Do As I Say ....
From the bully pulpit:President Obama yesterday scolded Wall Street bankers who received millions of dollars in bonuses last year, calling the payouts "shameful" and chiding the executives for a lack of personal responsibility at a precarious time for the nation’s economy. "There will be time for them to make profits, and there
Tax Cheat Names Lobbyist As Top Aide
How can anyone actually take this guy seriously?Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner picked a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist as a top aide Tuesday, the same day he announced rules aimed at reducing the role of lobbyists in agency decisions.Nothing Orwellian about that, is there?
Fuel Efficiency Standards, Executive Orders and Rule by Decree
A couple of points about this article in yesterday’s NYT. First, the directive by Obama to EPA telling it to again review the California (and others) emission and fuel efficiency standards with an eye toward approving them:President Obama will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunda
Does it bother anyone else that the questionable Constitutional implications of the botched inaugural oath were serious enough to warrant a redo, but that the plainly and unambiguously unconstitutional appointment ( 
Now comes the hard part
Heck of a party last night, wasn’t it?Some may be feeling a little peckish today.Too bad, the fun is over and beginning today the hard part starts.While much of the world seems pleased
The Promise and The Reality
I may have to make this a reoccurring feature.The Promise: During the campaign President Obama attacked corporate and special interest lobbyists as evil and banned their money and participation. He claimed that they would have little or no influence in an Obama administration.The Reality:
Geithner best argument for simplified tax code
That doesn’t at all mean he should get a pass on his past.I got a bit nauseated yesterday listening to all the talking heads tell us over and over the obvious talking point that Timothy Geithner made an "honest mistake". Really? How honest of a mistake is it when you knowingly ignore something your employer went out of its way t
Irony Alert #2
Wow - two in one day. Digby provides this one over at good old Hullabaloo. The subject is a film shown on CNN which Digby obviously believes to be nothing short of propaganda. The film, "I.O.U.S.A", discusses our fiscal problems, focuse
You need experience for this stuff?
Hey, why not Leon "We have intelligence agencies?" Panetta for Director of the CIA? After all we have Barack "Who says you need experience?" Obama making the selection and Caroline "Hey, I’m a Kennedy, what more do you need?" Schlossberg under serious consideration for a Senate seat.Why not Leon "What does a spy look like?" Panetta for CIA?Because, you k
Political Legacy and Entitlement
This Caroline Kennedy thing is like a bad soap opera. It brings up a seeming trend and problem which I’d like to see nipped in the bud. Legacy and entitlement in the political system. Just because daddy was a politician, and considered by some to be a good one, doesn’t mean daughter has the same abilities. But some usually bright people seem to be dazzled by names instead of abilities.  
Auto bailout - a Friday rant
A statement from White House Press Secretary Dana Perino:It is disappointing that while appropriate and effective legislation to assist and restructure troubled automakers received majority support in both houses, Congress nevertheless failed to pass final legislation. The approach in that legislation provided an opportunity to use funds already appropriated for autom
Auto Deal Dead? Hold your horses ...
Well the Republicans in the Senate (with the usual exceptions) and a couple of Democrats kept the US government out of the car business last night.Reading the blogosphere, on both sides, has been fascinating. From Ed Morrisey’s "good" to Jane Hamsher’s " 
Big 3 Bailout
A Small Thursday Morning Rant
As we head toward government health care, I continue to keep a wary eye on the systems presently funcitoning in other countries - like the UK’s NHS.You pick up little nuggets like this:The NHS already restricts access to expensive new drugs that could benefit older age groups — such as sufferers of Alzheimer’s an
Republic Windows and Doors (update)
This particular case is emblematic of how asinine our situation has become, but typical, I think, of our future.Republic Windows and Doors lays off 250 people last week and closes its doors. They get 3 days notice and they end up not getting already-earned vacation time and severance pay. Why? Because Republic Windows and Doors doesn’t have t
Goodbye Auto Industry
Democrats are talking about a "Car Czar" to oversee the operations of the US Auto Industry. You’d might think it’d be hard to come up with a worse idea than that. You’d be wrong.Detroit Democrat John Conyers — who chairs the U.S. House Judiciary Committee — proposed on Tuesday the creation of a so-called auto czar to sit on President-elect Barack Obama’s cabin
The blind leading the blind
You can’t help but be blackly amused by this ongoing comedy in DC:A senator who will help determine whether the auto industry gets a $15 billion bailout said Sunday the head of General Motors should step down, telegraphing what could be a congressional demand for a top-line shake-up in Detroit in exchange for financial life support.Rick Wagoner, the chief executive of GM, “has to move on,” Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Sena
A Bridge Loan to Nowhere?
That’s what the Wall Street Journal calls it and adds, "Congress and business ’viability’ rarely mix."As the WSJ notes, this isn’t about a loan to allow the Big 3 to get back on their feet, it’s a plan to essentially takeover the domestic auto industry and direct it from Congress.Look at their plans and listen to the Congressional r
Auto Bailout Deal?
