…Consider the moment. House Republicans had conceded that dramatic action was needed and had grown utterly supportive of the idea of federal jobs creation on a large scale. All that was needed was a sober, seriously focused piece of legislation that honestly tried to meet the need, one that everyone could tinker with a little and claim as their own. Instead, as Rep. Mike Pence is reported to have said to the president, “Know that we’re praying for you. . . . But know that there has been no negotiation [with Republicans] on the bill—we had absolutely no say.” The final bill was privately agreed by most and publicly conceded by many to be a big, messy, largely off-point and philosophically chaotic piece of legislation. The Congressional Budget Office says only 25% of the money will even go out in the first year. This newspaper, in its analysis, argues that only 12 cents of every dollar is for something that could plausibly be called stimulus.
What was needed? Not pork, not payoffs, not eccentric base-pleasing, group-greasing forays into birth control as stimulus, as the speaker of the House dizzily put it before being told to remove it.
“Business as usual.” “That’s Washington.” But in 2008 the public rejected business as usual. That rejection is part of what got Obama elected.
Instead the air of D.C. dithering continues, and this while the Labor Department reported Thursday what everyone knew was coming, increased unemployment. The number of continuing claims for unemployment insurance as of Jan. 17 was 4.78 million, the highest in the 42 years they’ve been keeping records. Starbucks, Time Warner, Home Depot, Pfizer: The AP’s count is 125,000 layoffs since January began.
People are getting the mood of the age in their inboxes. How many emails have you received the past few months from acquaintances telling you in brisk words meant to communicate optimism and forestall pity that “it’s been a great ride,” but they’re “moving on” to “explore new opportunities”? And there’s a broad feeling one detects, a kind of psychic sense, some sort of knowledge in the collective unconscious, that we lived through magic times the past half-century, and now the nonmagic time has begun, and it won’t be over next summer. That’s not the way it will work. It will last a while.
There’s a sense among many, certainly here in New York, that we somehow had it too good too long, a feeling part Puritan, part mystic and obscurely guilty, that some bill is coming due. Hard to get a stimulus package that addresses that. (The guilt was part of the power of Blago. He’s the last American who doesn’t feel guilt. He thinks something is moral because he did it. He’s like a good-natured Idi Amin, up there yammering about how he’s a poor boy who only wanted to protect the people of Chicago from the flu. You wish you could believe it! You wish he really were what he is in his imagination, a hero battling dark forces against the odds.)
Nancy Pelosi’s 2006 tagline, “Republican culture of corruption” isn’t get much currency these days. And though the Dem Cong is still investigating Bush’s perfectly legal firing of eight US attorneys, they’re blind to the rampant corruption of their own.
The latest is Tom Dachle. Tigerhawk:
Daschle, we belatedly learn, failed to pay more than $100,000 in taxes due on car services received from a client until it became clear that he would have to get through a Senate confirmation hearing.
After being defeated in his 2004 re-election campaign to the Senate, Daschle in 2005 became a consultant and chairman of the Executive Advisory Board at InterMedia Advisors.
Based in New York City, InterMedia Advisors is a private equity firm founded in part by longtime Daschle friend and Democratic fundraiserLeo Hindery, the former president of the YES network (the Yankees’ and Devils’ broadcast network).
That same year he began his professional relationship with InterMedia 2005, Daschle began using the services of Hindery’s car and driver.
The Cadillac and driver were never part of Daschle’s official compensation package at InterMedia but Mr. Daschle — who as Senate majority leader enjoyed the use of a car and driver at taxpayer expense — didn’t declare their services on his income taxes, as tax laws require.
Because I’ve had a couple of beers I’m going to split some hairs and say that Daschle’s malfeasance is quite a bit dirtier than mere “nanny tax” evasion. Yeah, yeah, there is no excuse for not paying all the taxes for your domestic help (we in the TH household have always been neurotic on the point), but there are considerations other than greed that influence nanny-tax avoidance. First, a lot of excellent domestic workers will not work on the books, and not simply because they fear the INS. You can say that’s tough darts, and it is, but the decision is often in the hands of one’s spouse.
What do you do if your wife insists you hire Maria Poppins, and she will only do the job off the books? Second, it certainly used to be the case that the nanny taxes were very challenging from a bureaucratic perspective, particularly at the state level. I remember Mrs. TH having to borrow a typewriter back in the day because either Illinois or New Jersey, I cannot remember which, required that the return be filed on a state-supplied three-part form that had to be typed. I seem to recall a lot of gnashing of teeth, and perhaps even a few bad words. (Yes, we did our own taxes until just a few years ago — it is the only way you can really understand how they are nailing you.)
Contrast that to Daschle’s freebie car and driver. First, there is no theory that his wife insisted that Daschle be chauffered around. Second, there is no ambiguity in the law, or no theory that he did not know that he owed the money. It is obviously an in-kind payment for services. Of course he knew he owed the taxes. Finally, there is no tedious extra bureaucratic obstacle to paying this tax. You just drop a number right on to the 1040. You know, that document that you signed under penalty of perjury. Yep, you got it. Mistakes are obvious and when it comes to the tax laws I am more than sympathetic to people who make them, but it is very hard for me to believe that this was one. Genuinely intentional misstatements on a tax return usual require penance more onorous than mere restitution.
It wasn’t that long ago that my friend Bernard Goldberg told me he was never going to write another book. It was just a lot of hard work, he complained, and while he was working on one, virtually all joy was sucked out of his life. It made perfect sense to me. Besides, books take a lot of time to write and Bernie, who wishes he’d grown another foot-and-a-half so he could have competed in the NBA, still needs to work on his hook shot.
Well, he lied. But at least it was in a good cause. I just read his latest slice-and-dice of the liberal media, “A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media),” and I was reminded what a travesty the MSM made of the 1st amendment in its desire to ensure Obama’s victory.
There was a time, after all, when Americans actually had a rather high opinion of those who brought us the news in a fair and reasonably objective manner, and when editors and publishers didn’t allow their opinions to bleed all over the rest of the newspaper. But those days are long gone. Today, nobody trusts print or TV journalists. Liberals may have been delighted to find the MSM working overtime to get their guy elected last year, but in the final analysis nobody respects a whore. Americans, whatever their politics, have no more reason to believe what they’re told by the members of the fourth estate than the Russians had when their news source was Pravda, Stalin’s propaganda machine.
As Goldberg makes clear, the shame of the MSM during the presidential election wasn’t simply that they couldn’t mention Barack Obama’s name without swooning, although it did get awfully embarrassing. Giggly teenage girls at a Jonas Brothers concert behaved with more restraint than Chris Matthews.
