Friday, May 29, 2009

Tax Revenues Plunging: Laffer Laughing?

Federal tax revenue plunged $138 billion, or 34%, in April vs. a year ago — the biggest April drop since 1981, a study released Tuesday by the American Institute for Economic Research says...IRS Tax Revenue Falls Along with Taxpayers' Income, John Waggoner, USA Today, 5/28/2009

If Waggoner and the IRS think it's bad now, wait until increasing federal taxes, income, VAT, or cap-and-trade, take a lot more taxpayer income.

Remember Mr. Laffer's curve. As the tax rates go up, up, up, the revenues go down, down, down.

Those youthful constituents of the Socialists in Congress and the White House must really be looking forward to an impoverished future, where, whatever your income is, taxes and inflation will keep you down. But don't feel too sorry for yourself; the government's agents will be down there with you, making sure you spend your chump change the way that's right by them.


Sacramento Mental Health Center Closes: More Candidates for California Assembly?

The steady increase of mentally ill residents combined with Sacramento County's budget woes forced the county's main psychiatric hospital late Friday to close its doors to new patients...The doors remained closed through Tuesday – and might stay closed for several more days, officials said, until its caseload falls...Officials said the scene could repeat itself throughout the year as local and state funding continue their decline...The situation, officials and advocates say, suggests the state is at the brink of a mental health catastrophe.Mental Health Center Closes, Robert Lewis, Sacramento Bee, 5/28/2009

This kind of story is usually presented, sometimes tearfully, in the California Legislature as a prelude to demanding more spending and more taxes. This time, however, it appears that, the voters having told the Governator and the Legislature to stick it on fifteen billion in more taxes, it's just a story of how a program outran its budget.

All's well that ends well, one supposes. It is possible that in California those judged to be in need of mental health services are conservatives who want to restrain spending and taxes. This closing might prove salutary indeed.



Inflation to Come: Sometimes Gold Bugs are Right

The U.S. economy will enter “hyperinflation” approaching the levels in Zimbabwe because the Federal Reserve will be reluctant to raise interest rates, investor Marc Faber said....US Inflation to Approach Zimbabwe Level, Faber Says, Chen Shiyin and Bernard Lo, Bloomberg News, 5/28/2009

Marc Faber is a gold bug, someone who believes valuable metals are safer than any investment. Gold bugs are doom and gloomers. Even when they're right, they tend to exaggerate. But, they are often right when they talk about the consequences of monetizing the debt, or printing money. We may not be carrying laundry baskets of hundred dollar bills, but you'll know it's real when your TIAA-CREF's four hundred thousand dollars will barely purchase a one-room apartment in Atlanta. We've been through this before. See several stories before. Policies that print money destroy savings, wages, and security. They are open warfare on the people. "Preserve, protect and defend" apparently doesn't include you.


Disappeared Males on Campus: Maybe They'll Join Al Qaeda

Over the Memorial Day weekend, many college administrators attended a conference about the absence of men on today's college campuses and expressed concern about the negative experiences and unprecedented challenges facing college men today...The "2nd Conference on College Men" at the University of Pennsylvania featured sessions examining the implications of negative comments about men that are prevalent on college campuses and the sexist campus activism of participants in the nation's 500 college gender studies departments...The Crisis of the Disappearing Educated Male, Janice Shaw Crouse, American Thinker, 5/28/2009

One can immediately step right up and suggest why this is so, and why it is preferred to be so. The writer does not hesitate to agree that males are more contentious, difficult to manage, and prone to independent action than females. It makes perfect sense for the political and economic elites in the United States to advocate a feelgood, nursery schoolmarm cuddliness in primary, secondary and university education. It's a surefire way to get rid of troublesome males by making the environment unpleasant and, dare one say, unnatural for men. And, the next and greater advantage is that stupefied males can't cause any more trouble than the odd stroke of violence on the street, or insolence at work. For elites devoted to the notion that obedience to the latest corporate or political fantasy is of primary importance in sustaining their own power, the absence of threatening, educated males is much to be desired.

If course, any student of history or mass psychology will tell you that this procedure contains the seeds of consequences quite opposite those desired. A consequence of the destruction of social connections among black, male Americans led to the organization of the Black Muslims, the Black Power movement of the late 1960s, and to the quiet riot of the 1970s which saw a crime wave like no other for more than a decade. It is quite one thing to feel disadvantaged by any generation's social contract, as women felt they were in the restricted choices available before the 1970s. It is quite another to be told that you don't belong in proper society at all. It was from such ground that the Nazis and the Bolsheviks enlisted legions that destroyed their societies.

Hey,but, given time, I'm sure the Democrats will find a way to favor post-natal abortion as an alternative to having to face educated, autonomous men in debate or at the polls.


One Law for Citizen Mules, No Law for Government Asses?

One of the revelations about government ownership happened in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. As workers walked down tens of flights of stairs, they were shocked to find that there were in total darkness, with no battery pack stairwell floodlights as one finds in the most ordinary of buildings in New York. The reason for this scandal was that the World Trade Center was built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a regional government entity which feared no tickets from the fire department, another government agency. Until the first World Trade Center bombing turned this lack of lighting into a scandal, this problem remained unsolved. This was a government controlled real estate venture policing itself...A more recent example of what happens when the government owns an industry and its effect on consumer safety and rights was the loss of Lemon Law protection for Chrysler owners, agreed to by the bankruptcy court...When Government Runs Businesses, Consumers Lose, “Jack Kemp” (nom de plume), American Thinker, 5/28/2009

We know all about that in New York, especially New Yorkers with disabilities. Under the Federal ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), mass transit is supposed to be equally accessible to all. The MTA, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut's transit agency, told the feds a dozen years ago that they couldn't manage -- too expensive, too difficult, might cause our consultant budgets to be constrained, might have to eat at Mickey D's. Were they held responsible? Were passengers given some relief?

No. The Feds let a fellow government agency off the hook. Instead, disabled New Yorkers are given the option of Access-a-Ride, a bizarre public/private “enterprise” which, after a decade of lawsuits, revelations about its terrible service and its extravagant abuse of clients, is a barely passable alternative. As an “enterprise” it's one of those bastards created by the opportunistic marriage of public and private. How?

Access-a-Ride carriers do not pay for their equipment nor for the maintenance and insurance of the vehicles. The government of New York City does. The only cost they have to bear is the drivers, a group paid terrible wages for 80 hour weeks. The dispatching of Access-a-Ride was let to a company in Texas, which might explain the bizarre concept of traffic patterns that informs dispatching patterns have.

Compliance too expensive? It costs New York City approximately five hundred million dollars to sustain this illusion of public/private “enterprise” and yields dismal service. The amount of money spent over the past ten years would have paid for ramping all but four very deep subway stops in a system that has six hundred of them. (New York's subways are usually about six feet below the street.) Apparently “private” constituents, the carrier “owners,” mean more than meeting federal law and giving equal service to the disabled minority.

As for the suspension of the Lemon Law for Chrysler, which will probably obtain with Government Motors as well, there's yet another reason not to purchase anything domestic unless it's made by Ford. When you cheat to beat the competition, buyers know. Ask any former customer of British-Leyland. Ask any Russian who had to drive a Lada.


No Fault Lobbying for Special Interests?

Political reforms share a common denominator: They usually produce unintended consequences. We witness this truth again in today's world of lobbying. President Obama's policies are producing an explosion in special interest group activity, and much of the growth is taking place outside of federal disclosure and other regulations...Several factors contribute to this surprising result. First, government expansion always produces lobbying growth. And Obama is doing his part to enlarge Washington's reach. The bigger, more complicated and activist the federal government, the more affected interests mobilize. Columnist Robert Samuelson calls Obama's facilitation of government growth a "gift for K Street" and deems the president's promise to banish special interests from the political arena as "doomed to fail" because "the only way to eliminate lobbying and special interests is to eliminate government."...The Golden Age of Lobbying, Gary Andres, Weekly Standard, 5/28/2009

The key difference between a lobbyist for say, AT&T, and another for ACORN, the community organizer's trade organization, is that ACORN does not have to meet federal reporting standards. They can spend any amount of money to try to convince Congress to legislate on their behalf, wonderfully convenient for ACORN, as they have been provided hundreds of milllions of dollars by Congress under the G.I.F.T. Act of 2008. What is the effect?

It's transparent. Net producers, the commercial companies that produce goods and services that keep us employed, clothed, fed, housed, healed and entertained, are restrained, while net takers, organizations that received tax monies, are given a free rein. It appears that the Democrats in this, as in the rest of their so-called program, are unaware of the golden goose's role in providing tax money. The more the private economy is damaged by taxes and other restraints on profitability, the less tax money there will be for the Democrats' favorite constituents. This is a prescription for national economic suicide.


