Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: October 2010


Reason #3,209 Why I’ll Never Be Associated With The Libertarian Party: Bob Barr

Outside of Libertarian Party types, few people probably even remember who former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) is anymore. He was most famous, of course, for spearheading the prosecution of Pres. William J. Clinton’s impeachment. However, Barr was also a fierce “Drug Warrior” and a leading proponent of the Defense of Marriage Act, which drew the wrath of many libertarians. After his House district was combined with another Republican, Barr was ousted from office much to the delight of liberals and libertarians.

Then Bob had a road to Damascus moment, culminating in his accepting the nomination as the Libertarian Party’s candidate for U.S. President in 2008.

Two years later, Mr. Barr is using his role as putative head of the Libertarian Party to make endorsements of congressional candidates such as … Russ Feingold:

What I look for in Washington are folks in the Senate and the House who put the Constitution first. Not the “R” or the “D”, not partisan politics but the Constitution. And what you have in Russ, and I have worked closely with him over a number of years to try to rein in the Patriot Act, to try to rein in the government surveillance and so forth — this is a man who understands the Constitution, who supports and fights sometimes against his own party to defend the Constitution in the Congress of the United States in ways that are much more consistent and much more proactive than a lot of Republicans.

That’s right, folks, Bob Barr believes that Russ Feingold — the man who helped bring us that delightful attack upon our First Amendment rights known as “McCain-Feingold” — “is a man who understands the Constitution.” Now, I suppose Barr could have meant that Feingold knows the Constitution in that Kierkegaardian sense that one must know it so intimately and thoroughly in order to fully oppose it. But some how I think not.

Instead, Barr intends to throw the weight of the Libertarian Party behind a politician who thinks that political speech can be legislatively restricted, that it is the job of government to provide everyone health care, that Congress can and should set compensation for each and every one of us based on gender, and who takes myriad other anti-freedom positions. Which, for the 3,209th time, is why I will not ever be associated with the Libertarian Party.


Senate math

OK, let’s start getting into specifics of predicted outcomes this next Tuesday, this time for the Senate

I think for the most part you can comfortably say that it has come down to 6 toss up races which will decide the final tally in the Senate.  Without those 6, the split is 49/45 Democrats (Lieberman and Sanders are counted in the Dem total).

The six in question are NV, PA, IL, WA, CO and WV.  3 of them are open seats (PA, WV, IL).  I say the GOP takes 2 of 3.  Just as Ted Kennedy’s seat is now held by a Republican, so will Barack Obama’s old seat.  I think Toomey wins handily in PA, but Manchin takes WV for the Dems.   So we’re at 50/47.

In the three toss up races, all involving Democratic incumbents, I think the GOP takes 2 of 3 again, with Patty Murray winning in WA for the Dems in a close one.  Angle will just nudge Reid and Buck will edge Bennet. 

Final tally 51/49 Dems.  +8 for the GOP

Possible surprise for GOP – Murray goes down.  She’s within the margin of error in the polls and if there’s going to be a surge prior to Nov. 2nd this year, it most likely isn’t going to be for the Dems.  However, we’re talking Washington state here.

Possible surprise for Dems – Giannoulias pulls off the win in IL.  We are talking about IL, after all.

What wouldn’t be a particular surprise – Reid somehow coming out on top in NV, although I think Angle has done nothing to hurt herself lately and may have even sealed the deal with flowers to Joy Behar (the perfect foil at the perfect time).

Anyway, top end: GOP +8.  And that’s more than I would have predicted 2 or 3 months ago. 

~McQ


Are conservative ideas in the ascendency?

For all those on the progressive side expecting a miracle to take place on Nov. 2nd and sweep the polling places clear of those pesky right-wing nut-jobs, I hate to disappoint you.  Instead, you need to concentrate on the size of the sweep that will take place – will it be a ripple?  A wave?  Or a tsunami?

Frankly, it’s beginning to look a bit like a tsunami is possible.  In 1994, in what is popularly considered a “blow out” in political circles, the GOP took 54 House seats back in the mid-term elections. 

 

image

 

Take a look at these comparisons (which obviously include “committed” independents in the “lean” categories).  Compare 1994 and 2010.  Note two things – 1) there’s a 6+ point difference between then and now favoring the Republicans.  2) Among independents, all but a few (and much fewer than in 1994) are not already committed (meaning there isn’t likely to be a sudden “surge” of indies going left in the remaining few days to swing the elections over to the Dems).

Last, but not least, look at the self-identified categories at the bottom.  In all categories but “moderate” there has been growth.  Most would argue this demonstrates the polarization of our polity.  I’d agree.  Moderates have lost 16 points since 1994.  Liberals have gained 8, as have conservatives.  However, the conservatives hold a decided edge over liberals.  What that means is liberals need moderates much more than conservatives do.  And it is the moderates and independents who are right now rejecting the liberals in Congress.

