July 19, 2012

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Charles Murray reacts to “You didn’t build that.”

President Obama’s horrendous political gaffe last week—“You didn’t build that”—triggered the same reaction I had when he insisted on pushing through Obamacare. Then, I had the creepy feeling that I was living in an occupied country. American politics didn’t work that way. Neither Democrats nor Republicans had ever forced through a transformative piece of legislation without substantial bipartisan support. A major American politician had never (to my knowledge) been indifferent to the kind of voter sentiment so clearly expressed in the Massachusetts senatorial election.

“You didn’t build that” is another example of the president’s tone-deafness when it comes to the music of the American culture. The phrase is not taken out of context. It didn’t come after a celebration of the inventiveness and risk taking of individual Americans that has made this country great. The president gave the mildest of acknowledgements to the role of the individual, followed by a paragraph of examples that cast American history as a series of collective accomplishments. …


National Journal says Mitt Romney knows how much the president worries about jobs.

A fired-up Mitt Romney enlisted small-business owners at a town hall on Wednesday in his reenergized offensive against President Obama, arguing that Obama is so disinterested in job creation that he hasn’t met with his jobs council for six months.

“You know what he’s been doing over the last six months?” Romney asked in a crowded gymnasium at a community center here. “In the last six months he has held 100 fundraisers. And guess how many meetings he has had with his jobs council? None. Zero. Zero in the last six months.”  …


Buzz Feed post on why Romney has taken off the gloves.

Standing before hundreds of roaring partisans in this sweltering Pittsburgh suburb Tuesday, Mitt Romney delivered a 30-minute speech that sounded, at times, like a greatest hits compilation of his favorite Obama-knocking stump speech lines. The president was, Romney said, “out of ideas,” and “looking for someone to blame,” and a “crony capitalist.”

One thing he was not: “A nice guy.”

In speeches from Des Moines to Dallas, Romney has always been careful to hedge his tough digs at Obama with a civil nod toward the president’s moral character: “He’s a nice guy,” the Republican has often said. “He just has no idea how the private economy works.” But Tuesday’s speech included no such hedge — and one campaign adviser said there’s a reason for that.

“[Romney] has said Obama’s a nice fellow, he’s just in over his head,” the adviser said. “But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he’s really disappointed. He believes it’s time to vet the president. He really hasn’t been vetted; McCain didn’t do it.”

Indeed, facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney’s finances and business record, the Republican’s campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the next chapter of Boston’s pushback — which began last week when they began labeling Obama a “liar” — very little will be off-limits, from the president’s youthful drug habit, to his ties to disgraced Chicago politicians.

“I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with. …


WSJ OpEd on how Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’ creates jobs with increased productivity.

Did Mitt Romney and Bain Capital help office-supply retailer Staples create 88,000 jobs? 43,000? 252? Actually, Staples probably destroyed 100,000 jobs while creating millions of new ones.

Since 1986, Staples has opened 2,000 stores, eliminating the jobs of distributors and brokers who charged nasty markups for paper and office supplies. But it enabled hundreds of thousands of small (and not so small) businesses to stock themselves cheaply and conveniently and expand their operations.

It’s the same story elsewhere. Apple employs just 47,000 people, and Google under 25,000. Like Staples, they have destroyed many old jobs, like making paper maps and pink “While You Were Out” notepads. But by lowering the cost of doing business they’ve enabled innumerable entrepreneurs to start new businesses and employ hundreds of thousands, even millions, of workers world-wide—all while capital gets redeployed more effectively.

This process happens during every business cycle and always, always creates jobs. Yet is ignored by policy mavens.

It is now four years after the wheels fell off our financial system. The government has tried every gimmick to revive the economy: fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, loan write-downs, foreclosure modifications—all duds. It seems like no one remembers how an economy creates jobs anymore. The right answer, in fact the only answer, for jobs and better living standards, is productivity. …


WSJ Editors say the best answer to the president’s Bain attacks would be to compare and contrast Romney’s investment in Staples to Obama’s investment in Solyndra.

… hitting Mr. Obama for his hypocrisy still won’t win the argument, if both men merely share the blame for acts of capitalism committed by Bain. Instead, Mr. Romney should enthusiastically defend Bain, and the job-creating contrast with Obamanomics that it represents. Did Bain have to cut some jobs as it built companies that ultimately created many more jobs? Yes, but its companies created more than they lost, and this dynamic spirit of improvement and enterprise represents a far better path to prosperity than the government-directed, political investing of Mr. Obama.

Mr. Romney can happily claim credit for Bain’s entire impressive history, rather than just the period through 1999. He has every right to do so as the company’s founder. And it will help illuminate the basic difference between his Bain career and the President’s 3.5 years running America’s economic policy to deliver 8.2% unemployment.

Mr. Romney’s Bain worked so well that it became the model for an entire industry. Mr. Romney helped create Staples, a start-up that worked and created tens of thousands of jobs. Mr. Obama financed Solyndra, which did not work. Neither did Abound Solar. The many Obama alternative-energy ventures play in different market segments, but they struggle for the same reason: They serve political agendas more than customers. …


Andy McCarthy has an interesting take on the infrastructure arguments.

… Why would we concede the infrastructure to Obama? When it comes to human beings living in society and helping each other, why do we allow the president to treat we/us as if it were synonymous with the federal government. We built roads and bridges, policed our communities, put out fires, taught our children, and built our businesses before there ever was a federal government.

It is certainly true that, in modern times, the government has gotten itself involved in the infrastructure business. Very often, that has not been a positive development. At Reason, Matt Welch has a very interesting column about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge — which Obama likes to cite as a federal government success story that “benefited everyone” and, so the story goes, made possible the success of the evil one-percenters.

The story is fiction. As Welch shows, the federal government did everything it could to prevent the Golden Gate from being built. The local people and businesses wanted it; but the Defense Department did not want it built and owned the land on either side of the channel, which it refused for a long time to sell. When it finally agreed to sell, it would not sell to the developers, only to a state commission. And the feds did not participate… other than to try to derail the project. That is, federal contractor unions held up the works, trying to extort their piece of the pie. Finally, because of the market’s collapse and the Great Depression, the bond financing ran into trouble, resulting in more delay until, finally, private capital — the personal wealth of A.P. Giannini — came to the rescue. The bridge was completed $1.7 million under budget, Welch recounts, “using non-union labor and private contractors.”

Welch ends with a fabulous point. In today’s dollars, the $35 million cost of the Golden Gate Bridge translates into $530 million. That’s “far less than one percent of Obama’s stimulus package. So,” he asks, “where the hell are our new Golden Gates? What exactly has been the return on all this added ‘investment’?” …


John Leo writes for the Daily Beast on why we have janitors with college degrees.

… The cost of college rose 440 percent between 1982 and 2007, compared with cost of living increases of 106 percent and family income growth of 147 percent over the same period. The Sallie Mae report indicates that even students from high-income families are taking out student loans—27 percent used federal loans in 2012, up from 19 percent last year.

According to the “Bennett hypothesis,” named for former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett, federal aid doesn’t help students because colleges and universities just cream off the extra money by raising prices. Peter Wood, now president of the National Association of Scholars, recalls numerous meetings of college administrators where the topic was setting tuition for the next year.

