I was very proud to not be a Costco member, when CEO Jim Sinegal took the stage at the Democratic Convention to do his part to elect the guy who was going to raise his taxes. It's a free country, and I certainly do not boycott Costco. It just doesn't appeal to the two of us in our humble condo. But I was glad to be off the list that night.
When President Obama needed a business executive to come to his campaign defense, Jim Sinegal was there. The Costco co-founder, director and former CEO even made a prime-time speech at the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte. So what a surprise this week to see that Mr. Sinegal and the rest of the Costco board voted to give themselves a special dividend to avoid Mr. Obama's looming tax increase. Is this what the President means by "tax fairness"?
Costco is one of more than 130 companies who are -- smartly -- increasing dividends or rolling them into 2012 to avoid President Obama's new rates. But I don't recall many of the other 129 being on stage primetime at the DNC. And, something else makes this special dividend all the more special:
More striking is that Costco also announced that it will borrow $3.5 billion to finance the special payout. Dividends are typically paid out of earnings, either current or accumulated. But so eager are the Costco executives to get out ahead of the tax man that they're taking on debt to do so.
I guess they're Democrats after all!
We think companies can do what they want with their cash, but it's certainly rare to see a public corporation weaken its balance sheet not for investment in the future but to make a one-time equity payout. It's a good illustration of the way that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's near-zero interest rates are combining with federal tax policy to distort business decisions.
One of the biggest dividend winners will be none other than Mr. Sinegal, who owns about two million shares, while his wife owns another 84,669. At $7 a share, the former CEO will take home roughly $14 million. At a 15% tax rate he'll get to keep nearly $12 million of that windfall, while at next year's rate of 43.4% he'd take home only about $8 million. That's a lot of extra cannoli.
But, next year will be so much more fair!
UPDATE: Larry Kudlow updates my number to 170 -- and throws in Major League Baseball's, notorious for deferring revenue, finishing free agent contracts with front loaded 2012 bonuses.
Obama was permitted by the media to claim, or at least strongly imply, that the painful cuts Romney was talking about (and Obama, the Great Leader, was not talking about) could be averted simply by levying a small tax on the "richest 1%." It was a lie. It was further a lie the media assisted in. All those Fact Checks and not a single column noting that the central pillar of Barack Obama's Re-Election Strategy was a baldfaced lie that only the uninformed or innumerate could possibly believe.
The media is strongly complicit in this lie. -- Ace (Hat-tip Jim Geraghty
Do we require a new category for all our antipathy toward the great spiritual leaders of the world? I gotta be me. A drummer I've known for forever posts this on Facebook. It's from LoveMeditationCenter.
I will aggravate one blog friend by bashing a man he admires and I will annoy one blog brother by doing it on a weekend he is moving and cannot join in. But this is simply wrong and untrue.
It sounds great -- I can see the appeal. But it is at best a false dichotomy: "successful people" and "peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds" are two different groups? Stephen King? JK Rowling? Joss Whedon? Dr. Phil? And if they were -- is it prima facie obvious that the latter is better? Another Bill Gates or another Mother Theresa?
This is perhaps harmless twaddle (although a guy in the middle of Atlas is not full of treacle forgiveness and twaddle tolerance). I would not put it with his embrace of Marxism. But twaddle is a known gateway drug to irrationality, is it not? Saying something that sounds good but is not is a special brand of perfidy.
OK, I think we've seen enough here. It looks like 2012 will end on a weak note with most economists viewing 2013 as probably more of the same -- and that assumes we don't plunge over the fiscal cliff and suffer another recession. For comparison purposes, let's first review Obama White House economic forecasts since 2009:
1. In August of 2009, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 4.3% in 2011, followed by 4.3% growth in 2012 (and 4.3% in 2013, too).
2. In its 2010 forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.5% in 2012, followed by 4.4% growth in 2013, 4.3% in 2014.
3. In its 2011 forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.1% in 2011, 4.0% in 2012, 4.5% in 2013, and 4.2% in 2014.
4. In its most recent forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.0% this year and next, and then 4.0% after that.
Instead, GDP grew 2.4% in 2010, and 1.8% last year. So far this year, quarterly growth has been 2.0%, 1.3%, and 2.7% -- with maybe 1.5% in the current quarter. Instead of quarter after quarter of 4% growth, we've had just two: The final quarters of 2009 and 2011. Other than those, we’ve haven't had a single quarter with growth higher than this quarter's 2.7%. It's why we still have massive employment and output gaps.
Where wealth and livelihood are entailed, where teams act together and have time and incentive to think carefully, a good assumption is that people--management, labor--act rationally. Unfortunately, journalists who might be prepared to brave bullets in a war zone nonetheless lack simple courage to see what's in front of their eyes in a matter like the Twinkies bankruptcy. The reason is endemic: Not enough is at stake for the media itself to cause the media to prefer an uncomfortable truth when a comfortable fallacy is at hand. -- Holman Jenkins
We're Number 11!: Remember all the press hype about how Detroit made cars had for all practical purposes caught up with the Japanese in terms of reliabilty? Well, that was then. If you just got your December Consumer Reports you may have noticed that in the magazine's seemingly authoritative reliability survey Japanese nameplates took the top seven spots--Toyota is #1, followed by Mazda, Subaru and Honda. There isn't an American name in the top 10. You have to go to #11 before you hit a Detroit brand--Cadillac. ... P.S.: It seems almost like Japanese manufacturers are able to rebound more quickly when faced with challenges--as if they don't have some institutional impediment that prevents them from making rapid adjustements. ... How is that UAW organizing campaign going, anyway?
Almost like we propped up a failing system with government subsidies somehow...
It would be funny, if we had not just had an election and an embassy attack, how the media portrays Grover Norquist as the villain.
This link takes you to a video with a pretty nuanced interview with Darth, but the portentous half photo well-represents the obsession. Republicans are not avoiding tax increases because they disagree -- mean old Grover got 'em drunk and made 'em sign a pledge!
The good professor offers four dents to Warren Buffett's armor as the noble wealthy knight of high taxation:
1. His company Berkshire Hathaway never pays a dividend but instead retains all earnings. So the return on this investment is entirely in the form of capital gains. By not paying dividends, he saves his investors (including himself) from having to immediately pay income tax on this income.
2. Mr Buffett is a long-term investor, so he rarely sells and realizes a capital gain. His unrealized capital gains are untaxed.
3. He is giving away much of his wealth to charity. He gets a deduction at the full market value of the stock he donates, most of which is unrealized (and therefore untaxed) capital gains.
4. When he dies, his heirs will get a stepped-up basis. The income tax will never collect any revenue from the substantial unrealized capital gains he has been accumulating.
I'd add that he sells financial instruments to aid customers with tax avoidance, and that Berkshire-Hathaway profits on the buy side when families sell out because they cannot afford estate taxes.
Y'know, Warren Buffett starts to make that Dalai Lama fellow look less bad...
Blog friend Terri sums up my discontent -- with her usual panache.
Boo-freaking-hoo that somebody might shop on Black Friday or buy something on Cyber Monday or not -- and I confess this was new to me -- "give back" on Giving Tuesday:
I refuse to play anymore.
I went out on Black Friday (ooooh) in search of 40% off items not only for others, but for myself! I hate to shop and barely do it all year long so when the shopping season hits, I generally need something. Others (Hi Mom!) love to shop. I don't know if they went out on Black Friday or Saturday or whenever but this economy is run by consumers. We all ought to get a medal for spending a bit this last weekend so the retail stores can get a feel for how the season is going to be on them.
Clearly, Ayn Rand is up in Heaven, smiling down Christmas wishes for this! Thing whole the read.
I'm going to say it, chaps (and chapelles): we lost. Et tu, jk? Scoot over Saxby, make some room Billy.
While I think it is morally, philosophically, economically, and aesthetically wrong to raise tax rates on producers and remain 100% against it, that winning message did not take back the Senate nor change the occupants at 1600 Pennsylvania. No, it was not that clear and not half that rational, but underlying the nonsense, limited government did not win.
Many important fights lay ahead on ObamaCare, implementation of Dodd-Frank, SCOTUS picks &c. Obstruction will be important for four years. Let's not die on this hill. Let the Bush rates expire for the top 2%.
The economic harm of another temporary solution or a default will be much worse than a bump in tax rates. Clever folk will quickly find their way around them. And the regime will own the economy as it were.
UPDATE: Bill Wilson emails: Stop the Republican sellout on taxes. Guess I have not convinced everybody yet...
The Jon Huntsman campaign sent me a refund for the T-Shirts I had purchased before they folded (the campaign folded, not the shirts...) I wished they had honored the order so I could parade around "don't blame me, I voted for..."
Yet I don't know whether I have the same enthusiasm for today's delivery:
Oh well, I can use them, plus Christmas is coming for some lefty relatives...
When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental -- men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre -- the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Sun, 26 July 1920
Investor's Editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez puts this in historical perspective, thusly.
** Due to an unexpected illness, tonight's guest speaker has been changed. **
Join us on Monday, November 26th, where your special guest speaker will be Mr. Harris Kenny, Policy Analyst for the Reason Foundation, who will be discussing the economic implications of Amendment 64. After Mr. Kenny's presentation there will be short Q&A, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking -- you're guaranteed a great evening no matter w
This event is open to the public, bring your friends!
A pessimistic assessment by Vaclav Smil in the American is full of schadenfruedeny-goodness. But I was struck by the news that Toyota has elected not to dive into the briny deep:
Perhaps most tellingly, in September, just a few days before Toyota's mini-electric eQ city car was to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show, the company announced that it was cancelling its plans to mass produce the vehicle. According to Takeshi Uchiyamada, the company's vice-chairman, "The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge." If a company that has been in the forefront of innovative design, high-quality production, and consumer satisfaction and that in 2012 reclaimed its title as the world's largest carmaker (lost in the wake of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake) comes to such a conclusion, I do not see how other major competitors can succeed where Toyota refuses to even tread.
Ralph Reed sez we must embrace the Pro-life cause which will gain minority adherents.
There seems continued movement toward more liberal immigration (Amnesty!)
Rep Ron Paul's followers know we'd win landslides with a Gold Standard.
The truth is that we need to withdraw the concession to "Damonomics" which states that greedy bankers, enabled by the famous Bush deregulation (stop laughing!!! this cost us the election!!) looted the system. And there was predatory lending! And the Republicans want to resuscitate those policies that the Brave Sir Obama and Wise Sir Biden hath smote. Or something like that.
Those assertions are ludicrous. Yet they went un-rebutted and allowed a president with a rotten economic record to win reelection against fear of something worse. Two stories down from Reed's guest ed, the WSJ Editorial Board reports that for all the suspected criminality, there are no successful prosecutions in the panic of '08
A persistent media-liberal lament--make that a cliché--is that too few financiers have been prosecuted for the financial crisis. But maybe that's because when the Obama Administration tries to prosecute a specific individual for a specific crime, it turns out there was no crime.
The government's latest embarrassments came this month, as one high-profile case collapsed and another was downsized by a federal judge.
Like Client #9 NYAG Eliot Spitzer, the charges get a lot of press, the settlements appear to be big news. But no due-process, right to trial, presumption-of-innocence cases ever end up in the prosecutor's W column. Where was all this crime?
The Federal Reserve created negative real interest rates and a net subsidy for credit expansion. Washington programs to encourage every American to own a home ensured that the bubble would be concentrated in residential real estate. Government-approved credit-raters, convinced that the U.S. housing market would never suffer a sharp decline, slapped triple-A ratings on bundles of risky mortgages. Federal rules encouraged banks, money-market funds, stock brokerages and other institutions to buy this junk.
The zeal to prosecute bankers is part of the politically convenient narrative that the financial crisis was all created on Wall Street. Bankers were greedy as ever and their risk management was faulty. But the fact that Washington can't find a real criminal should focus public attention back on the real crime. That was Beltway policy.
President Bush tried to rein in Fannie & Freddie, Chairman Frank went all in to defend them. Yet, by their concessions, Republican policies "own" the crisis.
By all means, we can debate abortion and immigration (though brother Keith points out the infield fly rule to be sacrosanct). But without standing up for economic freedom, I don't think it will make a great difference.
Dr. Peter Weiss has a superb column on the "free annual exam" we all get thanks to ObamaCare®.
Obama won, Obamacare is the law, and, as my wife says, I will just have to learn to dance to a new song.
Now, don't get me wrong, Obamacare is awful. Forget all the "free stuff" it provides. Children covered on their parents' plan until 26 years of age? A scam, making young adults -- excuse me, children -- pay for complete, comprehensive health insurance when all they need and should pay for is major catastrophe insurance. Then there is the "annual " or "preventative" exam, which according to Obamacare is "free."
You gotta love this stuff. I wish I had the chutzpah of the people who wrote Obamacare. What they did not tell you, and I am, is that it covers absolutely nothing more than the bare minimum.
(Some) Folks thought Doctor/Senator Rand Paul over the top when he pointed out that "if you have a right to health care, you have the right to enter my home and force me to care for you." Are we very far from that, when the government gets to give away "free" stuff that others have to produce?
I'll save you the search, ThreeSourcers, I read it an hour before I read Weiss's column. Here is the quote you are looking for:
"I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago," said Dr. Hendricks. "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything-- except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it." -- Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (p. 744). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House could finally have its chance to close the books on its Benghazi public relations disaster, as key Republicans signal they might not stand in the way of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to become the next secretary of state.
Public relations disaster? Yeah, that's the trouble with four murdered Americans in a terrorist attack on 9/11 and weeks of subsequent lying: bad PR.
And, is it "over" (was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?) if they can cobble 60 votes from pusillanimous Senate Republicans? The story goes away?
I'm game to join Bill Kristol that Ambassador Rice is no worse than anybody else he might nominate and likely better than some. But this story sadly shows that the mendacity of the press continues post-election.
UPDATE: Taranto Chimes in (scroll to "Hacks and Flacks.")
Waiting for my pal JC before I publish my review of "The Dynamics of Change" by Don Fabun. Next week I hope to do a second-time-through on Atlas Shrugged. But today? I got nuthin'. Ergo, bonus Atlas QOTDs.
My sagacious interlocutor of last weekend expresses discomfort with material success as a measure. Less sagacious friends on Facebook are at paties-in-a-wad-defcon-3 because of the rampant consumerism of Black Friday. But I want my nieces and nephews to have the wealth and innovation of 2012 and not 1970. Those who think it's okay to steal 1% of GDP growth a year to feather our nests fail to realize that it will probably be two. And a 2% cut in growth means that my kin will be half as wealthy in 35 years. That is generational theft.
Just material wealth? Dagny sees the power source in Atlantis:
She thought of this structure, half the size of a boxcar, replacing the power plants of the country, the enormous conglomerations of steel, fuel and effort-- she thought of the current flowing from this structure, lifting ounces, pounds, tons of strain from the shoulders of those who would make it or use it, adding hours, days and years of liberated time to their lives, be it an extra moment to lift one's head from one's task and glance at the sunlight, or an extra pack of cigarettes bought with the money saved from one's electric bill, or an hour cut from the work-day of every factory using power, or a month's journey through the whole, open width of the world, on a ticket paid for by one day of one's labor, on a train pulled by the power of this motor-- with all the energy of that weight, that strain, that time replaced and paid for by the energy of a single mind who had known how to make connections of wire follow the connections of his thought.
And the townspeople:
"Alone?" " Used to. But we've grown so much in the past year that I've had to hire three men to help me." "What men? From where?" "Well, one of them is a professor of economics who couldn't get a job outside, because he taught that you can't consume more than you have produced-- one is a professor of history who couldn't get a job because he taught that the inhabitants of slums were not the men who made this country-- and one is a professor of psychology who couldn't get a job because he taught that men are capable of thinking."
"They work for you as plumbers and linesmen?" "You'd be surprised how good they are at it."
It has been almost ten years since I whined about the Colorado emissions test. Then again, it has been ten since I did it. My new car gave me four years off, then I moved to Weld County, which used to be too smart for such looters.
But some intrigue has brought us into the fold and I was coerced into assessing the State's progress today. To be fair, there are a few more locations. They accepted credit card payment. And the staff, in tiny Dacono, was friendly and the wait was short.
But the DMV bleakness still pervades. I made a 20 mile special trip -- did that save the air? I was offended to give my time to this charade. Glad our State has money to spend enforcing this.
I don't know that President Obama reads Jonah Goldberg's column regularly, but we all know he loves ThreeSources, so I'll put this forward.
Goldberg thinks that the President might be in a unique position to address the racial imbalance in marriage and illegitimacy.
But there is one area where Obama could be transformative and bipartisan while helping both the middle class and the poor. He could show some leadership on the state of the black family, and the American family in general.
The thought came to me when a friend pointed me to a column by the Washington Post's Courtland Milloy about how blacks are fleeing baseball at an alarming rate. Today, only 8 percent of the baseball players are black. In 1959, black participation was more than twice as high at 17 percent. In 1975, the high-water mark, the rate was 27 percent.
The reasons for the decline are many and controversial, but one cited by Milloy is that baseball is a game taught by fathers, while basketball and football are more often taught by peers in pickup games.
Okay, it's my favorite topic and even I am getting sick of the "what Republicans need to do now" articles.
But I'll make an exception for this one: Republicans must learn to speak 'Jack Kemp' again by John Nolte. He suggests that Democrats learned how to rhetorically address their political soft spots of "Patriotism, support for the troops, and antagonizing the Christian faith. To solve this problem, Democrats not only learned how to stop marginalizing themselves on these issues, they completely changed their language in a way that embraced all three."
It's not about abdicating or abandoning beliefs, but choosing the presentation and preparing for delivery.
As far as religion and Marco Rubio's struggle with being asked the age of Earth, I've been a devout Christian for almost thirty years and have never found my faith in conflict with science or history. If anything, the more I learn about science and history only deepens my faith. This is why it's so frustrating to hear a bright guy like Rubio blow such an easy one. The problem isn't talent or smarts, it's training.
Before every baseball game, a good shortstop is the first one out on the field warming up and practicing. This is why he's a good shortstop; he never falls for his own press or forgets that hard work, drills, training, and the basics are what got him to where he is. And that's our problem. Our side forgets to drill, doesn't train, and suddenly we're losing games because we drop pop ups.
I have discovered a research institute at Stanford University that was established "to support and conduct rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior." Naturally my interest was piqued (and my antennae were raised.)
The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education or CCARE states its vision thusly:
Create a multi-disciplinary environment whereby compassion and altruism studies are supported and legitimized within the broader scientific community. To use research advances to create tools that allow humans to become more compassionate and to engage more readily in altruistic behaviors toward themselves and others.
First I note that I have yet to see the term "altruism" appear without the companion term "compassion." I assert that it cannot stand on its own. Altruism requires the aid of compassion to gain "support" and "legitimacy."
Secondly, the institute appears to not fully comprehend the full meaning of the concept of altruism:
1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others ( opposed to egoism).
By the stated intent to promote within humans "altruistic behaviors toward themselves" they have revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of the notion of altruism. Their vision can be interpreted as promoting selfishness or egoism as self-altruism, though I wholly doubt that is their intent. I would be tempted to adopt that more "socially acceptable" description into a defense of rational self-interest, but it is a meaningless term: Unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of, yourself. (Harcourt Fenton Mudd, call your office.)
So here, at a scientific institute devoted to the study and advancement of altruism, at one of the nation's most prestigious research universities, the principals are unable to assert that their motive is to "allow humans to become more compassionate and to engage more readily in altruistic behaviors toward others." Even with the support of the term compassion, selflessness is a non-starter.
I'm pretty sure that my post "Straight Outta Rand" was not quite in line with the Three Sources style book; I am not even sure how many of the brethern and sistern had any idea of the parody's original reference.
In winning re-election, President Obama carried nearly all the same demographic groups as in 2008, but by smaller margins. The major exception: Hispanics, America's fastest-growing bloc. Having given Mr. Obama 67% of their votes in 2008, they gave him 71% this time.
This has alarmed Republicans. Mr. Obama had offered Hispanics little more than a broken promise to reform immigration in his first term, yet he scored the largest victory among them since Gerald Ford visited Texas in 1976 and tried to eat a tamale without removing its husk. -- Leslie Sanchez
Our contemporary hunger for equality can border on the comical. When my six-year-old son came home from first grade with a fancy winner's ribbon, I was filled with pride to discover that he had won a footrace. While I was heaping praise on him, he interrupted to correct me. "No, it wasn't just me," he explained. "We all won the race!" He impatiently educated me. He wasn't first or second or third--he couldn't even remember what place he took. Everyone who ran the race was told that they had won, and they were all given the same ribbon. "Well, you can't all win a race," I explained to him, ever-supportive father that I am. That doesn't even make sense. He simply held up his purple ribbon and raised his eyebrows at me, as if to say, "You are thus refuted." . . . -- Prof. Stephen T. Asma in his new book "Against Fairness" (University of Chicago Press)
Pretty interesting summation from Professor Mankiw. He looks at a CBO study which "looks at the effects of income taxes, payroll taxes, and SNAP (the program formerly known as Food Stamps). The bottom line is that the average household now faces an effective marginal tax rate of 30 percent." Soon to be 35%, sadly, but the most interesting bit was his close:
What struck me is how close these marginal tax rates are to the marginal tax rates at the top of the income distribution. This means that we could repeal all these taxes and transfer programs, replace them with a flat tax along with a universal lump-sum grant, and achieve approximately the same overall degree of progressivity.
This is the same as tax rates vs. tax as a % of GDP. For all the government meddling, these things have a stubborn consistency.
We might as well face up to it, like Mankiw says and simplify the code and -- LOLZ!! I just crack myself up sometimez...
How can I have missed it all along? The great genius, Joss Whedon, clearly just sucks.
I mean, he cannot get across the simplest of ideas he believes in. Waaaay off.
A general statist, big-government progressive kinda guy writes "Firefly" which empowers an army of libertarian Browncoats to oppose him. I mean, that wasn't very smart, was it? For a genius?
Secondly, I just watched the Buffy Episode "Amends." Another swing-and-a-miss. An avowed atheist, Whedon writes and directs what my Buffy sire, Jonathan V. Last called "the most religious hour ever on television." Oops.
I mean, Vonnegut can be forgiven Harrison Bergeron, as he also wrote "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" and a series of socialist essays in a long and illustrious career. But Joss Whedon? The guy cannot seem to get a simple point across. What a loser.
I enjoyed Gene Healy's "Cult of the Presidency." No doubt my references to it have become tedious over these last four years. But in all the right-left, conservative-libertarian, platonic-aristotelian discussion, I think it underappreciated how many of our freedom issues stem from the removal of Constitutional balance-of-power. If we did not think our presidents the leader of the free world and our dad, they would be far more limited in the rumpus they could cause.
Healy nails this in "Cult." It is an important look at the arrogation of power to the executive and is bipartisan in his disapprobation. The book details a litany of transgressors as we lost the idea of a constitutional magistrate a long time ago, but the book spends most pages thumping one President George W. Bush. I read it after Obama had been elected and laughed under my breath: "Oh. Gene, Gene...buddy you have no idea how much worse things are going to get."
Over the last few years, when people asked me if I planned to write another book, I'd demur, joking that I could just update The Cult of the Presidency every four to eight years with details on whatever fresh hell the next president visits on the country. The joke was on me, it seems. When it comes to presidential cults, Barack Obama turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving-- an irresistible opportunity to put Cult's themes in front of a new set of readers.
It remains celebrity and Congressional pusillanimity that gives our President such power -- not parchment.
"In a republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates," Madison wrote in Federalist 51, and he actually worried about whether the president would have sufficient power to resist congressional encroachment.
Their powers are anything but equal: Congress can remove executive officers, up to and including the president. Congress decides on the structure of the executive branch; it can create or destroy agencies and departments and regulate them through Article I, Section 8' s "sweeping clause." The president has no comparable powers over Congress. There's a reason the Capitol Dome dominates the D.C. landscape, towering over the comparatively modest presidential residence down the street. The capital's design mirrors the constitutional architecture, in which Congress, not the executive, was supposed to be the prime mover in setting national policy.
"My classes think I am trying to be funny," [Constitutional Professor Charles] Black continued, "when I say that, by simple majorities," Congress could shrink the White House staff to one secretary and that with a two-thirds vote, "Congress could put the White House up at auction." But Professor Black wasn't kidding: Congress has the power to do all that if it so decides. And if Congress can sell the White House, surely it can defund illegal wars and rein in a runaway bureaucracy.
I had hoped that waving the specter of the eeevil George Bush, that I might be able to bring some of my lefty friends into the fold on this. In 2017, maybe I can.
Four stars (just 'cause much of the meat is all in first book) but it is great -- and a deal at $3.49.
Sadly for ThreeSourcers, a great mind and good friend of this blog is more comfortable engaging me personally on some issues. Y'all are the poorer for this person's reticence. I will summarize, badly, the key points of the thread. And then of course crash down to prove I am right!
Summary point number one is a pragmatic response to our little party bashing the Dalai Lama, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Mahatmas Gandhi. There's a great old saying about "picking one's battles" and I think I was close to my interlocutor's side when I asked blog brother jg whether we really had to open multiple fronts on belief in a Supreme Being and the plotline of every successful piece of fiction save seven since the dawn of time.
It seems a far steeper climb than liberty. I am comfortable making economic arguments and I can see that every now and then, somebody actually listens and considers them. My interlocutor suggests that atheism and anti-altruism are nonstarters and that few will ever hear the message of liberty that underpins it.
I made a valiant effort. "Philosophy should seek truth and not an electoral plurality," says I. "And besides, you misspelled 'pillock.'"
But I confess I lack the heart for the quixotic quest. I'd rather play at the margins. So I pick one fight, one unbeatable foe. And that is, of course, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And in this post, I will run where the brave dare not go. I will use the only tool at my disposal: the Internet segue.
Segue intro: Great Chinese Famine starves 36 million people to death. (Link tries to sign you up for readability.com but you can tough it out and read if you scroll down.)
The Great Leap Forward that Mao began in 1958 set ambitious goals without the means to meet them. A vicious cycle ensued; exaggerated production reports from below emboldened the higher-ups to set even loftier targets. Newspaper headlines boasted of rice farms yielding 800,000 pounds per acre. When the reported abundance could not actually be delivered, the government accused peasants of hoarding grain. House-to-house searches followed, and any resistance was put down with violence.
Meanwhile, since the Great Leap Forward mandated rapid industrialization, even peasants' cooking implements were melted down in the hope of making steel in backyard furnaces, and families were forced into large communal kitchens. They were told that they could eat their fill. But when food ran short, no aid came from the state. Local party cadres held the rice ladles, a power they often abused, saving themselves and their families at the expense of others. Famished peasants had nowhere to turn.
In the first half of 1959, the suffering was so great that the central government permitted remedial measures, like allowing peasant families to till small private plots of land for themselves part time. Had these accommodations persisted, they might have lessened the famine's impact. But when Peng Dehuai, then China's defense minister, wrote Mao a candid letter to say that things weren't working, Mao felt that both his ideological stance and his personal power were being challenged. He purged Peng and started a campaign to root out "rightist deviation." Remedial measures like the private plots were rolled back, and millions of officials were disciplined for failing to toe the radical line.
The result was starvation on an epic scale. By the end of 1960, China's total population was 10 million less than in the previous year. Astonishingly, many state granaries held ample grain that was mostly reserved for hard currency-earning exports or donated as foreign aid; these granaries remained locked to the hungry peasants. "Our masses are so good," one party official said at the time. "They would rather die by the roadside than break into the granary."
Segue conclusion: And, yet, the Dalai Lama prefers this "let these swell masses die by the roadside" philosophy to that which brought them out of privation and provided a taste of freedom and natural rights. (I linked before, with actual, all caps profanity).
"Still I am a Marxist," the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader said in New York, where he arrived today with an entourage of robed monks and a heavy security detail to give a series of paid public lectures.
"(Marxism has) moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits," the Dalai Lama, 74, said.
However, he credited China's embrace of market economics for breaking communism's grip over the world's most populous country and forcing the ruling Communist Party to "represent all sorts of classes".
"(Capitalism) brought a lot of positive to China. Millions of people's living standards improved," he said.
Yeah, that is swell and all. But I think I like the system that starves 36 million. Just personal preference, y'know, tomato-tomahto...
"Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders." Hostess Brands Inc. had earlier warned employees that it would file to unwind its business and sell off assets if plant operations didn't return to normal levels by 5 p.m. Thursday. In announcing its decision, Hostess said its wind down would mean the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores in the United States.
But fear not labor leaders...
"Most employees who lose their jobs should be eligible for government-provided unemployment benefits," Hostess said.
I got two new toys from Amazon Santa yesterday. Have you seen these timers? To set a 5 minute timer, you set it so the 5 faces up; 0 to turn it off. Brilliant.
John Stossel has this one guy on every year who awards $1000 to the stupidest warning label or instruction. I saw the metronome directions and wondered what manner of dire warnings would be in it. I expected: "Do Not Bring Metronome into the bathtub!" "Do not use for brain surgery!"
Surprisingly, there was nothing outrageous. Take the batteries out if you're putting it away for a long time. Do not store in sunlight. Fair.
Then I picked up the docs for the kitchen timer and got my reward:
Me and little Ellis, Jr. have very much enjoyed The History Channel's The Men Who Built America. One gets gets a real sense of where Rand was coming from in her "hero worship" of American industrialists. If the Three Sourcers have time for television, I highly recommend we all watch it as inspiration and for discussion at future meetings.
I do have a concern that perhaps certain events are given the Hollywood treatment. The assassination attempt on Henry Frick portrayed in the movie bears little resemblance to real life. Still, the fact that these men are shown as giants, without too much emphasis on how they were all racist, sexist, xenophobic homeophobes is reason enough in today's media landscape to celebrate!
If I read this right, did the world's "proven oil reserves" just double?
Drillers in Utah and Colorado are poking into a massive shale deposit trying to find a way to unlock oil reserves that are so vast they would swamp OPEC.
A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that if half of the oil bound up in the rock of the Green River Formation could be recovered it would be "equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves."
Both the GAO and private industry estimate the amount of oil recoverable to be 3 trillion barrels.
The dangerous ideas of the Dalai Lama. Loved by all. The high priest of Facebook philosophy.
When asked about the tens of millions of Chinese who dug themselves out of privation and poverty after being gifted a small portion of their natural rights to property and self-ownership. Robespierre in robes thought it nice but that Marxism has "moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits." What's the death of 100 million at the hands of the state and billions kept in hunger and squalor? As long as his delicate sensibilities are preserved.
Yahoo Finance: The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task and Henry Blodget discuss America's standing in the world.
Here are two quotes from the same analyst:
First, in order to address the "increasing inequality" that is causing us to "lose" our middle class:
"We should balance the bottom line with employment and employee salaries and benefit to the community. Reduce profit margins and reinvest in the country - that's what we need to do."
Then, in response to the growing cost of starting a small business and the very low levels of startups:
"What I assume they're looking at is the cost of the red tape and everything else and legislation and so forth; the regulations that go with and if that's the case we've gotta work on paring that down, there's no question."
So what is his plan for diverting more business profit to employees and communities that doesn't rely upon red tape, legislation or regulation?
George Will, of all people, has an uplifting après le delugecolumn.
His crack research staff fails to credit Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields on "Swing Time," but it's a good look at the path forward in a post Citizen's United world.
With much work -- the most painful sort: thinking -- to be done, conservatives should squander no energy on recriminations. Romney ran a gallant campaign. Imitation is the sincerest form of politics, and Republicans should emulate Democrats' tactics for locating and energizing their voters.
Liberals have an inherent but not insuperable advantage: As enthusiasts of government, to which many of them are related as employees or clients, they are more motivated for political activity than are conservatives, who prefer private spaces. Never mind. Conservatives have a commensurate advantage: Americans still find congenial conservatism's vocabulary of skepticism about statism. And events -- ongoing economic anemia; the regulatory state's metabolic urge to bully -- will deepen this vocabulary's resonance.
Hey, you people are smart. I'm thinking there must be some way to try to allocate very important goods like disaster preparedness supplies?
Predictably, emergency supplies like flashlights, lanterns, batteries and sump pumps sold out quickly, even when they were replenished. The one sought-after item that surprised him the most? Holiday candles. "If anyone is looking for holiday candles, they are sold out," he says. "People bought every holiday candle we have during the storm."
If the hurricane was a windfall for Lowe's, its customers didn't seem to mind. Rather, most appeared exceedingly grateful when Mr. Rinker, working at a store in Paterson, N.J., pointed them toward a space heater, or a gasoline can, that could lessen the misery of another day without power.
Maybe a lottery or something...I just think there has to be some way.
Join us on Monday, November 12th, where your special guest speaker will be Mr. Craig Biddle, editor of the Objectivist Standard, who will be discussing the philosophy of Objectivism. After Mr. Biddle's presentation there will be short Q&A, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking - you're guaranteed a great evening no matter what!
This event is open to the public, bring your friends!
At Millers' Grille in Lafayette. 6:00 - 9:00. Alas and alack, the lovely bride and I are snowed in. (No, you needn't send FEMA to Erie, but a small snowstorm has left an inch of ice in the shady path out of le condo d'Amour.)
The rest of the headline: Sandy victims hit out after being forced to spend 12 days without power
Another quote, this time from former New York City police officer Diane Uhlfelder at the protest of Long Island Power Authority:
‘The kids have been out of school for more than a week,' Uhlfelder said. 'All the food is totally ruined, it's expensive eating out every day, so most of the time it's McDonald's, but the cold is the worst. It's been hell.’
Does it occur to anyone else that if this storm had passed over Haiti instead of America the number without power would become the number of dead?
If you click through to the second link, the 'Living like animals' story, you can find a 1:30 video [near the bottom] of Governor Andrew Cuomo doing a photo-op aid hand-out (featuring loads of WalMart bags full of stuff) where he took time out to tell a news crew that "all of the utility companies have failed in many ways." Seems they "didn't prepare well enough." Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot.
How well was the state prepared? Or the city? Or private individuals?? Who "forced" them to live in a coastal metropolis, or to eschew their own electric generator, or gasoline storage, or freakin' flood insurance? "There is a lot that needs to be fixed here" I heard a middle-aged, apparently able-bodied man tell a Fox News Channel reporter this morning. "Who's gonna take care of it? I still don't know." Dear sir, is there yet a functioning mirror in your privately owned home?
"And if it weren't for you, most of those who are here would be left helpless at the mercy of that wind in the middle of some such plain."
UPDATE: jk busting in, so I can add a graphic to my comment. A beloved relative on Facebook posts this:
The poster neither enjoys engagement nor is particularly predelicted to reason, but I was astonished to hear that on the entire eastern seaboard, there were no people who prepared or evacuated. I don't really care their party affiliation.
But this is what we are up against. Everything comes from government. Everything.
If that title does not drive blog traffic, then I'm just gonna quit!
I started Atlas Shrugged again yesterday. It has been 25 years or so, people are talking about it, the movie's out -- and the lovely bride bought it on Kindle®.
I had internalized/accepted the idea that her prose was -- if not bad -- not quite up to snuff. My first reaction was how very good it is. It does not appeal to today's Balph Eubanks because of its moral clarity, but to suggest that it lacks subtlety suggests you missed it. Bonus Balph quote:
"Lillian, my angel," Balph Eubank drawled, "did I tell you that I'm dedicating my new novel to you?" "Why, thank you, darling." "What is the name of your new novel?" asked the wealthy woman." "The Heart Is a Milkman."
The early years with Francisco and Dagny are sweet and powerful. I know they cannot squeeze 1080 pages into even three films, but I was stuck at their omission and their importance in the plot line. I'm hoping for at least some flashbacks in Part III. Among the things I missed: Francisco's ancestor Sebastian "shrugging" from Spain and rebuilding in the new world. What an excellent rhythm from the past and foreshadowing.
I highlighted a dozen quotes in the first seven chapters. I'll share a few as I progress. But today's comes with a bonus Kim Kardashian segue:
Francisco smiled; it was a smile of radiant mockery. Watching them, Dagny thought suddenly of the difference between Francisco and her brother Jim. Both of them smiled derisively. But Francisco seemed to laugh at things because he saw something much greater. Jim laughed as if he wanted to let nothing remain great.
People are struck by economic and political arguments from AS, yet I contend that the preceding quote may be its beating heart.
I snobbishly and rationally avoid celebrity news. I care little for what these people do or think or how they live. I may or may not enjoy their art (cf. Joss Whedon). I hear about the Kardashians all the time but I really don't know for what they are famous. Nor has anyone ever explained it to me.
No. There are -- in this collection -- zero reasons not to like Ms. Kardashian. Nada, nothing, zip. I don't know that that is an exhaustive list and there might be quite a few very good reasons. But I clicked through six or eight and saw nothing (well, not nothing -- I saw quite a bit of Ms. K and she is not without her charms). But "this Halloween costume doesn't look cute on her" (it does, BTW) and "she's too into fashion" (umm, she is in the fashion business) and "she's even on credit cards" (okay) and "she only cares about herself!" (Ms. Rand, caller on line one -- she said it's an emergency...)
So, disabuse me, but is Kim Kardashian our generation's Randian hero? Like Hank Rearden, she seems to have multiple business ventures. She seems successful and dedicated. She's neither on welfare nor on my TV every night saying that others should be. Like Rearden, she takes care of her family:
"Shall I tell you the rest of the words?"
"You stood here and watched the storm with the greatest pride one can ever feel -- because you are able to have summer flowers and half-naked women in your house on a night like this, in demonstration of your victory over that storm. And if it weren't for you, most of those who are here would be left helpless at the mercy of that wind in the middle of some such plain."
"How did you know that?" In time with his question, Rearden realized that it was not his thoughts this man had named, but his most hidden, most personal emotion; and that he, who would never confess his emotions to anyone, had confessed it in his question. He saw the faintest flicker in Francisco's eyes, as of a smile or a check mark.
Allison saw the drama unfold from his point of view as head of BB&T Bank. Allison's take is a lot more detailed and technical than Brook's (while far less technical than Edward Conard's Unintended Consequences), but the two Rand acolytes are in synch philosophically and economically.
Allison was John Galt in Don Luskin's "I Am John Galt," and he describes how her principles guided the management team of BB&T, keeping them out of trouble even though real estate was a huge portion of their business and their geographic areas were among the worst hit. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished in government. BB&T was forced to take TARP funds it did not need, and Allison "went Galt" shortly after:
Unfortunately, BB& T's highly decentralized decision structure has largely been destroyed by the recent regulatory attack. This is true irony in that while BB& T's structure radically outperformed the industry, we have been forced to replicate the credit decision structure of Citigroup, Wachovia, Bank of America, and others, which fundamentally failed. However, a centralized structure gives the regulators a greater sense of control.
Both Brook and Allison use the Bernie Madoff example to separate self-destruction from rational self-interest.
In my role as CEO of a large public company, I have had the opportunity to meet many financially successful people. I have never met anyone who was both financially successful and happy who achieved this result primarily by taking advantage of other people. I have met a few people who were financially successful who, I believe, achieved this result based on some level of deceit. These are the unhappiest people I have ever met.
Unlike Conard (and like Brook), Allison sees little or no role for government regulators. Bad banks gotta fail and people have to select good banks and allow reputation and yield to manage the risk.
Many independents and moderates who are skeptical of big government believe that we do need many regulations. They fail to recognize the incredible march of the regulatory state. They also do not understand that, as public choice theory has proven, government bureaucrats are often motivated by destructive incentives. In my career, since 1971, I cannot think of a single additional regulation placed on the financial services industry that did not reduce the efficiency of the industry and lower the country's overall standard of living. The only success stories have been deregulations (such as interstate branching).
Lots of excerpts in this review, and trust me, there were a criminal number of great ones that did not make the cut. I'll give this book five stars and the heartiest of recommendations. I'll close with this bone to the Randians, from footnote #3:
I also thought about titling the book How the Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant (1783) Caused the Financial Crisis, but that was too obscure for most people, although it was more accurate, since Kant was the major philosophical opponent of reason who put an end to the Enlightenment century (1700s) that indelibly shaped the founding of the United States.
I'm beginning to think, though, that in real life Joss Whedon would have been on the side of the Alliance. -- Glenn Reynolds
Amen, Professor R.
I hope the Firefly fans around here watch "Castle" with Nathan Fillion; it's quite good. They drop little easter-egg Firefly references frequently, which is fun, but last Monday's -- hidden behind all the election nonsense -- was an outright homage. If you don't watch it, you should try and catch this episode, "The Final Frontier," on Hulu or something.
And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who's ever preached the slogan: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'
"This was the whole secret of it. At first, I kept wondering how it could be possible that the educated, the cultured, the famous men of the world could make a mistake of this size and preach, as righteousness, this sort of abomination - when five minutes of that should have told them what would happen if somebody tried to practice what they preached. Now I know that they didn't do it by any kind of mistake. Mistakes of this size are never made innocently. If men fall for some vicious piece of insanity, when they have no way to make it work and no possible reason to explain their choice - it's because they have a reason that they do not wish to tell. And we weren't so innocent either, when we voted for the plan at the first meeting. We didn't do it just because we believed that the drippy old guff they spewed was good. We had another reason, but the guff helped us to hide it from our neighbors and from ourselves. The guff gave us a chance to pass off as virtue something that we'd be ashamed to admit otherwise. There wasn't a man voting for it who didn't think that under a setup of this kind he'd muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn't a man rich and smart enough but that he didn't think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his better's wealth and brain. But while he was thinking that he'd get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who'd get unearned benefits, too. He forgot about all his inferiors who'd rush to drain him just as he hoped to drain his superiors. The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss's, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own. That was our real motive when we voted - that was the truth of it - but we didn't like to think it, so the less we liked it, the louder we yelled about our love for the common good.
Yesterday I promised evidence that America has crossed "a rubicon of takers versus makers." Prior analysis I'd seen placed that number at 48 percent but yesterday, on the excellent website of the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C since 1937, I discovered an article summarizing the findings of their Fiscal Incidence analysis of U.S. Federal taxes and spending. It was published September 21, 2009.
New analysis from the Tax Foundation's Fiscal Incidence project fills this void and puts hard numbers on the current amount of redistribution and how much the Obama administration's policies will affect that. Currently, the majority of American families receive more in government spending than they pay in taxes, with roughly $826 billion being redistributed from the top 40 percent of families to the bottom 60 percent.
That was before Obama's policies took effect. The effect of those policies, two years later, is higher tax collections from the top 5 percent only. The other 95 get, at least in the aggregate, more transfer payment than tax increase.
In 2012, after all of Obama's policies are in place, the amount redistributed from the top 5 percent of families will grow in real terms to $770 billion, a 34 percent increase over current levels. Every other income group will benefit from the increased amount taken from the top 5 percent of families and the group of families who, on average, get more back in spending than they pay in taxes will jump to 70 percent of all families.
Redistribution is ultimately at the heart of all tax and spending debates in Washington. But lawmakers are doing the public a great disservice if they fail to talk in honest terms about who currently pays for government programs and services, who benefits, and how new policies will change that balance.
Imagine if this set an example for everyone, and every adulterer resigned from his/her job. Civilization would collapse, no? It would be worse than "going Galt" if everyone goes Petraeus. -- Ann Althouse
I am beginning a new project of stunningly shameless self-promotion. Even by my standards, boy... I'm assembling a compilation of recordings from the past 30 years or so, some released and some not, creating The JK Boxed Set (not much happenin' now, click if you want).
I moved a huge tub of old tapes and discs of peculiar formats and the machines to play them. I have hours of ADAT (8 tracks on digital S-VHS), both 4 and 2-track Sony Minidiscs, my first album was released on vinyl, bla, bla, bla.
What I did NOT have was a plain old vanilla cassette deck. (No, there's no me on 8-Track that I am aware of...) I went to Amazon, thinking I'd need to spend $100 and have some bulky old piece of stereo hardware that I'd give away when my project was done.
It showed up today, and yes you may say it lacks style. But for $15 it does just what I want, outputs to USB (and powers itself off the USB bus) and I can toss it in a drawer for the next cave-man emergency.
The Refugee promised to help bring Blog Brother JK out of his post-election funk. Never let it be said that he isn't there for a friend. Especially if it involves coffee.
Many on the right, perhaps including our illustrious blog leader, postulate that we have crossed a rubicon of takers versus makers, never to return. They are ready to Go Galt. However, The Refugee can recall his grandfather having a similar view in the '70s. Of course, Ronald Reagan was later elected to the great benefit of the American ideal.
The problem with making long-range forecasts is that they assume linear events. An unforeseen event of sufficient magnitude can completely alter the tragectory of a society's direction. The depression certainly did so by making conditions ripe for the era of big government. It could be argued that the Iran hostage crisis make Reagan's ascension possible. Such events, in this case, might include the financial meltdown of Europe or major war in the Middle East. The Refugee sees these events as virtual certainties (although he will not make predictions of timing, having been wrong about Israel attacking Iran before the election). Either of these events would change this country's trajectory, although the revised course is unpredictable. Nevertheless, such events are opportunities to reassert ideas at a time when people are listening.
The fundamental human yearning to be free is unquenchable. Good ideas will always come back into fashion, often when least expected. Keep blogging, my friend.
If that isn't a provocative headline, then The Refugee will never craft one...
Liberal pundits are quick to bury the Republican party as "too old and too white." (As an old white guy, The Refugee is suitably offended...) Here are some rough stats that lead to Obama's victory: 72% of Latinos, 74% of Asians, 65% of single women and 90+% of blacks. Despite these overwhelming numbers, Obama's victory was just 2.4% of the popular vote. Now, imagine if these margins were reduced to 60% of Latinos, 50% of Asians, 55% of single woman and 75% of blacks. With this shift, it would be very difficult for Democrats to win a national election.
So, the task for Democrats is figuring out how to hold impossibly large margins of minority voters. Of course, Republicans need to figure out how to eat into these margins. Given the math, The Refugee would rather be a Republican strategist.
Dee Dee Myers, on Fox News this evening, said that GOP must become the "Grand Opportunity Party." The Refugee couldn't have said it better. We need to stand for fiscal conservatism, school choice, right-to-work, opportunity for immigrants and financial empowerment of ALL Americans. The math can work.
From a comment to Kyle Smith's Finita La Commedia (RTWT). I pretty much agree with Kyle; as I noted in the comments below I am doing what I hereby acronym as GLG (Going Limited Galt). I will concentrate on family, local and state. As far as FedGov, haters gonna hate.
Anyway, to the witty and doubleplus good QOTD II:
What could be more important to two people who love each other and want to spend their lives together than to have America’s federal government, through official bureaucratic processes and hence in some vague, attenuated, abstract, disembodied, impersonal and unintentional sense verify or certify their love, governmentally? What’s $16 trillion dollars of debt when compared to that?
In the wake of the presidential election, conservatives, right-leaning libertarians, and Republicans more generally are in a state of discontent and disbelief. For many in these groups Barack Obama represents the antithesis of everything they believe. As such, the 2012 election was supposed to be a sort of vindication for the right. It was supposed to be the de-throwning of an overhyped progressive politician.
In the aftermath of the results, the story seems to be that Republicans have lost touch with the American electorate. Right-leaning pundits are already pontificating on how Republicans might bring in Hispanics. Left-leaning pundits argue that Republicans have lost young voters, single women voters, and minority voters because they have mischaracterized these voters as dependents of the government. Some have even suggested that Republicans have lost the war of ideas.
Don't believe the hype. The narrative is misplaced.
After every election, there is significant over-reaction with respect to the losing side. In 2004, Democrats were in a state of disbelief that they could not defeat George W. Bush. There were some on the left that openly questioned the future of the Democratic Party if they could not defeat Bush. In addition, when exit polls following that election showed that Bush was bolstered by voters who thought "social issues" were important, members of the Democratic Party began to openly pander to voters in this regard, emphasizing that they too shared the values of the majority of American voters.
Yet 2004 wasn’t the end of the Democratic Party. Following the overreach of President Bush in the aftermath of his re-election on issues such as Social Security reform and the ongoing conflict in Iraq, the Democrats took control of the legislative branch.
According to many pundits, President Obama's landslide in 2008 swung the pendulum in the opposite direction. It was now Republicans that were out of touch and incapable of winning elections. But this narrative was wrong as well. The Republicans failed to win the White House in 2008 because George W. Bush was incredibly unpopular, President Obama proved to have an excellent campaign operation, John McCain was not a good candidate for president, and McCain's vice presidential choice was even worse than the candidate himself. Oh, and the economy collapsed just a few short months before the election.
In 2010, Republicans made historic gains in the House of Representatives, a stinging rebuke to President Obama and the first two years of his presidency. But somehow two years later the Republicans are incapable of winning national elections and competing for the presidency?
The most fictitious narrative that emerged in the aftermath of the election is that the Republicans lost the war of ideas. This could not be further from the truth.
When Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, the move generated a significant amount of conversation about new dynamics of the race. The choice of Ryan was nearly universally seen as turning the election from a referendum on President Obama into an election about ideas. But while that prediction was prevalent, the debate never came. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan campaigned on reforming Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax code. Romney often campaigned with a debt clock and talked about ensuring that the government did not spend more than in took in. And, much to my own dismay, he similarly wanted to engage the president in a debate about trade with China.
Meanwhile, the president's campaign consisted of a large-scale character assassination of Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign made Romney out to be a heartless, rich, corporate takeover artist who did not care about anything (including American voters), except for the bottom line. In addition, the campaign claimed that Romney was waging a war on women; a war so harsh that Romney wanted to deny free contraceptives to co-eds! Obama never discussed plans for entitlement reform or tax policy other than the obligatory claim that he would raise taxes on the rich. Toward the end of the campaign he began to claim that he would be willing to make a grand bargain -- something he had failed to do for four years, including two of which that would have required very little bargaining with the opposite party at all.
So how did President Obama win? He won because he successfully defined Romney as out-of-touch to the average voter. He won because his campaign team proved to be extremely effective four years after hype surrounding the mythical hope and change wore off. His campaign ground game produced the turnout that liberals expected, pollsters picked up on, and Republicans were reluctant, or unwilling, to see. But make no mistake; President Obama did not win on ideas.
Finally, the discussion of demographics is particularly ignorant. Demographics can have an important impact on elections, but they do not do so exogenously. In 1980, many thought that President Reagan would lose Texas in the presidential election. Today, Texas is a Republican stronghold. Some argue that it won’t be for long and that the Republican Party is going to lose the presidential elections of the near future because of growing Hispanic populations in Texas and growing populations of young, college age professionals in places like Virginia and North Carolina. But this assumes that these voters are guaranteed to vote for Democrats. Those are the current voting patterns, but they needn't be the case and the Republicans don’t necessarily have to radically alter their message to appeal to these voters.
I know this because I am a highly educated young voter who holds many of the same views of fellow highly educated young voters on social issues. I support same sex marriage. While I am personally opposed to abortion, I do not favor government intervention to impose those preferences. I support immigration reform that would make the path to citizenship easier, not harder, especially for high-skilled immigrants.
Despite these characteristics, I still predominantly vote Republican. I do so because (a) I believe in economic freedom, and (b) I believe government intervention is antithetical to both social and economic freedom. For example, I recognize that social liberties do not require that the government force insurers to provide contraceptives at zero out-of-pocket cost. I recognize that even though I am opposed to a ban on abortion, this does not imply that I should support government funding of abortion. I recognize that lower taxation and more economic freedom is the best path to economic growth and prosperity. I recognize that discussions about whether we need more or less regulation are asinine and that the metric for assessing regulation requires an analysis of the incentive structure it creates. I recognize that equality of opportunity, rather than outcome, is paramount to a free society. And along these lines, I recognize that perhaps more important than any other issue concerning both economic and social freedom, equality of opportunity with regards to education is the civil rights issue of our day and that such equality can only exist when there is competition among schools and parents have the freedom of choice.
Republicans have not lost the battle of ideas because there has been no such battle -- at least not in recent political discourse. But the Republicans need not wait for the debate to come to them. They should lead the charge. They should promote tax reform and explain the role of such reform in generating economic growth. They should lead on school choice. And they should emphasize that greater social freedom implies less government intervention.
I believe in free markets and free people. Articulating the ideas behind that belief is the key to success. If you don’t believe me, look at other countries. Canada and Sweden are two notable examples that have moved toward, not away, from freer markets in recent decades. Sweden even has school choice. Countries throughout the world are lowering corporate income taxes. The financial crisis has merely masked part of this trend.
Freedom, both economic and social, is a powerful message and one the Republicans need to more fully embrace and certainly better articulate. But one cannot win on message alone. Republicans need to become better organized and run more efficient campaigns to turn out voters who believe in these ideas. In the meantime, do not despair about the future of the party or of the country.
Was struck strongly by the applicablility of these lyrics. Ah, does music have the power to heal! Sorry, no embed
I'm not feeling alright today
I'm not feeling that great
I'm not catching on fire today
Love has started to fade
I'm not going to smile today
I'm not gonna laugh
You're out living it up today
I''ve got dues to pay
And the grave-digger puts on the forceps
The stone mason does all the work
The barber can give you a haircut
The carpenter can take you out to lunch
I just want to play on my pan-pipes
I just want to drink me some wine
As soon as you're born you start dying
So you might as well have a good time
Sheep go to heaven
Goats go to hell
I dont wanna go to sunset strip
I dont wanna feel the emptiness
Bold marquees with stupid band names
I dont wanna go to sunset strip
And the grave-digger puts on the forceps
The stone mason does all the work
The barber can give you a haircut
The carpenter can take you out to lunch
I just want to play on my pan-pipes
I just want to drink me some wine
As soon as your born you start dying
So you might as well have a good time
The time for soul-searching, second-guessing and recriminations among Republicans has begun. In taking stock of the party for the future, picking winners and losers helps understand what to toss overboard and what to build upon. Despite the election results, The Refugee refuses to put Gov. Romney in the loser category; he proved himself to be a man of honor, integrity and unimpeachable character. "Loser" and "Romney" should never be used in the same sentence.
Paul Ryan - Rep. Ryan proved himself to be articulate, a good campaigner and a champion of responsible government. He proved that he is presidential material and a standard-bearer for the party.
Marco Rubio - Sen. Rubio gave a block-buster speech at the convention, banked a lot of IOUs with tireless campaigning and proved that he can build a bridge between the GOP and the Hispanic community. He, too, is presidential material.
Susana Martinez - Gov. Martinez entered the national stage with grace, power and brilliance. While perhaps not yet a recognized national player, she could be awesome as #2 on a ticket with either Rubio or Ryan.
Entitlement Reform - Given that a major new entitlement has now been enshrined, this winner would seem counter-intuitive. Nevertheless, entitlement reform no longer seems to be the third rail of politics. Romney/Ryan introduced it as an adult conversation, which will likely give it a seat at any budget negotiations table. Whether or not it will be served is questionable, but at least it's got a menu.
House GOP members - Although the Left likes to say that the House must now compromise, GOP members were re-elected just as surely as the president. Their power is enhanced as the only counterweight to Eurosocialism.
Chris Christie (GOAT - NJ) - After one of the worst keynote convention speeches in memory, self-serving campaigning and the undeserved bear-hug of Obama post-Sandy, the Christie national brand is permanently damaged among Republicans. He refused to step up when his party and his country needed him most. He had best not expect us to step up if he decides that he needs us in 2016.
Social conservatives - Social-issues conservatives have proved that they cannot win anything larger than a House seat. The national attitude toward gay rights, abortion and immigration have changed permanently. As The Refugee's father used to say, "You can't legislate morality." Social-issues conservatives must come to the realization that social change comes through persuasion, not legislation. The fact is, if people became convinced that abortion is wrong, it wouldn't matter what the Supreme Court said; abortion would halt. By all means, preach, advertise and prosthyletize - but get personal religious values out of the party platform.
GOP SuperPACs - GOP SuperPACs had an enormous amount of material to pound Obama with. Not only did they fail to do so, they failed to defend Romney from the relentless attacks from Democrat SuperPACs. They squandered hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-conceived and totally ineffective messaging.
Readers will note that The Refugee did not put the Tea Party into either category. The Tea Party fundamentally stands for fiscal conservatism and must continue to do so. The Refugee is convinced that fiscal conservatism can still be a big political winner, but no longer overrides social issues for the majority of voters. Social conservatives have sailed under the Tea Party flag, but we must begin to separate the two.
[Originally posted on July 5, with a link to a nice culture war post.]
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck."
Hope you didn't come to ThreeSources for cheering up
I've been magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat before. My health issues are not such that I do not expect to win or lose more elections.
But I cannot lie. The 2012 results shred everything in which I believe. My philosophy is, of course, the same: free people and free markets rule. But my electoral strategy is in tatters.
-- November the sixth marks the death of Frank Meyers's Fusionism which I have celebrated on these pages and bolstered at every opportunity. It is the foundation of ThreeSources that the economic libertarian and the religious conservative can find common ground in limited government and assemble an electoral majority. It's an uneasy friendship but it had successfully delayed the adoption of European social policy for decades. That broke down last night and I suspect that all the king's horses will be unable to repair it (though why one would expect horses to be adept at such things...)
-- The Tea Party, bless their pea picking little hearts, cannot replace it. I expected last night to be the Tea Party's coming out party. The group that graduated from rallies and silly hats and and funny signs to staff party offices would flex its muscles and show itself as a mature and effective political movement. We/they could not even get Mia Love elected in UT-1. Yeah, Ted Cruz won in Texas, but Allen West is out and the stench of Coleridge albatross will deservedly hang over the Missouri and Indiana Senate races for six years.
-- Libertario Delenda Est? The new David Boaz book boasts -- boasts! -- that 15% of the electorate is libertarian. Hey! Our team is 22nd in defense in the NFL! Wooohooo!
Sorry, lads and lasses, but I am selling a product that nobody wants. Some of this is post-loss-funk, but only fools and Rep. Nancy Pelosi refuse to reevaluate after a thumping.
The refrain on CNBC last night was "we spent $2 Billion and still have the status quo ante: GOP House - Dem Senate - Dem White House." Today's right-wing line is that the president has no mandate. Balderdash. The forces of liberty were rend in twain last night.
Or as a good friend of this blog puts it succinctly in an email: "Well fuck...."
UPDATE: Prof, Jacobsen is more upbeat. And I confess the House retention contradicts my pessimism.
So what is the path now?
Stand with House members, they will need all the support they can get. Don't compromise on principles, and push the eventual legislative compromises to the right as much as possible.
View Tuesday as a substantial setback but not the end.
Some of our conservative friends will argue that Mr. Obama's victory thus represents a decline in national virtue and a tipping point in favor of the "takers" over the makers. They will say the middle class chose Mr. Obama's government blandishments over Mr. Romney's opportunity society. We don't think such a narrow victory of an incumbent President who continues to be personally admired justifies such a conclusion.
Perhaps this fear will be realized over time, but such a fate continues to be in our hands. There are few permanent victories or defeats in American politics, and Tuesday wasn't one of them. The battle for liberty begins anew this morning.
Well that was certainly less than satisfying. And quite honestly unexpected. Kudos to dagny for seeing it coming. At this late hour with minimal effort having been expended in the analysis, I can only place the blame, once again, on modern America's refusal to be lectured on social mores.
While a majority of the bouncing, exuberant hoards of Obama supporters do look like drunken sailors itching for another 4-year spending binge I don't believe they could achieve electoral success without the single female vote (and the single males who wish to impress them) and their single-issue determination to punish the GOP for "allowing" Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock - a poor excuse for a TEA Party candidate if ever there was one - to represent the party. And the anti-gay marriage albatross isn't doing the party any favors either. If the GOP can't be successful without evangelicals, and if evangelicals can't learn to live and let live, then I say it's time to Burn This MF'er Down and rebuild the party from scratch. Kindred spirits: the Philadelphia Eagles and the GOP.
As for that economic collapse, the good news is that it approaches slowly. While America has willfully ignored another opportunity to change course, there will be time for more chances. External events may force a change. Staying Obama's course will reveal its folly. Tomorrow is another day. Don't just take my word for it, take Yaron Brook's.
News Polls: Not worth the paper they're printed on
Revising political poll results to achieve a specific outcome by adjusting the sample is now so commonplace and so "oh, you mean that's not ok?" that newspapers are writing stories about it!
I predict this will be the post mortem lesson of this election - how the RCP average of political polls has exacerbated this practice. They had to go even further so that the bad polls can drag the good ones far enough to make the RCP average what the press wants it to be.
"The people have spoken, the bastards." -- Dick Tuck, in his concession speech in a race for the California State Senate in 1966
"Imagine if all of life were determined by majority rule. Every meal would be a pizza. Every pair of pants, even those in a Brooks Brothers suit, would be stone-washed denim. Celebrity diet and exercise books would be the only thing on the shelves at the library. And -- since women are a majority of the population -- we'd all be married to Mel Gibson." -- P. J. O'Rourke, 1991
Xxxxxx wrote: "JK, that's [Christopher DeMuth's ObamaCare editorial] the most chilling summary I've heard that sways me toward a Romney vote. If we lose the free market completely, there is no going back, regardless of how much better the NEXT candidate could be."
Plus I am in good really awesome company. Randy Barnett (HOSS) has a guest editorial in the WSJ today:
As a young libertarian, I was very enthusiastic about the formation of the Libertarian Party. I proudly cast my vote for Roger MacBride for president. I attended the 1975 national convention in New York that nominated him. But, while I am as libertarian today as I was then, I have come to believe that the Libertarian Party was a mistake.
The reason is simple. Unlike a parliamentary system in which governments are formed by coalitions of large and small parties, our electoral system is a first-past-the-post, winner-take-all one in which a winning presidential candidate just needs to get more than 50% of the vote. This means each contending "major" party is itself a coalition that needs to assemble enough diverse voting groups within it to get to 51%. Hence the need to appeal to the so-called moderates and independents rather than the more "extreme" elements within.
Libertario Delenda Est. Like sister dagny, I will continue my quest win or lose. I intend to keep my focus on making the GOP more libertarian and libertarians more Republican. There will be much work either way.
But I am too. I take Jimi P's and give Minnesota and Iowa to the President. That's still 285 -243, and Gov. Romney can afford to lose one more state, provided it isn't one that's round on the ends and high in the middle.
I respect the sobreity of brother Ellis' prior post but I do believe caution is in order. There's another equally possible outcome. After all, none of the republics which failed throughout history had the internet... or YouTube.
This episode has been on my mind since the summer of 2008. Now, on the eve of the referendum vote, it finally seems fully appropriate.
Putting aside all the voter models, there's one overlooked point worth making with Election Day at hand. Most times in American politics, optimists win, and pessimists lose. I know that’s not always the case. And sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two. But in this election, I believe Mitt Romney is the optimist, and Barack Obama is the pessimist. It's Romney's election to win. -- Larry Kudlow
Have you read the Book of Isiah lately? As we head into tomorrow and the Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes, I recall what the great Albert Jay Nock had to say in The Atlantic Monthly back in 1936:
It was one of those prosperous reigns, however — like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. Coolidge at Washington — where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash. (...)
"Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life." (...)
Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it." (...)
As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.
One may, if one has actually had a semblance of an education, recall that the Founders made sure the masses would not have a real voice in how the United States was to be run. As in every Republic in history, this gradually broke down. 1913, 1933, 1965...each step in the process seemed right at the time. There were good reasons; all the best professors at America's finest universities taught them.
And so we have come to this pass. Tomorrow, I expect that the masses will reelect the President and accelerate the time whent he Remant must again rebuild a failing society. Take a deep breath, Three Sourcers. We are a piece of the Remnant and better put on our armor and sharpen our swords, for truly the Scheiss is coming.
At times, it seems almost as if President Obama wants to impose the failed Illinois model on the whole country. Each year of his presidency has produced unsustainable deficits, and he takes no responsibility for his spending. Worse still, unemployment has become chronic, and many Americans have given up on looking for work. -- Sheldon Adelson
A stunning piece ("I Didn't Leave the Democrats. They Left Me"), holler if you want it emailed.
Listening to political hacks argue about polling data seemed foolish yesterday. We are hours away and I am content to bring on the one poll that counts. I was a bit disheartened to see Dr. Larry Sabato predict the President's reelection, but I carry on.
I made one last "Libertario Delenda Est" to a wavering libertarian musician buddy. He still is undecided between the evil Governor Romney and four more years. I thought about offering him jg's beer, but flipped a coin and instead shared Chris Demuth's A Referendum on ObamaCare and Liberty. Tuesday's choice on health care is pretty much irrevocable.
America is a large, wealthy, dynamic and heterogeneous nation. It is also the only major country that continues to maintain a health-care system with substantial elements of competitive supply, pricing freedom, patient choice, and diversity in approaching complex and uncertain medical problems.
Moving from a world with one such system to a world with none--a world with no major market where new medical drugs and devices can be priced to return large investments in research and development, for example--will fundamentally change the prospects for future medical progress.
The most important result of ObamaCare will go beyond health care, though, to the dynamics of American politics. Today, the details of federal government policy are important primarily to those in heavily regulated sectors such as finance, energy and communications; to professionals such as lawyers and tax accountants; and to those who for one reason or another are dependent on public assistance. Between elections, most members of the American middle class can go about their lives with little distraction from Washington.
Every middle-class American of every age and circumstance will be constantly in the government's sights. The tendency--already evident at the state level--will be to require generous, subsidized coverage of routine health and "wellness" services involving lifestyle, cosmetics, amenity and child development; of "preventive medicine" such as weight-reduction programs; and of "alternative medicine" such as massage and herbal therapies. At the same time (as already evident under Medicare) the treatment of infrequent but costly catastrophic diseases and conditions will be limited in the name of cost control, and the case-by-case discretion of doctors and other providers will be closely monitored and restricted.
Man, am I ever behind in writing Review Corners. I finished the selection for the Jc-Jk Book Club. but want to give my interlocutor seem time to catch up. The selection foisted upon me was short and he delivered a copy (what service!) Much to say later, but it was actually enjoyable.
I'll start, and we can attempt virtual book club in the comments. But I will start at the end:
Stop letting the enemies of capitalism claim the moral high ground. There is nothing noble about altruism, nothing inspiring about the initiation of force, nothing moral about Big Government, nothing compassionate about sacrificing the individual to the collective. Don't be afraid to dismiss those ideas as vicious, unjust attacks on the pursuit of happiness, and self-confidently assert that there is no value higher than the individual's pursuit of his own well-being.
That remains the most difficult of Rand's ideas to accept. I do not disagree with a word of it. But I am drawn to the economic arguments and the pragmatic political possibilities. Brook in person (really, watch the video if you were not there) and in this book is affable and forthright. And I confess that I am finally seeing the wisdom of attacking the problem at a deeper level even if it is difficult.
Brook's clarity and humor bring principles to life.
It's crucial, here, that the use of force be physical. There is no such thing as forcing someone via emotional or intellectual means. If your loser brother-in-law guilts you into paying his bills, he didn't make you pay his bills. If Amazon runs a really great commercial for the Kindle Fire, Jeff Bezos didn't make you buy one -- he persuaded you. If peer pressure leads you to jump off a bridge, you still had the power to heed your mother's advice.
The worst victims of this injustice are the ambitious poor. By sapping immense amounts of capital from productive individuals, the entitlement state cuts down on the number of businesses that get launched, the number of jobs that get created, the amount of economic progress that takes place, the amount of economic opportunity that is available. Although the wealthy can get by in an entitlement state, at least for a while, those wishing to climb out of poverty often cannot.
I attempted to make an argument, a week before seeing Dr. Brook, against the altruism that celebrates Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's giving money away more than the massive good done by their earning it. I failed and perhaps could not do much better after the book to separate benevolence -- which is good -- from altruism. Modern people use the terms interchangeably, not thinking of Comte but of kind neighbors. Being against kind neighbors is a tough sell.
At the same time, ceding the moral ground cannot continue.
Individual liberty means that if you develop a scientific theory that holds that the earth revolves around the sun, no pope can silence you. If you want to follow your dream of becoming an electrician, no bureaucrat can demand that you first get a government license. If you and your doctor judge that an experimental new drug is the best shot you have at saving your life, you don't have to consult some FDA official. If you want to revolutionize transportation, you don't have to explain yourself to Rex Tugwell.
You. Have. Got. To. Be. Frickin'. KIDDING ME. Check out the writers at the "American Conservative" and who they're voting for for President. Some for a "Virgil Goode," whomever that worthy gentleman might be. Some for Gary Johnson. A handful for Mitt Romney and if I count correctly, more than that number for...waiting for you to prepare your mind for the horror...Barack Hussein Obama.
But I do prophesy the election lights
On Fortinbras: he has my dying voice;
So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited. The rest is silence.
Responding to a tweet from Sec. Robert Reich "Will we comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable under President Obama, or do the exact opposite under President Romney?"
But let's get back to the economic part. Is there a clearer example of how envy lurks just under the surface of liberalism? According to this axiom comfort is a kind of sin that must be punished. Those who posses must be afflicted. This is the logic of Jacobinism, Bolshevism, and the forces of Bane in the last Batman movie. Our progressives may not carry it out to the same extreme, and that's an important distinction. But the very idea that these people think they are the arbiters of who is comfortable and that the job falls to them to afflict those who possess it is disgusting. H. L. Mencken defined puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." Well, is there any more perfect distillation of the puritanical spirit than in the secular divinization of envy we call leftism? -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
I hope you do subscribe; the whole piece is a superb, philosophical, ThreeSources-friendly exegesis on the politics of envy. And, as it is Jonah, it has Star Wars references and a urinal joke.
Bill Whittle is sometimes -- well, usually -- over the top for my tastes, but I love his style and language. He has discovered the same thing I have here: I will not sway my lefty friends, but my libertarian friends can be reached with reason.
“It was reported today that several Fisker Karmas were damaged by fire at the Port of Newark after being submerged in sea water during Superstorm Sandy. We can report that there were no injuries and none of the cars were being charged at the time.
Hmmm. I wonder why they made sure to mention that none of them were "being charged at the time?"
See below to form your own opinion: "Damaged by fire" or "caught fire and burned to the ground?"
I snark, but in my professional experience as a product development engineer I know that there are always glitches with new technology. Problems such as this are to be expected in complex systems. But then, that's why it is prudent to engage in lengthy laboratory and road tests of prototypes before lobbying politicians for venture capital and rushing products to a clueless customer base.
"When I had the gun, I didn't think I was actually going to have to shoot somebody," the 6th grader recalled. "I think it's going to change me a whole lot, knowing that I can hold my head up high and nothing can hurt me anymore."
Twelve year-old Kendra St. Clair after shooting an intruder with her mother's .40 cal Glock during a burglary of her Oklahoma home.
UPDATE: A local TV news report at embedded here ends with the additional information that the suspect was arrested last year in connection with the kidnapping of a 17 year-old girl with "diminished mental capacity." This was quite possibly more than a burglary attempt.