Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

It Is Not Chicago! (updated)


The city didn’t even make it into the final round of voting to host the 2016 summer Olympics.  Tokyo went down in the second round of voting – another surprise as that city was deemed to have the worst chance of getting the games.

There was speculation that this was a done deal or President Obama wouldn’t have put his presidential prestige on the line as he has.  However, to be fair, heads of state have been part of the winning delegation for a number of the past Olympic games and it has almost become expected they attend if they’re in the final 4 cities.

I think, however, the biggest surprise is Chicago didn’t even make it through the first round of voting.

I’d like to see Rio get it, but my money is on Madrid (because of Spain’s Juan Antonio Samaranch, former head of he IOC – or as we in Atlanta derisively called him “Juan Antonio Hamsandwich” (what a putz) – a reward from the IOC for service – just watch).

UPDATE: It’s Rio!  Good (same time zone – no delayed broadcasts).

UPDATE II: It’s the “conservatives” fault.  Well hey, they have to blame someone, and since Bush is no longer available, “conservatives” will do.  You can’t help but appreciate the irony of Think Progress lecturing anyone about “root[ing] against America” though.


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Waxman-Markey. Boxer-Kerry. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off (update)

That is if we’re committed to using science as the basis for our determination of whether or not the House or Senate versions of cap-and-trade are needed. And, as we’ve been pointing out for the last couple of weeks, the science of AGW is shaky at best and continuing to come apart at the seams.

But that hasn’t stopped ye olde sausage factory in the Senate from grinding out another version of CO2 emissions control. The Boxer-Kerry (BK) cap-and-trade bill has emerged with even more stringent caps on CO2 than the Waxman-Markey (WM) bill. BK calls for a 20% overall reduction of 2005 levels by 2020 (17% in WM) and 83% by 2050.

You can get an idea of how BK plans on administering the carbon offset market here. But, like WM, it targets those industries which fuel and power the nation (although unlike WM, it does give a nod to nuclear power and “clean” coal).  However there is evidence that the administration is trying to hide the real impact of such legislation from the American people:

Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today accused the Treasury Department of continuing to hide information on the cost of climate legislation. In a news release, CEI said it had notified the Treasury Department of its intent to sue over the administration’s “inadequate disclosure of documents” recently requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Documents released by the Treasury Department two weeks ago show the administration believed climate legislation could cost as much as $300 billion per year, which was much higher than the government’s public estimates, and could result in companies moving overseas. Studies have shown that the Waxman-Markey bill could eliminate 2 million American jobs a year.

2 million jobs a year? See the post below. Add the cost of 300 billion a year and then try to imagine a manufacturer that is a heavy user of energy trying to justify staying here instead of going somewhere else where not only energy, but labor, are cheaper than here.

Thus far BK has about 45 Senators who’ve signed on. Kerry is giddy (this would most likely be his first substantial accomplishment during his Senatorial tenure and naturally it would do more harm than good) saying he thinks the bill has a good shot of passing. But a senior Republican says he knows of no Republicans who would support the bill as written.

Senator Lamar Alexander seems to represent the prevailing thinking of the Senate’s Republicans:

“The Kerry-Boxer bill has fancy, complicated words that add up to high energy costs that will drive U.S. jobs overseas looking for cheap energy,” said Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

But John Kerry see’s it differently:

Kerry said the event was the “beginning of one of the most important battles we will ever face as legislators and citizens.”

For once, Kerry is right about something, but not for the reason he believes. It is the beginning of one of the most important battle we well ever face and the importance lies in the fact that if passed, this legislation will kill jobs, push companies out of the US and drive our economy off the cliff. That makes it very important in my book. And with Copenhagen’s climate talks coming up in December, Democrats are going to try to push this turkey through so President Obama doesn’t show up empty handed.

The short term goal should be to ensure he does show up empty handed and the long term goal should be to defeat this outright. It’s based on shaky science, it is an economy killer and it will cost us far more than it will ever accomplish in terms of the environment. A much more sensible course would be a comprehensive energy policy which begins to use nuclear power and natural gas as the basis of a transition to clean energy with viable renewable brought on line as they become available while continuing to use and exploit the resources we have available.