That’s the report. Reuters:Democratic leaders and the White House reached a deal to provide billions of dollars in relief to the ailing U.S. auto industry, a senior congressional aide told Reuters on Friday.The package, which Democratic leaders hope to win passage of next week and send to President George W. Bush, totals between $15 billion
Cerberus Goes To Washington
I think I’ve discovered why the dead are leaving Detroit at such a rapid pace. The guardian of the gate to the underworld has gone to Washington begging for table scraps.This week, America’s "Big 3" automakers again visited Congress, 34 Billion gallon hat in hand, seeking federal bailout
Something to watch
During the campaign, Barack Obama was outspoken in his opposition to nuclear weapons in general and specifically new and improved weapons for the US arsenal. But, what about the existing warheads? How safe and how reliable are they?The leader of the U.S. Strategic Command said yesterday that "time is not on our side" to moderniz
Clinton and Obama bury hatchet and seal deal for Sec State
That, of course, means some immediate propaganda work repackaging by the Obama team after all the shots they threw her way during the primaries:"What exactly is this foreign policy experience?" Obama said mockingly of the New York senator. "Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no."No, she was dod
Gates to continue as Sec Def
And, as you might imagine, the Netroots is none to happy about it. Chris Bowers:The most important appointment decision Obama will make during the transition, bar none, is who becomes, or remains, Secretary of Defense. As I have noted in the past, the Department of Defense oversees
Storming the Bastille
What I’d give to see the same attitude here:Thousands of Icelanders demonstrated in Reykjavik on Saturday demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Geir Haarde and Central Bank Governor David Oddsson for failing to stop a financial meltdown in the country.It was the latest in a series of protests in the capital since
Testing the Law of Unintended Consequences
Henry Waxman managed to change the guard yesterday, by defeating Democratic Rep John Dingell for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell was more of a heartland traditional Democrat, and one who might or might not have played ball when it came to the more ambitious and radical agenda of the incoming administration as it pertains to health care and the environment.Nancy Pelosi, who claimed to be neutral in the whole thing, but most
Another Insider Named to Obama Cabinet
If you think Tom Daschle has been hanging out in South Dakota since his Senatorial defeat, think again. He’s been in Washington DC working for the firm Alston & Bird. The WaPo says he’s never been a lobbyist but admits that Alston & Bird have a lobbying arm. Of course it tends to stretch credulity that a powerful and well-connected former Se
Best Qualified?
Or a crony?And of course, he’s another Clinton re-tread who was acting AG and approved including the Marc Rich pardon at that time.As to the charges of cronyism:A partner at the D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling, Holder served as co-chief (along with Caroline Kennedy) of Obama’s vice-presidential selection
Two Paragraphs Which Highlight the "Problem"
This is the systemic problem with government today (and one that seems to end up effecting all governments eventually):Last year at this time, many governors and state legislators were imploring Congress to let them spend more money by expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Since the states share the cost of the program with Was
Like Minds
Sweetness and Light has an interesting post up.Among many of the highlighted sentences are these:A moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. Reset mortgages so payments are affordable. No bail outs for banks.Extend unemployment compensation, increase payments and eligibility. Increase food stamps, WIC, children’s health insurance,
HRC for Sec State?
Obama could make worse *cough* John Kerry *cough* selections:Several Obama transition advisers are strongly advocating Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) for secretary of state, a move that would create the ultimate “Team of Rivals” Cabinet, according to officials involved in the discussions.President-elect Obama has narrowed the possibilities for secretary of st
Obama’s gameplan?
John Podesta, Obama’s transition team co-chair, provides an interesting glimpse into the possible immediate plans, structure and decisions of the Obama administration:In excerpts of a book being released in January, "Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint For The 44th President," Podesta describes the need for a chief executive that
Ch ch ch changes ....
Paul Bedard has a handy chart which lays out who is being considered for what in the upcoming Obama administration. Note when you click on the chart and expand it (pdf) the first name in the upper left - yes, Al Gore, "climate czar".No real surprises, except perhaps seeing Colin Powell’s name ment
Another re-tread for Obama’s administration?
Boy, I’m getting dizzy with all the new names and faces being touted for this administration. You can just feel the new breeze that will be sweeping through Washington DC once Obama is inaugurated, can’t you? [/snark]How about Jamie Gorelick for Attorney General?Who is she?<
At least its not the Freikorps (update)
Jon Henke points to a little editing at the Obama site. The original (cached):The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps
Emanuel’s Freddie Mac Connection
Well this isn’t good:President-elect Barack Obama’s newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot "red flags," according to government reports reviewed by According to a compla
Another retread?
One of the names being seriously talked about for Secretary of the Treasury is Larry Summers.Summers, as most know, was Sec Tres for Bill Clinton. He was also a proponent of the repeal of Glass-Stegal Financial Services Act. Congress repealed it and Bill Clinton signed the new law, the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act, into effect. From a NY Times article about that
Ponies for everyone!
Wacky Hermit comes up with a great way to explain what government can and can’t (should and shouldn’t?) do to your children with her "Pony Omnibus Bill of 2009" example. It might also help explaining such things to those on the left.
Anyone - what in the world does this mean?
What is it? What is it designed to defend us from? Why w
Obama’s administration
Here, from Politico, are a list of names being discussed for various positions in an Obama administration. Note the name conspicuously missing when you get to HHS and "Health Care Czar". Note too that, according to this list at least, Al Gore would have a job of sorts.White House chief of staff: Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.); Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.); o
Congress: The clowns are running the circus
Or you could just put this under that endless category about the law of unintended consequences:The government said it was giving banks more money so they could make more loans. Dollars paid to shareholders don’t serve that purpose, but Treasury officials say that suspending quarterly dividend payments would have deterred banks from partic
Kerry as Secretary of State?
