26 March 2009

Friedman Friday: The Power Of Choice

Given that I'll be traveling tomorrow, I figured I'd better resume the tradition of Friedman Fridays, today. This is an excerpt from his biography.

After watching this video, I'm left to wish, once again, that Milton Friedman were still alive. Does any other living economist have as much influence and gravitas?




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25 March 2009

Arnold Schwarzenegger On Obama's Jilting Of The Media

For my California readers, I'm probably massively understating things to say that Gov. Terminator has been a disappointment to his conservative supporters. Would it be better if I called him a massive disappointment?

I don't know what else to say--other than to point out that he's married to a member of the Kennedy clan and, well, what did you expect?

Sometimes even the disappointments can deliver good lines, as the Governator did at the recent, annual, Gridiron Club dinner, where President Obama was a no-show.
You [reporters] did such lovely work for [Obama]. You put your lives on hold to put him in the White House. Now you get all dressed up, the champagne's on ice, and you find out he's just not that into you.
Hell hath no fury like the media scorned. Congressional Democrats better hope that Obama kisses and makes up with their fellow travelers in the MSM before the 2010 elections.

(h/t Scott L.)


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24 March 2009

'DisHonor Awards For The Lamestream Media'

The Media Research Center, parent organization of my sometime employer, NewsBusters.org, held their annual awards ceremony for some of the most ridiculous and outrageous "news" reports of the last year. John Fund has the report:
The Media Research Center handed out its annual "DisHonors Awards" to what some of its speakers called the "lamestream media" last night at a gala dinner in Washington D.C. The conservative group roasted what it called "the most outrageously biased liberal reporters as selected by a distinguished panel of leading media observers."

There were some truly rich moments provided by the nominees, many of them centered on the adulation reporters heaped on Barack Obama. Here is ABC News' Bill Weir reporting from the Obama inauguration: "Never have so many people shivered so long with such joy. From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity."

Some TV anchors went way over the top in Obamamania even as they insisted they were just reporting the facts. Take Chris Matthews of MSNBC, who said last February after listening to an Obama speech: "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. . . . He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment."

An award mocking the "worst pummeling of Sarah Palin" was given out. Among the contenders was Newsweek's Howard Fineman for his dismissal of the Alaska Governor's credentials: "Sarah Palin makes Barack Obama look like John Adams. I mean, it's just, it's no contest."

The final category at the MRC dinner featured an award for "the stupidest analysis." The winner was CNN founder Ted Turner, who said that if global warming isn't rolled back, "in 30 or 40 years basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals."

But my personal favorite was from that fountain of anti-America snobbery, the BBC. Correspondent Justin Webb stood next to an 18-wheel big rig truck while dismissing President Bush's tax rebate. He warned: "Many Americans drive private cars not much smaller than this truck, and the risk is that they use their tax rebate simply to buy fuel, boosting the profits of the oil companies but doing little or nothing for the wider American economy."

In the tradition of the MRC dinner, none of the winners showed up to accept their awards, so a conservative leader was chosen to come up on stage and acknowledge the award on their behalf.
I'm told good times were had by all.




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23 March 2009

Grandstanding, Baby-Kissing & Staged Community Service Photos

On Saturday I joined a group of youths in cleaning up the yards and streets near Willesden Green in the Brent Council here in London. It was your typical street/yard cleaning service project. We found all the usual things, though certainly nothing so crazy as the meth lab remnants I found while doing a similar project in Mead Valley, CA.

While I was glad to not involve the UK version of Hazmat in our service project, I was disappointed we didn't find anything stranger than a half-filled bottle of transmission fluid. That's a boring service project.

The one thing that did make it interesting was the appearance of the Brent East MP (Member of Parliament), Sarah Teather. Hers was like the visit of politicians to service projects everywhere--all about staged photos. I know I shouldn't have given it another thought--it goes on all the time--but I was, admittedly, a little disgusted.

To my mind, if you want to take pictures of yourself picking up trash with all the rest of us morons, you ought to at least, you know, pick up a little trash.

I don't know anything about her politics--other than the fact that she's a Liberal Democrat. But her "appearance" at the service project Saturday made her just another politician.

She's just like the hacks in Congress who write ex-post facto bills of attainder meant to "punish" people who earned bonuses at a company that took TARP money. Never mind that Congress--Chris Dodd, at the urging of the Obama administration--wrote the rule in the first place. Now that there's a backlash, Congress will do what it does best--grandstand.

Consider the WSJ's quote of James Madison in Federalist 44
:
such punitive laws were expressly deplored by America's Founders. In Federalist 44, James Madison warned that "Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligation of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation."
I get the populist pulls on these people. I understand that they need to get elected (or re-elected for the 17th time). But why can't a Senator or President Obama show a little bit of leadership on this issue--why can't anyone in Congress behave like an adult?

Instead of making a superficial production of everything--the Guitar Hero* phenomenon I wrote about all last year--how about a little substantive leadership?


*Over-the-top performance, no real skill or experience.