“The regnant phrase was ‘Don’t leave money sitting on the table,’” he writes. “The metaphoric table in question was the one on which the government has laid out a sumptuous banquet of increases of financial aid. Our job was to consume as much of it as possible in tuition increases.”

Where does all that money go? Much of it to lavish spa-like facilities and grand new construction, including $100 million or so for multicultural centers and sports stadiums. The debt taken on by colleges has risen 88 percent since 2001, to $307 billion. Jeff Selingo of the Chronicle of Higher Education writes about a “lost decade” of wild campus spending: “The almost insatiable demand for a college credential meant that schools could raise their prices and families would go to almost any end, including taking on huge amounts of debt, to pay the bill. In 2003, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 a year for tuition, fees, and room and board; by 2009, 224 were above that mark.” And now many are inching toward (or past) $50,000 a year.

A good deal of the money also goes to a spreading bureaucracy of administrators, who now outnumber teachers on American campuses. They work in multicultural programs, deal with the blizzard of government paperwork, and have job titles unheard of a decade or so ago: “Assistant Director of Residential Education,” “Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management,” and “Student Services Program Coordinator.” Colleges gain another windfall by employing “adjuncts,” the serfs of the academic world, who teach for about $3,700 per course. Adjuncts and other “contingent faculty,” such as lecturers, make up more than half of college and university teachers. …

July 18, 2012

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James Pethokoukis posts on the latest collectivist wisdom from the One.

… That ranks right up there with “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody” as an Obama statement that seemingly confirms a collectivist streak in his economic cosmology.

1. The less damning interpretation is that Obama is merely parroting Elizabeth Warren’s blindingly obvious statement that private enterprise benefits from certain public goods that government provides, such as education and infrastructure, and thus investors and entrepreneurs and other wealthy Americans shouldn’t mind paying taxes for them.

But  that’s a strawman argument — and a divisive one at that. Demonization through distortion. Few opponents of higher taxes are arguing that the most successful Americans should pay no taxes — only that with the top 1% making 20% of the income and paying 40% of the taxes, that the system is already progressive enough. Indeed, you could quite plausibly argue that the United States already has the most progressive and lopsided income tax system among advanced economies.

2.  The more worrisome interpretation is that Obama is adding his own philosophical addendum to the Warren Doctrine: that there is no such thing as individual achievement or merit. All success is directly due to society’s collective effort as manifested by government. It takes a village — or at least its bureaucrats — to accomplish anything. There are no heroes, no great Americans other than The People who express the National Will through Government. As if the nation’s entrepreneurs all stand on the shoulders of the giants at the Commerce Department and the Small Business Administration and the Energy Department. If entrepreneurs really add no value to the efforts of government, why not not tax them at 90%? That way, more money for government — the “somebody else” in the Obama statement — to create more middle-class prosperity. …


Jennifer Rubin too.

… The philosophy is based on resentment toward wealth and ignorance about how it is created. On Friday, Obama told us, in what is certainly his most revealing comment, of the campaign:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

I don’t think any president or major presidential candidate has ever articulated this view. It’s not very far from that to “property is theft,” after all. Notice how un-nuanced is his statement — no recognition that entrepreneurship is in fact the engine of growth or that government activity is not a undiluted good. …


Pethokoukis reports on Paul Ryan’s comments. Here’s Ryan;

… Every now and then, he (Obama) pierces the veil. He’s usually pretty coy about his ideology, but he lets the veil slip from time to time. … His straw man argument is this ridiculous caricature where he’s trying to say if you want any security in life, you stick with me. If you go with these Republicans, they’re going to feed you to the wolves because they believe in some Hobbesian state of nature, and it’s one or the other which is complete bunk, absolutely ridiculous. But it seems to be the only way he thinks he can make his case. He’s deluded himself into thinking that his so-called enemies are these crazy individualists who believe in some dog-eat-dog society when what he’s really doing is basically attacking people like entrepreneurs and stacking up a list of scapegoats to blame for his failures.

His comments seem to derive from a naive vision of a government-centered society and a government-directed economy. It stems from an idea that the nucleus of society and the economy is government not the people. … It is antithetical to the American idea. We believe in free communities, and this is a statist attack on free communities. … As all of his big government spending programs fail to restore jobs and growth. he seems to be retreating into a statist vision of government direction and control of a free society that looks backward to the failed ideologies of the 20th century.

This is not a Bill Clinton Democrat. He’s got this very government-centric, old 20th century collectivist philosophy which negates the American experiment which is people living in communities, supporting one another, having government stick to its limits so it can do its job really well … Those of use who are conservative believe in government, we just believe government has limits. We want government to do what it does well and respect its limits so civil society and families can flourish on their own and do well and achieve their potential. …


John Podhoretz calls it the biggest mistake of 2012 because there are so many small sole-proprietorships.

… In 2007, the last year for which we have data, according to the Census Bureau, there were 21.7 million businesses in the United States with no employees—meaning they were sole proprietorships, or free-lance businesses employing only their owner. Of the six million remaining businesses in the U.S., more than 3 million had 1 to 4 employees, and 1 million had 5 to 9. So, all in all, small businesses run by one person employing fewer than ten numbered an astonishing 25 million.

This is probably the matter of greatest pride for each and every one of the people who runs that business. He or she views himself or herself as a hard-working, go-getting, scrappy individualist. And it’s likely that many of them—many, many of them—are independent voters. Certainly that was the case 20 years ago when Ross Perot scored 20 percent of the vote, overwhelmingly from small businessmen who were angered by George H.W. Bush and yet couldn’t pull the lever for Bill Clinton. America is different demographically, but the class of people to whom Perot appealed is far larger than it was then.

And a man running for national office just said of their own businesses that they “didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” This statement is a colossal opportunity for Mitt Romney and will prove a suppurating wound for the president, who revealed a degree not only of condescension but of contempt for the very people who are going to decide this election. …


Fiscal Times has 12 reasons why college costs keep rising.

University presidents and economists like David Feldman and Robert Archibald often cite the Baumol Effect (named after a Princeton economist) as a key reason college costs keep rising. They argue that higher education is a service industry where it is inherently difficult to raise productivity by substituting machines for humans. Teaching is like theater: it takes as many actors today to produce King Lear as it did when Shakespeare wrote it 400 years ago. While there is some truth to the argument, in reality technology does allow a single teacher to reach ever bigger audiences (using everything from microphones to streaming video). Moreover, a majority of college costs today are not for instruction –the number of administrators, broadly defined, often exceeds the number of faculty.

The second explanation comes from former Education Secretary Bill Bennett: rapidly expanding federal student financial assistance programs have pushed up college prices, so the gains from student aid accrue less to students than to the colleges themselves, financing an academic arms race. Recent studies support the Bennett Hypothesis. Student aid has fueled the demand for higher education. In the market economy, increased demand for a product made by one company (say the iPhone) quickly spurs competition (other smart phones), so prices do not rise. That fails to happen in higher education, as many providers restrict supply to enhance prestige. Harvard has an Admissions Committee, McDonald’s does not. …


Andrew Malcolm with late night humor. 

Leno: President Obama urges Americans not to read too much into the recent terrible jobs report. In fact, he said it’s probably best if you don’t read it at all.

Fallon: Obama says the biggest mistake of his first term was not telling a story that gave Americans a sense of unity. Then, Americans replied, “Fixing the economy would’ve been cool too.”