Worse yet was the way the media kept anything negative about their Lochinvar under wraps. So it was that although Rolling Stone, as early as February, 2007, in a profile of Sen. Obama, wrote about his friend and religious mentor, the loony racist, Jeremiah Wright, the MSM totally ignored the connection until bloggers and Sean Hannity forced the issue. Even then, the media merely took its lead from Obama. When the candidate claimed that in 20 years, he’d never heard his minister say anything hateful about America or white people, they went along with it. When Obama dismissed Wright’s rants as sound bites taken out of context, that was good enough for the MSM. When Obama said that he would never turn his back on Wright, they praised him for his loyalty. Then, when Wright kept repeating those “sound bites” and Obama hurled his worthless carcass under the bus, the MSM praised him for his resolve.
When some people questioned how Obama could have sat in that cesspool of a church for a thousand Sundays, Obama said that anyone who would ask such a rude question was obviously a racist, knowing full well that the MSM, aka the amen corner, could be counted on not only to parrot his words, but to clap hands and shout “Hallelujah!”
If some of us began to confuse news stories about Obama with his campaign press releases, it’s because they were interchangeable, although the press releases tended to be more restrained and, usually, better written.
When Geraldine Ferraro dared to point out that if he were white, the inexperienced Obama would not be running for president, there was such a firestorm of media outrage that Hillary Clinton had to toss her under the bus. Clearly, though, when 90% of blacks were voting for Obama when he was running against someone as liberal as Sen. Clinton, it should have been pretty obvious to one and all that the allegedly post-racial candidate was about as post-racial as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson or Jeremiah Wright. Considering how cynical the members of the press like to consider themselves, it’s rather amusing how naive and, well, slobbering the members of the press can be when they really put their minds to it.
The members of the MSM, as Goldberg makes perfectly clear in 173 very readable pages, went completely in the tank to ensure that Obama would be the 44th president of the United States. But they paid a terrible price. They showed themselves to be nothing more than partisan hacks. And in the end, Obama owed his victory more to the financial meltdown than to their ethical meltdown.
Is it any wonder that newspapers are barely hanging on, that network news shows are seeing their audiences evaporate like the morning dew, and that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann could double their ratings if only they could finally convince their fathers to tune in?
The MSM reminds me of Marlon Brando’s character in “On the Waterfront.”
By taking a dive, they’ve forfeited their chance to be contenders…for our respect. Instead, like Terry Malloy, they’re just bums.
by J.C. Phillips
I was impressed when my two oldest sons began discussing college. Thankfully, their mother and I have a few more years before this becomes an issue for either of them, but they were thinking ahead – planning for a successful future. I couldn’t help but stick my chest out a bit. The conversation was a sign that perhaps their mother and I were doing something right.
My rapture was short lived, however. My eldest began to talk about taking advanced placement courses in high school so that he might test out of college freshman courses. It was then that my middle son announced he wasn’t interested in taking any “nerd” classes. Somewhere, my wife went wrong with this boy.
My middle son fancies himself something of a jock. Like many little boys his age, he is planning for a career in big time professional sports. I suspect that he worries that doing too well in school will corrupt his swagger. He reasons therefore that it would be better to do just well enough.
This only proves that try as parents might to emphasize education in the home — in spite of every ounce of diligence expended to instill proper values — there are still forces beyond the control of parents that influence the attitudes and expectations of our children. You can (as we have in our home) make sure that every page of homework is completed and encourage at least 30 minutes of reading per day – weekends included — and your child will still tell you that academics is for nerds.
Thank God for the internet!
I recalled that during the college football season I heard a brief story about a player from Florida State that was late for a game against Maryland because he was interviewing for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, an honor bestowed on only 32 American students a year.
The player profiled was Myron Rolle, a 6-foot-2, 220 pound defensive back for the Florida State Seminoles. He arrived in Tallahassee as one of the top high school football prospects in the country. He also had a 4.0 GPA and 22 advanced placement credits. While in school, Rolle maintained a 3.75 GPA while taking courses like human bio-chemistry and completed his under graduate studies in 2 ½ years, earning a degree in exercise science. He was also a National Leadership Honor Society inductee and the recipient of a $4,000 research grant for his work studying human mesenchymal stem cells. I can’t even pronounce “mesenchymal.”
Oh, and did I mention that he is a heck of a football player? Following the 2008 season he was named a third team All-American by the Associated Press. The Football Writers Association named him second team All-ACC and he was (big surprise) an Academic All- American. He is projected as a late first round or early second round NFL draft pick, however, he is putting his professional career on hold while he pursues his master’s degree in medical anthropology at Oxford and – get this- another master’s in public policy at FSU. Rolle would almost certainly become a millionaire overnight yet he is postponing entry into the NFL draft in favor of academic pursuits. It’s not the choice everyone would make; it’s not the choice everyone should make, but it is a choice I respect and one that impressed my son.
The bigger lesson of course is that during our lives each and every one of us will be a role model for someone. We may not choose to be role models and we may not like being role models, but the choices we make with our lives ripple outward touching the lives of we know not who. You never know who is watching.
Myron Rolle didn’t plan on being a role model. He simply set out to be the best young man he could be and as a result he made an impression on a third grade boy in southern California. As I finished Myron’s story, my son’s eyes were huge. Suddenly being an AP student was not only acceptable, it was downright cool!
I do not know Myron Rolle, but if I ever meet him I am going to shake his hand.
There’s a serious debate in this country as to how best to end the recession. The average recession will last five to 11 months; the average recovery will last six years. Recessions will end on their own if they’re left alone. What can make the recession worse is the wrong kind of government intervention.
I believe the wrong kind is precisely what President Barack Obama has proposed. I don’t believe his is a “stimulus plan” at all — I don’t think it stimulates anything but the Democratic Party. This “porkulus” bill is designed to repair the Democratic Party’s power losses from the 1990s forward, and to cement the party’s majority power for decades.
Keynesian economists believe government spending on “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects — schools, roads, bridges — is the best way to stimulate our staggering economy. Supply-side economists make an equally persuasive case that tax cuts are the surest and quickest way to create permanent jobs and cause an economy to rebound. That happened under JFK, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. We know that when tax rates are cut in a recession, it brings an economy back.
Recent polling indicates that the American people are in favor of both approaches.
Notwithstanding the media blitz in support of the Obama stimulus plan, most Americans, according to a new Rasmussen poll, are skeptical. Rasmussen finds that 59% fear that Congress and the president will increase government spending too much. Only 17% worry they will cut taxes too much. Since the American people are not certain that the Obama stimulus plan is the way to go, it seems to me there’s an opportunity for genuine compromise. At the same time, we can garner evidence on how to deal with future recessions, so every occurrence will no longer become a matter of partisan debate.
Congress is currently haggling over how to spend $900 billion generated by American taxpayers in the private sector. (It’s important to remember that it’s the people’s money, not Washington’s.) In a Jan. 23 meeting between President Obama and Republican leaders, Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) proposed a moderate tax cut plan. President Obama responded, “I won. I’m going to trump you on that.”
Yes, elections have consequences. But where’s the bipartisanship, Mr. Obama? This does not have to be a divisive issue. My proposal is a genuine compromise.
Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let’s say the vote was 54% to 46%. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion — $486 billion — will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% — $414 billion — will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me.
Then we compare. We see which stimulus actually works. This is bipartisanship! It would satisfy the American people’s wishes, as polls currently note; and it would also serve as a measurable test as to which approach best stimulates job growth. (more…)
…Sensible people are queasy about throwing trillions of dollars at barely understood problems on the basis of untested theories. For Republicans, the question is: What are the duties of the opposition at a moment like this? The answer has three components, beginning with elementary political arithmetic:
Having received near 53 percent of the popular vote — better than Ronald Reagan’s 50.7 percent in 1980 — Barack Obama won 100 percent of the presidency, and almost that much of the nation’s leadership expectations now that the public, which really should diversify its investments, invests such extravagant hopes in presidents. To govern is to choose, always on the basis of imperfect information, and the president may never have more public support than he has now. He deserves some deference. Some.
Second, congressional Democrats have turned the 647-page stimulus legislation into an excuse for something that never needs an excuse — an exercise in wretched excess. They have forfeited some of the president’s claim to deference.
The opposition should oppose mere opportunism, which comes in two forms. One is presenting pet projects hitherto considered unworthy of funding, as suddenly meritorious because somehow stimulative. The other attaches major and nongermane policy changes to the stimulus legislation, counting on the need for speed to allow them to escape appropriate scrutiny. For example:
The stimulus legislation would create a council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. This is about medicine but not about healing the economy. The CER would identify (this is language from the draft report on the legislation) medical “items, procedures, and interventions” that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They “will no longer be prescribed” by federal health programs. The next secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, has advocated a “Federal Health Board” similar to the CER, whose recommendations “would have teeth“: Congress could restrict the tax exclusion for private health insurance to “insurance that complies with the Board’s recommendation.” The CER, which would dramatically advance government control — and rationing — of health care, should be thoroughly debated, not stealthily created in the name of “stimulus.”
The opposition’s third duty is to assert inconvenient truths, one of which is that the truth shall make you modest. There never is a moment when an open society that wants to remain such does not need the wisdom of Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who said: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” So the deference accorded this president should be proportional to his willingness to acknowledge that neither he nor anyone else can know whether the stimulus will work.
The lawmakers gazed in awe at the figure before them. The Goracle had seen the future, and he had come to tell them about it.
What the Goracle saw in the future was not good: temperature changes that “would bring a screeching halt to human civilization and threaten the fabric of life everywhere on the Earth — and this is within this century, if we don’t change.”
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry (D-Mass.), appealed to hear more of the Goracle’s premonitions. “Share with us, if you would, sort of the immediate vision that you see in this transformative process as we move to this new economy,” he beseeched.
“Geothermal energy,” the Goracle prophesied. “This has great potential; it is not very far off.”
Another lawmaker asked about the future of nuclear power. “I have grown skeptical about the degree to which it will expand,” the Goracle spoke.
It will expand once the politics of fear — Democrats warning of nuclear meltdowns etc. — contracts.
A third asked the legislative future — and here the Goracle spoke in riddle. “The road to Copenhagen has three steps to it,” he said.
Wha? Gore can’t possibly mean the Copenhagen Consensus because that refutes his whole schtick.
Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) begged the Goracle to look further into the future. “What does your modeling tell you about how long we’re going to be around as a species?” he inquired.
The Goracle chuckled. “I don’t claim the expertise to answer a question like that, Senator.”
It was a jarring reminder that the Goracle is, indeed, mortal. Once Al Gore was a mere vice president, but now he is a Nobel laureate and climate-change prophet. He repeats phrases such as “unified national smart grid” the way he once did “no controlling legal authority” — and the ridicule has been replaced by worship, even by his political foes.
“Tennessee,” gushed Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Gore’s home state, “has a legacy of having people here in the Senate and in public service that have been of major consequence and contributed in a major way to the public debate, and you no doubt have helped build that legacy.” If that wasn’t quite enough, Corker added: “Very much enjoyed your sense of humor, too.”
Humor? From Al Gore? “I benefit from low expectations,” he replied.
The Goracle’s powers seem to come from his ability to scare the bejesus out of people. “We must face up to this urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization,” he said. And: “This is the most serious challenge the world has ever faced.” And: It “could completely end human civilization, and it is rushing at us with such speed and force.”
And the Democrats claimed Bush led by fomenting fear.
30 years, wow. Enjoy.
IN his “first message to the Muslim world” Tuesday, President Obama on Al-Arabiya TV invited the Is lamic Republic in Iran to “unclench its fist” and accept his offer of “un-conditional talks.”
Wait, didn’t Obama “revise” his first debate statement to say he’d insist on preconditions? Oops.
A few hours later, after Obama had appeared on the Saudi-owned satellite-TV channel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd of militants that no talks are possible unless the United States met a set of conditions.
He demanded a formal apology for unspecified US “crimes” against Iran and the Islamic world. The crucial condition, however, was that America should withdraw its troops from other countries, “taking them back to their own territory.”
The contrast couldn’t have been greater. Obama tried to be as conciliatory as possible – asking only for an “unclenching” of the Iranian fist – a change of style. Ahmadinejad asked for concrete US moves, notably a global military retreat that would leave the Middle East at Tehran’s mercy.
In the understatement of the year, Obama said: “Iran has acted in ways not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region.” He also claimed that Iran’s support for terrorists, though “not helpful,” is a thing of the past – yet Tehran was running guns to Hezbollah and Hamas even as he spoke.
ON Al-Arabiya, Obama did something more interest ing: He cast himself in the role of a bridge between America and the Muslim world, a kind of honest broker between two camps in conflict.
To hammer in the point, he recalled the Muslim part of his own family background and his childhood in Muslim Indonesia – a topic he’d carefully avoided during the campaign. He also asserted that America is a land of “Muslims, Christians, Jews” and others – making sure to mention Muslims first.
At times, Obama sounded like a marriage counselor. He said his job is to communicate to Americans that “the Muslim world is full of extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.” On the other hand, he said, he’d also tell the Muslims that “Americans are not your enemy.”
Let’s see…we ended the genocide against Muslims in the Balkans.
We saved millions of Afghan Muslims from the tyranny of the Taliban (an ongoing project with little international support), we liberated Iraq from a dictator who murdered 400,000 Muslims. We saved thousands of Muslim lives in Pakistan and Indonesia after earthquakes and tsumanis.
We have so much to apologize for.
Obama looked to the past rather than the future to give such platitudes a tinge of political vision. He said he wanted a return “to the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”
The problem is that few people in the Muslim world will welcome his back-to-the-future approach. Thirty years ago, Obama was a teenager in Indonesia. Vice President Joseph Biden, however, was already a senator and a champion of President Jimmy Carter’s strategic retreat.
