Saturday, January 31, 2009

Whoops (Part 78,392)

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The whole point with CO2 as the important main temperature driver was, that already at small levels of CO2 rise, this should efficiently force temperatures up, see for example around -6 thousand years before present. Already at 215-230 ppm, the CO2 should cause the warming. If no such CO2 effect already at 215-230 ppm, the CO2 cannot be considered the cause of these temperature rises.

So when CO2 concentration is in the area of 250-280 ppm, this should certainly be considered “the area of maximum CO2 warming effect”.

The problems can also be illustrated by comparing situations of equal CO2 concentrations:


So, for the exact same levels of CO2, it seems we have very different level and trend of temperatures:


How come a CO2 level of 253 ppm in the B-situation does not lead to rise in temperatures? Even from very low levels? When 253 ppm in the A situation manages to raise temperatures very fast even from a much higher level?

CO2 is easily overruled by other effects

The Hour

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So though Nobel laureates can't reach anything resembling a consensus, your former community organizing/car-dealing/ambulance-chasing congressperson has the intellectual capacity to digest a $900 billion piece of legislation in mere days.

Name a single Iraq war supplemental that wasn't debated to death? You can't?

And did you know, that when the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 came before the Congress there were 1,000 hours of debate?

So what does the largest and most intrusive spending package in the history of the US get in Nancy Pelosi's House?

An hour.

One stinking hour.

Yup - the same people who are screaming their guts out about the misuse of the first half of the TARP funds are now proposing two and a half times that amount of spending and deem it only worth - an hour.
They tell us this is so important to talk about or examine. Instead we must - wait for it - trust them.

My goodness, if you're not laughing out loud, you ought to be. Then you should cry.

Elliptical Truths

ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2008) — The Earth's orbital behaviors are responsible for more than just presenting us with a leap year every four years.
parameters such as planetary gravitational attractions, the Earth's elliptical orbit around the sun and the degree of tilt of our planet's axis with respect to its path around the sun, have implications for climate change and the advent of ice ages.

People often think of orbits as circular, but they're not that smooth and simple. They are often a less-than-perfect eccentric circle.

"All planets travel in an ellipse around the sun, but the shape of that ellipse oscillates," he explains. "When the Earth's orbit is more elliptical, the planet spends more time farther away from the sun, and the Earth gets less sunlight over the course of the year. These periods of more-elliptical orbits are separated by about 100,000 years. Ice ages occur about every 100,000 years, and they line up exactly with this change in the Earth's elliptical shape."

Yet Another Problem Solved

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Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, is on TV explaining the (at this point the congregation shall fall to its knees and prostrate itself) "stimulus." "How," asks the lady from CBS, "does $335 million in STD prevention stimulate the economy?"

"I'll tell you how," says Speaker Pelosi. "I'm a big believer in prevention. And we have, er… there is a part of the bill on the House side that is about prevention. It's about it being less expensive to the states to do these measures."

Makes a lot of sense. If we have more STD prevention, it will be safer for loose women to go into bars and pick up feckless men, thus stimulating the critical beer and nuts and jukebox industries. To do this, we need trillion-dollar deficits, which our children and grandchildren will have to pay off, but, with sufficient investment in prevention measures, there won't be any children or grandchildren, so there's that problem solved.

No Change

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US President Barack Obama's offer to talk to Iran shows that America's policy of "domination" has failed, the government spokesman said on Saturday.

"This request means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed," Gholam Hossein Elham was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

"Negotiation is secondary, the main issue is that there is no way but for (the United States) to change," he added.

After nearly three decades of severed ties, Obama said shortly after taking office this month that he is willing to extend a diplomatic hand to Tehran if the Islamic republic is ready to "unclench its fist".

In response, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a fresh tirade against the United States, demanding an apology for its "crimes" against Iran and saying he expected "deep and fundamental" change from Obama.

More Environmentalist Buncombe

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These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.

“In Latin America and Asia, birthrates have dropped drastically; most people have two or three children. New jobs tied to global industry, as well as improved transportation, are luring a rural population to fast-growing cities. Better farming techniques and access to seed and fertilizer mean that marginal lands are no longer farmed because it takes fewer farmers to feed a growing population.”

Friday, January 30, 2009

No Disagreement?

"There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy."

President-Elect Barack Obama
January 9, 2009
With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true. Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today.
The signers include some prominent names, including those of Nobel prize winners James Buchanan, Edward Prescott and Vernon Smith.

But Wait!

As a life-long politician, Tom Daschle never earned much money. But he retired from the Senate, after being defeated for re-election by John Thune, as a multimillionaire. He retired to Georgetown, of course, not to South Dakota. This happens a lot in Washington, and Daschle's case is pretty typical.