Leno: Joe Biden says Mitt Romney’s economic policies are “George Bush on steroids.” Well, Obama’s policies are Jimmy Carter’s on Ambien.


Great pics from The Great Demotivator.

July 17, 2012

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Mark Steyn on the “youth are our future” narrative and the disaster it has spawned in the Middle East.

… Media types like to talk about “the narrative”: News is just another form of storytelling, and certain plot lines grab you more than others.

The easiest narrative of all is anything involving young people. “I believe that children are our future,” as the late Whitney Houston once asserted. And, even if Whitney hadn’t believed it, it would still, as a point of fact, be true. Any media narrative involving young people presupposes that they are the forces of progress, wresting the world from the grasping clutches of mean, vengeful old men and making it a better place.

In the West, young people actually believe this. Thus, in 2008, Barack Obama, being the preferred choice of America’s youth, was, by definition, the candidate of progress and the future. In humdrum reality, his idea of the future doesn’t seem to be any more futuristic than the pre-Thatcher statist wasteland of Britain in the Seventies, but that didn’t stop the massed ranks of fresh-faced youth chanting “We are the Hopeychange!” in adoring if glassy-eyed unison behind him at every campaign rally. Four years later, half of recent graduates can’t find full-time employment; Americans’ college debt is now larger than credit card debt; the number of young people with summer jobs is at a record low; and men in their late twenties and early thirties trudge upstairs every night to the same bedroom in which they slept as a kindergartner.

And that’s before they’re permanently buried by interest payments on the multitrillion-dollar debt and unfunded liabilities from Medicare. Yet in 2012 the rubes will still vote for Obama and be congratulated by the media for doing so. Because to be young is to vote for hope and change. …

… I’ve lost count of the times I’ve found myself sitting at dinner next to a Westernized Arab woman d’un certain age who was at college in the Fifties, Sixties or Seventies, and listened to her tell me that back then “covering” was for wizened old biddies in upcountry villages, the Islamic equivalent of gnarled Russian babushkas. The future belonged to modern, uncovered women like her and her classmates.

The assumptions of her generation were off by 180 degrees: The female graduating class of Cairo University in the Fifties looked little different from Vassar. Half-a-century later, every woman is hijabed to the hilt. Mohammad Qayoumi, now the president of San Jose State University, recently published some photographs from the Afghanistan he grew up in: The girls in high heels and pencil skirts in the Kabul record stores of the 1960s aren’t quite up to Carnaby Street cool, but they’d fit in in any HMV store in provincial England. Half a century later, it was forbidden by law for women to feel sunlight on their face, or leave the home without male permission. Even more amazing to my female dining companions, today you see more covered women in London’s East End or the Rosengård district of Malmö, Sweden, than you do in Tunis or Amman.

The mistake made by virtually the entire Western media during the Arab Spring was to assume that social progress is like technological progress – that, like the wheel or the internal combustion engine, women’s rights and gay rights cannot be disinvented. They can, very easily. In Egypt, the youth who voted for the Muslim Brotherhood are more fiercely Islamic than their grandparents who backed Nasser’s Revolution in 1952. In Tunisia, the young are more proscriptive than the secular old-timers who turned a blind eye to the country’s bars and brothels. In the developed world, we’re told that Westernization is “inevitable.” “Just wait and see,” say the blithely complacent inevitablists. “They haven’t yet had time to Westernize.” But Westernization is every bit as resistible in Brussels and Toronto as it’s proved in Cairo and Jalalabad. In the first ever poll of Irish Muslims, 37 percent said they would like Ireland to be governed by Islamic law. When the same question was put to young Irish Muslims, it was 57 percent. In other words, the hope’n'change generation are less Westernized than their parents. 36 percent of young British Muslims think the penalty for apostasy – i.e., leaving Islam – should be death. Had you asked the same question of British Muslims in 1970, I doubt the enthusiasts would have cracked double figures.

Unlike the dopes droning the halfwit slogans at the Obama rallies, these guys mean it. The children are our future. That’s the problem.


Nile Gardiner on the kid president’s failures with Russia.

Where is American leadership when it comes to standing up to the Russian bear? Unfortunately it’s stuck in the ridiculous “reset” policy announced by Hillary Clinton back in 2009. This administration has badly underestimated the degree to which the Russians are a major threat to US interests and the free world. Concession after concession has been made to Moscow by the Obama team, from signing the New START Treaty to pulling out of Third Site missile defences in Eastern and Central Europe. The grovelling, deferential approach towards Russia was perfectly encapsulated by the president’s cringe-worthy conversation with Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul in March, where, caught off guard, the US leader told his then Russian counterpart that he would have “more flexibility” to deliver when the presidential election was over.

And what has Obama received in return for his kowtowing to Moscow? Increasing Russian aggression abroad and mounting repression at home. As The Telegraph’s Tom Parfitt has just reported, a Russian ship carrying helicopter gunships bound for Syria has set sail again. This follows the deployment of Russian naval vessels, led by a destroyer, to the Mediterranean a few days ago.


The modern face of American Fascism is Kathleen Sebelius. Yuval Levin on how she can spin a lie as well as Dr. Joseph Goebbels.

In preparation for this week’s House vote to repeal Obamacare, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post heralding the wonderful effects the law has supposedly already had on American health care. The argument she makes is just stunningly dishonest, and is readily refuted by data and analysis that the administration itself has made available. It’s astonishing that the administration expects anyone to buy this stuff.

Sebelius argues first that:

“In the decade before the law was passed, national health expenditures increased about 7 percent a year. But in the past two years, those increases have dropped to less than 4 percent per year, saving Americans more than $220 billion.”

It takes real chutzpah for the Obama administration to make this argument. As the administration’s own actuaries and experts have pointed out, the slower growth of health spending has been very largely a product of the weak economy of the Obama years, and has essentially nothing to do with Obamacare. In fact, the very HHS document that the online version of Sebelius’s op-ed links readers to in that very paragraph quoted above says “the low rate of estimated growth in overall health spending in 2011 largely reflects the lingering effects of the recent recession and modest recovery.” Modest indeed. …


Avik Roy in National Review writes on how Obamacare will harm the poor.

The story of Deamonte Driver illustrates how our health-care system leaves millions of Americans behind. Deamonte lived on the wrong side of the tracks, in Prince George’s County, Md. He was raised by a single mother. He spent his childhood in and out of homeless shelters. He was an African-American kid on welfare. Deamonte died at age twelve — not, however, in a drive-by shooting, or in a drug deal gone bad. He died of a toothache.

In January 2007, Deamonte told his mother, Alyce, that he had a headache. She took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a severe dental abscess and given some medication. But the next day, his condition worsened. It turned out that the infection from his tooth had spread to his brain. He was taken to the hospital again and underwent emergency surgery. After a second surgery, he got better for a while, but then began to have seizures. Several weeks later, Deamonte was dead.

According to Ezra Klein, Deamonte Driver’s story shows us why it would be immoral to repeal Obamacare. “To repeal the bill without another solution for the Deamonte Drivers of the world? And to do it while barely mentioning them? We’re a better country than that. Or so I like to think.”

But Deamonte Driver died not because he was uninsured. Indeed, Deamonte Driver died because he was insured — by the government. Deamonte, it turns out, was on Medicaid.