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20 March 2009

Unions & The Europeanization of America

In addition to the usual cast of people who want America to turn into Europe--President Obama, unions, leftists--add people whose only familiarity with the continent is time spent on the back row of America's poly sci classes.

This is the group of people who have been persuaded Europe's arguments against "income inequality" and universal everything for everyone. What they don't seem to understand is that Europe's welfare state is both unsustainable and not a true equalizer.

The demographics of Europe are such that the only way to fund at current levels would be massive inflows of new, young immigrants--and tax increases on everyone.

But even then, the Euro-model is about appeasing the underclasses--give them enough free things and hope their riots stay in their part of the city--and not breaking down the structural barriers that prevent American-style movement from one income bracket to the next. If you are poor in Europe (while not nearly as helpless as, say, Africa), the chances of you enjoying a lift-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps success story is very slim.

In America, 1st generation immigrants take what might seem to us to be bad jobs and more importantly, they send their kids to school. Armed with at least a high school diploma (not all, but far more than their parents generation), they get better jobs. Some of them attend college and do even better.

As in education where teachers' unions are students' worst enemies, such is the case with workers. In the WSJ op-ed that inspired this post, the best worst examples of the deleterious effects of unions are the auto & steel industries.
In the last session of Congress, Democrats tried to: Raise the notice period required for certain layoffs at private companies to 90 days, extend health benefits for laid-off workers for up to a decade, and increase penalties for noncompliance (the expanded WARN Act); reclassify certain managers as employees who can be unionized, forcibly in non-right-to-work states (the Respect Act); facilitate class action suits for alleged gender-based pay discrimination (Paycheck Fairness Act); and much more. None passed, but now they might.

In the Obama revolution, unions are the vanguard force. Contrary to promises of moderation, the Administration has so far sided firmly with the union left. On the day after the Inauguration, the Department of Labor stopped the implementation of new union financial disclosure rules that provide greater transparency about union finances. A fortnight on the job, President Obama issued four executive orders, on federal contracting and political spending, demanded by Big Labor. Mr. Obama this month endorsed card check and vowed that it "will pass."

In case you think it can't happen here, well, it can.

Fortunately, I think people are starting to understand this--some got it all along. Branden B. sent me an email that sums up the frustration many have with the current administration.
If you read the top 5-10 opinion pieces on today's WSJ website you will realize that the leadership in our government right now SUCKS. I can't capitalize that word enough. It is unbelievable. Why could we not elect a group of real men to lead this country and not a bunch of slimy, spineless, uneducated losers that seem to occupy every power wielding position within our government? It is just unbelievable. Who were the people that decided that Frank, Pelosi, and Dodd had the capacity to do anything? I would not trust them to clean my house. I am just beside myself with this whole mess. I mean these people seem to be hell-bent on running the most successful economy of all time into the ground. Please tell me. How is it not obvious to EVERYONE right now that all of these people are incompetent and doing the exact opposite of anything that would make sense. It is hard to believe that the Dow is above 4K. How is it not obvious to again EVERYONE that Obama and Co. have not done a single thing that would be beneficial to our economy. I mean if you asked economists what would be the top ten things you could do to ruin the economy Obama has done 1-8 and is actively trying to cross off 9 and 10 (protectionism and strengthen unions).
It's gotten so bad, even the NYT is writing op-eds (I'm loathe to link them, but oh well) urging the President to avoid the protectionist elements of his party. And the Unions are going to keep fighting.

Prepare yourselves, it's going to get ugly.


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19 March 2009

Hollywood Tax-Cutters

This isn't your usual cast of Hollywood conservatives, though I'm sure they'd agree with the urge to cut taxes. No, this is plain old Hollywood liberals who know that the key to making money and turning a profit is keeping costs low--and that includes taxes.

The Wall Street Journal has the op-ed:
We're constantly told that taxes don't matter to business and investors, but listen to that noted supply-side economist, Alec Baldwin. The actor recently rebuked New York Governor David Paterson for threatening to try to help close the state's $7 billion budget deficit by canceling a 35% tax credit for films shot in the Big Apple.

"I'm telling you right now," Mr. Baldwin declared, "if these tax breaks are not reinstated into the budget, film production in this town is going to collapse, and television is going to collapse and it's all going to go to California." Well, well. Apparently taxes do matter, at least when it comes to filming "30 Rock" in Manhattan.

Believe it or not, Mr. Baldwin's views are shared across the movie industry, which is pleading in state capitals across the country for most-favored-tax status. Hollywood productions are highly mobile and can film just about anywhere. So they have taken to shopping around the country -- and the world -- for the most lucrative tax avoidance deal.

I love 30 Rock and am a fan of Baldwin's character in it. However, I despise most of Baldwin's politics--apart from this strange urge of his to cut taxes during an economic downturn. How very enlightened and progressive of him.