Hey, Mr. President, Even the NY Times Thinks Printing Money is Crazy

The Federal Reserve is printing money from thin air, and the government is issuing trillions of dollars in new debt as it tries to spend its way out of the recession with a huge stimulus package, new lending programs, health care overhauls and automotive rescues... Experts warned there might not be enough demand to sop up all those new dollars and dollar-denominated Treasury securities. That led investors to fret about the sustainability of the United States government’s AAA sovereign credit rating...NY Times, 5/23/2009

If the Times thinks that hell's a comin' as a consequence of policies by Democrat majorities in the House and Senate, and a Democrat in the White House, maybe somebody ought to pay attention. The consequences of printed money are not subtle. If you had ten dollars chasing ten dollars worth of goods, and you add another twenty, you still have ten dollars worth of goods, but now they cost thirty. Unfortunately, your budget is for ten. Inflation is a thief in the night. Ask any Argentine immigrant.


Taxes: Yes to VAT, But No To The Rest

Common around the world, including in Europe, such a tax -- called a value-added tax, or VAT -- has not been seriously considered in the United States. But advocates say few other options can generate the kind of money the nation will need to avert fiscal calamity.
At a White House conference earlier this year on the government's budget problems, a roomful of tax experts pleaded with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to consider a VAT. A recent flurry of books and papers on the subject is attracting genuine, if furtive, interest in Congress. And last month, after wrestling with the White House over the massive deficits projected under Obama's policies, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee declared that a VAT should be part of the debate..."There is a growing awareness of the need for fundamental tax reform," Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said in an interview. "I think a VAT and a high-end income tax have got to be on the table."...Once Considered Unthinkable, U.S. Sales Tax Gets Fresh Look, Lori Montgomery, Washington Post, 5/28/2009

The economy shrinking at nearly 6% a year. Government spending will produce a two trillion dollar deficit this fiscal year. And yet, what are the Democrats considering? Raising taxes. Consumer spending is about 70% of the economy, or just under ten trillion. That's a trillion dollar a year tax increase the Democrats in Congress are talking about. The VAT is an instant 10% price increase. One can expect as a consequence lower consumer spending.

Many conservatives, however, have looked at a flat tax for years as a replacement for the income tax. Not the Democrats. They want to add the flat tax to the existing federal income tax. In a state like New York, a 10% flat tax would be added to state and local taxes, for a total sales tax of 19%. On a 450,000 condominium, that would be 90,000 dollars in taxes. While the Democrats and Republicans may be happy to consider what impact this will have on imports, have they considered the devastating impact on domestic businesses?

It's quite clear they have not. In fact, it's quite clear that Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House don't give a damn about the effect on any business. Perhaps they think the Treasury's printed money is worth something without productive enterprise. They think the same thing in Zimbabwe, Mr. President. They take baskets of paper money to buy a loaf of bread or an egg. A robber would steal the basket, not the money. Value in a currency is created by the productive enterprises that use it. Only a street corner radical would believe otherwise. Streetwise, sadly, only works on the street.

However, what is equally undeniable is that without tax reform and spending sensibility, the future of America is as a bankrupt. A real VAT replacement for all federal taxes, including corporate, would be a radical, and quite possibly, the right solution. Yes, it would constrain consumption, but it would dramatically impress citizens that savings is a really good idea. And we need investment capital, the feds haven sopped up most of available credit for the next decade.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Government Intrusions: Transportation Secretary LaHood says Right On!

Secretary Lahood...made a joke about the fact that some conservatives believe that the way he wants to use the Department of Transportation represents an increased government intrusion in people’s lives...“Some conservative groups are wary of the livable communities program, saying it's an example of government intrusion into people's lives,” said the moderator. “How do you respond?”...[LaHood replied]“About everything we do around here is government intrusion in people's lives,” said LaHood. “So have at it.”...Secretary of Transporation LaHood Says He Wants to 'Coerce' People Out of Their Cars, CNS News, 5/22/2009

Have at it, indeed. The attitude of this administration, expressed well in a favorite book on Pennsylvania Avenue, Animal Spirits, by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, is that Americans are somewhat akin to pets who have to be house-trained out of such habits as imagining they are rational enough to make decisions about what to do with their money. This is the Left's deepest and most destructive pathology. When conditions change, as they have, instead of acknowledging that what was right last year probably isn't any longer, a conclusion that is being drawn by tens of millions of Americans without assistance from arrogant boobs like Secretary LaHood, the Left comes out with a thesis, which shows, once and for all, the ghastly failure of free societies and capitalist economies that depend on the little doggies and kitty cats to make intelligent decisions.

Imagine, when gasoline was the 1970s dollar equivalent of twenty-nine cents a gallon, as it was for years, buyers thought it was just fine to purchase heavy, enormous, comfortable, and safe vehicles that burned a gallon every dozen miles or so. Was this a childish failure to perceive the truth? No, it was a reasonable response to the way things were. When the way things were changed to gasoline that set you back eighty or ninety dollars a tank, people did something amazing. They stopped buying big, heavy, comfortable vehicles, all on their own, without the need for a scolding or a muzzle. Guess who made the most spectacularly bad decisions?

Oh, my goodness, could it be GM management and the UAW's leadership! Was it the American citizen's fault, or the idiot at General Motors whose market research didn't include the cost of ownership? The Left, with its powerful bond to corporations that behave with as much disregard for the contingent fact in markets as it does in politics, could not possibly blame the corporation, which is just another collective driven, in large degree, by the greatest good for the greatest number? GM could not possibly have made such a mistake. It was only responding to consumers (both the government and GM management will tell you this without your even asking).

Okay, how can Secretary LaHood and Obama's new CEO of Government Motors explain the 45% decline in sales of GM cars since the gas boom last summer? Could it be that the buyers are far out front of the GM's transparently hapless managers and the President's blathering idiot at Transportation? Could it be that ordinary citizens, making ordinary consumer choices, are acting perfectly rationally in refusing to buy GM's heavy, gas-guzzling vehicles?

Don't expect 'Yes' from the Secretary of Transportation. His traditional Lefty arrogance, not to mention his reading list, won't permit him to observe what's true, only what's right. Idiots like this have been living off the taxed profits of successful societies and enterprises for centuries. He's living off of you. Now, he wants a raise. This doggie needs to be put outside until he calms down. Woof-woof!


North Korea: Events Make Hash of Policy

Early yesterday morning, North Korea detonated the inviting promises of appeasement with earth-shattering force...the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conducted an underground nuclear test...of a 10-to-20 kiloton warhead....Obama’s first statement merely told the nation that still calls itself the “Hermit Kingdom” its “behavior…will only serve to deepen North Korea’s isolation...Later that morning, he rushed out a second statement, claiming DPRK missiles “pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world”...And then, according to the L.A. Times and the Drudge Report, he went golfing....Tested, Ben Johnson, Front Page Magazine, 5/26/2009

When the United States, in the 1950s, totally dominated the world in military readiness, economic wherewithal, and political prestige, President Eisenhower might go golfing during a crisis. What did a little power's fist pounding matter to the most powerful nation in world history?

In the 1950s, the same President could advance the largest construction project in world history (the Interstate Highway system) in full confidence that a country with a huge, positive balance of trade, as creditor to the entire world, possessing vast foreign reserves, and a booming economy, could afford to build.

President Obama, things have changed. When a country that has sold weapons systems to rogue nations (who arm terrorist organizations) comes into possession of weapons that could kill a million Americans in thirty seconds, playing golf and speaking a few high-minded, empty words are not qualitatively different from either fabulous delusion, or astonishing stupidity.

When a nation owes the world trillions of dollars, depending on the good will of a major competitor to meet its federal budget, and, not so incidentally, to build most of the consumer products Americans would like to have, plunging into trillions of dollars of new spending, and trillions of dollars in new taxation, are not qualitatively different from either gross malfeasance in office, or mind-boggling, narrow-minded arrogance.

And you are also about to find out that unqualified violation of the Fifth Amendment regarding unwarranted government seizure of private property is not something you can get out from under by lecturing Americans on their driving habits, or secured bondholders on their “speculations.” The latter is particularly offensive given that most secured bondholders represent pension funds and other retirement investments, not a few of those union and public employee accounts. Unlike the Congress and the Executive Branch, such fund managers can't substitute rhetoric and hot air for fiduciary responsibility. Those who do end up in jail.


Monday, May 25, 2009

This Administration's Policies: Corporate Fascism or Dictatorship?

"Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." Benito Mussolini
Some members of the Republican National Committee have recently wondered…what name do we give to the direction in which Democrats and the Obama administration are taking America?…In 20th Century Italy and Germany, particularly during 1933-1945, fascism merged the self-interests of despotic, single-party rulers with large corporations for whom big war offered big profits. Mussolini called it Corporatism….Corporatism Comes to America, Lee Cary, American Thinker, 5/22/2009

In the sorry state of American politics, namecalling has become the de facto standard. The most popular insults are “racist”, “homophobe,” and “fascist”, the latter often replaced by “Nazi” or “Communist.” In most instances, such language is a cheat to get past critical appraisal by either a reporter or a constituent. In this sport, Corporatism is an old charge.