Although Deamonte was insured, he never received routine dental care. It turns out that only 16 percent of Maryland dentists accept Medicaid patients. Fewer than one-sixth of Maryland kids on Medicaid have ever had a cavity filled. …


The Economist reports on changes in ship design.

IN THE days when Norsemen pillaged their way around the monasteries and villages of Europe, Norwegian shipwrights were at the forefront of naval architecture. They still are. Norway is an important centre of marine innovation and several foreign companies have operations there, too. One such is the marine division of Rolls-Royce, a British firm, which is collaborating with Farstad, a shipping company based in Alesund, and STX OSV, a shipbuilder. The result of their efforts is Far Solitaire (pictured above), the first of a new class of vessels which bristle with novel technology that promises to make shipping safer, cleaner and cheaper.

Far Solitaire has been designed as a platform-supply ship for the North Sea’s oil and gas industry. This means she is not a large vessel. She is 91 metres long (one-third of the length of a typical container ship), has a deadweight of 5,700 tonnes and cost about $70m. But some of the innovations she uses should be applicable to vessels of all sizes. …

July 16, 2012

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Streetwise Professor catches the president channeling Elizabeth Warren.

Obama’s speech in Roanoke, VA, contains this bit of creepy collectivism:

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.  (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

You know the latent message here: You didn’t earn it.  So you have no right to it.  Since you have no right to it, “we”-the government-will take what we want. …

… Man on the moon?  NASA is a tragic shadow of its former self-with Obama’s approval.

Hoover Dam?  Please.  You think it could be built today?  Really?  The enviros* and progs hate dams.  Hate them.

And even something seemingly more benign, like the Golden Gate Bridge, would never be built today, or certainly not as quickly or cheaply as the original. The environmental impact statements, the legislative log rolling, the designs and redesigns to meet the objections of this constituency or that, all make such project a thing of the past.

No, nowadays, infrastructure projects aren’t shovel ready.  They are rent seeker ready.  Lawyer ready.  Bureaucrat ready.  Just look at the train wreck (literally) that is high speed rail in California.  Or the Big Dig in Boston, …


Andrew Malcolm posts on the latest American astronaut who went into space on a Russian rocket.

Now, here’s some real Obama outsourcing.

This morning, Kazakhstan time, the next mission to the International Space Station successfully blasted off carrying the usual trio — a Russian commander, an astronaut from the international community and an American in a seat rented by NASA since the retirement of the last U.S. space shuttle a year ago this month. …


In a WaPo OpEd, Arthur Brooks lists five myths about free markets.

1. Free enterprise hurts the poor.

The Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011 and plenty of politicians would have us believe that the free-market system is a contest between the ultra-rich and everyone else (the “99 percent”). But in fact, there never has been a greater force for helping the poor than free enterprise.

Since 1970, the percentage of the world’s population living on the equivalent of less than a dollar a day has fallen by more than 80 percent. Hundreds of millions of people have been pulled out of grinding deprivation.

This miracle was not the result of U.N. development projects or U.S. foreign aid. It was free trade, rule of law, property rights and entrepreneurship that achieved this miracle. In China alone, free trade and foreign investment lifted 400 million Chinese out of absolute poverty between 1981 and 2001.

Whatever the Occupy movement claims, every American earning more than $34,000 a year is in the world’s top 1 percent, as World Bank economist Branko Milanovic calculates in his book “The Haves and the Have-Nots.” Americans make up less than 5 percent of the planet’s population, but we’re about half the members of the world’s 1 percent. And we’ve accomplished that through our commitment to free enterprise.

2. Free markets are driven by greed. …


Thomas Sowell on the “invincible lie.”

Anyone who wants to study the tricks of propaganda rhetoric has a rich source of examples in the statements of President Barack Obama. On Monday, July 9th, for example, he said that Republicans “believe that prosperity comes from the top down, so that if we spend trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, that that will somehow unleash jobs and economic growth.”

Let us begin with the word “spend.” Is the government “spending” money on people whenever it does not tax them as much as it can? Such convoluted reasoning would never pass muster if the mainstream media were not so determined to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil when it comes to Barack Obama.

Ironically, actual spending by the Obama administration for the benefit of its political allies, such as the teachers’ unions, is not called spending but “investment.” You can say anything if you have your own private language.

But let’s go back to the notion of “spending” money on “the wealthiest Americans.” The people he is talking about are not the wealthiest Americans. Income is not wealth — and the whole tax controversy is about income taxes. Wealth is what you have accumulated, and wealth is not taxed, except when you die and the government collects an inheritance tax from your heirs.

People over 65 years of age have far more wealth than people in their thirties and forties — but lower incomes. If Obama wants to talk about raising income taxes, let him talk about it, but claiming that he wants to tax “the wealthiest Americans” is a lie and an emotional distraction for propaganda purposes.  …


Part Two of Sowell’s Invincible Lie.

Nothing produces more of a sense of the futility of facts than seeing someone in the mass media repeating some notion that has been refuted innumerable times over the years.

On July 9th, on CNN’s program “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, commentator Gloria Borger discussed President Obama’s plan to continue the temporary extension of the tax rates established under the Bush administration — except for the top brackets, where Obama wanted the tax rates raised.

Ms. Borger said, “if you’re going to lower the tax rates, where are you going to get the money from?”

First of all, nobody is talking about lowering the tax rates. They are talking about whether or not to continue the existing tax rates, which are set to expire after a temporary extension. And Obama is talking about raising the tax rate on higher income earners.

But when Ms. Borger asked, “where are you going to get the money from?” if you don’t raise tax rates, that assumes an automatic correlation between tax rates and tax revenues, which is demonstrably false.

As far back as the 1920s, a huge cut in the highest income tax rate — from 73 percent to 24 percent — led to a huge increase in the amount of tax revenue collected by the federal government. Why? Because investors took their money out of tax shelters, where they were earning very modest rates of return, and put their money into the productive economy, where they could earn higher rates of return, now that those returns were not so heavily taxed. …


Hot Air post on a new EPA reg.

Just in case you needed yet another example of Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency going above and beyond the call of duty in putting their own nebulous agenda before the concerns of the American people, here ya’ go.

The EPA, working through the auspices of the U.S. Coast Guard, is set to begin enforcing a new rule on August 1st that will require all large marine vessels (like cargo and cruise ships) sailing in southern Alaska waters to use low-sulfur fuel. The EPA is justifying the regulation as an extension of an amendment to a treaty, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), that Hillary Clinton accepted in 2010. The problem is that our Senate has yet to ratify that particular amendment — but when have such minute legal particulars ever bothered the EPA?

Fortunately, Alaska is fighting back — on Friday, the state filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration to try and block the costly new regulation. …


Shorts from National Review.

California, home of the little deuce coupe and the girl who’ll have fun, fun, fun ’til her daddy takes the T-Bird away, is the birthplace of car culture. Naturally, Governor Jerry Brown and state Democrats are proposing to spend some $68 billion from the budget-busted state’s coffers to build a high-speed train connecting Los Angeles with San Francisco, apparently never having heard of the Wright brothers and their newfangled aeroplanes. The Obama administration has offered more generous help funding a high-speed train in California, on the condition that the first segment connect Bakersfield and Madera. (Really.) California is setting itself up for an old-fashioned fiscal fiasco: The legislature has committed to the first $4.6 billion in bonds, but voters in a November referendum are likely to reject the tax increase Governor Brown helped secure to pay for them, meaning that the state would be forced to make cuts in real services in order to fund a pointless train that replicates faster air travel and that will under the best-case scenario not carry a single passenger between L.A. and San Francisco for more than a decade. (We’d bet against on-time-and-under-budget in this case.) Liberals have a peculiar affection for trains that mirrors their cultural disdain for cars and the freewheeling culture associated with them: Central planners love a train because they get to tell you where to go. We hope Californians will do the same with this project.