When I talk about government picking the winners and losers, yeah, this is the type of thing I'm talking about.
this is the same Hollywood film industry whose members fund causes and candidates that favor raising taxes on everyone else. The Motion Picture Production and Distribution industry last year gave $14 million in political contributions: 89% went to pro-tax Democrats. A few years ago, director Rob Reiner funded a successful California initiative to raise the state income tax rate to more than 10%. Unlike a film shoot, which can relocate on a moment's notice, your average small businessman in Encino is stuck paying the highest tax rate in the country -- at least until he gives up and moves to Reno.
This is the type of anecdote that turns all those progressive liberal tax enthusiasts on their head--this is the hypocrisy that proves the rule. Like their dearleader, the teleprompter, they see progressive, confiscatory tax rates as social justice.

But they never want to put their money where their mouths are; they want everyone else to pay higher taxes while they carve out deals for themselves with their friends in power. But the WSJ puts it better:
states shouldn't chase smoke stacks or film production crews with specific tax breaks. It makes much more sense for cities, states and the federal government to lower tax rates for everyone. New York City can survive without Alec Baldwin and "30 Rock," but it can't function without the thousands of small businesses that pay taxes without the benefit of lobbyists and loopholes.
Though I'd hate to see 30 Rock go the way of Arrested Development, it would be amusing (cue schadenfreude) if liberal Alec Baldwin lost his job to higher taxes too.

Unfortunately for all the real employees of GE & the Scheinhardt Wig company, they can't hang out in Hollywood while they wait to hook up with a new gig in time for pilot season.


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18 March 2009

Detroit Autoworker to Leno: Take your tickets and Shove 'Em

I was very amused by this story about Jay Leno requesting that people not resell free tickets to his show on eBay.

Mankiw asks all the right questions:
So I wonder: If a person down on his luck prefers the cash to the opportunity to watch Leno live, why would Leno object? Is it altruism that is really motivating Leno here? Is he really sure that the unemployed person in Detroit would be better off with an evening of laughs than $800 in his pocket? Or does Leno want to play to a live audience of unemployed workers so he will seem altruistic to his television audience?
This is exactly the sort of thing that attracted me to economics. Most people who haven't studied econ assume it is all about macroeconomic issues like GDP, unemployment, and tedious things like determining what exactly is the appropriate basket of goods that should constitute Consumer Price Index--after all, that's what you read on the front page of all the dailies.

I've always loved what economics reveals about people's true intentions. Economics says to ignore what people say and pay attention to what they do. I don't begrudge Jay his sentiments, but I'm with Mankiw on this one.


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17 March 2009

The Unintended Consequences Of Ethanol

Yesterday's Journal had a great op-ed on the manifold problems emanating from Congress's 2007 Ethanol bill mandating widespread use of the same.
Congress and the ethanol lobby argue that if some outcome would be politically nice, it should be mandated (details to follow). Then a new round of market interventions is necessary to fix the economic harm resulting from the previous requirements, while creating more damage in the process. Ethanol is one of the most shameless energy rackets going, in a field with no shortage of competitors.
The problems associated with this bit of legislation ought to be a cautionary tale for anyone who wants to perform a little market manipulation to achieve their preferred policy goals. The best government intervention, if indeed, any is required, should be, as Dr. Pope always taught, "simple & targeted."

If you can't guarantee that the legislative process end result will be both of those things, it's best that you just leave the market to its own devices.


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16 March 2009

Shelby Steele: The GOP & Minority Outreach

One of the panel discussions I attended at CPAC dealt with creating a conservative Hispanic coalition. Widely discussed were the many commonalities shared by traditional social conservatives and largely Catholic Hispanic minorities. On every issue--life, family, marriage--Hispanic minorities share the values of conservatives everywhere.

In fact, Hispanic Americans are more socially conservative than their white counterparts (that is, when you consider all white Americans together). Partnerships, at a minimum, based on these principles and shared goals seems like an obvious starting point.

But, of course, immigration raised its ugly head. I won't get into it here--it deserves its own series of posts--but I believe there is a workable solution to this problem, I'm just not entirely sure what it is.

The Conservative argument for resisting minority outreach/appeal is that we don't want to get into the grievance tribalism that afflicts the Left. We are not a party that promises a grab bag of goodies & favors if only your group helps us get elected. We are a party of principles--principles which we believe ought to appeal to people regardless of their race, gender, religion, whatever.

For the record, I believe that, 100%. One of conservatism's great promises is that it promises to view every individual the same way--it seeks the freedom of every individual.

However, within that framework, I believe there is ample room, ample opportunity, to form coalitions that seek common goals. If Hispanics are socially conservative, we can appeal to them with the principles of social conservatism. We cannot assume (wrongly, I believe) that these people somehow know that we see the world the same way they do and seek the same things they seek.

We can appeal to some of these groups without becoming tribal or abandoning our principles. We can and ought to reach out to them by using our principles and showing them how they apply in their lives and are shared by them and us.

