"Can one agree to like Rand on her free-market capitalism and at the same time put away, put aside her atheism? I personally have a lot of problems with that part. I don't see how you run a country, I don't see how you run a society, I don't see how you run your life, and I draw on my own life, without some spiritual, moral and religious rules of the road. I think that's what God teaches us. I think that's what the New and the Old Testament teaches us and that's why I think charity and helping others is so important. (...) On the other hand Jerry I hope that I am open enough to realize her ideas on free-market capitalism, we need a bigger dose of that right now in American history."
Noted Objectivist philosopher Dr. Harry Binswanger saw the program and forwarded it to his subscription email list with a long analysis (reprinted in whole below the fold).
What I want to know is where are the thinking people? Thinking in regard to being pro-reason and pro-independence. That is, why isn't a frequent reaction: "She's an atheist--that's good; she was for radical selfishness? How interesting! I've never heard of anyone taking that position. Maybe Nietzsche (but maybe not). Let me hear more."
"The hardest part about gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche. As long as that niche is occupied, evidence and proof and logical demonstration get nowhere. But once the niche is emptied of the wrong idea that has been filling it — once you can honestly say, "I don't know", then it becomes possible to get at the truth." -The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, 1985
Subject: HBL You want bitter? I'll give you bitter.
December 24, 2009
From Harry Binswanger
You've got to watch this CNBC show on Ayn Rand. It's about 10 minutes out of
the Larry Kudlow show. Kudlow and a creep named Jerry Bowyer are critical of
Ayn Rand for her atheism and selfishness. Her defender is Donald Luskin, a
name that's vaguely familiar, but whom I don't know. Luskin does try to make
some points, but he is not deep and he is not given enough time.
But here comes the bitter part. In the mounting publicity about Ayn Rand,
I've seen commentator after commentator make these same
criticisms: she's an atheist and she's for selfish greed. What the hell is
wrong with these people? Those are not criticisms: those are her virtues.
What I want to know is where are the thinking people? Thinking in regard to
being pro-reason and pro-independence. That is, why isn't a frequent
reaction: "She's an atheist--that's good; she was for radical selfishness?
How interesting! I've never heard of anyone taking that position. Maybe
Nietzsche (but maybe not). Let me hear more."
A thinking person would then pursue some further thoughts along the lines of
"What reasons have ever been offered for unselfishness? I know Ancient Greek
culture was not inclined toward that 'meek shall inherit the earth' stuff.
Were the Ancient Greeks pro-altruism, or did that begin with Christianity?
Is the drivel I always hear about unselfishness something that's just a
leftover of Christian nonsense?"
I can only go by what *my* reaction was when I first encountered Ayn Rand's
atheism and pro-selfishness. When I came to her talk on the Objectivist
ethics my Freshman year at MIT (Spring, 1962), I had slid back from an
earlier atheism into speculating as to if maybe there was a (non-conscious)
"something"--like a basic law of the universe (e.g., that all processes move
toward equilibrium) that was God in an impersonal sense. When I say I was
"speculating," I mean I was indulging in absurd, arbitrary, "what if's?"
At any rate, in the Q&A following her lecture, she was asked whether she was
an atheist, and she answered, in a tone of some surprise at even being
asked, "Of course." It was as if she had been asked whether she wore a coat
when she went out in cold weather. I heard an answering "Of course" in my
own mind, and that was that. To be sure, she went on to explain that she
accepted only reason and that there had never been any reason given to
believe in God. That solidified my "Of course," but all that had been really
necessary was what she did by her tone: to indicate that this was not an
occasion for fantasy but a question of fact--like whether or not there
gravity holds the moon in orbit. Once the issue had been put into that
rational, factual, scientific context, there was nothing to consider. "Of
Now my reaction to her selfishness. Within days of her speech, I bought a
copy of Atlas Shrugged and began reading. I think it was this passage, from
page 51, that caused the mental light bulb to turn
> "You're unbearably conceited," was one of the two
> sentences she heard throughout her childhood, even
> though she never spoke of her own ability. The
> other sentence was: "You're selfish." She asked
> what was meant, but never received an answer. She
> looked at the adults, wondering how they could
> imagine that she would feel guilt from an undefined accusation.