Frankly that possibility should just terrify you. But reading through an article today in the Boston Herald about how Kerry wants a "New Deal II", I came across this paragraph:But asked to respond to Kerry’s economic remarks, Beatty’s camp made references to a famous anti-Kerry crack by former state Senate Presiden
25% Cut in Defense
At first, I was ready to into a big snit over Bruce’s post on Barney Frank (D-MA) and his suggestion that we cut defense spending by 25%.But, we’re apparently thinking about transferring some of that money to the new, cabinet-level Department of Peace and Nonviolence.Ah. Well. That&
Peronistas Go To Washington
Piggy-backing off of McQ’s post earlier, what does it say about our Congress when they start acting like the Argentinian government?Hemmed in by the global financial squeeze and commodities slump, Argentina’s leftist government has seemingly found a novel way to find the money to stay afloat: cr
FDR’s Policies extended the Depression by 7 years
And frankly, if WWII hadn’t intervened, it could have gone on longer.Two UCLA economists have done some heavy research into why the Great Depression was A) "Great" and B) lasted so long.In both cases the culprit was
Cognative Dissonnance, WaPo style
Surprisingly, the Washington Post finally admits something we’ve been saying for quite some time:IS THIS the end of American capitalism? As financial panic spread across the globe and governments scrambled to contain the damage, reality seemed to announce the doom of U.S.-style free markets and President Bush’s ideology. But this is
Speaking of Marx - part II
Our boy Hugo is going to do the workers of Venezuela a big favor:The government of President Hugo Chavez is planning to establish a 6-hour workday under forthcoming legislation.Labor Minister Roberto Hernandez announced Monday that he would present a proposed bill before the end of the year to reduce the workday from 8 to 6 hours, improve e
Thoughts on the politics of the financial crisis
You know, after the bust of a few years ago, you’d think we’d have learned our lessons in general. For a while there, conventional wisdom proclaimed that the old economic laws and those laws which had provided success to investors who followed them just didn’t apply anymore. P/E ratios? Bah, old school. Companies which actually produce something other than vaporware? Bah, you buy on potential, not on concrete accomplishment.
The law of unintended consequences strikes again
And look how it has manifested itself this time:Nebraska’s "safe haven" law, intended to allow parents to anonymously hand over an infant to a hospital without being prosecuted, isn’t working out as planned.Got that? Key word "intended". In fact, they intended to put a 72 hour limit on the age of the infant. But they didn’t: When it was introduced in the Legislature
Watch as Democrats try to blame financial mess on "deregulation"
The Heritage Foundation’s "Morning Bell" points me to something Sebastian Mallaby said today in the WaPo:[B]laming deregulation for the financial mess is misguided. But it is dangerous, too, because one of the big challen
Why are your health care costs so high?
Well, here’s a hint:Georgia’s top health agency plans to charge health insurers millions of dollars in extra fees to help pay for the state’s Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids programs.But those insurance companies are fighting back, saying the fees will drive up rates for people with private insurance and possibly price some people out of the
The Bailout Bill
If you’re interested, here is the bill being debated in the Senate. As Lance notes, it is a House bill which has already cleared the House, to which the Senate has attached the bailout as an amendment. By doing that they successfully sidestep the Constitutional requirement that all spending bills originate in the House. They also sidestep those pesky 228 " 
Let’s be honest about why we’re in the shape we’re in
Dick Armey takes time in his denunciation of the present bailout proposal to make a very important point. This isn’t a "market failure" as many who are now voting us into perpetual debt are saying:Indeed, many proponents of the bailout have tried to put the blame for this massive government intervention squarely on the market, asserting that free marke
One version of the final bill and what it contains (and doesn’t contain)
This is a preview of the final bill that they’ve worded on this weekend. This is from a Republican source (email) showing a comparison of the previous two bills and the final bill as they wish to present it. Obviously there may be more:IssuePaulson PlanFrank-Dodd
Watch this (Fixed link)
You may want to have your pointer hovering over the pause button because even at 9 minutes this goes quickly and there are things you’re going to want to examine more closely (for whatever reason the embed code isn’t working). If you’re on blood pressure meds, take them prior to viewing:
Deal or No Deal?
Right now, no deal:Sources tell ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson fears the Wall Street bailout deal is falling apart after a chaotic White House meeting. Earlier today Paulson walked into the room where Democrats were caucusing, and pleaded with them ’please don’t blow this up,’ Stephanopoulos reports. Hous
Capitol Hill soap opera: "As the Stomach Turns"
We have a little back-and-forth going on in the breaking news department. First we get this:Key lawmakers have reported an agreement in principle on a bailout of the financial industry designed to avert a deeper economic crisis.Emerging from a two-hour negotiating session, Sen. Chris Dodd said, "We are very confident that we can act expeditiously."
Credit is not a "civil right"
Mark Krikorian gets down to one of the primary reasons for the financial problems we have right now - forcing financial markets to enable social policy:I have no way of judging whether the Wall Street bailout is a necessary evil or an impending disaster. But we’re in this mess, ultimately, because our political elites thought it was good
Question of the day
It comes from my friend Kevin Whalen on Pundit Review Radio last night:"How is is we can bailout 700 billion worth of financial institutions in 2 days on 3 pieces of paper but it takes 18 months to build one mile of border fence?"Speaking of the bailout bill, anyone else uncomfort
Earmarks vs. Federal Funding
The Wall Street Journal takes a look at Gov. Sarah Palin’s record on earmarks and finds it wanting.Last week, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain said his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, hadn’t sought earmarks or special-interest spending from Congress, presenting her as a fiscal conservative. But state records show Gov. Palin has
"It’s almost like losing a child"
Unfortunately, coming out of the UK, NHS horror stories are becoming a dime a dozen. But if you ever wanted an example of the ugly side of the inevitable bureaucratic indifference which sets in within any large government program, this story provides the perfect outrageous anecdote.
Housing Bill Madness
Tyler Cowen looks at the cost of bailing out Fannie and Freddie. One key point which echoes my complaint:4. Often in these plans equity holders are (nearly) wiped out. So beware all the talk of moral hazard. The real moral hazard is on the side of future creditors, not the current, possibly-soon-to-be-extinguished equity holders. They really are getting burned.