In todays WSJ, Shelby Steele examines this question--Why the GOP can't win minorities. It is the most lucid discussion of this topic I have read in a long time. Read it all; here is an excerpt:
When redemption became a term of power, "redemptive liberalism" was born -- a new activist liberalism that gave itself a "redemptive" profile by focusing on social engineering rather than liberalism's classic focus on individual freedom. In the '60s there was no time to allow individual freedom to render up the social good. Redemptive liberalism would proactively engineer the good. Name a good like "integration," and then engineer it into being through a draconian regimen of school busing. If the busing did profound damage to public education in America, it gave liberals the right to say, "At least we did something!" In other words, we are activists

against America's old sin of segregation. Activism is moral authority in redemptive liberalism.

But conservatism sees moral authority more in a discipline of principles than in activism. It sees ideas of the good like "diversity" as mere pretext for the social engineering that always leads to unintended and oppressive consequences. Conservatism would enforce the principles that ensure individual freedom, and then allow "the good" to happen by "invisible hand."

And here is conservatism's great problem with minorities. In an era when even failed moral activism is redemptive -- and thus a source of moral authority and power -- conservatism stands flat-footed with only discipline to offer. It has only an invisible hand to compete with the activism of the left. So conservatism has no way to show itself redeemed of America's bigoted past, no way like the Great Society to engineer a grand display of its innocence, and no way to show deference to minorities for the oppression they endured. Thus it seems to be in league with that oppression.

Socially engineering society in order to assuage one's own guilt does not "redeem" the people you are trying to save (indeed, the unintended consequences of your shiny new program often worsen their condition), it is all about making yourself feel better.

Anyway, read the rest. You'll be pleased to find that Steele does not suggest some convoluted hybrid of leftist tribal politics blended with conservative principle.


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15 March 2009

Petraeus For President? [UPDATE: Maybe, but the reported speech in Iowa was a 'joke']

[ed. note: I don't get the joke that Goldfarb asserts in the edit of his original post. But just because I don't get it, doesn't mean that it's not funny.

No, that's not true. If I don't get it, it's not funny. If anyone knows this character, tell him he's an idiot and that this was a dumb joke.

Unless the joke was this: Watch as I lose all credibility. If so, ha ha.

I'm going to leave the original post so you can see what the fuss was all about.]

I've wondered (and wished) about the possibility of General David Petraeus running for President of the United States on the pages of this blog before. Well, my wish may just turn into reality.

Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard reports:
Petraeus will also be addressing the commissioning ceremonies for Harvard and MIT ROTC. THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that General Petraeus is planning on delivering the commencement address at the University of Iowa in 2010. Hmmm.
At the risk of becoming Captain Obvious, Iowa is the start to every Presidential primary and thus, the campaign itself. A successful showing in Iowa gave Mike Huckabee a national audience.

Of course, it could be that there is simply nothing to see here--just another commencement address at another university by one of the most talented leaders of men (& women) in American history. The Spectator addresses that idea here.
Petraeus going to Iowa, a state he doesn’t have previous ties to, is going to create a huge amount of buzz about his presidential ambitions because the Iowa Caucuses kick off the whole presidential nomination process. If he does, deliver the address—and Petraeus must know this—it will be seen as a sign that he is thinking about running in 2012.
Petraeus running against Obama would remind certain members of the military that many, ah, constituencies in the Democrat party do not like them. Remember Petraeus's treatment by certain Democrat Senators & Rahm Emanuel in September 2007 (to say nothing of Moveon's shameful ad)? Anyway, imagine how the revved up Democrat attack machine will treat Petraeus.

The question of a General running against the President who once commanded him is an interesting. The Spectator, again:
Previously, it has been thought that Petraeus would not run against a president who had been his Commander in Chief. But there are reports of tension between Petraeus and Obama over both Iraq and Afghan strategy.
So, General Petraeus thinks that whatever strategy Obama plans to pursue in some combination of Iraq/Afghanistan/(Iran?) is not a good one? What will the Obama apologists say about this?

Any combination of Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin + General David Petraeus would be dynamite leadership for this country--outclassing by far the administration in place now.

(via Ace, per usual)


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13 March 2009

'Pressuring Israel, While Wooing Iran'

To my mind, John Bolton is the smartest, most astute foreign policy commentator. His recent article in the NY Post reminds those who forgot.
All the other regional problems would still exist even if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got his fondest wish and Israel disappeared from the map: Iran's nuclear-weapons program, its role as the world's central banker for terrorism, the Sunni-Shiite conflict within Islam, Sunni terrorist groups like al Qaeda and other regional ethnic, national and political animosities would continue as threats and risks for decades to come.

Instead, the US focus should be on Iran and the manifold threats it poses to Israel, to Arab states friendly to Washington and to the United States itself - but that is not to be.

President Obama argues that he will deal comprehensively with the entire region. Rhetoric is certainly his specialty, but in the Middle East rhetoric only lasts so long. Performance is the real measure - and the administration's performance to date points in only one direction: pressuring Israel while wooing Iran.

