Monday, February 28, 2011

Spreading the Misery Around

Moreover, as we were saying before, [the tyrant] grows worse from having power:

he becomes and is of necessity more jealous, more faithless, more unjust, more friendless, more impious, than he was at first;

he is the purveyor and cherisher of every sort of vice, and the consequence is that he is supremely miserable, and that he makes everybody else as miserable as himself.

-- Socrates, Republic of Plato, Book IX

Presentative Justin Amash: Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good

As if there were the remotest possibility his co-sponsored measure would get passed, when de-funding Planned Parenthood was a complete no-brainer. Puh-leeze.

From here:

Amash also voted present on Indiana Rep. Mike Pence’s amendment to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood and said it was “improper and arguably unconstitutional” to single out one entity. He co-sponsored a similar measure that would deny so-called Title X family-planning subsidies to any organization that performs abortions.

Textbook Nirvana Fallacy, a la Voltaire, as here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Q4 2010 GDP 2nd Estimate = 2.8 Percent, Down from Initial 3.2 Percent

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, here.

Q3 2010 GDP rises to 2.6 percent from previously estimated 2.0 percent.

Overall, despite TRILLIONS in loans, bailouts and other government guarantees, all we've got to show for it is a huge steaming pile of new debt, millions still out of work, housing values in the toilet, foreclosures reaching new heights, smaller banks failing and the biggest banks sailing, giant GSEs on government life support, record numbers on food stamps, the Federal Reserve punishing savers and livers on fixed incomes with artificially low interest rates . . .

and GDP? Basically treading water, so that the losses of 2009 were recouped in 2010 and we're back to where we were in December 2008, a lovely time as I recall:  

Real GDP increased 2.8 percent in 2010 (that is, from the 2009 annual level to the 2010 annual level), in contrast to a decrease of 2.6 percent in 2009.

Was it worth it? WELL WAS IT?

What Did Rep. Justin Amash Do? On Funding Planned Parenthood He Was Silent.

He did not vote to fund it. He did not vote to de-fund it. He voted "present".

“And what I think is important for you all, is that when you see people standing in defense of what’s right, that you make sure that your voice is not remembered as one of the silent,” Thomas said. “Because there’s gonna be a day when you’re gonna look around and you’re gonna look at your kids and your grandkids and they’re gonna ask you a question: what happened to the great country that was here when you grew up, and why isn’t it here now, and what did you do?”

-- Justice Clarence Thomas, quoted here

Rep. Justin Amash: How About Some "Re-" In Front of That? has a story generating considerable interest about how Republican freshman Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3) has been voting "present" a number of times, even on some serious matters like de-funding the abortion provider Planned Parenthood:

In total, Amash has voted present on roughly 4 percent of the legislation that has come to the House floor in the 112th Congress.

Amash has voted "present" five times, which calls to mind Obama's voting record as a state senator in Illinois, where he voted "present" 129 times, about 3 percent of the votes he cast.

Obama's record attracted the attention of Nathan Gonzales in 2007 because Obama also had cast such votes on several controversial issues like partial birth abortion:

For example, in 1997, Obama voted "present" on two bills (HB 382 and SB 230) that would have prohibited a procedure often referred to as partial birth abortion. ...

[I]n 1999, Obama voted "present" on HB 854 that protected the privacy of sex-abuse victims by allowing petitions to have the trial records sealed. He was the only member to not support the bill.

In 2001, Obama voted "present" on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted "present" on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the Audacity of Hope, on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the "born alive" bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote "present" on the bills instead of "no."

And finally in 2001, Obama voted "present" on SB 609, a bill prohibiting strip clubs and other adult establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and daycares.

It's not like people weren't warned in Amash's case, either, since he had a famous reputation here in Michigan as a state representative for reporting his votes in real time on his Facebook page, and for voting "present" now and again.

Still, you'd like to think that a guy who graduated from law school could come up with a better excuse for voting "present" than not having "a reasonable amount of time to review the legislation." (Gee, I'm sorry, Professor, my dog slobbered all over my homework at breakfast). Besides, he's getting paid an awful lot of money if all he's going to do is "present" us. How about some "re-" in front of that?

In the Planned Parenthood case, Amash said he doubted the constitutionality of the language. Well, then didn't he have an obligation to vote "No" instead of "present"?

If most Americans could go back and listen to candidate Obama on the stump talking about how he and his supporters were going to transform America, I'm sure it would elicit a shudder now, knowing what they know about the carnage his policies have wrought in America. Which is exactly what I felt when I heard Justin Amash thank his supporters on election night in November 2010:

In his victory speech at Kent County GOP election night headquarters, he said the party should work to bring more Democrats and independents into the party to "transform this state" and "transform this country."

Yep, just what we need. More transformers. More Democrats.

UPDATED Sunday February 27, 2011:

Unlike doctrinaire libertarians who think they are always right about everything but are in consequence thereof not free to admit it when they are wrong, we must retract the following:

[Amash] had a famous reputation here in Michigan . . . for voting "present" now and again.

Amash never voted "present" in the Michigan legislature.

But his voting record was noted for its "singularity." Of 1315 votes cast, there were 76 in which his was the lone vote against legislation which otherwise obviously overwhelmingly passed. That's 5.8 percent of his votes. It is useless to speculate how many of these would have been cast as "present" if he had been permitted to do so, as he is now in the US House, where, however, it is becoming clear that after just two months his record in Michigan is a kind of proxy for how his record in DC has already shaped up.

This does not mean Amash was wrong, of course, in every instance, but it does show that he marched to the beat of a different drummer. That drummer was distinctly libertarian. His singular votes often reflected an aversion to using legislative power to single out groups for special favors or penalties. Sometimes it appears to have courted the stoner vote. Other times it disdained regulatory intrusion on private industries, and otherwise steered clear of do-gooder legislation, such as protecting "endangered species" or senile old women in danger of freezing to death in their homes because they forget to pay the gas bill.

