Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why Constitutional Conservatism Is Ascending

If 2009 was the year of birth of the Tea Party movement, 2010 was the year of ascendancy of constitutional conservatism. In many ways, the movements are the same -- except, perhaps, that the Tea Party is a movement of political activism by people who weren't traditionally activists, and constitutional conservatism represents an awakening about the way back to American exceptionalism.

For conservatives to emphasize constitutionalism is nothing new. The greater emphasis, however, is a bit of branding that helps distinguish them from establishment Republicans who stole the brand "conservative," or those whose policies are constitutionally limited only some of the time.

You know constitutional conservatism is on the right track when the liberal literati (Lincoln Caplan) and dimwiterati (Randi Rhodes) criticize it.

More than ever, people now sense that the country is in decline because America has moved away from its true constitutional structure of government. As stated previously, the Constitution is the law that governs government. It is a limitation on government power as much as a grant of certain power.

It is the limitation part that is the Constitution's core, which is why liberals and the ruling class can't or won't wrap their heads around constitutional conservatism. The Democratic Party, taken over by social Democrats, and the Republican Party, whose leaders like to call themselves Reagan conservatives but became the old Democratic Party, failed to honor the limitations.

Federal agencies were given power to intrude on private property rights in the name of regulation for the public good. Free markets ceased to exist and were replaced by crony capitalism partnered with big government. The nonprofit sector, religious organizations, and other institutions became additional partners with government, and they had little or no regard for the Constitution except as it protected them -- and even then, they were willing abettors in its erosion.

The ascendancy of constitutional conservatism is a result of people's belief that restoring the Constitution is the only way we can save the country from becoming like the European nations.

Gordon Wood's The Creation of the American Republic, 1776 - 1787 is a marvelous depiction of the formation of the American Constitution as a response to the ruling-class nature of Europe at the time. Angelo Codevilla's brilliant book and article, America's Ruling Class, show that we've become much like the Europe of the time of our nation's constitutional creation.

We have watched more or less passively for decades as government has broken the law that governs it. Constitutional conservatives understand that America's exceptional nature is a direct result of the principles of our Declaration of Independence and the structural safeguards of our Constitution. We now understand that many or most of our national deficiencies can be attributed to the government's having broken our paramount law.

The divisions of power created by the Constitution were designed to provide a system of order that protects freedom. As importantly, the divisions of power were intended to protect private property rights and the bounty that flows from private property. The erosion of the Constitution as a strict structure has resulted in a loss of rights that are the key to our moral and financial well-being. A return to American exceptionalism requires a return to our constitutional structure.

Constitutional conservatism means that powers not delegated expressly to the federal government are indeed reserved to the states or to the people, which means that even conservatives must be restricted in the agendas they wish to accomplish at the federal level.

It means that constitutional conservatives will look to scale back government that has exceeded its legal limits -- first by reducing the powers of federal branches and agencies to their rightful places, and then by eliminating agencies not consistent with powers authorized by the Constitution and returning those controls back to the states.

Conservatives, including our best leaders, may not always articulate these notions perfectly, which is why the liberal literati are tempted to be derisive. With the national debt and the decay of our institutions, however, we are insolvent. The solution to insolvency is to restructure. The Constitution provides the structure for a return to exceptionalism.

The steps won't always be clear, certain or without dispute and debate, but as long as the direction is true, it can be done.

Fortunately, discussions of constitutionalism are no longer restricted to the writings of law professors or debates among lawyers. Books like Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny and Who Killed the Constitution? by Thomas Woods and Kevin Gutzman helped popularize the notion that the country's current downward path is directly attributable to the deterioration of our constitutional structures and protections.

Americans are reading, discussing, and emphasizing the Constitution like never before. They are, so to speak, forcing it upon elected officials, who despite their oaths to uphold the Constitution, often considered it as an afterthought or inconvenience.

Liberals and social Democrats understand, of course, that constitutional conservatism threatens their paradigm, which is why they attempt to mock it as akin to and, in their world, as dangerous as religious fundamentalism.

This is why we need even more elected officials who articulate the vision of constitutional conservatism and what impact it will have. The 2010 election was a bit of a hastily designed test run. If in the 2012 election conservatives become more facile in their explanations of constitutionalism and how it will help America return to exceptional status, then we will truly see an autopsy of liberalism.

SOURCE

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Obama's love-letter to the UAW

Several recent revelations bring home just what a cesspool of crony capitalism the American auto industry has become. The Obama administration and the UAW (Obama's major financial and political supporter) are running the show.

First is the news that the "new" GM walked away from the crony bankruptcy proceedings with a huge tax break -- one worth up to $45 billion. It was revealed in the paperwork filed for its IPO that the Obama administration gave the new GM a sweetheart deal: it will be allowed to carry forward huge losses incurred by the "old" GM prior to its bankruptcy. Of course, the IRS doesn't allow the new companies that emerge from bankruptcy to write off their old losses. But the feds decided to waive that rule for companies bailed out by TARP.

Thus, the new GM will save about $45.4 billion in taxes on future earnings, which may allow it to escape taxes for the next twenty years. This "tax-loss carry-forward" is a huge plum, an asset most of GM's rivals don't have, and one that no doubt led to its artificially high IPO stock price.

This brings up the second revelation: namely, the machinations by the Obama administration during the IPO that consciously helped the UAW make out like bandits.

The UAW was given a big chunk of new GM in the crooked bankruptcy settlement. To be precise, the very monster that drove GM off the cliff -- the UAW -- received 35% of the stock in the new company. With the sale of the stock in the new GM, the UAW earned an immediate $3.4 billion in selling about one third of its shares.

Moreover, if the UAW can get $36 per share for the other two-thirds of its shares, it will walk away breaking even -- meaning it will walk away with its outrageously bloated pension and health care fund fully intact. The taxpayer, on the other hand, hasn't fared well at all.

In fact, the Obama administration screwed the taxpayer just as thoroughly as it pampered the UAW. The taxpayer put $49.5 billion into GM in the bankruptcy, not to mention all the funds shoveled at the company prior to that. The Treasury recouped only a wretched $13.7 billion in the IPO, mainly because the Obama administration -- in yet another unprecedented gift to the union -- announced publicly that it would not sell any more stock for the next six months. This enables the UAW to dump its shares whenever it wants at a much higher price than it could get if the Treasury were also selling. The taxpayers will almost certainly get a lower payout, and they will never recoup their forced investment in these dinosaurs -- all to enable the UAW to walk away made whole.

Screwed even worse were the old secured creditors -- you know, the ones near the front of the line in bankruptcy filings way back when America was governed by the rule of law. The bondholders in the old GM have bonds as useful as scratch paper. (I won't mention the stockholders in the old GM, because stockholders -- who are only the legal owners of a company! -- typically got nothing in bankruptcy.)

The Obama administration car czar, who engineered the crony bankruptcy -- the aptly named Steve Rattner -- claims that the secured creditors would have received nothing in a standard bankruptcy anyway. But his claim is ludicrous on its face: in a regular bankruptcy, the union contracts that caused GM's and Chrysler's failure would have been nullified, and the substantial assets of the companies (plants, inventory, receivables, land, patents, etc.) would have been worth a substantial amount to other automakers and investment companies. The proceeds would have gone to satisfy the bondholders at least to a fair degree.

The third recent revelation about the U.S. automakers was the news that the Obama administration changed the purchasing of vehicles for the federal fleet dramatically; again, apparently to benefit its supporters.

It turns out that the administration itself has purchased a huge, unprecedented chunk of American-made hybrid cars assembled since it took over two of the loser companies. This has propped up the sales of hybrid cars in the face of widespread consumer indifference.

More HERE

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Let's not settle for the big-government status quo

By SARAH PALIN

The publication of the findings of the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was indeed, as the report was titled, "A Moment of Truth." The report shows we're much closer to the budgetary breaking point than previously assumed. The Medicare Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2017. As early as 2025, federal revenue will barely be enough to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on our national debt. With spending structurally outpacing revenue, something clearly needs to be done to avert national bankruptcy.

Speaking with WSJ's Jerry Seib, Congressman Paul Ryan (R, WI) insisted that the deal between Republicans and the White House on the Bush Tax Cuts was not a second stimulus and that the agreement would promote growth despite adding to the deficit.

The commission itself calculates that, even if all of its recommendations are implemented, the federal budget will continue to balloon—to an estimated $5 trillion in 2020, from an already unprecedented $3.5 trillion today. The commission makes only a limited effort to cut spending below the current trend set by the Obama administration.

Among the few areas of spending it does single out for cuts is defense—the one area where we shouldn't be cutting corners at a time of war. Worst of all, the commission's proposals institutionalize the current administration's new big spending commitments, including ObamaCare. Not only does it leave ObamaCare intact, but its proposals would lead to a public option being introduced by the backdoor, with the chairmen's report suggesting a second look at a government-run health-care program if costs continue to soar.

