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Daily Archives: November 27, 2012


Laugh of the day: Arab Spring

I do love this title in The New Republic … TNR of all places: “Shame on Anyone Who Ever Thought Mohammad Morsi Was a Moderate”

I do admit to laughing out loud when I read it, but I also thought that it was a bit too specific. In fact, and when you read the article I’m sure you’ll agree, the title should have read “Shame on Anyone Who Ever Thought the Muslim Brotherhood Was Moderate.”

But if that sort of article can show up in TNR, it indicates that at least some Western Liberals may have taken off the blinders and are now, finally, dealing with the reality of what “Arab Spring” brought. In Egypt’s case an extremist Islamist with dictatorial tendencies.

Granted Hosni Mubarak wasn’t exactly a peach of a guy. A dictator by any other name is still a dictator. But in terms of the interests of the United States and peace in the Middle East, he did a fair job on keeping a lid on the Islamists in his country like, well, Morsi.

It appears, though, and I hate to say we told you so, but a) the best organized group took power (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood) and b) they’re reverting to form (i.e. Islamist totalitarianism).

Oh, sure, there are demonstrations and riots going on in Egypt right now against Morsi’s move, but you had better believe the Muslim Brotherhood is mobilizing to counter them. The only reason Morsi hasn’t stomped them right now is likely two-fold. World opinion (he just got a huge pat on the back for the Israeli/Palestinian cease fire – one “aw crap” negates any “attaboys”) and the fact that he likely hasn’t consolidated power to the point that he feels comfortable in doing so via the army. But his power grab certainly removes all doubt about his “democratic” leanings or lack thereof, doesn’t it? And, like I said, he’ll let the Brotherhood do the heavy lifting if it comes to that.

I’m sure this is quiet disappointing to the liberals who were sure democracy would flower in a country with no democratic institutions, no democratic history and an organized extremist group poised to exploit the troubles and sieze power, but then they’re the same sort of “fellow travelers” who thought Uncle Joe Stalin ran a heck of a good gulag show in the good old USSR, weren’t they?

~McQ


CO and WA’s pot laws – what’s going to happen?

Colorado and Washington had referrendums on their ballots this past election day in which growing pot for one’s own use was legalized.  Much like home brewing laws, users were given the go ahead to grow enough marijuana for their own, private use.

So what does that mean in the big scheme of things?  Certainly it will mean that at a state level, given the new law, state and local police aren’t going to be looking for small time users or growers.   And the Fed certainly doesn’t have the manpower to go after them.

The Washington Post points out:

But it’s unrealistic and unwise to expect federal officials to pick up the slack left by state law- enforcement officers who used to enforce marijuana prohibitions against pot users and small-time growers. Unrealistic, because it would require lots more resources.

Resources they don’t, frankly, have.

So here we have two states acting as sort of “labs” for freedom.  You know, trying something out as we were told states should do under a “federal” system.

Now, you may not agree about this particular application, but that’s how this system was supposed to work, wasn’t it?

The next obvious question then is will the Federal government allow that to happen or will it attempt to stop it.   My guess is even the Federal government knows it can’t stop it physically, so it will likely resort to legal means (i.e. somehow have the laws declared invalid, thereby again making Federal law supreme and requiring LEOs to enforce them).  But that could be a very long and protracted process.

For once (is there a blue moon out there?) in a very long time, the Washington Post and I agree for the most part:

[W]e favor decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot, assessing civil fines instead of locking people up. Also, for that reason and others, the Justice Department should hold its fire on a lawsuit challenging Colorado and Washington’s decision to behave more leniently. And state officials involved in good-faith efforts to regulate marijuana production and distribution according to state laws should be explicitly excused from federal targeting.

It’s not yet clear how a quasi-legal pot industry might operate in Colorado and Washington or what its public-health effects will be. It could be that these states are harbingers of a slow, national reassessment of marijuana policy. Or their experiment could serve as warning for the other 48 states.

For now, the federal government does not need to stage an aggressive intervention, one way or the other. It can wait, watch and enforce the most worrisome violations as they occur.