In this article, Bolton points out the obvious: Obama & Europe pressure Israel because they are the most reasonable party in this debate. I mean, they could try and put the screws to Hamas & Hezbollah, but those guys only respond to one type of pressure--the type of pressure they then artfully manipulate to make themselves appear to be the injured party (read: placing military/missile installations under & near schools & hospitals; wait for Israel to do something about it; cry "civilian massacre" and "humanitarian crisis"; watch as the liberal mainstream media & useful idiots in the US & Europe dutifully repeat this manufactured & farcical reality).

The other point I want to draw out is this: Just because the aggressor repeats their rationale for wanting to exterminate a country lots and lots of times does not make what they say true. Whatever their imagined insult emanating from the existence of Israel, rest assured that this is pure pretext.

That's not to say that the average Arab-on-the-street doesn't believe it to be so--in fact, I know they do--their mind-slave-masters in control of Iran, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc., count on it.

So long as these grievance groups (they operate from basically the same public relations play book as Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson--only with violence added to the mix) can keep the focus on Israel, the United States, & (insert latest conspiracy involving Western powers), the oppressed populace will continue to ignore the fact that their "leaders" pocket all the "aid" (see Yasser Arafat) that comes from the West they are supposed to hate so much. Meanwhile, for them, everything remains the same--no peace, no prosperity, no democracy, no nothing.

These conflicts and imagined grievances are not for the benefit of the average Palestinian, they are to keep tyrants in charge and money in their pockets.

Want to know why there's no peace in the Middle East?

Ask yourself: Who has the most to lose were peace to break out between Israel and her neighbors?

Now you know why.


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Fearmongers & Hypocrites

In yesterday's post about DC Opportunity Scholarships, I made an oblique reference to Rahm & Co.'s fear mongering. That they are all a bunch of hypocrites (for accusing President Bush of doing the same thing they openly admit doing now) goes without saying.

I only point it out so that my liberal friends understand that whatever moral high ground they thought they occupied for 8 years, well, they don't occupy that territory anymore.

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism, right?

Jonah Goldberg, one of my fav. pundits, opined on just this line of thinking (Democrat party fear mongers) in his column yesterday. An excerpt:
Imagine a child falls down a well. Now imagine I offer to lend the parents my ladder to save her, but only if they promise to paint my house. Would you applaud me for not letting a crisis go to waste? Or would you think I’m a jerk, for want of a harsher word not printable in this space?

I ask because I’m trying to come to terms with Rule No. 1 of the Obama administration.

“Rule 1: Never allow a crisis to go to waste,” White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told the New York Times right after the election. “They are opportunities to do big things.” Over the weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told an audience at the European Parliament, “Never waste a good crisis.” Then President Obama explained in his Saturday radio and Internet address that there is “great opportunity in the midst of” the “great crisis” befalling America.
Bush & Rove and all the rest never admitted that what they were doing was scaring people in order to enact their agenda. The ardently insisted that such was not the case.

Whether you believe that or not, one thing is certain: Emanuel & Clinton & Obama openly admit that they are taking advantage of the crisis to promote their agenda.

Just because you agree with Obama's agenda and disagreed with Bush's does not make you noble, or what they are doing, good.

It makes you a hypocrite.


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12 March 2009

Save The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program

I thought about entitling this something like, "Democrats Love Unions More Than Kids," because honestly, that's what it looks like.

Washington DC's schools are notoriously bad--as in, worst in the country bad. A few years ago, a few brave souls started the Opportunity Scholarship program which allows a few thousand students the chance to escape the downward spiral at their local public school and attend the same private school as President Obama's kids.

Teacher's unions, whose self interest lies with preserving the jobs of its members, rather than teaching kids, adamantly oppose school choice. Whether it's a charter, corporate scholarship, or a voucher, they will do whatever it takes--by hook or crook--to stop it.

Sometimes that means donating huge amounts of money to Democrats who will hide their killing of Opportunity Scholarships in Omnibus spending bills. They just hope you're too stupid or scared to notice--it's all apart of Rahm Emanuel's plan to take advantage of crisis and get crazy liberal stuff done while you're paranoid and not paying attention--you know, the type of fearmongering the Leftists accused President Bush of doing for years.

Well, now their fearmongering is going to kill the DC area Opportunity Scholarships
. And President Obama is a willing, if not complicit, participant. How can he and his liberal Democrat friends (and, incidentally, damn Mike Crapo (R) from Idaho. For shame, Crapo, for shame. I expect this kind of thing from Arlent Specter & Olympia Snowe (certifiable idiots), but you? Please resign.) deny poor, mostly minority kids the same education enjoyed by their children?

Ask yourself that question--how can they do this?--as you watch the youtube clip these kids put together for President Obama. These aren't a bunch of rich white kids asking for tax cuts so their parents can afford a new G5 to take them on a class trip (I'll leave that to Nancy Pelosi), these kids either get the scholarship and go to a good school or they attend failing public schools.




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Don't Forget About Iraq

The Surge bought us success & peace in Iraq which our current President & Congressional Democratic leadership both denied AND actively worked against.

This much is undeniable.