It also implicitly endorses the use of "death panel"-like rationing by way of the new Independent Payments Advisory Board—making bureaucrats, not medical professionals, the ultimate arbiters of what types of treatment will (and especially will not) be reimbursed under Medicare.

The commission's recommendations are a disappointment. That doesn't mean, though, that the commission's work was a wasted effort. For one thing, it has exposed the large and unsustainable deficits that the Obama administration has created through its reckless "spend now, tax later" policies. It also establishes a clear bipartisan consensus on the need to fundamentally reform our entitlement programs. We need a better plan to build on these conclusions with common-sense reforms to tackle our long-term funding crisis in a sustainable way.

In my view, a better plan is the Roadmap for America's Future produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.). The Roadmap offers a reliable path to long-term solvency for our entitlement programs, and it does so by encouraging personal responsibility and independence.

On health care, it would replace ObamaCare with a new system in which people are given greater control over their own health-care spending. It achieves this partly through creating medical savings accounts and a new health-care tax credit—the only tax credit that would be left in a radically simplified new income tax system that people can opt into if they wish.

The Roadmap would also replace our high and anticompetitive corporate income tax with a business consumption tax of just 8.5%. The overall tax burden would be limited to 19% of GDP (compared to 21% under the deficit commission's proposals). Beyond that, Rep. Ryan proposes fundamental reform of Medicare for those under 55 by turning the current benefit into a voucher with which people can purchase their own care.

On Social Security, as with Medicare, the Roadmap honors our commitments to those who are already receiving benefits by guaranteeing all existing rights to people over the age of 55. Those below that age are offered a choice: They can remain in the traditional government-run system or direct a portion of their payroll taxes to personal accounts, owned by them, managed by the Social Security Administration and guaranteed by the federal government. Under the Roadmap's proposals, they can pass these savings onto their heirs. The current Medicaid system, the majority of which is paid for by the federal government but administered by the states, would be replaced by a block-grant system that would reward economizing states.

Together these reforms help to secure our entitlement programs for the 21st century. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Roadmap would lead to lower deficits and a much lower federal debt. The CBO estimates that under current spending plans, our federal debt would rise to 87% of GDP by 2020, to 223% by 2040, and to 433% by 2060. Under Rep. Ryan's Roadmap, the CBO estimates that debt would rise much more slowly, peaking at 99% in 2040 and then dropping back to 77% by 2060.

Put simply: Our country is on the path toward bankruptcy. We must turn around before it's too late, and the Roadmap offers a clear plan for doing so. But it does more than just fend off disaster. CBO calculations show that the Roadmap would also help create a "much more favorable macroeconomic outlook" for the next half-century. The CBO estimates that under the Roadmap, by 2058 per-person GDP would be around 70% higher than the current trend.

Is Rep. Ryan's Roadmap perfect? Of course not—no government plan ever is. But it's the best plan on the table at a time when doing nothing is no longer an option.

Let's not settle for the big-government status quo, which is what the president's commission offers. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make these tough decisions so that they might inherit a prosperous and strong America like the one we were given.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Friday, December 10, 2010

The conservative case for Wikileaks

No one questions that governments must maintain a certain level of secrecy, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who told Time that “Secrecy is important for many things … [but it] shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses.” The entire premise of Assange’s whistleblower organization is this: To what degree is government secrecy justified? And when particular secrets could be damaging to the other partner in the United States government’s relationship — the American people — should these secrets be revealed in the name of protecting the public?

How often does our government use “national security” simply as an excuse to cover up questionable dealings? Reports Time: “in the past few years, governments have designated so much information secret that you wonder whether they intend the time of day to be classified. The number of new secrets designated as such by the U.S. government has risen 75% … . At the same time, the number of documents and other communications created using those secrets has skyrocketed nearly 10 times…”

To say that government must keep secrets is not to say that all government secrets must be kept.

As admitted even by Pentagon officials and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, none of WikiLeaks’ revelations do anything to compromise national security or endanger American lives — but they have wreaked havoc on political life in Washington, D.C. Americans are not supposed to know, for example, that their government bullied and threatened individuals and other governments that might have undermined the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.

The federal government attempting to squelch anyone who might undermine global-warming dogma? Do WikiLeaks’ conservative critics believe revealing this is a “national security” risk?

Americans are not supposed to know, apparently, that behind the scenes Saudi Arabia has been encouraging the U.S. to take military action against Iran. But if we end up going to war with Iran shouldn’t it be in America’s national interest, and not simply as a subcontractor for another country? Asks Fox News’ Judith Miller: “Why should Americans not know that Arab states, often at the top level, have been urging Washington to take military or other drastic action against Iran, while they publicly oppose such action?”

And when did conservatives become so protective of Hillary Clinton? What happened to the days of the “Stop Hillary Express,” when right-wing talk radio portrayed the former first lady as Satan and theorized about all the devious ways in which, if in power, she might conspire to bring down the country? When WikiLeaks revealed that Secretary of State Clinton tried to obtain DNA, fingerprints, credit-card numbers, and other private information belonging to United Nations officials, we learned that Clinton’s style was every bit as mafia-esque as her conservative critics once warned. Yet conservatives now attack WikiLeaks for revealing what they once feared.

It should also be remembered that the same conservatives now calling for Assange’s head either ignored or were sympathetic to Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame allegedly at the Bush administration’s behest — a revelation arguably far riskier to our national security than anything ever released by WikiLeaks.

But the worst hypocrisy throughout this controversy has been in conservatives reflexively defending the government and attacking WikiLeaks. Since when have conservatives believed that Washington should be able to shroud any action it likes in secrecy and that revealing government’s nefarious deeds is tantamount to treason? Isn’t it government officials who might secretly work for corporate, ideological or transnational interests — and against the national interest — who are betraying their country?

Interestingly, Wikileaks’ founder espouses the traditionally conservative, Jeffersonian view that America’s constitutional structure limits and lessens government corruption. Reported Time: “Assange appears to believe that the U.S. has not become ‘a much-worse-behaved superpower’ because its federalism, ‘this strength of the states,’ has been a drag on the combination of the burgeoning power of the central government and a presidency that can expand its influence only by way of foreign affairs.”

Decentralizing government power, limiting it, and challenging it was the Founders’ intent and these have always been core conservative principles. Conservatives should prefer an explosion of whistleblower groups like WikiLeaks to a federal government powerful enough to take them down.

Government officials who now attack WikLleaks don’t fear national endangerment, they fear personal embarrassment. And while scores of conservatives have long promised to undermine or challenge the current monstrosity in Washington, D.C., it is now an organization not recognizably conservative that best undermines the political establishment and challenges its very foundations.

SOURCE

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MSNBC ignoramus fails to realize that C.S. Lewis is a noted Christian author

First they mock her for not telling them what she reads. Now they mock her for telling them exactly what she reads.

But the fact that C.S. Lewis’ works have not-so-subtle Christian undertones is apparently lost on MSNBC commentator Richard Wolffe who mocks former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for claiming his books were a source of “divine inspiration.”

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Hardball” with Chris Matthews, Wolffe expressed incredulity, noting that Lewis wrote “a series of kids’ books.”

Matthews interrupted Wolffe: “I wouldn’t put down C.S. Lewis.”

“I’m not putting him down,” Wollfe responded. “But you know divine inspiration? There are things she could’ve said to divine inspiration. Choosing C.S. Lewis is an interesting one.”

Note to Richard Wolffe: Lewis wrote much more than “a series of kids’ books.” I suggest you read some of them sometime.

SOURCE. (See the original for links & video)

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The Republican Senate

Republicans gnashed their teeth in frustration as the national tide of GOP resurgence washed up against the massive Democratic fortresses in Nevada, Washington state, Colorado and California. When they neither toppled nor faltered, most conservatives resigned themselves to a divided Congress with the Republican House and the Democratic Senate forever at war.

Not so. The vote on the extension of the Bush tax cuts reveals that the Republican Party has, in fact, gained effective control of the U.S. Senate. We are facing the same situation Ronald Reagan confronted in 1980 when his revolution brought him control of the Senate, but left the House under the nominal reign of Tip O'Neill and the Democrats. But, in fact, as the new president soon discovered, the House Democratic majority was subservient to the tide that had swept the Senate. Terrified by the Republican sweep, the Democrats were unable to muster a coherent opposition in the chamber they controlled. So it will be in 2011.

The Democrats will keep the corner offices in the Russell, Dirksen and Hart Senate office buildings and retain their committee chairmanships, but their ability to summon a majority to sustain their president on crucial votes is gone. The defection of Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut indicates that the 53-47 Democratic tilt of the Senate is more apparent than real.