McCain Does Something I Like!
He takes a forthright stand against continuing to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So what should we do about them? Start by removing the moral hazard. Details at the link.
Why Democrats scare me to death
This sort of nonsense (and yes, I consider the source, but it is all too common on the left as it is) drives me up a wall. But trust me, this is precisely the sorts of "programs" you’re going to see with an Democrat majority in Congress and the White House.Stuart Varney is interviewing John Kerry.<
Where is the ACLU on this one?
Appropriate or not? This now available from the U.S. State Department: "2009 Mosques of America Wall Calendar: Limited Edition for Ramadan.""Yep, you read that correctly. It’s ’perfect for Muslim outreach efforts," according to a commentary at the Gates of Vienna blog. "Where’s the ACLU on this one?"Indeed. If the
I blame the Republicans
Willem Buiter of the Financial Times does a pretty good job of laying out the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae debacle. I don’t necessarily agree with his solutions, but he does hit the high points as to why they’re in trouble.What I found much more interesting than his description and his solutions was this
Give burglers a break
That’s the recommendation of a sentencing commission in the UK:Burglars should no longer be sentenced to jail, official advisers have said.Unpaid work or a curfew would normally be a better way of punishing break-ins and thefts, said a panel that issues guidelines to judges. And the victims? Of course
If the Republicans had a brain ...
They’d take these Gallup numbers to the bank.The top two make a very strong
Oh my - this just blew me away - "Nationalize Oil Companies"
I’m still trying to get my breath back.Watch this. As mentioned in my post below, the reason we’re suffering the energy crisis today is directly attributable to government and its lack of a coherent energy policy and its unwillingness, among other things, to allow the exploitation of our oil reserves.First, in the video, Democrats call for the Nationalization
He’s baaaaack ...
The "hand-grenade with a bad haircut", Mr. Ross Perot, is back, and he’s charting his own course.Perot has put together a "fun with charts" website called "Perot Charts" (linked above) in which demonstrates all things financial and governmental via his favorite medium - charts.They’re pretty well done too. I sat through the 35 chart, full narrated " 
If you think government health care would be bad ...
George Will covers the other end of the "carbon market" proposals - the crux of the issue, if you will:Speaking of endless troubles, "cap-and-trade" comes cloaked in reassuring rhetoric about the government merely creating a market, but government actually would create a scarcity so that government could sell what it had made scarce
Benefits and problems ...
Walter E. Williams states a timeless truism:Most of the great problems we face are caused by politicians creating solutions to problems they created in the first place. Politicians and much of the public lose sight of the unavoidable fact that for every created benefit, there’s also a created cost or, as Nobel Laureate Mi
Attempting to redefine "markets"
Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama?"Instead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, ... we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring. We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great. The most relevant question now is whether our own government is equal to the challenge."
Once upon a time at the Washington Post
Some clever agitator at the Washington Post has dug up and published a Washington Post editorial, circa 1978, that is worth reading. The Federal Trade Commission has now agreed to consider imposing major restrictions on television advertisements aimed at young children. The primary goal of the proposal is to reduce the amount of sugar children eat. Few people, least of all
Incremental central control
The Heritage Foundation points to a law which the Senate passed yesterday which Heritage sarcastically characterizes as the "Municipal Government Bankruptcy Enhancement Act":Yesterday the Senate voted to end debate on a bill that requires police officers, firefighters and other first responders across the nation to submit to col
Government competence
An oxymoron?You decide:Hundreds of employee laptops are unaccounted for at the U.S. Department of State, which conducts delicate, often secret, diplomatic relations with foreign countries, an internal audit has found.As many as 400 of the unaccounted for laptops belong to the department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, according to offici
What do this ...And this ...... have in common?Read The Fat Guy, he puts it all in perspective and hits upon a theme we’ve talked about here a number of times.
Fraud, waste and abuse? Give ’em credit cards ...
You know, it’s not so much the credit cards, but the obvious lack of oversight that should frighten you:Federal employees used government credit cards to pay for lingerie, gambling, iPods, Internet dating services, and a $13,000 steak-and-liquor dinner, according to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, which
10 worst US infrastructure problems
Popular Mechanics lists the 10 worst infrastructure problems in the US. One is found in Atlanta. It has been a problem for a long time, but, as usual, little if anything has been done to address it. The irony, of course, is it exacerbates an existing natural problem:Water shortages aren’t limited to the Southwest. When Georgians faced drought last fall, residents of Atlanta pitched in to reduce their consumption, yet as much of 18 percent
Berkeley’s City Council - is this what you’d accept from yours?
I don’t know about you, but if my city council was doing this, I’d be more than a little irritated that my taxes were being used by local government to pursue an agenda over which it has no authority and no impact:Berkeley is finding that having its own foreign policy isn’t cheap. The city’s recent dustup with the U.S. Marine Corps
Time for the yearly message about Medicare and Social Security
As you might imagine, nothing has changed. In fact, as expected, it continues to get worse. And, as usual, it is mostly being ignored:“The trustees report yet again triggers a funding warning in Medicare – signaling the program is in serious straits as it faces a $36 trillion unfunded obligation,’’ saidJim Nussle, director of the Whi
Public wants politicians to pay attention to polls?
You’ve got to be kidding. In sharp contrast to views recently expressed by Vice President Cheney, a new poll finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe government leaders should pay attention to public opinion polls and that the public should generally have more influence over government leaders than it does.
Passport files: Well it appears we’re even again ...