In Michigan Amash's record meant that he went against his own party almost 36 percent of the time (472 votes), which makes perfect sense of the rhetoric to get more Democrats and independents into the Republican Party (without the singular "libertarian" votes, Amash voted against his own party 30 percent of the time). His election night remarks in that regard were jarring and startling in a year marked by one of the biggest partisan Republican victories nationwide in decades, but play well in a district full of Democrats and independents and union members. The clarion call of the Tea Party was not bipartisanship, but that's often the ploy of libertarians, whose small numbers keep them forever in need of allies. It's smart politics, not but it's not principled conservatism.

Methinks thou dost protest principle too much.

With the "present" vote on de-funding Planned Parenthood, one suspects Amash is taking a page out of Obama's unprincipled playbook.

"Suddenly" coming to the conclusion that DOMA is unconstitutional, Obama has instructed the DOJ not to defend it in court. But at the same time he is going to enforce this "unconstitutional" law until the courts have done with it. Instead he should be using his own Executive power to preserve, protect and defend the constitution as one of its co-equal representatives by not enforcing DOMA, which he views as a threat to it. In this Obama plays a cowardly slave who is in thrall to the courts, and doesn't have the courage of his own convictions. He is a weak president, of very poor character, but it does shore up his street cred on the left.

Expressing doubt that voting to de-fund Planned Parenthood would be constitutional, Amash was content to let de-funding pass unopposed by him, hiding in the half-way house of "present" and putting the constitution at risk. He too is guilty of ceding his co-equal authority, in this case of the Legislative power in which he shares. It was a moment of weakness. He may have escaped the anger of the left in his constituency, but his so-called conservative principles were sacrificed.

I say it was cowardly.

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Record Corporate Cash? Doodleysquat

Says the master of the S and P:

Mr. Silverblatt complains that he has repeatedly seen analysis showing US companies with a big cash hoard, which fails to note that much of it is being held by financial institutions as deposits or in expectations of higher capital requirements. In short, the companies can't spend it.

Read more about the man behind the numbers in The Wall Street Journal here.

Obama: America's First Queer President?

The gay M/O is aggression. And the president is following it:

1. Signs repeal of DADT, 12/22/10.

2. Refuses to defend DOMA on Wednesday, 2/23/11.

3. Orders the military to begin queer sensitivity training for battlefield troops as reported on Thursday, 2/24/11.

4. Appoints a queer to White House social secretary on Friday, 2/25/11.

In your face, America.

"Pop takes another shot, neat,
Points out the same amber
Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and
Makes me smell his smell, coming
From me;"

-- Barack Obama, 1981, here

"[This incident] may be describing outright sexual abuse. But perhaps not; we don't know, and we'll never know. But there is no question that the poem is describing a boundary violation on several levels: this child feels invaded-perhaps even taken over-by this man, and is fighting against that sensation."

-- From "Decrypting Obama's 'Pop'" here

Friday, February 25, 2011

Our Tyrant is Himself a Servile Bastard

As Jonah Goldberg reminds us here:

More to the point, once the president concluded that the law [Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act] was unconstitutional, he would be bound by his oath to ignore it, and challenge it in every way possible.

President Obama says DOMA is unconstitutional, and yet the “law professor” says he will continue to enforce it.

In a properly ordered constitutional republic, this would be a scandal. But in America today, it’s cause for eye-rolling, shrugs, and platitudes about the demands of politics.

Translation for those of you in Rio Linda: the president is violating his oath of office to defend the constitution when he enforces an unconstitutional law, and is bowing to the Judicial branch of government by deferring to it to decide the fate of the law  instead of asserting the co-equal power of the Executive branch, of which he is the head.

Such servility in the soul is a prerequisite for a tyrant. Obama often can't bring himself to assert the power of the Executive, which helps explain the dithering, idling, and lack of urgency which characterizes his decision making, especially in crises, the bowing to foreign leaders, the apologizing for America's sins abroad, etc.

It's all one important reason our opposition to Obama has a good chance of succeeding, and is. He is weak.

Democrats: The New Party of No

"Here stand the Democrats, avatars of reactionary liberalism, desperately trying to hang on to the gains of their glory years - from unsustainable federal entitlements for the elderly enacted when life expectancy was 62 to the massive promissory notes issued to government unions when state coffers were full and no one was looking.

"Obama's Democrats have become the party of no. Real cuts to the federal budget? No. Entitlement reform? No. Tax reform? No. Breaking the corrupt and fiscally unsustainable symbiosis between public-sector unions and state governments? Hell, no.

"We have heard everyone - from Obama's own debt commission to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - call the looming debt a mortal threat to the nation. We have watched Greece self-immolate. We can see the future. The only question has been: When will the country finally rouse itself?

"Amazingly, the answer is: now. Led by famously progressive Wisconsin - Scott Walker at the state level and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan at the congressional level - a new generation of Republicans has looked at the debt and is crossing the Rubicon. Recklessly principled, they are putting the question to the nation: Are we a serious people?"

-- Charles Krauthammer, at his finest, in The Washington Post, here

Rep. Paul Ryan: "I Didn't Like ObamaCare, But I Didn't Walk Out On It"

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, here.

Hear! Hear!

Gold's Gift: Stable, Long-Term, Low Interest Rates

In Great Britain thanks to John Locke and William of Orange, as discussed here by Nathan Lewis.

The gold standard: The sine qua non for prosperity, greatness, and liberty.

Flee-Baggers: Elected Democrats Who Run Away to Shut Down Government

The New York Times romanticizes them as exiles when it's Democrats who shut down duly elected government by running away from their jobs:

Illinois suddenly found itself as the refuge of choice for outnumbered Democrats fleeing their states to block the passage of such bills. By Wednesday evening, most of Indiana’s 40 Democratic state representatives were living in rooms (“plain but all we need,” in the words of one) at the Comfort Suites in Urbana, Ill., about 100 miles west of the state Capitol in Indianapolis. Wisconsin’s Senate Democrats were preparing to mark their first full week, on Thursday, somewhere in northern Illinois.