Webb, Nelson, Manchin and Lieberman are all up for re-election in 2012. Each is very good at reading the handwriting on the wall left by Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Evan Bayh, D-Ind., Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Bob _Bennett, R-Utah, and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., on their way out the door. It reads, "The conservatives are coming!"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could well afford to lose four votes while he controlled the Senate 58-42, but he can ill afford four defections when his margin is only three. And Sens. Nelson, Jon Tester, D-Mont., Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. -- all from red states and all facing close re-election battles -- cannot be far behind these four in considering periodic abandonment of the ship on key votes. Only the likelihood of retirement saves Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., from a similar fate. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., also vulnerable in 2012, probably think they can ride out the tide in their more Democratic states. (And in any event, Brown, Stabenow and Menendez are too liberal to notice what has just happened.)

So, on key votes, the endangered Democratic senators are likely to dodge the bullets coming from the House and defect from Reid's majority. Why should they take the rap for blocking conservative legislation when they have a presidential veto backing them up at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue? "Let the president take the rap; why should I have to?" they will ask as they lend their assent to House-passed bills. The inability of President Obama to re-elect those who supported him hardly encourages others to risk their careers doing so.

Indeed, Reid can only regain his functioning majority if more Democrats choose to retire rather than face the music in 2012. If Kohl, Bingaman, Webb and Ben Nelson decide to retire after this term, the Democrats could have enough lame ducks to keep control of the Senate floor for one more cycle -- hardly a pleasing prospect for their party.

The result of the functional _Republican control of the Senate is that the forum for decision-making in a divided Washington will not be the conference committee, but rather White House negotiations between the two political parties.

It remains to be seen whether the endangered Democrats can save their Senate seats from the likely GOP tide of 2012 by switching in time to pretend to be moderates. What is clear is that they are not going to block the Republican bills coming over from the House. The Democrats will still control the committees in the Senate, but the Republicans will own the floor.

SOURCE

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Is ObamaCare Unconstitutional? Virginia Will Put It To The Test

Sometime before the end of December the Eastern District Court in Virginia will rule on the constitutionality of ObamaCare's individual mandate. Judge Henry Hudson's ruling could have huge implications for the future of not only ObamaCare, but also the relationship of the federal government to its citizens.

The mandate requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. In May, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed suit against the mandate. "This is a further extension of federal power than ever before," said James Blumstein, a law professor at Vanderbilt University.

The Obama administration argues that the federal government has the power to compel people to buy insurance since it has the authority to regulate insurance under the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution.

While the government has used the commerce clause to regulate or even prevent the purchase of a product or service, this is the first time the commerce clause has been used to require individuals to purchase a product.

Virginia counters that failing to purchase insurance does not count as economic activity and thus does not fall under the purview of the commerce clause.

The case likely to loom large in Hudson's ruling is Gonzales v. Raich. The Supreme Court held that the federal government could use the commerce clause to ban the possession of marijuana that had never crossed state lines or been sold anywhere. The majority on the court reasoned that the drug could easily become part of interstate commerce, so Congress had the power to regulate it.

Thus far district courts in Michigan and Western Virginia have dismissed challenges to the individual mandate. Those courts "read Gonzales vs. Raich to mean that Congress can regulate intrastate activity if there is a rational basis to suggest that it might affect interstate commerce," said Tom Christina, an attorney at the firm Ogletree Deakins.

The question is whether failing to purchase insurance constitutes "economic activity." Christina said: "In those judges' view it's not right to characterize failing to have insurance as mere inactivity. Instead those courts have accepted the government's argument that everyone is going to eventually get sick and need medical care. According to the government, people who are uninsured are engaged in the activity of financing their future health care in one fashion vs. another."

Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, counters that Raich will not apply because it defines "economic activity as the production, consumption or distribution of a commodity. If you choose not to have health insurance, you're not producing, consuming or distributing it."

Nor does Somin agree that since everyone eventually uses health care the government can make people buy insurance. "That kind of reasoning can be used to justify anything," he said. "The government could justify a mandate to purchase cars because eventually everyone uses transportation."

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

The cure is the disease: "Prohibition of alcohol in the United States lasted from 1920 to 1933, during that time it proved an utter failure. The Schaffer Library of Drug Policy reports that consumption increased, especially among women and children and that arrests for public drunkenness and similar alcohol related offenses surpassed pre-prohibition levels. In addition to not preventing use and abuse the Nobel Experiment enriched and empowered criminals, further corrupted politicians, and cost the tax payers millions. Today America faces similar problems caused by the War on Drugs."

Iran’s chief obstacle to nukes: Its own bad technology: "Long before the mysterious Stuxnet computer virus struck an apparent blow at Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran’s nuclear effort was being delayed by a far more mundane problem: bad technology. … The most fundamental problem with Iran’s enrichment program appears to be its own centrifuge design. Called the P-1 after a Pakistani mock-up of a Dutch design pilfered in the 1970s, the centrifuge that Iran has been attempting to operate is known to be temperamental and fault-prone.”

DADT repeal fails to make it to US Senate floor : "Despite Democratic efforts, Republicans on Thursday prevented a vote on the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, putting the repeal of a ban on gays serving openly in the military in doubt. … Republicans have vowed to block any votes until after resolving the unrelated issue of expiring tax cuts.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Obamanomics Takes a Holiday

A two-year tax reprieve is better than current law but far from ideal

Does President Obama like or loathe the two-year tax deal he has struck with Republicans? It was hard to tell from his grudging, testy remarks Monday and yesterday, but perhaps that's because he realizes he is repudiating the heart and soul of Obamanomics as the price of giving himself a chance at a second term.

In accepting the deal to cut payroll and business taxes and extend all of the Bush-era tax rates through 2012, Mr. Obama has implicitly admitted that his economic strategy has flopped. He is acknowledging that tax rates matter to growth, that treating business like robber barons has hurt investment and hiring, and that tax cuts are superior to spending as stimulus. It took 9.8% unemployment and a loss of 63 House seats for this education to sink in, but the country will benefit.

In this sense, the political symbolism is as important as the policy. Mr. Obama is signaling that businesses must be encouraged to make profits again so they can hire more workers, that "the rich" he so maligns should be able to keep more of what they earn, and even that wealth built up over a lifetime shouldn't be confiscated wholesale at death. In policy if not in Presidential rhetoric, class war and income redistribution are taking a two-year holiday.

This is not to say the deal is optimal for economic growth, and Republicans should not pretend it is. A two-year reprieve is far better than an immediate tax increase amid a still fragile recovery, but it also means that the policy uncertainty is carried forward. In the Keynesian universe, "temporary" tax cuts are virtuous because they stimulate immediately while ostensibly allowing government to reclaim the revenue later when the economy is stronger.

In the real world, businesses make investments based on the estimated return on capital over time, including the expected tax rate. What matters is the overall cost of, and return on, capital. The temporary nature of the tax cuts will provide less incentive to invest than would permanent reductions in the cost of capital

The provision to allow business a 100% expensing deduction for 2011, and 50% in 2012, will help growth in those years. But it will do so in part by pulling investment forward from 2013. This is good for President Obama's re-election chances, but not so good for increasing the permanent level of business investment.

The same goes for the temporary cut in the payroll tax in the name of encouraging more hiring. The one-year cut to 4.2% from 6.2% in the employee portion of the Social Security tax increases the incentive to work. Because it doesn't favor some workers over others, it is also superior to the tax credits that Democrats wanted. But the proposal does nothing to reduce employer costs, even as ObamaCare is raising those costs as its mandates and regulations take effect.

This incentive to work also conflicts with the disincentive to work provided by another extension in jobless benefits. The deal's 13-month extension will cost taxpayers about $56 billion. As economist Larry Summers noted before he joined the White House, every jobless person has a "reservation wage," or the minimum wage he'll accept to take a job. The jobless rate will thus stay higher for longer as benefits induce some people to hold out for a better job than those that are available.

Another half-victory is the provision to set the estate tax at 35%, with an exclusion of $5 million. The rate was set to return to 55% with a $1 million exclusion on January 1, and Mr. Obama had wanted 45%. While the 35% rate also lasts only two years, the level of bipartisan support will make this rate politically difficult to increase even if Mr. Obama wins re-election...

As for Democrats, many and perhaps most in Congress will oppose this deal as an ideological betrayal by Mr. Obama, but it is really an admission of reality. Democrats lost the election because their economic policies failed. Their caterwauling now is mostly short-attention-span theater for the MSNBC crowd.

More HERE

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Fascist Thinking at the FCC

A member of the Federal Communications Commission appears to want Washington in control of broadcast news. What a shame that people with such ideas are placed in positions of power.

The FCC's Michael Copps suggested last week that a "public value test" should determine who holds broadcast licenses for television and radio. Speaking at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, he said he was looking for "a renewed commitment to serious news and journalism."

