Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: September 2010


The line to apologize for praising Castro and Communism in Cuba starts here

It’s a pretty long line. Or at least it ought to be. Given that even the Castro brothers have come clean about what a hellhole Cuba is, it is to be hoped that silly celebrity and religious types that served as Castro’s useful idiots will recognize their foolishness and apologize for it.

To help prod them along, I’ve developed a little standardized form we can use.

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

You are hereby invited to apologize for your unsupported and ill considered remarks about Cuba in ______, which were that:

Cuba is great because it has free health care

Cuba is great because it has free housing

Cuba is great because jobs are guaranteed

Castro is a genius

Castro is the kind of leader you wish you had in the US

Cuba shows that socialism works

Cuba’s economic problems all stem from the US trade blockade

It’s too bad that the brilliant, dynamic Che Guevara died young

Other _____________________________________________________

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We know how much you value honest, open discourse in the political sphere, and how eager you must be to set the record straight on your own misapprehensions.

Sincerely,

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

Any enthusiastic volunteers are encouraged to complete the invitation and send it to appropriate recipients. Any list of invitees should at a minimum include:

Danny Glover
Steven Spielberg
Jack Nicholson
Harry Belafonte
Chevy Chase
Robert Redford
Ed Asner
Woody Harrelson
Shirley MacLaine
Kevin Costner
Tim Robbins
Sean Penn
Oliver Stone
Leaders of the Methodist Church, headed by Rev. Larry Pickens
Naomi Campbell
Spike Lee
Sidney Pollack (deceased)
Dan Rather
Pastors for Peace

Additions suggested by commenters:
Michael Moore (how could I have forgotten him!)
Carlos Santana
Leonardo DiCaprio
Alanis Morissette
Ted Turner
Jane Fonda
Jesse Jackson
Al Sharpton
Louis Farrakhan
The Congressional Black Caucus, highlighted by Diane Watson

Commenters are welcome to add to the list of invitees, and to suggest additional items for the checklist of things to apologize for.

(For those who are about to comment that these fools will never apologize, I know that. The left didn’t apologize for their useful idiocy to the Soviet Union, and Cuba is small potatoes next to that.)

**** Update 1:00 PM CST ****

In re-reading this, I just remembered that Sidney Pollack is dead. I guess he’s off the hook for any apologies.


NBER – Recession ended in June of 2009

That’s what the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), our official arbiter of when we’re in a recession and when we aren’t, says the recession ended.

The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months.

So all those who essentially said leave it alone and the economy will pull itself out of the recession were correct.  Remember, June of 2009 was approximately 6 months after the administration took office and 5 months after the stimulus package had been approved by Congress.  Or said another way, well before any of the money it has squandered had yet been dumped into the economy.

Also note the beginning date.  The recession began in December of 2007.  By the time the Obama administration got to it, it had pretty much bottomed out and was beginning to recover.  The stimulus plan was signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009.  The recession officially ended in June of 2009 per NBER.  That’s not to say, however, that “things are better” necessarily:

In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month. A recession is a period of falling economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. The trough marks the end of the declining phase and the start of the rising phase of the business cycle. Economic activity is typically below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion.

Or, an easier way to say it is that we experienced and are experiencing now what is normal to experience in a recession, but, as usual, the business cycle turns and we begin an expansion.  Note the last line – “Economic activity is typically below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion.”

So again, I stress, any claim that the “stimulus” was the reason for our beginning to recover has a bunch of inconvenient determinations by NBER to overcome.  And anyone who thinks the government can get out of its way in approximately 4 months time to have any real effect (mid Feb to June) on the economy – regardless of the size of the spending it has planned to inject – simply doesn’t have a clear understanding of how this government operates.

That said, I hope NBER is correct and that we are indeed expanding.  As it stands now, though, most of the unemployed out there looking for scarce jobs most likely don’t give a rip what NBER says.  Until they’re again employed, they’re still suffering from a recession.  And that doesn’t bode well for Democrats at all in November.

~McQ


Quote of the Day – I’m exhausted defending you edition

She was probably not what the President wanted at one of his staged “town hall” meetings – but apparently they had to recruit people to fill the audience and this was one of the recruits:

"I’m one of your middle class Americans. And quite frankly, I’m exhausted. Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for," a woman told President Obama at a town hall.

"My husband and I have joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives, but, quite frankly, it’s starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we’re headed again, and, quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly. Is this my new reality?," she added.

