Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Report

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REPORT FROM THE RECESSION: So I’ve been at a conference in Lantana, Florida, in Palm Beach County and just about a half hour down the road from Palm Beach proper. Even in tony downtown Palm Beach you see a lot of shuttered shops — and sales in the ones that are around. Restaurants are offering discount menus and specials. And there are speed traps everywhere, to the unhappiness of many locals. That’s because Palm Beach County is nearly broke:

Palm Beach County’s property tax revenue has more than doubled in the past decade.

But despite the windfall, the county faces its tightest budget year in ages. It’s proposing double-digit tax rate increases and preparing to lay off employees, slash bus service and leave some beaches without lifeguards. . . . So where did all the money from the boom years go? Much was spent in just two places: hefty debt payments and a burgeoning sheriff’s budget.

Just Words

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What is becoming increasingly apparent as America watches this train wreck unfold – and concerned Americans are characterized as enemies of freedom – is that all the previous talk about “dissent” and “patriotism” and “speaking truth to power”, not to mention a “right to debate and disagree with any administration”, was just words. They were a convenient weapon to use against their political enemy at the time. They gave the proper lip service to freedom and liberty and empowered the left’s dissent.

But when the occasion to actually apply those words and ideas presents itself, even if they happen to be on the other side of the debate, they toss them overboard like so much trash. No such empowerment to the rest of us – no sir.

With the left, politics and party have and always will trump freedom and liberty. Hopefully the browshirted, unAmerican mobs protesting this unconstitutional hijacking of health care are picking up on that this time.

Hope and change.

The Hunch

But Charles Lane of the Washington Post, certainly no right-winger, has taken a careful look at Section 1233 and finds that he too is concerned.

The federal govenment should not be in the business of skewing end-of-life counsel, and thus end-of-life decisions. Lane concludes:

Ideally, the delicate decisions about how to manage life's end would be made in a setting that is neutral in both appearance and fact. Yes, it's good to have a doctor's perspective. But Section 1233 goes beyond facilitating doctor input to preferring it.

As it happens, I have a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. I'm glad I do. I drew them up based on publicly available medical information, in consultation with my family and a lawyer. No authority figure got paid by federal bean-counters to influence me. I have a hunch I'm not the only one who would rather do it that way.

Clunking Bastiat (Part 83,927)

This spending-creates-wealth theory is at the heart of much current economic policy, including cash for clunkers. But it's a giant fallacy; Bastiat reminded us to remember the unseen effects, too.

The shopkeeper is now poorer, and instead of buying a new refrigerator, he must now buy the replacement window. So the glazier's gain is the appliance-maker's loss.

The government was supposed to have the program activated on July 1, for a period estimated to last until Nov. 1. Instead, federal administrative glitches held up the commencement until July 24, and funds were almost exhausted after one week. This from the same federal government that spent $425 billion on Medicare in 2009 after assuring us that the program would never exceed more than $5 billion per year back in 1965

Overall, cash for clunkers is another lesson in how a bureaucratic economy operates, one which denizens of European welfare states and their 30 percent lower standard of living know all too well.

Thug In Chief

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Yesterday, at a rally for R. Creigh Deeds in Virginia, President Obama said: “I don’t want the folks who created the mess do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.”

For Barack Obama, democracy appears to be a distraction. He really does seem to view himself as a Caesar.

Shortly after taking office, Obama held a meeting with governors. At the time, one person in the room relayed Obama’s request that critics and skeptics of the stimulus plan keep their concerns to themselves. Just let me do it, was his attitude. He got pushback and he wasn’t happy. He wanted democratically elected state governors to shut up so he could do as he pleased. He knows better and we should respect that, seems to be the attitude.

Thug-in-chief? What would the reaction be if a Republican President said this?

Wall Street


What's Wrong With That?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Did I Forget To Mention They've Actually Run Out Of Toilet Paper?

The island paradise of Cuba where socialized medicine is celebrated by the American Left has run out of toilet paper.
You can't make this stuff up!