Instead we’re being threatened with legislation that’s real purpose is to create a multi-billion dollar revenue stream out of thin air which will cost us jobs, income and our standard of living.

UPDATE: Speaking of Copenhagen and the desire to show up at the climate conference with something positive, it appears that the Obama administration has decided it will act unilaterally instead of wait on Congress.

Unwilling to wait for Congress to act, the Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it was moving forward on new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of power plants and large industrial facilities.


But he has authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to begin moving toward regulation, which could goad lawmakers into reaching an agreement. It could also provide evidence of the United States’ seriousness as negotiators prepare for United Nations talks in Copenhagen in December intended to produce an international agreement to combat global warming.

“We are not going to continue with business as usual,” Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. “We have the tools and the technology to move forward today, and we are using them.”

The proposed rules, which could take effect as early as 2011, would place the greatest burden on 400 power plants, new ones and those undergoing substantial renovation, by requiring them to prove that they have applied the best available technology to reduce emissions or face penalties.

Phaaa, Congress … who need’s them?


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Unemployment Reaches 9.8%

While unemployment continue to climb at numbers higher than experts expected, and signaling the so-called “stimulus” isn’t working despite claims to the contrary, it seems the only program the president can come up with to boost employment is shilling for the Chicago Olympics.

Meanwhile here in the real world:

U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 263,000 jobs in September, lifting the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent, according to a government report on Friday that fueled fears the weak labor market could undermine economic recovery.

Ya think? And, of course, as Dale has pointed out, if we calculated unemployment as we did in the past, the true number would be somewhere in the 16-17% area. Even the one area that was showing growth – government employment – is shedding jobs. 53,000 in this last reporting period.

This has even Paul Krugman upset:

[T]he administration’s own economic projection — a projection that takes into account the extra jobs the administration says its policies will create — is that the unemployment rate, which was below 5 percent just two years ago, will average 9.8 percent in 2010, 8.6 percent in 2011, and 7.7 percent in 2012.

This should not be considered an acceptable outlook. For one thing, it implies an enormous amount of suffering over the next few years. Moreover, unemployment that remains that high, that long, will cast long shadows over America’s future.

Krugman’s solution is as predictable as Iran stalling the P5+1 until it has a nuclear weapon – more spending. Specifically a 2nd stimulus. But weren’t we all assured that the first stimulus would stem the tide of unemployment and keep it under 8%? So Krugman’s plan has us repeat what hasn’t worked to this point. No talk of cutting corporate income taxes to spur hiring, in fact no talk of any other method which might actually spur the market instead of providing temporary spending for temporary jobs.

Or, more succinctly, they haven’t a clue and while Rome burns, Nero is in Copenhagen fiddling away.


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Headline of the Day

The headline in the Washington Times this morning: “Exclusive: Obama Agrees To Keep Israel’s Nuke Secret”:

President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said.

The officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, said Mr. Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May.

With that headline you have to ask “what secret?” Admittedly it is probably one of the world’s worst kept secrets. But it is interesting given our present stance on Iran that we’re exempting Israel from the same sort of international inspection regime – if, of course, the “secret” is true. And if true, and I’m sure Iran believes it is, why would Iran give up their pursuit of a nuclear weapon. They would most likely believe their acquisition of one would restore the regional balance. So why wouldn’t they agree to allow inspectors into a facility they had just voluntarily revealed to the IAEA. Why else reveal it? It certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t more hidden away in the mountains of Iran.

And why wouldn’t they agree to talks? It gives them the room, without sanctions, to continue what they’ve been doing for decades with no further penalty. String along the US and EU with “talks” while pursing the bomb.

I’d guess right now, Iran’s pretty happy with the way things are going.


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Quote of the Day

Jonah Goldberg reminded me of this beauty by Harvey Weinstein concerning Hollywood’s defense of rapist Roman Polanski:

In an opinion piece in London’s the Independent, Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein, who is circulating the pro-Polanski petition, wrote: “Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time. A deal was made with the judge, and the deal is not being honored. . . . This is the government of the United States not giving its word and recanting on a deal, and it is the government acting irresponsibly and criminally.”

