Monday, April 30, 2012

The Intellectual Defense of Freedom

Recent events reminded me of the need to put forth a full intellectual and moral defense of freedom and liberty. First up is Mary Anastasia O'Grady's article on how left wing students have wrong footed the conservative government of Sebastian Piñera, despite excellent economic growth of 6% in 2011.
How this can be in Chile, the poster-child of liberal economic reform, is at first a puzzle. The answer—and this is a cautionary tale for Americans—may lie in Chile's political and intellectual climate, which is desperately short of voices able to defend the morality of the market and the sanctity of individual rights.
Specifically, the problem in Chile has its roots in the for profit system that gives the wealthy greater access to college education and also the fact that private school graduates get better test scores than their public school counterparts. The difference in test scores impacts admissions. Rather than celebrate the fact that private for-profit colleges increase the supply of education, students are protesting for free state run education. And of course the leader of the protests has close ties to Cuba, which should wreck her credibility, but seemingly does not.

Meanwhile a German version of Mein Kampf is set to come out in print. I applaud the decision to let the German people read for themselves the genesis of the great evil that befell their country. Hitler set the bar for evil in the twentieth century, and people sometimes forget that he put it all in writing first. Kind of reminds me of Ahmadinejad in Iran. Evil is alive and well, and people the world over need to be exposed to American ideals. Why?
. . . versions of the unexpurgated book have been best sellers over the past few years, including in Palestinian areas and in Turkey. Local popularity of this book is a useful data point to identify worrisome cultures.
That's only because the Israelis are racist.

Meanwhile, I guess the Occupy movement will be protesting along with the rest of the communists tomorrow. It's always a sure sign that a movement has allied itself with the second most evil political philosophy in history when they choose May 1 as a day of national protest. I remember that the open borders/amnesty types did so a few years back. There is surely a political rule that all May day protests are in league with forces of darkness. The Occupy protestors had a single valid complaint buried beneath their socialist clap-trap, that some of the banksters had enriched themselves through federal largesse, either in the form of Federal Reserve pay outs or from the U.S. Treasury. As a tea partyer, I can be sympathetic to that complaint; but they piled on with so much socialist b.s. and they behaved in such an abhorrent manner that no one could take them seriously. Finally, where is the political leadership that is arguing against them? I want to hear a conservative politician state that inequality is the fair and proper outcome of a free society, because some people are more talented or hardworking or both and deserve to be rewarded. It is fair and just. Finally, I wish we could just remember that socialism is the opposite of freedom.

Despite their promises of massive protest, I doubt that most people will be seriously inconvenienced by #occupy tomorrow. But they will get lots of free media.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Problem with Obama's Green Campaign Strategy

. . .is that it is based on a set of lies. The Hill is reporting that Obama's "green team" is launching speeches intended to convince the public that Obama's energy and environmental policies are building the basis for a future of great jobs. EPA Chief Lisa Jackson argued thusly:
Jackson also touted tens of billions of dollars in federal investments in green energy projects, which largely came through the stimulus law, arguing it has leveraged private capital and that “those projects are helping put people to work.”
Really? She wants to open the door on more discussion of Solyndra?

Meanwhile Ken Salazar, Secretary of Commerce, is touting his "all of the above" energy record, saying that Obama has been opening up federal land to oil and gas exploration. But here is the actual record:
U.S. oil and natural-gas production has risen under Obama, but combined oil production from federal lands and waters dipped in fiscal 2011 as offshore output was affected by limits imposed after the BP oil spill, according to Energy Information Administration data.
The rise in production has largely occurred in North Dakota. Meanwhile, the administration continues to believe that government can magically cause green energy to become more effective than hydrocarbon based energy.
. . .the Interior secretary urged Congress to make tax credits for renewable energy permanent and pass legislation requiring that a major portion of the country’s electricity is generated from low-carbon sources.
The fact of the matter is that we won't lessen our dependence on oil and gas for a long time. The only reasonable philosophy is to tax carbon to the extent that it contributes to pollution and let the free market make a judgement about the best source of energy.

In the meantime, I don't think most voters will care about green energy jobs of the future, when they have poor job prospects now and face high gasoline prices. Not to demagogue the issue, but the real problem with Obama's energy policy is that he is killing American jobs by preventing oil drilling and pipelines from Canada. If gas prices stay high and the economy continues its present anemic recovery, voters won't be buying into this line of attack.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Music Chill

My most recent post tempted to put up Eric Clapton's Cocaine for this weekend's music. But I just don't like it, I don't think it was one of Clapton's better efforts, so I am proposing to of my favorites from a great musician and guitarist.

From his days with Cream:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Falling Prices for Cocaine? What to do

It turns out that the price of cocaine is falling despite years of government effort to suppress its use. Theoretically, the price should be rising, but that's not been the case.
Despite the government’s best efforts, cocaine prices have plummeted over the past 30 years. All our best drug interdiction and anti-narcotic regulation work hasn’t put much of a dent in production or consumption. The laws of economics and technology have teamed up to ensure that technical advances, economies of scale, and improved supply chains deliver product to consumers faster and cheaper.
Magic Blue Smoke blog has a solution that seems to have worked for higher education and housing, have the government subsidize consumption.
What have been the results of these government efforts to make housing and higher education “more affordable”? The biggest real estate bubble in human history and college tuitions that sky-rocket perfectly in tandem with increases in government subsidized educational loans.
. . .
Cocaine, like higher education, would become an unsustainably expensive habit. Just like college, you might manage to ride the white rails every night for a few years, but eventually you’d have to sober up, get a job, and finally pay off the loans from those years of partying.
Irrefutable logic.

Great quote from the Slate article on this issue:
It should be noted that enforcement of drug laws has added substantially to the cost of street drugs, but those increases haven’t been enough to outpace efficiency gains in the industry.

No Reforms, No Taxes Increases

As a matter of fact, if there was some real pension reform, there wouldn't be any need for tax increases. California is drowning under the burden of employee pension costs. Even the modest reforms offered by Jerry Brown are making no progress in the Democrat union controlled legislature. A couple of key parts of his proposal:
  • Equal sharing of pension costs: Require all new and current employees to contribute at least 50 percent of their retirement costs, shifting the burden from public employers, some of whom currently make the entire contribution.
  • Hybrid pension plan for future employees: Form a mandatory "hybrid" risk-sharing pension plan for new employees. New plan would include a reduced, guaranteed defined benefit, a defined contribution portion such as a 401(k)-style plan and Social Security.
  • Cap for high-income public employees.
  • Higher retirement age for future employees.

My personal belief is that this is a bait and switch. Brown knows that the legislature won't pass these reforms or would slowly repeal them in the future; but he wants tax increases. His November ballot initiative calls for:
  • Increase the state income tax levied on annual earnings over $250,000 for five years.
  • Increase the state's sales and use tax by 1/2 cent for four years.
  • Allocate 89% of these temporary tax revenues to K-12 schools, and 11% to community colleges.
But of course this money will actually be funding teacher pension benefits not improving education. Meanwhile the state legislature is barely making a pretext of passing pension reforms proposed by their fellow Democrat, Governor Brown.