Da Mayor's Lobbyist-Free Zone

The New York Times had an amazing front page story yesterday which I would have thought would have jumped to the top of every cable news cycle except for the Senate's confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The headline of the story was: "White House Affirms Deal on Drug Cost" by David Kirkpatrick.

I want you to read the lead paragraph very slowly:


Pressed by industry lobbyists, White House officials on Wednesday assured drug makers that the administration stood by a behind-the-scenes deal to block any Congressional effort to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion.


Whoa! Check Please!

How can the words "industry lobbyists" and "White House" be in the same sentence? We have been told - to the point of needing Compazine (an anti-nausea drug) - that this administration was, is, and will always be a lobbyist-free zone.

In strange world in which Obamaville is located, lobbyists are bad only if and until the White House needs them

It works like ... Chicago!

Did I Forget To Mention You've Got The Government You Deserve?

Enough is enough. It's time for us to get out our pitchforks and tell the Outside-the-Beltway gang that we're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more. We are the little guy, the junior senator from some godforsaken Nebraskansaw, just looking to make that subcommittee with the big contributor action. That fresh young regulatory agency head who only wants to test that bank nationalization idea from her Harvard term paper. We are the people who get up every day, work hard, and play inside the rules. Most of the time.

Will our call-to-arms spark a grassroots movement among Government-Americans to take our town halls back? Call us irrepressible optimists, but we have high hopes. Because we still believe in the American ideal that one man, with a staff of 83, and a chair on an $800 billion subcommittee, and an iPhone full of contact numbers, can still make a difference. 

In the end, democracy means that voters get the government they deserve.

Religion Vs Industry

It was Michael Crichton who first prominently identified
environmentalism as a religion. That was in a speech in 2003, but the world has
moved on apace since then and adherents of the creed now have a firm grip on the
world at large.

Global Warming has become the core belief in a new
eco-theology. The term is used as shorthand for anthropogenic (or man made)
global warming. It is closely related to other modern belief systems, such as
political correctness, chemophobia and various other forms of scaremongering,
but it represents the vanguard in the assault on scientific man.

The activists now prefer to call it “climate change”.

Only the relatively elderly can remember the cynical haste
with which the scaremongers dropped the “coming ice age” and embraced
exactly the opposite prediction, but aimed at the same culprit – industry.

Climate Is A Result Of The Clouds

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Under Our Noses

EXCERPT 3: U.S. Constitution, Article I, §8:

The Congress shall have Power…To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations

Yes, Law of Nations is capitalized, meaning our framers were citing a proper name. There was only one Law of Nations in 1787 officially declared. And yes, Congress has the power to create and enforce ANY LAW mentioned in the Law of Nations written by Emmerich de Vattel! It was sitting right under our noses the entire time.

USA: Banana Republic Ahoy!

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HAVANA (Reuters) –
Cuba, in the grip of a serious economic crisis, is running short of toilet paper and may not get sufficient supplies until the end of the year, officials with state-run companies said on Friday.

Officials said they were lowering the prices of 24 basic goods to help Cubans get through the difficulties provoked in part by the global financial crisis and three destructive hurricanes that struck the island last year.

Cuba's financial reserves have been depleted by increased spending for imports and reduced export income, which has forced the communist-led government to take extraordinary measures to keep the economy afloat.

"The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper," an official with state conglomerate Cimex said on state-run Radio Rebelde.

Did I Forget To Mention The Irony?

The normal critique of socialized medicine is to point out that people have to wait a long time for these kinds of treatments in places like Britain. And that's certainly a valid critique. I'm sure my mom and daughter would still be waiting for their treatments, while my father and wife would probably be dead.

The key point, though, is that these treatments didn't just come out out of the blue. They were developed by drug companies and device makers who thought they had a good market for things that would make people feel better.

But under a national healthcare plan, the "market" will consist of whatever the bureaucrats are willing to buy.