In an interview, Weinstein said that people generally misunderstand what happened to Polanski at sentencing. He’s not convinced public opinion is running against the filmmaker and dismisses the categorization of Hollywood as amoral. “Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion,” Weinstein said. “We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe.”

If Hollywood is the best moral compass, then there is no such thing as moral magnetic north.

While doing fundraising is appreciated, it shows much less of the needed compassion in those situations than a small rural church in Georgia which pools the resources of its parishioners, drives to coastal Mississippi, buys supplies from Home Depot and rebuilds houses for those made homeless by the hurricane.

Nope – the moral compass of this country resides where it always has, and those who possess it are calling BS on the Polanski charade.


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Thomas Friedman’s Selective History And Left-Wing Paranoia

I don’t know how else to describe this from Thomas Friedman:

I was in Israel interviewing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just before he was assassinated in 1995. We had a beer in his office. He needed one. I remember the ugly mood in Israel then — a mood in which extreme right-wing settlers and politicians were doing all they could to delegitimize Rabin, who was committed to trading land for peace as part of the Oslo accords. They questioned his authority. They accused him of treason. They created pictures depicting him as a Nazi SS officer, and they shouted death threats at rallies. His political opponents winked at it all.

And in so doing they created a poisonous political environment that was interpreted by one right-wing Jewish nationalist as a license to kill Rabin — he must have heard, “God will be on your side” — and so he did.

Others have already remarked on this analogy, but I want to add my voice because the parallels to Israel then and America today turn my stomach: I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination.

Really? Is your stomach turning Mr. Friedman? Because if so, it must be a very recent problem.

Change the name Rabin to Bush, remove the particular situation and add “during his presidency” and you describe the last 8 years and the behavior of the left to a tee. And yet I don’t remember a single column by Friedman or any other liberal lamenting the “poisonous political environment” that existed during that entire time.

Suddenly though, because the opposition is instead focused on Democrats and Obama, dissent is a serious thing that shouldn’t be “winked at” as it was lo those many years when the other side suffered it.

That leads to selective remembrances by ideologues such as this guy speaking about opposition to Obama:

Some of his opposition is politically predictable, since President Bill Clinton was under political attack from the day of his election and presidential candidate John Kerry was slandered in a way that turned voters away from him. Those who present no good ideas of their own can only resort to dubious, rumor driven attacks to generate fear and damage their opponents.

Notably missing is the “selected not elected” tenure of Bush who had eggs thrown during his inauguration parade, was booed by the opposition during a state of the union address and called “incompetent” by the most competent Speaker of the House we’ve ever had.  And signs depicting Bush as Hitler were ubiquitous.  All, apparently, right down the memory hole.

The Friedman’s of the world feigned no concern whatsoever about the atmosphere of hate engendered then possibly leading to violence when their ideological foe sat in the White House. They seemed to see nothing wrong with the demonization of Bush. The cries of “traitor, “war criminal”, “liar” and “loser” apparently didn’t coarsen the dialog or create a “poisonous political environment” like they do now.  And the Southern Poverty Law Center had nothing to say about the virulent hate that was evident then. This demand for respect for the President of the United States we hear today wasn’t at all evident in the left’s gleeful celebration of shoes thrown at the President of the United States during a press conference, was it?

No, according to the left, it is now worse than it has ever been. And that’s because the right is engaged in spirited opposition. The left can deal this sort of thing out, but they simply cannot take it when it is returned in kind. So the entire dialog changes and what was recently the “highest form of patriotism” and “speaking truth to power” is now “dangerous and hate filled rhetoric” and a threat to all that’s decent and good. You have to wonder if the left suffers from a chronic case of political Alzheimer’s disease, because their short-term memory is completely gone.

The conventional wisdom, sold by the left over the years, is that the right is the violent side of the ideological spectrum. And again, those ignorant of history seem to buy into the meme. Never mind that the last two politicians who suffered assassination were killed by a communist and a Palestinian nationalist and the last assassination attempts made on presidents were made on Republican presidents.