Variations of the term and its definition can be found well back in the 19th century. And before that, the great English companies, escorted overseas by Royal Marines and the British Navy, were a paradigm for the fusion of public and private interests. The system devised by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s government to supply our armed forces in World War II fits perfectly with Cary’s conception of Corporatism. It was a command economy. Private interests were subsumed to profitability and willingness to carry out what the government described as the public good – the defeat of Germany and Japan, and the revival of the American industrial economy. The method was adopted as much here as it was in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Stalin’s USSR, and Hirohito’s Japan. It is more than arguable, as Herman Wouk observed in War and Remembrance, that war had become a corporate enterprise, with masses of men using millions of mass-produced arms, transported by mass produced trucks and aircraft, with civilians bombed by tens of thousands of bombers mass-produced in factories that were intended, under private investors and entrepreneur sbefore the war, to build civilian airliners and automobiles. Without this vast, corporate, industrial enterprise, neither side would have dared to wage war on such a scale.

This joint effort did not end with VJ Day. The integration of public and private introduced by the Roosevelt Administration went on in the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations to set up the vast bomber and missile fleets of the Cold War, sustaining a state of high alert for almost forty years to protect corporate and public interests from another world war. Economic stability was guaranteed by vast federal outlays for big programs like the Interstates and heavy subsidy of the housing market through tax rebates for home buyers. Far from being the golden age of private interest, as some on the right would have you believe, from 1941 to the late 1960s was the golden age of the American command economy created by the Depression in part, but in largest degree by the Second World War. A signal achievement was the Apollo program at NASA, a government-led consortium of thousands of private companies for an objective not one would have pursued privately, putting a dozen astronauts on a world so hostile that comparison to a previous age of exploration was silly. No one would live there. There would be no Massachusetts Bay Colony, no gold rush to California, no Wyoming homesteading, no vast new agriculture to feed the world. There was no affordable, hence no profitable, means to exploit what unusual resources the moon might have. Like the vast strategic and logistical operations of World War II and the Cold War, Apollo would not have been possible without the marriage of public and private interests. Apollo was regarded as a showcase of American know-how. Having succeeded, the program, except for the Big Science robot explorations, and the kick-starting of the communications satellite business, NASA went back to its role before Kennedy decided to use it as a competitive tool against the Soviets. And so, contrary to Cary’s thesis about something new and frightening in the current government’s interventions on behalf of banks, insurance companies, and that part of the auto industry based in the United States, it’s not new in America, and it embraces almost the entire history of Europe.

What actually makes the current administration’s approach to this profoundly disturbing is its willingness to disregard constitutional, legal, and contractual precedents. The last time someone in the White House tried to take over an entire industry, the courts responded with a resounding reversal. President Truman, at the beginning of the Korean War, countered a steel strike by declaring that the government, in the name of national security, was going to seize this key industry to keep it running. As they were now government employees, steelworkers were to come off the picket lines and return to work. No, said the Supreme Court, no President can seize private property in this manner; it’s a violation of fifth amendment rights under the United States Constitution, which the President was sworn to defend. Truman, who would have been impeached if he’d refused the court’s judgment, relented. The strike was subsequently settled with legal negotiations and a binding agreement accepted by the steelworkers’ union.

The controversies over eminent domain, whereby a government, in the name of the public good, forces a sale of property, are entirely different matters. A Mayor or Governor can’t just take someone’s property and throw the owners out. Legal filings are done. Negotiations take place. Formal agreements on compensation are drawn up. Yes, some people get cheated. Some have incompetent legal representation. But, eminent domain is a legal process. On the other hand, telling Chrysler and GM’s secured creditors, many of whom are city, state and private pension funds, that they have to take second place in a bankruptcy settlement to an unsecured creditor, such as the UAW, violates law and precedent on the treatment of creditors in a bankruptcy process. Spitting on the law for political reasons has predictable consequences, none of them in the long-term interest of either the government or private companies.

What pension money manager would ever again put depositors’ funds at risk in a company with either a union or the possibility of federal involvement? Money managers for these large funds have a legal, fiduciary responsibility to protect depositors. Investing in a corporation that bore those kinds of risks might put that manager in jail. What private investor would agree to any terms if they may be violated by fiat of the government, whether to satisfy a political constituency, or to intervene on the administration’s assumptions that it has a better idea of who should bear a risk than a contract drawn up between consenting parties?

This is not Corporatism at all. It is the action of a dictator who has decided that the government has the right to determine the market to fulfill its political objectives. In the case of Chrysler and GM, it is clearly the administration’s intent to reward political supporters like the UAW at the expense of both secured creditors and the law itself. There is no difference between this action and the seizure of private companies being undertaken by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or by Fidel Castro in Cuba. And, in the context of America’s constitution, law, and precedent, this action is flagrant malfeasance in office. Scorning the law is a crime, an impeachable offense.

Further, the use of overt threats against those who disagree with the administration’s approach, whether the thugs are in the employ of ACORN, a labor union or living off a G.I.F.T. subsidy from Congress – one brownshirt fits every group, is all of a piece with this unconstitutional, lawless administration. Its leadership is apparently willing to follow a modern version of the advice of a Marine in Vietnam in 1965 who said, as he set fire to a hut, that “we have to burn this village to save it.”

Abstract arguments about one –ism or another will not stop this band from doing their dirty work. Concentrated attention and following actions within the rights and obligations of the law are required. We may have a beginning with Indiana’s public pension fund in its court fight with the administration’s imposed solution with Chrysler, but we need more. Holding out to get an extra penny in an illegal settlement is what small minds do in a dictatorship, protecting their income at the expense of the nation. Direct, legal confrontation is called for, and it had better get started now.


Radical Islamic Clerics Recruiting in Prison: An Ignored Story

Three years ago, The Post broke the story of a vitriolic anti-American diatribe delivered by Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil, a Rikers Island chaplain…"We know that the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House, without a doubt," he said – later urging that American Muslims stop allowing "the Zionists of the media to dictate what Islam is to us." Muslims, he said, must be "compassionate with each other" and "hard against the kufr [unbeliever]."…Abdul-Jalil, shockingly, remains on the municipal payroll…As Steven Schwartz has written: "Radical Muslim chaplains . . . acting in coordination to impose an extremist agenda have gained a monopoly over Islamic activities in America's state, federal and city prisons and jails."…The Enemy Amongst Us, The Editors, The NY Post, 5/22/2009

It’s hard to know what to do when your own government, and its legal system, seem to make every effort to appease our enemies. Justifying the permission in the name of freedom of religion is a spurious claim. As any competent observer can tell you, radical Islam’s principal agenda is political. The politics is aimed at the destruction of our country, and of Western freedoms and traditions as well. Islam is merely a convenient veil for political venom, much as Reverend Wright’s cloth served in the current President’s church, and for political scheming.

We need to think about what to do. If lawyers can distort the law in favor of people who want to kill us, and if municipalities can promote the agenda of assassins and terrorists, is there a real change in the status quo which we might want to act toward? We might begin with tax policy regarding institution or individual using religious cover to promote the overthrow of our government.


NY State Medicaid: Preview of Things To Come

When it comes to expanding government-subsidized coverage, broke and recession-battered New York state has already gotten a jump on him…Medicaid-enrollment growth in New York is accelerating so rapidly that one out of every four state residents will be in the program by 2013…Universal-health-care advocates no doubt welcome that prospect -- but it should concern taxpayers….How New York Stokes Dependency, EJ McMahon, The NY Post, 5/22/2009

Taxpayers already are. The great untold story in the tax fight, though anyone directly involved knows it, is local taxes. State and local income taxes in New York now take almost 11% of income. Property taxes are such that in wealthier counties like Westchester and Nassau, retired persons routinely plan to immediately leave the state when they leave their jobs. Despite paid-for houses, and a modestly good retirement package, they could not possibly pay the fabulous level of property taxes in these counties. Taxpayer flight to Florida and Arizona is not solely because of the warm weather. New York’s Medicaid costs per patient, nearly double those of California, a state not known for poor medical care, take a huge proportion of these taxes. Worse, if you want to qualify for Medicaid, you must first get rid of assets in excess of $100,000 (excluding domicile). If you’re paying $15,000 a year in property taxes, what’s left when you do a Medicaid asset burn isn’t enough to live on for more than a few years. One would think that, in response, major efforts would be undertaken to reduce medical costs. Instead, however, even richer contracts are negotiated with the principal union in medical care, and taxes are raised even higher. This is a recipe for disaster, and New York is already meeting its mandated balanced budget requirement with money given by the Feds under the Stimulus package. With taxpayer flight, and, increasingly, productive enterprise flight (with Obama’s national view of taxation, this may mean relocating to another country), New York’s future is a socialist’s dream, and a citizen’s nightmare. Watch how it goes here; it will go that way everywhere soon without serious, committed political and legal action.