His wife Linda is or was a lobbyist, and she was the one who reported the family's income. (This is inference, since Daschle consistently chose not to make his tax returns public.) Linda Daschle made millions "lobbying" on behalf of various corporate interests. There was no conflict of interest, the Democrats assured us, because Linda Daschle only "lobbied" the House of Representatives, not the Senate, where her husband was either the Majority or the Minority Leader for much of his career.

But wait! If a company hired Linda to lobby House members, the check they wrote went straight into the Senate Majority Leader's joint checking account.

Glimmers Of Death For The Porkfest

An influential Senate Democrat said Friday that it's unclear whether President Obama's $819 economic stimulus bill will win enough support to pass in the Senate. ...

Asked how many Republicans he can get to vote for the bill, Nelson said he didn't even know how many Democrats would vote for it.

That this "stimulus" will stimulate, principally, Democratic voting blocs, was illustrated best this morning on CNBC. Erin Burnett interviewed Max Baucus, asking at one point (at about 5:30 in) "How, exactly, will this stimulus create actual, identifiable jobs?" In response, Senator Baucus breaks down, desperately recalling the very few slivers of the bill that provide tax incentives to companies, and ignoring the majority that is nothing but federal adiposity.

He eventually stammers that "we're in uncharted waters." I suppose that is the best the Democrats can do when pressured, even lightly, by a CNBC anchor, on their scam-stimulus. A rather poor showing.

But just call me an optimist...

Problem Solved

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UPDATE: Reader Michael Stein writes: “You think instead of the stimulus bill, Congress might instead pass an initiative requiring Democrats to just pay the taxes they owe?” The way things are going, that would fix the deficit . . . .

Once And Well-Deserved Future Monsters

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The rehabilitation of Samantha Power now that it is no longer necessary to maintain appearances was an inevitability waiting to happen. The President’s qualms about her suitability for a responsible position, if ever he had them, lasted only as long as it might cost him votes. They do not seem to be rooted in any reservations about Power’s character or competence, since neither have changed materially in the last few months. Power was acceptable before her remarks about Clinton; she became unacceptable for a brief period, and is now eminently qualified again to bring Hope and Change into the world.

There is almost no one to feel sorry in this affair for except for those who genuinely believed that the expressions of regret, outrage and banishment were anything but feigned.

Barack Obama for his part, has managed to out Hillary Hillary and out Power Power. They deserve each other. The only question is whether the voters deserve them.

The Inoperative Jefferson

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“The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management.” Thomas Jefferson

“Take not from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” Thomas Jefferson

“The Constitution of most of our states, and of the United States, assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.” Thomas Jefferson

No Double Standard -- Move Along Now...

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ANOTHER GEITHNER PROBLEM, this time for Tom Daschle:

It seems Tom Daschle recently paid a little over $100,000 in back taxes and interest after failing to tell the IRS that he was receiving a free car and driver from a Wall Street friend for three years. If you’re keeping track, that’s a little over twice the amount Tim Geithner paid in back taxes and interest.

Don’t any of these people pay their taxes?

UPDATE: Athena Runner emails: “Nope, but they sure as heck want to tax the hell out of the rest of us who would not be able to get off so lightly.”

Corrupt Innumeracy On Stilts

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OBAMA CALLS WALL STREET IRRESPONSIBLE, but look at what he’s doing:

Eight hours of debate in the HR to pass a bill spending $820 billion, or roughly $102 billion per hour of debate.

Only ten per cent of the “stimulus” to be spent on 2009.

Close to half goes to entities that sponsor or employ or both members of the Service Employees International Union, federal, state, and municipal employee unions, or other Democrat-controlled unions.

This bill is sent to Congress after Obama has been in office for seven days. It is 680 pages long. According to my calculations, not one member of Congress read the entire bill before this vote. Obviously, it would have been impossible, given his schedule, for President Obama to have read the entire bill.

For the amount spent we could have given every unemployed person in the United States roughly $75,000.

We could give every person who had lost a job and is now passing through long-term unemployment of six months or longer roughly $300,000.