Meanwhile, The Washington Times reports that the US Senate, still controlled by Democrats, has bugged out of town while Republicans in the US House have been working very hard to cut spending and keep the government engine operating on a leaner mixture:

House Republicans said they’ve done their work. They stayed in session until 1 a.m. twice, worked until 3:43 a.m. another day, and then pushed until nearly 5 a.m. Saturday morning to get their bill done. Along the way, they considered hundreds of amendments and held more than 100 recorded votes.

The Senate, meanwhile, hasn’t touched spending since before Christmas. Instead, senators have worked on a bill to update federal aviation rules, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support on Feb. 17.

Senators then left Washington, adjourning by unanimous consent, which means no lawmakers objected to the decision.

Freshmen House members were incredulous.

“It’s just remarkable that we have this deadline looming and apparently they’re not working on it,” said Rep. Robert Hurt, Virginia Republican. “It’s incumbent on them to get the work done — either adopt the measure as we’ve sent it over or get it back to us as soon as possible so we can work out the details.”

Fleabaggers Infest Wisconsin State Capitol Building: Odd Lurking Smells Everywhere

As observed by an imported (!) protester here:

Many of the protesters have been here for days, some without a change of clothes. While some Madison residents have opened up their homes to people who need a shower, and many people clean up daily in the washrooms with buckets of soapy water, there are still, as protester Nathan Christ from Chicago put it, "odd, lurking smells everywhere."

Republican Super-Majority in MT Scares the Bejeebers Out of Dem. Governor

And out of the Associated Press, showcasing a story designed to inflame reaction in the moribund left:

Some residents, Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer and even some Republican lawmakers say the bills are making Montana into a laughingstock. And, they say, the push to nullify federal laws could be dangerous.

"We are the United States of America," said Schweitzer. "This talk of nullifying is pretty toxic talk. That led to the Civil War."

More at the link here.

How Doctrinaire Libertarians Co-Opt the Tea Party Illustrated

The latest example comes from Senator Rand Paul, son of Representative Ron Paul. Republicans, maybe. Libertarians for sure, who, like all our collectivist enemies, believe in permanent revolution:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Doesn't Have the Cojones to be President

CNBC reports that Gov. Daniels doesn't have the cojones to stand up to the unions like Reagan did:

In Indiana, top Republican legislators have declared dead a "right to work" bill that would prohibit union representation fees from being a condition of employment at most private companies. Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is considering a presidential run, had been saying since December that he wanted to avoid a showdown with labor that could distract lawmakers from moving on proposals such as revamping public schools and the state budget.

As in Wisconsin, the clash has drawn hundreds of protesters to the Indiana Statehouse and led most House Democrats to leave the state to shut down legislative business on the union bill and a slate of other issues. Daniels has appealed to the lawmakers to return because "their conscience tells them they should do their duty."

More here.

Freddie Mac is a mess, and so is the reporting on it.

Compare this from AP Business Writer Marcy Gordon here:

Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac managed a narrower loss of $1.7 billion for the October-December quarter of last year. But it has asked for an additional $500 million in federal aid - up from the $100 million it sought in the previous quarter.

Freddie Mac also posted a $19.8 billion loss for all of 2010.

With this from Philip van Doorn for The Street here:

Freddie Mac on Thursday reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $113 million, and would need another sip from the government trough.

The loss narrowed from a $2.5 billion net loss during the third quarter. For all of 2010, the government-sponsored mortgage giant lost $14 billion, following a $21.6 billion loss during 2009.

So, in Q4 2010 Freddie lost either $1.7 billion, or $113 million.

And for all of 2010 Freddie lost either $19.8 billion, or $14 billion.

But who's counting. They're just numbers.

If I ever straighten this one out, I'll let you know.

Politico Reveals Obama Holds Hundreds of Secret Meetings with Lobbyists

All the while claiming a new transparency:

Obama’s administration has touted its release of White House visitors logs as a breakthrough in transparency, as the first White House team to reveal the comings and goings around the West Wing and the Old Executive Office Building.

The Jackson Place townhouses are a different story.

There are no records of meetings at the row houses just off Lafayette Square that house the White House Conference Center and the Council on Environmental Quality, home to two of the busiest meeting spaces. The White House can’t say who attended meetings there, or how often. The Secret Service doesn’t log in visitors or require a background check the way it does at the main gates of the White House.

Read it all here.

Unlike Some People Caroline Baum Still Believes in American Exceptionalism

And she notices its Anglo-Saxon character, too, here:

What about other indicators that challenge the notion the US is going the way of empires past? Students from across the globe flock to the US for college and post-graduate education. Six of the top 10 universities in the world are located in the US, according to US News & World Report. The other four are in the UK, that other emblem of Empire Passe.

US students may score poorly in math and science, but somehow they manage to overcome that handicap to become world-class researchers. The US can claim more Nobel Prizes than any country: 320 versus 116 for runner-up UK. In areas such as physics, chemistry and medicine, the US has two to three times as many Nobels as its closest competitor, which is either the UK or Germany. ...

The number of patents issued to US residents in 2009 (93,727) was about the same as those issued to residents of all other countries combined (96,395), according to the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Let's ask Great Britain to send that statue of Churchill Obama didn't want in the Oval Office to Caroline.

She's marvelous, and she's right.

National Popular Vote Virus Spreads to Vermont

The whole point of writing the constitution to allocate two senators each to the States was to reassure the smaller ones by population that the larger ones would not be able to exert unfair advantage over them in the nation's Legislative branch, and to get them thereby to join the union.