"It's not as fast as I would like, but it's complicated," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said this week during an appearance before the Sacramento Press Club.

He said Democrats have an obligation to deliver pension reform, particularly as they will ask voters in November to approve hikes to the income and sales taxes. But he also said they have "a different take" on parts of the governor's plan.

A different take? Really? What take would that be? I'm not holding my breath for anything significant coming out of this legislature. Beating back tax increases is necessary to save California from even more businesses and wealthy individuals from leaving. Despite the Democrat lock on the state legislature, I firmly believe these tax increases will be defeated in November.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Donating Dollars for tea party success

I have donated to or will be donating to the following candidates, in order of priority.
  1. Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin. Facing recall, to prove that we can reform public finances and trim the power of the unions. This is the second most important election this year.
  2. Carl DeMaio, for Mayor of San Diego. To similarly reform local government with pension reform and reap benefits for taxpayers through "managed competition" and electing a taxpayers champion who fought an unneeded tax increase.
  3. Dan Liljenquist, for the Republican nomination for Senator from Utah. A real reformer who has reigned in medicaid spending and reformed state pensions. He is seeking to oust Orrin Hatch, who is too liberal to be Utah's Republican Senator.
  4. Richard Mourdock, for the Republican nomination for Senator from Indiana. He fought to uphold the rule of law as Indiana state treasurer by suing the Obama administration over the illegal handling of the Chrysler bankruptcy. He is seeking to oust Dick Lugar, who is too liberal to be Indiana's Republican Senator.

See Left Coast Rebel for a discussion of being too liberal for a state.

Who am I missing?


Steve Malanga has more on why Scott Walker deserves our support.


Our little poll on who should be the GOP nominee for Vice President closed in a tie between Ron Paul and Marco Rubio. I kind of like both choices. Rubio, after dropping from view for a while, seems to have been on the TV quite a bit of late. Ron Paul didn't pick up near the delegates I thought he would, and I wonder if he hasn't jumped the shark. However, he may still bring tea party energy to the campaign. Reince Priebus, chair of the RNC, made the statement today that Ron Paul's issues have became mainstream concerns of all Americans.

HotAir is predicting Rob Portman or Mitch Daniels. I wouldn't mind Daniels, on the theory that he has the experience to actually be the President in the event of the unthinkable.

Meanwhile, Romney is campaigning on an explicit anti-big government message that sounds positively Reaganesque. I heard him today and he hits the right notes, telling America that the choice is between an America where the government is in charge of half the economy and we are ruled by czars and bureaucrats in Washington and freedom. I especially like the reference to czars, because I don't think the public really likes all the unaccountable czars.

Here is a screen capture of the intrade odds as of today for the GOP VP nomination. Click to enlarge.

It's the Uncertainty Stupid

Secular Apostate has a great article that correlates the current uncertainty over policy with the lousy economic recovery. Titled "Not Rocket Surgery" he takes deadly aim on the buck passing responsibility of the President for the current economic malaise. From his previous article on the subject in 2010:

Here are a couple of recent quotes that illustrate the root of some of the economic and social uncertainty we’re feeling these days:

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it…”
—–- Nancy Pelosi

“No one will know until this [banking bill] is actually in place how it works.”
—–- Chris Dodd

Those two statements are the very essence of uncertainly. They are poison in the American economic well.
From today's post:
That’s more than enough uncertainty to choke a horse, or even a hippopotamus; it’s enough to choke the world’s most dynamic economy. Business is hunkered down. Families are hedging their bets. According to Rasmussen, our most accurate pollster, only one-quarter of survey respondents think the country is on the “right track”, and two-thirds believe our best days are in the past.
The whole post is worth a read.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

tea party Opposition to the Death Penalty

An issue that had completely disappeared from my view was thrust in front of me this morning when I opened the U-T to find that a repeal of the death penalty had qualified as a California ballot initiative for November. I am not in the mainstream of conservative thought in my opposition to the death penalty; but my reasons that should resonate with tea party and conservative thought.

The tea party is nothing if not skeptical of government. Yet through the death penalty, we entrust to government the ultimate power of deciding the life or death of American citizens. I do not trust that our institutions of justice can apply the penalty fairly or without error. The thought of a man (and it is usually men) who would be wrongfully put to death is too horrible to contemplate. Yet, we have any number of cases where those on death row have been exonerated. My skepticism of government leads me to conclude that it cannot be trusted with a task such as deciding life and death, even of criminals.

The death penalty is expensive to carry out, surely a factor for fiscal conservatives. One might argue that part of the reason it is so expensive is that the appeals process can be abused or over used. However, given that some on death row have been later exonerated and given the finality of the sentence, can one blame defense attorneys for using all available means to prevent the execution of their clients? Of necessity, the process will be costly in our system of justice.

I do not believe that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to murder. The studies are mixed but reputable scholars who have good pedigree in statistical methods assert that the studies do not show high correlation with deterrence. From Jeffrey Fagan's testimony.
These studies fail to reach the demanding standards of social science to make such strong claims, standards such as replication and basic comparisons with other scenarios. Some simple examples and contrasts, including a careful analysis of the experience in New York State compared to others, lead to a rejection of the idea that either death sentences or executions deter murder.
I am pro-life, and I am sure many of my readers would identify themselves as such. I cannot condone the state sponsored killing of any human being. Euthenasia, abortion and the death penalty have this in common, they take human life based on the judgement of other human beings under government approval. We have seen earlier where argument for "after-birth" abortion based on the same logic that leads to allowing abortion. Similarly, it seems inconsistent to be pro-life and in favor of the death penalty. We should be against "death panels" and the death penalty, because only by respecting the sanctity of all human life can we restore a moral foundation for our society that has been lost through the widespread acceptance of abortion.

Further, there is evidence that the race of the victim is highly correlated with whether the death penalty is applied. Even if we find causal factors other than race for this outcome, it is not acceptable in our desire for a color blind society. This disparate outcome gives rise to great moral passions that undermine respect for the rule of law.

As a Christian, though not a Catholic, I still look to the Pope for moral inspiration and guidance. Here is some of what Pope John Paul said in 1995.

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) says that punishment "ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity," that is, only when it would be otherwise impossible to defend society. And the pope teaches that such cases of absolute necessity where society cannot be defended in any other way are "very rare, if not practically nonexistent." (#56) That view is echoed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which applies the principle of self-defense to the protection of society, and states:

"Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

"If however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

"Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." (#2267)

I would ask fellow conservatives to consider voting to abolish the death penalty this November.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Odds and Ends

I started following Chris Reed on Twitter and where ever he publishes articles, especially on his website. He has written a great piece for the always provocative
City Journal on the issues facing San Diego and California in the next election cycle. A few nuggets.

