Saturday, May 02, 2009


For more than 40 years, a 25% tariff has kept out foreign-built pickup trucks even as a studied loophole was created in fuel-economy regulations to let the Big Three develop a lucrative, protected niche in the "passenger truck" business.

This became the long-running unwritten deal. This was Washington's real auto policy.

For three decades, the Big Three were able to survive precisely because they skimped on quality and features in the money-losing sedans they were required under Congress's fuel economy rules to build in high-cost UAW factories. In return, Washington compensated them with the hothouse, politically protected opportunity to profit from pickups and SUVs.

And that point - that the issue isn't too much regulation or too little regulation, but regulation that is captured by and for the regulated - is something we ought to be damn thoughtful about as we contemplate an immense expansion of regulatory authority in this country.
Umm. Actually *no* regulation would be the correct choice. It's just lunacy to think that pols won't be corrupted when wielding the ridiculous amount of power we have given them. R, D or otherwise.

A Jefferson Top 7

The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?

An elective despotism was not the government we fought for.

I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. (Back then!)

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

The Natural Progress Of Things

The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?

The right of self-government does not comprehend the government of others.

An elective despotism was not the government we fought for.

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

The man who reads nothing at all is better than educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

Yet more Jefferson quotes.

Timid Men

He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

Most bad government has grown out of too much government.

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.

There Is Tyranny

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.

I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. (Back then!)

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

When wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality.

Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately.

Plus Ca Change

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DARREN HUTCHINSON: Kinder, Gentler Military Tribunals? Change! Plus a useful summary:

Obama has embraced many of the same positions that liberals and Obama himself criticized. For example:

* Obama and members of his administration have embraced the use of rendition. Many of Obama’s most ardent defenders blasted progressives who criticized Obama on rendition as jumping the gun. Today, their arguments look even more problematic than in the past.

* Obama has invoked the maligned “state secrets” defense as a complete bar to lawsuits challenging potential human rights and constitutional law violations.

* Obama has argued that detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan do not qualify for habeas corpus rights, even though many of the detainees at the facility were not captured in the war or in Afghanistan.

* Even though it no longer uses the phrase “enemy combatants,” the Obama administration has taken the position that the government can indefinitely detain individuals

Interlude: Pong Shots


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Wide Open

“The worst thing for a government to do, though, is to act without principles, to make ad hoc decisions, to do something one day and another thing tomorrow,” she says. The market will respond positively only after the government begins to follow a steady, predictable course. To prove her point, Schwartz points out that nothing the government has done to date has really thawed credit.

Schwartz indicts Bernanke for fighting the wrong war. Could one turn the same accusation against her? Should we worry about inflation when some believe deflation to be the real enemy? “The risk of deflation is very much exaggerated,” she answers. Inflation seems to her “unavoidable”: the Federal Reserve is creating money with little restraint, while Treasury expenditures remain far in excess of revenue. The inflation spigot is thus wide open. To beat the coming inflation, a “new Paul Volcker will be needed at the head of the Federal Reserve.”

See The USA The Obama Way

I'm seeing every car come off the assembly line with a welded-in Obama bumper sticker, maybe even an Obama hood ornament.  I'm laughing here at union leaders deciding what union workers are going to make, what the wages are gonna be. I can't wait to see that contract negotiation.  I can't wait to see the United Auto Workers negotiate with the United Auto Workers, and I can't wait for the UAW to threaten to go on strike, telling the UAW if it doesn't meet its demands, that the UAW is going to go on strike.  I just can't wait to see this.  Yeah, hood ornament. Obama interiors by Michelle. Power train designed by Steve Rattner.  These cars are going to be designed by the Sierra Club, folks, and Greenpeace.  You know, if you want a General Motors car, while it's still General Motors, right now is the time to do it.  Honest-to-goodness.  So they're holding on to Cadillac.

It Does Not Work

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Benjamin Anderson, penned a diary reporting the negative consequences of government regulation, taxation and prosecution. Lammot Dupont summed it up when he wrote, "Uncertainty rules the tax situation, the labor situation, the monetary situation and practically every legal condition under which business must operate."

Cowed by the achievements of his predecessor Mellon, Roosevelt's man at Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., spoke of his administration's half-decade of failures in a private meeting with the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in May 1939. Morgenthau was pushing high taxes in the name of budget balancing. But mixed in with his tax arguments were protestations of despair:

"No, gentleman, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong, somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job."