Rhetoric And Reality Redux

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As for torture itself - it's banned, er, well, almost. Even the socialists saw through this one. Speaking of the Executive Order signed by Obama last week the World Socialist Web Site notes:
On the question of so-called “harsh interrogation techniques,” i.e., torture, Obama’s orders leave room for their continuation. White House Counsel Gregory Craig told reporters the administration was prepared to take into account demands from the CIA that such methods be allowed. Obama announced the creation of a task force that will consider new interrogation methods beyond those sanctioned by the Army Field Manual, which now accepts 19 forms of interrogation, as well as the practice of extraordinary rendition.
In reality, that's the same policy in force now.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's Different This Time

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A STIMULUS REMINDER: “Note to Obey: Hoover massively expanded government spending and signed into law a horrible protectionist piece of legislation known as Smoot-Hawley. At the same time, he used the bully pulpit to hector businesses into keeping wages and prices high which only made it harder for a puffed-up economy to go through a painful but transitory adjustment. Given what you just passed and all the anti-China rhetoric coming from the White House, what exactly are you guys planning on doing differently?”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Corrections Reprise

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An article last Sunday about surprises in politics referred incorrectly to the turkey carried by President Bush during his unannounced visit to American troops in Baghdad over Thanksgiving. It was real, not fake.


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To assess stability, we examined the errors from naïve forecasts for up to 100 years into the future. Using the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre’s data, we started with 1850 and used that year’s average temperature as our forecast for the next 100 years. We then calculated the errors for each forecast horizon from 1 to 100. We repeated the process using the average temperature in 1851 as our naïve forecast for the next 100 years, and so on. This “successive updating” continued until year 2006, when we forecasted a single year ahead. This provided 157 one-year-ahead forecasts, 156 two-year-ahead and so on to 58 100-year-ahead forecasts.

We then examined how many forecasts were further than 0.5°C from the observed value. Fewer than 13% of forecasts of up to 65-years-ahead had absolute errors larger than 0.5°C.

1 to 9480

So far there is just one media outlet that dared to report this story on Dear Leader compared to the 9,480 articles that reported the "Bush Beijing locked door."

The Mystery

But this simple explanation--snowy owls are following cold weather and snow southward--escapes the Associated Press. To the AP, the owl's behavior is a mystery. Maybe a shortage of lemmings is driving the owls south? But no! The lemming population is thriving. That being the case, it's an insoluble puzzle. The obvious explanation, cold weather, is unmentionable.

What's doubly absurd about this is that when species have moved North, the AP and other news outlets have robotically attributed the migration to global warming. Like moths, opossums, and various flora and fauna.

In 1974, when armadillos were moving southward, Time magazine saw a "telltale sign" of global cooling that threatened the survival of humankind. But that was then, and this is now. The media are trying to sell global warming rather than global cooling these days, so if a cold-loving animal packs up and moves south, it can only be a mystery.

All Lunacy All The Time

Determined to distinguish itself from its predecessor, the Obama administration reportedly is working on a conciliatory letter to Iran:

Officials of Barack Obama's administration have drafted a letter to Iran from the president aimed at unfreezing US-Iranian relations and opening the way for face-to-face talks, the Guardian has learned. ...

No doubt Ahmadinejad's stock is rising in Tehran. The Guardian adds:

Ahmadinejad said yesterday that he was waiting patiently to see what the Obama administration would come up with. "We will listen to the statements closely, we will carefully study their actions, and, if there are real changes, we will welcome it," he said.

Before the election, many worried that Obama is dangerously naive when it comes to foreign policy, partly because he has below-average knowledge of American and world history. Nothing that has happened since his inauguration has allayed those concerns.

Point. Counterpoint.

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For as long as I can remember, the Israelis and Palestinians have been in conflict. And for as long as I can remember, there have been myriad opinions about who is right and who is wrong. They are often convincing opinions—passionate, personal, and eloquent. But the violence, the bloodshed, the senseless intractable hatred, is far too complicated to be explained by one newspaper column or a single on-air commentary, no matter how well composed.

Interesting, but I really dislike the Jewish people, so this whole "unending conflict with no easy answers" thing doesn't seem very complicated to me at all. In fact, summing up the "delicate and multifaceted situation" in the Middle East couldn't be simpler: I hate the Jews, therefore everything the Jews do is automatically wrong, therefore I hate the Jews.

Bam! Complex and nuanced issue resolved. Chalk another one up for blind, sweeping prejudice.

Stimulating Unemployment

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Food stamps and unemployment insurance will provide more economic stimulus than tax cuts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday during a telephone press conference.

“(F)ood stamps and unemployment insurance, which affect the people in the states, are necessary at this time when funds are short and the economy is down, (and) actually have the most stimulative effect on the economy,” Pelosi said. “Food stamps first, unemployment insurance next, infrastructure after that, and it goes on from there.”

“Actually, those investments bring a bigger return than the tax cuts,” she said, adding: “but tax cuts where we have them – to the middle class – we think will give us our biggest return.”
Meet the captain of the ship of fools.