Another way of stating this principle is that population was meant to be reflected in the composition of the US House, but deflected in the Senate. The latter was originally designed to be a creature of the States, not of the people. That is why State Legislatures elected US Senators until the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913, the same year that gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax. Bad things always seem to happen in threes.

Today it is reported here that the senate of the only State of the union which has a Socialist for a US Senator, Vermont, has decided to advance the NPV measure, which should not be confused with the acronym for the Human Papilloma Virus. The National Popular Vote initiative, already passed in 6 States and DC, seeks to deny the will of the voters in a State by allocating its electoral votes to the national popular vote winner, not necessarily to the winner of that State.

In the same way that the 17th Amendment sought to weaken the power of the State governments, the National Popular Vote initiative would make it even more irrelevant. What is more, the scheme really represents a rival electoral college which seeks to make the president, like US Senators, a creature directly of the people, in this case of the whole people, and a simple majority of the whole people at that.

If you thought the States have not mattered much in recent years, under the NPV they will mean even less than they already do. Large urban population centers, Democrat bastions, will increasingly replace States not just as campaign stops, but as constituencies. And it is they to whom presidents will become increasingly responsive, at the expense of State capitals.

The States are not dead yet, as people who live in the 26 which have successfully challenged Obamacare in court will tell you. But it is a sign of their weakened sense of themselves that so many are staking everything on their appeals in the courts instead of passing counter legislation and forcing the Federals to sue them. Arizona is a striking exception in this regard in the immigration area, and should be imitated more widely and more often, which prospect the recent and deep Republican resurgence in the States may portend.

When pestilences like the National Popular Vote initiative stop getting traction in the Legislatures, we'll have more reason to be sanguine about the future of the Republic. 


Sympathy for the Muslims: We Never Imagined It Either

"Now, ruling America is a black man from our continent, an African from Arab descent, from Muslim descent, and this is something we never imagined – that from Reagan we would get to Barakeh Obama."

"He is someone I consider a friend. He knows he is a son of Africa. Regardless of his African belonging, he is of Arab Sudanese descent, or of Muslim descent. He is a man whose policy should be supported, and he should be assisted in implementing it in any way possible, since he is now leaning towards peace."

"I urge all peoples to give him this chance and to support this policy, because America is a country that, when its policy is bad – harms the world, and when it is good – it helps the world."

[I hope that] "the dream that Obama has for a world free of nuclear weapons will come true. This is something that no previous American president has proposed. Obama is a man who opposes wars that previous American presidents were entangled in; he has declared that he will withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq – something which has never been proposed before."

"The Arabs hate America, there is no doubt. There is not an Arab that loves America, and even the leaders who the United States considers allies or friends – hate it. The external love is merely hypocrisy or pragmatism. The reason for this is clear – Palestine."

"The Palestinians today are like the Jews of the past – dispersed in exile and persecuted. Now the Palestinians are at a point where they deserve to have the United States on their side and not on the side of the Israelis."

-- Colonel Gaddafi, quoted here, in better days

Democrat Congressman Urges Union Members "To Get Out On The Streets And Get A Little Bloody"

Speaking of intimidation and militancy. There's your party of crackers, and then there's your party of head-crackers.

Couldn't he at least wait til Giffords gets out of the hospital?

As reported here:

Sometimes it's necessary to get out on the streets and "get a little bloody," a Massachusetts Democrat said Tuesday in reference to labor battles in Wisconsin.

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) fired up a group of union members in Boston with a speech urging them to work down in the trenches to fend off limits to workers' rights like those proposed in Wisconsin.

"I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going," Capuano said, according to the Statehouse News. "Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary."

Cost of Obama's Stimulus Revised (Again), Up $34 Billion to $821 Billion

As reported here.

What if the Declaration of Independence Said . . .

. . . The history of the present president of the united States is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. A president whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people?

Crowd Based Confuting

What we are really witnessing in Wisconsin and Indiana and Ohio is the reaction of the duly elected representatives of Americans who are finally fed up with the intimidation and militancy of unions first legalized under FDR with the Wagner Act, says Richard Salsman in "Ochlocracy and the Menace of Government Unions" for Forbes here.

Rule by the mob, or the crowd (the "ochlos" in Greek), used to mean you paid way too much for a big American car with tail fins that broke down too often (F.O.R.D. = fix or repair daily). Now it means your property taxes go up and up to pay the salary of a fat Physical Education teacher who routinely gets a substitute to teach his classes while he sits behind a keyboard or schmoozes with the staff as your kid still struggles to tell analog time in the fourth grade:

Government teachers ensure that students (future voters) are illiterate and innumerate, while populist “leaders” appeal not to voters’ reason but to their passions. Sacrificed in an ochlocracy is respect for individual rights, constitutionalism, and the rule of law. Peaceful assembly, petition and persuasion are displaced by the scream, the curse, and the threat.

Don't miss the rest at the link.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Teachers Averaged $272,000 in Salary Under Obama's Stimulus Bill

Stimulus funds preserved 367,524 teacher jobs in 2009-2010, and the amount spent on saving these education-related jobs in the nation's public schools was nearly $100 billion, according to a story in The Baltimore Sun which relies on data from the US Department of Education.

That's about $272,000 for each teacher. Wow. Those must be some kind of wonderful teachers.

That also means taxpayers all across America ended up on the hook for the salaries of about 7,350 teachers per state.

Formerly these teachers were paid directly from local property tax revenues, not borrowed funds, but these revenues have been in dramatic decline due to the crash in the housing market and due to skyrocketing unemployment and home foreclosures.

It is highly unlikely that more stimulus funds are on the way, and it is highly unlikely that property tax revenues will be raised easily in this economy, so isn't it time for the teachers in Wisconsin to pack it in already and quit the illegal strike?