It is a sight to behold the left, after an 8 year tantrum, suddenly projecting their behavior and history on the right and calling it dangerous, disrespectful and poisonous.  In comparison to their behavior, what is happening now is both mild and warranted.  But don’t expect this orgy of leftist whining to end anytime soon.  Like a goose does every day, they seem to have awakened in a new world and have absolutely no memory of their own recent behavior or of the recent history of violence toward politicians here.  Instead, they prefer to invent their own version as they go.


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Our Olympic Pitch? “Do It For The Fat Kids!”

Here’s how the White House blog introduces Michele Obama’s words about the 2016 Olympics to Chicago:

First Lady Michelle Obama brought American pride to the Danish capital today …

Really? “American pride?” Does this hit you as a good dose of American pride?

We need all of our children to be exposed to the Olympic ideals that athletes from around the world represent, particularly this time in our nation’s history, where athletics is becoming more of a fleeting opportunity. Funds dry up so it becomes harder for kids to engage in sports, to learn how to swim, to even ride a bike. When we’re seeing rates of childhood obesity increase, it is so important for us to raise up the platform of fitness and competition and fair play; to teach kids to cheer on the victors and empathize with those in defeat, but most importantly, to recognize that all the hard work that is required to do something special.

Funds are drying up so kids can’t engage in sports, learn how to swim or even ride a bike? Funds? Like government funds? My learning to swim certainly had nothing to do with funding and riding a bike? Please. That consisted of a shove from my dad down a small hill.

It is America the poor – we can’t afford to keep our children fit – and America the fat – childhood obesity is increasing. What it isn’t is American pride. I can’t imagine anyone calling it that. And I certainly can’t imagine a representative of this country using that paragraph and believing it really represents “American pride”.


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Quote Of The Day

I love quotes like this because it gives you a little hint about the level of the left’s self-delusion and intellectual bankruptcy.

“A Primer on Reconciliation,” put together by Ken Strickland of NBC at First Read does a nice job of explaining the arcane process and some of the limits that will make it both difficult and risky to push health reform through that process, despite the appealing feature that it can bypass Republican obstruction.

Although the “Primer” is quite instructive (you can find it here), the point of the post is to highlight the typical nonsense the left loves to try to run by everyone. The only reason reconciliation is being considered has nothing to do with “Republican obstruction”. It has to do with the fact that the Senate’s Democratic Caucus numbers 60 – all the votes necessary to invoke cloture in the Senate and avoid a filibuster. But they cannot be sure of their own caucus. So the easy and lazy thing to do is blame it on the opposition party which hasn’t the ability to stop anything.


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A Military Coup Here? Really?

Apparently, someone named John L. Perry posted a blog post at NewsMax about a military coup that was quickly taken down.  Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee has the whole article and a disclaimer from Newsmax as well.   It has, of course, set the left on fire.  What Perry wrote deserves to be seen for no other reason than its absurdity.  And while the left thumps the right over this “whack job”, keep in mind Perry’s biography says he worked for both LBJ and Carter Administrations and LeRoy Collins, a former Democratic Governor of Florida.

Here are the salient parts of Perry’s blog post:

There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.

America isn’t the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it.


Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don’t shrug and say, “We can always worry about that later.”

In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.

A non-violent solution to the “Obama problem”? It is called an election you idiot. You cut the rug out from under him by taking the majority in Congress away from the Democrats in 2010 and then you do a voter’s “coup” in 2012 and elect someone else to the presidency.

How does one think that a military coup would put us in a better place Constitutionally? He’s certainly done his best to dress up those who would be involved in such a coup as the second coming of the founding fathers, but it is much more likely that wouldn’t be the case if an actual military coup took place.

Look, I’m no happier with Obama than Perry, but a military coup as a solution? Heaven forbid.