This is probably one of the most obvious of the problems Obama and the Democrats face.  Note there’s not a word of “blame Bush” in this Obama supporters words – those quoted or unquoted.  She essentially says, “hey, you’ve sold me a bill of goods, or so it seems after 2 years”.  In fact, she also said she was “deeply disappointed with where we are right now”.

This disappointment is likely to translate into non-votes for Democrats.  Not necessarily votes for the GOP, but lack of votes for Democrats as the “deeply disappointed” and “exhausted” supporters (or former supporters) stay home.

The problem – as we’ve noted many times – is enthusiasm.  Relative to the right, there is none on the left, or certainly not as much or enough to get people to the polls.  In two short years, Obama and the Democrats have gone from owning significant and filibuster proof margins that seemed safe for quite some time to a vulnerable status that may see them in the minority in at least one chamber of Congress and with enough gains in the other to stall the president’s agenda.

Many of us, of course, see that as a feature, not a bug.

But again, I think this woman very articulately and succinctly puts the frustrations of not only the average American, but the average Obama supporter in focus.  She is the face of defeat and she tells them precisely why that’s so.

Very interesting.  The answer Obama gives is just as telling.  Make sure you listen to it as well.

~McQ


UK: Tax man to become paymaster?

In our apparent rush to be just like Europe, I wonder if our leaders would think this was a good idea:

The UK’s tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.

You know, George Orwell was an Englishman and, it seems, knowing their proclivities, he was right on target with "1984". Not the year, the outcome.

Besides the practical reasons for not doing this, the premise under which it operates is horrifying. It says, "the government has first claim on all money earned in this nation." That may indeed by true by law, but this would make it true in fact. It would essentially turn the government into your paymaster.

Never mind the huge and assuredly bloated and inefficient bureaucracy that would grow up around this, or the cost to taxpayers (who ironically, would then get less in their pay check than previously because of it), just what in the world would cause anyone to offer such a suggestion except the belief that government owns all the money anyway?

The proposal by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stresses the need for employers to provide real-time information to the government so that it can monitor all payments and make a better assessment of whether the correct tax is being paid.

You see, per the suggestion, it would be better for the government if this was implemented. Not you, government. You would pay for it of course and it would most likely cost you a pretty penny, but then you’re there to support government and make things easier for the bureaucrats – don’t you see?

Move a long citizen, nothing to see here.  Just report to work early or we’ll dock you paycheck.

~McQ


Quote of the Day – master of understatement edition

But, I would guess, a pretty typical story:

"I’m disappointed that we’ve only created or retained 55 jobs after receiving $111 million," said Wendy Greuel, the city’s controller. "With our local unemployment rate over 12 percent we need to do a better job cutting red tape and putting Angelenos back to work." According to the audit, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works spent $70 million in stimulus funds — in return, it created seven private sector jobs and saved seven workers from layoffs. Taxpayer cost per job: $1.5 million.

Anyone – tell me again how efficiently government does things and how we should "trust" it with our money because it will always spend it wisely? This, as we’ve seen, isn’t the only wasteful spending of taxed and borrowed money under the supposed stimulus. We also have funded such things as a study (for $823,000) by a UCLA research team to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex.

Certainly "shovel ready" wouldn’t you say?

~McQ


Establishment Republicans are still lost, and they’re still too clueless to know it

This quote from Susan Collins says more about what’s wrong with our current governing class than any single quote I’ve seen in the last few years.

Senate Republicans do not deny that Mr. DeMint has opened a rift. “It is a new and shocking development to have a member of our conference opposing incumbent Republicans,” Ms. Collins said….

Shocking, indeed! To think that someone in public office might actually stand by his principles and do what he thinks is good for the country instead of being loyal to the fellow members of the ruling class. Can’t have that, now, can we?

I have long maintained that our political class is far more loyal to each other than to the country or even their own voting base. Here is vivid proof. She genuinely believes that other members of her party ought to support her and her kind no matter what collectivist policies they support, and no matter how often they “reach across the aisle” to help the collectivist opposition.

Ms. Collins, since you have no governing principles of your own, I commend to you an examination of the man your are criticizing so strongly. With just a hint of perception and self-awareness, you might see what such principles look like.


Bill Clinton – “oops, I may have been wrong about passing health care”

Way back in April of this year, I noted that Bill Clinton had told the Democrats not to worry, that the American people would get over the passage of the health care legislation as soon as they saw how good it would be for them.

A good portion of them [Democrats] have deluded themselves into thinking Bill Clinton was right – that after they passed the legislation all the furor would subside and Americans would accept the new legislation – even embrace it.   The term “Judas goat” comes to mind.  And I think for those who bought into that nonsense, they realize they’ve certainly been led into the electoral slaughter pen. The Obama post law-signing sales tour has been anything but successful in changing the public’s perception of the law.  And it certainly hasn’t cooled the anger about its passage.