What was happening during what Obama seems to regard as the “golden age” of Carter’s leadership? US diplomats were held hostage in Tehran and daily humiliated with mock executions. Soviet troops were annexing Afghanistan to the Evil Empire. Saddam Hussein was preparing to invade Iran, starting an eight-year war that claimed a million lives. Mecca was under siege by the ideological antecedents of Osama bin Laden. Syrian troops were preparing to march into Lebanon.
OTHER features of this “golden age”: the seizure of power by mullahs in Tehran, the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the coming to power of communists in the Horn of Africa, the military coup in Turkey, the first Islamist terror attacks in Algeria, unprecedented waves of repression in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the imposition of military rule in Pakistan.
During the same period, and its immediate aftermath, dozens of Americans from many walks of life were seized as hostages and sometimes brutally murdered in several Muslim countries. The US ambassador in Sudan was murdered; the CIA station chief in Beirut abducted, taken to Tehran and killed under torture.
You’d think the Democrats were the minority party with all their hissy fits about Rush Limbaugh. I suppose their idea of free speech is all speech free of ideas they dislike.
Russell Cook at American Thinker:
…Wednesday, we witnessed the “Epic Fail” of a petition aimed at Rush Limbaugh by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), who apparently were unaware of the previous Epic Fail of Senator Harry Reid’s “phony soldiers” petition calling for Limbaugh to repudiate and apologize for a comment that critics took entirely out of context. Limbaugh ultimately got it back from its intended receiver, and he turned it over to Ebay for a charity auction, where the winning bid was $2,100,100. Limbaugh then matched the amount, for a total gift to the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation of $4,200,200.Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.
Our friends at the DCCC heard simply heard four words said by Limbaugh – “I hope he fails” – out of their original context in reference to an email request he received, and more specifically in reference to a basic opinion that he doesn’t agree with Obama’s policies and therefore wouldn’t want them to succeed.
A week after that broadcast came Obama’s own call for GOP leaders to stop listening to Limbaugh, prompting the DCCC to create their petition to “Stand strong against Rush Limbaugh’s Attacks – sign our petition, telling Rush what you think of his attacks on President Obama. We’ll send Limbaugh your comments.” Nicely placed on that page is a 19 second Youtube video of his famous four words.
What makes this an Epic Fail is actually a triumph for full disclosure — Limbaugh found out about the petition and prompted readers of his web site to go over and sign the petition. We did, each commenting as we saw fit, and the DCCC has either decided not to scrub the overwhelming number of comments supporting Limbaugh, or else they are totally unaware of them and are simply patting themselves on the back while watching the petition counter rack up ever-increasing numbers.
Of the 1,400 comments appearing on their web site as of 8pm PST Wednesday night, the vast majority are in support of Limbaugh - this link will put you square in the middle of ‘em, hit the Previous Page or Next Page links at the bottom of the page and see for yourself.
For more than two centuries, it has been a wannabe among the great world capitals. But now, Washington is finally ready for its close-up.
No longer a jumped-up Canberra or, worse, Sacramento, it seems about to emerge as Pyongyang on the Potomac, the undisputed center of national power and influence. As a new president takes over the White House, the United States’ capacity for centralization has arguably never been greater. But it’s neither Barack Obama’s charm nor his intentions that are driving the centrifugal process that’s concentrating authority in the capital city. It’s the unprecedented collapse of rival centers of power.
This is most obvious in economic affairs, an area in which the nation’s great regions have previously enjoyed significant autonomy. But already the dukes of Wall Street and Detroit have submitted their papers to Washington for vassalage. Soon many other industries, from high-tech to agriculture and energy, will become subject to a Kremlin full of special czars. Even the most haughty boyar may have to genuflect to official orthodoxy on everything from social equity to sanctioned science.
At the same time, the notion of decentralized political power — the linchpin of federalism — is unraveling. Today, once proudly independent — even defiant — states, counties and cities sit on the verge of insolvency. New York and California, two megastates, face record deficits. From California to the Carolinas, local potentates with no power to print their own money will be forced to kiss Washington’s ring.
Americans may still possess what the 19th-century historian Frederick Jackson Turner described as “an antipathy to control,” but lately, they seem willing to submit themselves to an unprecedented dose of it. A financial collapse driven by unrestrained private excess — falling, ironically, on the supposedly anti-Washington Republicans’ watch — seems to have transformed federal government cooking into the new comfort food.
To foreigners, this concentration of power might seem the quintessence of normalcy. As the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell wrote in 1964, elites have dominated and shaped the world’s great cosmopolitan centers — from Athens to Rome to Baghdad — throughout history. In modern times, capital cities such as London, Paris, Moscow, Berlin and Tokyo have not only ruled their countries but have also largely defined them. In all these countries (with the exception of Germany, which was divided during the Cold War), publishing, media, the arts and corporate and political power are all concentrated in the same place. Paris is the undisputed global face of France just as London is of Great Britain or Tokyo is of Japan.
Although each had their merchant classes, these cities were strongly hierarchical, governed by those closest by blood or affiliation to the ruling family and populated largely by their servants. In contrast, Baltzell observed, U.S. cities such as New York have been “heterogeneous from top to bottom.” Their power came not from the government or the church but from trade, the production of goods and scientific innovations, as well as the peddling of ideas and culture.
But Washington has always occupied a unique and somewhat incongruous niche among U.S. cities. It came into being not because of the economic logic of its location, but because it was a convenient compromise between North and South. It never developed into a center of commerce or manufacturing. Nor was it meant to be a fortress. Instead, it was designed for one specific purpose: to house the business of governance.
Read it all.
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” President Barack Obama said in his inaugural. But in truth, the new way forward is a return to realpolitik and business as usual in America’s encounter with that Greater Middle East. As the president told Al-Arabiya television Monday, he wants a return to “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”
Say what you will about the style — and practice — of the Bush years, the autocracies were on notice for the first five or six years of George. W. Bush’s presidency. America had toppled Taliban rule and the tyranny of Saddam Hussein; it had frightened the Libyan ruler that a similar fate lay in store for him. It was not sweet persuasion that drove Syria out of Lebanon in 2005. That dominion of plunder and terror was given up under duress.
True, Mr. Bush’s diplomacy of freedom fizzled out in the last two years of his presidency, and the autocracies in the Greater Middle East came to a conviction that the storm had passed them by and that they had been spared. But we are still too close to this history to see how the demonstration effect works its way through Arab political culture.
The argument that liberty springs from within and can’t be given to distant peoples is more flawed than meets the eye. In the sweep of modern history, the fortunes of liberty have been dependent on the will of the dominant power — or powers — in the order of states. The late Samuel P. Huntington made this point with telling detail. In 15 of the 29 democratic countries in 1970, democratic regimes were midwifed by foreign rule or had come into being right after independence from foreign occupation.
In the ebb and flow of liberty, power always mattered, and liberty needed the protection of great powers. The appeal of the pamphlets of Mill and Locke and Paine relied on the guns of Pax Britannica, and on the might of America when British power gave way. In this vein, the assertive diplomacy of George W. Bush had given heart to Muslims long in the grip of tyrannies.