Want Good Medical Care? Make Friends with Government Bureaucrats

In March…Georgia, Florida, and Alabama appealed U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash’s ruling that physicians, not government bureaucrats, were qualified — both legally and medically — to decide what was “medically necessary”…regardless of bureaucrats’ opinions…The…states’ argument..was summed up in the amicus brief filed by…Florida, which said, “Treating physicians … cannot be trusted with this sort of decision. When left to their own devices, they advocate for their patients, and deem all manner of unproven, dangerous, ineffective, cosmetic, unnecessary, bizarre, and controversial treatments as ‘medically necessary.’”…The “final arbiter” of medical decisions is and should be “the state,” said attorney Robert Highsmith in March 24 oral arguments — and the panel of the 11th Circuit agreed…Jeff Emanuel, Pajamas Media, 5/22/2009

Shades of things to come! With the framework for federal assessment of medical treatment already established through the Stimulus package, it’s clear that, as the government is planning to pay for your care (with your taxes), the feds are also going to decide whether what your doctor represents is a good buy. The 11th circuit feels that this is a good idea. Even at insurance companies, the final arbiter of whether or not to pay for treatment is a physician, not some secretary or deputy assistant to the assistant….

The groundwork is being laid for dictatorial policies across the board. To this administration, private decision-making, whether in buying a car, or in choosing treatment for heart disease, is too irrational to be left to the concerned parties. This goes in the face of why so many come to the United States for treatment. In France, for instance, you can’t get coronary bypass treatment if you’re over 65. The writer’s mother-in-law had bypass treatment at 71, sixteen years ago, and is still in good health. She would be dead if she’d been a French citizen and lacked the means to fly to New York.

One can’t argue, however, that there is a disproportionate amount of medical resources applied to the last six months of life. The writer’s grandfather, offered heroic treatment for cancer of the pancreas (fatal 99 percent of the time), refused anything but pain relief. He was 90 and felt he had lived a good life. He let nature take its brutal course. A surprisingly large number of people do this. There is a good reason not to offer a heart transplant to someone in her late seventies if the same heart could extend the life and health of someone thirty years younger. However, it is demonstrable, from the Amsterdam experience, that as soon as the government steps in on such issues, allowing patients to either not be treated, or even killed by their physicians, that we are racing down the road to government-sponsored, expedient murder. A terrifying example occurred in 2005 during a hot summer in northern France. While their children vacationed on the Mediterranean, and while the government did nothing, 100,000 old people died of heat-related causes in government-owned nursing homes that lacked air conditioning. Relatives notified of what was happening did very little to stop this, refusing to even collect the bodies until the surivors came north after their vacations. One wonders how many of the dead had been in the Resistance, and what they thought, as they died, of the country they had helped to save.

Contempt for individual choices is rich in this administration. They know better, about cars, about health care, about banks, about home owning, about energy use. Trouble is, while this may work in the short term – Hitler did build some nice highways, still in use, ultimately it creates a populace whose energies are diverted into little more than watching and waiting. This apparently is the change that the current administration feels is such an adult departure from a free society. God may help us, but we’d better get moving. A tea party is not a political party; a demonstration is not a campaign for office or a lawsuit. Action is required.


Pelosi and the CIA: Liar’s Poker

In her first press conference since she accused the CIA last week of lying to her about harsh interrogation techniques, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said she stood by her statement but refused to answer additional questions about the fierce political fallout from her comments…Pelosi dodges CIA questions in briefing, Kara Rowland, Washington Times, 5/22/2009

One hopes that nobody was surprised. If, in an office, you go to a friendly manager and lie about a colleague for personal, or political, gain, would you, when someone exposed this, immediately say you were sorry? If you were willing to betray a colleague for personal gain, it’s not very likely that you would repent. Most likely, you’d raise the stakes by making your accusations public before the entire office. Lying, if carried out with real conviction, is a powerful tool, especially if it’s conducted in an atmosphere already torn by controversy.

In what has been described for a generation as the paranoid style in politics (Richard Hofstadter originated the phrase in an essay in the 1960s, a straw man is set up – enhanced interrogation techniques in this instance, rhetorically enhanced, emotionally presented – the humanity, oh! the humanity! Then, whoever was associated with a given practice is vilified to the considerable political advantage of the original storyteller.

Let’s be honest. The water torture developed by the CIA, compared to fictional TV representations of behavior in the interrogation room of an urban police precinct, is tame. Compared to the sexual torture, rape, mutilation, and murder granted to prisoners of Al Qaeda, the CIA’s enhanced interrogation technique is almost laughable. If anything, Leftist critics of the prior administration were most often appalled that the CIA wouldn’t go further to prevent another 9/11, or worse, a nuclear 9/11. We know that Speaker Pelosi was one of those. But, she’s told her Big Lie now. Her constituents, and they are legion, are shrieking their approval, and crying of her victimization. The hoax will develop a life of its own. At some point, as her career in the House begins to fall apart, someone will mention Joan of Arc.

It’s better TV than politics, however. Some day soon, we ought to start paying attention to the latter. TV is just an image. Lies in politics can last a long time.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Next Bailout? Picking Up The Tab for California

So what about California?…tough one…California is completely, totally, irreparably hosed…Their outflow is bigger than their inflow. You can blame Republicans who won't pass a budget, or Democrats who spend every single cent of tax money that comes in during the booms, borrow some more, and then act all surprised when revenues, in a totally unprecedented, inexplicable, and unforeseaable chain of events, fall during a recession… Whoever is to blame, the state was bound to go broke one day, and hey, today's that day!…There is a surprisingly sizeable blogger contingent arguing that we have to bail them out…But actually, we do have a choice: we could let them go bankrupt. And we probably should…I am not under the illusion that this will be fun. For starters, the rest of you sitting smugly out there in your snug homes, preparing to enjoy the spectacle, should prepare to enjoy the higher taxes you're going to pay as a result…Is California Too Big to Fail? Meghan McCardle, The Atlantic, 5/19/2009

The subject of the Atlantic’s McCardle’s article should make New Yorkers very, very uncomfortable. In the Big Apple, which has a lot of worms in it nowadays, as tax revenues plunged during the banking, real estate and stock market disaster of 2008, the hapless Governor Paterson presided over a wildly irresponsible Legislature that not only “closed” the budget deficit with the “Stimulus” but raised spending in the 2009 budget 12.7% over 2008. For those not New Yorkers, that means that expenditures increased by well over fifteen billion dollars. The answers arrived at were twofold: take the “Stimulus” money and put it in place of tax revenues that no longer exist; and raise taxes on lots of consumer products and state services like automobile registration. Those aware of their tax bills know that taxes on products and services directly and adversely impact those lowest on the totem pole, i.e., those of us who go to work in the morning rather than telling other people while they sit behind their vast, oaken desks in the State House or the Governor’s Mansion.

Governor Schwarzenegger took the right first step, declaring within hours that statewide employment and service cuts would begin right now. That’s the sensible and the responsible thing to do. When you don’t have the money to meet a budget, you cut spending first. Not in New York, and not apparently, from the wishes of many mouthpieces for the Left, in California. No, no, we’ll take more money from those daring to be successful, those who hire the rest of us, those whose donations keep orchestras, business improvement districts, hospitals, and a thousand other varieties of nonprofit providers of services running, not to mention tens of millions of people employed.

Tom Galisano, a multibillionaire who lived in New York and ran for Governor a while back, announced in yesterday’s NY Post that, as a consequence of tax increases from NY this year, he had moved himself and his business to Florida. That’s five million that he was willing to pay in personal and business taxes to NY, and a thousand or so jobs. The White House’s favorite whipping boy, Rush Limbaugh, who contributed millions of his discretionary income to keeping up restaurants, charities, and the Philharmonic, moved out a month ago. Taxpayer flight at that level directly attacks the primary sources of NY’s revenues, those five percent who pay more than fifty percent of state and local taxes. And, they're not the only ones who are leaving. As common are those who cross the border to live in Vermont while they work in New York.

But who cares? The Change Feds will probably make tax haven states meaningless by usurping 10th amendment powers from the states, and imposing the same, ruinous tax schedules on the entire country, as they have just done with a national CAFÉ standard for automobiles, and plan to do further with such looting schemes as cap-and-trade. They will “bail out” California, guaranteeing that no state legislature in the country will take the responsible route of matching revenues with expenditures. They will “bail out” New York, despite what is obvious to anyone, that the more the government controls, the more business and the general economy slides into stagflation and bankruptcy. They will “bail out” a medical system that might return to health if an actual marketplace for its services were allowed the freedom to separate the chaff from the wheat. That’s what markets do. But that isn't being allowed. It's too rational, too sane, too cold. Better that everybody should go bankrupt that allow the market to punish a few incompetents with business failure. Why?