The point conservatives should take away from this is – at least as this poll demonstrates –  that their ideas are winning.  And to me, that says they have the backing to aggressively pursue their agenda. Note I said “aggressively”, not stupidly, or arrogantly or, well choose your own modifier and count on them to find a way to screw it up.  Wisely may be a better way of saying it.

What do I mean by that?  Here’s another survey to consider from Harris Interactive.  It is the “right direction/wrong direction” poll for the country you see from various polling firms.  To me it best indicates what is and has been going on within the polity for quite some time.  What it also indicates is this anger and frustration isn’t new nor is it necessarily aimed at the current President or Congress.  Instead it is something which has been existent for a long time and is finally coming to a head, driven most likely by the economic conditions, government overreach and fiscal profligacy:

 

YEAR   Right Dir % Wrong Dir %
2010 Oct 34 66
  Sep 36 64
  Aug 35 65
  Jun 34 66
  Apr 39 61
  Mar 33 67
2009 Dec 37 63
  Aug 46 54
  Mar 32 68
  Jan 19 72
2008 Oct 11 83
  Feb 23 69
2007 Dec 18 74
  Feb 29 62
2006 May 24 69
  Feb 32 59

1997 Dec 39 56
  Apr 36 55
1996 Dec 38 50
  Jun 29 64
1995 Dec 26 62
  Jun 24 65
1994 Dec 29 63
  Jun 28 65
1993 Jun 21 70
  Mar 39 50
1992 Jun 12 81
  Jan 20 75

Note that 1994 was the big wave GOP takeover of the House during the Clinton years.  And during the lead up, you saw the percentage dissatisfaction with the direction of the country as high as 81% – only exceeded by the 83% during the Bush era in October of 2008 – a month before the national presidential election.

Some may write this off to a cynical public, two-thirds of whom always see the glass as half-empty.  But I think it goes much deeper than that to a public that has become increasingly aware that the premise on which this country was founded is being systematically betrayed by those engaged in governance.  And, as the chart demonstrates, that belief isn’t held exclusively to one party.  When the GOP was seen as betraying their principles, they too were seen as putting the country on the wrong track.

You may look at the chart and say, “ wait a minute, how do you conclude that – the public seems equally disenchanted with both sides given the numbers.”  I’d point back to the other chart showing “conservatives” with 48% and rising and say there hasn’t been much in the way of “conservative” governance in the last 20 years.  That’s why, for the most part, the “wrong track” remains consistent through both GOP and Democrat administrations.   Democrats thought it was because of a disenchantment with the GOP.   The GOP thought it was because the Democrats over reached.  In fact, it was both of these and the fact that neither the GOP or the Democrats (particularly the Democrats) were conservative enough.

What you see now, driven by obvious unfettered and unacceptable deficit spending, government intrusion and takeovers is that anger and frustration finally boiling over.  It is, of course, enabled by out technology today, but it is truly grass-roots (despite the best efforts of the left to characterize it as otherwise).   And that’s what both mystifies and terrifies politicians.  A finger in the wind doesn’t work so well right now.  Despite incredible attempts to demonize them, ordinary people are standing up in town hall meetings and demanding answers to questions that politicians would prefer to avoid.  There’s heckling at “debates”.  Even violence (on both sides – as the left goes batsh*t crazy over the “head stomping”, let’s not forget the older gentleman at the Tea Party rally who had his finger bitten off by an SEIU thug). 

It points to a restive populace tired of the same old promises, same old problems and same old “fixes”.   An interesting phenomenon is occurring that has many political observers on both the left and the right scratching their heads as they try to understand it.  We’re seeing the creation of spontaneous order at a grass-roots level of citizens who’ve had enough of business as usual.  It scares the establishment to death.  And that, folks, is healthy.  The citizenry needs to keep our politicians in that state constantly. 

Then – perhaps – they might figure out what it is the citizens of this country really want out of their government.  And unless I’ve read it wrong, it isn’t the bloated, intrusive, hugely expensive and profligate mess they’ve created.  Mr. Obama needs to learn that the country doesn’t think “government is cool” – only necessary.  And that necessity needs to be tempered and quickly.  Until it is, he and all politicians can count on continuing to see exactly what they see today in direction of the country polls and outspoken voter discontent – no matter which party they represent.

~McQ


Quote of the day – stupid voters edition

You have to wonder about the arrogance of liberals when you read some of the stuff they’re writing these days. The arrogance found in their apparent belief that anyone who doesn’t agree with their ideology is, well, "stupid". It’s a bit whiny as well.

Here, Michael J. W. Stickings takes on the obvious shift of independents away from the "progressive" extremism of the past 2 years with the usual claim:

This, of course, would not be the first time that voters turned stupid. But while we can expect Republicans to embrace the most partisan and most ideologically extreme of their kind, independents are supposed to know better, are they not? Well, no. Some may suppose that they do, but they don’t.