Where we disagree is the next to last sentence.  If you’re going to stay out of it now, stay out of it later.  You can’t “leave it up to the states” until you decide not too.  And, it would be a nice decentralization of power – you know, federalism – which allow the states what they were originally supposed to enjoy – a certain level of autonomy (remember, the federal government was originally supposed to be mostly focused externally while the states, within Constitutional limits, pretty much looked after themselves.).

It would be a nice change from the constant attempts by the Fed to accrue power.

~McQ


Economic Statistics for 27 Nov 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a big 4.5% increase from the previous year. Similarly, ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales increase of 3.3%, and a 4.0% increase on a year-over-year basis.

Durable goods orders were unchanged in October, though they were up 2.3% on a year-over-year basis. Ex-transportation, orders were actually up 1.5% for the month, but down -2.3% from last year.

Case-Shiller’s seasonally adjusted monthly home price index rose 0.4% in September, the third consecutive monthly increase.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index improved in November to a reading of 73.7.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.2% for September, and was up 4.3% on a year-over-year basis.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index rose sharply to 9 from last month’s -7, as activity picked up in the district.

State Street’s investor confidence index for November remains "quite weak" at 81.2.

~
Dale Franks
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The Senate filibuster fight gins up – hypocrites to the left of us, hypocrites to the right … (Update)

Another example of why you can’t ever take anything a politician says at face value or believe them when they say they stand on ‘principle’.

For instance, consider the looming Senate fight over the filibuster.

Once a cause championed by a few Democratic senators, changing the filibuster has become a top priority for Senate Democrats who’ve repeatedly complained about Republicans blocking legislation from even being debated on the Senate floor. Reid noted on Monday that in his nearly six years as majority leader, he has faced 386 Republican-led filibusters in the chamber.

“We can’t continue like this,” a visibly frustrated Reid Monday said in a response to McConnell.

Of course the “visibly frustrated” Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid, was one of those huge champions of the filibuster when he was a minority leader and then the new Majority Leader because he’d used it many times in his long political career:

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV):“As majority leader, I intend to run the Senate with respect for the rules and for the minority rights the rules protect. The Senate was not established to be efficient. Sometimes the rules get in the way of efficiency. The Senate was established to make sure that minorities are protected. Majorities can always protect themselves, but minorities cannot. That is what the Senate is all about.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)

REID: “For more than 200 years, the rules of the Senate have protected the American people, and rightfully so. The need to muster 60 votes in order to terminate Senate debate naturally frustrates the majority and oftentimes the minority. I am sure it will frustrate me when I assume the office of majority leader in a few weeks. But I recognize this requirement is a tool that serves the long-term interest of the Senate and the American people and our country.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)

REID: “I say on this floor that I love so much that I believe in the Golden Rule. I am going to treat my Republican colleagues the way that I expect to be treated. There is no ‘I’ve got you,’ no get even. I am going to do everything I can to preserve the traditions and rules of this institution that I love.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)

REID:“…one of the most sacred rules of the Senate – the filibuster… It is a unique privilege that serves to aid small states from being trampled by the desires of larger states. Indeed, I view the use of the filibuster as a shield, rather than a sword. Invoked to protect rights, not to suppress them.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.434, 1/5/95)

Yeah, well that was then and this is now. The “world has changed” as Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss said this week as he sought to duck out on his pledge of years past not to vote on raising taxes.

You have to love the Reid line about the Senate not being established to be efficient – see the budget.  Going on 4 years without one.  But you see, getting a budget passed would require Reid and the Democrats to compromise with the Republicans in order to achieve that 60 vote margin and, well, he’s just not willing to accomodate the minority despite his stirring words to the contrary about protecting the rights of the Senate minority, words, by the way, he’s likely to dismiss now.

And, as you hear the fight gin up, don’t forget the past words of other Democrats who will now call the GOP minority obstructionists and tell us all the filibuster is bad and has no place in the Senate.  For instance, if we hear the President opining, it’s alway nice to remember his words on the subject for the brief period he was a Senator and take his words, on both sides of the issue, with a grain of salt:

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): “The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this Chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse.” (Sen. Obama, Congressional Record, S.3512, 4/13/05)

OBAMA: “[T]he American people sent us here to be their voice… What they do not expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.” (Sen. Obama, Congressional Record, S.3512, 4/13/05)

And, of course, that’s precisely what the Democrats and Obama want the Senate GOP to do – sit down and be quiet.