You have to understand about Socialists, as they seize more and more, just like the Socialists are seizing everything in Venezuela. They don’t care if they ruin the country – our country. They don’t care if everyone ends up living in unpainted, disintegrating houses driving cars that can barely get past the city limits without breaking down -- a universal Havana. They don’t care if our enemies triumph, not least because our enemies are not theirs. They don’t care if we freeze to death in “green” houses. All that matters to the Socialists is the Experiment, to finally “get it right” after failing in every country where Marx’s apostles’ creed has been sworn to. Everyone who disagrees with Socialists is the Enemy. You are their Enemy. Their constituents expect you to bow down to them, to surrender everything you care about, and everything you own. Wake up!


“Rev” Knox: Obama’s Kind of Religious Advisor: Hates America First

The president’s Catholic supporters…are belied by his decision to appoint a faith advisor…who has repeatedly denounced the Pope and Christians of all denominations who believe in traditional moral values or “heteronormative” fatherhood (including the Apostle Paul), and who has spent years herding clergy into leftist political coalitions with the aim of silencing other clergy….On April 6, President Obama named Harry Knox to the Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships…A defrocked Methodist minister, Knox is now a member of the far-Left United Church of Christ, as is Obama’s mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Both genuflect at the altar of identity politics and send any who dare disagree with them to the rhetorical stake….Bigot in Chief, Front Page Magazine, 5/20/2009

Hey, the President didn’t notice that Rev. Wright was trashing America, and mainstream values, for twenty years. Should we be surprised when he appoints one of Rev. Wright’s colleagues? Apparently, in this White House, “divisive” means if you disagree with his Hate America First appointments. “Preserve, protect, and defend…” must mean something different in Chicago, as if it were a quote from Al Capone or the El Rukn gang instead of from the Constitution. Or, an article any concerned American should read concludes…

It seems the appointment of an anti-religious bigot like Harry Knox and his attendant Hate Crimes agenda is another facet of Obama and the Left’s all-encompassing desire to squash dissent. The president and his allies are intent to silence the Right, whether by means of the Fairness Doctrine, or banning dissenting voices from the environmental debate, wishing for their opponents’ untimely and painful deaths, or now silencing the other side of the culture wars through legal intimidation. Only by quelling their political opposition can they remake the nation into a Euro-socialist state….(Bigot-in-Chief, Front Page Magazine, 5/20/09…cont’d)


Iran Bomb: Old Old-Time Democrat Still Defending His Country

Back when the Bush Administration was warning about Iran's nuclear progress, or its deadly meddling in Iraq, the typical Democratic and media response was to treat the Islamic Republic as innocent until proven guilty. This month, Democrat Robert Morgenthau supplied the proof…In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee…ignored by the media, the legendary Manhattan District Attorney opened a window on how Iran is secretly obtaining the ingredients for an arsenal of mass destruction…"Iran's shopping list for materials related to weapons of mass destruction." They add up to "literally thousands of records."…Wall Street Journal, 5/19/2009

There was a time when being a liberal Democrat meant that you were liberal in domestic politics but willing to protect a country you knew had a progressive, if sometimes erratic, history. Back then, Democrat Robert Morgenthau had friends like “Scoop” Jackson in the U.S. Senate, who could trumpet civil rights on the one hand, and a strong defense posture on the other. Maybe the reason the old DA is retiring is because most of his friends are dead and those who call themselves Democrats are now the ones attacking their own country by either apologizing for imagined crimes, by blowing the cover on our intelligence services, or by trying to negotiate with acknowledged thugs like Iran’s government, who’ve waged war on America for decades.

Read this terrifying article, or the one cited last March or April here, about Morgenthau’s ongoing investigation and indictment of Iranians and their Chinese friends reaching out to American banks and industry to purchase the means to make atomic bombs. This is one case where the legal route has far outdone the offerings from the State and Defense Departments. It’s not an American myth. Morgenthau and his staff, the model for the series Law and Order, are relentless, on legal target, and for thirty-seven years have only gone after people in the press after they’re certain they’ve got them in court. This stuff is real.

Why is this being ignored by the Obama cheerleaders in MSM? One of these toys would leave the CBS building, and everything else within a mile, a vague memory. But, hey, we can all sit around the big Mideast campfire and sing songs about the happy, multicultural world.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Maj. Steven Hutchison, 1949-2009, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

A 60-year-old Vietnam War veteran killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq has become the oldest Army soldier to die in that conflict…Maj. Steven Hutchison, of Scottsdale, Ariz., served in Vietnam and wanted to re-enlist immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks, but his wife was against it, his brother said…Richard Hutchison told The Associated Press on Thursday that when she died, "a part of him died" so he signed up in July 2007 at age 59…"He was very devoted to the service and to his country," Richard Hutchison said….60-year-old is oldest Army soldier killed in Iraq, Amanda Meyers, AP, 5/15/09

God bless the soul of Major Hutchison.


Stimulus “Buy American” Plan: Punish Your Allies First

Ordered by Congress to "buy American" when spending money from the $787 billion stimulus package, the town of Peru, Ind., stunned its Canadian supplier by rejecting sewage pumps made outside of Toronto. After a Navy official spotted Canadian pipe fittings in a construction project at Camp Pendleton, Calif., they were hauled out of the ground and replaced with American versions. In recent weeks, other Canadian manufacturers doing business with U.S. state and local governments say they have been besieged with requests to sign affidavits pledging that they will only supply materials made in the USA….eOutrage in Canada as U.S. Firms Sever Ties To Obey Stimulus Rules, Anthony Faiola and Lori Montgomery, Washington Post, 5/15/09

Never say the Obama people didn’t warn us. It’s a classic case of ignoring reality in pursuit of political objectives. So what if Canada provides us with more oil than any other country? Who cares if Canada is our best trading partner? If this is how the new administration is going to win friends with kinder, gentler diplomacy, perhaps they should study a little history. Trade wars don’t make friends; they create the conditions for sanctions and, ultimately, for pushing your allies on the other side in war.


Stimulus: Dead Recipients? Keeping up an old Chicago tradition.

This week, thousands of people are getting stimulus checks in the mail. The problem is that a lot of them are dead. A Long Island woman was shocked when she checked the mail and received a letter from the U.S. Treasury -- but it wasn't for her…Antoniette Santopadre of Valley Stream was expecting a $250 stimulus check. But when her son finally opened it, they saw that the check was made out to her father, Romolo Romonini, who died in Italy 34 years ago….Dead People Get Stimulus Checks, Fox News, May 15, 2009

Hey, it’s a tradition in the precinct. If dead people vote for you, you may as well send them a check!


Not Counting Military Votes: Protect Us, But Shut Up At Election Time

Using data from seven states with the highest number of active duty military personnel (California, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Texas), the CRS found that votes from thousands of service members were never collected, or never counted…New York Senator Charles Schumer requested the study and he said the problem is worse than in 2000, despite a "massive effort" to improve the absentee voting process…Congress has done virtually nothing to make it easier for military personnel to cast absentee ballots. As we detailed last year, Democratic Senators and Congressmen refused to support even modest reforms, including a proposal from Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy of California….Making Every (Military) Vote Count, Former Spook, May 15, 2009

Bad enough that con artists who get medals for nothing more than who they know, but what greater disgrace in our treatment of military men and women than to deny them the franchise that their efforts guarantee us? This is a terrible disgrace, and it may have put a con artist like Al Franken in the United States Senate.


The Left’s Fictional Politics

The good ship Fleur set sail from Plymouth, England, on a 5,000 mile, "carbon emission-free" journey…"The expedition was followed by up to 40 schools across the UK to promote climate change awareness." Then reality hit…Wind ripped the wind generator and solar panels from the yacht, and capsized it three times. The crew of the Fleur was rescued by an oil tanker loaded with 680,000 barrels of crude oil…The Catlin Arctic Ice Survey is giving up on its journey to the North Pole to measure arctic ice thickness… severe cold (to minus 40 Celsius) took out "both a radar device meant to measure the ice thickness and a satellite communications unit to relay the data.". Meanwhile, an airplane equipped with modern technology flew over them and discovered arctic ice was "thicker" than expected….>Liberal Fantasyland, Randall Hoven, American Thinker, 5/15/2009

And on May 23rd in New York, it was 58 degrees (Farenheit), another cool spring. But, the Left never lets the facts get in the way of a good effort to stick its finger in another pie. Read Hoven’s complete article at the link. Try not to throw something at the screen. How long are we going to let them get away with telling stories instead of acting on what’s real?