So are we. We're weary of the hard-left bias ever so present in the media. We're fed up with celebrity treatment of all those on the left and contempt for all those on the right who aren't Republicans in name only. We've had enough of a press corps that makes no effort to understand economics and keeps promoting tired, freedom-choking, statist ideology.

We've been frustrated, as well, by networks that keep framing the issue — by 6-to-1, according to the Media Research Council — as a debate about "tax cuts for the rich" rather than a simple continuation of current rates.

And we're still dismayed by the media's refusal to look into Barack Obama's thin background during the 2008 presidential campaign, while digging up everything they could on Sarah Palin to portray her as an inexperienced ditz.

But there's another difference between us and Copps: We're not willing to use the police power of the state to force the outcome we prefer.

According to the Hill newspaper, Copps would issue licenses only when broadcasters: "Prove they have made a meaningful commitment to public affairs and news programming, prove they are committed to diversity programming, report more to the government about which shows they plan to air, require greater disclosure about who funds political ads and devote 25% of their prime-time coverage to local news."

Who is Copps to make such demands? And why does a man who thinks like a tyrant hold such a high-ranking position in the U.S. government?

His appetite for power isn't new. It's been simmering for some time. He has a history of campaigning against media ownership laws that advance freedom, preferring instead regulations that limit how many media outlets one owner can have in a market.

"Why does any corporate interest need to own three stations in any city, other than to enjoy the 40%-50% profit margins most consolidated stations are racking up?" he wrote in 2003 in response to a proposal to relax media ownership rules.

In a free society, it's not for Copps or anyone else to ask why any corporate interest needs to own three stations in one city. Liberty doesn't always produce the conditions we like. But it never produces results that are damaging.

If one company owned every news outlet in the country, we'd have reservations. But that situation, as uncomfortable as it might be, would not violate the life, liberty or property of a single person.

But Copps' ideas would. A company's freedom to operate without government interference is infringed upon if that company must meet any of his standards if it's to have its broadcast license renewed.

It's reasonable to ask, as Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas did in a letter to Copps this week, if the commissioner means to give the federal government the power to determine what content is available for Americans to consume. Frankly, it's hard to interpret his remarks any other way; they are so consistent with his history of wanting to impose his ideas on others.

Three years ago, the FCC voted to eliminate some of its statist ownership rules. Copps and another Democrat were against the change, but the proposal passed on the three GOP votes. This was not a radical change but a marginal deregulatory shift toward greater freedom in the market. And some rules remain.

They're not enough, though, for Copps and like-minded leftists. They continue to rail at large media companies and media consolidation as if they were hatched in Hades, and grumble about a lack of diversity among owners.

Absent in their rants is any concern about the dominance of left-leaning journalism that has corrupted American thinking for decades. But then, that's expected because this deeply biased state of affairs is what they're trying to protect.

More HERE

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Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Call Our Troops Homophobes

Ann Coulter

The Pentagon's poll on "don't ask, don't tell" is beyond idiotic. Instead of asking whether the troops support repeal of DADT, the Pentagon asked only if they can learn to play nice with the gays.

Even more absurdly, the Pentagon polled all military "personnel" -- and their spouses! Only a small portion of what is known as "the military" actually does the fighting. The rest is a vast bureaucracy along the lines of the DMV.

Today's military features "victim advocates" and sensitivity training facilitators, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services personnel and a million other goo-goo positions. How did we ever take the shores of Normandy without a phalanx of "sensitivity training" counselors?

No one has any need to be reassured that the military's "social action" staff will enjoy working with gays. Whatever a career in "social action" entails, it better be gay-friendly. Frankly, it's appalling the Pentagon's poll of all military personnel and their families didn't produce better numbers for the gays.

We're interested in what the men who fight think. As the Pentagon study itself reports: "A higher percentage of service members in war-fighting units predicted negative effects." So gays openly serving in the military will harm the "war-fighting" part of the military, but the "social action" part will thrive!

Naturally, Marines are the most resistant to overturning "don't ask, don't tell," with 58 percent of those in combat opposed.

Who cares if the Pentagon's sexual harassment task force supports gays in the military? The combat units don't, and they're the ones who do the job. The rest of us shouldn't get to vote on gays in the military any more than we get to vote on the choreography of "Chicago."

Military combat is a very specialized field comparable to nothing in civilian life. There has to be a special bond among warriors -- and only one kind of bond. The soldierly bond gets confused if some guys think their comrades are hot or if they suspect their superior is having a relationship with a fellow soldier.

It's the same confusion that results from putting girls in the military. When an officer makes a decision, nothing should enter into it except his views on the best military strategy.

The military part of the military has valid reasons for wanting to separate the idea of martial ardor and sexual attraction. Combat units can't have anything that interferes with unit cohesion, such as, for example, platoon members who are dating one another. Racial prejudice is not the same thing as sexual attraction, so please stop telling us this is just like integrating blacks in the military.

A Military Times survey in 2005 found that nearly half of all women in the military claim to have been the victim of sexual harassment -- ludicrously more than women in civilian life. By contrast, two-thirds of minorities said they were treated better in the military than in society at large.

The Pentagon's report found that service members "repeatedly" said that allowing gays to serve openly would "lead to widespread and overt displays of effeminacy," as well as "harassment" and unwelcome advances. (To which I would add, "and the occasional leak of massive amounts of classified documents.")

Gays in the military understand this better than heterosexuals in civilian life. According to the Pentagon's survey, only 15 percent of gays currently serving said they would want their units to know they're gay. (Also, 2 percent of gays currently serving giggled when asked about their "unit," which is down from 5 percent from last year.)

There are far more discharges for pregnancy and "parenthood" than for homosexuality. In the past five years, less than 1 percent of all unplanned military discharges (i.e. not due to retirement or completion of service) were for homosexuality.

Here's a record of the discharges for 2008, according to the Defense Department:

-- Drugs: 5,627

-- Serious offenses: 3,817

-- Weight standards: 4,555

-- Pregnancy: 2,353

-- Parenthood: 2,574

-- Homosexuality: 634

The main lesson from these figures isn't that we should have gays openly serving in the military, but that we need to get girls out of the military, inasmuch as they are constantly being discharged for pregnancy, parenthood and weight issues.

According to a 1998 Department of Defense report, most discharges based on homosexuality involved "junior personnel with very little time in the military" and "the great majority of discharges for homosexual conduct are uncontested and processed administratively." More than 98 percent of discharges for homosexuality were honorable.

So gays and girls can join the military, get taxpayers to foot the bill for their education and then, when it comes time to serve, announce that they're gay or pregnant and receive an honorable discharge. Indeed, there's no proof that all the discharges for homosexuality involve actual homosexuals.

Why can't the Army and Marines have their own rules? Why does everything have to be the same? Whatever happened to "diversity"?

Most people have no clue what military life is like, least of all the opinion makers in New York, Los Angeles and the nation's capital. The military is not representative of the country at large. It is disproportionately rural, small-town, Southern and Hispanic.

We ask our troops to do a lot for very little money. Sometimes they die for us. The least Democrats could do is not pass grandstanding bills while self-righteously denouncing our servicemen as homophobes.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Report: 42.9 million in US receiving food stamps: "The number of Americans receiving food stamps rose to a record 42.9 million in September as the jobless rate stayed near a 27-year high, the government said. Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program subsidies for food purchases jumped 16 percent from a year earlier and increased 1.2 percent from August, the US Department of Agriculture said yesterday in a statement on its website. Participation has set records for 22 straight months.”

Washington DC region's jobless rate falls to 5.8 percent: "The unemployment rate in the Washington region dropped to 5.8 percent in October from 6.3 percent a year ago, according to federal government data released Tuesday. Analysts credited the decrease to a rebound in the retail and restaurant segments sparked by a growing willingness among consumers to spend money. The region also led the nation in the number of jobs added in a 12-month period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was the second straight month in which the unemployment level dropped significantly in the Washington area. In September, the region's not seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 5.9 percent, from 6.2 percent the year before"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

More dangerous stupidity from the military top brass

Why can't they talk to the troops before making their idiotic decisions?

By signing a memo Oct. 29, 2007, James R. Clapper Jr. exposed U.S. military personnel to greater-than-necessary danger as they served their country in Afghanistan, Iraq and other hot spots around the world.

Then an Under Secretary of Defense and now our nation's Director of National Intelligence, Clapper designated the polygraph and its hand-held cousin, the Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System, as the "only approved credibility assessment technologies" in DoD. At the same time, he sent a dangerous message to U.S. troops: "Stop using the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer."

Fortunately, some of our nation's bravest warriors sided with common sense and opted to ignore The Clapper Memo. One of those who did was, until recently, a member of the Army Special Forces whom I will call "Joe" (not his real name).