It's ironic that the same Democrats who were pushing the medical prospects for stem-cell research during the last election are now pushing a program that will make such progress far less likely.

It's OK Now

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In June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the civilian labor force was 154,926,000 people.

In July, 796,000 of those were taken out of their definition of the workforce, and thus their unemployment calculations for this month, because they have stopped looking for work “because they believe no jobs are available for them.” Ten percent of the June workforce would be 15.4 million, 1 percent would be 1.5 million, and so 796,000 is roughly one half of one percent.

In other words, BLS took .5 percent of what you and I would consider unemployed and took them out of their total. And with that, unemployment went down one tenth of one percent.

I recall the Left accusing George W. Bush of doing the same thing in 2002-3 in the unemployment figures — when they didn’t get above 7% or so.  I guess it’s now OK to do it.

Real Mobs

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Number One

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One of the questions constantly posed as the debate over health care insurance reform rages is, “if we have such a great health care system, why is our life expectancy lower than countries with socialized care?”

Well apparently it is our propensity to murder each other and die in car accidents which obscures the fact that with those factored out, we actually enjoy the longest life expectancy. James Joyner provides the numbers and a handy little chart.

But the bottom line is when you remove homicide and car crashes, we jump from number 15 with a life expectancy of 75.3 to number 1 with a life expectancy of 76.9.


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Networks don't have the resources for that kind of painstaking investigatory journalism; CNN would have mentioned it, but ran short on time, because they were too busy running a graphic displaying Michael Jackson's one-month period of bodily decomposition.

Not really on that last one. They just didn't report it. I have to say "not really" because even as I wrote it I realized, "You know, this is not entirely far-fetched."

Hah! AmishDude tips a joke:


A: A bipartisan corruption scandal in New Jersey.


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The Tiny Clunk

And at 250,000 cars traded in so far, that adds up to 56 million fewer gallons consumed in the U.S. per year

That sounds like a lot. You could drive 1.4 billion miles on that much gas. But it's only a small percentage of the total gasoline consumption in the U.S. Last year, Americans burned about 138 billion gallons. So cutting that by 56 million gallons is a reduction of only 0.04%. And since auto emissions of carbon dioxide are directly proportional to gasoline consumed, greenhouse gas emissions would also go down a minuscule 0.04%.

In terms of the average fuel economy of the entire fleet, the Cash for Clunkers program is hardly even measurable. With 254 million registered vehicles in the U.S., the fact that 250,000 new cars are more efficient is a mere blip.

The bottom line: As a stimulus program, cash for clunkers is bringing some new life to the economy. But don't expect it to help save the planet from global warming or reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Failure This Time

A rather surprising finding from the newly released CNN poll. Question three on the national survey of 1,136 adults (which includes an oversample of African-Americans) asks, "Do you consider the first six months of the Obama administration to be a success or a failure?"

Thirty-seven percent (37%) said they believe the Obama administration is a "failure," while 51% consider it a "success" and 11% say it's still "too soon to tell."

An identical question was asked of the Bush administration in an August 2001 CNN/Gallup/USA Today survey.  At the time, 56% said the Bush administration was a "success" while only 32% considered it a "failure." (Link)

Yes, Paul, Whatever You Say...

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Paul Krugman:

A number of people in the news analysis business seem to be equating the role of liberal activists in making trouble for Republicans back in 2005, during the debate over Social Security privatization, with that of conservative activists in making trouble for Democrats over health care reform. [...] Seriously, I’ve been searching through news reports on the Social Security town halls, and I can’t find any examples of the kind of behavior we’re seeing now.


  • NW Progressive Institute, March 2005: "a boisterous crowd which frequently interrupted the discussion with shouts and hard nosed questions. ... Democrats in the audience who were interrupting the panel.... the crowd erupted in anger... Democrats in the audience started shouting him down again."
Kingston is used to shouted questions, interruptions and boos. Republican congressmen expect such responses these days when they meet with constituents about President Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security."