The best way to battle unemployment is to provide jobs, not subsidize it. And the engine of job creation? Well naturally that engine would benefit immensely from tax cuts and certainly have an incentive, then, to create jobs.

What I Experience In West Hollywood On Occasion

Tammy nails BDS.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On Drugs

It's not like much that comes from Washington will solve our problems, either, even assuming that the administration wants to try. The research productivity drought isn't going to be ended by any fiscal or regulatory initiatives, because those aren't what got us here. The causes are complicated, and not everyone agrees on all of them, but I think that most of us in the labs would agree that (for one thing) we've used up a lot of the (relatively) easy drug targets. We don't even have a good idea of what causes many of the diseases that we'd most like to tackle.

For another thing, we've learned a lot more about potential problems with drug candidates, but not so much about how to fix them. Aspirin, acetominophen, and penicillin wouldn't have made it through a modern drug discovery effort. We'd have found their problems early (intestinal bleeding, liver toxicity, and anaphylactic shock, in that order), and either killed them off or spent years trying to get around them.

Guess Who?

Organized public works, at home and abroad, may be the right cure for a chronic tendency to a deficiency of effective demand. But they are not capable of sufficiently rapid organisation (and above all cannot be reversed or undone at a later date), to be the most serviceable instrument for the prevention of the trade cycle.

Monday, January 26, 2009


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Eighty-five percent of international trade is in the world’s reserve currency – the U.S. dollar. Foreigners buy 80% of U.S. Treasury bills.  To keep its factories churning, China and other exporters buy U.S. dollars – effectively providing goods on credit.  All this is of vast benefit to the United States but could change. 

The tipping point may come in 2010 from the mundane issuance of government bonds.  New government spending programs and the downturn in tax revenues will require many governments massively to expand bond issues to cover their debt.

This will mean: (1.) Downward pressure on bond prices (higher yields), and (2) sufficient supply of non U.S. government bonds that big money can shift from U.S. assets.   A lot of parked investment money will be looking for a good home.  How much more exposure to U.S. debt – and “victim” psychology – will investors want? 

These eight factors are a formidable combination to overcome. Lifeboats anybody?

 blog it

That Chirping Sound

“This administration will not torture”: Unless we feel it’s prudent to. Any criticism from the left? :::I hear chirping:::

“If innocent civilians are killed in war, you’re a war criminal and a terrorist”: Except when you’re not named Bush. :::chirp:::

This administration will close Gitmo: Just as soon as we’ve found appropriate terrorist cells to which the prisoners may be transferred. :::chirp:::

“This administration will ban lobbyists”: Except when we don’t. Oh, wait, you thought he was serious about that? :::chirp:::

“We are post-partisan and I will listen to everyone:” Except we’re not really and um…forget that. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” :::chirp:::

“It is arrogant, divisive, rude, hubristic and IMPERIAL to suggest that as President you are the “decider”: Until a Democrat says “I won; I will trump you.” At that point, it’s self-assured, direct and reassuringly authoritative. :::chirp:::

 blog it


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Over at Samizdata, Thaddeus Tremayne:
Since the late 1990's everybody outside of us hardy but microscopic band of ideologues (and I do mean 'everybody' including his brother, mother, plumber and household pets) has been tub-thumpingly convinced that we have endured "the most right-wing government in history". Oh my Lord, how right-wing it was!
He's talking about Britain, of course, but you could change one, maybe two words in those paragraphs, and you would have American libertarians' exasperation all wrapped up.

Years before this financial crisis got the whole Left crying that the fault lay in our dangerous levels of deregulation and free-market ideology, we had John Kerry saying dourly, “The Bush Administration agenda isn’t conservative Republicanism, and it’s not radical Republicanism—it’s extreme libertarianism.”
I have trouble sometimes separating the truly confused from the cynically dishonest,

The Exact Opposite

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It doesn’t mean Gettlefinger’s workers have a right to $28/hour if at that wage their employers can’t stay in business without an ongoing multi-billion dollar subsidy. I’m sorry if this seems obvious. It’s apparently not obvious enough.

It’s not obvious to most on the Left. One of the basic tenets of Marxism is that labor has intrinsic value that precedes and is separate from the value of management and investing. Most leftists, even those who are not Marxist, have absorbed this concept of the value of labor. 