Trained in counterintelligence and as an interrogator, this former SF operator used CVSA to conduct nearly 500 interrogations of enemy combatants and third-country nationals - more than anyone in the U.S. military - while serving in Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq and regularly working 18-hour days from 2004 to 2009.

Joe agreed to speak with me on condition of anonymity about his firsthand experience with CVSA and why Department of Defense leaders are wrong to keep the technology now used by more than 1,800 U.S. law enforcement agencies out of the hands of people in uniform.

"I was still downrange when that memo came out," said Joe, who spoke with me on condition of anonymity. After learning of the memo, Joe said he went to his commander and asked one question: "You want me to stop?" His commander replied, "Hell no, don't stop! You're just not using it anymore, right?"

Despite Pentagon orders to the contrary, Joe's SF commanders wanted him to continue using CVSA for one primary reason: They knew it was far superior to PCASS when it came to dealing with various types of detainees, captured enemy combatants, third-country nationals and others who could pose threats to U.S. and allied troops in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.

"The craziest thing about this whole deal was that it became such a controversy that, for us to continue to go up there and continue to fight - to say, `Hey, we need to use this,'" - "we were ordered to stand down and not even mention the words anymore," Joe said.

Why the stand-down order? Because, according to Joe, someone in Army leadership was more willing to rely upon laboratory studies commissioned by officials and agencies with vested interests in the continued use of the polygraph instead of trusting operational research like that Joe conducted almost daily.

Much more HERE

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The Perils Of Bailouts

The EU bailout of Ireland and its previous bailout for Greece, when examined closely, bore a distressing resemblance to the 2008 U.S. bailouts of Bear Stearns, AIG and Citigroup. The authorities poured more resources into assets that had been shown to be defective, without sufficiently enforcing the painful purging and liquidation that was necessary. By doing so, they reduced wealth, prolonged recession, and made the eventual collapse of the global financial system more likely.

The parallels between the EU financial crisis and the U.S. housing finance crisis are closer than they seem at first glance. In the Austrian economic terminology, both involved "mal-investment" –caused by excessively low interest rates or often artificial government subsidies–in assets and activities that later turned out to be worthless, or nearly so. Indeed, the parallel is increased by the prevalence of fraud and corruption in both cases. In the U.S. crisis, part of the mal-investment was in housing itself, through the encouragement of endless McMansion developments–houses that were not worth their cost the day they were built, and because of their poor construction quality will deteriorate exceptionally rapidly. The other part, in home mortgages, a substantial portion of which were obtained by fraud, has been extensively anatomized elsewhere, but it is by no means clear that the eventual losses on home mortgages will be any larger than those on the houses themselves.

In Europe, the areas of mal-investment varied from country to country. In Ireland, Spain and Britain, the problem was partly one of housing finance as in the United States. In Britain planning restrictions limited the creation of housing mal-investment directly, causing a housing price run-up even more extreme than in the U.S. In Ireland and Spain both housing and housing finance caused problems, with low interest rates on euro borrowing playing a similar role in those countries to the over-expansive monetary policies of Fed chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. (The euro's critics here overstate their case in my view; while the euro was over-stimulative for much of the eurozone, foolish U.S. policy created interest rates that were too low for the entire United States, not just part of it.)

The Irish government, by taking the entire liabilities of the Irish banks on its books, created a funding problem for itself that it could have largely avoided. However in Spain and Greece the mal-investments were greater and more complex. In Spain the socialist Zapatero government subsidized "green" energy investments through energy tariffs to the point where the subsidies represented 24% of the nation's energy bills. Since the "green" energy production facilities now appear unlikely to be cost-competitive even by 2014-16, the investments brought to life by those subsidies represent mal-investment in its purest form.

In Greece, the gigantic subsidies poured into the place by its unfortunate EU partners since its accession to the community in 1981 have resulted in the grotesque overpricing of the undereducated, corrupt and idle Greek workforce. Essentially, pretty well all investment in Greece in the past decade or so has been mal-investment.

Much more HERE

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Iceland in better shape than Ireland

ICELAND has managed its economic crisis better than Ireland by not rescuing its bloated bank sector with ruinous loans, economists say. The economies of the two island nations were both booming up until the middle of the last decade but completely imploded two years apart.

Iceland was first, its economy dragged down by the collapse of its three major banks in October 2008. In a similar fall from grace, Ireland imploded a few weeks ago when its state guarantee for the banks scuttled the public finances and forced Dublin to ask for a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Because Icelandic banks were disproportionately large compared to the country's economy -- their assets were once worth 11 times Iceland's total gross domestic product (GDP)-- the tiny country did not have the option of bailing out the banks and had to let them fail. "That alone has made for a very different result within the two countries," said Tryggvi Herbertsson, an economics professor at the University of Reykjavik and an aide to former prime minister Geir Haarde.

"Ireland is now over-leveraged (with debt) and their banking system continually weak. The difference in Iceland is that our banking system is clean and once the debt has been written off, we have a healthy banking system but in Ireland the system is broken," he said.

Last night, Iceland -- a volcanic island of 320,000 inhabitants -- emerged from a deep and lengthy recession, with official statistics showing 1.2 per cent economic growth in the third quarter.

According to the latest European Commission estimates, Iceland's public deficit will be at 6.3 per cent of GDP this year. That compares to a whooping 32 per cent for Ireland, 20 per cent of which can be attributed to its support for the stricken banking sector. Irish national debt will in turn soar to 100 per cent of GDP, well above Iceland's.

More HERE.

Further on in the article, Krugman eats crow

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Defying the will of the people, Obama governs by regulation

Sitting presidents whose agendas are soundly rejected by voters in midterm congressional elections have two options: They can either accommodate the new political reality, as President Clinton did after 1994; or they can use bureaucratic edicts to advance their unpopular programs, as President Obama is clearly doing now.

Given the historic drubbing his party just suffered at the polls, Obama's defiant strategy may prevent a second term for the man who began his first buoyed by an outpouring of good will.

Predictably, Obama's regulatory imperialism focuses on labor and environmental issues, as Big Green activists and labor unions, especially those representing government workers, are the core of support for the Democratic president and his congressional allies.

At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for example, Administrator Lisa Jackson is moving forward with a massive new program to subject the entire U.S. economy to an anti-global warming regulatory straitjacket aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Obama warned Congress last year that EPA would do this if the legislature failed to enact an Obama-supported version of cap and trade. Cap and trade passed the House in 2009 but never got out of the Senate because of intense public opposition, especially in energy-rich states like West Virginia. Now Jackson is following through on Obama's threat.

At the Department of Labor, Secretary Hilda Solis wasted no time after taking office last year in gutting long-standing rules requiring unions to disclose important details about how they spend members' dues. Now, Patricia Smith, Obama's Labor Department solicitor general, is working with Solis to implement an unprecedented new enforcement directive designed to put businesses at the mercy of union bosses. The directive provides, according to the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, for aggressive use of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to compel business cooperation through "shaming" and to "engage in enterprise-wide enforcement."

The rest of the bureaucratic blitzkrieg will be carried out by Smith's eager staff of 400 labor lawyers. Nathan Mehrens, Americans for Limited Government general counsel, says their agenda includes:

» A focus on "cases against employers in priority industries."

» Plans to "litigate cases that cut across regions."

» Working to "identify and pursue test cases" to "challenge legal principles that impede worker protections; successful challenges will advance workers' rights, as will successful enunciation of new interpretations."

» Engaging "in greater use of injunctive relief."

Meanwhile, as Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell wrote in last Friday's Examiner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing the lame-duck Congress to pass his Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, a laughably misnamed measure that will force public employee unions on all local and state police, fire and emergency medical technicians. Obama supports Reid's bill, but its passage is far from assured. Nobody will be surprised if, shortly after the Reid proposal fails on Capitol Hill, Obama unveils a new regulatory gambit to achieve the same end.

SOURCE

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Nearly half of Democrats support Fascist economics

Democratic politicians have repeatedly stressed to the public that they are not socialists and do not believe in socialism. They may want to have a few words with some of their voters, according to a poll released over the weekend by Rasmussen Reports.

In that survey of 1,000 adults, nearly half of all Democrats, 42 percent, indicated that they believe the government should "manage the economy completely."

That viewpoint is not exactly socialism—there's a different between managing and owning after all—but it's a far cry from the free market ideology that non-Democrats favored in the poll. Just under 25 percent of independents favored government completely managing the economy.

(The Rasmussen release about the poll does not mention Republican views about this but one has to assume they're very low considering that 38 of Republicans believe government should "stay out of economic decisions.")

In total, according to the poll, just 27 percent of Americans believe government should manage the conomy. Democrats would do well to note that this small number is not possible to spin into the kind of long-term majority liberal demographers insisted was coming with the election of President Obama.

That Obama's base has such extremely high (and unreal) confidence in the ability of government to command and control the economy may also explain why some Democrats are being to sour on him.

SOURCE

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Obama's latest attack on jobs

Who Pays for Jobless Benefits?

There is no such thing as a "free" government benefit. Ask small-business owners who are footing skyrocketing bills for bottomless jobless benefits. While politicians in Washington negotiate a deal to provide welcome temporary payroll, income and estate tax relief to America's workers, struggling employers wonder how long they'll have to pay for the compassion of others -- and whether they can survive.

The Beltway deal hinges on extending federal unemployment insurance for another 13 months. This would mark the sixth time that the deadline has been extended since June 2008.

State unemployment benefits last up to 26 weeks. Bipartisan-supported Washington mandates have raised that to 99 weeks. The current proposal would raise the total to 155 weeks. The cost of the joint federal-state program is borne by employers who pay state and federal taxes on a portion of wages paid to each employee in a calendar year. (At the federal level, employers must pay 6.2 percent of the first $7,000 of income to keep the system afloat.)

The combined burden of these hidden state and federal payroll taxes has exploded during the recession as President Obama's economic recovery interventions backfire and the jobless rate remains stuck near double-digits. State unemployment insurance funds have gone broke in nearly half the states. As of April 2010, unemployment tax analyst Douglas Holmes testified before the Senate, 35 states and jurisdictions had unemployment fund-related debts worth $39.5 billion. Anti-fraud efforts to prevent scams and overpayments are woefully underfunded.

In an interminable money shuffle, these bankrupt state unemployment insurance funds are now borrowing money from the feds, whose own regular unemployment benefits account and extended benefits account are both in the red. Washington is relying on transfers from the federal general revenue fund to cover loan obligations related to all these hemorrhaging accounts.

Who pays? Dentists, tavern owners, maid services, mom-and-pop shops -- small businesses that are the backbone of the American economy. In my home state of Colorado, small and mid-size firms have been saddled with eye-popping unemployment insurance bills that have doubled, tripled and more in the past year. The businesses that have the lowest claims histories are getting punished the most to make up the jobless benefits fund deficit.

More HERE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Net job impact of stimulus zero, from SF Federal Reserve study

A study by Daniel J. Wilson of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, suggests that the net job creation from the $814 billion stimulus bill passed in February, 2009, was zero by August 2010. In the first year, the stimulus "saved or created" 2 million jobs (not 4 million as repeatedly claimed by the Administration), but this number proved to be short lived, paying for temporary jobs, at a very high cost of $400,000 per job "saved or created."

By August, 2010, the impact of the stimulus on net job creation had disappeared. This is an astounding result, which destroys the Paul Krugman argument that the economy would be so much better right now, if only Congress had approved much more spending in February 2009. Double the initial spending, double the number of temporary jobs, with likely the same net result by this point in time, or a trivial number of "permanent jobs created . In fact, the unemployment rate is at a substantially higher percentage rate today at 9.8% than when the stimulus bill was passed. The E21 team concludes

"The results suggest that though the program did result in 2 million jobs "created or saved" by March 2010, net job creation was statistically indistinguishable from zero by August of this year. Taken at face value, this would suggest that the stimulus program (with an overall cost of $814 billion) worked only to generate temporary jobs at a cost of over $400,000 per worker. Even if the stimulus had in fact generated this level of employment as a durable outcome, it would still have been an extremely expensive way to generate employment.

SOURCE

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Dems Are Asking: Will Issa Go Too Far?

They fear having their own tactics used on them

Lurita Doan

Many within the White House seem fearful about the intentions of Darrell Issa. As the incoming Chairman of the House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform, Issa will have full power to open investigations into government operations and questionable programs. Media expert, Howard Kurtz, knows full well the power Issa will wield, and his article in the Daily Beast asks the question that is on the minds of many Democrats: Will Darrell Issa “go too far” as the incoming Chairman of the Committee of Oversight? A superb question, for the nation was given a clear example of excessive, mean-spirited, oftentimes petty use of oversight powers by Henry Waxman.

Democrats are wondering whether Issa will behave more responsibly and focus the committee’s attention on legitimate areas of concern and poorly performing government programs, rather than on punishing political adversaries for narrow political gains as did Henry Waxman. Having worked with both congressmen, I can say that Darrell Issa is an honest patriot that actually wants government to work more efficiently. Issa knows firsthand from the Waxman years the damage that can done by an irresponsible chairman.

Henry Waxman developed the playbook for many Democrat-led show trials during the Bush Administration. The pattern was always the same because it worked brilliantly and successfully trashed the reputations of many. The most common steps in the Waxman playbook are to leak information to the mainstream media, issue “invitations” to hearings based on the media coverage, refuse to meet with the government officials prior to the hearing, verbally attack family members of the witness, exclude the Minority members from meetings, hold hearings on a topic slightly different than what is cited in the “invitation’ so the witness isn’t fully prepared, have each Majority member spend the five minutes of Q&A making bombastic statements that use all but 30 seconds of the time allocated so that the witness is unable to completely rebut the accusations and, cite testimony and evidence as proof, which neither the witness nor the Minority committee members have had time or access to review. In short, Waxman perfected the modern day kangaroo court and served as its master of ceremonies.

Waxman didn’t care a fig about ferreting out poorly performing programs and wasteful spending. Indeed, many participants in his show trials tried, in vain, to provide Waxman with background data that he simply did not understand nor was interested in learning. Instead, Waxman’s focus was the propaganda value of the show trials he orchestrated.

Considerable effort was put into capturing C-Span and private video tapings which were then carefully edited by the Majority to control the public’s impression of the hearing. These edited segments, which omitted facts Waxman was eager to suppress, but advanced favorite Democratic attack lines, were then placed on You Tube. Thus, with some backhanded editing and misdirection, Democrat loyalists of Henry Waxman gained valuable free ads to use in their campaign commercials —all at taxpayer expense.

But it important to note that a Waxman oversight committee lynching, a true circus, also depended on a compliant victim, often too astounded at the brazen daring of ill-informed committee members, and often, under the illusion that the hearing was about finding out facts.

The compliant victim is often unwilling to fully expose the ignorance of congressmen, especially the chairman, whom the witness often believes deserves respect due to the office. And, the members, in turn, are counting on the civility of the witness to ensure that their ignorance will never be exposed. How can Americans tell when one of these kinds of show trials is occurring? Here’s another clue.

You will see a congressional staffer scuttling behind committee members with little slips of paper on which questions have been written. Remember, the members haven’t read the material, so the Majority staff often distributes comments, questions and talking points for the member to parrot. Like many Americans, Darrel Issa became appalled and disgusted with Henry Waxman’s dishonest kangaroo courts.

No doubt, too, as he now assumes the job as Majority Leader, Issa hopes to raise the bar and provide the nation with a more responsible example of how the Oversight Committee conducts itself under his leadership.

I expect great things from Issa’s committee and am hopeful that, at long last, we can watch a congressional hearing and take pride in our democracy in action. After all, aggressive oversight is important to protect the American taxpayer and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent well. But, oversight which relies on bullying and manipulating facts is abusive, un-American, and shameful.

So that may be why the White House is nervous. Obama and his staff are likely worried that the same kangaroo court mentality that Henry Waxman used to unfairly bludgeon the Bush Administration will be continued by Darell Issa. I understand the fear, but Obama can relax. Congressman Issa is a better man than Henry Waxman.

SOURCE

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Elites Should Blame themselves, Not Obama, for Believing His Messianic Pretensions

They are finding it hard to face the fact that they were conned by a smooth talker

David Limbaugh

Have you noticed the desperate agony among the Obama-supporting elite upon realizing that he is not quite the messiah he made himself out to be and as which they willingly embraced him?

Many leftists are disgusted with Obama for supposedly betraying the cause on a number of issues, which tells us how irredeemably liberal they are. But their sense of betrayal runs deeper than ideology.

It's not just their belief that he's abandoned them on numerous policy issues. It's also their belated discovery that he's not superman.

So we're witnessing a number of liberal and conservative elites scapegoating Obama for their own foolishness in deifying him. I say "scapegoating" because no one has a reasonable right to rely on another person's self-portrayal as messianic. If they bought into his claims to personal transcendence, then they are more culpable than he is, and their anger is transferred hostility, redirected from themselves to the now-exposed mortal.

The elites' investing of supernatural hope in Obama was a product of their worldview, which diminishes, perhaps even erases, God's role and looks to man for salvation. Their subsequent deflation was inevitable because no mere human being is transcendent.

