Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Today’s Employment Situation

First of all, let’s compare the current situation with employment with what the Obama Adnministration told us would happen if we didn’t pass the stimulus package.  As has been obvious for some time now the stimulus is not–as we repeatedly predicted–substantially impacting the employment situation.

stimulus-vs-unemployment-june-dots

Unemployment: Promised v. Actual

Instead, employment has risen by more than 3%.

Now, today’s surprise was not that there were a net 467,000 jobs lost last month, but that the employment rate went up by only 0.1%.  The answer to that mystery is found in the employment data from the BLS, which shows that the civilian labor force declined by 358,000 people last month.

The Bureau of labor Statistics uses a neat bit of sleight-of-hand when calculating the unemployment rate.  If you are not in the workforce, you aren’t counted as unemployed.  You disappear from the numbers.

There are a number of ways to leave the labor force.  You can retire.  You can become injured or disabled.  Or, you can simply become so discouraged that you stop looking for a job.

For the latter category, that means you may still not have enough money to house and clothe your family.  and you might still really want to work.  But there are no jobs for you, and if you stop actively looking for work, then you drop out of the labor force.

Granted, there’s no other way to really count the labor force, but this does help explain why the employment rate remained much more restrained vis a vis the actual number of net job losses.  The number of people not in the labor force increased from 80,371,000 in May to 80,729,000 in June.  That nearly equals the number of job losses, so the unemployment rate comes out nearly even.

Podcast for 28 Jun 09

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the situations in Honduras and Iran, and the cap-and-trade energy bill.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

The Man. The Myth. The Legend.

In The New Ledger, Christopher Badeaux has penned one of the most withering takedowns of a public figure since H.L. Mencken’s obituary of William Jenning’s Brian. Badeaux’s target:  Andrew Sullivan.  A few samples are in order.

On Sullivan’s campaign against circumcision:

To say that Sullivan has focused his laser-like mind on human reproductive organs is to engage in an understatement worthy of the master himself. We could simply look at Sullivan’s relentless, years-long focus on circumcision (a relentlessness not well-captured by the internet tubes, as Sullivan’s archives traditionally become difficult to search when he moves from site to site), an unusual genre for a man who will never have children and who is not Jewish or Muslim, though perhaps not so unusual given his general interest in the member in question. One could focus on his decision to start calling a 4,000 year old religious tradition “male genital mutilation,” thus cleverly calling untold generations of Jews child abusers and torturers, a decision that marks the sort of intellectual territory into which only a man bravely unwilling to live in Israel can tread.

On Sullivan’s participation in the Sarah-Bristol-Trig Palin controversy:

Andrew Sullivan immediately leaped into the fray. Unlike the rest of these non-experts, many of whom began to back off of the story when word emerged that Mrs. Palin’s daughter was pregnant and had been close to the time of Trig’s birth, Sullivan, who apparently received a secret medical degree while attending Harvard, began obsessively following this story, turning the Atlantic from a fairly uninteresting opinion website into a leading journal of gynecology and obstetrics. Rarely in human history has a gay man been that obsessed with a married woman’s vagina.

On Sullivan’s views about the Catholic Church:

Sullivan sees deep plans within plans, and lives by undercurrents the likes of which we mere mortals cannot fathom; is it any wonder that his break with any apparent connection with Catholic teaching or thought, Scripture, and reality came when he perceived a great teaching moment on Benedict XVI’s ascension? Certainly not, because if there is anything about which we can be certain, it is that Sullivan is as constant as the polar ice.

Sullivan’s problem with pre-35th Century Catholicism, he has repeatedly assured his readers, is in its offenses against human dignity, human dignity only usually being a code word for sodomy.

On Sullivan’s thoughts about The Jews:

One sign of a writer’s mental disfigurement, laziness, undiagnosed psychoses, or, obviously in the case of Sullivan, inhuman insight, is the gradual realization that the term “neoconservative” is a useful stand-in for “Jews whose loyalty belongs first to Israel, and then to the United States, if at all.” Sullivan has clearly reached this point, as one can note from some of his most recent thoughts...

Surely Sullivan, keen observer of men, sees what we cannot: That the Jews (or rather, a subset of American Jews) are in close collaboration with Israel, are working to undermine our brave President’s policy of allowing Iranians to die in their streets, never understanding that President Obama’s indifference is actually a brilliant ploy to force the theocrats of Iran to spontaneously step down and allow a thousand fabulous flowers to bloom. You see, he’s clearly not taking issue with the “neocons” for wanting to toss out the clerics; he discerns that because of their love of blood-of-Gentile pastries and determination to overtly strike out at theocrats, dictators, and Palestinian children, they’re being counterproductive.

The whole thing is brutal.  And brutally funny.

Podcast for 21 Jun 09

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Letterman/Palin controversy, and the situation in Iran.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Republican Humor

It seems to be an oxymoron, like “military intelligence”.  Unfortunately, it’s not just an oxymoron with Republicans.  Democrats are similarly humorless, they just respond badly when different oxen are gored.  It seems to be a disease that patricularly affects the politically active, of aither party.

Steven Crowder makes the argument that conservatives should lighten up wqhen people like Letterman say something tasteless.

One of my goals in life is to watch political correctness shrivel up and die (as it should be for any true Conservative). I can’t do that however, if Republicans insist on resuscitating it back to life every time they want to act “offended.” Do we really want to be the person at the party around which everyone has to tiptoe around for fear of offending our sensibilities? Come on… We’re not supposed to be “that guy.” Leave that kind of crap to the Sean Penn pansies of the world.

It’s not an argument that some people want to hear, like. say Patterico:

I didn’t get outraged by Barack Obama’s Special Olympics joke (a position that, curiously, itself outraged some of the very people who today claim to back up Letterman’s right to tell an “edgy” joke). I just mocked Obama as someone less articulate than advertised — and then mocked him again. But there were those with ties to Special Olympians who were genuinely outraged. Their outrage wasn’t manufactured, and they weren’t being humorless — because, Crowder my pal, it wasn’t a funny joke.

My reaction to Sykes and to Letterman is similar. They showed a lack of class, and their jokes weren’t funny.

Yeah.  Because whenever you really want to get clued in the ultimate source of humor, who better than a prosecutor to track that down for you?  I think we all know that those guys are just a barrel of laughs.

First of all those jokes were funny.  When the people in question told them, they got laughs.  So clearly, they had an audience.  Moreover, in the case of Sykes and Letterman, you have two people who are genuinely funny.  They make extremely comfortable livings at being funny professionally.  So, either the free market is failing horrifically, or something else is going on besides their jokes not being funny.

And, frankly Patterico knows exactly what’s going on.

Proof that the way you react to a controversial joke is heavily influenced by your particular station in life…there were those with ties to Special Olympians who were genuinely outraged.

Sure they were.  It hit too close to home.  It’s always funny until someone loses an eye, or comes up with an extra chromosome.  Then it’s tasteless and insensitive.  And the Republican response to the Letterman/Palin thing is no different.  Patterico even says so:

While I disagree with some of the more violent reactions to Letterman’s joke, I can understand them, and will not be quick to judge the sincerity of my fellow Republicans — who, remember, still have a deep wellspring of genuine outrage to draw on, stemming from the way Palin and her family were treated during the campaign.

Shorter Patterico: Life’s not fair!

Cry me a river.

First of all, anyone who knows anything about David Letterman knows that he doesn’t, and never has, countenanced anything even remotely related to pedophilia in his show’s comedy.  And he has guys on like Louis CK and Jim Norton, who touch on subjects like that in their regular routines, who are told quite clearly that this is the case.

And, lest we forget, Sarah Palin does, in fact, have a daughter that got knocked up by an athlete, and ended up with an out-of-wedlock child.  That’s clearly the reference Letterman was shooting for, and all this talk of “jokes about raping a child” are intentionally obtuse.

And please: don’t tell me I’m humorless if the joke I’m laughing at isn’t funny. Sometimes it’s really the other guy who lacks the sense of humor.

Well, sorry, but the problem is you.  If the studio audience is laughing, then that’s a pretty good clue that the joke was funny.  You just didn’t like it because it hit too close to home.  But that’s about you, not the joke or the comedian.

And what, exactly is the principle you’re fighting for here?  Not to be offended?  Well, then you might as well sign on to the university speech codes, and all the other PC bullsh*t the Left pushes, because you want PC enforced just like they do.  You just want your version of PC to cover different things.  I say, emerods on both your houses.

The best statement I can think of is the one Sean Hannity made when DOn Imus was going through the “nappy-headed hos” fiasco.  “If you don’t like it, turn the dial.”

Podcast for 14 Jun 09

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss hate speech, Iran and North Korea.

There is no direct link to the podcast this week, since a number of technical difficulties intervened (thanks for kicking me off the phone twice, Verizon!).  So, if you want to hear this one, you’ll need to get it from our Podcast page at BTR.  There will be no RSS link this week, either.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Perhaps We Should Set Up Camps or Something

Bonnie Erbe, writing at the CBS News blog site, has had it up to here with all the hate speech, and its inevitable consequences.  So, she has a cunning plan.

If yesterday’s Holocaust Museum slaying of security guard and national hero Stephen Tyrone Johns is not a clarion call for banning hate speech, I don’t know what is…

Not only have we had three hate crime murders within the last two weeks (Mr. Johns, as noted above, Dr. George Tiller a week ago last Sunday, and Pvt. William Andrew Long by an American-born Muslim convert outside a recruiting station just before that.)…

It’s not enough to prosecute these murders as murders. They are hate-motivated crimes and each of these men had been under some sort of police surveillance prior to their actions. Isn’t it time we started rounding up promoters of hate before they kill?

Let’s call it “preventative detention”, or something equally innocuous.  Let’s pretend that it isn’t a suggestion that is so totalitarian, and so horribly un-American, that Ms. Erbe should be ahsamed for having publicly presented such an evil proposal. You see, not being privy to the internal lives of my fellow citizens, I don’t know which of them will commit a crime, so I don’t feel comfortable imprisoning for the possible consequences of their thoughts.

Ms. Erbe, on the other hand, seems to have no such compunctions.

This is, by the way, where the logic of “hate crimes” inevitably takes you.  Once you realize that prosecution for hate crimes doesn’t stop them, you move to prevent them by other, inevitably totalitarian–means. And, eventually, the definition of what becomes “hate speech” starts expanding.

And so, we’ve arrived now where a “responsible” journalist can now advocate opening up prisons to house those whose only “crime” is to hold insufficiently pure thoughts.

Obama Defends Marriage

Move over, Carrie Prejean.  President Obama apparently thinks that marriage  should be defined traditionally, too.  And he’s sent government lawyers into court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act.  And it has some people upset.

We just got the brief from reader Lavi Soloway. It’s pretty despicable, and gratuitously homophobic. It reads as if it were written by one of George Bush’s top political appointees. I cannot state strongly enough how damaging this brief is to us. Obama didn’t just argue a technicality about the case, he argued that DOMA is reasonable. That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA wasn’t motivated by any anti-gay animus. He argued why our Supreme Court victories in Roemer and Lawrence shouldn’t be interpreted to give us rights in any other area (which hurts us in countless other cases and battles). He argued that DOMA doesn’t discriminate against us because it also discriminates about straight unmarried couples (ignoring the fact that they can get married and we can’t).

He actually argued that the courts shouldn’t consider Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban interracial marriages, when looking at gay civil rights cases. He told the court, in essence, that blacks deserve more civil rights than gays, that our civil rights are not on the same level.

Apparently, some people didn’t beleive Obama when he stated that he opposed gay marriage.  So, more buyer’s remorse from those people.

I wonder if a Cheney Administration would have taken a more reasonable position vis a vis DOMA.  It could hardly have staked out a more conservative one than the Obama administration did.

Here’s the thing:  as Dale Carpenter over at Volokh points out, the DoJ went all the way to the wall to defend DOMA, even though there was no need to do so.

Of most interest is what the DOJ has to say about the due process and equal protection claims, rejecting just about every single variation of an argument that gay-rights scholars and litigants have made over the past 30 years.

Fundamental right to marry that includes same-sex couples? Nonsense under the narrowest approach to such rights, as articulated by Chief Justice Rehnquist in Washington v. Glucksberg, who wrote that in evaluating a fundamental-rights claim a federal court must follow tradition and tradition is to be understood as narrowly as possible.

The Loving analogy? Rejected. Strict scrutiny for laws discriminating against gays and lesbians? Unprecedented. Sex discrimination? Meritless. Romer v. Evans? That dealt with a comprehensive denial of rights, unlike DOMA. Lawrence v. Texas? That was a privacy case.

Ninth Amendment rights? No such thing.

Essentially, the Obama Administration’s justice department filed a brief that attempts to gut practically every constitutional gay rights argument you can think of.  I would have expected Obama’s defense of DOMA–assuming there was going to even be one, which there didn’t have to be–to be more or less pro forma.  Instead of arguing that the law was unconstitutional–which Bush and Clinton did a couple of times–or making boilerplate legal arguments as a matter of form, the DoJ went for the throats of gay marriage advocates.

I really do wonder why.

Revitalizing GM

The government seems to be working on a cunning plan to bring GM back to profitability.

This ought to do it.

With auto sales in the doldrums, the House was considering a plan Tuesday to provide vouchers of up to $4,500 for consumers who turn in their gas-guzzling cars and trucks for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The House proposal, set for a floor vote Tuesday, was aimed at stimulating car sales during a bleak period for the auto industry and increasing the nation’s fleet of cars that get more miles to the gallon…

Separately, House and Senate appropriators were discussing providing $1 billion to a supplemental war funding bill for the “cash for clunkers” program, which aims to generate about 1 million new auto sales. Since the yearlong vehicle program is expected to cost $4 billion, lawmakers would attempt to find the additional money later this year.

Under the House bill, car owners could get a voucher worth $3,500 if they traded in a vehicle getting 18 miles per gallon or less for one getting at least 22 miles per gallon. The value of the voucher would grow to $4,500 if the mileage of the new car is 10 mpg higher than the old vehicle. The miles per gallon figures are listed on the window sticker.

So, now we’ve got a car company, and next we’ll be buying cars for our neighbors.

Podcast for 07 Jun 09

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Obama “Muslim” speech, and the socialization of the economy.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.