Obama Walking Backwards Toward a Precipice, or Wishful Thinking?

We are beginning…to see fissures in Obama’s Pentelic statuary. And the cracks will widen, because…he has taken on human nature itself, age-old logic, and common sense-opponents that even a Harvard Law degree and Chicago organizing are no match for…
Cracks in the Façade, Victor Davis Hanson, Pajamas Media, 5/15/2009

Read all of Hanson’s fine analysis at the link. It’s an excellent detailing of the folly of replacing practical plans with a hope that denies human contingency and which, confronted by such unpleasantries as ordinary human expectations and the law, resorts to bullying and rhetoric as a substitute for rational policy. We’ve had a lot of this kind of thinking over the last century. It’s sometimes startling to find out that the minds involved were not only Neville Chamberlain and Jimmy Carter, but an assortment of totalitarian dictators. If you see one of the few color documentaries from the mid-1930s in Germany, you may be startled by the message underlying the pictures of the great autobahns being built, the youth movement being exercised, and the gentle, uplifting talk about the New Germany, where a great social experiment will transform the defeats and sorrows of the past and lead to the great future. Much the same kind of propaganda was coming out of the USSR as well.

The tragedy, viewed from the actual history, is that such hopes are usually about agendas that are concealed from the public or, worse, about a leadership hopelessly out of touch with human life. Usually, it’s a mixture of both. And, America, for the first time in seventy-five years, is truly vulnerable to such fantasies. A bad mix of weak, or nonexistent, education for the young, a virtual absence of critical observation in big, commercial media, an astonishing lack of perspective in a population who have not experienced a big financial shock in their lifetimes, and, as Hanson has written about often, a population that seems to think they’re entitled to anything they want whenever they want it regardless of the cost, whether of the money borrowed, or the strategic risks of depending upon potential, and real, enemies for both credit and energy supplies.

Imagine Wiley Coyote, running off a cliff, hanging in midair in that wonderfully surreal moment of stasis before he falls, hearing a voice above him saying “hang onto my hand and I can save you.” In the cartoon, everybody would fall – puff of smoke far below. Romantics in politics never see that. Perhaps, it’s because they enjoy the sensation of weightlessness.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

NAFTA and Columbia Free Trade: Change of Heart?

In recent weeks, the Obama administration has quietly done an about-face on free trade with Latin America. On April 20, U.S. trade czar Ron Kirk told reporters that President Obama did not think it would be necessary to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This marked a reversal from Obama's campaign pledge to "make sure that we renegotiate" NAFTA. Speaking at the Georgetown University Law Center three days later, Kirk said "there is strong bipartisan support for the pending free trade agreement (FTA) with Panama," which he is working to complete. Kirk indicated that he is also reviewing the pending free trade agreement with Colombia, in hope of finding "a way forward." Obama had opposed both of these trade deals during the campaign…A Welcome Shift, James Darenblum, Weekly Standard, 4/7/2009

The greatest hope an electorate has about a new Chief Executive is that the man or woman will grow into the office. No one is ever ready for it. But some do grow. Is this happening regarding a promised free trade agreement with our ally-in-arms Columbia? Is NAFTA beginning to be regarded as it actually is, as a major contributor to growing jobs and wealth on both sides of the borders involved? Wow.

Better read this Darenblum article on Weekly Standard. Seeing is believing.


Food; Energy: Not With My Clean Hands – Another Elephant in the Living Room

Today’s Americans inherited the wealthiest nation in history — but only because earlier generations learned how to feed, fuel, finance, and defend themselves in ways unrivaled elsewhere...we have forgotten that and instead seem to expect others to do for us what we used to do ourselves…Long ago, Americans struggled to create farmland out of swamps, forests, and deserts, and built dams and canals for irrigation to make possible the world’s most diverse and inexpensive agriculture…Now in California…thousands of acres of farmland this year are going out of production, and with them leave thousands of jobs…In times of chronic water shortages, environmentalists have sued to stop irrigation deliveries in order to save threatened two-inch-long delta fish…So farmers are asked to produce more food for more people in a desert climate with less water — while environmentalists dream of returning to a pristine, 19th-century, sparsely populated California…the end result will be more imported food from less environmentally sound farms abroad…Americans Want It Both Ways, Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 4/7/2009

Hanson is a classicist well-attuned to what happens when large, powerful civilizations begin to fail. The signs aren’t that different then and now. In Roman times, by about the time of the 4th century, Roman citizens didn’t care to send their sons to defend the frontiers. Instead, they hired mercenaries to do it for them, often from across hostile frontiers. There are well-documented complaints in the Roman Senate about wasting lives and treasure so that well-heeled matrons in Roman society can have perfumes and oils to lavish upon themselves. There isn’t much difference between that and defending a sick, corrupt order in oil-producing countries so that soccer moms or soccer dads can continue to get gasoline for $2.00 or less (in terms of the 1970 dollar, about 25 cents a gallon). There isn’t much difference between that and a pompous environmental organization, whose membership include many millionaires, spending millions to prevent development of American oil, American nuclear powerplants, American hydropower, or, in the case of a group led by Walter Cronkite and Senator Kennedy, wind generators off the Massachusetts coastline. Wouldn’t want to spoil our view, they say.

When a society refuses to pay for its own cost of living, it defines itself as inherently corrupt at worst, and utterly lazy at best.

Look, we know how to run safe nuclear plants, offshore oil rigs, shale oil processing plants, and we certainly know how to build windmills and solar panels. Where is the real change in this? All this writer hears is the moanings of a private, wealthy, elite club’s membership, pining for a world that only they can afford.


Supreme Court: A Fine History Lesson by Thomas Sowell

There is a reason why Lady Justice wears a blindfold. There are things that courts are not supposed to see or recognize when making their decisions — the race you belong to, whether you are rich or poor, and other personal things that could bias decisions by judges and juries…Now, however, Pres. Barack Obama has repudiated the ideal itself by saying that he wants to appoint judges with “empathy” for particular groups…This was not an isolated slip of the tongue. Barack Obama said the same thing during last year’s election campaign. Moreover, it is completely consistent with his behavior…and inconsistent with fundamental principles of American government and society…Barack Obama’s vision of America is one in which a president of the United States can fire the head of General Motors, tell bankers how to bank, control the medical system, and…other activities for which neither he nor most other politicians have any expertise or experience…The Constitution of the United States gives no president…the authority to do such things. But spending trillions of dollars to bail out all sorts of companies buys the power to tell them how to operate….Time Is on Our Side, Reshaping the Supreme Court cannot be done overnight, Thomas Sowell, National Review, 4/7/2009

Pretty depressing, but go to the link and read the rest. Sowell has more awareness of history and process than is evident in the new Aadministration. Few columnists have a more solid background for relating the full context, historical and current, of a story critical to our future. You owe it to hope itself to read his essay.


Mr. President: Pakistan’s a Place to Actually Reverse Bush Policy

President Obama sat down yesterday with the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan to seek a way out of the existential crisis now facing those two nations…Obama secured commitments from them for greater cooperation in the struggle against the “common threat,” as well as assurances that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would be secure — in other words, the same promises and commitments that every White House meeting with Pakistan’s leaders since 9/11 has invariably delivered. One thing that almost certainly was not discussed is the real nature of the problem…Put simply, the Taliban, murderous as it is, is not the problem. The problem is the Pakistani military and the stubborn refusal of Washington to comprehend this…To maintain its undisputed dominance and its claims to a huge chunk of the national treasure, the military needed the specter of a powerful enemy and an ideology capable of mobilizing the largely illiterate masses behind its self-image as savior of the nation. It found the former in India, the latter in radical Islam….Implacable hostility to India…and a de facto alliance with radical Islam thus became the hallmarks of the Pakistani military ethos and its institutional self-interest. This led to active military involvement in the setting up of jihadist and terrorist groups to be used as proxies against India and Afghanistan, the creation of the Taliban, and the creeping Islamization of Pakistan under military auspices beginning in the late 1970s…It is easily forgotten now that it was Musharraf who allowed both the Taliban and al-Qaeda to find sanctuaries…after they were routed by American troops, and then claimed publicly that he had been able to solve a “critical situation…without any damage to Afghanistan and the Taliban.” …Washington’s Misguided Pakistan Policy, Alex Alexiev, National Review, 4/7/2009

It’s not news that many conservatives thought the previous Administration was nuts for expecting anything good to come out of a so-called alliance with Pakistan. Alexiev’s fine article details why. And there’s a place that conservatives would stand up and cheer if the President’s promise of change actually happened. But, as with appointments of tax dodgers, specialists in malfeasance in office like Ronald Sims, and friends of the largest American banks like Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Robert Rubin, it’s gotten difficult pretty fast, a little more than 100 days, to believe that change is anything but a campaign ruse designed to fool those ignorant by choice, or as a result of politically correct high school and college curricula. What would a real change from the previous Administration be?