I actually have a little bit of sympathy for the premise. After all, look whose in the Oval Office and the majority in Congress. I just choose to believe that independents have finally realized their mistake and are rectifying it.

More power to ‘em.

~McQ


Quote of the day– Lisa Murkowski unconstitutional edition

I’m sure we’ll be told that this was just “badly phrased”:

"That somehow or other these are unconstitutional because they’re not enumerated within the powers of the constitution, that somehow or other we should just be eliminating these, I think that is out of the mainstream," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said on MSNBC.

Got that folks?  It is out of the mainstream to think that something not enumerated within the powers granted by the Constitution is … unconstitutional.

Lord save us all from our “leaders”.

~McQ


TARP IG blasts program

So much for administration spin about the effectiveness of TARP. Neil Barofsky, TARP’s special inspector general, deals the administration narrative a shot to the head. In effect, he tells Americans angry about the program they have a right to be:

…[M]any Americans to continue to view TARP with anger, cynicism, and mistrust. While some of that hostility may be misplaced, much of it is based on entirely legitimate concerns about the lack of transparency, program mismanagement and flawed decision-making processes that continue to plague the program.

Some specifics:

“When Treasury refuses for more than a year to require TARP recipients to account for the use of TARP funds, or claims that Capital Purchase Program participants were “healthy, viable” institutions knowing full well that some are not, or when it provides hundreds of billions of dollars in TARP assistance to institutions, and then relies on those same institutions to self-report any violations of their obligations to TARP, it damages the public’s trust to a degree that is difficult to repair.”

Ya think? And you remember all the rhetoric about forestalling foreclosure? Uh, FAIL:

[T]he most specific of TARP’s Main Street goals, “preserving homeownership,” has so far fallen woefully short, with TARP’s portion of the Administration’s mortgage modification program yielding only approximately 207,000 (out of a total of 467,000) ongoing permanent modifications since TARP’s inception, a number that stands in stark contrast to the 5.5 million homes receiving foreclosure filings and more than 1.7 million homes that have been lost to foreclosure since January 2009.

Now, I’m not agreeing that any of that should have been done – this is about claims the administration and Democrats made for spending the money.

Question: where has the money really gone?

Oh, and you remember “spurring lending” as a key reason for TARP? Not so much.  In fact, not much at all:

“TARP has failed to ‘increase lending,’ with small businesses in particular unable to secure badly needed credit. Indeed, even now, overall lending continues to contract, despite the hundreds of billions of TARP dollars provided to banks with the express purpose to increase lending.”

Meanwhile in the "moral hazard" department – success:

“…[I]ncreased moral hazard and concentration in the financial industry continue to be a TARP legacy. The biggest banks are bigger than ever, fueled by Government support and taxpayer-assisted mergers and acquisitions. And the repeated statements that the Government would stand by these banks during the financial crisis has given a significant advantage to the larger “too big to fail” banks, as reflected in their enhanced credit ratings borne from a market perception that the Government will still not let these institutions fail, although the impact of this cost may be blunted by recently enacted regulatory reform.”

Almost a trillion dollars and they really don’t know where it has gone. Additionally, they’ve not at all achieved the goals for which they tried to tell the public this money was so damned important.

Lack of transparency?  Mismanagement?  Flawed decision-making?  Why weren’t those things included in the administration’s spin. 

And we just let them take health care from us as well.

Nice.

~McQ


Where are the independents?

There has been a lot written lately about putting too much credence in “early voting” percentages. The CW seems to be that while the numbers may indicate one thing there’s a possibility they mean something else that may, just may, favor Democrats. Seems to me they’re trying their best to make a horse race out of this coming wave election. For instance, POLITICO attempts to make the point with California:

California provides an illustrative example of the complexities of interpreting early returns. According to data gathered by the Atlas Project, a private Democratic consulting firm, 43 percent of California early voters have been Democrats, while 39 percent have been Republicans. Considering the Democrats’ current 44-31 registration advantage in the state, the GOP appears to be outpacing its share of the electorate, while Democrats appear to be staying home. Then again, in the 2006 early vote — a great year for Democratic candidates — each party drew 41 percent, a performance that was below Democratic registration and well above the Republican share.

And what about the indies? By my count that’s 82% of the electorate self-identifying as either Republican or Democrat. That means a huge 18% have identified themselves as neither and will decide the election. It was what made the difference in 2006 when independents on the whole supported Democrats.

Of course California isn’t the easiest state to analyze because of its proposition system and, well, the fact it is California. But the point holds. Many of those analyzing the early vote counts have to limit themselves to percentage turn outs from the 2 major parties because they are mostly assured that those voters voted for their party’s candidates.