Now that hard-fought peace & security has been won, the worry is that Obama might abandon Iraq and seize defeat from the jaws of victory. As Michael Yon explains, these gains are reversible.
Today Iraq is succeeding, but as Generals Petraeus or Odierno might say, the situation remains fragile and reversible.

Whereas the Bush-war ended in a new if messy democracy, this year we could see an Obama-war begin; the new President has sent a clear signal that we intend to mostly abandon Iraq during this crucial transition period. Today, the progress is obvious. But if Iraq descends back into chaos, the Obama-war, a newborn war, will not be a result of U.S. aggression, but of limp leadership intent on fulfilling campaign promises that were misinformed to begin with.

Ignore me, if you like; Michael Yon has spent more time on the ground in Iraq than any other journalist in the world.

If Iraq regresses, Obama may try to blame generals or his predecessor, but he will have no one to blame but himself and perhaps his advisers and some idiot members of his constituency who made him promise to withdraw, regardless of conditions on the ground.


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11 March 2009

Brits With Backbone

Between time spent at Cambridge & UCL on my MA, I've listened to a lot of liberal elites. They have the same opinions on, well, everything, as the liberal elites in the US.

My flatmates are among what I believe/hope to be a silent majority of Brits in this country who are, you know, sane when it comes to their politics. They love their country & respect the troops who defend their freedom.

I'm not going to repeat the whole story, Ace has got it covered, but there was a Welcome Home parade yesterday for British troops returning from Iraq. The usual, useful idiots--al Qaeda in Iraq & Taliban apologists--were out to embarrass themselves as they tried to shame the troops.

Mission decidedly not accomplished.

Anyway, I wanted to post video footage of the Brits in the street--the ones out to welcome home their heroes--shouting the "protesters" out of the public square. This is the usually silent majority I referred to above.

Note: As with any link to Ace, the usual language warnings apply. Additionally, there may be cursing in the vid, I can't tell; their accents make it hard for me to discern 4-letter words from ones we don't find offensive, but funny. Given the inflamed emotions, I'd imagine a few of the former were thrown around. You've been warned.




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10 March 2009

My Man Mitt

In 2008, I supported John McCain in his campaign for POTUS vs. Barack Obama, but it wasn't without reservation. He has always been unreliable, often discarding conservative principles in favor of currying favor from the press.

On balance, I thought, he was a far better alternative to the inexperienced, very liberal, Barack H. Obama.

And he was.

But there was a better one, and his name was Mitt Romney.

Sure, he had a few missteps, was mistrusted by some religious/social conservatives, but he was right on all the important things--foreign policy (Iraq, War on Terror, NKorea, Iran, etc.), fiscal policy (less government, lower taxes, less regulation, etc.), and the social issues (family, marriage, abortion, stem-cell research etc.).

So he was a "convert" on the last point (abortion), so what? So was Ronald Reagan. Don't we want to persuade everyone to value the rights of the unborn? Anyway, that's an old argument. Hopefully one we've moved past.

At CPAC, Romney gave an excellent speech. I wrote a bit about it in my review of CPAC Day 3.

You can read the full text of his speech here
.

NRO's editor, Kathryn Jean Lopez, wrote an excellent article about the state of conservatism and some of the dustups between Michael Steele, Rush Limbaugh, and others. But most of the article is about Mitt and the possibility that he runs for President in 2012.

It's tough to look 4 years into the future; if we face the same problems we are today--that is to say, if we have yet to fully overcome them--Mitt could be part of the solution. I like Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin. But how about Romney-Petraeus?

Does that sound like a ticket you'd be interested in?

I don't think anyone else could put forward two more qualified people to deal with all the many problems this country faces right now. Seriously, does anyone have any confidence that Obama can lead us out of this economic quagmire?

The markets sure don't seem to think so. Their daily tracking poll (a constant downward spiral) leaves little doubt. Mitt Romney made a career of this sort of thing. Balancing budgets, restoring profitability, rooting out waste and inefficiency--that's his niche.

And though the model has been derided, how confident would you feel if Petraeus, in the Dick Cheney mould of VP, helped to shape our long- & short-term foreign policy goals? Instead of a complete idiot--Joe Biden (God love 'im)--you would have the guy who literally wrote the counter-insurgent book and has spearheaded our warfighting effort in Iraq and now, Iraq & Afghanistan. Do you think anyone knows how to defend America better than General Petraeus?

Most of this is just rambling speculation and wishful thinking, clearly. Right now I'm focused on 2009--hoping for a Republican win in New Jersey--and 2010--House, Senate & nationwide gubernatorial races.

With any luck, 2010 will look a little like 1994, and 2012 will resemble 1980. Remember, Ronald Reagan lost in the 1976 Republican primary before finally winning it all in 1980.

Romney could do a lot worse than following Reagan's example.