The military coup nonsense is just a delusional fantasy. In fact I’d rate the chance of a military coup here on the same level as an inexhaustible and non-polluting energy source being found within the next 30 seconds. How this boob figures that it is “gaining possibility” is beyond me. Unless he’s polled the upper leadership of the military recently in such a way that allows him to discern this “gain”, he’s blowing this out his posterior. Certainly there may be many in the military who are not happy with Barack Obama. But that was also true when it came to George Bush. And Bill Clinton. But, the military is not about to engage in some vast conspiratorial effort to “restore and defend the Constitution” any time soon. They have a pretty full plate right now with 2 wars and all the other missions they carry on throughout the world.

There may indeed be a true Constitutional crisis at some point in our future where such a thing is actually contemplated, but this isn’t it.

I’m sure someone, in defense of Perry, is going to claim that this was all a farce and just something thrown out there in good fun to solicit a reaction. If so, then you have to wonder why it “disappeared” from Newsmax’s website faster than a bottle of beer in a frat house. It was a stupid post, with no basis in fact and injurious to Newsmax’s credibility. They apparently figured that out quickly and issued a statement in which support for the post is not at all evident (something TNR never did during the Beauchamp debacle – there by further tarnishing their reputation). Good for them.

Owens does wonder something I too thought about:

The simple fact of the matter is that author seems to have come unhinged, and for reasons perhaps structural to the site’s editorial process, the column made it to print without a sanity check by the editors.

Any bet that will change?

And you also have to wonder what a guy who lists work with three democratic administrations is doing writing blog posts for Newsmax. That and why he’s now so disillusioned with a Democratic president?


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The Public Option: When Competition Isn’t Really Competition

It is, instead, a prelude to monopoly.  That is the case with the “public option” in the health care reform desired by the left:

The problem is that government, by definition, isn’t just another economic player, and will always tend to want to control markets for its political purposes. That threatens economic as well as political liberty.

And that’s precisely what a government run entity in a private market will be directed by – politics and an outcome favorable to the goal of politics – the accumulation of power. So there’s a basic level of dishonesty going on here when those in support of a “public option” talk about “competition”. Rep. Paul Ryan calls Kathrina Vanden Heuval on just such a use:

What’s concerning about this debate with me is that you’re using capitalist rhetoric to try and move a plan that is inherently anti-market. The problem is that the facts tell us this: A public plan option quickly becomes a government-run monopoly.The actuaries are telling us is that in a few short years, the public plan option displaces the private sector, employers dump their employees on the public plan, and then they have no choices but the public plan. And so, lets not try to sell a government-run plan using free market rhetoric.

Redefining “competition” to mean nothing more than the introduction of another entity in the field is the ploy.  Relying on the economic ignorance of most Americans to carry it off is also part of the plan.

Instead competition is the battle of private entities with the same goal – market share and profit.  In a free market system that goal is attained through winning the preference and loyalty of customers for their product at an acceptable price for both consumer and producer. It is the existence of other producers and their products which keeps the other producers “honest”.   But the introduction of a government entity into such a market introduces a “competitor” which is only interested in one aspect of that competition – obtaining the preference and loyalty of customers. It has no interest or need to have that price acceptable to the producer since it doesn’t have to seek a profit to provide the product.  In fact, it can run a loss as long as it takes to clear the market of other “competitors”.  Such predatory pricing will be supported by whatever subsidies are necessary from the US Treasury.  It will end up distorting the market to the point that those who must have a profit to continue to serve their customers and produce their product (actually pay for it with money they earn) will leave the market.

That’s not “competition” by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. And, in fact, with the ability to absorb as much loss is necessary to drive private firms out means government will indeed, at some future point, enjoy a “single payer” monopoly. They’ll be the only game in town.  It seems that our government is unfriendly only to private monopolies, not public ones.

So, in summary, defenders of the public option are being blatantly disingenuous with their rhetoric and stated intent when they claim that the “public option” would introduce “competition” and keep insurance companies “honest”. In fact it won’t do that at all.  It will, instead,  evolve over time into a “market” in which the only insurance entity standing will be the government run one which will enjoy monopoly status and give the liberal left the “single payer” system it so badly wants to see enacted here.


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