On any subject, you know little Chucky Schumer has an opinion:

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) On Any Threat To The Filibuster: “The basic makeup of our Senate is at stake. The checks and balances that Americans prize are at stake. The idea of bipartisanship, where you have to come together and can’t just ram everything through because you have a narrow majority, is at stake. The very things we treasure and love about this grand republic are at stake.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.4801, 5/10/05)

SCHUMER: “We are on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional crisis. The checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option. The checks and balances which say that if you get 51% of the vote you don’t get your way 100% of the time. It is amazing it’s almost a temper tantrum… They want their way every single time, and they will change the rules, break the rules, misread the Constitution so they will get their way.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.5208, 5/16/05)

Yes, it was a “Constitutional crisis” in ’05. Now? Not so much.  Speaking of temper tantrums, funny how one’s words can come back to haunt them, not that they care.

Finally, we have dandy Dick Durbin who also thinks it is time to change the filibuster rules, although in ’05, he had a completely different take on the subject:

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): “Those who would attack and destroy the institution of the filibuster are attacking the very force within the Senate that creates compromise and bipartisanship.” (Sen. Durbin, Congressional Record, S.3763, 4/15/05)

DURBIN: The filibuster is “[one] of the most treasured and cherished traditions of the United States Senate.” “Many of us in the Senate feel that this agreement tonight means that some of the most treasured and cherished traditions of the United States Senate will be preserved, will not be attacked and will not be destroyed.” (Sen. Durbin, “Statement Of Sen. Dick Durbin Regarding The Agreement On Judicial Nominations In The Senate,” Press Release, 5/23/05)

It’s not so treasured any more, is it?  At least not by Senate Democrats who were so enamored with it in ’05.

The point of course is obvious.  Don’t ever believe anything any politician of either side says on any subject – ever. They’ll bail on it in a New York minute if they see political advantage in doing so.  Pledges and “traditions” mean nothing to them.

If faith in government is built on trust, and trust is built on political leaders promising to do things and then keeping their word, trust in this government died quite a while ago.

And that’s sort of the crux of the problem isn’t it?  We are represented by an amoral political class who doesn’t hold their word to mean anything and reserve the right to change their “principles” on the fly in an attempt to gain temporary political advantage.

We’re served by the worst political class I can remember.

The problem is we can’t blame them – we elected them, and, like Harry Reid and Saxby Chambliss, we’ve kept them in office for decades.

Unfortunately, when you don’t pay attention and you just tune in when it is convenient for you, you get exactly what you deserve in DC.  This is just another in a long line of examples of that truth.

UPDATE: Apparently the WSJ and I are on the same wave-length today:

One of the more amazing post-election spectacles is the media celebration of Republicans who say they’re willing to repudiate their pledge against raising taxes. So the same folks who like to denounce politicians because they can’t be trusted are now praising politicians who openly admit they can’t be trusted.

[...]

If Republicans in Congress want to repudiate the pledge, they are free to do so at any time. They could even quote Edmund Burke’s line that a democratic representative owes his electors his best judgment, not a slavish fealty to majority opinion. But that would mean saying they didn’t mean it when they signed the pledge. So they are now busy pretending that Mr. Norquist is a modern Merlin who conned them into signing the pledge and must be eliminated before they can do the “right thing” and raise taxes.

[...]

Republican voters know that elections have consequences and that Mitt Romney’s defeat means there will be policy defeats too. But they will give the House and Senate GOP credit if it fights for its principles and drives a hard bargain.  The voters are also smart enough to know that Republicans who focus on Mr. Norquist are part of the problem.

But apparently, for some, it’s too much to ask our politicians to stand by their word.  Apparently, principles are only important when these people say they’re important.  At other times, they’re very malleable or can be thrown to the side and rationalized away.  And in this case, the rationalization apparently says that political necessity now requires that a crumb be thrown to “public opinion”.

With other people’s money, of course.

~McQ

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