It [Prop B] would end defined-benefit pensions for all new city hires except for police officers, instead providing pensions similar to 401(k)s. It would prevent pay sweeteners from being added to base salary when calculating pensions, and it would require city workers to pay a bigger share of their pension costs.
. . .
He’s [DeMaio is] also a vigorous advocate of “managed competition,” in which public-employee groups bid against private providers on the provision of government services. San Diego’s version of managed competition—which DeMaio would like to expand upon—so far has driven down the cost of municipal fleet maintenance, street sweeping, and printing. “Managed comp” carries the promise of extending to government—at last—the productivity revolution that has transformed the private sector over the past 30 years.
He also points out how Democrats deal with the unions has led them down a path of corruption and cronyism. One more nugget.
DeMaio’s effort faces ferocious resistance. California is so beholden to union power that the head of the state Democratic Party actually endorsed a policy under which students suffering epileptic seizures couldn’t receive life-saving medicine unless union nurses dispensed it. From the unions’ perspective, DeMaio must be stopped. DeMaio and supporters gathered the signatures to place Prop. B on the June city ballot only after overcoming opposition efforts to intimidate signature-gatherers, including radio commercials warning that signing petitions would lead to identity theft. DeMaio, who is gay, also has faced baiting over his sexual orientation (a rich irony in gay-friendly California).
Mitch Daniels was my 2011 choice to run for President. He had social conservative chops but had said it was more important to concentrate on the budget and reforming entitlement. But he has disappointed me with his support for Dick Lugar. I understand that Lugar helped Daniels get his start in politics, but we need to think about moving the Republican party in a new direction. Here is Daniels' endorsement, notice how he is short on specifics.

Put not your trust in politicians, I guess.

I saw Marco Rubio on the Hannity show today, defending Paul Ryan's Medicare plan in very sensible language. He clearly made the valid point that without reform for tomorrow's retirees, the program will go broke. It's the adult thing to do, reforming medicare, which is why the President isn't participating in the discussion. Rather he sends Geithner to the Hill with this message for Ryan. “We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours (Ryan's budget proposal.)” Thanks. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is paying attention to shenanigans like this. Why would seniors think that Obama is going to do anything but raid medicare for Obamacare and let the whole program go hang in the long run?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Barack Obama's Enemies List

Obama for America is vilifying Americans for the twin sins of donating to Romney and being successful in their various business ventures. H/T Heritage via Doo Doo Econ. This is consistent with the new leftist tactic of using economic pressure to get sponsors of conservative causes to pull out from sponsorship. We saw this with Rush Limbaugh's sponsors, mostly a failure. Another example was the pressure that resulted in Coca-Cola withdrawing from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over claims that voter ID laws are somehow racist.

In the case of the new Truth Squad, called Keeping GOP Honest, the alleged sins of Obama donors include making money in financial deals that include offshoring, donating to anti-gay causes, and ties to oil companies. This is politics, but when the President's campaign vilifies Americans for donating to his opponents, isn't that a little CREEPy? It reminds of the people who publicized the names and addresses who had donated to the Prop 8 campaign. How is that anything other than intimidation? The left isn't content to try to win on the merits, intimidation seems an important part of their strategy. But this only angers free people, who will fight back against intimidation.

Obama has a history of using snitching and intimidation as part of his campaign. During the health care debate he used the office of the Presidency to ask his supporters to snitch on those who were "spreading lies" about health care to send an email to Note the address, which meant your tax dollars were paying for that initial snitch campaign. was replace in 2011 by Attack Watch. (BTW, will now redirect you to Attack Watch.)

I am reposting the Live Leak parody of Obama's campaign efforts, because these kinds of efforts need to be ridiculed.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Doggone Offended? Now How Does Hatch Feel?

It's been widely reported that Senator Orrin Hatch doesn't much care for our brand of Republicanism. From NPR:

"These people are not conservatives. They're not Republicans," Hatch angrily responds. "They're radical libertarians and I'm doggone offended by it."

Then Hatch, a former boxer, turns combative. "I despise these people, and I'm not the guy you come in and dump on without getting punched in the mouth."

Today, Hatch avoided Robert Bennett's 2010 fate in being denied the Republican nomination for the Senate in Utah. Hatch did not put down a tea party challenge in the person of Dan Liljenquist, a former state senator, because he fell short of the 60% needed to avoid a primary. Note to Hatch, real conservatives don't support bigger government and amnesty for illegal immigration.

Michelle Malkin lists some of the reasons that getting Hatch out of office is important.
He slobbered over corruptocrat Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd.

He co-sponsored the $6 billion national service boondoggle and dedicated it to his good friend Teddy Kennedy, with whom he also joined hands to create the ever-expanding SCHIP entitlement.

He supported tax cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner from day one, lavished praise on Joe Biden’s balls, and embraced and defended Attorney General Eric Holder’s nomination because, he said, “I like Barack Obama and I want to help him if I can.”

He was an original sponsor of the open-borders DREAM Act illegal alien student bailout and voted for the massive TARP bailout.
Meanwhile, Liljenquist has done some great work on issues near and dear to my heart. From Governing magazine.
Shortly after Dan Liljenquist was elected to the Utah Senate in 2008, he was named chair of the Senate’s Retirement Committee. . . But when the state retirement fund lost nearly a quarter of its value in the market downturn, Liljenquist changed that.
. . .
He ultimately became the architect of Utah’s pension reform, which closes the existing system to new workers and instead offers them a defined-contribution plan in which the state contributes 10 percent of a worker’s salary -- and no more. The move wasn’t popular -- thousands of state employees protested it -- but it eventually passed, and it removes the possibility of the retirement fund ever bankrupting the state in the future.
. . .
Liljenquist created a plan -- which passed by huge margins -- to switch from traditional fee-for-service payments to a managed-care approach [for Medicaid]. The idea, which is gaining traction in other states too, is that medical professionals should be financially rewarded for positive outcomes, not for racking up costly tests and treatments. The plan tries to slow Medicaid growth by limiting increases in per-member spending to the rate of general fund growth. It also includes small -- though controversial -- increases in Medicaid co-pays, to give patients more of an incentive for efficient care.
The larger lesson here is that the tea party can force the Republican party to fully renounce the position it achieved under George W. Bush of being the party of big government. Nick Gillespie at Reason magazine discusses the issue of changing the GOP on his Hit and Run blog on Reason.
we specifically discuss how change will come to electoral politics. A huge part of that is precisely what's playing out in Utah.
Libertarians need to stop going along with a feckless GOP that takes limited-government partisans for granted; they need to start ransoming their votes for candidates such as Rand Paul and Mike Lee who will actually work to deliver lower spending and less government intervention into everything under the sun.