July 15, 2012

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National Journal post liked what Romney did at the NAACP gathering.

Mitt Romney isn’t going to win the African-American vote over President Obama this November. Knowing that, it would have been understandable if Romney declined the NAACP’s invitation to visit Houston on Wednesday and address the group’s annual convention. The prospect of speaking to a crowd that overwhelmingly supports your opponent is not only politically risky; it’s personally intimidating. In such settings, and under such an intense microscope, one small misstep can snowball into a news-dominating disaster. The Romney campaign, known for being risk-averse, easily could have determined the risks outweighed the rewards and avoided the event, opting instead to have their candidate address the conference via video message.

But Romney showed up. With the critical eyes of the political world resting squarely upon him, Romney marched defiantly into the lion’s den and delivered a speech that was direct, assertive and dispassionate. Undaunted, the man seeking to unseat the nation’s first African-American president stood calmly before a group of his most fervent supporters and informed them that he, not Obama, is the one they’ve been waiting for.

“If you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him,” Romney told the crowd, pausing for added emphasis. As scattered boos echoed throughout the audience, Romney offered an unscripted — and uncharacteristic — display of bravado. “You take a look,” he nodded. …

… It was a fine performance, one that delivered a distinct message to observers of all political stripes. Democrats saw a candidate who embraced adversity and wasn’t afraid to mix it up. Republicans saw a candidate who was quick on his feet and took a punch without falling down. And independents saw a candidate who isn’t the “extremist” or “panderer” his opponents portray him to be. To the contrary, his message to the liberal organization was consistent with his everyday conservative stump speech, and the optics of Romney confidently courting an opposition audience should play well with skeptical suburbanites eager for someone willing to set aside differences and talk about solutions.

There were plenty of pitfalls awaiting Romney in Houston. A more cautious candidate would have danced around them, if not avoided them altogether. That’s the candidate we thought Romney was. Republicans should hope the new, aggressive Romney is here to stay.


Corner post says Wolf Blitzer liked Romney’s move too. Here’s Wolf;

… Here is something I’d like to say to President Obama: You should have attended the NAACP convention in Houston today. Mitt Romney did. It was the right thing to do. The Republican knows the nation’s oldest civil-rights group isn’t exactly friendly turf but went anyway. On the whole, got a polite reception, but was booed when he said this: [from videotape] “I’m going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find, that includes Obamacare.” Despite the boos, it was a smart political move for Mitt Romney to address the NAACP. He knows he is not going to win over a lot of black voters, but attending these kinds of events is important in reassuring a lot of the suburban white voters that he is a moderate, decent politician, someone that wants to work with all Americans. I’m surprised the president was a no-show. He is sending Vice President Joe Biden, will send a video. I checked the president’s schedule for today. He is here in Washington, D.C., over at the White House. He’s got meetings. I assume those meetings are very important. but he could have found time to pay his respects to the NAACP. …


Roger Simon says the Dems have become the party of race.

As someone who was a sixties civil rights worker, wrote movies for Richard Pryor (successfully) and Whoopi Goldberg (unsuccessfully), and has had the pleasure of working with many talented African Americans at PJ Media for nearly seven years now, I think I have earned the right to write what should be painfully obvious to everyone — most of the racism in America today is from blacks (aided and abetted by white liberals) toward whites.

In fact, it’s getting to be outrageously so. The rude treatment of Mitt Romney at the NAACP convention is yet another data point in what has become an all-too-predictable scenario.

Much of the reason for this stems from the extreme dependency of the Democratic Party on race politics. With union membership dwindling, the  party would literally disintegrate without the overwhelming support of African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Without at least the perception of racism, the Democratic Party has only marginal support. The party is forced to encourage it for its survival.  …


Powerline post on the media bias against SUV’s.

Scott wrote here about the appalling case of a 16-year-old St. Paul girl, Clarisse Grime, who was sitting in the grass at her high school, nowhere near the street, when she was struck and killed by a vehicle that careened out of control and bounced off a fire hydrant. The vehicle was driven by an illegal immigrant who has been in Minnesota for ten years without ever having a driver’s license. He was known to local authorities, having been convicted of drunk driving in 2001 and driving without a license just a few months ago. But the immigration laws are not enforced in St. Paul.

So today, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported on Miss Grime’s funeral. This was the paper’s headline: “St. Paul teen killed by SUV remembered at her funeral.” Killed by SUV? That doesn’t really seem to be the salient point. But the paper continues with that theme in the story’s second paragraph:

Clarisse Grime, run over by an out-of-control sport-utility vehicle, was Martha Tamene Woldegiorgis’s only child.

If you read to the end, you learn some of the facts, at least, about the vehicle’s driver, Carlos Viveros-Colorado. But somehow the story is a little neater and a little less troubling if you focus on the SUV.


Washington Times OpEd on the declining value of college. 

Almost everyone knows the country went through the wringer after the housing bubble burst. Now a new bubble looms before us – the higher-education bubble.

Just as easy money, lowered lending standards and political hype came together to vastly overinflate the housing sector, a combination of easy money (federal grants and loans available for nearly every student), lowered academic standards (colleges that readily accept students with pathetically weak basic skills) and political hype (the notion that getting a degree will guarantee a huge boost in earnings) have produced a vastly overinflated higher-education system.

The higher-education bubble has been inflating for decades, and it’s ready to burst, or at least deflate. That’s because many Americans are realizing that the huge cost of college is often a waste. Whereas college degrees used to be regarded as sure-fire investments, the labor market has become glutted with people who have been to college but can’t find “good” jobs.

Did you know that 22 percent of customer-sales representatives and 16 percent of bartenders have bachelor’s degrees?

Furthermore, at many schools, academic standards have fallen to the point where students can coast through without learning anything worthwhile. As University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds recently wrote, “The higher education bubble isn’t bursting because of a shortage of money. It is bursting because of a shortage of value.” …


More on this from Michael Graham.

… College Students Complain “We’re Taken For Granite,” Face A “Doggy-Dog World.”

Those expressions were actually used in papers submitted to freshman comp professor James Courter. Other students wrote they found the college experience “homedrum” or had trouble getting into “the proper frame of mime.”

Courter quotes them in a Wall Street Journal column bemoaning the poor reading skills of incoming students.

Coincidentally (or something more?) that same issue of the WSJ also featured a piece entitled “America Has Too Many Teachers.” In it, Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute points out that while the number of public school students has grown a mere 8.5 percent since 1970, “the public school work force has roughly doubled — to 6.4 million from 3.3 million — and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers’ aides.”

That helps explain part of the reason why since 1980 spending on public school education in the U.S. has doubled in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Twice as many teachers. Twice as much money. But does anybody believe that a high school graduate today is (as a college student might actually say) “twice as much smart?” …


While college students get dumber, germs are getting smarter. WaPo Editors on the growing resistance to antibiotics.