My assessment gains further credibility when you consider that some of these former Obama disciples are still torn, not quite willing to let go just yet of their fantastical expectations -- their faith. So in their essays, we can detect both resentment and a sense of residual hope that Obama will return to his godlike state. At once they berate him for betraying them in his holding himself out as almost otherworldly and yet plea for him to return to this very same resplendent glory that they now ambivalently reject.

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift reminisces about Obama's halcyon days -- his period as a consummate presidential campaigner -- when he would overcome each difficult challenge by rising to the occasion. "He came through the crucible each time because he realized he would otherwise lose." Clift observes that the left-wing MoveOn.org is running ads "calling on the president to 'be the president we fought to elect.'" She says, "The rest of us (non-Republicans) are craving the leadership we know he's capable of, and time is running out."

The New York Times' Frank Rich attributes "the baffling Obama presidency" to a form of Stockholm syndrome, whereby "the hostage will start concentrating on his captors' 'good side' and develop psychological characteristics to please them -- 'dependency; lack of initiative; and an inability to act, decide or think.'" "Obama," Rich argues, "has seemingly surrendered his once-considerable abilities to act, decide or think." Rich says that Obama is neither the naive centrist the left is making him out to be nor the socialist conservatives claim he is. "The real problem is that he's so indistinct no one across the entire political spectrum knows who he is."

Obama should have broken out of his Stockholm chains and stood "firm on what matters to him and to the country rather than forever attempting to turn non-argumentative reasonableness into its own virtuous reward."

Put aside Rich's distorted perspective in thinking that Republicans have been the aggressors in their relationship with Obama or that he has been conciliatory rather than the bully he's actually been. What's more noteworthy is his disgust with Obama for not being the super-liberal, super-aggressive, super-decisive, super-competent chief executive he and his ilk believed he would be. Rich seems to believe less than some others in Obama's potential redemption.

Michael Lerner writes that liberals "believe it is critical to get Obama to become the candidate whom most Americans believed they elected in 2008." He recommends a primary challenge from the left, which "would pressure Obama toward much more progressive positions and make him a more viable 2012 candidate."

The New York Times' David Brooks, who has sometimes been mistaken for a conservative, begs Obama to make yet another speech (this time on tax reform) and to reclaim the greatness the Brooks "intellectuals" projected upon him. "If Obama moved vigorously on this sort of tax reform, starting at the State of the Union, he would vindicate my description of him, which would be nice." I suppose he means the one in which he lusted after the crease in Obama's pants.

These examples and many others show the pure folly in so many having invested so much in a man about whom we knew so little and what we did know was troubling.

The elites' uniform disenchantment with Obama says much more about them than it does him, namely that they are hopelessly lost in the intoxication of their intellectual elitism and the mire of their crippling worldview and that they didn't have a clue about Obama when they formed their little cult and still don't as they stumble upon, kicking and screaming, his abundant failings.

SOURCE

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Washington's "Alphabet Soup" Poisonous to Economy

A simmering bowl of alphabet soup stirs childhood memories of finding culinary comfort on a cold winter day. But as outside temperatures begin to drop and the rhetoric begins to heat up in our nation's capital, the dangers lurking in the alphabet soup of our federal government's regulatory agencies (EPA, OSHA, NLRB, and FCC to name just a few) could spell something far different for our nation’s economy: t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Not long after the Democrats took their electoral “shellacking,” John Podesta, of the George Soros funded Center for American Progress, suggested that "one of the best ways for the Obama administration to achieve results...is through substantial executive authority to make and implement policy."

While we should rightfully be concerned, we shouldn't be surprised. President Obama’s top appointments have demonstrated an aggressive interventionist approach from federal regulatory agencies. Now it appears that is all the White House has remaining. Since losing a Democratic majority in the House and clinging to a diminished majority in the Senate (with nearly half its caucus members up for re-election in 2012), the Obama administration is turning its sights to the only lever of power remaining under their control -- yes, those very same federal regulatory agencies.

What the White House couldn't get passed when Democrats controlled both chambers in Congress, it is now pursuing through far-reaching administrative action in spite of the negative impacts on job creation.

For example, while the job killing cap and trade legislation was going nowhere in the Senate, and literally had a hole blown through it by West Virginia’s Senator-elect Joe Manchin, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now stealthily pushing an extensive carbon regulation scheme with as little public attention as possible and zero concern that it will eliminate jobs and raise energy costs just as the original cap and trade proposal would.

Meanwhile, with official unemployment figures reaching 9.8%, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal reports that plans are underway at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to impose tougher workplace regulation enforcement on businesses and enhance employer compliance through the use of unprecedented pressure and litigation. Increasing administrative burdens on employers and threatening increased legal action against them certainly doesn’t sound like a comprehensive plan to create jobs, except for government lawyers.

A third potential example may reveal the true arrogance of Obama's Washington. It is well-known that the top legislative priority for labor unions is the enactment of the cleverly titled Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) - otherwise known as “card check” - that would make it easier for unions to organize without secret ballot elections in the workplace. Although Congressional passage is no longer a threat, big labor (who contributed over $200 million to Democratic candidates this election cycle) is working to advance their pro-union policies through rulemaking at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB’s five-member board is dominated by Obama-appointed pro-union members, including a former top lawyer for SEIU and AFL-CIO, and could attempt to enact EFCA administratively.

A final example of an agency attempt to elude Congressional authority just emerged from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC Chairman has recently announced his intention to use the Democratic majority on the five member commission to move forward with his controversial plan to adopt innovation stifling "net neutrality" regulations in spite of strong bipartisan opposition from Congress and a recent court ruling stating that the FCC lacks the legislative authority to regulate internet traffic management. Policy decisions of this magnitude belong to the elected representatives of the people who are charged with creating public policy, not three unelected members of a beltway panel.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Leaked memos expose the hypocrisy of the Left over Iran

These past two years it has become received wisdom in influential sections of the foreign policy community that, in the wake of the Bush administration's foreign policy excesses and errors, the chief imperative of US foreign policy is to avoid any further foreign entanglements. In the pursuit of this shimmering transcendent goal, however, it soon enough becomes necessary to use any and every argument that comes to hand, no matter how implausible.

Thus Iran-apologists such as former State Department officials Floyd and Hillary Leverett - who holidayed in Tehran's best uptown hotels while, downtown, protesters were seized at random off the streets and beaten into a state of permanent incapacity, or sexually violated with broken bottles - are associated with prestigious progressive think-tanks, and invited to speak at respectable gatherings of international relations scholars. And their considered view that the Iranian regime is a victim of unrestrained US aggression is taken as a mainstream scholarly opinion.

Yet these are the same Leveretts who insisted, 18 months ago in The Washington Post, that Iran's elections were not only free and fair, but actually freer and fairer than those of their own country. Even though, as the WikiLeaks cables have now clarified, US diplomats knew all along that the result was fixed; and further knew that the actual election figures were very similar to those revealed by a brave young official in the Iranian Information Ministry, Mohammad Asghari, who paid for this act of heroism with his life, only to have his information greeted with pure white silence in Washington.

In this scholarly mirror universe, where truth and fiction are equally interesting so long as they titillate the creative intellect, and where a generalised hostility to Western interests can pass as a proxy for political progressivism, the old hard Left and the new far Right join together in a splendid danse macabre, Black and Red carolling in joyous euphony.

In June last year we were confidently informed that President Obama's conciliatory Cairo speech - where he declared to the Iranian regime that the US was willing "to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect" - would provide moral succour to the populations of the Middle East and reassure them that the US held no animosity towards them.

We now know that when they heard those fateful words - uttered a mere fortnight before the Iranian elections, so easily debauched before Washington's studiously averted eyes - every significant Arab leader must actually have been appalled, and must have wondered what on earth the US President could be thinking.

For as the cables conveyed to Washington by its regional offices make clear, nobody there took the pseudo-scholarly arguments for "constructive engagement" seriously. Take this assessment relayed from Amman by ambassador Stephen Beecroft, two months before Obama's soaring and eloquent, if foolish and empty, Cairo peroration: "Jordanian leaders' comments betray a powerful undercurrent of doubt that the US knows how to deal effectively with Iran. Foreign Minister Nasser Joudeh has suggested the Iranians would be happy to let talks with the US continue for 10 years without moving them forward, believing that they can benefit from perceived acceptance after years of isolation without paying a price."

Or take this honest but doomed communication from Timothy Richardson, acting director of America's Iran Regional Presence Office in Dubai: "Any US effort to engage the current Iranian government will be perceived by a wide spectrum of Arabs as accommodation with [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad." Isn't this what any moderately informed, intelligent Western observer would also have concluded, had political affections not required them to pretend otherwise?

During the past week our grand legion of "engagers" have been at pains to insist that sentiments such as these show only the supposed "hypocrisy" of Arab leaders on Iran, since they express views in private that they do not express in public.