They should be thankful just to have a job.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wisconsin Teachers Haven't Earned Their Very Generous Pay and Benefits

As the regime itself admits:

In 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Wisconsin public school eighth graders scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. In 2009, Wisconsin public school eighth graders once again scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. Meanwhile, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil expenditures from $4,956 per pupil in 1998 to 10,791 per pupil in 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator the $4,956 Wisconsin spent per pupil in 1998 dollars equaled $6,546 in 2008 dollars. That means that from 1998 to 2008, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil spending by $4,245 in real terms yet did not add a single point to the reading scores of their eighth graders and still could lift only one-third of their eighth graders to at least a “proficient” level in reading. ...

Nationwide, only 30 percent of public school eighth graders earned a rating of “proficient” or better in reading, and the average reading score on the NAEP test was 262 out of 500.

More here.

Democrats in Wisconsin and Now Indiana Agree

The story is here.


The miserable have no other medicine,
But only Hope:
I've hope to live, and am prepar'd to die.

     -- Claudio, William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Act III, Scene I

This is the Way Banks Go 'Round the QE Mulberry Bush

James Hamilton for Fortune here provides an excellent explanation and illustration of how the Federal Reserve "printed" money with which to buy assets from troubled banks, who in turn have kept the "cash" on deposit with the Fed, earning interest, in an effort to re-structure their balance sheets.

Here is an excerpt:

But if the Fed didn't print any money as part of QE2 and earlier asset purchases, how did it pay for the stuff it bought? The answer is that the Fed simply credited the accounts that banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System hold with the Fed. These electronic credits, or reserve balances, are what has exploded since 2008. The blue area in the graph below is the total currency in circulation, whose growth we have just seen has been pretty modest. The maroon area represents reserves.

Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary from the Fed, this operation is not designed to stimulate job growth or boost stock prices. It is designed to do one thing and one thing only: rescue the banks.

And don't even think about maintaining a strong dollar.

When that maroon area returns to an imperceptible sliver, if it ever does, you'll know things are back to "normal." Unlike George Bailey who had two dollars left from his two thousand dollar honeymoon stash at the end of that day when there was a run on his bank, the Federal Reserve can theoretically keep on  running this shell game indefinitely. But the consequences for the value of the dollar will be, and are, grave indeed, which makes Mr. Bernanke's warnings to Congress to get its spending under control almost amusing.

Come, sir; come, sir; come, sir; foh, sir! Why, you 
bald-pated, lying rascal, you must be hooded, must 
you? Show your knave's visage, with a pox to you! 
show your sheep-biting face, and be hanged an hour! 
Will't not off?

-- Lucio, in William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, V, 1

What Do These American Presidents Have in Common?

U.S. Grant
W.H. Taft
T. Roosevelt
D.D. Eisenhower
J.F. Kennedy
R.M. Nixon
R.W. Reagan
G.H.W. Bush

NRA members all. 

Just a little reminder that America specializes in marksmen, not Marxmen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Undercover Agent Repeatedly Gets a Handgun Through Scanners

And the screeners missed it on the images.

So all that money for the machines and the personel, and all the inconvenience and humiliation for the public simply boils down to security theater after all?

The story is here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Michelle Obama Milks It: Jets to Vail with the Girls for some Skiing

Keith Koffler has the story here:

Mrs. Obama has decided to jet out to Vail – instead of visiting slopes closer to Washington DC in Virginia or Pennsylvania – despite already incurring criticism for taking opulent excursions, particularly a trip last summer to Spain. There, she stayed at the country’s swankest [sic] hotel and, like this weekend, was traveling without her husband.

Rooms at her hotel start at $605 a night, and top out in excess of $2,000 a night.

The Marks of a Tyranny According to Aristotle

1.   The object of government in a tyranny is the good of one man only.
2.   The guards of a tyrant are foreigners.
3.   Tyrants arise from the want of a middle class.
4.   Tyrants gain the confidence of the people through hatred of the rich.
5.   Tyrants deprive the people of the use of arms.
6.   Women and slaves do not conspire against tyrants but instead abet them.
7.   The haughtiness of women has been the ruin of many tyrants.
8.   Tyrannies keep the warriors busy with wars.
9.   Tyrannies guard against the rise of high spirits and mutual confidence.
10. Tyrannies quarrel with the nobles.
11. Tyrannies affect to appear to protect the people.
12. Tyrannies extend poverty through public works.
13. Tyrannies oppress the people through poverty.
14. Tyrannies desire to know everything the people say and do.
15. Tyrannies multiply taxes.

You Know, Johnny, It's Not How You Feel, It's How You Rook, and You Rook . . .

Um . . .

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pat McIlheran Reminds Us Wisconsin's Governor Walker is Actually to the Left of FDR, and the Last Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee

From one of America's best columnists writing today:

Frank Zeidler, Milwaukee's mayor in the 1950s and the last card-carrying Socialist to head a major U.S. city, supported labor. But in 1969, the progressive icon wrote that rise of unions in government work put a competing power in charge of public business next to elected officials. Government unions "can mean considerable loss of control over the budget, and hence over tax rates," he warned.

There was "a revolutionary principle rather quietly at work in American government," he wrote.

The principle was working at about 100 decibels in Wisconsin's Capitol last week, once the union drum-beaters got going. What worked them up was the money they'd concede, they said, but even more that Walker would make their unions surrender the control they'd gained over every government budget.

There is much more at this link.

Madison Protests by Unions and Democrats are a Disgrace

So says Larry Kudlow:

The government-union protesters in Madison are anti-democracy; they are trying to prevent a vote in the legislature. In fact, Democratic legislators themselves are fleeing the state so as not to vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget cuts.

That's not democracy.

The teachers' union is going on strike in Milwaukee and elsewhere. They ought to be fired. Think Ronald Reagan PATCO in 1981. Think Calvin Coolidge police strike in 1919.

The teachers' union on strike? Wisconsin parents should go on strike against the teachers' union.

Read the rest here, at Real Clear Markets. 