That had been exactly my reaction to my mother's nagging along the same
lines. It was either then or a few pages further on that I thought to
myself, "I had never bought into the idea that I should feel guilty for
being selfish, but this lady goes me one better: she thinks it's actually a
virtue to be selfish!" My reaction was one of admiration. Mixed with a vague
chagrin that I hadn't taken that step myself.
My purpose is not to brag. Alright, maybe a little--but only in retrospect.
At the time, I didn't think there was anything special about me in this
regard: it was just a matter of common sense and personal honesty. I thought
that half to a third of the population was in the same situation as I was.
Yes, there were the self-deceivers and the sheep, but there were also, I
thought, a goodly number of people just waiting to be told that
unselfishness makes no more sense than religion.
So where are those people? You can say they have been destroyed by the
comprachicos of our educational system--except that the comprachicos weren't
that numerous until the 70s, and there are amazingly few people among the
older population who are open to atheism and selfishness. Lawrence Kudlow
looks to be just a little younger than I am, and yet there he is taking his
belief in nomadic tribal tales as if it were the solid finding of science.
Is it that it's too hard to go back on a lifetime of accepting and acting on
altruism? Well, there were about a million copies of Atlas and hundreds of
thousands of copies of The Virtue of Selfishness sold to people who were
young in the pre-comprachio era.
My bitterness (probably temporary) is fueled by seeing *everyone* now raving
about Atlas Shrugged while missing the whole point of the novel, treating it
as if it were essentially a condemnation of over-regulation. I'm reading
dozens and dozens of articles on the web, pro and con, on the rising
interest in Ayn Rand. They are all depressing.
And what about the philosophic content of her non-fiction? What about the
incredible outpouring of knowledge, from the nature of existence to the
theory of concepts, to the theory of free will, and on and on? Sure, I can
understand why professional philosophers have tremendous difficulty in
grasping any of it, because of their automatized methodology (though that
took me decades to appreciate). But where are the thinking readers among the
Where are the people who are *at least intrigued* by ideas like:
"Psycho-epistemology is the study of man's cognitive processes from the
aspect of the interaction between the conscious mind and the automatic
functions of the subconscious"? Or, "Art is a selective re-creation of
reality according to an artist's metaphysical value- judgments"? Or,
"Emotions are the automatic results of man's value judgments integrated by
his subconscious; emotions are estimates of that which furthers man's values
or threatens them, that which is
*for* him or *against* him"? Or, "Sacrifice is the surrender of a greater
value for the sake of a lesser one or of a nonvalue"? Where are the people
who, even if they have questions or doubts, can recognize the power of such
When one speaks of man's right to exist for his own sake, for his own rational self-interest, most people assume automatically that this means his right to sacrifice others. Such an assumption is a confession of their own belief that to injure, enslave, rob or murder others is in man's self-interest -- which he must selflessly renounce. The idea that man's self-interest can be served only by a non-sacrificial relationship with others has never occurred to those humanitarian apostles of unselfishness, who proclaim their desire to achieve the brotherhood of men. And it will not occur to them, or to anyone, so long as the concept "rational" is omitted from the context of "values," "desires," "self-interest" and ethics. - Ayn Rand
The first decade of the 21st century has come to a close. 2009 is widely regarded as a crappy year (though it did mark the birth of my third, very precious, daughter) and surpassed in crappiness in recent memory only by 2008. 2010 can only be better still, right?
I'll take this opportunity to wish all Three Sourcers a happy and hopeful new year, for knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness, and to invite everyone to list in the comments what you are thankful for on this memorable date. Me? I'm thankful there's only one more year for the 111th Congress.