The Head Of The Fish Stinks

I harbor the guilty thought that the legislation he supports would create deficits so large it would turn the United States into a banana republic.

When President Obama denies that he supports a Canadian-style single payer health care system, I believe he is slinging it. I believe what he seems to have said frequently in the past to the effect that he supports a system of single payer universal insurance. I harbor the guilty thought that he supports legislation that will inevitably lead to this result incrementally.

When President Obama says what he says to promote health care -- excuse me, health insurance -- reform, I believe he is slinging it. I harbor the guilty thought that he wants a government takeover of the health care system to turn citizens into supplicants and wards of the state.

I confess. I am guilty of fishy thoughts.

It Seems Longer Somehow

We and many others have ridiculed the Obama administration's heavy-handed effort to gather information on the "fishy" opponents of its government medicine proposal. Byron York, meanwhile, takes a serious look at the legal implications of the administration's data-gathering program:

In a letter to Obama Tuesday, Republican Sen. John Cornyn wrote that, given Phillips' request, "it is inevitable that the names, email address, IP addresses, and private speech of U.S. citizens will be reported to the White House." Cornyn warned the president that "these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program."

A secret and more or less permanent dissident database--in America! That's quite an accomplishment for an administration still in its seventh month. It seems longer, somehow.

Bastiat On Clunkers

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Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas.voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas. That may exhaust my French phrase quota for the year, but it's worth it. The saying is the title of an essay by the 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat and means "that which is seen, and that which is not seen."

Bastiat's essay is most famous for the "parable of the broken window," in which a young boy shatters a shopkeeper's window and, after some initial outrage, the villagers conclude that the rascal helped the local economy. Why?

The problem with this argument can be gleaned from the title of Bastiat's essay. By counting the money the shopkeeper spends to replace a perfectly good window (that which is seen), we ignore the money he might have spent on something else (that which is unseen). The shopkeeper might have instead dropped six francs on new shoes or a book or on a bonus for his assistant. Those who celebrate the broken window as a generator of growth take "no account of that which is not seen."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What Part Of Single Payer Don't You Understand?

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Tiny Green

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This latest economic fad is supported by an enormous industry comprising nonprofits, investment banks, venture capitalists and their cheerleaders in the media. Their song: that "green" jobs will rescue our still weak economy while saving the planet. Ironically, what they all fail to recognize is that the thing that would spur green jobs most is economic growth.

All told, green jobs constitute barely 700,000 positions across the country--less than 0.5% of total employment. That's about how many jobs the economy lost in January this year. Indeed a recent study by Sam Sherraden at the center-left New America Foundation finds that, for the most part, green jobs constitute a negligible factor in employment--and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Policymakers, he warns, should avoid "overpromising about the jobs and investment we can expect from government spending to support the green economy."


Today the Obama White House played a card from the Clinton deck, characterizing the massive resistance expressed at congressional townhall meetings across the country as the work of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Reader Martin Karo attended one such townhall this past Sunday in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, at which Rep. Patrick Murphy was savaged by a crowd of well over a hundred citizens, even openly jeered when he claimed he had read the thousand-page health care bill just as he reads every bill.

How did Karo find out about the townhall? He was the recipient of a robocall the day before, informing him about the meeting and inviting his attendance. Thinking Murphy's database includes mostly Democrats, he is of the view that anyone who ascribes the crowd's hostility to the work of the VRCW is delusional.

No Time

Mr. Obama has taken the real crisis of the U.S. (and world) economy and used it as the screen and lever for a massive agenda of transformation, a transformation that calls for expenditures on a scale never before seen in the history of government on this planet. The first expenditure, which began under George Bush's tenure, was large, but it was very specific. The financial “infrastructure” of America's economy was about to be exploded, and it was argued that government “had no choice” but to shore up the financial institutions without which there would be utter chaos in the overall economy. That was the genesis of the so-called bank bailout. After that came the stimulus package, the attempt to kick-start jobs, to get those “shovel ready” projects “out the door.” Both had to be done immediately. There was no time for review or oversight.