Per CNN:The State Department confirms John McCain’s passport file was breached as well as Obama and Clinton’s files.Apparently State Department personnel have just been having a merry time seeing what’s in these politicians files. Hopefully they’ve also peeked in John Edwards files as well so we can be treated too a real victimhood rant. I kind of miss those from him. You know, something about the poor boy from the
A Non-Partisan Public Service Announcement
This quote from Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan seems appropriate in this Presidential campaign...Tax limits, or fiscal constraints generally, can be expected to curb government’s appetites to the extent that the utility function of governmental decision makers contains arguments for privately enjoyable ’creature comforts,’ for final end items of consumpt
How government works
A wonderful example is digital TV.On August 8th, 2002, the FCC unilaterally voted to mandate that any large-screen (36-inch or larger) TV you buy after the year 2004 be equipped with a digital tuner and that all TVs have digital tuners by 2007. The vote was 3-1.Guess who loved it?The broadcast industry is thrilled because it means they can finally garne
Oh yeah, definitely a job for the Federal Government
Not content with running every other aspect of our lives, we now have a new federal agency to run a sport. Can one for the NFL and MLB be far behind?Professional boxing in the US is set to undergo a major change after the Senate approved new legislation to create a federal agency to oversee the sport.The move is part of a campaign to protect youngst
The Drought in Georgia
How bad is it? Bad enough that the GA legislature is planning to pass a bill which moves the border with Tennessee 1.1 miles north in order to gain access to the Tennessee river:Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) and Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) introduced resolutions this week to, in essence, move the state line a mile north, running it right through a bend i
The Senate and the stimulus package
As if to emphasize the point of Jon’s post below, the Senate fight over the stimulus package has been interesting:By a single vote, Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked an expansive fiscal stimulus package championed by Democrats, as partisan rancor engulfed the effort to inject a
SOTU preview
It’s a 15 page speech with the first 7 pages dwelling on domestic issues and the rest on Iraq, Afghanistan, the ME peace process and foreign affairs in general.Part of it will have to do with a bit of a retrospective concerning the surge, reminding us that a year ago we were talking about changing strategy. If you haven’t read the Fred Barnes
Government : How did we get here?
Victor David Hanson takes a look at the policies and practices which have made us the largest debtor nation in the world and wonders if anything can be done to reverse that. At the end, he offers some suggestions:(1) At this late date, Republicans shouldn’t vote for any candidate who promises another tax cut without first
A New solution for the housing crisis
Another in a long line of warnings about what may be coming after November:The chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee is proposing to set up a government-sponsored company that would buy distressed mortgages in an effort to save Americans from foreclosure.In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released on Wednesday, Sen. Christopher Dodd sa
Social Conflict Resolution Systems
Ezra Klein has always had some sympathy for libertarianism. Let me see if I can offer reason for a bit more of that. Ezra writes of his frustration with the difficulty of making progress on important issues through bipartisan compromise, because (A):It’s easy for people of good faith to get together and compromise on their ideas.
Our Benevolent Masters in Sacramento
The state of California is one the verge of controlling every air conditioner in the state. Title 24, California’s state-mandated energy regulatory code is about to be revised to implement a requirement that will allow the state to take control of the thermostat in every new home and office in the state. What should be controversial in the prop
The CIA Torture Tapes
Congress warned them not to do it. The DOJ warned them not to do it. But the CIA destoryed the videotapes of interrogations, anyway. That turns out to have been a bad idea.The Justice Department opened a full criminal investigation Wednesday into the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes, putting the politically charged probe in the hands of a mob-b
Lakota Sioux "nation" to withdraw from US
This ought to be interesting:WHAT: A Historic Event between the Lakota Sioux Indians and the United States Government: Press Conference Announcing Unilateral Withdrawal of Lakota Nation From All U.S. Treaties and Return to Independence.WHERE: Plymouth Congregational Church 5301 N. Capital Street, NE, Washington DCWHEN: 11:30am, Wednesday December 19, 2007
Entitlements: But right now, why everything is just fine ... (update)
Or so our politicians keep trying to tell us:The government is promising $45 trillion more than it can deliver on Social Security, Medicare and other benefit programs.That is the gap between the promises the government has made in benefits and the projected revenue stream for these programs over the next 75 years, the Bus
Fiscal Legacy
Anybody care to defend this?For the 11th year in a row, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was prevented from expressing an opinion on the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government—other than the Statement of Social Insurance—because of serious material weaknesses affecting financial systems, fundamental recordkeeping, and financial reporting.<
Free trade? Not if unions can help it ...
Seems odd, in fact, it seems almost un-American, to see words like this:“If the Bush administration brings forward a free-trade agreement with Colombia, I hope Congress will agree with me and say ‘Hell No,’."Well it might seem odd until you understand who did say them - Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. Hoffa followed t
The shape of things to come
Gee, how’d that happen?In California:Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will declare a "fiscal emergency" in January to give him and the Legislature more power to deal with the state’s growing deficit.[...]The shortfall is not $10 billion, but more than $14 billion — a 40 percent jump that would put it in orbit with some o
Want to see where your tax dollars are being spent?