To the extent that Hatch - who supported Medicare Part D and TARP and various other bailouts, and never met a debt-ceiling increase he didn't like until last year - is now talking about cutting government by co-sponsoring a cut, cap, and balance law with Lee, it isn't because he's always been this way. It's because he's feeling the heat from those "radical libertarians" who are starting to tell pols to go small or go home.

Even though he uses the term libertarian, I would say tea party, because we are united with true conservatives in our fight to reduce the size of the federal government. Medicare Part D and TARP were both signed into law by George W. Bush, so long time GOPers shouldn't be too smug about their small government chops.

I admit to being a little late to the game on covering this race. But it's important to the progress of the tea party to push the Republicans in the direction of consistent support for limited government (see the masthead). The alternative is Medicare Part D and the election of far lefties like Obama when the GOP is tagged as the party of big government.

Next up Richard Lugar.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Having Fun with the EPA 6 Word Essay Contest

In a move that has little or nothing to do with their actual mission and everything to do with indoctrination, the EPA has teamed with Smith magazine to promote earth day, with "6 word essays."  The idea is some kind of Haiku contest to celebrate Mother Earth.  Saw this first on Neil Cavuto's show, but I also noticed that Michelle Malkin was all over this.  Apparently, this was intended to elicit self inflicted indoctrination, but of course, conservatives have taken over.  If you want to see the snarky comments on Smith magazine, you have to click "Most Recent Memoirs (all)" to get past the politically correct entries on the front page.

My own entry was "Thank Gaia for Oil and Gas."  The six word format lends itself to twitter, I was the second person to use the hashtag #6wordessay.  I encourage you to go to Smith and create your own entry and let me know what you've done in the comments. 

Weekend Music Chill

I wrote about the pork laden highway bill yesterday and needed a palate cleanser, so here is The Boss singing about working on the highway.

And while we're on the road with Bruce, here he is performing Thunder Road live:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Big Brother In Motion - The Highway Bill

The transportation bill working its way through the Senate is a hodge-podge of pork barrelism and big brother intrusiveness that really ought to be defeated. Smooth sailing through the House is predicted. Of course it has the Orwellian name Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) aka SB 1813. If by progress you mean the IRS having the power to keep you from traveling, new black boxes for your car and rules to prevent a car from being built with a tv screen in the driver's view. (I guess they haven't heard of 4G and smart phones.)

It has an awesome purpose of course: To reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs, and for other purposes. Of course, some of those other purposes leave us gasping. It gives me serious pause about my 2008 switch to the GOP.

Mandatory Event Recorders
Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part.

Of course there are all sorts of privacy protections for the data, which could be later repealed.

Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies
If the Secretary receives certification by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that any individual has a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000, the Secretary shall transmit such certification to the Secretary of State for action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport pursuant to section 4 of the Act. . .

So the IRS can deny you a passport on their say-so. We have seen politicization of the IRS for other purposes, even a "mix up" could be used to seriously impact someone with plans to travel abroad. How does this pass the due process clause restrictions in the constitution?

Here are some other gems.

Jason's Law.
It is the sense of Congress that it is a national priority to address projects under this section for the shortage of long-term parking for commercial motor vehicles on the National Highway System to improve the safety of motorized and nonmotorized users and for commercial motor vehicle operators.
Another national crisis brought under control by our ever vigilant Congress critters.

Striking a blow for federalism.

Open Container Law.
. . .if a State has not enacted or is not enforcing an open container law described in subsection (b), the Secretary shall reserve an amount equal to 2.5 percent of the funds to be apportioned to the State on that date under each of paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 104(b) until the State certifies to the Secretary the means by which the State will use those reserved funds in accordance with subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) and paragraph (3).

But we will mandate efficiencies by gum, here is the section on efficiencies in the bill.

Program Efficiencies
The first sentence of section 102(b) of title 23, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘made available for such engineering’ and inserting ‘reimbursed for the preliminary engineering’.

Yep, that's it, that's all the efficiencies we could get . We are awesome.

And because we have so many Chevy Volts on the road, there is this clause.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station
The addition of electric vehicle charging stations to new or previously funded parking facilities shall be eligible for funding under this section.

And while were moving forward for progress, let's not score the cost.

Budgetary Effect
PAYGO Scorecard- The budgetary effects of this Act shall not be entered on either PAYGO scorecard maintained pursuant to section 4(d) of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

Reading legislation is dang close to watching sausage being made.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Politics of Resentment

Scratch the surface of leftist complaint and you always seem to find resentment, whether about the general unfairness of society or the indifference to the harm done to the powerless. While unfairness and harm exist, the almost exclusive focus by the left on these perspectives stems from a psychology of resentment and learned powerlessness. Because most Americans are self-reliant and optimistic, the left does not usually win elections. 2008 was an anomaly, because the blatant unfairness of the bailouts and Republican duplicity made it logical for Americans to turn to the Democrats.

Look at a few issues as illustration.

Illegal immigration.
Left: These poor immigrants are lured here almost against their will by the vile conditions in Mexico and are enticed by employment that only becomes exploitation. Compassion demands that we allow them to stay and become citizens to protect them from predations that are not their fault. Only a racist would think otherwise.
Tea Party: Amnesty undermines the rule of law, which is necessary for the smooth functioning of society. If we have a second amnesty, where does it end? How do we maintain national sovereignty which is necessary to protect everyone in the nation?
Bridging the gap: Securing the border is actually more compassionate to the would-be immigrants, because they won't die making the trek. Then we can have an expanded policy that allows immigrants who can get jobs to come to America. Bringing in those who don't have jobs and will be on welfare isn't compassionate, because it condemns them and their offspring to a life in poverty.

Income Inequality.
Left. The rich are undeserving of their wealth, they mostly stole it by exploiting the workers and the resources of the third world (notice the resentment). Those who studied comparative dance deserve as much income as those who studied electronic engineering or finance. Taxes should be used to reverse income inequalities or socialism imposed to make sure we are all equal. The poor haven't shared in the country's success.
Tea Party. Punishing success is itself unfair. Further, efforts to redistribute wealth attack the foundations of liberty, which include economic liberty. We are all better off when those who work hard or are clever and innovative succeed and are rewarded. The purpose of the tax code is to collect revenue for the legitimate functions of government, not to redistribute income. Redistribution also undermines the social order necessary for a successful society.
Bridging the gap. When we look at the actual income of the poor and middle class to include the effects of taxation and benefits of health insurance, the gap in income growth is not very wide. Further, by any measure the rich pay their fair share of taxes. Providing the opportunity for everyone in society to advance is the fairest way to help the poor.