Daring? Daring - if you believe in it. Reckless – to the point of real danger if you do not.

Did I Forget To Mention It's A Clunker?

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As for the stimulus effect, that’s mostly hype too:

An analysis by Macroeconomic Advisers forecasts that the program will affect only the timing of car sales, not total sales: “In particular, we expect that roughly half of the 250,000 in new sales would have occurred in the months following the conclusion of the program, and the other half would have occurred during the program period anyway. Therefore, we do not expect a boost to industry-wide production (or GDP) in response to this program.”…

Update: Here’s what we’re spending $3 billion to achieve.

“Cash for clunkers” could have the same effect on global warming pollution as shutting down the entire country — every automobile, every factory, every power plant — for an hour per year. That could rise to three hours if the program is extended by Congress and remains as popular as it is now.

Climate experts aren’t impressed.

Freedom Is Dead And Upside Down

The Obama Administration today announced that they will recognize Ahmadinejad as the "elected president" of Iran.
Hundreds of Iranians have been killed by the regime since the stolen presidential election.
The AP reported:

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "the elected leader" of the Islamic republic.

Gibbs was asked Tuesday if the White House recognized Ahmadinejad as the country's legitimate president.

"He's the elected leader," Gibbs responded.
What has happened to America?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Red Death

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On understanding the opponents of liberty.

Still Support Obama?

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If you see anybody publicly opposing President Obama’s plan to implement a government-centric overhaul of the health care system, the White House wants you to report that person (or persons) ASAP.

From the White House website:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

The White House has, as yet, offered no explanation of what it is they plan to do with the tips on policy opposition they hope to receive from citizen informers.

This is the ultimate litmus test for so-called libertarians.

Still support Obama?

The Sad Truth ...

Imagine car repair shops having to go through a 10-year approval process — as pharmaceutical companies must — before offering a service that the government will then provide to millions of people as a “right.” Then ask what the response would be if some people broke with the consensus and said that car repairs were a service to be paid for. They would be shouted down as immoral — while people demanded that their insurance pay for oil changes and ripped seats.
Congress would pass more programs. Prices would quadruple, and car insurance would become a crushing expense.

Paul Krugman doesn’t note either that before our government entered the medical system, when healthcare was not regarded as a right but a product traded freely on the open market, doctors and hospitals competed to give the best service at the lowest possible prices. What were the results? Americans were almost universally able to pay for good healthcare.

... is that socialist car "care" is coming too.

Another great post by Ray.

Easy To Buy

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CHRIS DODD UPDATE: Influence with U.S. Senators Easy to Buy.

If I had an eight-unit apartment building, Countrywide representatives would have refused to provide a refinanced mortgage for me. But for Sen. Conrad, they said they’d make an “exception.”

I own two homes, one owner-occupied and the other a rental. I cannot afford to refinance my rental because the rate, points and fees on a rental are too high. Not so for Sen. Dodd. Countrywide made an “exception” and allowed him to claim his first and second homes as “owner occupied” so he could get a great rate, points and fees and he was able to refinance both homes.

These two senators did sit on very powerful committees that deal with legislation affecting the mortgage industry and Countrywide Mortgage, and they still do. Does any American really believe that Countrywide provided these special deals to these two senators and others just to be nice?

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Best Evidence For McCain

But it was replaced in 1795.

Any More Questions About What He Wants?

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Obama (D-IL): “I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process” (3/24/07, at SEIU “Universal Health Care Forum”); “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care system” (2003 at AFL-CIO event)

Frank (D-MA): “I think if we get a good public option, it could lead to single-payer; that’s the best way to reach single-payer” (7/27/09)

Schakowsky (D-IL): “And next to me was a guy from the insurance company, who then argued against the public health insurance option, saying ‘it wouldn’t let private insurance compete’ — that ‘a public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single-payer.’ He was right! The man was right!” (4/18/09)