Take that image of Saddam Hussein, flushed out of his spider hole some five years ago: Americans may have edited it out of their memory, but it shall endure for a long time in Arab consciousness. Rulers can be toppled and brought to account. No wonder the neighboring dictatorships bristled at the sight of that capture, and at his execution three years later.
The irony now is obvious: George W. Bush as a force for emancipation in Muslim lands, and Barack Hussein Obama as a messenger of the old, settled ways. Thus the “parochial” man takes abroad a message that Muslims and Arabs did not have tyranny in their DNA, and the man with Muslim and Kenyan and Indonesian fragments in his very life and identity is signaling an acceptance of the established order. Mr. Obama could still acknowledge the revolutionary impact of his predecessor’s diplomacy, but so far he has chosen not to do so.
The stimulus bill is also a time machine in the sense that it’s based on an old, and largely discredited, economic theory. As Harvard economist Robert Barro pointed out on these pages last Thursday, the “stimulus” claim is based on something called the Keynesian “multiplier,” which is that each $1 of spending the government “injects” into the economy yields 1.5 times that in greater output. There’s little evidence to support this theory, but you have to admire its beauty because it assumes the government can create wealth out of thin air. If it were true, the government should spend $10 trillion and we’d all live in paradise.
The problem is that the money for this spending boom has to come from somewhere, which means it is removed from the private sector as higher taxes or borrowing. For every $1 the government “injects,” it must take $1 away from someone else — either in taxes or by issuing a bond. In either case this leaves $1 less available for private investment or consumption. Mr. Barro wrote about this way back in 1974 in his classic article, “Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?”, in the Journal of Political Economy. Larry Summers and Paul Krugman must have missed it.
Obama missed it, too. He was too busy community organizing and never caught up, as we saw during this exchange with Charlie Gibson during the Democrat debates.
GIBSON: All right. You have, however, said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, “I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton,” which was 28 percent. It’s now 15 percent. That’s almost a doubling, if you went to 28 percent.
But actually, Bill Clinton, in 1997, signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent.
GIBSON: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent.
GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down.
So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.
So Obama would cut off the federal government’s nose to spite its face. Because of “fairness.”
Is is fair that half of the public pays virtually no federal income tax?
I quit the Democrat party in the early ’80s when I realized two things: a) capitalism creates the wealth we all enjoy and fight over and b) Democrats instinctively dislike capitalism because its fruits are not “fairly” distributed.
Liberals look at the economic bell curve and see those on the left side as victims of exploitation. What never seems to register is that even the poorest Americans today live better than most people on planet Earth and better than most Americans of years past. We’ve all gotten richer.
Capitalism is the greatest system ever created for alleviating general human misery, and yet it breeds ingratitude.
People ask, “Why is there poverty in the world?” It’s a silly question. Poverty is the default human condition. It is the factory preset of this mortal coil. As individuals and as a species, we are born naked and penniless, bereft of skills or possessions. Likewise, in his civilizational infancy man was poor, in every sense. He lived in ignorance, filth, hunger, and pain, and he died very young, either by violence or disease.
The interesting question isn’t “Why is there poverty?” It’s “Why is there wealth?” Or: “Why is there prosperity here but not there?”
At the end of the day, the first answer is capitalism, rightly understood. That is to say: free markets, private property, the spirit of entrepreneurialism and the conviction that the fruits of your labors are your own.
For generations, many thought prosperity was material stuff: factories and forests, gold mines and gross tons of concrete poured. But we now know that these things are merely the fringe benefits of wealth. Stalin built his factories, Mao paved over the peasants. But all that truly prospered was misery and alienation.
… Any number of countries in Africa are vastly richer in baubles and soil than Switzerland. But they are poor because they are impoverished in what they value.
In large measure our wealth isn’t the product of capitalism, it is capitalism.
Now the anti-capitalists hold the throne.
Poll results from a 2007-2008 BBC World Service Poll reveal that a higher percentage of Germans surveyed viewed the United States (72%) and Israel (64%) as having a negative influence on the world than North Korea (62%), China (59%) and Russia (56%). The United States finished not too far ahead of Iran (85%) and Pakistan (77%).
Interestingly enough, Germany had the highest favorable ratings overall among the countries polled. Given the troubling results of this survey and the irrationally anti-American and anti-Israeli attitudes prevalent in German media and society, however, some may want to rethink their views of how positive an influence Germany really is.
No doubt here that the highly biased, one-sided and constant railing of much of the German media against the United States and Israel plays a major part in these results. This is why our subject matter is important - as an educated public, well-informed by a media community dedicated to balance and even-handedness (as opposed to the hateful populism), would not likely hold such views.
That’s part of the set-up line from an old Soviet joke: What’s 100 yards long and eats cabbage?
Answer: A Soviet meat line.
Today, the answer to that same question could be: A British national healthcare queue.
It seems that along with the horrendous waiting times endured by patients under Britain’s publicly funded National Healthcare Service, British health officials are now asking hospitals to drop meat from their menus. Their declared aim is to cater to the pronouncements of UN climate guru Rajendra Pachauri, who opined last year that people everywhere should eat less meat in order to cut “global warming” emissions — thus, by some theories, helping to preserve the world’s coastlines exactly where they were on Al Gore’s 58th birthday.
One might wonder if the further aim of these public officials is to skimp on all that loving healthcare rationed out by the British state. The “low-carbon” proposals also include reusing more equipment, and asking patients to consult doctors more often by phone, and less in person.
Out of all this, I observe one constant: The bigger the government, the less meat people get to eat. Is this America’s future?
President Obama is nothing if not clever. At first his swipe at Rush Limbaugh seemed like a boneheaded move, firing up the opposition and drawing attention to his most vocal critic.
But Limbaugh is no empty talker. He’s smart and insightful, thus his take on the Obama swipe merits careful reading.
Here is what he told Byron York at The Corner.
“There are two things going on here. One prong of the Great Unifier’s plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters? Meanwhile, the effort to foist all blame for this mess on the private sector continues unabated when most of the blame for this current debacle can be laid at the feet of the Congress and a couple of former presidents. And there is a strategic reason for this.
Secondly, here is a combo quote from the meeting:
“If we don’t get this done we (the Democrats) could lose seats and I could lose re-election. But we can’t let people like Rush Limbaugh stall this. That’s how things don’t get done in this town.”
To make the argument about me instead of his plan makes sense from his perspective. Obama’s plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR’s New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing “eternal” power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle.