In reality, the circumstances are the exact opposite. It is the skill and judgment of managers and investors that creates the value of labor. If you don’t own your own company or freelance, you rely on someone else to choose what work you do and how you do it. Their decisions create the value of the products and services you make.  When they make mistakes, the value of your labor decreases and you should charge less for it. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

O Neither A Jefferson Nor A Lincoln Be

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“A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property, and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.” Thomas Jefferson

“Property is the fruit of labor…property is desirable…is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.” Abraham Lincoln


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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. . . . The contrast between Washington and most of the United States has gradually become more pronounced. In good times and in bad, lawyers, lobbyists and other government retainers have continued to enrich themselves even as the Midwest industrial-belt cities have cratered and most others struggled to survive. “The vision of generations of liberals,” admitted the New Republic in the mid-1970s, “has created a prosperous and preposterous city whose population is completely isolated from the people they represent and immune from the problems they are supposed to solve.”

Not a positive development.


Of course, Google/YouTube’s cookie placed via a White House visit sets the stage for the company to further track and analyze citizens/ users.  Given YouTube’s ever-growing expansion as a commercial video advertising service, its ability to harness the White House data cookie will undoubtedly prove useful for the company.

The revised White House privacy policy does offer users a way to view the videos “without the use of persistent cookies” through the extra step of clicking the “link to download the video file… provided just below the video.” But we think opt-out is the incorrect approach.

The Obama White House should set the standard for protecting privacy in the digital era.  They should maintain the prohibition on persistent tracking cookies.  Nor should they permit any commercial operator, including Google’s YouTube, to engage in federally-sanctioned data collection.

Arts Education Mentoring Update

The idea of a politics conducted within less ideological and more technocratic bounds is seductive. It’s how things work in much of Europe: You have a choice between a left-of-center candidate and an ever so slightly right-of-left-of-center candidate, and, regardless of which one you plump for, you wind up with the same old smidgeonette right-of-left-of-right-of-left-of-center government. The result has been to deliver a society of permanent high unemployment, unaffordable entitlements, and deathbed demographics—even before the economic downturn put more immediate question marks over the future. As Obama was inaugurated, rioters were besieging their parliaments in Iceland, Latvia, and Bulgaria, the beginnings of a civil unrest that will spread inward from the fringes of the European map. Unlike Ashton Kutcher, these people are not worried about arts-education mentoring.
Ah, yes. How “petty” these losers are to have concerns about a trillion bucks in spending.

COTD: Point #25

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Well, we mustn’t use accurate language when discussing the Obama/Reid/Pelosi plan to change the American private markets into government programs. That would be partisan pointing out they are trying to establish National Socialism, and we can’t have that.

“For modern society, a colossus with feet of clay, we shall create an unprecedented centralization which will unite all powers in the hands of the government. We shall create a hierarchical constitution, which will mechanically govern all movements of individuals.”

Point #25 of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party

What Do You Expect From A Good OGramscian?

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President Barack Obama is taking far-reaching steps to centralize decision-making inside the White House, surrounding himself with influential counselors, overseas envoys and policy "czars" that shift power from traditional Cabinet posts.

Not even a week has passed since he was sworn in, but already Obama is moving to create perhaps the most powerful staff in modern history – a sort of West Wing on steroids that places no less than a half-dozen of his top initiatives into the hands of advisers outside the Cabinet.

For all the talk of his “Team of Rivals” pick in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama last week handed the two hottest hotspots in American foreign policy to presidential envoys – one to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and the other to a man who knows his way around Foggy Bottom better than Clinton does, Richard Holbrooke.

The Fatal Conceit

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Of course some of those companies would fail, and suddenly letting that happen is a political no-no. When the automakers came to Washington to beg, Nancy Pelosi said, "We reject those advocating bankruptcy." Why? Bankruptcy can be a good thing. Kmart declared bankruptcy in 2002, but it didn't disappear. Filing for bankruptcy allowed the company to reorganize itself and reemerge stronger.

George W. Bush told

CNN, "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." Why did Bush and Pelosi think they knew how to run the economy? F.A. Hayek famously termed this the "fatal conceit"--governments can't possibly know everything that's going on in an economy, and so while government intervention may delay some economic pain, it cannot stop it.

"The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled," said Cicero in 55 B.C. He was right.

Election "Reform" We Can Believe In

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Candidates for federal office will be able to squeeze
just a little more money out of their major contributors in the 2010 campaign
cycle as the Federal Election Commission announced new individual gift limits
Friday morning.

Individual donors will now be able to give up to $2,400
per election, or $4,800 for both a primary and a general, according to the new
guidelines. That's up from the $2,300 per-election limit during the 2008 cycle.

Donors are also able to fork over $30,400 to national
parties, higher than the $28,500 they were allowed to give last cycle. A single
donor is limited to $115,500 — including $45,600 to candidates — per cycle.