So when you see these sorts of numbers, take them with a bit of grain of salt until you factor in this:

One of the most striking findings from The Hill’s polling is that voter opinions have remained rock-solid over four weeks, particularly among independents. In the overwhelming majority of districts, independent voters are breaking for Republican challengers while expressing widespread disapproval of Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress.

About all early voting numbers indicate is the level of enthusiasm among base voters. It is the indies who will decide the elections. ~McQ


You can pay me now or you can pay me later …

This speech by Dave Cote, CEO of Honeywell (to the Chamber of Commerce) was forwarded to me by a friend.  It is one of the best summaries of our fiscal/financial problems I’ve seen in a while.  Usually, when I see a 34 minute video I’m loath to give the time necessary to watch it, but this one is both fascinating and deeply disturbing. Take the time.

Cote lays out in words and charts our coming fiscal train wreck if we don’t do something “proactively”.  As he says in the speech, we can do what is necessary to solve the problem or at some point, the bond market (as it did in the case of Greece) will do it for us.  One will be painful, the other is catastrophic. 

You can read the speech here if you prefer.   And if you’d like a copy of the charts and visuals, they’re here.

Dale’s post below about “Following the House of Bourbon” is essentially given facts and figures by this presentation.  For instance, the discussion about China’s defense expenditures being paid for by our interest payments.  Cotes points out that if spending remains unchanged through 2020, we’ll be paying almost a trillion dollars in interest a year.   At this point, foreign governments own 45% of our 9 trillion in debt.  China owns at least a trillion of it.  And there’s no end in sight of the sale of government debt here.

The last point Cote makes that echoes Dales warning is about how quickly this will happen if we don’t do something.

While the problem builds slowly and inexorably, financial markets respond abruptly. When that decline does happen, it won’t be a case of minor monthly changes that give us 15 months to adjust. The hurt will come overnight as the herd moves against us. And then it’s too late.

That could happen at any time without warning triggered, as Dale points out, by some seemingly insignificant occurrence that normally would receive only passing attention. I don’t think, for the most part, people understand that very important point or they’d be beating down the doors of Congress. 

Cotes also addresses “political will”  and whether we have the will to do what is necessary (and endure the political consequences) to get this nation’s fiscal policy on the road to sanity.  He notes that the public is more engaged now that in quite some time (and that’s a good thing) but are really focused on the wrong things (although they do recognize the gravity of the situation, he thinks they’re focused on fairly irrelevant portions of it).

The distilled point of course is politicians only have the spine the public gives them and unless they’re assured the public is behind doing what has to be done to solve the crisis, their risk-averse nature will have them continue to kick the can down the road. 

Anyway, highly recommended.  It will give you a great idea of what our situation is, where we’re headed and what the results of continuing to ignore it promise.

~McQ


It’s the voters, not us …

In another variation of the “it’s not the message, it’s the delivery”, Nancy Pelosi has informed the world that, “we haven’t really gotten the credit for what we have done”. 

Well Ms. Pelosi, you will get all the credit you deserve on November 2nd.

Pelosi’s remarks reflect a growing trend of frustration expressed by Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that Democrats’ biggest failure in this election has been not to adequately sell their accomplishments to voters …

You simply cannot be any more disconnected than this.  3 trillion in debt, almost 10% unemployment and the Democrats 18 month priority?  A monstrosity of a healthcare bill that will increase the deficit.

Another note to Ms. Pelosi – it’s hard to grab “credit for what you’ve done” when every single candidate out there is running away from those “accomplishments”.    Nope – what they’ve “done” is exactly what they’ll be receiving credit for on election day.

By the way, Ms. Pelosi – PAYGO has been a raging success, hasn’t it?

~McQ


The Unindicted Co-Conspirator

Well. It looks like the Nevada senate race between Harry Reid and Sharon Angle might have just gotten a little more interesting:

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security to cover up her illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation, FoxNews.com has learned.

Diana Tejada, Reid’s Hispanic Press Secretary, admitted to receiving payment for “some of her expenses” in exchange for fraudulently marrying Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini in 2003, strictly so he could obtain permanent U.S. residency, according to court documents.

I note the following with keen interest:

Tejada, now 28, was never charged for her role in the crime.

“We did not charge the woman, and of course we don’t discuss the reasons we don’t charge people,” said Bob Troester, spokesman for the Western District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, which began as an FBI investigation out of the Oklahoma City Joint Terrorism Task Force.

But of course she wasn’t charged. She is, after all, an aide to the Senate Majority Leader.  We can’t expect the law to apply to her.

Perhaps we should amend the Constitution to allow patents of nobility, then simply immunize their lordships from prosecution. That would at least have the virtue of being honest, unlike the “Equal Justice Under Law” tomfoolery that we spout.

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet