July 25, 2011

Sen Dodd and Rep Frank say Eat Peas!

Yeah, I miss the woodcuts of the old Wall Street Journal, but photos allow for more editorial discretion (the photo credit is Reuters).

Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2011

Quote of the Day

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank admitted he helped his ex-lover land a lucrative post with Fannie Mae in the early 1990s while the Newton Democrat was on a committee that regulated the lending giant -- but he called questions of a potential ethical conflict "nonsense." -- Dave Wedge
Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2010

I did not get my vote in

WaPo asks readers to descripbe Speaker Pelosi in one word, then publishes a word cloud.


Hat-tip: James Pethokoukis

Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Could your word have been published?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 23, 2010 1:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe not the first, impulsive, suggestions ;)

Thinking it through, I would have said "collectivist."

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2010 2:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2010 2:21 PM

December 17, 2010

Mea Maxima Culpa

To paraphrase Captain Mal Reynolds: it takes a great man to admit he was wrong...and I'm allright...

Brothers br and Keith objected sternly to my "fix it in the 112th" plan for the omnibus porkfest. It is clear today that they were right and I was wrong. K-Lo suggests it is a tea party victory, and Jennifer Rubin calls it Leader Reid's Dunkirk:

After exposing his party, the White House and himself to an avalanche of bad press and bipartisan criticism over the earmark-stuffed omnibus spending bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a sort of political Dunkirk moment, gave up and fled. Just moments ago, he fessed up that he did not have enough votes for cloture on the omnibus spending bill. So instead, as the Republicans had demanded, there will be a continuing resolution, and the Republicans will get their shot to manage the budget next year.

It's better in every way to kill this bill, but -- had any question remained -- the additional feeding of the ObamaCare® bureaucracy make this a major victory.

UPDATE: All hail Kim Strassel:

Yet to this legislative Frankenstein Democrats carefully attached the spenders' equivalent of crack cocaine. To wit, omnibus author and Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye dug up earmark requests that Senate Republicans had made in the past year (prior to their self-imposed ban) and, unasked, included them in the bill. He lavished special, generous attention -- $1 billion worth of it -- on some reliable GOP earmark junkies: Mississippi's Thad Cochran got $512 million; Utah's Bob Bennett, $226 million; Maine's Susan Collins, $114 million; Missouri's Kit Bond, $102 million; Ohio's George Voinovich, $98 million; and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, $80 million.

The effect of this dope -- just sitting there, begging for a quick inhale -- on earmarkers was immediate. Two seconds into the sweats and shaking hands, nine Republicans let Mr. Reid know they'd be open to this bill.

UPDATE II: Heratige:
Last night's victory could not have happened without the Tea Party. Earlier in the day, Tea Party-defeated outgoing- Senator Robert Bennett (R - UT) was working "actively to round up as many as nine potential Republican votes" or the omnibus bill stuffed with 6,000 earmarks worth $8 billion. But then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R - KY) worked the phones all day twisting the arms of those nine Republicans, many of them members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to drop their support for the bill.

Toooo bad Bennett lost. What a shame...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:25 AM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Don't be too hard on yourself; your strategy made a lot of political sense. Both sides if this were looking at the same goal - getting and keeping genuine fiscal conservatives in charge of saving the national economy - and it was merely an issue of which form of kung fu would achieve that end.

Now, to change the subject to something a little more mirth-inducing: the Strassel quote. Referring to "crack cocaine," "dope," and the general jonesing and withdrawal symptoms in a quote that specifically highlights Lisa Morecokeski? Some sympathy, please - she's reeely trying to deal with it, and the added pressure isn't helping...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 17, 2010 1:17 PM

December 10, 2010

More on the Tax Non-deal

Brothers JK and The Refugee have been trading points/counter-points regarding the efficacy of the tax rate extention deal between Obama and the Republicans. It may be a non-issue, as the liberal House Dems seem to be in full revolt against the deal. Today's WSJ has a seminal editorial on these developments. It also highlights some of the less-than-they-seem realities of the deal itself.

As for Republicans, they have already given up an enormous amount to get what is essentially the status quo on tax policy. They get a two-year reprieve against tax increases on capital and income, and two years of death taxes at 35% instead of 55%. This spares the economy from immediate tax harm while it is still emerging from recession, but this deal is nothing close to a genuine pro-growth, supply-side tax policy.


The two percentage point cut in the payroll tax is only for one year and gives no incentive for businesses to hire because it only affects what employees pay. It is merely another demand-side Keynesian gambit to temporarily lift consumption. As for the increase in business expensing for 2011 (at 100%) and 2012 (50%), this will bring investment forward in time but do little to change overall business spending.

As with most WSJ editorials, this is worth the full read. It is also outside the castle walls, so access is free.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:14 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

And this Reason cartoon is germane as well.

As the blog proponent, I think we might be facing a Joni Mitchell moment. If it does fall apart, I'll suggest y'all did not know what you got till it was gone.

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2010 11:40 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I would suggest that such sentiment applies to the Dems. I would hope that if the problem is kicked to the 112th, the House Republicans would strip some of the give-aways from the deal, i.e., another 56 weeks (!) of unemployment benefits on top of the current 99 weeks. This deal seems generous to the Dems and I don't see how holding out will get them more concessions.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 10, 2010 12:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think that judgement applies well to the once overtly Marxist President Obama. Now that he's triangulating he'll be harder to dislodge.

But the tax deal? If you still feel this way after all that BR and I have already said I'm not sure anything more could sway you.

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2010 2:49 PM

October 13, 2010

Arizona Does Produce Great GOP Senators

Not picking a fight, just highlighting Jon Kyl. If I may paraphrase my pal Sugarchuck, six letters and the truth.

Kyl has a clear and compelling guest editorial in the WSJ today. Holler if you'd like it emailed (maybe it's on Kyl's site ungated). It's brief, punchy, and clearly hits the important flaws in our tax system and how to fix them. He does accept progressive taxation (as would I) but he hits all the right points hard.

What, then, encourages growth? For one, it turns out that savings, much-maligned by the president and the press, actually help our economy grow. Money saved is invested. Adam Smith, in his famed "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations," and later economists, including Jean-Baptiste Say and Friedrich Hayek, all noted that an economy grows through increased production, which is financed by capital (savings); increased consumption follows--it does not lead--economic growth.

The best way for us to encourage production is through pro-growth tax reform. And it just so happens that events are shaping up to achieve the kind of tax reform that could put our economy on a path of long-term growth.

Gotta read it all.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:09 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2010

What Would We Do Without Democrats?

I mean, what would we call the Post Offices?

Dan Reihl says "It's this bad."

"We always name post offices," [Democratic Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer replied with irritation. "It's a worthwhile endeavor to do that, and people really do appreciate it, particularly when it's their name and their community."

Reporters walking into House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office Tuesday morning noticed an open supply cabinet with a tape measure on the shelf.

It was a strange bit of office equipment. Are Democrats so resigned to defeat that they're expecting Republicans to stop by and take measurements of the majority offices?

Posted by John Kranz at 5:05 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2010

Sun Rises in East!

The Washington Post afternoon politics edition includes:

3) Snowe open to deal on taxes
The Maine Republican says she's "not drawing lines in the sand" on the Bush tax cuts.

That would be a little too obvious for a Taranto "Bottom Story of the Day," but it got me wondering whether the gentle lady from Maine ever drew a line anywhere on anything.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2010

Good Reason Not to "Go Wobbly"

The Internets are ablaze with suggestions that Leader Boehner would vote to preserve the "Bush Middle Class Tax Cuts" if he felt he could not get the high end. He and Speaker Gingrich were suggesting as much on FOXNewsSunday yesterday.

Prof Mankiw links to an AEI report that makes a substantive case that that would be the exact wrong course.

Congress is poised to allow the high-income rate reductions in the Bush tax cuts to expire while extending the middle-class Bush tax cuts. This combination would increase the deficit while reducing incentives for earning income, saving, and investing.

The middle class cuts enlarge the deficit and contribute to a steep marginal rate and überprogressive rate curve.
Most defenses of the high-income rate reductions continue to rely on misplaced arguments about small-business aid and Keynesian demand stimulus. These arguments solidified political support for the initial passage of the tax cuts, but impeded the establishment of lasting pro-growth tax policy. Laying a firm foundation for sound tax policy will require bringing the neglected stepchild in from the cold and making the economic-growth case for the high-income rate reductions.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:59 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Mankiw - He's that big proponent of Pigouvian taxes ... correct? Is he now seeking salvation?

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2010 2:55 PM
But jk thinks:

He's a free market guy -- he did his best to keep President Bush on track...

Were you in his ec10 class, he'd say he likes it because it's free market. Define a negative externality, tax it and allow the market to use less, pay more, substitute, and innovate. He would pass a big energy tax but subtract the revenue from corporate or cap gains tax.

My problem is allowing the government to define these negative externalities. Jazz music, coffee, convertibles and trans-fats would be next.

But compared to the non-Econ Hahvaad faculty, he's Glenn Beck with a 12-guage and a hound dog.

Posted by: jk at September 14, 2010 4:16 PM

August 24, 2010

I Feel Consumer Protected, You?

Yes, Mister Mencken, we are getting consumer protection "good and hard."

If I may link Ms. McArdle twice, she brings a bit of obvious news that everybody else seems to be ignoring. In the fanfare and victory lap over the last bit of regulations being enacted -- all our credit card rates went up! And -- mirabile freakin' dictu -- the responsible will be shouldering the bill for the less responsible:

As Carolyn Maloney says in the article, "Better that consumers should know up-front what the interest rate is, even if it's higher, than to be soaked on the back-end by tricks and hidden fees."

Of course, lots of people weren't being soaked on the back end by tricks and hidden fees; the people who pay their bills on time or even early. Those people are paying more, while folks who have temporary cash flow problems (or permanent forgetfulness) will pay somewhat less. Whether or not you think this is fair depends on a set of moral judgments about indebtedness; do the timely bill payers deserve a bonus for living within their means, or do the bill-missers deserve some help because they're more likely to be hard up?

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page Piles on:

How much more consumer protection can credit-card customers stand? If President Obama selects activist law professor Elizabeth Warren to head the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, we will soon have an answer. Meantime, thanks to a recent flurry of federal rule-making and legislating, consumers are already learning that "consumer protection" means higher interest rates and fewer card options.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:58 AM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Speaking of consumer protection, I learned last night that the FDA regulates what constitutes "fruit cocktail," what fruits must be in it and in what proportions. Wow! Thank NED I've got the government on my side! Otherwise, I'd be faced with opening the can and deciding if I liked it or not.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 25, 2010 11:03 AM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Seems a fitting allegory for government control in both name and excitement. Let them do for health care what they've done for Fruit Cocktail!

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2010 11:45 AM

August 12, 2010

Some Pigs' Jobs are More Equal

Early on, some stimulus folk pointed out that if government has to spend, why don't they spend on the military? That idea didn't go anywhere. Michael Austin makes a stark and sad comparison:

The House voted for another $24 billion bailout to the states this week, with $10 billion marked for preventing teacher layoffs. The White House estimated that might save approximately 160,000 teachers' jobs, although a number of states, including Alaska, Tennessee, and Arkansas, apparently don’t need federal support to retain teachers, but will get the funds anyway. Putting aside the clear political payback to the teachers' unions for their support, the new $10 billion handout comes out to $62,500 per potential teacher job "saved."

Yet clearly some jobs count more than others. Almost exactly a year ago, the Senate caved in to White House pressure and killed the F-22 program, canceling the last seven planes to be built. How much was saved? $1.75 billion (in today's budget world, that seems like a rounding error). How many jobs will be lost? 95,000 highly skilled jobs. In other words, that $1.75 billion would have divided into just $18,421 per job saved, plus seven more of the world's most advanced fighter jets.

These guys ain't even good Keynesians!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:10 PM | Comments (5)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

No, but they're damn-fine politicians. The F-22 workers probably would have contributed a few million dollars to the Democrats at best, whereas the teachers union will put in about $100 million. Jobs, schmobs... they got a 20:1 improvement in campaign contributions, making it the investment of the decade.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2010 4:31 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

In simple English, then, what you're saying is that the House leadership is using our tax money and bribing people to vote for them with it. Sounds like a good gig if you can get it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 12, 2010 6:09 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

KA, "bribe" is such an ugly word. This is a family blog, so please be more considerate of the children's tender mercies...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2010 6:20 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

If this is a family blog, then the children will understand that the House is getting too much allowance. From us.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 12, 2010 6:31 PM
But jk thinks:

You can call me naive (most of you have certainly called me worse!) but I was floored at the blatant, cynical, bribery of the Kansas City Prendergast machine as detailed in McCullough’s "Truman."

It isn't as if one doesn't know, but the matter of factness of things that exceed patronage and truly represent out-and-out bribes is shocking.

Obama is out of the Chicago machine. Evan graciously allowing that he is personally honest as President Truman seemed to be, the level of corruption is beyond what a Republic can sustain. And, of course, self sustaining and self-perpetuating.

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2010 6:46 PM

August 2, 2010

I Think the Word is 'Pwned."

Taranto discusses this (and doesn't mention the large body of attendees who do not seem to support this woman) but I recommend taking the 3:37 and watching the video:

Posted by John Kranz at 4:37 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"I'm sure glad you're here to save it?" Like hell he is.

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2010 3:15 PM

July 30, 2010

Doesn't the Eighth Amendment Pertain to Congressfolk?

Rep. Charles Rangel might have to face...a rebuke.

WASHINGTON – The panel that charged New York Democrat Charles Rangel with 13 counts of ethical misdeeds recommended he receive a relatively mild rebuke by the full House, one of the investigators said Friday.

The House ethics committee has a range of punishments it can administer or recommend to the full House. A reprimand is simply a vote by the House to express displeasure with a member's conduct, and would follow a finding of guilt in a trial.

Poke her with the soft cushions!!!!!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:26 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Two steps below as strongly-worded letter from the United Nations. Somebody owes Adam Clayton Powell an apology.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 30, 2010 5:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Merciful Zeus, Powell and Rangel have held that seat since 1945.

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2010 6:12 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Let me just double down on that one: Rangel's main challenger in the upcoming primary? Adam Clayton Powell IV. To quote Alan Rickman in Dogma: "It never ends!"

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 30, 2010 6:54 PM

July 16, 2010

GOP Not Completely Clueless

Really. John Fund brings word of a serious, principled budget suggestion. And it's from the GOP!

In one of the most fiscally inept stunts in many years on Capitol Hill, Congressional Democrats have taken a pass on enacting a budget this year. Legislators will just wing it and let the $3.6 trillion fall where it may and hope the public doesn't notice a $1.5 trillion dollar deficit. But the minority Republicans have just presented their own budget plan and it's a remarkably bold and honest document that involves big cuts in government spending over the next decade and a balanced budget by 2019. The GOP budget would be a Tea Partier's dream come true if it ever were enacted.

The plan, fashioned by Tom Price of Georgia, head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, reduces federal borrowing from the Obama baseline by a gargantuan $6.4 trillion over the next decade. Not bad considering that it also lowers taxes by $1.7 trillion more than the Obama budget by making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Spending reductions start with what Mr. Price calls a "reset" on spending for discretionary programs back to 2008 levels. That insures that "temporary" stimulus funding doesn't get continued year after year. The plan also instructs the President and Congress to dedicate every penny of bailout money repaid to the federal government by the banks to debt retirement.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:26 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Let's start the voting now:


Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2010 10:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Aye. This is a thing of beauty.

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2010 11:43 AM

Headline of the Day

Senator Chuck Schumer writes open letter to Steve Jobs, world is officially doomed -- engadget

Hat-tip: Instapundit, who adds " With his vast expertise in antenna design, and shouting at companies, he’ll have the problem solved in no time. Or at least milk it for a little pointless, cheap publicity."

Posted by John Kranz at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2010


A picture from Nate Beeler being worth 1000 words or so:


Posted by John Kranz at 10:22 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, it's that Congress forced the financial industry to use cracked pillars, and now it's forcing them to use paper piles. But that would have been hard to capture in just one frame...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 15, 2010 10:53 AM

June 17, 2010

GOP Apologizes for Spine: "Won't Happen Again!"

Jeeeburs! GOP Leadership has, well, I'll let the AP tell it:

WASHINGTON – Who's sorry now? Rep. Joe Barton, that's who.

The Texas Republican, the House's top recipient of oil industry campaign contributions since 1990, apologized Thursday for apologizing to the chief of the British company that befouled the Gulf of Mexico with a massive oil spill.

His double mea culpa plus a retraction, executed under pressure from fuming GOP leaders, succeeded in shifting attention from the tragedy, BP's many missteps and the stoic British oil chief at the witness table, to his own party's close connection to the oil industry.

My Facebook friend is right -- he is a p***y! Like Rand Paul, the GOP is sworn that no candidates will show any principle that cannot be explained to a Freshman PoliSci class.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:43 PM | Comments (11)
But T. Greer thinks:

One needs only look at what our friends on the left are saying to understand why the GOP was so quick to jump on this one.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 18, 2010 7:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Part of my point is that backpedalling just plays into their hands. "If they're not guilty as charged then why do they run away from their indefensible statements?" Tell the truth. Explain why it's the truth. In the end, a protracted public debate of the subject will do more good than harm.

Part of the significance of the TEA Party phenomenon is that everyday folks are both more engaged and less likely to bend over. Coincidentally, eco-primativists and other Marxists are proclaiming this as "the last chance" to (fill in the blank) and in several other examples, generally having existential meltdowns. For my money we're at the collectivist apogee and the time to raise our hands over our heads and yell "wheeeee!" is nigh at hand, as the roller coaster comes back down the other side at a high rate of speed.

Posted by: johngalt at June 18, 2010 10:18 PM
But jk thinks:

A-dangnabbit-men, Brother (see, I am trying to improve the language 'round here...)

Backpedaling is blood in the water. This morning AP leads with "After a day in the spotlight, Texas' Barton takes cover" including Republican Rep. Jo Bonner demanding that he step down.

When we cannot have a rational discussion yet, it is not time to yell "wheeeee."

BTW: I must give props to Larry Kudlow. He was trinitrotoluene last night. He has less love for BP than the Sierra Club, based on business they do with Iran. But he insisted that the rule of law and The Constitution must be honored as we pursue recourse. It was awesome.

Posted by: jk at June 19, 2010 10:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"When we cannot have a rational discussion yet, it is not time to yell "wheeeee."

We might be able to have a rational discussion, if those on one side of the debate weren't so busy apologizing for being on that side of the debate. Senator McConnell was on Fox News Sunday this morning, still apologizing for what Joe Barton said. Thank NED Kentucky Republicans chose Rand Paul over whatever puppet this guy was backing.

Posted by: johngalt at June 20, 2010 4:39 PM
But jk thinks:

My heart sank, my stomach twisted, and my spleen oscillated when I heard that.

Rising to Senator McConnell's position takes a certain amount of conventional thinking and politicking. I will not, however, stand idly by if McConnell is vilified around here ala Senator McCain.

McConnell has been a five star advocate of free speech, fighting a popular flag-burning amendment and taking McCain-Feingold all the way to the Supreme Court. Yup, he's the adjudicant in McConnell v FEC. It's one of SCOTUS's worst decisions ever but it was a profile in courage to proceed against media and bipartisan incumbency.

He's not a Ron Paul purist but he held Collins, Snowe and Voinovich in caucus to ensure that ObamaCare could not come back to a Senate vote after reconciliation.

And he's married to Sec Elaine Chao.

The dude remains a hoss. He knows when to be pragmatic and when to be conventional. He picks his battles pretty damn well. Only ThreeSourcers would appreciate a principled stand behind Rep. Joe Barton. If you stayed long enough to watch the panel, Barton did not even get the support of any of the pundits.

Posted by: jk at June 21, 2010 10:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

A good defense, and agreed all 'round. Just one question: What's the difference between "pragmatic" and "conventional" in politics? I don't think I could remember a time when they weren't the same thing.

Posted by: johngalt at June 21, 2010 2:59 PM

June 14, 2010

Quote of the Day (with video!)

"Capt Kickass has his new sidekick."-- commenter lorien1973

UPDATE: "Hunter-Killer Teams?" He asked him a question.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:35 PM | Comments (3)
But T. Greer thinks:

Eh, it is about time congressmen start showing some backbone somewhere.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 14, 2010 5:48 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Would that they were as aggressive toward our enemies, or in their defense of the Constitution as written, as they are toward their constituents, or toward citizens with legitimate questions!

Posted by: Keith Arnold at June 14, 2010 6:05 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

---- that ------- -------. Where are the police, the warrant for this SOB's arrest?

Oh, he'll just plead "no contest" to a misdemeanor and receive a suspended sentence, probation, and "anger management" counseling (at the taxpayers' expense). A regular Joe would certainly get at least a month in county lockup for violently grabbing a person by the back of the neck.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 15, 2010 1:36 PM

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

WSJ Ed Page:

But Ms. [Rep. Maxine] Waters and the House are hunting bigger game—to wit, the political allocation of credit. They want to put a network of operatives at the highest level of government who are responsible for making sure that regulators put the hiring of, and lending to, minorities at the top of their priority list. The House provision makes that very clear by making each diversity officer a Presidential appointee who must be confirmed by the Senate. The post, says the bill, will be "comparable to that of other senior level staff."

The law says this diversity czar will "ensure equal employment opportunity and the racial, ethnic and gender diversity" of the work force and senior management of these institutions. More ominously, this creature of Congress and the White House will also be charged with "increas[ing] the participation of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the programs and contracts" of each agency and conducting "an assessment" of stated inclusion goals.

Yeah, that sounds like financial reform to me.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2010

Quote of the Day

UPDATE: Here’s a video produced by [Rep. Mark] Souder’s office in which the congressman explains his passion for abstinence-only education. The woman interviewing him in the video . . . is his mistress. -- SWAT FREE, from Radley Balko
Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

Congress is moving to enact far-reaching changes in the financial regulatory system. We need far-reaching changes. The problem is that we don't need many of the specific far-reaching changes we're about to receive. --Harvey Pitt
To be fair, Mister Pitt was not my favorite guy when he headed the SEC. But this is a good quote, and I do not hold a grudge.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

April 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

It was a good idea to get science and democracy from the ancient Greeks. It’s not such a good idea to get fiscal policy from the modern Greeks. -- David Boaz
Posted by John Kranz at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2010

Kangaroo Subpoenas Released

Another day, another never-mind ObamaCare moment. Earlier this week, House Democrats concluded that the deluge of corporate writedowns—amounting to about $3.4 billion so far—were in fact the result of ObamaCare, not the nefarious CEO conspiracy that the White House repeatedly cited when it was embarrassed soon after the bill's passage.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke rushed to attack AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar and many others reporting losses from a tax increase on retiree drug benefits as "premature and irresponsible." He later took to these pages to denounce those who noticed these writedowns as "disingenuous" and peddling "overheated rhetoric."

Meanwhile, House baron Henry Waxman vowed to summon the offending executives to his committee because their actions "appear to conflict with independent analyses, which show the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs."

Mr. Waxman has since canceled those hearings with much less dudgeon or media fanfare, and the report from his own staffers explains his retreat. "The companies acted properly and in accordance with accounting standards in submitting filings to the SEC in March and April," -- WSJ Ed Page

Wait -- you mean ObamaCare® really is going to cost these companies billions of dollars? They were following GAAP to disclose this? The only political games were on the supporters' side?

Enjoy it ThreeSourcers. It's one of those great moments that nobody you talk to will ever know it happened. Kind of like ClimateGate or RatherGate™ But we know!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2010

OMG, He's Not Going to Shill for GS Again???

No. Definitely not. Well, maybe a little.

I must "call them as I see them" and I saw enough yesterday to cement my position that I trust the greedy, insufferable, big-eared, Goldman creeps waaaaaay more than the preening Senators who felt their job was to yell at them.

I linked yesterday to Senator Levin. Boy, that guy is one of my faves. It is sad enough that not one out of one hundred of these people has any clue about risk management or how financial instruments operate, but Senator Levin cannot even comprehend business. He felt he had found the smoking gun in the "s*****y deal" email. If he had spent one second in the private sector, he would know that deals and projects and product developments "go s****y" rather frequently.

Once something turns to the dark brown side, you don't just leave it on the P&L. You have to deal with it. In the software realm you might bring in a new team. If you're Goldman, you have to get it sold and off your books.

I don't link to Powerline a lot, but John Hinderaker nails it today. He's a lawyer and does this for a living. And he is astonished at how bad the Senators are.

The process was painful due to the Senators' lack of skill. It's also probably true that the Goldman folks didn't say quite everything that they knew. But, as one who spends much of his life poring over emails and other documents, looking for evidence I can use in depositions, I can say authoritatively that the Goldman emails aren't bad. This is a relatively tame collection on which to try to hang some sort of scandal.
The Senators, seemingly without exception, are embarrassingly ignorant of modern risk management techniques. They really don't seem to understand how and why firms like Goldman Sachs hedge their exposure to various economic trends.

What the TiVo grabbed for Kudlow last night was instead filled with Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill's brutal and grilling testimony. Man, no wonder GS gained a buck a share on a day the market tanked.

McCaskill (another favorite of mine) was clearly certainly honestly deeply disturbed and upset at the things that had gone on mind you. She demonstrated that she did not understand what had gone on, but asked the CEO Lloyd Blankfein if he couldn't understand why she and everybody else was so gosh darn upset!

Hinderaker points out the Republicans were no better. I saw a clip of Senator Susan Collins (RINO - ME) this morning and she proudly boasted that she was frustrated just 30 seconds into her question. Damn those pointy head pinstriped bastards upsetting that dear flower so!

No, I am not defending GS again. My point is made particularly well by Hinderaker, in his close:

I'm not a particular fan of either Goldman Sachs or Congress, but today's hearing confirms that, given a choice, I'd rather have Goldman Sachs regulating Congress than Congress regulating Goldman Sachs. Goldman's employees are much smarter, considerably more honest, and far more likely to have my interests at heart.


Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM | Comments (1)
But Lisa M thinks:

jk, the most apt quote on the whole mess comes from Charles Krauthammer . If I may:
"When the Incas had a crop failure, they would take somebody up on a hill and they would execute them. This process is the same — except it has a little less dignity. I'm sure the language was cleaner in the Inca process.

And the idea that somehow this is all Goldman Sachs — what you had in the Goldman Sachs deal was sharks trying to outsmart other sharks. These were not securities that were sold on the street to individuals, you and me. . . .

This is absurd. The Congress is as culpable as is Wall Street, and this whole exercise is a way to imply that it's all the big bad bankers in Wall Street and it was not the Congress, which is hugely responsible for the entire collapse."

Posted by: Lisa M at April 29, 2010 7:23 AM

April 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

Goldman Sachs on Capitol Hill. Once again, they are the smartest guys in the room ... -- James Pethokoukis

UPDATE: For you reason based empirical guys who want proof, here's Senator Levin (and salty language warnings).

Posted by John Kranz at 4:52 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2010

Put Me Down as "Right On!"


Financial-overhaul legislation failed to move to the Senate floor after it failed to garner 60 votes. All Republicans voted against moving forward in the 57-41 vote. Democrats meanwhile agreed on a proposal in the bill to overhaul derivatives rules.

I just don't see the successes of regulatioon that this is meant to build on.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:34 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

The reporting on this vote has been strange. "All Republicans voted against" the thing, plus Democrat Ben Nelson. But the 41 "nay" votes equals the number of Republicans in the Senate.

The official record shows that two Republicans, Bennett of Utah and Bond of Missouri, abstained. And joining Nelson of Nebraska in voting no was ... Reid of Nevada.

Election year politics works in mysterious ways.

Posted by: johngalt at April 27, 2010 2:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh wait! I know this one!

Senator Reid has not joined Club for Growth, his voting against allows him procedural rights to call a new vote.

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2010 3:10 PM

April 21, 2010

Carry-on Bag Fees

The humanity! Paying for carry-ons!

Oddly, though, bookings are up 50%

Spirit Airlines claims that bookings have soared since it announced it would add a fee for stowing carry-on luggage in its overhead bins, TheStreet.com reports. That publication writes "Spirit's bookings for after August 1 -- when the policy takes effect -- have risen 50%, said Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza. He said tens of thousands of tickets have been sold as a result of the policy, which was announced April 6."

Baldanza claims sales have been boosted by fare cuts he says the airline instituted along with the new carry-on fees, which top out at $45 per passenger. Fliers who belong to Spirit's subscription "$9 Fare Club" can stow carry-ons for $20. Spirit says it chopped up to $40 off its lowest fares at the same time it announced the carry-on fee.

"Our customers get it," Baldanza tells The Street.com. "The media says they don't like it, but if you are me, you see that the number of people who buy tickets is expanding. I think the outrage is from people who already pay high fares on other carriers. But our customers see the power of a really low fare with the option to choose what else they want."

Huh? Choice? Freedom? Customers "get it?"

To be fair, I must report that FOX31 Good Day Colorado did report this this morning.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Here's what I want to know - Who gets to board first, those who pay the extra fee or those with no bags for the overhead bins? More importantly, who gets to de-plane first? Do carry-oners have to pay more AND wait longer? No wonder Schumer is outraged!

Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2010 3:32 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

While Schumer is at it, I hope he plans on building in some "anti-bitch" legislation to keep those flight attendants in line.

Posted by: Lisa M at April 21, 2010 6:52 PM

April 20, 2010

We've Broken the Pricing Mechanism

Awesome piece from Gerald P O'Driscoll, Jr. of Cato in today’s WSJ. He suggests that a more common-law approach to financial reform might be better than a brand new shiny SarbOx.

The idea that multiplying rules and statutes can protect consumers and investors is surely one of the great intellectual failures of the 20th century. Any static rule will be circumvented or manipulated to evade its application. Better than multiplying rules, financial accounting should be governed by the traditional principle that one has an affirmative duty to present the true condition fairly and accurately—not withstanding what any rule might otherwise allow. And financial institutions should have a duty of care to their customers. Lawyers tell me that would get us closer to the common law approach to fraud and bad dealing.

We need to delve into financial reform. It is an interesting internecine discussion. My pal, Larry Kudlow, is on board in a big way. He had Senator Dodd on and is convinced that this bill ends "too big to fail."

Less introspective pundits blast the $50Billion fund as a "bailout fund" but it is meant to provide debtor-in-possession funding to wind-down a firm and sell off its assets if it cannot survive.

And yet, the WSJ Ed page -- no populist organ -- has argued that the Dodd bill perpetuated TBTF. When in doubt, I always think less Christopher Dodd Legislation is better than more.

I hope the article is available (I looked a little on Cato.org for an ungated link) for a fascinating subtext. O'Driscoll points out that Crony Capitalism has broken the pricing model, leaving us (my words not his) little better than Communism in the affected industries:

Congressional committees overseeing industries succumb to the allure of campaign contributions, the solicitations of industry lobbyists, and the siren song of experts whose livelihood is beholden to the industry. The interests of industry and government become intertwined and it is regulation that binds those interests together. Business succeeds by getting along with politicians and regulators. And vice-versa through the revolving door.

We call that system not the free-market, but crony capitalism. It owes more to Benito Mussolini than to Adam Smith.

Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek described the price system as an information-transmission mechanism. The interplay of producers and consumers establishes prices that reflect relative valuations of goods and services. Subsidies distort prices and lead to misallocation of resources (judged by the preferences of consumers and the opportunity costs of producers). Prices no longer convey true values but distorted ones.

Hayek's mentor, Ludwig von Mises, predicted in the 1930s that communism would eventually fail because it did not rely on prices to allocate resources. He predicted that the wrong goods would be produced: too many of some, too few of others. He was proven correct.

In the U.S today, we are moving away from reliance on honest pricing. The federal government controls 90% of housing finance. Policies to encourage home ownership remain on the books, and more have been added. Fed policies of low interest rates result in capital being misallocated across time. Low interest rates particularly impact housing because a home is a pre-eminent long-lived asset whose value is enhanced by low interest rates.

UPDATE: Jimmy P has three great posts. He is balanced but skeptical:
On paper, Democrats have a case to support their convictions. Their bill gives regulators new authority to wind down non-bank financial institutions. Tougher new capital and leverage requirements, as well as limits on risky activities, are supposed to make failures much less likely. A $50 billion bank-financed pool would fund resolution costs — though this whole idea may yet be dropped.

The trouble is, teetering banks and their creditors might still assume that while not too big to sue — as Goldman can attest — Uncle Sam would still think them too big and interconnected to fail. And that’s the problem for many Republicans. The bill tends to favor discretion over hard and fast rules. While the feds would have the authority to shut down institutions, for instance, they wouldn’tbe required to do it.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2010

I really Did Hear the Speaker Say This

Taranto's lead item today is Speaker Pelosi's brilliant defense of ObamaCare. I saw this but I feared it was a bad dream:

You've heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don't know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention--it's about diet, not diabetes. It's going to be very, very exciting.

But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.

Why don't we pass a flat-tax, then see what's in the bill?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:07 PM | Comments (14)
But johngalt thinks:

The indians had no government when the colonists arrived, nor during westward expansion. Look where that got 'em. I say we need a government if only to tell other governments of the world to shove off.

Anarchy is too "individual liberty" even for me, and I'm widely considered a "wing-nut." I prefer leaving a Constitutional Republic to myself and my posterity.

Posted by: johngalt at March 11, 2010 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

But jg likes to forget Amendment XVI which was written specifically to refute it.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Posted by: jk at March 11, 2010 3:38 PM
But jk thinks:

A two-lettered-sobriqueted acquaintance of ours would also insist that you read Wikipedia’s entry on The Iroquois Constitution. He'd say that it presaged ours and that Madison took lots of good ideas from it. I would and have disagreed; it was a defense compact of related tribes with no mention of rights. Brother jg points out its efficacy.

I bring him up because we have a long Facebook thread on the role of government. I shared naked snow-women and unlicensed beer with my Facebook coterie, and brother XX asked pretty specifically the level of government I thought appropriate.

I said, no surprise to ThreeSourcers, that you have to find some balance and that I thought the founders did a good job. Too bad we stopped paying attention.

Posted by: jk at March 11, 2010 3:59 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

PE, I'm struggling with the notion that anarchy is the ultimate instantiation of liberty. That might be true if humanity had reached perfection, but until that happens...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 11, 2010 5:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

jg wishes he could forget Amendment XVI, which was written specifically to turn the American Republic into ancient Rome.

Posted by: johngalt at March 11, 2010 6:19 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The Indians weren't the way they were because they lacked government like Americans or Europeans did. The Indians were the way they were because they didn't believe in property rights. With no property rights, no man had an incentive to cultivate his own land. Thus the Indians were constantly "living off the land," but such a "noble" hunter-gatherer existence allows for little accumulation of wealth and little leisure.

BG, ask yourself this: what is government? Government is force, specifically coercion. You are being forced to be a part of something, even though you may not be harming anyone else. You cannot opt out. Therefore you cannot actually be free to your own life, harming no one else, if you are being forced into a government.

I'm going to get a lot more into this when I post on my blog. Stay tuned.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 11, 2010 8:50 PM

March 3, 2010

Jim Bunning's Finest Hour

The horror! Senator Bunning asks the US Senate to follow the rules it proudly trumpeted:

Throughout his Hall of Fame baseball career, Jim Bunning was famous for the brush back pitch: a fastball inside to a batter crowding the plate. Now Mr. Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky who is retiring after this year, is throwing a political brush back in the Senate on behalf of fiscal responsibility.

And all hell has broken loose. Mr. Bunning has dared to put a hold on a $10 billion spending bill to extend jobless insurance and fund transportation projects. Mr. Bunning says he won't yield until the Senate finds a way to pay for the new spending with cuts somewhere else in the $3.5 trillion budget. For this perfectly reasonable stance, Mr. Bunning has become the Beltway and media villain of the hour. We'd call it his finest hour.

Every time Washington wants to spend money, the Senate Majority Leader asks for "unanimous consent" to authorize the funding, and in the collegial Senate everyone falls in line. But when Harry Reid wanted consent last week for that $10 billion, Mr. Bunning broke the old-boy rules by shouting: "I object."

Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Here's another good take on the situation for those of us who don't (or no longer) subscribe to WSJ Online. From Investors.com:

The Democrats' argument for not following PAYGO comes down to strategic procrastination. They've left it to the last minute to keep vital programs alive and workers on the job, so there's no time to work out a proper PAYGO solution.


This is a clever tactic, and it's far from new. The big spenders know that they can usually get their way by delaying the tough decisions on tradeoffs until too late, when the collateral damage of cutting programs is just too great for either party to accept. Stall long enough and the fiscal conservatives will face a choice between starving the jobless and letting the red ink rise a bit more.

Faced with those options, only a soon-to-retire senator in a mad-as-hell mood would go to the mat for budget sobriety.

He's not the only one who's mad as hell. This isn't even the first bill since "PAYGO" that violates the requirement. It's time to bring the Senate up on Contempt of Congress charges.

Posted by: johngalt at March 3, 2010 3:17 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Horatio Bunce would be proud of Senator Bunning.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 3, 2010 6:13 PM

February 26, 2010

Fifty One Votes

If you haven't seen this take five minutes and enjoy Democratic Senators waxing poetic about the joy of the filibuster, the danger of ,majority rule -- y'know, everything they believed when they were in the minority.

Hat-tip: Scrivener

Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2010

The Eight Scariest Words in the English Language

Max Baucus, Charles Grassley unveil $85B jobs bill

Posted by John Kranz at 3:03 PM | Comments (0)

February 5, 2010

You Like This


Oh, yes, I like this very much.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 4, 2010

Can't Call them a Do-Nothing Congress!

The Democrats in the 51st Congress ridiculed President Benjamin Harrison and Republicans for annual federal spending that reached one billion dollars for the first time: the Billion Dollar Congress! Ahh, those were the days...


217 Ayes (all 'D') - 212 Nays

Hat-tip: Roger Simon

Posted by John Kranz at 6:28 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

A billion? Pikers.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 4, 2010 9:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

At the time they surely thought, what - a ba-billion dollars? Now we're barely impressed by a ta-ta-trillion dollars!

Posted by: johngalt at February 5, 2010 3:52 PM

February 2, 2010

Help is on the way!

According to the Senator-Elect's Facebook page:

Scott Brown will be officially sworn in on February 11th at 12:45pm.

UPDATE: You and 8,048 others like this.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

Neither the House nor the Senate have figured out how to pass a reconciliation sidecar first, We are being asked to pass a piece of legislation that amends another piece of legislation which does not exist yet. We are having problems with the CBO and parliamentarian on that front. -- one senior Senate aide
Posted by John Kranz at 4:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2010

Ezra Klien Finds the Dark Cloud

Well, he finds a silver lining:

Scott Brown: Inadvertent hero of banking reform?

If Scott Brown's election was very bad for health-care reform, it looks like it was very good for financial reform. Desperate to add a new issue into the news cycle and give Democrats something they can actually fight for, the White House is set to propose a raft of regulatory reforms that go far beyond anything that Congress has suggested so far, or that the White House has hinted might be in the offing.

The dark cloud was spotted by political meteorologist James Pethokoukis a few days ago.
Brown win could spark Obama war on Wall Street

Scott Brown’s stunning capture of the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by Ted Kennedy was a political black swan, a near-unpredictable event.

The result ends the Democratic supermajority in the Senate and leaves key parts of the Obama agenda in deep trouble. But the biggest loser just might be Wall Street. Desperate Democrats may see anti-bank populism as a way of holding power as the November midterm elections approach.

The last days of the heated Senate race saw the first attempts at that political gambit. Democratic candidate Martha Coakley’s allies in Washington, both the White House and national Democratic officials, used President Barack Obama’s proposed bank tax as a cudgel to bash Brown via emailings and telephone calls.

Now that he doesn't have health care to worry about, he can really go after those fat cat bankers (boo, hiss!)

Posted by John Kranz at 2:21 PM | Comments (0)

January 9, 2010

TOSS UP in the Commonwealth!!!


Buoyed by a huge advantage with independents and relative disinterest from Democratic voters in the state, Republican Scott Brown leads Martha Coakley 48-47.

Here are the major factors leading to this surprising state of affairs:

-As was the case in the Gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia last year, it looks like the electorate in Massachusetts will be considerably more conservative than the one that showed up in 2008. Obama took the state by 26 points then, but those planning to vote next week only report having voted for him by 16.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Wow. A 2-1 lead over Coakley among independents is huge.

I liked this line: "All that said Coakley can certainly still win this race..." That's a far cry from "a Republican has a snowball's chance in hell of winning Ted Kennedy's seat."

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2010 10:59 AM

January 6, 2010

Quote of the Day

"There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail," quipped Pelosi, who has no intention of making the deliberations public.-- Speaker Pelosi quoted in Politico
I think the word you are looking for is "RAWR!"

UPDATE: Honorable Mention QOTD:

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Wednesday it was not a slap at the president. "It was a quip," Daly said. -- AP

Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2009

Three Cheers for the Filibuster!

John Stossel wants to expand it to the House.

I'll have to think about that one, but he presents a nice defense of the procedure that every majority party learns to hate:

On any given day, what is Congress more likely to do: violate or expand liberty? As nineteenth-century New York Judge Gideon Tucker put it, “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

Libertarian science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein had a good idea. One of his novels depicted a bicameral legislature with one chamber needing a supermajority to pass laws and the other needing only a minority of votes to repeal them.

By the standard of protecting freedom and keeping government caged, that’s not a bad idea. It should be easier to repeal laws than to pass them.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:34 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Bravo to Stossel for looking to "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" for government reform ideas.

But this quote shouldn't go without repeating:

There is no greater threat to individual freedom and autonomy than government. The threat from private freelance crime is small potatoes compared to the daily usurpations of the state, with its taxation, regulation, privilege-granting, inflation and war.

The first line, by itself, deserves commitment to memory.

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2009 3:10 PM

December 28, 2009

Elections Matter

Sprint showed us what it would look like "If Firefighters Ran the World."

Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Richard Durbin and Christopher Dodd show us what would happen "If the Mafia Ran the World."

Problem is, the Sprint ad was hypothetical and the Senate's actions are all too real. It can legitimately be argued that the Democrat party has become a full-fledged criminal syndicate. Just listen to Judge Napolitano.

Is what we are seeing today much different than if a majority of Mafioso had been elected to Congress?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:02 PM | Comments (5)
But Keith thinks:

jg: that's SO not true. If the Mafia ran the Federal legislature, they'd be running it at a profit.


Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not to mention that whatever you kick up would be far less than current taxes...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2009 2:54 PM
But Keith thinks:

Perry: great point. I hear that, since Red China is no longer buying our T-bills, one of the administrations went down to the docks last night to borrow a few trillion dollars from a guy. The guy turned him down, saying that Uncle Sam couldn't afford the vig.

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You think congressmen aren't profiting from their activities? Why else you think they do this "thankless" job - benevolence?!

I know you were joshin' but all kidding aside, the analogy fits like a glove.

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2009 4:07 PM
But jk thinks:

If the analogy fits, you must aquits...

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2009 4:28 PM

December 15, 2009

Helping Out TPM

I feel a little bit better about my two hopeless Senators when I watch this. But I do not post it just to jab my Minnesota friends with some sort of rhetorical poke in the eye with some sort of sharp stick, with large hunks of rock salt stuck on the end.

No, I post this for the same reason @mkhammer linked: the good people at Talking Points Memo put this together and posted it because they think it makes Senator Franken look so good. Yup, watch him take down Senator Thune with his repetition of a Moynihan quote -- watch in awe!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:55 PM | Comments (3)
But Lisa M thinks:

Oh! He's using the "Liar, liar pants on fire" defense!

Congratulations, Minnesota. You must be so proud.

Posted by: Lisa M at December 15, 2009 9:23 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

I blame Coleman. He lost to a wrestler, barely beat a dead guy, and then lost again to a clown. Having said that, if half of one percent of the ACORN registered voters were fraudulent, that would have given Franken his victory, making him the senator from ACORN and not Minnesota.

Posted by: sugarchuck at December 16, 2009 10:42 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, sc, but "the dead guy" knew how to throw a great party...

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2009 1:17 PM

December 11, 2009

Separated at Birth?

Too funny. Smart Girl Politics' Senate Rally invitataion:


Hat-tip: WaPo

Posted by John Kranz at 2:06 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

He's a bad bananna with a, greasy black peeeeeel!

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2009 11:20 PM

December 9, 2009

100 Lame Government Stimulus Projects

Senators Colburn and McCain have compiled an impressive document: Stimulus Checkup: a closer look at 100 projects funded by the coercive taxpayer theft act of 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It's worth a look.

Don Luskin has highlighted a few egregious examples, but I'm going to open the bidding with #14: Anti-Capitalist, Socially-Conscious Puppet Shows ($100,000)

Each spring, Minnesota is home to a nationally known Mayday parade put on by In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOTB), which includes artists that advocate for socially progressive causes such as the elimination of fossil fuels and ―free market fundamentalism.‖98 The theatre derives its name from a quote popularized by Che Guevara, who in a thinly-veiled reference to the United States said, ―I envy you. You North Americans are very lucky. You are fighting the most important fight of all – you live in the heart of the beast.

Holy cow, who's representing that State in the Senate? Some comed -- oh, never mind.

Pull up a chair and open the PDF, you'll be really unhappy you did.

UPDATE: #51 is an oldie but a goodie: Study On Why Young Men Do Not Like Condoms ($221,355)

Indiana University professors received $221,355 in economic stimulus funds to study why young men do not like to wear condoms. The research will ―advance our understanding of...the role of cognitive and affective processes and condom application skills in explaining problems with condom use in young, heterosexual adult men, and to create --education strategies tailored to the needs of individuals who have trouble using condoms effectively.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:06 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Oy. Government at its best, unfortunately.

Posted by: johngalt at December 9, 2009 3:39 PM
But Keith thinks:

How did they ever narrow it down to just a hundred? Sifting through thousands of candidates to pick that hundred would be a job I sure wouldn't want.

Unless it were being paid for with stimulus money.

(I kid, I kid...)

Posted by: Keith at December 9, 2009 5:38 PM

November 23, 2009

The Ayes Have It!

Hat-tip: Don Luskin, who says "Watch this and tremble"

Posted by John Kranz at 4:19 PM | Comments (3)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Democrats should be embarrased, Republicans either sardonic or smug, and independents outraged.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 24, 2009 11:21 AM
But jk thinks:

And people who actually believe in self-government, dejected.

Posted by: jk at November 24, 2009 12:12 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JK, you are so 18th century!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 24, 2009 12:48 PM

November 12, 2009

I'm a US Senator, Don't Ask About the Constitution!

What's Professor Reynolds's line? Our country is in the best of hands.

Hat-tip: Heritage

Posted by John Kranz at 8:07 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

One wonders how many senators have read the Constitution in its entirety. Probably as many as have read the bills they've voted on.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 13, 2009 10:17 AM

November 6, 2009

A Few Districts in the Old Dominion

It's Friday and jk is linking to Kim Strassel.

She looks at a few districts in Virginia, compares their 2008 and 2009 voting patterns, and proclaims a tipping point on heath care and the entire Obama agenda:

The White House and the congressional leadership saw this coming, and it is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi is force-marching her health bill to a vote tomorrow. She's not about to give her members time to absorb the ugly results, or to be further rattled by next week's Veteran's Day break, when they go home for a repeat of the August furies. If not now, she knows, maybe never.

Look for it, nonetheless, to be a squeaker. A lot of Democrats are getting a sneaky suspicion Mrs. Pelosi is willing to sacrifice their seats on the altar of liberal government health care. Combined with the election results and Mr. Obama's falling poll numbers, this is no recipe for loyalty. Hello, tipping point. Hello, even crazier Washington.

Awesome as usual.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2009

Only 534 Losers

And one Flake:

Seriously, Rep. Flake always seems to be on the right side. There are a few other Congressfolk and Senators that I admire somewhat, but nobody is so on all the time as Rep. Flake.

Hat-tip: Instapundit, who applauds his Confucian wit.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I like his idea of encouraging American travel to Cuba, to "see what it's like." To the collection of amusement and theme parks in this country would be added, "Communist Land." Hey kiddies, don't miss the "Apparatchiks Run my Neighborhood" ride by spending too much time in line for bread.

Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2009 2:38 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

A thoughtful and intelligent politician? Let's make sure he doesn't get to much air time! Yeah, he has the health care line in there, but the bigger picture is that free trade is better foreign policy than sanctions or military action. Meanwhile the left holds on to the first and the right the second and neither works.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 1, 2009 10:14 AM

October 27, 2009

Ralph Nader versus Rep. Frank

Must see to believe. I cannot embed, but grab a barf bag and listen all the way to the end. Rep Barney Frank defends himself from charges of inaction by Ralph Nader: "We Are Trying On Every Front To Increase The Role Of Government." Got it Ralph? You irrelevant (and strangely svelte) piece of putrefied horseflesh!

Hat-tip: Insty

UPDATE: Larry Kudlow Responds:

Thanks Below the Beltway

Posted by John Kranz at 6:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 30, 2009

Charlie Cook: 33 -50% Chance Dems lose House

James Pethokoukis heard the analyst at a Center for American Progress conference. Among the reasons:

1) Record drop in party ID where a 17 percent D edge has dropped to 5 over the summer.

2) An eight point drop in Obama’s approval rating over same period from 60 to 52.

3) Obama approval among independents has dropped to the low 40s. They are very worried about deficit and hyperactive government. Cook called it “visceral.”

4) Cook notes that more than 80 D House seats are in districts won by McCain in 2008 or Bush in 2004. And 48 are in districts won by both McCain and Bush in 2008 and 2008.

5) Dems could lose “a few” Senate seats, but then set up for lousy 2012 and 2014 where they have to defend a lot of seats.

6) He think Obama should have given Bush more credit for rescuing economy at end of 2008.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2009

Your Friday Horrible

I read about this, but one really has to see it:

"...this balance between freedom and safety." Really. Hat-tip: Ann Althouse who juxtaposes it with Beavis and Butt-Head clips

Posted by John Kranz at 6:33 PM | Comments (0)

Price Contriols Don't Work, Huh?

Remember when the 111th Congress stepped up to protect us little guys from the mean old credit card companies? They were going to dictate terms that are fair. Scrivener notes "Politicians shocked! Price controls produce the same result as always."

After passing the new law by an overwhelming vote, it hailed its achievement as a great bipartisan act of consumer protection.*

But now Reps. Barney Frank and Carolyn Maloney, the prime political movers behind the new restrictions, are shocked and appalled to find that credit card issuers are raising interest rates before the effective date of the new law, as per their press release ...

Pew Charitable Trust reports that interest rates have spiked by an average of 20% on credit cards representing more than 91% of the $864 billion in outstanding credit card balances. It’s clear that credit card companies are taking advantage of this period between the signing of my bill and the current effective date,” Rep. Maloney said. “The breadth and depth of the rate hikes happening now point to the need for faster consumer protections. Americans need relief now.”

I just hope that there are no unintended consequences of their dictating terms to health insurers. Nah -- certainly, they've figured all that out...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:25 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith thinks:

"... a great bipartisan act of consumer protection." A great act of meddling with the markets.

"... Americans need relief now..." Is there such a thing as Pyrrhic relief? One more relief like this, and we'll be totally bankrupt. Oh wait, we are already. Nevermind.

Is it not amazing that, no matter what the government does in its efforts to manipulate the economy, it always - WITHOUT FAIL - has exactly the opposite effect. Current economy policy may be proof that insanity is truly defined by doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting the results to change from prior attempts.

Posted by: Keith at September 26, 2009 12:47 PM
But jk thinks:

In light of our pragmatism debate, I am curious exactly how bipartisan the vote was. Anybody (well, everybody) better at this than I am? I am trying to find the bill and the roll call. I am guessing that it's "the usual suspects" in the GOP giving cover.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2009 1:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Nope. Mea Maxima Culpa! The bill passed the Senate 90 - 5. Bipartisan as a pay hike!

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2009 1:09 PM

August 29, 2009

It's almost as if the rules are not equally applied

I simply cannot imagine that anything will ever happen to House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Charlie Rangel. Today, a few more shoes drop.

Rep. Charles Rangel claimed on mortgage papers that a Harlem brownstone was his principal residence -- even though he was living elsewhere at the time, The Post has learned.

When the Democrat -- who is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee -- took out the mortgage in 1990, he said the property on West 132nd Street was his "principal residence," records show.

But Rangel has been living since the 1970s in Harlem's Lenox Terrace apartment complex, where he improperly amassed four rent-stabilized properties.

Don Surber Tweets: Jail time for Rangel? http://blogs.dailymail.com/...

I think the operative phrase is "who is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee " Having a toothless quasi-legal proceeding against him protects him from a real prosecutor, and from answering any questions. I saw him on Kudlow early on. The charming chair cannot possibly answer any questions as it would compromise the ethics committee proceedings. But, these are just wild allegations by partisan NY papers. No merit, et cetera.

Perhaps if MSM sources started to make demands, he could be in trouble -- but what's the intrade contract on that -- three cents? A powerful, charismatic, African American, Democratic leader is not a pleasant target for the Katie Courics of the world.

He'll ride it out. As will Senator Dodd. No matter how many times Instapundit reminds us of the little Irish cottage.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:53 PM | Comments (3)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Why can't we get these guys the same way we got mobsters, with the IRS? If he lied on mortgage documents and illegally obtained rent controlled properties I am betting that all of this showed up on his income tax forms as improper deductions. Let the House Ethics committee put on their show of investigating ethics, but here in the real world the IRS can find real prosecutable offenses.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 30, 2009 11:03 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, we could sic the Secretary of the Treasury on him! No, wait...

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2009 1:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is this so obvious that it need not be mentioned ... that Rangel is the chairperson of the Ways and Means Committee that WRITES the IRS rules?

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2009 12:04 PM

August 26, 2009

Liberal Lion Passes

Half century Senator for Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, died of cancer last night. Terrible news for a family that has had more than it's fair share of tragedy.

Philadelphia's KYW1060 news radio is running segments of Pennsylvanians commenting on the passing of Senator Kennedy. The Governor, former Senator Harris Wofford, & dozens of other notables are given a couple of lines.

One Pennsylvanian not heard from?

Mary Jo Kopechne. (to steal a line from James Taranto)

Governor Rendell's segment was something to the effect of "because he didn't become President, he became a better Senator."

Yeah, I wonder why.

Posted by AlexC at 11:24 AM | Comments (3)
But Keith thinks:

Already bracing for a week of fawning media slobbering. I wish I could claim the following as original, but I understand it was penned by Jim Treacher:

"As long as the media is going to keep bringing up Camelot, I think it's only fair we get to bring up the Lady in the Lake."

Posted by: Keith at August 26, 2009 1:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Wanna go to Chappaquiddick? You drive."

KEITH! Welcome back brother.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2009 2:10 PM
But Keith thinks:

Thanks, JG - been under the pile for the last two or three weeks with the day job, something of a blog war, and the new dogs. Perfect day to come off radio silence, as it were.

Kudos to Alex for the tasteful wording - "Terrible news for a family that has had more than its fair share of tragedy."

Posted by: Keith at August 26, 2009 3:34 PM

August 10, 2009

Who's in YOUR wallet?

I love this co-opting of 'Capital One' simply by changing the spelling...

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 6, 2009

JK Applies for AP Job

Democratic Congressman Cleared on Five Counts

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson was found not guilty of 5 of 16 corruption charges today by a federal jury.

The jury of eight women and four men returned the not guilty verdicts following five days of deliberation.

Sorry, but after reading New jobless claims drop more than expected, I just couldn't help myself,

Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

August 3, 2009

Clunkhead Quiz

Russ Roberts:

Imagine you’re a member of Congress. You’re a fan of the Cash for Clunkers program. You discover that the $1 billion that Congress budgeted for the program has been spent in FOUR DAYS. The program is now out of money. What do you do?
A. Realize that $4500 per clunker was too big a subsidy and that you can achieve the same effects with a much smaller amount.

B. Worry that maybe there is some fraud in the program and that some of the cash isn’t going to clunkers

C. Increase the budget by $2 billion

The correct answer for clunkheads is C, of course. That’s the wise choice when you are spending other people’s money. What fun that must be!

Hat-tip: @jives who wonders "I wonder how charities who take car donations feel about the Cash for Clunkers program?"

Posted by John Kranz at 5:18 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

D. Increase the budget by $2 billion and expect it to keep the program funded longer than just 8 more days.

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2009 10:09 AM

July 27, 2009

Imperial Congress

The WSJ Ed Page delivers a serious smackdown of Ways & Means Chair Charlie Rangel. Sad to say, Rep. Rangel is one of my favorite Congressional Democrats. Besides his considerable style and charisma, he seems to be one of the few who understand that the nation's business provides the revenue for his pet projects and -- unlike so many -- is truly reluctant to kill the golden goose.

But, he is a crook. He owns a villa at the Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic (don't all men of the people?) that "rents for $500 a night in the low season, and as much as $1,100 a night in peak season. Last year it was fully booked between December 15 and April 15." Rangel reported no income from the property, which I am tempted to ascribe to Congressional business acumen. Yet one must also consider malfeasance.

Mr. Rangel said last fall that “I never had any idea that I got any income’’ from the villa. Try using that one the next time the IRS comes after you. Equally interesting is his claim that he didn’t know that the developer of the Dominican Republic villa had converted his $52,000 mortgage to an interest-free loan in 1990. That would seem to violate House rules on gifts, which say Members may only accept loans on “terms that are generally available to the public.” Try getting an interest-free loan from your banker.

As he told Larry Kudlow, these are all just accusations and he has the presumption of innocence.

But not around here. Rangel is a powerful member of Congress and can count on the six current ethical investigations to be slow and friendly. Ergo, he must suffer at the court of ThreeSources' opinion. He's a crook.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

So you're saying that a sitting US Congressperson is a crook? Naaaaah.

Seriously - I continue to maintain that the only sustainable solution to this problem is to remove the profit motive for elected officials, i.e. revoke the 16th Amendment. Point belabored here.

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2009 4:00 PM

July 17, 2009

American Hero

National Black Chamber of Commerce CEO Harry Alford is my man of the week this week. He came to blog fame thanks to his testimony to the Senate. He was testifying on behalf of his members who will suffer disproportionately under the Cap'n Trade bill. He crossed paths with Senator Boxer, who made a point of showing all the support the bill has with other organizations, like the NAACP.

He is a guest on Breitbart TV and he is very engaging (not to mention clean and articulate!) If you have some time, I highly recommend his interview.

Now he's going to start a search across California looking for "all these green jobs they're talking about."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"They oughta recall her butt. That's what they oughta do." - Alford on the voters of California regarding Ms. Senator Boxer.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2009 10:04 AM

July 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

I am attending a Senate Banking hearing on the Obama proposal to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Some folks think new regulations would stifle financial innovation. Sen. Chuck Schumer just dismised “innovation as merely “clever ways to dupe the consumers.” -- James Pathokoukis.

Umm, that would be New York's Senator, Chuck Schumer.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Don't remind me.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 14, 2009 12:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Did not mean to rub it in Perry (and I'm in a glass house myself). It just strikes me as if Chuck Grassley had gone on about stupid-ass corn farmers or something. Not even her home Senator cares to defend her.

If you haven't seen it, do read the City Journal piece on Washington's assault on New York that I link to above.

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2009 12:27 PM

July 8, 2009

Bug? Feature? Bug Feature?

“If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes,” [Dem Leader Rep. Steny] Hoyer told CNSNews.com at his regular weekly news conference
Posted by John Kranz at 5:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2009

This Guy Has Had the Gavel a Little Too Long


Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 2:40 PM | Comments (0)

May 7, 2009

The Bill That's Too Liberal for Senator McGovern

The Bill That's Too Liberal for Senator McGovern gets new life with the addition of our newest superannuated Democratic Pennsylvanian. The man who carried his home state in 1972 takes to the WSJ Ed Page today to point out yet another horrible feature of the "Free Choice Act.:

The recent news that Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has become a member of the Democratic caucus has given new life to legislation that many thought had been put to rest for this Congress -- the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

Last year, I wrote on these pages that I was opposed to this bill because it would eliminate secret ballots in union organizing elections. However, the bill has an additional feature that isn't often mentioned but that is just as troublesome -- compulsory arbitration.

This feature would give the government the power to step into labor disputes where employers and labor leaders cannot reach an agreement and compel both sides to accept a contract. Compulsory arbitration is bound to trigger the law of unintended consequences.

Huh? You think the guys who just stole billions of dollars of equity from Chrysler bondholders to give to the unions -- you think they'd dare get political in a forced arbitration?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Three Sourcers have no doubt noted that "Cool-hand Arlen" has been stripped of his seniority by Democrats (how's that for gratitude?). They will "re-evaluate" his status in 2010, which is code for, "Vote with us on card-check and healthcare or else." It's the Democrat version of a re-education camp. "I've got my mind right, boss! I'm a-shaking, boss, I'm a-shakin'!" Harry Reid needs a pair of aviator sunglasses.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 7, 2009 1:18 PM
But jk thinks:

You're not suggesting that a principled legislator like Senator Specter would betray his firmly held principles over a plum committee assignment, are you? Hello? BR?

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2009 1:26 PM

April 28, 2009

File Under "Duh"

BREITBART: WASHINGTON (AP) - Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter disclosed plans Tuesday to switch parties, a move intended to boost his chances of winning re-election next year that will also push Democrats closer to a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

"I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," Specter said in a statement posted on a Web site devoted to Pennsylvania politics and confirmed by his office. Several Senate officials said a formal announcement could come later in the day or Wednesday.

Color this pragmatist concerned. Specter will be tough impossible to beat and he brings seniority and wily skills to the other side. We've lost a thorn but gained a tumor.

UPDATE: Good stuff as you'd imagine at PA H2O dS/dt>0 (keep scrolling). They're running toward the jubilant over there. We will see.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:57 PM | Comments (11)
But Keith thinks:

And I have to call "bovine effluvia" on Specter's own spin. This is a guy who, a mere six weeks ago, said that he chose not to switch parties "because he is a Republican." Now he says: "no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation."

(1) No matter how loyal he is to the party? When in the sphincter of Hell could that phrase possibly have been applied to Specter?

(2) Is he trying to tell us that, out of a sense of duty to state and nation, he is switching allegiance to the party that has done more to harm the nation than all of America's enemies in history have succeeded in doing, combined? Does he actually think that anyone not related to him by blood is stupid enough to believe that?

Political expediency - no more, and no less. But past all that, I wish him well, and offer him my congratulations. See what I mean here:


Posted by: Keith at April 29, 2009 5:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Let us not conflate the [non-]question of whether Senator Specter is a complete git with the question whether this is bad for the GOP.

I think our Keystone State friends at PSH20dS/dt>0 are whistling past the graveyard to think that a Democrat Senator Arlen Specter will somehow be better for liberty than a RINO one. And it looks like most of the ThreeSourcers are joining in.

RINOs cast at least one good vote every session for leadership. Now is a pretty bad time time to be losing seats. But I am glad you all are having a good time.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2009 5:38 PM
But Keith thinks:

jk: you make a good point, and I appreciate your call for cooler heads to prevail. I'd propose we discuss this in terms of unemotional reason.

(1) Did we lose a filibuster-proof Senate? I tend to think not; my suspicion is that Republican Specter would have voted with the Dems for closure on a lot of issues.

(2) Which of Specter's votes change as a result of his change in party affiliation? I don't think we see a lot here; my sense is that Democrat Specter will vote pretty much like Republican Specter did.

(3) He's already announced his (weak) intention to continue voting against card check and the end of secret ballots on unions. Does he change on this? Future uncertain; try again later.

(4) A Toomey-Specter primary fight would have cost a lot of money for the GOP, and Toomey would have almost certainly have emerged the winner. We've just avoided those costs. With luck, we'll have the opportunity to see a bloody and expensive Specter-Sestak primary on the other side. Money not spent in the primary can be spent in the general, and the presumptive Toomey-Specter fight moves from the primary to the general. The key here is having the best conservative candidate run in the primary.

I understand PA has had a shift in the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in recent years, but I'm not yet convinced that translates into a leftward lurch of the state's electorate - just that the Republicans haven't given them a reason to register in their column. Specter depended on a significant crossover vote in the past; it would be up to the right candidate to energize voters.

I'm no expert on PA politics, and would gladly entertain the thoughts of someone who was...

Posted by: Keith at April 29, 2009 6:57 PM
But jk thinks:

And I appreciate the optimism! I'll even toss one your way: losing Specter's seniority will give his plum committee assignment to a more Republican Senator.

I suspect we do lose our pal Arlen on card check. That is my biggest worry. As for saving the primary money, dang, you are an optimist! Specter owns that seat in the general up to and well past his death. Getting knocked off in a Democratic primary would be pretty comical, but Toomey's chances against him in a statewide race are lim->0 (you pick the epsilon).

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2009 7:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Even if jk is more righterer than the rest of us, just think of it as "a tough investment now toward a brighter future for our children."

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2009 7:16 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

While I agree with JK in the voting principle that "party trumps person" as a rule, I have to go with JG on this one. Putting principles aside in an effort to cling to power is exactly what got us in this fix. The Republican brand was damaged by Democrat-like spending. With Republicans like Specter, Snowe and Collins, the filibuster firewall was illusory anyway, as we saw in the stimulus fight. Burnishing the brand at this time without much actual loss, as Keith noted, is worth it to me. I also don't count Toomey out in the general. A lot can happen between now and then.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 30, 2009 3:09 PM

April 23, 2009

Club for Growth Rankings

The Club for Growth Congressional scorecard/rankings are out:

In the Senate, Sen. Jim DeMint gets the top slot. In the House (surprise!) it is Rep. Jeff Flake.

If I may continue my partisan hackery, the top 170 House members and all but two of the top 50 Senators have an R. Combine this with the goose-egg the stimulus bill got in the House with no Republican votes, together with some pretty stiff opposition in the GOP Senate Caucus (all but three). I don't find it too tough to pick a favorite.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:18 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

I broke my state's congressional delegation down... the "moderate/conservative" Democrats are pretty bad.

Of course the moderate Republicans we have are nothing to brag about either... but we do have a 100%er.


Posted by: AlexC at April 23, 2009 8:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Do I have to wonder how my ex-junior senator, Shrillary, and current senator Chuck "The Schmuck" Schumer are ranked?

Shrillary's successor, Gillibrand, comes from the House and scored 9%. That's the highest of any NY House Dem. My own rep, John Hall (formerly of the band Orleans) scored an unsurprising 0%. His economics are worse than his old band's music.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 24, 2009 11:33 AM

April 19, 2009

Fly Murtha Airways!

I don't think this is quite what Mister Madison had in mind. At the John Murtha Airport, the screeners outnumber the passengers -- but Federal Jack keeps it in operation.

Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage. For three hours that day, no commercial or private planes took off or landed. Three commercial flights leave the airport on weekdays, all bound for Dulles International Airport.

The key to the airport's gleaming facilities -- and, indeed, its continued existence -- is $200 million in federal funds in the past decade and the powerful patron who steered most of that money here. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) is credited with securing at least $150 million for the airport. It was among the first in the country to win funding from this year's stimulus package: $800,000 to repave a backup runway.

The facility, newly renamed the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, is a testament to Murtha's ability to tap streams of federal money for pricey, state-of-the-art projects that are rare among regional airports of comparable size.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2009

Norah O'Donnell v. Maxine Waters

I don't even have a comment for this. Just make sure to watch the whole thing, especially toward the end where Waters explains why she doesn't think that Congress should read the bills they vote for -- SERIOUSLY!

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2009

The Right to Contract -- Gone!

WASHINGTON – Talking tougher by the hour, livid Democrats confronted beleaguered insurance giant AIG with an ultimatum Tuesday: Give back $165 million in post-bailout bonuses or watch Congress tax it away with emergency legislation.
Read that again, Read it in context if you want. These bonuses were part of people's compensation package (probably in some part because of government meddling that people take more pay as "bonus," but let's not even go there now). Now the Federal government says "take that pay back, break your contract" or we will tax it away from you (AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO'S EVER HEARD OF A BILL OF ATTAINDER?)

These people have lost all moorings.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:17 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith thinks:

Stunning. This is simple contract law. While I may have an issue with agreeing to pay these guys such-and-such salary and bonus regardless of performance (heck of a way to run a business, but we ARE talking about AIG), but once those contracts are agreed to and signed, they must be honored. People like Dodd, Grassley and Frank know this; they are merely posturing for the press and the voters. They know what they're talking about is illegal; their only concern is looking tough for their re-elections.

Know what? In view of the average voter's performance, I've venture to say that's a working strategy.

Those executives with their bonus may or may not (and this would be an interesting debate) have some moral obligation to say "you know, I'm embarrassed about my role if AIG's collapse, and I don't feel right about taking this money. Here, take it back," but that's not legally enforceable. I'd be interested to know how many of them already have the estates up for sales and are preparing to relocate to come tropical place known for umbrella drinks and a lack of extradition treaties.

For the record, Costa Rica is beautiful this time of year, but I wouldn't be leaving a forwarding address.

Posted by: Keith at March 17, 2009 6:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

How can anyone hold these "executives" at AIG culpable for AIG's troubles given the absolute instability that resulted from mark to market accounting? They were victims of government interference in the economy just like the rest of us.

Posted by: johngalt at March 18, 2009 12:10 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I blogged a bit last night on this, which I mostly won't repeat here. It comes down to the simple principle of morality: it's wrong to make other people liable for someone else. Let AIG and its people work it out amongst themselves, and leave the rest of us out of it.

If the U.S. taxpayer weren't put on the hook for AIG's woes, then we wouldn't care whether or not the executives get paid. The company would otherwise have gone bankrupt, and any bonus-seekers would stand in line with all the other creditors.

There might be a contract, which with a bankrupt company is squeezing blood out of a stone. No problem with this in a just world. In a just world, where people are not robbed by "government" to prop up companies, these executives can explain to a bankruptcy judge why they should get a single penny in bonuses considering that they're the ones who drove the company into the ground.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 18, 2009 3:40 PM

March 13, 2009

Quote of the Day

[Senator Kent (D - ND)] Conrad, for his part, has been reminding everyone that he was a key player at the president's Fiscal Responsibility Summit -- which took place somewhere after his votes for the $33 billion increase in children's health insurance and $787 billion stimulus, though before his vote for the $410 billion omnibus and its 9,000 earmarks. He's also been talking about the deficit Mr. Obama "inherited," just to keep things in perspective as his committee works on the president's $3,600,000,000,000 budget blueprint. -- Kim Strassel, WSJ Ed Page
Posted by John Kranz at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2009

Whew! That was close!


WASHINGTON – Congress' automatic pay raises are in little immediate danger of being scrapped for good, even with the economy slumping and millions of Americans unemployed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday would not commit to holding a vote on a bill to do away with the annual cost-of-living increases. She pointed out that Congress recognized the economic crisis by voting this week to skip next year's raise.

In so doing, though, lawmakers defeated a Senate measure to abolish the automatic pay hikes and force them into the deep discomfort of casting actual votes to give themselves raises.

No one is rushing to defend the current system in a tanking economy that has rendered the annual raise a quaint memory for many outside Washington.

Hey, when you're getting the job done, you deserve to get paid!

Posted by John Kranz at 7:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2009

"Where's their answer to this?"

A number of ideas over the past weeks have come together for me this morning-

In response to the letter I sent to my Senators opposing H.R. 1 a beloved cousin emailed me, "I’m not saying I disagree or agree with you when I ask this question…. But what would you suggest? I don’t really know what the right answer is at this point…"

The first line of my reply to her was, "Well, on numerous occasions in the past we've cut tax rates in an attempt to spur economic growth and every time that's been done the economy improved and net tax receipts increased, despite the lower rate of taxation."

Then the shamulus bill passed and a number of Republican governors, upon seeing the fine print, began suggesting they'd refuse the federal handouts. "Republican governors, as the last bastion of capitalist political power in this country, should implement a capitalist plan for job creation - eliminate the corporate income tax" I thought. By doing this in one or more states there would be a side-by-side comparison of capitalism versus government bailouts that would be difficult to ignore on the key statistics of job growth and state GDP growth.

But I wondered which states have a Republican governor AND a corporate income tax that could be axed?

This morning Tim Pawlenty and Mark Sanford appeared on Fox News Sunday with Ed Rendell and Jennifer Granholm to discuss the "stimulus" bill. Among other things, Sanford called The Big O's foreclosure plan "a horrible idea." Last week Sanford suggested that his state might "turn down stimulus money" from the feds. In that L.A. Times story real estate agent Joyce Rivas claimed to have voted for Sanford twice but was angered by his "threat." Rivas asked, "For starters, where's their answer to this?"

In a quick search I found that Governor Sanford proposed, last December, elimination of the 5% South Carolina corporate income tax.

Lawmakers and observers said eliminating corporate income tax is an interesting idea, but want to hear more details.


South Carolina could join four other states, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming, with no corporate income tax, Sanford said. South Carolina collects about $300 million in corporate income taxes annually, far less than sales and individual income tax collections.

“We’ve got to get away from this piecemeal approach to jobs incentives,” Sanford said in a written statement. “We believe a better approach would be to simply lower the overall tax rate for corporations, so that we’re not only giving companies a good deal when they decide to locate here but we’re giving them a reason to stay and expand.”

There you are, Ms. Rivas. That is our answer.

For reference: Tax Foundation's 'State Business Tax Climate Index Rankings' Maryland... ouch!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:22 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

I watched that show as well. Let me just say "Sanford for God!!!"

I have heard for years about how impressive (and telegenic) Governor Granholm is. "Don't amend the Constitution for President Aahnold," they said, "it will backfire and you'll get Democratic President Granholm." Watching her today, I don't think either of them should start measuring drapes. (For the record, I would support an amendment allowing a naturalized citizen to be President and for the record my naturalized-citizen wife would not. There you go.)

You can see where these former industrial giants of states get the "former" though I confess to liking Gov. Rendell's style. Gov. Granholm will gladly take her money and South Carolina's and yours and yours and yours and yours.

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2009 6:57 PM
But jk thinks:

...and another thing!

This humble little blog has mentioned several things that would be wildly more effective and far more conducive to liberty. Holidays on cap-gains taxes, elimination of the corporate cap gains tax, increased immigration and the payroll tax holiday would all be wildly stimulative. None would grow government's size and influence.

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2009 7:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

...but whadda WE know. We're just "the people."

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2009 11:31 PM

February 19, 2009

Mister Toomey, Come Home We Need You...

No opponents yet for the primary or general, yet John Fund reports that Senator Specter (RINO - PA) is vulnerable for his betrayal on the stimulus bill:

But a new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Republicans are finding his vote for the stimulus not at all palatable. A full 69% of Pennsylvania Republicans opposed the package, and independents are evenly divided on its merits. Only Democrats are enthusiastic, with 73% in favor. All of that means that 40% of voters are less likely to support Mr. Specter because of his vote versus only 31% who are more likely. Worse, in a Republican primary, a full 58% of party loyalists say the stimulus bill would make them less likely to back the five-term incumbent.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

Mr Toomey is looking toward the Governor's mansion.

I dont see anyone seriously posing a primary threat to Mr Specter.

As a result of the pro-Bama switch in Pa voter registration, the Pa GOP electorate is far more "Republican" than ever. A good candidate could take it easily.

Posted by: AlexC at February 19, 2009 12:58 PM
But jk thinks:

You're 30, aren't you?

AL-ex, AL-ex, AL-ex!

Posted by: jk at February 19, 2009 4:41 PM

February 18, 2009

If we found one, we could see.

murtha_200.jpg NPR actually notices a "Culture of Corruption" in the 111th.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 1:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2009

Runaway Train

Rapid passage of the Reid-Pelosi-Obama "Stimulus" Bill, H.R. 1, is apparently too important to wait for even a reading of the 1100 page text - even by the congressmen who are compelled to cast their votes! Those voting "Aye" have apparently already made up their minds and are disinclined to know what was changed in Conference Committee. For example:

"We also are getting press reports that there is a plus-up - I think $8 billion - in the high-speed rail account. We also know from further press reports that Leader Harry Reid is looking at a train to Vegas and that's what he wants to see out of the stimulus bill... Again, that's exactly the kind of waste and pork-barrel spending that the American people are sick and tired of and expect a lot more," he [House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)] added.

I heard Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) say that the Vegas rail line, a maglev type, is projected to cost $10 million PER MILE and that a private partnership had already invested millions in a conventional rail link between the same points that would now be at serious competitive disadvantage. He used the word 'bankrupt" to describe the effect on the private effort, "with the stroke of a politician's pen."

But the house vote was rushed through a mere 10 hours after the bill was finalized. This despite a unanimous agreement to allow 48 hours to read the bill prior to consideration and voting. The 48-hour review provision was reportedly one of the measures that was stripped in conference.

The following statement was released by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer at 4:57 p.m.:

"The House is scheduled to meet at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and is expected to proceed directly to consideration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment conference report. The conference report text will be filed this evening, giving members enough time to review the conference report before voting on it tomorrow afternoon."

(The text was released at 11 pm.)

President Obama promised "change." In his Inaugural Speech he said,

"And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

I suppose that the 3 hours between 6 and 9 am qualifies as "the light of day."

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:31 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2009

Daschle's Revenge

Tom Daschle's sudden withdrawal as HHS Secretary nominee was a banner moment for American individual liberty. But perhaps we breathed too easily too soon.

Eight days ago JK wrote,

"As far as getting somebody worse, I've no doubt that there are worse ideologues than Senator Daschle. Yet his book about Health Care calls for an American equivalent to the NHS's NICE panel which would provide approval of all treatments and procedures based on government-decided efficacy and cost efficiency. Senator Daschle is radical enough to scare me and is a sophisticated enough player that he seems likely to be able to achieve many of his goals."

If only JK had known how prescient those words might be. The Hudson Institute's Betsy McCaughey quotes the former senator thusly:

A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

So we shouldn't be surprised to find (McCaughey link) a Daschle-like health care trojan horse in the "we can't afford to delay it" economic stimulus bill, H.R. 1:

Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

New Penalties

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system. [Emphasis mine.]

The good news is that this was discovered, and is seeing the light of day on Fox News. The bad news? What the hell ELSE is in there??

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:31 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words, jg, and thanks for beating me to this post. I've had two people email it to me today.

I told my brother-in-law this weekend that "we can waste a trillion dollars and survive, but once we nationalize medicine, rewind welfare reform to LBJ levels, and prop up unions, it's game over."

Okay it's a rhetorical device to be flip about $1T -- and I was chastised for it. But I am serious, while we and Senator Collins look at the difference between $750B and $900B, we are missing -- as you say -- huge hunks of vanishing liberty.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2009 4:07 PM

All Hail the Blue Dogs!

Blog Sister Dagny asked about the brave 11 Democrats who voted against the Stimulus. One is Rep. Walt Minnick from Idaho. He's got a better idea:

Minnick is a member of the Blue Dog caucus of occasionally conservative Democcrats. His START plan is a $170 billion “bare bones” pure stimulus approach that would put $100 billion immediately into the pockets of low- and middle-income Americans, then use the other $70 billion for basic infrastructure projects that create jobs. START requires that all funds not spent by 2010 be returned to the Treasury. START also stops stimulus spending when the nation’s Gross Domestic Product increases in two of three previous quarters, and all START payments are required to be posted on a public website.

Minnick introduced START as an alternative – just in case the legislative process stalls out, says press secretary John Foster. As one of the brave 11 Democrats who voted against Pelosi’s stimulus bill, Minnick explained to folks back home that he opposed the speaker’s version because it was so “Christmas-treed up” with wasteful spending, like $300 million for golf carts. Foster told The Examiner that the House leadership encourages members to do what’s best for their districts, so there has been no backlash. We’ll see how long that lasts.

I'll happily listen to comments that this is $170 Billion too much. But elections have consequences. This sounds like a fair amount to give the triumphant Democrats and I seriously appreciate the transparency of the web pages and the shutoff of spending on recovery.

The sad part is that these guys get elected in Idaho, and probably deserve it, but then they become just another member of Pelosi's army.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 11:46 AM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Relative to what's on the table, this makes a lot of sense. Which is why it doesn't stand a chance.

However, there's no way to get around the fact that the only way gubm't can "stimulate" one person is to first take it away from another person. Why is the job of a steel worker on a bridge worth more than a software developer? The Refugee has often maintain that if you really want to see employment skyrocket, then eliminate the corporate income tax.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 10, 2009 12:50 PM

February 6, 2009

johngalt on the Stimulus

I must say I'm glad to be in the loyal opposition right now. It's much more satisfying to unleash full-throated criticism of government when those in control are all Democrats. And having written this prior to reading Martin Feldstein's take I see we're on the same page.

via email to both Colorado Senators:

Dear Senator [Udall / Bennet],

I am writing to urge you to vote against the "Economic Stimulus" bill H.R. 1 in its present or any amended form. To amend this bill into a productive measure would require a nearly complete rewrite.

My wife's opposition to this bill, with which I certainly agree, is primarily on the basis that it is immoral to take money from people who earned it and spend it on controversial programs in an effort to restore economic growth by principles which are, at best, merely hopeful. The magnitude of the spending proposed in this bill compared to the time spent debating it is beyond reckless to the point of criminal irresponsibility. That this could actually happen in our government is proof that value is of no consideration while engaged in the practice of spending Other People's Money. Such carelessness leads to "misfortunes" like overpaying $86 billion for securitized assets in a $350 billion bank "bailout" bill.

My personal opposition to the bill, with which my wife certainly agrees, is primarily because it would create many new government agencies (38 by some estimates) and associated recurring costs to the treasury on an annual basis. A majority of the jobs it might create are in the public sector which would have an opposite than intended effect on economic recovery.

You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that even Keynsian economists - who believe government spending can increase economic productivity - are opposed to H.R. 1. They say it is the wrong kind of spending. One might think that a body with as much experience in spending money, albeit other people's, as the United States federal government might be better able to choose the appropriate type of spending in a given situation.

H.R. 1 is not the answer to America's problems. Its passage will be a wasted effort to stimulate the economy and will only lead to further attempts at the same goal. Please vote NO on H.R. 1 and move us more quickly to the next such attempt which can only be an improvement over this one.

Very truly yours,

Fort Lupton, CO

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:18 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Nice. I sent them each an email yesterday as well.

Fat lot of good it will do us -- two Freshman Senators, one of whom was back-bencher in the House. But I think it is good to remind them that a large swath of Colorado voters don't think like them.

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2009 2:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I was thinking the same thing. I received an email from the NoStimulus.com petition site reporting the number of signatures has surpassed 68,000. It also said they are targeting specific senate offices: Specter (PA), Snowe (ME), Nelson (NE), McConnell (KY) so I used their execrable web forms to forward my letter to each of them plus Nelson (FL) DeMint (SC) Feinstein (CA) and Inhofe (OK). [This last is my current favorite senator in the country.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2009 5:14 PM