Left. Minorities and women have always suffered in America since the founding. Prejudice is baked into the DNA of the nation. As long as one person harbors racist thoughts, no minority person can feel safe in Amerika. Only a regime that consistently and perpetually tilts the playing field in the favor of the aggrieved groups is acceptable if we are to care for those who will be forever harmed by our racist history. (Note the call for perpetual resentment.)
Tea Party. Fairness is served by actual color-blind policies that do not take race into account. Further, moving our society away from racism is best served by color blind policies. Finally, we should consider ourselves Americans first and foremost. It offends our sense of justice to not apply all government policies even handedly.
Bridging the Gap. President Barack Obama himself asked Americans to come together and not think of themselves as black or white first, but as Americans first. A concept that condemns whites because of their race is just as harmful and unfair as the racism that it is supposedly responding to.

Those are just a few examples of ways I have been thinking to persuade those on the left to look at our point of view differently. I admit that my characterization of leftist thinking is broad and over-generalized, and of Tea Party thinking as well, just trying to show some examples. I would like to thank my youngest son, who is taking his required general courses at SDSU for providing insight as to the thinking of his leftist professors. I also am drawing on the writing of Jonathan Haidt for inspiration in how to bridge the gap of discussion.

Ultimately, I think that Obama has chosen the politics of resentment as the key to electoral success. I may be wrong, but since he has launched attacks on Paul Ryan and on the rich with the Buffett rule, his poll numbers already seem to be slipping. I believe that it is important to defeat him, but more important to educate Americans on the virtues of our positions.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Defeating Obama on Likeability - Not

Are you better off than you were four years ago?

I watched Sean Hannity waste valuable air time tonight railing against Obama's golf outings, his comments about scouting out nice places to take his wife while in Colombia and Obama's number of vacations. It all seemed like a futile attempt to damage Obama's "likeability." I often disagree with Hannity, and in this case, he has doubled down on his stupidity. Obama isn't going to be defeated on this issue, and I don't think its relevant.

Polls consistently show that Obama is considerably more popular than his policies. He is a decent family man who loves his wife and kids. But I don't think most people are going to vote for him on that basis. Romney is likeable as well, but that's only going to go so far as well. Obama's failure's and Romney's plans and experience make a more than adequate contrast for Romney to win. William McGurn in today's WSJ explains how this worked for Reagan.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan zeroed in on Jimmy Carter's competence. Plenty of Americans thought President Carter was a good and decent man too—but by election day Mr. Reagan had persuaded them that his rival just wasn't up to the job.

The day after that election, Mr. Reagan's pollster, Richard Wirthlin, explained the campaign this way: "We saw the opportunity for a role reversal—that is, by the end of the campaign, I think we came very close to having people look upon Ronald Reagan as more presidential than Jimmy Carter."

In my view, Romney has the same opportunity. But he can also put together a winning strategy to blunt Obama's simpleton strategy of class warfare and war on women. A brief outline:
  • Immigration. Adopt Newt's policy prescriptions. See my article here. Because the policies are actually compassionate, but maintain the rule of law, Romney could woo Hispanics without pandering. Point out that Obama has kept no promise on immigration reform.
  • Buffett Rule. Adopt a flat tax with equal treatment of all sources of incomes and remove all deductions, credits and loopholes. This will cause Buffet's secretary to pay a lower percentage than Buffett, but will actually grow the economy. Sell this as closing loopholes for millionaires, which has the benefit of being true.
  • Obamacare. The signature "achievement" continues to be unpopular. Point out how Americans are paying more taxes, losing their coverage and paying higher premiums under Obamacare. There is so much more to despise, but those are a nice start.
  • Jobs. Too easy, but just replay every broken promise. Point out that passing an absurd health care law took precedence over getting suffering Americans back to work.
  • Energy. Point again to all the jobs lost by Obama's failure to allow drilling and allowing pipelines. This is where you sneak in a little of the jet setting. Ask the President where the fuel for Air Force One comes from, asking this as a voice over while the plane is landing in some vacation destination.
  • Women. Point out how the economy has been bad for women and Obamacare has been bad for women; how gas prices are bad for working Moms trying to drive to work.

That's a start, Obama is a weak candidate on the issues and his record. It's up to Romney to show that he is "Presidential" and serious about these issues. It might be worthwhile to go all in with Paul Ryan as the VP nominee. I also like Romney's recent speeches which sound very Reaganesque.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Push Polling From Nathan Fletcher

I got a call this evening from a number in Ogden, UT 801-823-XXXX purporting to be a poll about the San Diego mayor's race. After asking me who I was supporting for Mayor of San Diego, and learning that I was supporting Carl DeMaio, I was asked a series of follow on questions. It didn't take me long to figure out that this was just some push-polling from the Fletcher campaign. A sample of some questions:

Would it make you more likely to vote for Nathan Fletcher if you knew that he had sponsored legislation to allow unemployed Californians to keep their health insurance during the recent recession?
Would it make you more likely to vote for Nathan Fletcher if you knew that he had sponsored Chelsea's law to protect our children from sexual predators?
Another question involved some green or clean water law he was involved with.

There were a lot more questions than those, but were pretty much straight from the Fletcher campaign literature.

Then the line of questioning went after after Carl DeMaio.
"Would you be more or less likely to vote for Carl DeMaio if you knew that he had received $2.7 million in government contracts?"

At this point, I stopped the conversation and asked if the caller was working for the Nathan Fletcher campaign. The lady on the other end said no, she just reads the scripts. I told her that I understood that, but then asked a slightly different question: "Was you company hired by the Nathan Fletcher campaign?" She replied that she was pretty sure they had been. I wished her a good evening but told her that since this was really a campaign call, not a poll, I wasn't going to participate.

I had thought push-polling was considered a little disreputable, but since Marine Corps veteran Nathan Fletcher is using the technique, I clearly must be mistaken.

Obama Exploits Immigrants and Immigration Issue

The President is running smack about immigration policy but he's got nothing but a bag of hot air. On the campaign trail in Cartegena, Colombia the Obama delivered the following demonstrably false statement:
In his most specific pledge yet to US Hispanics, President Obama said Saturday he would tackle immigration policy in the first year of a second term.

“This is something I care deeply about,’’ he told Univision. “It’s personal to me.’’
Compare that to what he said in July 2007 to the National Council of La Raza:

When I'm president, I will put comprehensive immigration reform back on the nation's agenda. And I will not rest until it is passed once and for all.
In March 2009 here is what he promised Hispanic groups:

According to an immigrant advocacy group in Massachusetts, Obama is to lay out his proposal in May.

"We are pleased that the President met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to reiterate his commitment to immigration reform and that he will be laying out his plan for such reform in early May," Eva A. Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said in a statement.
And when May 2009 rolled around? Crickets. So how's all that hype 'n change working out you on the left on this issue? During his first two years in office, with overwhelming Democrat control of both houses of C0ngress, Obama did exactly squat to advance immigration reform. Further, if you go to his website,, you still won't even see mention of immigration reform as an issue, as of today, April 15, 2012.

I took a screen shot for posterity:

Not a word about this issue, because, clearly he's not resting.