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09 March 2009

Words Of Wisdom From Margaret Thatcher

President Obama & the Obamabots at State may not think much of the UK or our Special Relationship, but I sure do. In honor of that relationship I present, for your consideration, Stuart Taylor quoting Lady Thatcher:
If this president fails, who will revive our economy? And when? And what kind of America will our children inherit? But with the nation already plunging deep into probably necessary debt to rescue the crippled financial system and stimulate the economy, Obama's proposals for many hundreds of billions in additional spending on universal health care, universal postsecondary education, a massive overhaul of the energy economy, and other liberal programs seem grandiose and unaffordable. . . . I hope that the president ponders well Margaret Thatcher's wise warning against some collectivist conceits: 'The illusion that government can be a universal provider, and yet society still stay free and prosperous.... The illusion that every loss can be covered by a subsidy. The illusion that we can break the link between reward and effort, and still get the effort.
Remember, The Road to Serfdom is paved with trillions of dollars worth of liberal good intentions.


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Cramer, Obama, Liberals, &c.

Ever since I first noticed the phenomenon, I've looked for the right opportunity to put it into practice. What might it be, you ask? Why, quoting myself, of course.

It was prompted by an email I received from Matt P. Given that I hadn't heard from him in awhile, I jumped at the chance.

Matt wrote:
So low taxes are good in bad economic times so people can get rich, but when the economy is good we can soak the rich and damn the poor? I can't understand how he can't see the fault in his logic. Even when he's right, he's still wrong.

From his post yesterday:

"To be totally out of the closet, I actually embrace every part of Obama's agenda, right down to the increase on personal taxes and the mortgage deduction. I am a fierce environmentalist who has donated multiple acres to the state of New Jersey to keep forever wild. I believe in cap and trade. I favor playing hardball with drug companies that hold up the U.S. government with me-too products.

"... I believe his agenda is crushing nest eggs around the nation in loud ways, like the decline in the averages, and in soft but dangerous ways, like in the annuities that can't be paid and the insurance benefits that will be challenging to deliver on.

"So I will fight the fight against that agenda. I will stand up for what I believe and for what I have always believed: Every person has a right to be rich in this country and I want to help them get there. And when they get there, if times are good, we can have them give back or pay higher taxes. Until they get there, I don't want them shackled or scared or paralyzed. That's what I see now."


I'm all for "giving back," but shouldn't that be my choice?
To which I responded as follows:
Cramer is a liberal Democrat & an idiot [ed. note: but I repeated myself]. I guess, from him, we should be glad when he criticizes Obama at all, as he has done recently.

Obviously, I am in wholehearted agreement with what you say.

To liberals, your money is not really your money. It's the money you got by exploiting people, probably, and you don't deserve it. Plus, they know how to use it better than you do. It's all about power & control--that's the conservative vs. liberal argument at it's core:

Conservatives want everyone to have as much control over their lives as possible. They understand that some people are going to screw up, and that sucks, but that most people will do best whatever makes them happy.

Liberals want to control everyone's lives in every possible way because they think they know how to make everyone equally happy, or, as happens to be the case back in a little place I like to call reality, they know how to make everyone's life suck equally (except, of course, for the American version of the Politburo and their friends who get the green dacha's* in the countryside.)
This is the new reality: In a country where market forces aren't left to themselves to pick winners and losers; in a country where trillion dollar budgets and spenduli are used to shower billions of dollars on campaign supporters (read: ACORN, Unions, etc.); in a country where government picks the winners and the losers, you better hope that, at the very least, you aren't on Obama's naughty list.


*In Soviet Russia, supposedly everyone had access to homes in the countryside surrounding Moscow & other Russian cities. In reality, the only ones who stayed there, ate black market food, owned cars that ran, took hot showers, etc., etc. were the leading Communist party members & their friends.


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07 March 2009

Reject Obama-conomics

In Thursday's Journal, Daniel Henninger recommended we all "reread the apostles and evangelists of private economic growth -- Ronald Reagan's "A Life in Letters," Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose," Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson."

By happy coincidence, I received via mass email, one of Milton Friedman's great TV moments.

It's short; please watch.

video

As one of my economic heroes was fond of repeating, government is at its best (historically AND its best is not saying much) when its efforts are both simple & targeted.

There is nothing about TARP, Obama's stimulus, Obama's budget, Obama's cap-and-trade, or Obama's proposed TARP-2 that fits either of those criteria. These are all proposals from men (& a few women) who think they can manage the economy from above better than individuals can on their own.

We've been down that road before. A bunch of times. Let's not go there again.


If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

06 March 2009

Semper Fi

Is it just me, or do the Marines seem to like one President more than the other?

See for yourself, at Blackfive, a military blog.

I'm told there are more Democrats in the military now than ever. But Blackfive doesn't think the party is relevant:
I don't think the fact that the party of the President really matters in discussions on whether the troops like him or not. That said. The current president has a lot of deeds to make happen in order to overcome his words:

[ed. note: click link and see video of Obama accusing US military of haphazardly bombing villages & killing civilians. Damned by his own words.]

I mean, come on, would YOU want to work for a boss that has that kind of appreciation for you and your brothers blood?
(h/t DrewM @ Ace)


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05 March 2009

Words of Wisdom from the World's Luckiest Investor

This is my inaugural post, one which will hopefully be the first of many.