Obama was angry that Merrill Lynch used $1.2 million of TARP money to remodel an executive suite. Excuse me, but didn’t Merrill have to hire a decorator and contractor? Didn’t they have to buy the new furnishings? What’s the difference in that and Merrill loaning that money to a decorator, contractor and goods supplier to remodel Warren Buffet’s office? Either way, stimulus in the private sector occurs. Are we really at the point where the bad PR of Merrill getting a redecorated office in the process is reason to smear them? How much money will the Obamas spend redecorating the White House residence? Whose money will be spent? I have no problem with the Obamas redoing the place. It is tradition. 600 private jets flown by rich Democrats flew into the Inauguration. That’s fine but the auto execs using theirs is a crime? In both instances, the people on those jets arrived in Washington wanting something from Washington, not just good will.
If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of the trillion dollar debacle.
One more thing, Byron. Your publication and website have documented Obama’s ties to the teachings of Saul Alinksy while he was community organizing in Chicago. Here is Rule 13 of Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals:
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
There’s plenty of schadenfreude seeing partisan punk Sulzberger laid low, but regret at losing a once good newspaper.
Arthur Ochs “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr. has driven the proudest institution in journalism to the doorstep of ruin, its corporate debt earning the humiliating label of “junk” from Moody’s Investors Services. And it wasn’t just a slide over the line, the company tumbled three steps below investment grade.
Even worse is Moody’s negative expectation, meaning further downgrades are on the horizon in the next 12-18 months. Moody’s has withdrawn its rating for NYTCo commercial paper, its unsecured corporate borrowing. Nobody in his right mind is going to loan the company money that way anymore.
The terms of the company’s $250 million loan from 2 companies controlled by Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican billionaire the paper once scorned, force the Times to pay over 14% to borrow money. The added interest cost, especially the 11% that is paid in cash (the other 3% gets added to the debt balance, just like a credit card bill that can’t be paid in full), is one factor in Moody’s downgrade.
Big Baloney keeps shrinking.
James Surowiecki, author of the excellent The Wisdom of Crowds, writes in his New Yorker column about the stimulus benefit of giving taxpayers a lump sum rebate versus increasing their paychecks by reducing payroll taxes.
Cutting taxes is usually a surefire political winner. Yet Barack Obama’s plan to include more than a hundred billion dollars in individual tax rebates in his stimulus package has earned him criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Critics in his own party think the rebate, which Obama wants to distribute by reducing people’s withholding payments, will be too small to make a difference—the equivalent of an extra forty dollars or so a month. Naysayers from the right maintain that, because the tax rebate is a onetime event rather than a permanent reduction in tax rates, it will have only a negligible effect. Skeptics on both sides worry that most people will save the rebate rather than spend it.
Naysayers on the right also do not believe that the 50% of citizens paying effectively no federal income tax deserve a tax cut. You can’t discount zero.
Doing so is just disguised welfare. And reducing their FICA contribution is absurd in light of the impending Social Security funding crisis.
The criticism isn’t unwarranted. The record of past tax rebates is checkered, and forty bucks a month doesn’t sound like much. But the very things that seem unusual about Obama’s rebate plan—that it will be handed out by reducing withholding, instead of in one lump sum, and that it will add a small but steady amount to Americans’ take-home pay—are precisely why it’s more likely to succeed.
Past tax rebates, as many economists have argued in recent weeks, haven’t seemed to boost consumption as much as was hoped. Some estimates suggest that when a rebate was handed out in 2001 less than half of it was spent. And while the results of last year’s rebate seem to have been somewhat more encouraging, much of it still went unspent. One explanation for why rebates don’t have a bigger impact is that they don’t affect what Milton Friedman called people’s “permanent income.” Friedman argued that people’s spending is determined by what they think their income will be over time: they change their spending habits only if they think they’re going to be permanently wealthier or poorer.
The permanent-income hypothesis is elegant, but studies have shown that it’s not always an accurate description of the way people decide how to spend and save. A more compelling explanation for why rebates haven’t worked very well is that they have been handed out as lump sums.
You might think that handing people a big chunk of change is a perfect way to get them to spend it. But it isn’t, because people don’t treat all windfalls as found money. Instead, in the words of the behavioral economist Richard Thaler, people put different windfalls in different “mental accounts,” which in turn influences what they do with the money. Where the money comes from can have a big impact on whether people spend it or save it: casino winnings are more likely to be spent than, say, money from an inheritance.
Okay, let’s stipulate that a small but regular increase in take-home pay boosts spending. But so what? Is consumer spending the cause of the recession?
If believing you’re going to be permanently wealthier makes you spend, then what happens when your 401k is reduced by one-third and the news media, echosing President Obama, talks of nothing but tough times and the Great Depression?
Sorry, but $40 a month ain’t enough to change the mindset.
They could arrive in America any time now: food police.
I refer to an interesting item in the U.K. Telegraph. The British government is sending contractors door to door to teach its citizens how to manage leftovers.
British bureaucrats, you see, worry that Brits are wasting too much food — one third of store-bought grub, they say, is tossed out. That is bad for the environment.
That is bad because produce must be grown and harvested. Cows and pigs must be fed and butchered. Fossil fuels must be burned to process, refrigerate and ship the food. Fossil fuels emit carbon. Carbon, it is argued, is causing the Earth to melt.
The more leftovers that go to waste, then, the more carbon we pump into the air.
Brit bureaucrats will have none of that. To prevent the wasting of leftovers, they launched the “Love Food Hate Waste” campaign.
Government contractors — “food champions” — are going door to door to teach helpless, inept citizens how to shop better, eat less and manage their leftovers. They offer useful tips at their Web site (lovefoodhatewaste.com).
Take portion control. Brits are eating too much. Fortunately, the government provides a nifty calculator to tell you exactly how much you should eat. A fellow dining alone is limited to two florets of broccoli, I discovered — and all these years I’ve been eating 2 1/2.
Ah, the dark side of liberalism. Every idealistic argument camouflages the bullying, busybody instincts of this peculiar mindset.
If the government decides that humans are the cause of global warming — it’s “climate change” now — then isn’t it logical for the government to thwart humans from causing it? Aren’t leftover police logical?
If the government takes over all aspects of our nation’s health care system — and the Democrats are likely going to try — isn’t it also logical for health-care police to evolve?
If you smoke or eat a fatty diet — if your poor choices could cause you to become ill — the government will have to pick up the tab. Isn’t it logical, then, for the government to monitor and control your habits and your diet?
It may sound absurd, but absurdity and government go hand-in-hand. That is why the government that governs best is the one that governs least — something we better keep a bead on as our government expands rapidly in response to our economic woes.
It’s been a busy week in Lake Wobegone, uh, Washington.
The new prez has been installed and already the Gallup poll shows him with a 68% approval rating for the job he’s doing. Presumably, a sizable chunk of that 68% would struggle to name the three branches of government, but so be it.
I always pictured Obama and Michelle, having returned from all the festivities, falling backward on their White House bed for the first time chortling, “They bought it! They bought it!”
The media sure bought it and proceeded to sell it. Though some buyer’s remorse will no doubt ensue, for now Obama’s every word is gospel. Why, he’s even being compared to George W. himself, and we don’t mean Dubya.
Obama is already playing hardball answering one complaint about the Democrats’ high-handed treatment of the GOP with a curt, “I won.”