ONE OF THE great medical advances of the last century, the invention of antibiotics, is at risk of being lost. Increasingly, microbes are becoming untreatable. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, warned in March of a dystopian future without these drugs. “A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it,” she said. “Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”

Since the 1940s, antibiotics have greatly reduced the amount of human illness and death and transformed modern medicine, making possible such sophisticated interventions as hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and care of premature infants. But evidence is mounting that antibiotics are losing efficacy. Through the relentless process of evolution, pathogens are evading the drugs, a problem known broadly as antimicrobial resistance. …


DailyDot blog spots a site that collects bizarre, but real life names. Names like Angus Pattie, Hans Ohff, Destinee Hooker, . . . .

July 12, 2012

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Neal Boortz spots a trend. All states that elected GOP governors in 2010 had improvements in employment.

Here’s an interesting statistics that warrants its own post in Nealz Nuze.

In 2010, Americans from throughout the country elected 17 Republican governors to various states throughout the nation.  Since those governors were inaugurated in January 2011, every single one of those states has seen a decrease in their unemployment rates.  “The average drop in the unemployment rate in these states was 1.35%, compared to the national decline of .9%, which means, according to the analysis, that the job market in these Republican states is improving 50% faster than the national rate.”  Here’s a look at the list, so you can see for yourself.  States that elected Democrat governors saw their rates either increase (like New York) or decrease at a rate close to the national average … nowhere near as fast as those states that elected Republican governors.

It’s like I’ve already said above.  If you just want a check, vote Democrat.  If you want a paycheck, vote Republican.  Can’t make it any easier than that.


Details on the above from Breitbart.com.

In 2010, influenced by the Tea Party and its focus on fiscal issues, 17 states elected Republican governors. And, according to an Examiner.com analysis, every one of those states saw a drop in their unemployment rates since January of 2011. 

Since January of 2011, here is how much the unemployment rate declined in each of the 17 states that elected Republican governors in 2010, according to theExaminer: …


Douglas Brinkley has a new biography on Walter Cronkite that was reviewed last weekend by Chris Matthews in the NY Times. Nick Gillespie finds much fault with Matthews.

… Yeah, well, as American University professor and Getting It Wrong author Joseph Campbell notes on his great Media Myth Alert blog, the Cronkite story is totally bushwah. Campbell notes that Johnson did not watch the original broadcast and there’s no indication he ever watched a taped version of the program either. Cronkite’s invocation of “stalemate” was not original or memorable – that phrase had been used for a long time by then. And for all the talk of a “Cronkite moment,” asks Campbell, why did U.S. troops stick around in Vietnam for another five years?

This is not a tendentious point, Campbell argues persuasively … Here’s a Reason Video of Campbell.


Here is Part Two of Patrick Caddell’s screed on the campaign.

As we saw in Part One of this series, the Achilles Heels of Obamacare are taxes and trust. If the voters had known in 2010 what they know in 2012–that Obamacare is ObamaTax–the bill would not have passed. And Obama and the Democrats know that, too. That’s why they are still fighting over whether or not it’s a tax or a penalty; for the sake of their own survival, they need to keep their rhetorical fog machine fogging. In this effort, partisan Democrats enjoy the full support of the hard ideological left, and the left knows that if Obamacare is brought down, it is unlikely that replacement legislation of European-style scope would have a chance of passage. In other words, this is a last stand for the bureaucratic left–and last-standers have a way of fighting to the death. That’s why Republicans need to wield the cudgel wisely–but also strongly. There can be no quarter in this fight.

Yet Republicans Are Fumbling the Opportunity

Meanwhile, Republicans are wielding the cudgel, alright–but they are missing the target.  Indeed, so far, they seem to be conking their own heads. 

Obama and the Democrats should at least have to work harder to see Romney and the Republicans being tripped up over simple terminology. The White House knows that every day that the GOP spends fumbling around on the surface semantics of Obamacare is a day that the White House can worry less about the unpopular tax-reality of Obamacare. 

In politics, as in a courtroom, when the facts change, the argument must change. If a key witness has been revealed as a perjurer, a mistrial is declared, and a new trial must commence. 

Similarly, Republicans should heed the lesson–and the opportunity–of the Roberts ruling. It’s not particularly productive for the GOP to simply keep repeating its rote mantra of “Repeal and Replace,” or even just “Repeal.” Frankly, to merely repeat the old words sounds stale; as with anything involving humans and their attention spans, the message must be kept fresh. Moreover, in their determination to refight the old battle against Obamacare on the exact same terms as two years ago, there’s even a whiff of sour grapes. The Republicans are acting like the Bourbon kings of France. As Talleyrand said of them, “They have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” …

… Democrats fear a singular focus on the ObamaTax because it is a fresh yet compelling attack, a nuanced variation on the familiar theme. It infuses the Republican argument with new energy. It becomes the cudgel with the embedded nail. And the beauty of it all is that an attack on the ObamaTax is that it is still the same as an attack on Obamacare, because if the mandate/tax goes, the whole edifice falls. Indeed, given the added twist of the trust issue, we can also say that if the voters’ trust in the Democrats goes, so will go their support across the board.   

So let’s try and clear things up, so that anti-Obamacare forces can develop a strategy for 2012 and beyond: it’s that longer, larger, vision that will persuade the voters. Yes, parts of the bill are popular, but more important parts of the bill are unpopular. Opponents need the political equivalent of Ockham’s Razor–that the simplest explanation is usually the best. That is, Republicans don’t need to do more than they need to do.  What they need to do is focus on the central vulnerability of Obamacare–the ObamaTax, and the individual mandate it supports, which more than two-thirds of the American people strongly believe is fundamentally wrong.   

To use a hoary cliché that is nonetheless distinctly apt, on the tax issue, the Democrats in the House and Senate are between a rock and a hard place.  Either they admit that they were misleading voters and raised taxes, or they admit that they participated in the misleading–and raised taxes. If they admit that they raised taxes, and lied about, they are dead. On the other hand, if they claim that they, too, were victims of misinformation, then they face the natural test–they must vote to repeal the ObamaTax and the mandate. But to do that, to vote for repeal, is to blow up Obamacare, and with it, the Democratic power structure. That they cannot do. That’s their choice–their Hobson’s Choice. 

The question is, will the Republicans frame it that way, to trap the Democrats? Or will they, once again, by overreaching, give the Democrats an escape hatch? 

To date, the Republicans seem absolutely confused and in political disarray. …

… The reality is that in the four months before the election, there’s really no time for Republicans to flesh out an alternative GOP healthcare plan. Nor should they fall for the MSM trap– that it is imperative that the Republicans and Romney lay out an alternative plan. That is a road to nowhere, a detour around the main issue. All that time permits is the communication of the essential message: it’s a tax increase, and the tax-increasers are not to be trusted. The lie has been exposed: It’s the ObamaTax. And now here’s a whole division of IRS agents to extract it from the people.  

This is the winning strategy for Republicans. This is the road not yet taken. This is the path that many Republicans leaders, with their blinders on, refuse to see. But it is the road that can lead them to a decisive victory in 2012.

If Republican leaders cannot and will not see the logic of this argument and take this case to the American people, then shame on them. 

“Tax” is the Achilles Heel of Obamacare. “Trust” is the Achilles Heel of Obama.