Hello Wisconsin!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsin's Governor Walker Tells Obama To Balance His Own Damn Budget

Quoted here:

"We are focused on balancing our budget. It would be wise for the government and others in Washington to focus on balancing their budgets, which they are a long way off from doing."

Obama couldn't write a balanced budget to save his own life.

Wisconsin Democrats and Unions Try to Shut Down Democracy

The 14 Democrat state senators in Wisconsin have fled the state to prevent a vote on a bill limiting collective bargaining, a bill which has the support of a Republican majority which was recently elected to power last November. For the Democrats' dereliction of duty, they should be impeached and thrown out of office.

Public sector union members meanwhile have conducted what amounts to an illegal strike with 40 percent of teachers in Madison calling in sick. The authorities should scan all the video to identify the sick teachers marching in the streets, and fire them immediately.

The taxpayers of Wisconsin, like taxpayers all across America, are sick and tired of a government monopoly extorting exorbitant wages and benefits which private sector workers can only dream about in this difficult economy.

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent opinion piece which lays out many interesting facts which puts this episode into the broader historical context, including this:

The larger reality is that collective bargaining for government workers is not a God-given or constitutional right. It is the result of the growing union dominance inside the Democratic Party during the middle of the last century. John Kennedy only granted it to federal workers in 1962 and Jerry Brown to California workers in 1978. Other states, including Indiana and Missouri, have taken away collective bargaining rights for public employees in recent years, and some 24 states have either limited it or banned it outright.

The times they are a changin', but some people in Wisconsin still haven't gotten the memo.

You may read the entire opinion at this link.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Union Tactics in Wisconsin: Illegal Strikes and Physical Intimidation

The inimitable Pat McIlheran for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tells it like it is:

The [Wisconsin] public-sector union tantrums, meant to make lawmakers wobble, have an inadvertent message for the rest of us: Voters can vote all they want. We can elect a cheapskate governor and a Legislature to match. But come the moment, unions will have the last, loudest word.

They'll have it if takes marches. They'll have it if it takes what amounts to an illegal strike, with so many Madison teachers calling in sick Wednesday that the district closed schools. If it takes showing up for a we-know-where-your-family-is protest on Walker's Wauwatosa lawn while he was at work, the unions are sure they can outshout any election result.

This is exactly why Walker is right to limit the unions' power over government spending.

The governor should fire their sorry asses.

Read the rest here.

The Answer: For The Same Reason Government Isn't in Jail

The Question: "Why isn't Wall Street in Jail?", asked here by Matt Taibbi, one more time.

It's hard to make Americans hate DC, lower Manhattan and the banksters as much as the terrorists do, but he keeps trying.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gaddafi Called for Palestinian Uprising Last Week, Gets One at Home Instead

From the Department of Poetic Justice:

Hundreds of Libyans calling for the government's ouster clashed with security forces early Wednesday in the country's second-largest city as Egypt-inspired unrest spread to the country long ruled by Moammar Gadhafi.

See here and here for more.

I guess that, and the protests in Tehran in recent days, puts to rest the theory that only Middle East regimes friendly to the US are experiencing revolts.

Then Why are 16,000 IRS Agents Being Hired to Enforce Obamacare?

For the same reason Lincoln invaded the South.

Reported here yesterday:

"You can't maintain power through coercion. At some level in any society, there has to be consent."

-- President Obama

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Patriot Act Votes Show Rep. Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus is Full of TINOs

Everyone's getting this wrong, from Adam Serwer here at The Washington Post to Rush Limbaugh here, on partisan grounds. The Post wants to paint the Tea Party Caucus as a bunch of hypocrites, and Rush wants people to believe the Tea Party actually supports even the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act.

Rush chalked up the Feb. 8 revolt of 26 Republicans to rookies being poorly advised by the Republican leadership:

Now, the Republicans lost 26 of their own members, adding to the 122 Democrats who voted against it," and some of the Republicans say that they 'felt completely uniformed [sic] by their leadership' on this. Some of the rookies, some of the freshmen say they were not really advised about all this in time -- and the leader of the opposition was Dennis Kucinich.  Now, something tells me here that Republicans do not intend to vote with Dennis Kucinich, 'cause he's aligned with the ACLU opposing extending the whole thing, the whole Patriot Act.  So if Kucinich is for it, "all rational people" ought to be against it.  

The only trouble is, the exact same bunch of Republicans all voted against the controversial provisions again yesterday. They've had six days to get brought up to speed by the leadership, but not a single one has changed his vote. And Rep. Hanna joined them to make it 27 and the third from the membership of the more liberal Republican Main Street Partnership.

I guess Rush must think these 27 Republicans are quite irrational after all, voting with Kucinich and the left. Rush was silent about this today, hoping we've forgotten what he said.

The facts are these. The Tea Party in the US House is much smaller than people think, and it isn't co-terminous with Bachmann's caucus. The latter is a bunch of me-too Republicans who find it expedient to identify with the Tea Party politically, just like Michael Steele did, and even Sarah Palin, who took an eternity to speak out against the bailouts. Just 8 self-identified Tea Party Caucus members voted both times against the controversial provisions of the Patriot Act. And only 7 others who joined them were elected in the Tea Party wave last autumn, but they still do not self-identify that way.

When you consider that the vast majority of the Tea Party Caucus voted to extend the Patriot Act provisions, you can understand why 19 Republicans who voted the other way might have a reason not to associate themselves with such pretenders.

Bachmann's list hasn't been updated since last summer, despite the gargantuan Republican sweep in November. Where is all the new blood, huh?

It's staying away for a reason, if it's really there at all.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Half of CPAC This Year is Libertarian, Heckles and Walks Out on Dick Cheney

The Libertarians hate the Department of Defense and the US military more than they hate the much larger, arguably unconstitutional, social welfare state erected by FDR.

Bunch of queers.

Story and video here.