Guess what – nothing’s changed.  Well, except what Clinton is dining on these days … some crow:

Former president Bill Clinton, a champion of healthcare reform, admitted on Sunday that he made the wrong prediction about the popularity of President Obama’s healthcare bill.
Initially, Clinton had predicted that the polls in favor of Democrats would be boosted as soon as the legislation was signed into law. Instead, Clinton said on NBC’s "Meet the Press," his prediction was wrong for two reasons.

"First of all, the benefits of the bill are spread out of three or four years. It takes a long time to implement. And secondly, there has been an enormous and highly effective attack on it,” he said.

You be there has – and that attack has been based in the facts coming out about the new law.  In fact, the anger had gotten hotter as more and more people find out they were lied to, duped and frankly, steamrolled into a new system that doesn’t do any of the things they promised.

My guess is Clinton didn’t mention that.

Oh, and I loved this:

The former president said he thought the current commander in chief got "disoriented" for a while, but "I think he is getting his groove back now."

Uh, you mean because he’s out “campaigning” again and attacking Republicans.  Yup, that’s about the only “groove” the man owns.  Let’s see how that works in November.

~McQ


Murkowski – willing to sell her political soul to stay in power

The Alaska GOP Senate race has been fascinating to watch.  Primary voters sent a pretty strong message to Washington – “we’re tired of business as usual and, as such, we’re turning out one of the “ruling elite””

Except being one of the “ruling elite” is akin to being a crackhead, apparently.  Unsatisfied that the people don’t want her as their Senatorial representative anymore, Lisa Murkowski first approached the Libertarian party asking for their nomination (already filled by the way by an actual libertarian). As presumptuous (and outrageous) as that was, she seemed miffed with the LP didn’t jump at the chance.

So, instead of gracefully acknowledging that she’s yesterday’s news and no longer wanted by the party of which she was supposedly a member and the people she represented, she’s decided not to endorse their candidate of choice, Joe Miller, and instead run as a write in.

And what’s the first thing she and her campaign staff did prior to announcing a write-in bid?  A little “business as usual” – hit the lobbyists in DC up for money:

Karen Knutson, Murkowski’s chief of staff, emailed scores of top lobbyists in town and employees at some of the largest oil companies – including Chevron, Conoco Phillips and Marathon Oil – to ask them to join the senator on a conference call Saturday, according to a copy of the e-mail and a recipient list obtained by POLITICO.

“To my friends in D.C. – if you are so inclined, please join us for a conference call with Lisa Murkowski tomorrow at 2:30 D.C. time and 10:30 Alaska time,” wrote Knutson. “She would love to have the chance to talk with you and answer any questions you may have. Please let me know if you intend to call in.”

Of course Knutson also wants them to have their checkbooks handy at the time of the call as well. 

And that wasn’t the only appeal the erstwhile “libertarian’s” campaign made:

Knutson also sent the invitation to Democratic superlobbyist Heather Podesta – a clue that Murkowski could seek bipartisan financial support in order to fund her write-in campaign. Federal Election Commission records show Podesta has been a consistent and generous Democratic political donor and has never given to Murkowski before.

Anyone want to bet she gets it this time?  After all, funding Murkowski’s effort only enhances the chances of the Democratic contender by helping split the Republican vote.  If Dems could snag that seat by helping Murkowski, it would be a coup.  And if Murkowski managed to pull of a write-in victory, she’d be beholden to those who financed her win. 

A win-win for Podesta and the Democrats, but certainly not the people of Alaska.  But more importantly it is an indication of addictive nature of the power certain personality types just can’t seem to give up gracefully.  And so they do things like Murkowski has committed too – unable to break their addiction to the power and perks of office.  They end up being willing to sacrifice their integrity, principles and dignity for another six year hit of their chosen drug – power.

They are definitely not the type person or personality any voter should be eager to return to office.  And every time one of them is identified, as is Murkowski, they should be summarily turned out and ignored.

~McQ


Why health care reform makes the economy Obama’s fault

The “blame Bush” strategy for explaining the economy isn’t resonating with voters an LA Times story tells us.  And I think the reason is summed up very nicely by a 68 year old woman from Columbus, OH:

But Peggy Swope, for one, isn’t so sure. There are plenty of reasons the economy tanked, says the 68-year-old independent, and it’s not like Obama has done such a great job turning things around. "He was so fixated doing what he thought he needed to do on healthcare that he let everything else go," said Swope, a Columbus retiree.