A Failure Of Government

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“He wouldn’t agree” it was a failure of capitalism, said
Anna Schwartz, a research associate at the National Bureau of
Economic Research
and Friedman’s co-author on “A Monetary
History of the United States, 1867-1960.” “It was a failure of

The Fed conducted “very easy monetary policy, which
permitted the asset-price boom,” she said yesterday in a
telephone interview. “It had nothing to do with capitalism
failing. It had to do with the policies and institutions that
conducted them.”

Even Posner, the title of his book notwithstanding, said
he’d like a “moratorium on regulatory reform until this is

Milton Friedman would have said the same thing, only his
moratorium would have been permanent.

O Duce's Daily Ditch

Even if you are an intelligent man, reading Andrew Sullivan can make you stupid.

Now if you've ever read much Churchill or any competent history of World War II, you would have a pretty good idea that one thing Churchill never said in the course of long-life is: "We don't torture." As it happens, Churchill scholar Richard Langworth has now attested to the absence of the words from Churchill's vast corpus.

Churchill was not a liberal sentimentalist on the subject of means and ends in war. Is there anything he would not have done to advance Britain's survival and victory in World War II? Not bloody likely. "If Hitler invaded Hell," Churchill remarked with respect to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, "I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

Obama's "knowledge" on this point derived from the recent "Churchill vs. Cheney" post by Andrew Sullivan on his Daily Dish blog calling for the prosecution of Dick Cheney.
And here's the coup de grace:

JOHN adds: It's no surprise that liberal media figures like Sullivan and Jon Stewart (see post below) are ill-informed and not very intelligent. But what does it tell us that our own President's knowledge of history is so thin that he relies on them for information?

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Leadership Problem ... umm ... Make That Disaster

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Last week, I had a chance to listen to a speech at Ohio University by LTG Freakley, the Accesions
Command chief, who detailed how we in America have ''a serious leadership problem- in too many places strong leadership is sorely lacking, and too many so-called 'leaders' have no idea how to do so.''  His comments that night resonated loudly throughout the crowd.  And I agree with him 100%.

You Think?

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And frankly with an administration which has tossed trillions around like they were beads at Mardi Gras, it seems that somehow $250 million more was just a “bridge too far” when it came to keeping the deal together.

More importantly, what in the hell is the President of the United States doing involved in this sort of process to begin with? Oh, wait, the UAW gets 55% ownership?


Salmon again:

All of this is necessary but not sufficient for Chrysler to have any hope of a long-term future. One of the more interesting things going forward will be how Chrysler manages to turn itself into a smaller, nimbler, change-oriented company while being majority owned by the UAW — which is nobody’s idea of a change agent. In general, if you need a dose of creative destruction, big unions are not the place to look.

You think?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Causes Of The Economic Crisis

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In the world before and after the Great Depression, there was a lone voice for sanity and freedom: Ludwig von Mises. He speaks in The Causes of the Economic Crisis, a collection of newly in print essays by Mises that have been very hard to come by, and are published for the first time in this format.

Here we have the evidence that the master economist foresaw and warned against the breakdown of the German mark, as well as the market crash of 1929 and the depression that followed.

In foreseeing the interwar economic breakdown, Mises was nearly alone among his contemporaries. In 1923, he warned that central banks will not "stabilize" money; they will distort credit markets and generate booms and busts. In 1928, he departed dramatically from the judgment of his contemporaries and sounded an alarm: "every boom must one day come to an end."

Uh Oh: Two Weeks

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Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, has told U.S. officials the next two weeks are critical to determining whether the Pakistani government will survive, FOX News has learned.

"The Pakistanis have run out of excuses" and are "finally getting serious" about combating the threat from Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists operating out of Northwest Pakistan, the general added.

But Petraeus also said wearily that "we've heard it all before" from the Pakistanis and he is looking to see concrete action by the government to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the United States' next course of action, which is presently set on propping up the Pakistani government and military with counterinsurgency training and foreign aid.

Petraeus made these assessment in talks with lawmakers and Obama administration officials this week, according to individuals familiar with the discussions.

Texas, A Whole Nother Country

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In a list that intended to brag about how much Hillary Clinton had traveled as the new Secretary of State to foreign countries, Foggy Bottom included a trip to Texas:
I figured that this was simply a clerical error, albeit a rather stupid one by a clerk who didn’t realize that Texas wasn’t a foreign country.  Unfortunately, it turns out that State has apparently decided to give full diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Texas, helping Governor Rick Perry by mooting a need to secede first.
The Secretary’s trips have included her inaugural trip to Asia, the Middle East and Europe, Mexico and across the border to Texas, the Hague in the Netherlands,

Let’s also recall the “significant progress” State has made in the above areas:

  • Afghanistan - Completely failed to get more combat troops from NATO.