Then you might want to bookmark this website: you ever wanted to find more information on government spending? Have you ever wondered where federal contracting dollars and grant awards go? Or perhaps you would just like to know, as a citizen, what the government is really doing with your money. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act) requires
I’m with Hitchens - Abolish the CIA
And start over. Whatever we come up with couldn’t be any worse. Some excerpts from Hitchens. On the recent NIE - a point Dale has made:It is completely false for anybody to claim, on the basis of this admitted "estimate," that Iran has ceased to be a candidate member of the fatuously named nuclear "club." It has the desire to acquire the weaponry, it retains the means to do so, and it has been
Brits say CIA full of beans about Iran
Frankly, given the past performance of the CIA, I have little trust in their abilities. And the Brits are of a similar mind:The source said British analysts believed that Iranian nuclear staff, knowing their phones were tapped, deliberately gave misinformation. "We are sceptical. We want to know what the basis of it is, where did it come from? Was it o
Another Look at the NIE
In tomorrow’s—well, today’s, by the time most of you read this—Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control and Valerie Lincy of the Project’s IranWatch organization take a closer look at the NIE. They co
Compare and contrast
Yesterday we saw the Demcratic members of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee claim the following.The economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to total $1.6 trillion — roughly double the amount the White House has requested thus far, according to a new report by Democrats on Congress’ Joint Economic Commit
The future and the welfare state
A week or so ago, I stated:We read that polls are telling the Democrats that the mood of the people has swung toward being receptive to more and bigger government. Some argue it’s a cyclic phenomenon in which the country accepts and then rejects big government. Yet the rejection phase never seems to lead to smaller or less intrusive government. At best it seems it is simply a mo
Mi’lord, I have a cunning plan
Josh Marshall thinks it would be a mistake to save Social Security because, doing so would only enable more deficit spending and, God forbid, tax cuts for the rich. You see we’ve been using the SS surplus to finance all that up to now. And if we don’t fix it, we’ll run the surplus out faster which means we can’t finance more upper income tax cuts and hide the conseque
More government foolishness (update)
I’ve been watching this develop over the past week. It concerns a spoken recital during a flag ceremony at burials in which some religious themes are expressed. As usual, the knee-jerk reaction of the government, through the National Cemetary Administration, was to ban such religious mentions during flag folding ceremonies at all National Cemeteries based on a single co
Government Springs Into Action!
Keith, at SHC points to a story about various government officials squabbling over who’s to blame over the slowness with which fire-fighting aircraft from the Federal government got into the act fighting the California wildfires.
Republicans and the Senate
Obviously everyone knows what’s at stake in ’08 when voters head to the polls. The House of Reps is in Democratic hands, and most likely will remain that way. And there’s a very real possibility that a Democrat may end up in the White House. There’s little doubt of what sort of agenda will then be proposed.For Republicans, the Senate, even in mi
Trust in federal government at all time low
And that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned:A new Gallup poll reveals that, as the organization puts it, Americans now "express less trust in the federal government than at any point in the past decade, and trust in many federal government institutions is now lower than it was during the Watergate era, generally recognized
Looking to Madison
One of our commenters, Tito, recently said, "I think the vast majorities of voters actually vote against the other guy far more than they vote for their candidate. Most of the people I talk to who voted for Bush in 04 really voted against Kerry... and the same on the other side. I think it [is] just a matter of which wing-nuts you are more scared of having power."Incidentally, I was already writing an expansive post starting on that very subject. I recen
Skepticism: the political opportunity
National Review’s Campaign Spot notes an intriguing point from a recent article in The Economist...Americans remain sceptical about the Democrats’ favourite tool for improving the world—government action. A Democracy Corps poll found that
The poverty scam in the US (update)
Are there poor in the US. Yes, absolutely. Are they as large a portion of our population as politicians routinely try to claim there are (think John Edwards). No. Not at all. Robert Rector brings us up to date:The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from a variety of government reports:
Gonzales Gone (updated)
Well it’s about time. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, has resigned. A senior administration official said he would announce the decision later this morning in Washington.Of course the left is celebrating his resignation, but then its ti
The Moral Hazard of New Orleans
Douglas Brinkley has a Washington Post column about post-Katrina New Orleans (and particularly, the 9th Ward). Two full years after the hurricane, the Big Easy is barely limping along ... Why is no Herculean clean-up effort underway? Yes, why ever aren’t we rebuilding homes whose true cost (including insurance, and defense against flooding) is far, far h
Gordon Brown calls for tougher UK gun laws
Wait I thought the UK had some of the toughest gun laws around:GORDON Brown yesterday attacked the "heinous" killing of Rhys Jones and raised the prospect of tougher laws on guns and gangs.You mean passing tough laws doesn’t work?How disappointing. Kind of reminds me of the war on drugs.Brown’s solution? Classic:"Where
How does something like this go unnoticed for 6 years?
That was the first question that popped into my mind when I read this story:A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to a Texas base, U.S. officials said.What this contractor
The American Preference for divided government
Bruce Bartlett filling in for Andrew Sullivan today:I have an article in this morning’s Los Angeles Times that elaborates on my earlier post about how Hillary is becoming more acceptable to at least a few opinionmakers on the right.Let me anticipate one criticism I always get when I talk about how Bill Clinton’s administrati
Barack Obama flip-flops on PAYGO
Barack Obama, the politician who... ...wanted to "change the game", who wanted to restore "faith" in government. ...promised to "restore a law
Speaking of Newt: "the world that works, the world that fails"
Jon talked about Newt Gingrich and his possible designs on a presidential run. I agree with those who see Gingrich more as an idea man (a wonk) than a practical (or particularly attractive) political candidate. He’s someone who can and does have good ideas about reforming government which I find both interesting and exciting, especially when he talks about downsizing and limiting it.
Gonzales: ’I may have created confusion’
You know, I’ve purposely avoided the "Gonzales affair" because, frankly, it bores me to death. It is a partisan circus - part payback and part witch hunt. However, that said, Alberto Gonzales has managed, during all of this, to make himself look foolish, inept and, to use Harry Reid’s favorite word, incompetent.At some point his continued presence at the
Please, trust your health care to this institution
Here’s an unsurprising revelation:The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributed $1.1 billion over seven years to the estates or companies of deceased farmers and routinely failed to conduct reviews required to ensure that the payments were properly made, according to a government report.In a selection of 181 cases from 1999 to
Rent Seekers, unite!