Warren Buffet, Investor Extraordinaire, is constantly used as a tool of the left. All they have to do is point at the Oracle of Omaha and say "he's on our side," and candidates are instantly lent market cred. However, Mr. Buffet's liberal political views are mostly guided by social issues, and he tends to support Democrat presidential candidates in spite of--not because of--their economic policies.

If you've never read his annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter, you should. Its conversational tone makes it readable for even the most inept student of business and finance. with so much doom and gloom from the Alarmist in Chief, Buffet's perspective is refreshing.
Amid this bad news, however, never forget that our country has faced far worse travails in the past. In the 20th Century alone, we dealt with two great wars (one of which we initially appeared to be losing); a dozen or so panics and recessions; virulent inflation that led to a 21 1 ⁄ 2% prime rate in 1980; and the Great Depression of the 1930s, when unemployment ranged between 15% and 25% for many years. America has had no shortage of challenges.

Without fail, however, we’ve overcome them. In the face of those obstacles – and many others – the real standard of living for Americans improved nearly seven-fold during the 1900s, while the Dow Jones Industrials rose from 66 to 11,497. Compare the record of this period with the dozens of centuries during which humans secured only tiny gains, if any, in how they lived. Though the path has not been smooth, our economic system has worked extraordinarily well over time. It has unleashed human potential as no other system has, and it will continue to do so. America’s best days lie ahead.
'Nuff said. Read the rest here.


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04 March 2009

Absent Bush, Dems Make Straw Man Of Rush (UPDATED)

I should have said, "Democrats & the media (but I repeat myself) make a straw man out of Rush Limbaugh."

That joke doesn't get old.

My man at NewsBusters, Noel Sheppard, wrote up a good piece about recent revelations from the left that they want to make Limbaugh the new Republican bogeyman--used to scare the public into submitting to their nefarious plans.
Well, new revelations suggest that Democrats began a smear campaign against the conservative talk radio host last October, and now it's really caught steam.

Apparently, the Left feared its message would be muted without having George W. Bush to blame for all the world's problems, and Limbaugh made a nice substitute as the object of their disaffection to distract the public from real issues.

Given White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's connections to key media figures such as ABC's George Stephanopoulos as well as CNN's Paul Begala and James Carville, disseminating the hate was a piece of cake.

It almost goes w/o saying that I think their plan will fail--most importantly, because Rush is a far better communicator than George W. Bush. And because Rush already has 20 million regular listeners.

I don't want to say Emanuel & Begala & Carville & Co. are dumb, but this strategy strikes me as pretty stupid. Seriously, folks, when you are the establishment, it doesn't help you to elevate the competition.

I don't think there is a smarter, more persuasive communicator of conservative ideals that Rush Limbaugh. If these people are persuadable, they will be persuaded by Rush.

Note that I'm not talking about the leftist progressives who already hate all things conservative. These people are dead to reason until they realize how much their feel-good policy preferences suck in the real world.

Independents--the same ones who were persuaded about offshore drilling. The same ones who have begun to turn against the spendulus. The same ones who are skeptical about bigger government & higher taxes--these people will turn to Rush and large numbers of them will be persuaded by him.

UPDATE 6:17pm BST: Jonah Goldberg weighs in on El Rushbo's controversial statement that he hopes Obama "fails":
Here we go again. Rush Limbaugh is public enemy No. 1. Liberal bloggers and media chin-strokers are aghast at Limbaugh's statement that he hopes Barack Obama fails. Well, given what Obama wants to do, I hope he fails too. Of course I want the financial crisis to end -- who doesn't? But Obama's agenda is much more audacious. Pretty much every major news outlet in the country has said as a matter of objective analysis that Obama wants to repeal the legacy of Ronald Reagan and remake the country as a European welfare state. And yet people are shocked that conservatives, Limbaugh included, want Obama to fail in this effort? What movie have they been watching? Because I could swear that conservatives opposing the expansion of big government is what conservatives do.
European elites and visiting liberal American backpackers love Europe. All they ever see are the tourist traps. They don't see the vast numbers of welfare state lower class--many immigrants--who live, for instance, in the banlieues of Paris.

These people--and their equivalents in Germany, et al--firebomb the cars of the wealthy every night. And the liberal elites of these countries just don't get it. They think, 'we gave these people welfare and universal healthcare and public housing, what the hell more do they want!?!!'

I don't want to go off on a rant here, because what I have to say on the subject could occupy at least a fortnight's worth of my intermittent posts, but is this what you all want America to look like?

In Europe, the lib elites keep throwing more money at the masses because unlike America, there is no chance in hell of the elites ever allowing the hoi polloi to move up to the next income bracket.

This is why these types of socialist policies should never translate to America: Here, the poor don't stay poor forever. There is a lot of movement from one bracket to the next. That just doesn't happen anywhere else.

If Obama gets his way, it might not happen in America either.


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