  • Pakistan - Say, isn’t that the Taliban just outside the capital in Islamabad?

  • Middle East - Netanyahu won’t budge until Obama does something about Iran … which conveniently got left off the list

A Timeline

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Of course this alone should be enough to put the Dem leadership in jail in any rational world. But unsurprisingly it misses the central role of the Fed as well as the fact that Bush was speaking out of both sides of his mouth about putting people in houses. Bush didn't actually have a clue either or worse was pandering for votes.

COTD: Union Motors

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He loves to act as if he was taken off-guard by the developments in the economy. His policies are part of the reason for the collapse. Back in August, when it began to look like we would have him as our next President, money started to flee the markets, it has continued unabtated ever since.

Watch carefully as he sells GM and Chrysler to the unions and stiffs the bond-holders, why on God’s green earth would anybody make investments in this sort scenario?

The bond-holders were entitled to recovery of assets when the companies went through bankruptcy. Now they will be screwed and forced to buy worthless stock at a dime on the dollar. The Rule of Law is dead, there is no incentive to put money into the market. Without capital the market will continue to collapse and no amount of freshly printed money will revive them.

O Duce Prelude: Pragmatism And The Fascist State

Anyway, in Italy, Pragmatism became an obsession among the early nationalist intellectuals who helped lay the ground work for fascism. Mussolini said more than once that William James was one of the three most important philosophical influences in his life (though he was probably embellishing for American audiences). He sold many of his policies as applications of William James' idea of the "moral equivalent of war" — just as FDR had done with his New Deal.

Moreover,  Georges Sorel, the philosophic father of both Italian Fascism and Leninism, was a devout follower of James. It's been said many times that Sorel's great accomplishment was to marry James' "Will to Believe" and Nietzsche's "Will to Power." Moreover, the influence worked both ways.

The relationship between Pragmatism and Statism is hard for some to see at first blush. But it boils down to the fact that the Progressives used Pragmatic philosophy (correctly or not) to destroy the Old Order of liberal democracy.

Mencken Mania

Men are the only animals that devote themselves, day in and day out, to making one another unhappy. It is an art like any other. Its virtuosi are called altruists.
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.
The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.
The men the American public admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

An Apology

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

COTD: Reasoning Skeptic

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You can believe we just paid over $300,000 to duplicate a picture of an airplane flying past the Statue of Liberty, if you’re stupid.  You can believe the taxpayers just got shafted for over $300,000 to pay off Obama’s campaign contributors if you’re a reasoning skeptic.  You decide what you are. 

O Duce Ahoy

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So, when it comes to items which are expensive and (and I’m guessing here) the public identifies as an industry which makes too much profit (or has been vilified as such), they’re all for capping the price on them (apparently never watching TV and seeing the competing commercials for all of this, indicating market competition has most likely pared those profits down considerably).

56% disagree that TVs should have prices capped. And 59% say “no” to capping the cost on a cup of coffee.

I have to go with my first inclination here - the public is more likely to call for price controls on the products of industries which have been vilified by the press and government. Banks (loans), auto makers and telecommunications have all suffered from various levels of vilification rencently and in the recent past.

Coffee, however, is still “Juan Valdez”.

Unfortunately, even if true, it means that a majority of Americans have no problem with government price controls

Eye-Ball Rolling

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“That wasn’t me,” President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.

It actually was partly him - and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years - who shaped the latest in a string of precipitously out-of-balance budgets.

And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still. . . . His assertion that his proposed budget “will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term” is an eyeball-roller among many economists, given the uncharted terrain of trillion-dollar deficits and economic calamity that the government is negotiating.

Calamity, indeed.

UPDATE: Oh, what the hell — let’s run that graphic again.

Gaseous Gays

So the idea of a gay fascist seems ridiculous. Yet when the British National Party - our own home-grown Holocaust-denying bigots - announced it was fielding an openly gay candidate in the European elections this June, dedicated followers of fascism didn't blink. The twisted truth is that gay men have been at the heart of every major fascist movement that ever was - including the gay-gassing, homo-cidal Third Reich. With the exception of Jean-Marie Le Pen, all the most high-profile fascists in Europe in the past thirty years have been gay. It's time to admit something. Fascism isn't something that happens out there, a nasty habit acquired by the straight boys. It is - in part, at least - a gay thing, and it's time for non-fascist gay people to wake up and face the marching music.