Have the military and friends of similar mind in Beijing get a contingency plan ready to go get Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal – now! The Chinese have offered more than once to provide sanctuary for Pakistan’s bombs, including during the recent conflict between Musharraf and the rest of the country. Don’t expect anything good to come out of military “cooperation” with this fractured country. Keep using those missile-firing drones to nail Al-Qaeda operatives. Protect America instead of the old administration’s looney ideas about moderate Pakistani governments. The Islamicist military is Pakistan’s government. They are not our friends.


Housing: Ronald Sims – Another Ethical Triumph for Administration

President Obama's choice for the government's No. 2 housing job is embroiled in the largest fine in U.S. history for "blatant violations" of open records laws after the Washington State Supreme Court chastised his office for withholding documents detailing taxpayer costs for a new professional football stadium in Seattle…The documents that Ronald Sims' office was found to have kept from the public when he served as King County executive included information about cheaper alternatives to the $430 million Seattle Seahawks stadium…Washington's highest court ruled in January that the withheld documents would have allowed voters in a referendum to challenge "the veracity" of King County's request for $300 million in public bonds for the project. The justices found the actions of Mr. Sims' office to be so "egregious" that they scrapped a lower court's order of a $123,780 fine - the largest ever assessed in a public records case - and recommended that the penalty be increased to as much as $825,000…Mr. Obama nominated Mr. Sims as the top deputy at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just three weeks after the court's ruling….EXCLUSIVE: Records violations ensnare housing nominee,
Jerry Seper, Washington Times, 4/7/2009

Whatever else you might say, the Washington Times is far more a people’s newspaper in Washington than the Post. This story by Jerry Seper, if released during a Republican Administration, would have caused a firestorm scandal that would almost certainly bring down the nominee and would add ten points to the White House’s negatives. Not for this group of Chicago’s best! No, the most ethical administration in history plunges ahead, after a harsh and very expensive judgment against the nominee for behavior in his previous position in Washington State. What’s the rule at the White House? Pick somebody you met at a Saul Alinsky memorial party in 2003? Take a message from George Soros? Sims’ name should be withdrawn or the White House’s phrase “ethical administration” will become a reminiscent of the words “I did not have sex with that woman” or “I am not a crook.”

The story is an ugly one, and superbly detailed and backgrounded by Seper. Go read it and try not to scream.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Oh, Those Oklahoma Extremist Terrorists

HCR 1028, which, if passed, would be sent to Democratic President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress, would not jeopardize federal funds but would tell Congress to "get back into their proper constitutional role.” The resolution states the federal government should "cease and desist” mandates that are beyond the scope of its powers…Key said many federal laws violate the 10th Amendment, which says powers not delegated to the U.S. government "are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”…House bypasses governor’s veto to claim Oklahoma’s sovereignty, Michael McNutt, News OK, 6/6/2009

Not everybody is lying back and enjoying it. The resolution’s author, Rep. Charles Key, R-Oklahoma City, fought off one gubernatorial veto to lead the measure to another victory in the Oklahoma House. Next is the Senate, which passed it better than 3-1 before. It would be fascinating indeed if the biggest change in government was for the states to reassert powers granted by the Constitution. Actions have consequences is a lesson as yet lost on the one-party government in Washington. Watch, read, get involved, see.


George Soros’s Plan to Ruin Your Life and Mine

On April 21, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected (see the World Economic Outlook, pp. 36-37) that the US foreign debt will increase from about 4.5% of world GDP in 2007 to about 9% in 2009. Given that the US foreign debt was 17.7% of US GDP at the end of 2007, this means that our foreign debt will be about 35% of US GDP by the end of this yearUS Foreign Debt jumps to 35% of GDP, Raymond Richman, Howard Richman, and Jesse Richman, American Thinker, May 5, 2009

The American Thinker’s team of Richman, Richman and Richman has put a face on what’s going on in financial policy in DC. Read it to see why this vast pile of debt, accelerated by unprecedented federal deficit spending, is for all practical purposes a set-up for massive printing of currency by the Treasury. What happens then is familiar to any survivor of the 1970s. The dollar’s value declines. In the 1970s it declined at about ten percent a year. As it does, prices go up and up and up and up.

It’s called de facto devaluation. It’s the Argentine solution to crisis. When encountering disaster, print more money, raise prices, seize the wealth of the nation. This lawless administration is even more careless than Nixon and Carter’s in the 1970s. Their Treasuries did much the same thing. It is clear that somebody in one-party Washington shares radical anti-American George Soros’s principal objectives: to bankrupt and humble the United States; and to enrich himself and his sons. They’ve found the tyrant to do the dirty work. Will you cheer Caesar on?


Hugo Chavez on the Potomac, 2: A Lawless National Government

As the details of the GM restructuring plan emerged, on Monday, April 27th, Lawrence Kudlow was one of the first to sound the alarm as secured lenders and bond holders were being given a fraction of the amount owed to them under long established bankruptcy law…“What is going on in this country? The government is about to take over GM in a plan that completely screws private bondholders and favors the unions. Get this: The GM bondholders own $27 billion and they're getting 10 percent of the common stock in an expected exchange. And the UAW owns $10 billion of the bonds and they're getting 40 percent of the stock. Huh? Did I miss something here? And Uncle Sam will have a controlling share of the stock with something close to 50 percent ownership. And no bankruptcy judge. So this is a political restructuring run by the White House, not a rule-of-law bankruptcy-court reorganization….Obama's Pinstripe Revolution, Tom Suhadolnik, American Thinker, 5/6/2009

Writer Suhadolnik’s incisive article should not be missed. We have more than the appearance of a dictatorship in Washington. The White House, in its approach to the auto industry and financial bailout, has acted as if there were no constitutional, legal, or regulatory authorities checking its conduct, as if the President were the principal officer of the government of Venezuela. The setting aside of secured creditors and bondholders as nothing but “speculators” is the kind of sentiment one would expect from a street corner bully working for ACORN. “It’s all those rich people did it.” The rich people, the vast proportion of them institutional, not individual, and despite their better judgment, put a lot of trust in contractual agreements with a major U.S. corporation. Now, the White House is casting people as villains who, as Suhadolnik details superbly, are often money managers for nonprofit institutions, hospitals, pension funds, etc., etc., the kinds of institutions that keep America afloat and Americans employed. Read his whole piece. Be informed about the real stakes. Us vs. them is better defined as America vs. an arrogant one-party government and its leader.


National Health Care: Required Reading

It would be naïve to think that we are not going to see Obama and his Democratic majorities impose a form of National Health Care (NHC) as early in this term as he can. We will most likely see this just prior to the 2010 Congressional elections in an effort to keep his majorities by "buying" the votes of non-tax-paying citizens but before the system collapses under the price tag of whichever format he chooses…The Coming of Zerocare, John Donaldson, American Thinker, 5/6/2009

John Donaldson, MD, and past chair, Board of Directors, Lee Memorial Health System, has put up a remarkable document, which you should read. It’s a very good historical background on Medicare and Medicaid, the Great Society products of the Johnson Administration, and now 17% of the Federal budget, and how this might well be reflected in a government-run health care system. It’s a picture that should terrify any adult with responsibilities for children or aging parents, or who is an aging parent.

Given the willingness of the Democrat-dominated Federal government to cram its decisions down our throats, whether legally or not, expect this. And be prepared to fight. Zerocare, as Dr. Donaldson calls it, is not for the benefit of the population, but, as is the case for all socialist programs, for the power of one-party government.


Tax “Equalization”: Making Sure American Companies Fail Overseas?

In the name of tax reform, Pres. Barack Obama has announced $190 billion of tax hikes on many of the biggest U.S. employers. By reducing after-tax profits, these tax hikes could hammer stock prices that reflect investor expectations of future profits…The stocks of these companies are in millions of portfolios held by individual investors, mutual funds, and pension funds, as well as endowments at colleges, hospitals, museums, and other institutions. Obama’s business-tax hike will hit Americans whose jobs and pensions depend on these companies’ success — particularly in tough times. Colleges will have a harder time keeping tuition affordable if Obama hammers their portfolio holdings, and hospitals will be under more pressure too….Obama claims his tax hikes will “level the playing field.”…He wants all U.S.-based companies to be fully subject to U.S. business tax rates that are among the highest in the world…Obama wants U.S.-based multinationals to pay taxes on their operations abroad as if those operations were in the U.S. The bottom line is taxes to two countries — heftier taxes, despite whatever credits might be applicable… to impose such double taxation on the offshore operations of U.S.-based multinationals, the consequences could be devastating. U.S.-based business could be wiped out around the world because of the difficulty of competing with offshore-based rivals that have to pay taxes only to the (probably lower-tax) country where they have operations…A Tax Attack on America’s Top Companies, Jim Powell, National Review, 4/6/2009

Perhaps the President, who has never worked in a private business, imagines that the trade balance will improve if fewer American multinationals are doing business in, say, China. Boeing Aircraft, for instance, has moved many sub-assembly plants from the U.S. to China. Avoiding taxes? Trying to lower labor costs? No, Mr. President, that’s the arrangement required by the Chinese in exchange for China's agreement to buy Boeing Aircraft. Beijing would have gone with Airbus instead if Boeing had refused. Boeing workers, engineers, designers and managers in Spokane and Chicago are the direct benefactors, because tens of billions of sales are made in exchange for partial assembly of aircraft being done in China. It’s called accommodating a market. It’s a process that provides, in the case of Boeing, or Motorola, McDonald’s, or a thousand other firms, immense benefits to Americans who work for those companies here, to the local labor working for those companies, as well as an offset to the enormous negative balance of payments currently borne by the United States.