That is how the Obamacare is defeated. Reject the lie. Repeal the ObamaTax.

July 11, 2012

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Pat Caddell wrote a long piece for Breitbart on the campaign. We have Part One which is 4,000 words so it’ll be the sum of Pickings today. Part Two will come soon.

The Supreme Court’s Obamacare-affirming decision–which can be summed up as “Read John Roberts’ lips, it’s a tax”–has put a political cudgel in the hands of Republicans.  The cudgel, of course, is taxes.  But a huge nail is also embedded in the cudgel: the fundamental deceit of Obamacare.  Yet in the week since the Court’s decision, Republicans have yet to demonstrate that they truly grasp the significance of this weapon–or that they can effectively wield it.  

Why?  Some Republicans are worried that the fight over Obamacare distracts from the issue of the economy. What these Republicans fail to realize is that healthcare and the economy are inextricably linked; Americans now realize that Obamacare was a detour on the road to economic recovery, so to remind them of one is to remind them of the other.  And the two issues, compounded, are all the more powerful.

Other Republicans believe that the healthcare battle has been lost, that Obamacare is just another permanent ratcheting of the welfare state.  What these Republicans fail to see is that the “ObamaTax” issue provides an opportunity to reignite healthcare into the white-hot issue that it was in 2010.   And if the 2012 elections were to be a repeat of 2010, huge changes in the status quo would be not only possible, but inevitable.  

This November, if President Obama goes before the voters on the defensive–that is, on a rickety platform of defending Obamacare as a tax increase–it is he who has a huge problem.   After all, his healthcare program was sold as a boon to the middle class, with a few regulatory sticks included therein.  But if Obamacare can be exposed for what it is–a huge tax increase, the reality of which Obamacare proponents did their best to obscure–then the probability of his survival shrinks dramatically.  To be sure, such an exposing of Obamacare as the ObamaTax will not be easy; the White House and the Democrats, as well as their handmaidens in the Main Stream Media, will do their best to armor up against any attack on the tax issue.    

So Romney must wield that cudgel, and wield it hard.  And so must Republicans, because if the campaign against Obamacare–the ObamaTax–is to be truly effective, it must be a top-to-bottom message.  Indeed, as we shall see, the anti-ObamaTax message could be even stronger for down-ballot Republicans than for Romney himself.  

The challenge is to keep the focus on the tax–the ObamaTax.  Obamacare is many things, but the biggest single thing is the thing that they said it wasn’t–the ObamaTax.   

The American people have shown that they can tolerate incompetent policy.  But what they will not tolerate is being lied to.  As a Jesuit might say, incompetence is a venial sin, but deception is a mortal sin.  And so if troubling questions about Barack Obama’s incompetence turn into serious concerns about his character, the President will lose. …

… While many on the right are angry about Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision, the importance of that ruling–flawed as it might have been–in exposing the health-insurance mandate as a tax cannot be underestimated.

Why? For two reasons, both starting with “T.” The first reason is “taxes,” and the second is “trust.”  

Let’s start with the obvious: Does anybody think that Obamacare would have been enacted in 2010 if it had been honestly billed as the largest tax increase in American history?  No, of course not.  Indeed, does anybody believe that Barack Obama would have been elected president back in 2008 if he had campaigned honestly on a tax-increase-to-pay-for-healthcare platform?  Not bloody likely.  

And Obama knew that, too.  That’s why he felt compelled to make the no-tax promise on many occasions; on September 12, 2008, for example, he offered this very specific commitment in tax-phobic New Hampshire: “I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.  Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” …

… Still, facts are stubborn things.  And as now we know, thanks to Chief Justice Roberts, it’s a tax.  Moreover, thanks to the Court, we know that it was all a lie all along–Obamacare is, and always was, a tax increase.  So the “T” word of taxes is now joined by the “T” word of trust–as in lack of trust.  Even ABC News’ Jake Tapper had to admit that the breaking of that pledge makes for “a sticky situation” for the president.  Some might say that “sticky” is a polite way of saying “quicksand.”  

Indeed, Obamacare contains many tax increases, a point that Republicans have failed to seize on.  Taking note of the GOP’s lack of interest in contesting new payroll taxes in the legislation, …

… From the night that Obamacare passed more than two years ago, I said that the American people would reject this legislation as a Crime Against Democracy.  That is, it was conceived, gestated, birthed, and weaned in corruption.  It was enacted thanks to unsavory deals–with Big Pharma, with health insurers, with trial lawyers–as well as through the buying and selling of US Senators.  And since then, it has been corruptly administered by the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services; as we have discovered over the last two years, those with enough clout can get a “waiver” from Secretary Sebelius, finagling their way out of health taxes that other people have to pay. …

… President Obama did not act alone.  He has enjoyed the deep complicity of the permanent political class in Washington that admires cleverness, even deviousness, in the pursuit of power and tax money.  So if the Democrats said that Obamacare was not a tax, and it wasn’t–what’s not to like?  Inside the Beltway, such fibbing is never a big deal.  The overlords owe nothing to the peasants.  

Indeed, even when the Obama administration’s Solicitor General, defending the bill before the Supreme Court, conceded that the Obamacare mandate could be construed as a “tax,” or “tax penalty”–that is, freely admitting the lie–the Beltway looked on with bemusement.  The New York Times headlined its March 26 story on the Supreme Court arguments: “Arguing That Health Mandate Is Not a Tax, Except When It Is.”  Ha ha.   

But indeed, it is not the Democrats by themselves; it is also the Republicans who show a disdain for the American people, and the need to always speak the truth.  And that disdain is the fundamental reason why Republicans are having such a problem grasping the centrality of taxes and trust. …

… Those politicians who voted for Obamacare–including the Democratic Senators, each of whom were the crucial 60th vote needed to pass it–must answer some fundamental questions: Were they part of the deception?  And if not, will they vote to repeal the ObamaTax?  Will they vote to repeal the lie? …

… Yet now, the grave danger to Obama is that if he is seen as untrustworthy on this issue, he could be seen as untrustworthy on other issues.  And if the door to even deeper concerns is opened, it must be asked: If Obama is untruthful on this, what else has he been untruthful to the American people about?  

Because now everyone is starting to sense the harsh truth.  As the only American leader elected by all the people, the president holds a special place in our hearts.  In school we memorize the Presidents, not the Presidents Pro Tem.  By the same token, when that bond of affection is severed, a moral disturbance erupts in the political cosmos; the process of good-naturedly celebrating the uniqueness of a president–all about his loved ones, and his personal life and history, all the way down to the family dog–is inverted into a sour ceremony of debunking and demystifying.  

So today, the sacred narrative that led to Obama’s improbable but inspiring election–our first African American president, the finest triumph yet of the civil rights movement–has been desacralized.  …

July 10, 2012

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Victor Davis Hanson on how you can ruin an economy.

The only mystery over the release of unemployment statistics was not whether it was going to be bad — everyone can sense the stasis in their own community first-hand — but whom would Barack Obama blame: Bush? The Republican Congress? The E.U. meltdown? The recent hot weather or summer in general? ATM machines? Hurricanes on the horizon?

After sharp recessions, we usually get more robust than average recoveries, but since June 2009, things have not recovered at all really, and we are in a sort of permanent European-style slowdown — sort of a recession, sort of a weak recovery.