Treasure Trove of British Archives Undermines "Lincoln Freed the Slaves" Myth

The Washington Times has the details:

Newly released documents show that to a greater degree than historians had previously known, President Lincoln laid the groundwork to ship freed slaves overseas to help prevent racial strife in the US.

Just after he issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Lincoln authorized plans to pursue a freedmen’s settlement in present-day Belize and another in Guyana, both colonial possessions of Great Britain at the time, said Phillip W. Magness, one of the researchers who uncovered the new documents.

Historians have debated how seriously Lincoln took colonization efforts, but Mr. Magness said the story he uncovered, to be published next week in a book, “Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement,” shows the president didn’t just flirt with the idea, as historians had previously known, but that he personally pursued it for some time. ...

"What we know now is he did continue the effort for at least a year after the proclamation was signed.”

The newly discovered evidence will give greater credence to the argument that Lincoln crucified the country in the Civil War over his crusade for an extra-constitutional Sovereign Union of states, in the middle of which, when things were going badly in 1863, Lincoln the demagogue hit upon slavery as a new way to salvage support for the war of Northern aggression.

Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Obama The Despicable Betrayed Britain to Russia in START Treaty

What a scoundrel Obama is, and every Senator who voted to ratify START:

While William Hague, the foreign secretary, last year disclosed that “up to 160” warheads were operational, he took care not to confirm what the actual number was, nor the number of missiles to which the warheads attached.

Now, in his desire for a disarmament treaty that will boost Obama’s image as a peace-monger, the president has blurted out that number to the Russians. Any Briton caught doing such a thing would be immediately arrested under the 1911 Official Secrets Act, tried, and imprisoned for up to 60 years. When Obama does exactly the same thing, however, for short-term political gain, it’s called statesmanship. Small wonder that there has been an outcry in Britain.

The full story of our president's treachery may be read here.

US Oil Production Up 2 Years in a Row, Despite Gulf of Mexico Moratorium

New techniques used to extract natural gas from shale deposits are now helping drillers extract oil once thought locked in the ground:

[A] surge in production last year from the Bakken helped US oil production grow for the second year in a row, after 23 years of decline. This during a year when drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the nation's biggest oil-producing region, was halted after the BP oil spill.

US oil production climbed steadily through most of the last century and reached a peak of 9.6 million barrels per day in 1970. The decline since was slowed by new production in Alaska in the 1980s and in the Gulf of Mexico more recently. But by 2008, production had fallen to 5 million barrels per day.

Within five years, analysts and executives predict, the newly unlocked fields are expected to produce 1 million to 2 million barrels of oil per day, enough to boost US production 20 percent to 40 percent. The US Energy Information Administration estimates production will grow a more modest 500,000 barrels per day.

By 2020, oil imports could be slashed by as much as 60 percent, according to Credit Suisse's Morse, who is counting on Gulf oil production to rise and on US gasoline demand to fall.

Add oil to the reasons to be bullish on the future.

The complete story is here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two Feet of Snow

h/t Scott

'Conservatives' Compromising with the Devil

Not that I make it my business to follow this sort of thing very closely, but, well, there it is in USA Today:

Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger, says in a headline on his website that Palin "throws support behind GOProud." He has posted a clip from Palin's interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in which Palin wonders whether conservatives should reach out to those with opposite views and "allow for healthy debate" on issues. Breitbart is on GOProud's advisory board.

More here, and here.

Sarah Palin knows what side of the bread the butter's on. She isn't going to alienate a big part of her base. Half of the Tea Party is libertarian, which means half of the Tea Party is ok with gay.

As is Roman Catholicism. That's why a Tammy Bruce can fill in for Laura Ingraham, no problemo. That's why Andrew Breitbart and Ann Coulter can be chums.

That's why repeal of DADT was off the radio radar screens on Bill Bennett's show, Ingraham's, Hannity's, etc.

Good Catholics all.

And that's why Elton John was treated so graciously by Rush Limbaugh at his (fourth) wedding.

The Protestantism that gave us that work ethic thingy that Pat Buchanan remembers made America so great?

It's in the rear view mirror and getting smaller every day. Mainline Protestants like the Episcopalians, the Methodists and the Lutherans have all loosened their sphincters for gay and lesbian preachers in their pulpits. Traditionalists have fled in droves to non-denominational churches, or to lonely isolation.

The left doesn't need to trouble itself with dividing the opposition on the right. Its minions masquerading as conservatives are doing the job all by themselves.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

An In Depth Look at How Federal Workers are Overpaid

From The Weekly Standard, here:

The question of whether federal workers are overpaid is often portrayed in the media as unanswerable, with each side of the debate citing its own numbers. In fact, the academic evidence is much more one-sided: Generally speaking, federal workers do receive higher salaries than similar private employees; individuals changing jobs receive bigger pay increases when their new job is with the federal government; federal employees quit less than private workers; and private workers line up to get federal jobs.

The Most Important Investing Advice You Can Read, Maybe Ever

Il Duce
From "Why Politics and Investing Don't Mix" by Barry Ritholtz in The Washington Post, this time without a single typo:

Liquidity is a major factor in how the economy and stock markets perform. Trillions of dollars in fresh cash was very likely to goose equities higher [in 2003]. (Sound familiar?)

And maybe the best thing he's ever written, too.

Read it all, here.

P.S. Martin Walker said as much on May 8, 2009 on The McLaughlin Group, as we pointed out here. Nerves of steel those guys have, and guts of iron.

Why Would You Want a Mexican Car?

Top Gear asks the question:

"Why would you want a Mexican car?” demands co-presenter Richard Hammond. “Cars reflect national characteristics don’t they, so German cars are very well built and ruthlessly efficient, Italian cars are a bit flamboyant and quick. A Mexican car’s just going to be a lazy, feckless, flatulent [they've mixed the laughter very loud over this bit so it's uncertain, but it sounds like he says "overdose tw*t"]… leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle of it as a coat.”