Since the President won't propose a clear path ahead, the I will, and I hope Mitt Romney follows suit.
  • Secure the border. This is the down payment expected by a nation that wants respect for the rule of law. No other part of immigration reform is going to matter or get enacted without this happening first, because we've been lied to by Democrats and Republicans alike. When we are sure that people aren't entering the U.S. illegally, we can talk about the rest of this agenda.
  • A reasonable penalty for those who have come illegally and wish to stay. Top on my list of requirements will be to register as aliens. They would get a valid social security card, to lessen the market for identity theft. Also they must agree never to vote, because you won't become a citizen by breaking our laws.
  • Expand our guest worker programs and H-1B visa programs. By the way, Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer has led the charge to restrict H-1B visas, with Obama's apparent acquiescence. How does that square with the President's desire to reform immigration. More evidence that Obama is lying. There is a lot of evidence that the more skilled we immigrants we bring to America, the more jobs we create.
  • Provide a path for all foreign students who complete an advanced degree to remain in the United States and find work. Give unlimited numbers of visas to these students who do find work.

This is a start, Romney could adopt this plan and immediately get Obama on the defensive.

After further research, I find that many of the elements of my plan turn out to be very similar to Newt Gingrich's. I recommend his website to read a more comprehensive treatment of this issue. Even though I didn't support Newt, he really is the smartest guy in the room.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Mistake on Drilling - UPDATE

Long time commenter on this blog Road Dawg asked me privately what I thought about our nation's drilling policy, because I had never really addressed it on these pages. The fact is that I had always thought that we couldn't drill enough to have a significant impact on the price of oil world wide. As a result, even though I didn't personally believe the drilling restrictions we've suffered for decades were appropriate I didn't think it was a worthy issue, because it just made our side look insensitive to the environment but didn't change the price of oil anyway.

I still believe that our own drilling won't have much effect on prices, but it has become clear that I was missing something more important. Jobs. Drilling in North Dakota and the impact of the Keystone XL pipeline, if it were built, means jobs for Americans. It was a mistake on my part not to acknowledge that part of the equation, especially when unemployment really took off in 2009. Further, I might even be wrong about the economic impact. It seems that all of the natural gas we are bringing up out of the ground is having a huge impact on its price.

So I have to give props to Mr. 'Dawg on this, and thank him for pushing me on the issue. Now let's drill baby.


Shale oil in the U.S. can be a huge source of new jobs. Steel mills and chemical plants and maybe a million jobs could be created from a boom in drilling for this type of oil. See Industry Week.

Taxing Weekend

Getting my own personal taxes done was part of the reason that I have been away from the keyboard for a couple of days. The effort to locate all paperwork and make sure I've recorded all deductions is such a pain. I do it, because it reduces my tax bill significantly; but I resent the time spent dealing with it. I would trade the deductions for a lower rate and tax simplification just to get back the time I've spent dealing with the aggravation of taxes and tax software. Under the circumstances, it's a good time to focus on the absurdity of tax policy from the left.

The President's so called Buffett Rule is suffering a death by a thousand cuts. First, it was reported that the proposal would do little to trim the deficit. When the proposal actually hit the Senate committee designated to take it up, we find that it actually increases the deficit. The President has yet to put forward a serious proposal to reform the tax code. This is a chance for Romney to seize the high ground and call for a low and flat tax structure for all Americans. Obama would be hard pressed to respond. If his only proposal is the Buffett Rule, Romney can show how a flat tax and same rate on all income with a standard deduction will actually achieve the purported goals of the Buffett rule. Any other proposal from the President will look pretty lame, considering the amount of time he has had and done nothing with it.

Listening to Fox News a little while working the 1040 and associated forms, I heard even Bob Beckel admit what a nightmare the tax code is and endorse a flat tax. This is an issue that I believe that Obama has gifted to Romney, but I'm not hearing Romney on the attack.

The bottom line is that while there may be a need to increase government revenue, that will happen when the economy starts to grow. In the mean time we have an administration intent on growing government, look at the results:

The fiscal year 2011 spending turned out to be 24% of GDP and the fiscal year 2012 government estimate is that federal outlays will be 24.3% of GDP. Although not as high as predicted, this is hardly reversing the trend.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

White House: North Korea nuke agreement is a ‘positive step’

Or so said the headline on the Hill on February 29.
The White House said Wednesday that North Korea’s agreement to a moratorium on its nuclear testing is a “positive first step” to denuclearizing the Korean Penninsula.
. . .
In announcing the agreement Wednesday morning, the State Department also said it will provide 240,000 metric tons of food to North Korea. The department reportedly stressed that the food was not directly connected to the nuclear agreement.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Of course John Kyl (R-AZ) saw things differently at the time.
“In announcing its agreement with North Korea, the Obama Administration is effectively violating long-standing U.S. policy not to link North Korean denuclearization commitments to food aid,” Kyl said in a news release. “This policy was affirmed by the State Department as recently as February, when it stated in a letter to me that ‘the Administration has no intention of rewarding North Korea for actions it has already agreed to take.’ In an October 2011 letter, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns also assured me that ‘any engagement with North Korea will not be used as a mechanism to funnel financial or other rewards to Pyongyang.’”
Now we know how all this engagement turned out. Headline from Foreign Policy:

North Korean missile launch torpedoes Obama’s engagement strategy

They're probably guilty of mixing metaphors, but you get the idea.

This reminds me of a news report I published in 2009. Which I repeat here for nostalgic effect and because family celebrations have left me in no state to contribute effectively with original material.

Kim Outwits Obama - UN Outraged (from The Liberator Today, May 26, 2009)

UN High Commissioner for Intellectual Fairness, Clive Smith-Graves expressed outrage today at Kim Jong Il's punking of Barack Obama with his latest underground nuke test. "We strive for fairness in these battle of wits," explained the commissioner, "it's certainly beyond the pale for Kim to be engaged in such mental fisticuffs against an overmatched opponent." Only days before the test, the Obama administration was reportedly relaxed over the prospect of such a test. "I tell ya, they sucker punched us," said Rahm "Mickey" Emmanuel, Obama's handler. "Who'd a thunk that Kim saying he was going to conduct a test was any kind of warning. I tell ya, Obama has the talent to become a good fighter, but instead of that he's becoming a legbreaker to some cheap, second rate loanshark." When asked which loanshark he had in mind, Emmanuel declined to comment.

Smith-Graves explained that there are good reasons for UN rules for these sorts of affairs. "Allowing battles of wits to get out of hand can lead to real violence. It's like the class valedictorean teasing the schoolyard bully that he can't do his sums; the bully ends up breaking our hero's nose. I think we all have lived through this kind of situation," he sniffed. Asked what action the UN would be taking, Smith-Graves responded, "You know, the usual, feigned outrage, empty resolutions and private toasts that the U.S. has once again received it's well deserved comeuppance."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Buffett Rule

The President's Buffett Rule will not yield significant revenue for the federal government, but he's going to push class warfare anyway. Even under his rule, Mitt Romney, for instance, would not pay a higher marginal rate than Buffet's secretary because Romney gives huge amounts to charity. These donations, while laudable, will also become more valuable under Obama's proposal because while he insists on raising rates, he does nothing to close loopholes. In fact, the President has done nothing to reform our execrable tax code, just one more reason he doesn't deserve re-election.