Yes, but not by acclimation — that was the real George Washington. And Obama didn’t win in a landslide, either. Had George Bush answered Democrats with an “I won” he’d be excoriated for his divisiveness and unilateralism.
Plus, the complaint was about Obama’s spending plan, the mother all budget busters. As David Bernstein noted:
True, but Obama won by, among other things, promising a net decrease in federal spending. Here he is during the third debate: “what I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut…. What I want to emphasize … is that I have been a strong proponent of pay-as-you-go. Every dollar that I’ve proposed, I’ve proposed an additional cut so that it matches.”
Obama would have a much better case for Republican deference to his spending plans if he had actually campaigned in favor of the most massive increase in federal spending, ever, instead of as a budget-cutter.
With every new administration, the more frightening changes — the most damage– happen in positions that receive little public scrutiny. Thus we see the arrogant, but common “progressive” attitude of Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor, who blithely announced his plan for racial profiling (Get lost, whitey!) for jobs programs.
There are thousands of government jobs where people who think their first job is to re-engineer society in their own image will be writing rules and regulations for us all to obey.
Well folks, you asked for it.
The new era of bipartisanship isn’t going so well, the Washington Post tells us:
Just days after taking office vowing to end the political era of “petty grievances,” President Obama ran into mounting GOP opposition yesterday to an economic stimulus plan that he had hoped would receive broad bipartisan support.
Republicans accused Democrats of abandoning the new president’s pledge, ignoring his call for bipartisan comity and shutting them out of the process by writing the $825 billion legislation. The first drafts of the plan would result in more spending on favored Democratic agenda items, such as federal funding of the arts, they said, but would do little to stimulate the ailing economy.
The GOP’s shrunken numbers, particularly in the Senate, will make it difficult for Republicans to stop the stimulus bill, but the growing GOP doubts mean that Obama’s first major initiative could be passed on a largely party-line vote — little different from the past 16 years of partisan sniping in the Clinton and Bush eras.
The problem is not just the Democrats’ high-handed process that shuts out Republicans. The issue is that the bill itself is objectively awful. If you think tax cuts and defense spending are better ways to “jump start” the economy, there is precious little to like.
But even if you accept the Democrats’ premise that we should have a bunch of “shovel ready” projects and immediate infusions of spending into the economy, the bill doesn’t do that either. The Congressional Budget Office tells us: “For example, of $30 billion in highway spending, less than $4 billion would occur over the next two years. Of $18.5 billion proposed for renewable energy, less than $3 billion would be spent by 2011. And of $14 billion for school construction, less than $7 billion would be spent in the first two years.”
The NYT says today, “President Obama gave his national security team on Wednesday a new mission to end the war in Iraq.” Uh-oh. To me, that’s not a good sign. Does he think that al-Qaeda, the Iran-backed militias, and other thugs will stop the violence just because he’s president now? Does he misunderstandIraq so badly that he thinks the fighting is between the Iraqi people and the United States?
Sure, he keeps repeating that his aim is “a responsible military drawdown from Iraq,” but how responsible can it be if he thinks the war is between U.S. troops and Iraqis? If he doesn’t get that Iran and al-Qaeda are practically fighting a war of attrition against the U.S. on Iraqi soil, we’re all in real trouble, both Iraqis and Americans. Didn’t he in his inaugural address promise the terrorists that they will be defeated?
The mainstream media are all excited. They look at Obama as a president keeping his promises. The public remind me of tweens at a Jonas Brothers concert. Perhaps the media can be as idiotic as they wish, but a president has a lot less room to be foolish. I’m not saying Obama will not be a good president. I’m just worried. If he said he wanted to end U.S. involvement in Iraq, that would be one thing: He can do that. But when he says end the war, that’s something quite different: He can’t wave a wand and make all the murderers see the light. Maybe Obama understands the distinction, but he’s doesn’t sound as if he does.
A reporter asks President Obama a substantive question, which apparently takes some gall.
POLITICO: Obama Flashes Irritation in Press Room Visit: “President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press corps Thursday night, but got agitated when he was faced with a substantive question.”
Well, you can see why that would catch him by surprise . . . .
Apropos of nothing, on Tuesday afternoon I stopped in the book store in Washington’s Union Station and picked up the Newsweek campaign book, A Long Time Coming. At times the book is a semi-conscious confession of the mainstream media’s complicity in his election. From the prologue (emphasis added):
On the night before the election, en route from Akron, Ohio, home to Chicago, Obama wandered back into the press section of his campaign plane, thanking reporters — especially those who had been with him from the beginning. “It will be fun to see how the story ends,” said Obama, as he headed to the front of the plane. Yes, Mr. President-elect, it will.
Then there is this bit, from page 6:
Another politician with a superb sense of timing, Bill Clinton, perfectly understood why Obama saw a golden, possibly once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity. The former president believed that the mainstream press, whose liberal guilt Clinton understood and had exploited from time to time, would act as Obama’s personal chauffeur on the long journey ahead. “If somebody pulled up a Rolls-Royce to me and said, ‘Get in,’” Clinton liked to say, with admiration and maybe a little envy, “I’d get in it, too.”
The book’s author, Evan Thomas, does not seem to think that any of this reflects poorly on the press. Quite the contrary.
We appreciate the candor.
by J.C. Phillips
Speaking of noble lies told by philosopher kings-or at any rate by career politicians…
Congressman for life Henry Waxman (D-CA) chairman of the house committee on Energy and Commerce has promised that he will move quickly and decisively to move climate legislation out of his committee before memorial day.
The Associated Press quotes Waxman as saying, “Our environment and our economy depend on congressional action to confront the threat of climate change and secure our energy independence.” Waxman continued, “U.S. industries want to invest in a clean energy future, but uncertainties about whether, when and how greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced is deterring these vital investments.”
Waxman envisions that industries are looking to Washington for leadership. Nothing could be further from the truth. If left to their own devices, industries will do what they ought to do and what share holders need them to do – expand, become more efficient and make profits. Nor do investors need Waxman to guide them. To paraphrase a line from scripture, where profit is so will their money be also. Once “clean energy” offers a better return on investment, they will have more money than they know what to do with.
Waxman, of course, like most new liberals, does not trust markets; he trusts government, which is why he is chomping at the bit to use the power of government to force the energy sector to do what the market has heretofore done much more slowly.
Enter global warming.
Global warming has become the boogie man hiding under every bed and thus the perfect excuse for new liberals like Waxman to raise taxes, regulate business and nationalize industry — all for our own good of course. The fact that much of what we are being told are nothing but theories, half truths or outright lies is why we are told the debate is over and that government fixes must be rushed through the legislative process. Climate change is the means to a political end that could care less about the science.