Reading an old edition of The Economist this morning, and in a story about New York City subway upgrades, I came across an astounding statement - a perfect encapsulation of the snotty, over-indulged entitlement mentality. Behold, in all its pampered glory, the Common North American Rent Seeker...Some people, like the Straphangers Campaign, a riders’ advocacy group, worry that
Benchmarks for the Government
"Democrats to demand troops leave Iraq if benchmarks not met" read a headline in March of this year. If only Democrats applied the kind of metrics to domestic policy that they’ve recently discovered for foreign policy...Now Congress is about to wave it
Transparency and Brian Kelly
Dale beat me to the punch yesterday with a post about recordings of police officers. Radley Balko’s article immediately reminded me of a non-fiction book I enjoyed by David Brin called The Transparent Society (subtitle: "Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?").In his book,
Under the category: "You’ve got to be kidding me"!?!
Sometimes you just take your hat off, scratch your head and appeal to heaven for some enlightenment when you see things such as this:The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, wh
A debt of $516,348 for every U.S. household
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. I’d assume anyone with any economic sense would know we’ve been being fed an accounting crock of crap for decades. And it’s been a real bi-partisan effort at that.The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounti
Why the War Czar is a bad idea
Ralph Peters asks the right questions about the War Czar:The fundamental issue is this: How much authority will the war czar have? If the usual pattern prevails, the feudal domains on the Potomac will nod politely when he speaks, but ignore him when their parochial interests are threatened. Will he be able
Mixed Government
So far, so good. From Congressional Quarterly (subscription required):Democrats face a legislative traffic jam that threatens to leave the party without a single high-profile domestic victory heading into the Memorial Day recess. [...]The Democratic majority has] produced only 26 public laws, 12 of which changed the name of a federal building, post office or national recreation area.Works for me. They can r
10,000 dead in Kansas? Say it ain’t so, Toto
Uh, not sure where Obama is getting his news:Barack Obama, caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died. The death toll was 12."In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died - an entire town destroyed," the Democratic pre
Selling gas too cheaply is a crime?
Well maybe not "criminal:"A service station that offered discounted gas to senior citizens and people supporting youth sports has been ordered by the state to raise its prices. Center City BP owner Raj Bhandari has been offering senior citizens a 2 cent per gallon price break and discount cards that let sports boosters pay 3 cents less per gallon.But the s
Kansas Guard can’t respond to tornado emergency? (update)
So says the Democratic Governor:The rebuilding effort in tornado-ravaged Greensburg, Kansas, likely will be hampered because some much-needed equipment is in Iraq, said that state’s governor.Governor Kathleen Sebelius said much of the National Guard equipment usually positioned around the state to respond to emergencies is gone. She said not having i
Searching for a clue
Seems The Carpetbagger Report can’t wait for the right to start sounding off about this:I can’t wait to hear the noise machine blather endlessly about how Condoleezza Rice is undermining U.S. policy by chatting with Syrian officials.[...]Ah yes, the Pelosi meeting. As I recall, when the Speaker of the House chatted with Syrian officia
War Czar? (update)
This has got to be one of the dumber ideas floated by the administration to date::The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take
Contextless absurdity from the Washington Post argues for status quo
You have to admire the ability of some writers to ignore context to try to make a point. For instance, this from Jonathan Weisman:To President Bush, they are "pork-barrel projects completely unrelated to the war," items in the House and Senate war-spending bills such as peanut storage facilities and aid to spinach farmers that insult the seriou
Something to worry about?
I’m not sure it is, at least to this point:The US has lost its position as the world’s primary engine of technology innovation, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.The US is now ranked seventh in the body’s league table measuring the impact of technology on the development of nations.A deterioration of the political and regula
Muslim activists: testing the legal and cultural waters
It appears the hot-bed of Muslim activism in the US has centered itself in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Katherine Kersten talks about the "goings on" in those cities as it pertains to pushing what can only be described as a sort of sharia law on the cities and demanding that their governments accommodate them.You’ll probably remember this:Troubling incidents be
So can we call this politicizing a subject?
I mean, I’m not sure how you can call it anything else:Al Gore, global warming rock star, will grab the media spotlight today before Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Environment and Public Works Committee — and Boxer is using Gore’s appearance to help raise money for her 2010 re-election campaign.In an e-mail sent earlier this month,
When the legislature is in session ....
Jim Wooten, probably the only right of center editorial board member at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, throws a little pearl out occasionally that just strikes home for me:Some critics complain that this legislative session is churning out too little legislation. My formula for a successful session: Pass the budget, repeal the anti-com
Taxpayer bill of rights
Today at 10am the Republican Study Committee will introduce a Tax Payers Bill of Rights with the aim of getting bi-partisan support for the principles of such a bill of rights and incorporating them in future legislation. The principles are:1 Taxpayers have a right to have a federal government that does not grow beyond their ability to pay for it.2 Taxpayers have a right to receive back each dollar that they entrust to the government for their reti
Can anyone else see this one coming?
Just askin’:Startling new research has found that the way some people respond to food is very similar to the way substance abusers react to the drugs they’re hooked on. Additionally, a number of experts believe that the level of food addiction in the United S
Death by a thousand cuts
I love stories like this because they demonstrate how silly and petty some legislators can be as well as the danger they pose:A state legislator whose district is home to thousands of Caribbean immigrants wants to ban the term "illegal alien" from the state’s official documents."I personally find the word ’alien’ offe
A Republican Assault on Liberty (Updated)
From Inside Higher Ed comes this story of a new bill in Arizona. A state Senate Committee has approved a bill that is abhorrent to First Amendment liberties.The bill, whose chief sponsor is the Republican majority leader in the Senate, would ban professors at public colleges and universities, while working, from: Endorsing, supporting or opposing any candidate for lo
I’m a Senator. Don’t Screw With Me.