So here is a Buffett rule that would help everyone. Tax all sources of income, including corporate profits at some number around 18%. Allow a standard deduction and no other deductions and voila, Buffett is paying more than his secretary. Real tax reform would broaden the base of taxpayers, and result in a more efficient system. Under my proposal, the federal government would see rising revenue as tax avoidance strategies are nullified and as the benefits of a simple tax code with low rates translates into real economic growth; as opposed as to what we have seen under Obama.

The fact that taxing investments at a higher rate would harm the economy means little to the President. The fact that the tax will do little for closing the deficit means little to the President. The fact that this proposal is pure politics that does nothing to fix the long standing problem of a too complex tax code is more evidence that the President is not fit to be re-elected.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mitt's the Man - Who's the Veep?

With Santorum suspending his campaign today, Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee. Hooray, now we can offer our Vice Presidential picks and start working on defeating Obama. It's a long time to November and there is plenty of time for Romney to make up the little bit of distance that separates him in the national polling from Obama. Obama is currently the favorite on Intrade, but at 60% not the overwhelming favorite. Besides, there is a saying I took to heart a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

Romney isn't exactly the tea party candidate of choice, but to twist Gordon's famous line from the Dark Knight: He's not the hero America deserves, but he's the one we need right now. Because we face an incumbent and a party committed to the endless expansion of the federal government into every corner of our life. (An aside, the latest tracking polls of registered voters show Obama ahead, but the only poll I saw of likely voters shows a tie.)

Mitt Romney has been hitting his stride. The contested primaries have made him a better candidate. Further, I find him sincere and compelling when he talks about the need for a society that can grow new businesses, free from oppressive regulation. I believe he means it, because he built a business himself. I think his credibility is rising in a nation that knows in its heart that more government is not the answer.

What about the Veepstakes? I liked Marco Rubio for tactical reasons, but Sir Charles resists due to a "birther" controversy? I am not sure I agree with him, but its worth thinking about. Conventional wisdom is that Romney needs to shore up his image with women, so Nikki Haley comes to mind. But does he really need to shore up South Carolina? If he does, he's not winning. How about Chris Christie. I'm not sure that the entertainment value of watching him mop the floor with Biden in a debate, a great spectacle to be sure, is worth having another North-easterner on the ticket. Allen West, looks like a great choice, peeling off even a couple percent of African-Americans would set Obama back. But I don't feel good about West's stability. He's a great attack dog, but my gut says no. Bobby Jindal? Flubbed his big time TV test. Sarah Palin, just to drive the left nuts? OK, more Schadenfreude but, no. Any of a bunch of serious white guys from the upper midwest? If Wisconsin's in play, I guess. But I'm thinking we have to be bold.

So if its bold you want, then we might have to go with Ron Paul. He brings the policy positions that would be actually helpful for Romney to win the election and he brings a certain energy and following. Could Romney handle the competition? Am I an idiot? What do you think?

Monday, April 9, 2012

San Diego Mayorial Race

As we close in on the June 5 primary that will most likely determine the two candidates to compete in November for mayor of San Diego, media interest is heating up. My complaint? Lack of focus on the key issues for the campaign; how will we reform pensions and in general control spending in the city. Over at, a mainly Republican local blog site (to which I am occasional contributor), most of the recent posts have been about the race, but in my view only peripherally. Instead the discussion has been dominated by "insider" discussion about who is working for whom, the role of SD GOP chair Tony Krvaric and the education plans of the would-be mayors. A reminder to San Diego residents: The mayor has no voice over the school system. All the polling I have seen, leads one to conclude that we are headed for a run off in November between Republican Carl DeMaio and Democrat Bob Filner, in the officially non-partisan race.

DeMaio was an early and vocal opponent of Proposition D, the half cent sales tax increase that lost last year. His issues web page features the budget and pension and jobs as his top two priorities, matching my own. With regards to jobs, he correctly makes the connection between tax and fee increases and job losses. He has been a consistent supporter of streamlined processes to allow businesses to get started.

Bob Filner's website calls out his first three priorities as Jobs, Education and Neighborhoods. Of course he trots out the "green jobs" agenda that is already a failed joke nationally. Also, Filner is against any pension reform, calling it fraudulent. Richard Rider commented that Filner will release his plan as soon as the union's tell him what it is. Electing Filner will give us more of the same on pensions and the budget. Filner, as the only Democrat in the race, will get the enthusiastic support of the workers' unions, but as I have previously discussed, I think the interests of the workers and their unions diverge.

Fletcher and Dumanis have yet to provide me with compelling reasons to consider their candidacy. Their past views on Prop D form my litmus test for today. Those who supported the initiative have been proven spectacularly wrong. Dumanis' and Fletcher's failure to vigorously oppose the initiative should be considered disqualifying by conservatives and libertarians and even moderates.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Analyzing the Culture Wars

Jonathan Haidt is a researcher in the field of psychological foundations of morality. He has contribute immensely to my understanding of why the left and right seem to be talking past each other in the culture wars and political debate. Haidt calls out six foundations of morality:
1) Care/harm: This foundation is related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. It underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/cheating: This foundation is related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. It generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulated the theory in 2011 based on new data, we emphasize proportionality, which is endorsed by everyone, but is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
3) Liberty/oppression: This foundation is about the feelings of reactance and resentment people feel toward those who dominate them and restrict their liberty. Its intuitions are often in tension with those of the authority foundation. The hatred of bullies and dominators motivates people to come together, in solidarity, to oppose or take down the oppressor.
4) Loyalty/betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it's "one for all, and all for one."
5) Authority/subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
6) Sanctity/degradation: This foundation was shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. It underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).

The essence of his argument is that the left puts such great emphasis on the Care, Fairness and Liberty foundations that they have cannot understand arguments from the Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity dimensions. In my opinion, not necessarily Haidt's, the Liberty foundation isn't all that strong in leftist thinking either. However, if we are to persuade others not in our camp of the righteousness of our views, we need to be able to couch our arguments in language that they can understand. So an article intended to persuade regarding Obamacare would emphasize how the bill fails to help those it claims to help and how there are better ways to care for those who lack health coverage.

Haidt is one of the most interesting writers on the left. Here are some links to his work or about him:

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 7, 2012

After-Birth Abortion?