Consider the alarmists’ warnings that changes in the concentration of C02 levels are having a devastating effect on temperatures. These claims have softened largely because as Christopher Mockton writing for Science and Public Policy.org points out, “The peer-reviewed literature is full of papers questioning the IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity to changes in CO2 concentration… Indeed, low, harmless, beneficial climate sensitivity is almost becoming a consensus in the scientific literature.”
Or the admonition that our production of C02 would cause the seas to rise. Patrick J. Michaels, senior fellow at the Cato Institute observes that more recent science has “demonstrated that the outflow of Greenland ice sheets is unlikely to dramatically speed up as a result of surface warming, thus countering the claims of rapid sea level rise this century.”
Green house gas emissions were also supposed to influence tropical storm activity. Michaels further observes that subsequent to those warnings studies have presented a “picture of future Atlantic tropical cyclones that is not unlike that of today—with natural cycles dominating the patterns of variability.”
And what of all the sea life that was supposed to die off? Dr. Craig Idso writing for the “Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change” and the “Science and Public Policy Institute” writes that “climate-alarmist claims of impending marine species extinctions due to increases in both temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration are not only not supported by real-world evidence, they are actually refuted by it.”
Waxman might find all of this interesting, but ultimately irrelevant. The crisis has been identified and the trumpet sounded. Our economy, our environment – our very civilization depends on our stopping the production of carbon dioxide. Here come Henry Waxman and the rest of the new left to the rescue. God help us!
…in a story from the New York Times datelined, Crapstone, England.
When ordering things by telephone, Stewart Pearce tends to take a proactive approach to the inevitable question “What is your address?”
He lays it out straight, so there is no room for unpleasant confusion. “I say, ‘It’s spelled “crap,” as in crap,’ ” said Mr. Pearce, 61, who has lived in Crapstone, a one-shop country village in Devon, for decades.
Disappointingly, Mr. Pearce has so far been unable to parlay such delicate encounters into material gain, as a neighbor once did.
“Crapstone,” the neighbor said forthrightly, Mr. Pearce related, whereupon the person on the other end of the telephone repeated it to his co-workers and burst out laughing. “They said, ‘Oh, we thought it didn’t really exist,’ ” Mr. Pearce said, “and then they gave him a free something.”
In the scale of embarrassing place names, Crapstone ranks pretty high. But Britain is full of them. Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.
The Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants.
And wonder about that theme music? It’s “When I am Through with You” by a band called The VLA.
Dick Morris exposes the dark side:
2009-2010 will rank with 1913-14, 1933-36, 1964-65 and 1981-82 as years that will permanently change our government, politics and lives. Just as the stars were aligned for Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson and Reagan, they are aligned for Obama. Simply put, we enter his administration as free-enterprise, market-dominated, laissez-faire America. We will shortly become like Germany, France, the United Kingdom, or Sweden — a socialist democracy in which the government dominates the economy, determines private-sector priorities and offers a vastly expanded range of services to many more people at much higher taxes.
Obama will accomplish his agenda of “reform” under the rubric of “recovery.” Using the electoral mandate bestowed on a Democratic Congress by restless voters and the economic power given his administration by terrified Americans, he will change our country fundamentally in the name of lifting the depression. His stimulus packages won’t do much to shorten the downturn — although they will make it less painful — but they will do a great deal to change our nation.
In implementing his agenda, Barack Obama will emulate the example of Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Not the liberal mythology of the New Deal, but the actuality of what it accomplished.) When FDR took office, he was enormously successful in averting a total collapse of the banking system and the economy. But his New Deal measures only succeeded in lowering the unemployment rate from 23 percent in 1933, when he took office, to 13 percent in the summer of 1937. It never went lower. And his policies of over-regulation generated such business uncertainty that they triggered a second-term recession. Unemployment in 1938 rose to 17 percent and, in 1940, on the verge of the war-driven recovery, stood at 15 percent. (These data and the real story of Hoover’s and Roosevelt’s missteps, uncolored by ideology, are available in The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes, copyright 2007.)
But in the name of a largely unsuccessful effort to end the Depression, Roosevelt passed crucial and permanent reforms that have dominated our lives ever since, including Social Security, the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, unionization under the Wagner Act, the federal minimum wage and a host of other fundamental changes.
Obama’s record will be similar, although less wise and more destructive. He will begin by passing every program for which liberals have lusted for decades, from alternative-energy sources to school renovations, infrastructure repairs and technology enhancements. These are all good programs, but they normally would be stretched out for years. But freed of any constraint on the deficit — indeed, empowered by a mandate to raise it as high as possible — Obama will do them all rather quickly.
I have written with an air of despondency about the bleak future I see for conservatism in America. For one thing, Obama won the election by capturing the votes of virtually every demographic group imaginable, except for older white guys. And the one thing you can say about us, individually and as a voting bloc is that, alas, we’re not getting any younger.
The most discouraging sign was that Obama, the pro-choice candidate, defeated McCain, a pro-lifer, by a 2-1 majority among Hispanics. Apparently, their bishops had no more influence over them than I did.
During his upcoming administration, Obama has promised to out-do FDR by putting an additional 2.5 million people on the federal payroll. He has also threatened — I mean, promised — to create some sort of civilian paramilitary group that sounds suspiciously like Hitler’s brown shirts, but I could very well be mistaken. For all I know, Obama may dress them in blue.
One can easily see that President Obama intends to follow FDR’s game plan by creating a population dependent on the government’s largesse, and thus beholden to the Democratic party. If anything, Obama’s own plans can be even more ambitious than Roosevelt’s were, thanks to those dependable enablers, Pelosi and Reid.
I know there are conservatives who are counting on the Democrats fumbling the ball, as Jimmy Carter did, and then having someone like Ronald Reagan ride in, much like the cavalry in a John Ford western, to rescue America. But I think a far likelier scenario is that the liberals will pass the 28th amendment, nullifying the 22nd, so that Obama won’t be limited by term limits.
After all, if New York’s Mayor Bloomberg could do away with term limits because he decided that he and he alone was up to the job of running the Big Apple, what’s to prevent the folks who seem to think that the second amendment isn’t worth the parchment it’s written on, and that the Fairness Doctrine trumps the first amendment, from doing whatever the heck they want?
This is not to suggest that despair and anguish should be the order of the day for conservatives. I know that armed insurrection is a notion that has occurred to a quite a number of right-wingers, and while I admit that popping off a round or two in the general direction of Michael Moore, Rosie O’Donnell and any number of left-wing politicians is undeniably appealing, I really wouldn’t want to promote a second war between the states. At least not so long as there was a viable option. And, fortunately, there is. There’s Canada!
During the American Revolution, Americans who were loyal to England crossed the border. I suggest that we conservatives who are loyal to the America conceived by our forefathers pack up our principles, our values and our Constitution, and move north. We may not have the numbers to win a presidential election here in the United States, but our 58 million votes in Canada (current population: 33,500,000) would be more than enough to ensure a conservative plurality for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, having learned from experience, I propose that our first order of business should be to erect a large wall along our southern border in order to keep out the riff-raff.