Recently, McQ wrote about Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, and his attempts to extort more insurance coverage in Mississippi. Turns out, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just a "Democrat" problem. According to the Wall Street Journal, Republican Sen. Trent Lott is hip-deep in this
Who’s the "Robber Baron" here?
Coyote blog sets it up for us:First, Mississippi regulated flood insurance rates down to a level that it was impossible to make money, so State Farm’s property coverage on the coast did not cover flood/storm damage. Then, after Katrina, Dickie Scruggs and company sued State Farm, and others, forcing them to cover storm damage from Katrina that their polici
Unsurprisingly, House resolution passes
Not that there was ever a doubt:After four days of emotional debate over the extent of presidential powers in wartime and the proper role of Congress, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution today denouncing President Bush’s plan to send more American troops to Iraq.I’m sorry, b
Pelosi: Bush lacks authority to invade Iran
Said the Speaker of the House:House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Bush lacks the authority to invade Iran without specific approval from Congress, a fresh challenge to the commander in chief on the eve of a symbolic vote critical of his troop buildup in Iraq.Pelosi, D-Calif., noted that Bush consistently said he supports a
Entitlements and political will
First, study the chart:Breaking out a few sentences in an otherwise lengthy article, let me give you the essence of the problem as articulated by Robert Samuelson:The charts show the rise of the American welfare state. In 1956, defense dominated the budget;
Earmarks: Talking the talk, but refusing to walk the walk
Congress, on both sides of the isle, has been talking a good game against earmarks in public, but they’ve also been quietly talking to federal agencies urging them to demand those porky projects they favor and have previously earmarked still be funded through those agencies:Members of Congress quietly have been calling federal agencies demanding their pet projects
Wasting our labors under the pretense of taking care of us
"If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy."— Thomas Jefferson (letter to Thomas Cooper, 29 November 1802)Somehow we’ve completely lost our way as it concerns Jefferson’s advice:President Bush unveiled a $2.9 trillion budget
Senate Iraq Resolutions - no compromise
Says Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of the Senate Democrat resolution repudiating the President’s plan for Iraq:“We’re in a position to insist on a procedure for considering these matters that we think is fair to us,” said Mr. McConnell, who has been n
Ethanol, tortillas and smog
Someone somewhere (a week or so ago and no I can’t remember who or where [HT: Jim O’Sullivan found it].) jokingly said that all this ethanol talk was going to drive up the price of tortillas in Mexico.From his lips to God’s e
You know, he’s right
Keith from Indy, blogging at A Second Hand Conjecture, has a great idea in his post entitled "Benchmark This":I think we, as semi-disenfranchised, Americans have a prime opportunity in the current debate over the perceived need for further benchmarks for our efforts in Iraq.What is desired in this debate from some quarters are, timelines, goals, and the consequences of
A question for the ages
Brought to us by Austan Goolsbee:How dumb do you have to be to mint money at a loss?About as dumb as lending money at an interest rate less than you borrowed it. But since it’s the same institution, more or less, we’ll leave that for another day.Goolsbee answers the
None of your business, Dubya
A man who enables spending of taxpayers dollars like a drunken sailor on shore leave in Singapore has the temerity to lecture private business about executive compensation?"Government should not decide the compensation for America’s corporate executives. But the salaries and bonuses of CEOs should be based on their success at improving the
Politics and economics (UPDATED)
I pointed out yesterday that Sen. Edward Kennedy, among other Democrats, were complaining that Republicans were "blocking" the minimum wage bill and refusing to pass what they termed a ’clean bill’ with no amendments attached:Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, expressed disappointment over the Senate vote. "Our colleagues in the House came together — Dem
Unfinished Business
You recall the minor flap which emerged when it was found that American Samoa had been exempted from the House’s version of the minimum wage bill? And you recall that the corporate headquarters of the DelMonte corporation just happens to reside in the district of Speaker of the House Pelosi? Oh, and that her husband happens to own a good chunk of shares in that company?Yeah, that flap. And you also recall Pelosi’s promise to fix that and en
FCC checks out blogs on the Fairness Doctrine
I’m always pleased to see our "public servants" interested in what we have to say out here in the blogosphere:Here’s the link to the NRO entry that got them to QandO and here are links to the  
Still just talking the talk ....
Said John McCain (on one of the few occassions he and I agree) to the Democrats (and certain Republicans):"Look, if these people are serious, that oppose this increase in troops and change in strategy, then they should vote to cut off funding. And that way, they can then say, ’We tried to stop it,’ " Mr. McCain said. "A motion of disapproval, I view, as pu
Rewriting the Constitution (UPDATED)
After all the bellyaching about the Bush cabal violating, if not the letter, at least the spirit of the Constitution, Ted Kennedy attempts to rewrite both the letter and spirit of the document. From his HuffPo post:Today, I introduced legislation to reclaim the people’s right to a full voice in the president’s plan to send more
Doggie diet pills? Is this what we pay the FDA to do?
I mean, give me a freakin’ break:First there was an emphasis on exercise, and then came along diet kibble. Today, the FDA is approving the first prescription diet drug for dogs.Pfizer’s Slentrol cuts Fatso Fido’s appetite and reduces fat absorption, too, the FDA says. “This is a welcome addition to animal therapies, because dog obesity a