. . . aka infanticide. Just in time for Easter, we find moral justification for killing new born babies, extending the logic of abortion beyond the womb. The poverty of thinking of so called ethicists on the left leaves me stunned. Alberto Guibilini and Francesca Minerva argue that since new born babies brains are still developing and they lack their own personalities, they have no inherent right to life. From BioEdge, your newsletter for bio-ethics from around the world.
They [Guibilini and Minerva] argue that both the fetus and the new-born infant are only potential persons without any interests. Therefore the interests of the persons involved with them are paramount until some indefinite time after birth. To emphasise the continuity between the two acts, they term it “after-birth abortion” rather than infanticide.
. . .
“We claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.”

And I thought that it was just the radical right who said that late-term abortion would lead to arguments for infanticide. William Saletan at asks this question after a more lengthy discussion of the issue:
The challenge posed to Furedi [chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service] and other pro-choice absolutists by “after-birth abortion” is this: How do they answer the argument, advanced by Giubilini and Minerva, that any maternal interest, such as the burden of raising a gravely defective newborn, trumps the value of that freshly delivered nonperson? What value does the newborn have? At what point did it acquire that value? And why should the law step in to protect that value against the judgment of a woman and her doctor?
Where indeed does human life acquire value? Ultimately, these so called bio-ethicists are going to end up arguing for killing anyone whose existent isn't convenient to society. I believe its all wrong; abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. The state should never sponsor nor condone killing of humans; that's an ethic I can live with.

H/T to SarahB of Lipstick Underground (though not published on her blog).

Friday, April 6, 2012

March Jobs Numbers - This is not Recovery

Well, this is hardly Good Friday good news. The BLS labor force participation rate, the only economic statistic I follow from the government anymore dropped from 63.9% to 63.8% after a slight uptick last month. This means that fewer people are working as a percent of population. How did the White House spin this?

Jobs Report ‘Further Evidence’ of Recovery, White House Says

In its first reaction to this morning’s March jobs report, the White House says the latest figures are “further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover”
If it wasn't so tragic, I'd be laughing at their temerity. By the way, that is a quote from the President's Chief Economist.

Below is the real picture from which this spin emerges. Memo to Alan Kruegger: "Unlike unemployment numbers, that downward trend on labor force participation rate is not considered "good" by professional economists." Note how Obama has done nothing to reverse this trend.

Weekend Music Chill

Good Friday to you all. Don't have any music themed for Easter this weekend, I am going with a covers grande edition.

The original in the 1950s

The 60s (and first time it was a big hit)

The 70s (second hit)

The 80s

The 90s

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jumping to Conclusions

The narrative that America is somehow a place of ongoing racism as evidenced by the Shaima Alawadi murder and the Trayvon Martin shooting unraveled a little more today.

First, from the he U-T:

Search warrant records obtained Wednesday in the beating death of an Iraqi-American woman show a family in turmoil and cast doubt on the likelihood that her slaying was a hate crime.

Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, was apparently planning to divorce her husband and move to Texas when she was killed, a family member told investigators, according to the court documents.

The records, filed in El Cajon Superior Court, also reveal Alawadi’s 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, who called 911 to report the attack, was distraught over her pending arranged marriage to a cousin.

At the time of the initial report, I saw Fatima on television and shared with friends that she didn't seem credible. But I withheld public judgment, which is more than I can say for the professional racialists who have invaded Florida to inject themselves into the Martin shooting. Here again, media bias may also be contributing to the appearance of guilt. NBC has issued a half-hearted apology for editing 911 tape to make George Zimmerman, appear to be racist. No one is willing to let the police and prosecutors do their jobs. Instead we get appeals to mob violence. One would think that the supposed heirs of the civil rights movement's leadership would recognize that as a danger to all Americans.

Maybe George Zimmerman is guilty of some crime. I certainly don't know. But I am certainly not going to make a judgment based on edited media reports. Maybe Shaima Alawadi was the victim of a racist attack, but my gut instinct, based on watching her daughter speak tells me otherwise. But I'm certainly not going to accuse people of murder when I don't know the facts. Americans need to call out the Al Sharptons of the world for the ridicule they deserve; they do nothing to advance the cause of justice.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Memo to Santorum

Winning proportional representation primaries and losing winner take all primaries is not a path to victory.

The President's Disgusting Rhetoric

The more this President gets into campaign mode, the more disgusting his rhetoric becomes. I saw him on the TV the other night, accusing the Republicans of wanting a society where no one who is poor or lower middle class gets health care, where we unemployment insurance is abolished and seniors go without medicine. He acts as if the only solutions to those problems are unending government programs underwritten with blank checks signed by the taxpayers. His comments on the Trayvon Martin case seemed designed to ignite racial tension rather than call for the rule of law, which his position would require. I still remember his "typical white person" comments from the 2008 campaign and wonder if he is permanently afflicted with prejudice. Dean and W.C. fisk his comments about the duties of the Supreme Court here and here and here. Suffice to say that he seeks to overturn centuries of precedent and ignore his own of oath of office.

Peggy Noonan noticed some of the same things, even before Obama's SCOTUS comments. She points out his slimy handling of the contraception issue, where he "deviously" plotted a change in policy that in no way satisfied the complaints of those who had criticized the contraception decision. Further evidence of his duplicity comes from the open mic moment with Medvedev, where he whines about pesky elections limiting his bargaining power.

The President seems to hold the public in contempt, at least that portion of the public that doesn't support him. He is President of all the people, but he seems to forget that. Hopefully, we can help him find employment more suitable to his temperament this November.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Demography and Economic Destiny

Megan McArdle examines the extent to which southern Europe's economic troubles are related to their demographic profiles. While she makes no explicit reference to U.S. troubles, some inferences can be drawn. The arc of modern industrial societies goes something like this. Improvements in living standards and health care result in lower infant mortality rates and increased longevity. As a consequence, parents make the rational decision to have fewer children because they have an expectation that these children will all grow to adulthood. Having fewer children allows them to pour more resources into raising each child. At first, this results in increasing growth as women can enter the work force and people in general can work longer.

However, as birth rates fall to below replacement level, a bulge enters retirement and starts drawing down on their savings, or to greater detriment, they draw on social security schemes that must now be funded by a smaller work force. These macroeconomic trends weigh down the economy. Even before these older workers enter retirement, they are highly paid, but less likely to be innovative risk-takers in ways that grow the economy.

The whole piece is worth a read, its an excellent primer on the subject. So what's to be done? McArdle calls for the usual remedies of raising the retirement age and forcing people to save more on their own. These are in fact good ideas, but I wonder why no one ever touches on the idea of immigration from countries where there are still high birth rates or there are two many people to countries with demographic issues. The U.S. has a demographic issue of its own, not as bad as that of Europe. We are in a better position to absorb immigrants than Europe, because we are already a nation of immigrants. I have posted this graphic before, but look again at the advantage of bringing in workers from a country like India:

Don't be fooled by the scaling either, India's population dwarfs that of the United States. Also, the U.S. problem is not near as bad as Italy's. To look at the population pyramid for any country by past or future decade click here, it is pretty interesting stuff.