Akira The Don has The Compleat Wreck here.

A declaration of war by Mexico against Britain is expected.

h/t Mark Steyn

RC Whalen Wants Us To Declare FDR's 'Emergency' Over Already

Some excerpts:

President Herbert Hoover said of the New Deal that it was an attempt to crossbreed Socialism, Fascism and Free Enterprise, part of a collectivist revolution led by FDR and carried within the Trojan horse of economic emergency. ...

The second half of volume three of President Hoover’ s memoir, The Great Depression, contains a scathing critique of his successor -- and also an admission of personal responsibility for the catastrophe. It features several times the word “ fascism ” to describe many Roosevelt-era prescriptions for fighting the Depression, a blunt reminder that much of what FDR did during these dark years was borrowed from the strong men of Europe — Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, and Stalin in Russia.

Don't miss the rest, here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Temps in the Single Digits F in Ciudad Juarez Since Tuesday

For more on this global warming related cold snap, see here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

That Critic of the Innumerate, Barry Ritholtz, is (Still) Illiterate

"Why do am I critical . . .?"

". . . you cans get a pretty good estimate . . .."

References passim, but notably here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

British Teenager Emails Obama, Calls Him a Pussy, Gets Banned From US For Life

Luke Angel is his name, according to the story reported at this link last September.

He is a keen judge of character, I'd say, like someone else we know.

A Department of Homeland Security goon is quoted as saying there are about 60 things on their list which will get you banned from visiting the US.

Funny how if you're a citizen and live here already and say such things they don't (yet) resort to banishment. I guess that whole freedom of speech thing isn't for export while every stupid precedent of international law is supposed to be eligible for import.  

Percentage of People Working Lowest Since the Early 1980s

So says CalculatedRiskBlog here:

[T]he participation rate declined to 64.2% - a new cycle low, and the lowest level since the early '80s. Note: This is the percentage of the working age population in the labor force . . .. The participation rate has now fallen 2 percentage points during the recession - a huge decline.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

US District Judge Rules Obama Regime in Contempt of Court

“Each step the government took following the court’s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance."

“Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium, and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt."

-- Judge Martin Feldman of New Orleans (quoted here)

Global Warming in Mexico: 8.6 Degrees F in Ciudad Juarez Lowest in 50 Years

According to this story:

Ciudad Juarez mayor Hector Murgia said the temperatures of around minus 13 degrees centigrade (8.6 Fahrenheit) were the lowest recorded in almost 50 years.

Suez Canal Moves 2.5 Percent of Global Oil Production

So says an article at here:

About 2.5 percent of global oil production moves through Egypt via the Suez Canal and the adjacent Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The waterway carries more than 2.2 million barrels of oil a day.

The US Department of Energy puts the figure closer to 1.8 million barrels per day in 2009, here, in the canal itself. The Suez Canal is unable to accommodate the newer tankers in the Very Large Crude Carrier and Ultra Large Crude Carrier classes. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Democrat Controlled Senate Changes its Mind, Rescinds Onerous ObamaCare 1099 Law

But 17 extremist Democrats still couldn't bring themselves to vote to part with the $17 billion in tax revenues the imposition of the massive reporting requirements would have generated:

Senate Democrats Unite to Keep ObamaCare 51-47, Defeating House Repeal Effort

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

George Bush: Mushy-Headed Liberal

George W. Bush has been beating his little isolationism, protectionism and nativism drum for years now, but it seems like conservatives such as Laura Ingraham are finally looking at it in the right way. She's even suggesting that if we knew in 2000 what we know today about George and his family (people should be free to marry anyone they love), maybe conservatives wouldn't have supported W back in the day.

I know I didn't. I admit it. I was one of the few, the proud, the (top!) 500,000 Americans who voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000. And I've still got the lawn sign to prove it! In 2004 I had to be drawn kicking and screaming to vote for Bush. The alternative was too horrible to contemplate (a man who won't stop for stop signs while behind the wheel of his Jeep is a dangerous man, willing to break any law), as it was also too horrible to contemplate in 2008, as events prove everyday.

Bush's continuing antagonism against, for example, advocates of border security doesn't surprise me, and Laura is right to perceive that his sort of Republican poses a threat to the policy initiatives championed by Tea Partyers and conservatives. Her show this morning is devoting considerable time to Bush's remarks at Southern Methodist University on January 24th.

But Bush was making similar remarks already in November 2010 in Britain as part of his book tour, and Pat Buchanan eviscerated him way back in March 2008 for the very same kind of loose and silly talk:

In smearing as nativists, protectionists and isolationists those who wish to stop the invasion, halt the export of factories and jobs to Asia, and stop the unnecessary wars, Bush is attacking the last true conservatives in his party.

Which is understandable. For after the judges and tax cuts, what is there about Bush that is conservative? His foreign policy is Wilsonian. His trade policy is pure FDR. His spending is LBJ all the way. His amnesty for illegals is Teddy Kennedy's policy.

The truth is George Bush hasn't changed, and has never been a conservative. Ever true to his self-described role as The Decider, he once boasted that he would be the one who decided what is Republican and what isn't:

Even liberals have recognized Bush as one of their own. So Richard Cohen in The Washington Post in 2007, after cataloguing Bush's liberal intentions in No Child Left Behind, in affirmative action hires in his administration, and even in the Iraq war, he adds:

You only have to listen to Bush talk about the virtues of immigration -- another liberal sentiment -- or his frequent mention of the "soft bigotry of low expectations" to appreciate that the president is a sentimental softie, what was once dismissively called a "mushy-headed liberal."

Cohen leaves out Bush's greatest liberal achievement: Drugs for Seniors, the single largest expansion of federal government to that time since Lyndon Johnson. He leaves it out because that's what really drives liberals crazy, how George Bush out-liberaled the liberals, and co-opted them for eight years.

That's why they really hated him.