Yet it isn't the Arab governments who have been hypocritical: indeed, the advice from Jordan is demonstrably more sober and honest than that of many foreign policy experts. Rather, the charge of hypocrisy better fits our faux-conciliators and Iran apologists, since they advocate in the name of high principle a policy they know in their hearts indefinitely prolongs the life of one of the planet's most awful and despised regimes, with the sole rationale of avoiding foreign entanglements at any cost.

What is worse, the cables support what many feared when they observed Obama's emotionless, zen-like reaction to the Green Movement's suppression: that from Washington's point of view the Iranian rebels were an encumbrance rather than an ally.

According to Alan Eyre, the Iran RPO director, in January this year: "Iran's current domestic strife is a political black hole that swallows all other issues . . . such that until a new homeostasis is reached in Iran's political ruling class, progress on issues of bilateral importance will be even more difficult than usual."

No doubt this return to business as usual will come as a great relief to the "constructive engagement" set in Washington and beyond. Except that this time around the Iranian spectre will shadow not only the region, but potentially the entire world. And this time there is not the slightest chance that a peaceful change of government can avert the looming catastrophe.

SOURCE

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WikiLeaks no threat to free society

by Steven Greenhut

The response by pundits to the latest WikiLeaks classified-document dump has reminded me of a preacher who decries pornography, but who also insists on reading the dirty magazines page by page so that he can better understand the depth of the world's depravity. If WikiLeaks' actions were so wrong, why is there such widespread interest in these cables, often by the same people vociferously criticizing their release?

Clearly, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has done our nation a service by publishing at-times embarrassing accounts of how the U.S. government conducts its foreign policy. This is a government that claims to be of the people, by the people and for the people, and which has grand pretenses about projecting freedom worldwide, yet it wants to be able to keep most of the details of its actions away from the prying eyes of the public.

There's no evidence that any information released will endanger anyone, and the U.S. government reportedly refused Assange's request to work with him to scrub any names that could be compromised. Officials will always trot out the "endangering lives" or "protecting security" argument so they don't have to reveal what they are doing, how they are doing it, or any misconduct or mistakes they have made while doing it. That's human nature. I'm surprised by how readily most Americans, liberal and conservative, are content with allowing so much of their government to operate in secrecy, even though open government is the cornerstone of a free society.

Cablegate separates Americans into two categories. There are those who agree with our founders that government power is a corrupting force, so government officials need to be closely monitored. And there are those who have nearly blind trust in the public-spiritedness of those who run the bureaucracies and rule us.

Put me in category A, which is why I applaud WikiLeaks and its efforts to provide the information necessary so Americans can govern themselves in this supposedly self-governing society.

"How can the American system be regarded as participatory if the most potentially explosive government conduct is hidden?" writer Sheldon Richman asked in a Christian Science Monitor column. "Are 'we the people' really in charge or not?" That's the question of the hour.

I'm most astounded that some journalists interviewed have been so half-hearted in their defense of Assange. Journalists know that government officials fight the release of virtually every piece of information, especially that which casts them in a less-than-favorable light. I've received police reports with nearly every word (other than "is," "are" and "by") redacted. I've had information requests dismissed and ignored, even for information that is unquestionably part of the public record.

Officials obfuscate and delay and then force the average citizen to go to court to get files that are supposed to be ours, as citizens. They know that few people can afford the legal fight, and there's little cost for refusing to adhere to public records laws.

This is the nature of government. If it weren't for anonymous sources and leaked information, the journalism business would serve as a press-release service for officialdom. We're all better off because courageous people leak important documents to the media. That's true even when leakers have a personal agenda in releasing the information.

The New York Times reports that the leaked diplomatic cables "contain a fresh American intelligence assessment of Iran's missile program. They reveal for the first time that the United States believes that Iran has obtained advanced missiles from North Korea that could let it strike at Western European capitals and Moscow and help it develop more formidable long-range ballistic missiles." That seems like useful information if we, the people, want to monitor our political leaders' decisions about how to deal with those two rogue nations. No wonder Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joined Republicans and Democrats in denouncing WikiLeaks.

We learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted to collect personal and financial information about foreign leaders, which gives the public valuable insight into this presidential hopeful's view of civil liberties and personal privacy.

Even conservative writer Jonah Goldberg, who wondered why Assange hasn't been "garroted in his hotel room" after the previous WikiLeaks release of documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan described U.S. forces shooting at a group that included civilians, found worthwhile information in the latest documents: "And what these documents confirm is that President Obama's foreign policy is a mess."

Despite that useful insight, Goldberg is still angry at Assange, who "is convinced that he has revealed the hypocrisy and corruption of U.S. foreign policy, when in reality all he has revealed is that pursuing foreign-policy ideals is messier and more complicated in a world where bad people pursue bad ends."

The public is better off that we can debate Goldberg's point, rather than remain in the dark about these matters.

Liberals have been as bad as conservatives in denouncing Assange as treasonous. This is not surprising, given how committed they are to a massive government that manages our lives.

Bill Anderson, writing for the libertarian Web site Lewrockwell.com, reminds readers that 19th century Americans largely embraced the view that "politicians were corrupt, governments generally wasted tax dollars and that elected officials could not be trusted." The Progressive movement then came onto the scene to advance its reforms, by which a gifted intelligentsia would rule for the public good. Open government is anathema to such elite rule, as the public gets to see that the elites are mere human beings with all the same temptations and foibles as everybody else.

WikiLeaks has helped demystify the inner workings of our government, sparking a much-needed debate over various U.S. policies across the world and reminded Americans that free societies depend on an informed citizenry. And the disclosures even provided some levity, as we got to read some honest assessments of puffed-up world leaders. We should thank Assange rather than malign him, and we should eagerly await his next release.

SOURCE

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Deficit cutting commission gets it wrong

The Bowles Simpson deficit cutting commission is more Washington theater. Another show with an impressive cast designed to give the appearance of being serious. This kind of theater, unfortunately, not only accomplishes little or nothing, but it makes things worse. Under the guise of doing something, it obfuscates our real problems.

Our federal budget did not explode over a few short years to sucking up a quarter of our economy because we didn't have politicos with green eyeshades looking at it. It exploded because we have government in Washington that can do practically anything it wants.

Without clarity about the role of government and meaningful law enforcing it, we're never going to get spending and debt under control. And this is what Americans need to wise up to and get resigned about.

Here's a few things sticking in my craw from just over the last week that speak to the reality of government with no constitutional constraint....

Peter Wallison and Edward Pinto of the American Enterprise Institute write that little has happened to fix what caused the great collapse in our financial markets. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayer backed mortgage behemoths, carried out their government mandate to expand homeownership by pushing a flood of subprime mortgages into the market and laid the groundwork for the collapse. They can no longer do this now that both have been bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

But this doesn't mean that Washington is now deterred from promoting home ownership by using taxpayers to back unsound mortgages. Now it's just being done through the Federal Housing Administration. According to Wallison and Pinto, this mission has shifted to FHA, who "... now accounts for 60 percent of all US home purchase mortgage originations," and, "FHA just announced its intention to push almost half of its home purchase volume into subprime territory by 2014-2017."

But perhaps the week's prize for taxpayer abuse must go to former VP Al Gore. Gore, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, admitted to a group of college students that government subsidies of ethanol are a bad idea. The energy and environmental benefits of ethanol are "trivial," he said, but "It's hard once such a program is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going." Then he added that his own support for these subsidies was driven by his presidential ambitions.

We're drowning in spending and debt because theft is legal in Washington. This is our problem and the Bowles Simpson commission totally ignores it.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

When the government promises it won’t abuse its powers, it’s lying: "Most people who supported the USA PATRIOT Act and the creation of DHS, no matter how unjustifiably, presumably believed that those extraordinary grants of power would be used only for the extraordinary purpose of fighting genuine terror networks like Al Qaeda and preventing terrorist attacks on the United States. It should be abundantly clear now that those people were had.”

Leak embarrassments : "My strong impression is that free men and women must never trust those in government very much, given that such folks have immense power and unless they and their works are watched carefully they are likely to abuse it–to quote the famous English political theorist Lord Acton, ‘Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ So there is good reason to applaud WikiLeaks’ efforts to inform us about how the governments of the world go about their business. The excuse that such knowledge may be embarrassing seems to me quite irrelevant since governments simply ought not to engage in conduct that embarrasses them.”

British taxes chase another major British company away: "The US owners of Cadbury are to switch control of the company to Switzerland in a move that could deprive Britain of more than £60 million in tax every year. The plan has been hatched by food giant Kraft, which took over the iconic British chocolate manufacturer earlier this year after a bitter £11 billion bid battle. It will see ownership of much-loved Cadbury brands including Dairy Milk, Crunchie and Twirl handed to a holding company in Zurich, where Kraft already has a major base."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

****************************

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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