This is called doing business: mutual benefits for producers and consumers. Forcing Boeing to pay U.S. corporate tax rates on its Chinese subsidiary income is counterproductive, endangering the relationship. Do you want to be held responsible in Spokane and Chicago for the loss of tens of billions of Boeing sales to the Chinese, Mr. President? You can substitute your own company name from the list provided by Jim Powell in National Review. We don’t need our balance of payments to dip even further into the red, do we?


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Big Deficit: Who’s Going to Buy $1.7 Trillion in Bonds?

We’ve going to spend over $3.5 trillion next year, run up an annual debt of $1.7 trillion, and are on schedule to add another $9 trillion to reach an aggregate debt of $20 trillion in eight years. The Obama administration and the Congress spend days on end fighting over how to spread and spend the borrowed money. But still, no one ties the additional expenditures to additional revenues….Who Will Lend? Victor Davis Hanson, Pajamas Media, 5/4/2009

Something’s going to change, we were told. Well, here we are, three months plus into the change administration, and all that’s changed is the amount of money that overseas creditors, or the Treasury, are expected to come up with in the purchase of those IOUs called T-bills and other government bonds. Hanson’s written about this often, and you should read his whole post. The presumption that all the Federal government has to do is ask, and somebody will buy, is the elephant (or jackass, if you prefer) in the living room that nobody sees.

Imagine that you decided that next month you were going to buy a one million dollar house. You have a lot of credit card debt, about $30,000 worth. You’re doing two part time jobs because the bank you worked for folded. You’re two months late on payments for your Escalade and usually miss the payments schedule for your Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards, causing you lots of penalties and a credit rating of 342. But that’s okay. You plan to get into the new house regardless; you hire a moving van, pack the plates and silverware, the DVD’s, the CD’s, the PC’s, everything but the beds and the kiddies. The day before the van arrives, you walk down to the bank and say “we’re closing on this new house today and we expect you to give us the money to do so.”

What banker, in this market, would do anything more than ask you to leave the building? And how much longer does the administration think that Chinese and European banks will do the same for the US government? Evidently, they don’t expect full “compliance”. So, even worse, they’re encouraging Treasury to buy the bonds with printed money. Imagine using a photocopier to pay for a new house? What would happen to you?

What will happen to America is double-digit inflation and fulfillment of Obama supporter George Soros’s dream to severely devalue the dollar.

Such practical considerations as Victor Davis Hanson’s are given short shrift in Democrat-controlled Washington. Nobody there much seems to care for anything beyond their personal appearance under the DC Big Top.s


Quote of the Day: Lawless White House

Obama wants to enact wholesale changes in the fabric of American society, vastly expand the power of the federal government, and run all of this out of the White House. And if employment contracts, bankruptcy and immigration laws, and property rights get run over in the process, well that is the price one pays for “change.” For those who see the law as a bulwark against government abuse and a check against an imperial executive now is a moment of truth. Once the rule of law is lost it is hard to recover — and the implications for Americans’ prosperity, freedom, and security will be serious and long lasting….The Lawless President, Jennifer Rubin, Pajamas Media, 5/4/2009

We’ve had a few like this. The urge to play Julius Caesar instead of an elected official is enormous. But, in our system, it rarely comes to much beyond what the public mood will accept. What enables the Caesar in any White House resident is a more general atmosphere of lawlessness. This can come from a number of conditions. In the Civil War, it was the breakup of the republic into two contesting states. In the Depression, it was the real terror that a quarter of the population would go without food or shelter, not to mention jobs. In World War Two, it was an attack on the United States, and a world atmosphere poisoned by imperial wars in Asia, Europe and the South Pacific. In the 1960’s, Kennedy and Johnson vaulted into some spectacularly dangerous actions, enabled by a general collapse of social mores, a quiet Civil War over rights for African-Americans, and a booming economy. What people described as Caesar-like in Nixon was actually, for the most part, an administration trying to force the fighting off the streets back into the courts and the legislatures, where jurisprudence and legislation would stand in for guns and baseball bats. In the 1990s, for all the furor about the somewhat pathetic dalliances of Bill Clinton, if anything the urge to Caesarism faded almost to incompetence and passivity. And Clinton’s successor, for all of the rage about him, delegated so much responsibility for acts at home and overseas that at times it was possible to imagine that the President saw the White House as an eight-year vacation from responsibility.

Today, the anxieties of a financial system battered by wildly irresponsible cowboys and cowgirls in the derivatives markets, as well as by calmly irresponsible advocates of risk-free mortgages for everybody, have been fanned by the present administration into the greatest financial crisis in American history. As long as people believe that, they may look to an imperial Presidency. One suspects the swine flu shrieking serves similar ends as the bad PR about the economy, to further encourage the people to turn over their cares and troubles to the man in the White House. The same is true of the extravagant fictions about global warming, which is, as it has been for millions of years, tied to the sunspot cycle and to periodic cooling and warming of the sun.

Public relations campaigns can turn against you, though. If what you advocate becomes transparently based on fraudulent interpretation of data, hysteria may turn to cynicism, and ultimately to someone else’s contrary message of hope.


Cramdown: Responsible Mortgage Holders Fight Back

Surveys show that homeowners have a very high turnout rate in elections. That is probably one reason the so-called "cramdown" mortgage restructuring by judges was nixed by the senate yesterday…Of course, it doesn't hurt when banks all across America were screaming bloody murder about it. And, I would like to think that regular homeowners who pay on time every month despite the hardships didn't want to foot the bill for those who are less responsible….Mortgage Cramdown: The Market in Voters Forces a Change of Philosophy, Rich Moran, American Thinker, 5/1/2009

Unintended consequences didn’t seem to matter much in the irrational exuberance of the current Congress, at least until they go home to hold audiences with constituents. It’s a funny thing, many US Representatives and Senators have discovered, as Moran’s article makes wonderfully clear. When 90% or more of homebuyers are responsible, paying down their mortgages, and managing their household budgets to afford the lives they want, it is possible that there will be considerable resentment, even outrage, at a government that arbitrarily decides that the other eight to ten percent should be let off the hook without penalty. This outrage may grow when the same government’s Homeland Security Secretary issues a report suggesting that people who disagree with the Administration and Congress might be terrorists. What might unintended consequences be in the longer run?

That’s always a tough call, but a fairly predictable consequence of government actions that outrage voters is that Congresses with majorities in one party might change to another party altogether in the next election.


The Markets Works Better Than a Sanctimonious Bureaucrat

Why complain about the financial crisis? By liberalism’s standards, it has been a swift sword of economic justice, working to equalize wealth more rapidly than any policy short of summary execution of the rich…America experienced a financial decapitation in 2008. We saw $11 trillion in wealth disappear, an astonishing 18 percent. The destroyed wealth equals the combined annual output of Germany, Japan, and the U.K., according to the Wall Street Journal. And there’s nothing to soak the rich quite like a financial meltdown….A Blow for Income Equality, Rich Lowry, May 1, 2009

It’s funny how markets follow after nature. In a swamp, when the trees get too big and too voracious, they run out of nutrients and die, thus re-starting the swamp’s life cycle with rich rot. When fabulous wealth is concentrated in too few hands, the old saw about “you can’t ski behind more than one yacht” is never truer. The money unused, in short order, becomes a speculator’s fiction; the market steals its value back. Taking back almost a fifth of American wealth, the market has turned in other directions, away from the fantasy of money increasing in and of itself toward money helping to build productive enterprises, a drastic conversion from pipe dreams to meat and potatos. Today, of course, with meat and potatos well in hand, the meat and potatos investment might be lithium titanate rechargeables, or cloud computing terminals and networks, or electronic distribution of schoolbooks. It doesn’t matter what the basics are measured with; what does is that the market decided, with a very loud bang, that money for its own sake was a bad play. Government can only play distant, clumsy catchup to decisions this important.