Now we obviously can get tied down in arguments of whether or not Bush had a hand in the downturn and whether or not Obama really could do all that much.  But those arguments are going to fall on deaf ears because, as we’ve pointed out many, many times, in politics, perception is reality.  And I think Ms. Swope’s perception of why we’re still in the economic shape we’re in is one that is shared by a large number of voters.

And most voters aren’t interested in what got us there – that’s history, and besides, even if you believe Bush to be at least partly at fault, he’s been gone for almost 2 years.

What they are interested in is why it got worse and most importantly, why it doesn’t seem to be getting any better in the economy.  And blaming that on Bush is a hard sale – especially when Democrats spent all their time and effort on ramming health care through and essentially ignoring the economy as millions more Americans joined the unemployment line.

So:

Though most Americans remain critical of Bush’s record on the economy — 71% in a recent USA Today-Gallup poll said he deserved a great deal or moderate amount of blame for the slow growth and high jobless rate — more than half of those polled were unhappy with Obama’s performance. More to the point, they hold him responsible for fixing the problem, regardless of who caused it.

Bottom line: blaming Bush is a loser and viewed as nothing more than the usual sniping that politicians do at this point.  This economy now belongs to the Democrats and Obama. They chose health care over jobs.  Now they get to pay the piper.  Playing the blame game isn’t going to advance the Democrats chances anymore.  That era is ended.  They’re now stuck with the one they run.  And the voters are in no mood for the games of 5 year olds when it comes to the economy.

~McQ


Let’s see how savvy the GOP really is …

POLITICO points out that the House Republicans are planning to announce their election agenda within the next two weeks.  That ought to be an interesting exercise.  This is supposedly a result of their “America Speaking Out” initiative, an online, grass-roots effort to build ideas from voters across the country. 

Two things that have leaked out sound great but most likely will have about the same impact as PAYGO:

One of the GOP proposals would require bills to have a specific citation of constitutional authority, on the heels of criticism that Democrats breached their constitutional limits in Congress with big-ticket bills like health care reform. If a member questioned whether the House had constitutional authority to pass a bill, that challenge would receive debate and a vote.

The second major initiative would encourage — though not require — members of Congress to read bills before they vote. According to a senior House GOP source, Republicans plan to push for a new rule that would require the House to publish the text of a bill online at least three days before the House votes on it, also giving the public an opportunity to review legislation.

The first is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.  That nag fled decades ago.  Obviously I’d like to see the Constitution followed as it should be, but I find it highly unlikely that a body of lawyers would have any trouble rationalizing almost anything they come up with as “Constitutional”.  I mean, look around you.

The second is, well, window dressing.  While it sounds great, I have little confidence that a 2,500 page bill posted on line for 3 days allows anyone enough time to read it much less understand and react to it.  I cannot think of any bill that Congress considers and debates that couldn’t wait a month for enactment (other than perhaps some funding for a natural disaster, etc).  In that time a real reading could be done, and the appropriate debate among “the people” could take place.  What effect even that would have on the House is unknown, however, it certainly would raise the visibility of the debate to much different levels than now and provide a little accountability so sorely missing. 

We’re still digging horse apples out of the ObamaCare law.  It was passed in haste precisely because of the crap it had hidden inside.  Yet there is no reason whatsoever that bill couldn’t have been available on line for 30 days prior to House action.  None.  Making that a requirement (and if there’s a schedule that the House feels it must keep on certain reoccurring items like the budget – adapt.  Move the House work schedule for that bill back a month) would certainly go a lot further to keeping House members honest and between the ditches than anything.

The rest of the agenda remains veiled in generalities:

Other bills and initiatives that are likely to be launched alongside the agenda include tax policy proposals, health reform proposals and jobs-related measures, though GOP aides involved declined to release any specifics ahead of the unveiling.

POLITICO says some of them will be designed to appeal to the Tea Party vote.  The first is obviously designed to do that – but is it really something which can and will be enforced?  And if it is, will it actually have an effect.  Again, you’re asking a body of lawyers to vote on their interpretation of what the Constitution says, and most are going to fall back on “precedent”, i.e. the fact that in the past what many say is an unconstitutional expansion of government – see Commerce clause – has been upheld by the Supreme Court.  How in the world would this change that?

Anyway, given my dissatisfaction with the first two, the GOP does indeed need to roll out reasons to vote “for” them, rather than just against Democrats.  And most importantly, if they’re able to successfully appeal to the voters to vote “for” them, they better damn well execute.

~McQ

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