O Duce

Note, too, that fascist ideology did not presuppose a coherence theory of truth. In the fascist account, what was true consisted in the most recent pronouncements either by il Duce or by his elite, regardless of consistency with past statements; in short, truth was the creative act of the uomo fascista. So coherence becomes irrelevant for fascist ideas, because truth depends on both the time when a statement is expressed and who expresses it. Here, in the idea of truth as willful creation by the elite or the uomo fascista, we can see the influence of 19th-century thinkers, especially Nietzsche.

Torturing The Truth

He used Great Britain in World War II as an example of a country that did not torture.

Maybe he forgot about these German prisoners at Bad Nenndorf, near Hanover:
For almost 60 years, the evidence of Britain's clandestine torture programme in postwar Germany has lain hidden in the government's files. Harrowing photographs of young men who had survived being systematically starved, as well as beaten, deprived of sleep and exposed to extreme cold, were considered too shocking to be seen.

Obama then declared that, "Waterboarding is torture."
The Bush Administration used the technique on 3 top level Al-Qaeda terrorists.
However, Obama did not say whether he will demand that our military stop using this "torture" technique during SERE training.

More... Bill O'Reilly corrected the president on British interrogation: "The British use very intense interrogation techniques on terrorists."

All In Bed

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A SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT: Former Barney Frank staffer now top Goldman Sachs lobbyist: “Goldman Sachs’ new top lobbyist was recently the top staffer to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., on the House Financial Services Committee chaired by Frank. Michael Paese, a registered lobbyist for the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association since he left Frank’s committee in September, will join Goldman as director of government affairs, a role held last year by former Tom Daschle intimate, Mark Patterson, now the chief of staff at the Treasury Department.” It’s as if they’re all in bed with each other — bankers, regulators, legislators, all of ‘em! Go figure. (Via NewsAlert).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cry Freedom

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Darkness: Get Used To It

The Rules

A few days ago, I happened to meet a doctor in our area who has an unusual background. He emigrated to America from Russia, and I heard from one of the nurses in his practice that he had to go back through medical school and earn a new degree in order to get his medical license in the United States.
"I came here," he said, "because of my son." His son is ten years old, and he moved to the US ten years ago.
"I grew up in the system, so I learned the rules," he continued. "But you ask yourself whether you want your child to learn the rules."

His overall summary of Russia's culture of authoritarianism is that "They do not value human life." This was his introduction to the subject on which he was most passionate: socialized medicine. A major part of the reason he left Russia was because socialized medicine is just as intolerable for doctors as it is for patients.

Do you want your children to learn the rules? Or do you want them to grow up as free men?

Monday, April 27, 2009

How Depressing...

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Not to panic anyone, but trying to borrow our way into prosperity is backfiring.

From the Financial Post: “China revealed on Friday that it had secretly raised its gold reserves by three-quarters since 2003, increasing its holdings to 1,054 tons — or a pot worth about $30.9-billion — and confirming years of speculation it had been buying.”

This comes after China began reducing its purchase of U.S. debt.

The newspaper also reported: “Hou Huimin, vice general secretary of the China Gold Association, said China should build its reserves to 5,000 tons.”

The Chinese are not dumb. Huimin told the publication: “The financial crisis means the U.S. dollar value is changing fast, and it may retreat from being the international reserve currency. If that happens, whoever holds gold will be at an advantage.”

... to have Communists reject you as un-creditworthy. (from the comments)

Umm, That Would Be Fascism ... On Hot Rails To Socialism

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.

Meanwhile, top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett opened the door wide on CNN yesterday to bank nationalization and CEO firings.
They didn't call it the National SOCIALIST Party for nothing you know... And a big shout-out to W for making it all seem so [i]normal[/]. Uggh.

The Fraud This Time

What conclusions can we draw? 1) The government's $3 trillion and counting TARP program represents the greatest opportunity for sharp operators to profit at taxpayer expense in history. 2) The Obama administration is either in favor of giving Wall Street sharks this opportunity or, at a minimum, doesn't much mind doing so. (If this seems odd, remember where Obama got the biggest chunk of campaign contributions in 2008.) 3) It may be that the TARP complex of programs is the beginning of a national-socialist type takeover of the financial services industry by the federal government. Thus, 4) we can only hope that this turns out not to be the case, and TARP is only the biggest--and perhaps, by the end of the day, the crookedest--waste of taxpayer money in history. Finally, 5) so far the only person or organization who appears to be looking out for the taxpayers is the Special Inspector General. We will be reading his future reports with great interest.