If one wanted to ensure permanent 8 percent to 9 percent unemployment, one might try the following:

1. Run up serial $1 trillion deficits

2. Add $5 trillion to the national debt in three and a half years

3. Impose a 2,400-page, trillion-dollar new federal takeover of health care, …


There was a particularly pernicious WaPo OpEd this weekend. Yuval Levin answers.

… The fact is that the incentives in our health-care system are all screwed up precisely because of government policies and programs. Medicare, the biggest player in our insurance system by far, is an arcane fee-for-service system that encourages volume over value and inflates (while shifting) costs. Medicaid, meanwhile, has a state-federal structure that makes cost-containment nearly impossible (by having state policymakers make spending decisions while the Feds pay at least half the cost in an open-ended way). And the tax exclusion for employer-provided coverage creates a huge incentive for high-premium insurance while shielding everyone involved from actual prices and costs. All the incentives point to cost inflation and away from outcome-based health economics, so we shouldn’t be surprised to have an inefficient system.

It is precisely conservative reformers who have proposed to change this, and it is precisely liberals who seek to avoid that change. Obamacare doubles down on all of these sources of inefficiency, and it does so on exactly Zakaria’s premise: that the chaos of the market would make things less efficient and only the centralized coordination of a benevolent bureaucracy can make the system work. It’s hard to believe we are still having this argument.


Michael Goodwin believes Romney must learn he is in a knife fight.

Mitt Romney is a good man. He’s smart, successful and there’s not a hint of scandal in his 65 years. He’s boring and a little distant, but those aren’t the flaws that could prove fatal.

Romney’s big problem is that he grew up in another America. He was raised to believe there is a clear standard for adult conduct, that even politics has rules and that it is the duty of a president to unite and lead the nation through its economic crisis.

Timing could be his great misfortune. Fate has given him a demoralized electorate that is growing distant from that old America and an opponent who spouts its verities, but actually believes in none of them.

Barack Obama believes that politics is a knife fight, and the only rule is that he must win. His conduct reflects the unholy mix of a messiah complex with the muscle of The Chicago Way. His goal, he tells us, is to “transform” America, not fix it.

This culture clash explains a presidential campaign operating in parallel universes. …


Salena Zito on Obama’s hyphenated politics.

When Carolyn Coulson was deciding how to vote in 2008, she found Barack Obama’s rhetoric “exciting,” especially when he talked about a “different kind of politics.”

Then a student at Vanderbilt, she said John McCain was dull in comparison.

Coulson, now 25 and a Wall Street consultant, finds no trace of that Obama today.

“His rhetoric is aimed just at specific groups of people, not as someone who would bring the country together,” she said.

Identity politics is something you do when you don’t have the worst economy since World War II, according to David Woodard, a Clemson University political science professor. “He cannot say anything about the economy and win,” Woodard explained.

From his mini-amnesty pitch to Hispanics, his support of gay marriage and his “identity” comments on the death of a black youth, to his turning contraception into a wedge issue, President Obama is shaping his electoral path to victory with identity politics. …


George Will on the heavy handed Feds and the ruin they may visit on the Navajos.

The federal government is a bull that has found yet another china shop, this time in Arizona. It seems determined to inflict, for angelic motives and progressive goals, economic damage on this state. And economic and social damage on Native Americans, who over the years have experienced quite enough of that at Washington’s hands.

The gain from this pain? The most frequently cited study says “research to date .?.?. is inconclusive as to whether” there would be “any perceptible improvement in visibility at the Grand Canyon and other areas of concern.” The Environmental Protection Agency says that the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) is “near” 11 national parks, several of which are 175 miles distant.

The NGS on Navajo land in northern Arizona burns coal from the Kayenta Mine, which is co-owned by the Navajo and Hopi nations. The EPA is pondering whether all three units of the NGS should be required to install the “best available” emission-control technologies, perhaps costing more than $1.1 billion. More than 80 percent of the power plant’s employees are Navajo, many of whom speak Navajo to help preserve the nation’s culture. In 2007, the percentage of the Navajo Nation’s population living in poverty was 36.8.

But the Navajos, the plant and the mine that powers it may be sacrificed to this dubious environmental crusade.


So what’s been happening to Elizabeth Warren? Howie Carr brings us up to date.

… A couple of weeks ago, several Cherokee who had been most critical of Warren’s scam arrived in Massachusetts to confront her. A perfect opportunity for Liz to meet people like her! But she snubbed the real Indians, claiming they were part of a vast right-wing Cherokee conspiracy. The Native Americans couldn’t even arrange a powwow with one of Warren’s whitebread campaign staffers.

Finally they returned home, and Twila Barnes, an indefatigable Cherokee genealogist, went back to her digging — and came up with the 1999 death certificate of Aunt Bee Veneck, who imparted the “family lore” to young Lizzy about her proud high-cheekbone heritage. The form offered as choices for race: Native American, white and black — and the family member who supplied that information listed Aunt Bee as white.

That family member was Elizabeth Warren.

This latest debunking barely rated a mention in Massachusetts. Everybody had long since figured out that Warren speaks with forked tongue.

Her new identity is middle-class, “Okie to her toes,” as she puts it. On Father’s Day, she tweeted a photo of her husband, Bruce Mann, another Harvard Law professor. Her campaign operatives even equipped the Yale man with a working-class prop — a longneck beer, a “brew,” as Scott Brown might call it.

It looked perfect, except that no one had told Prof. Mann that before you sit down with the bottle in your hand, it’s customary to take what’s called a “church key” and remove the cap from the bottle. It’s easier to drink from that way.


Abe Greenwald brings us up to date on events in Michael Moore’s Cuban paradise. 

The Miami Herald has a startling story about Michael Moore’s model healthcare system, down in Cuba: “The first cholera outbreak in Cuba in a century has left at least 15 dead and sent hundreds to hospitals all but sealed off by security agents bent on keeping a lid on the news, according to reports Friday.”

The country’s time-warp politics and infrastructure now match its diseases. Cholera was supposed to have been wiped out in Cuba around 1900. And this is only one of many Cuban health crises. Apparently Cuba has become something of a Petri dish since Russia stopped subsidizing Castro’s island prison in the 1990s. The Herald reports that  “During one 24-hour period in January, three flights from Cuba to Toronto arrived with groups of passengers suffering from nausea, vomiting and fever.” There’s also “an acute soap shortage,” and “rumors of an increase in dengue, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that thrive during the hot and rainy months of summer.” …

July 9, 2012

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Mark Steyn Corner Post to make you smile.

George Leef over at NRO’s Phi Beta Cons had a teasing link to this exciting news earlier today:

Harvard has appointed Vanidy “Van” Bailey as the College’s first permanent director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life. Bailey, the assistant director for education at the University of California, San Diego, will assume the new position on July 16.

Alas, this long overdue shattering of the BGLTQ ceiling was marred by the Harvard Crimson’s grossly insensitive coverage:

An earlier version of this article used the pronoun “she” to refer to Vanidy “Van” Bailey, the newly appointed director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life. In fact, Bailey prefers not to be referred to by any gendered pronoun.

I’ll bet Elizabeth Warren is kicking herself for not thinking of that one.

So America is now the first nation in history in which people take on six figures of debt for the privilege of entrusting their education to persons with no pronouns. That seems likely to work.


Matt Continetti with a new metaphor for the Obama occupation.

Safe to say most Washingtonians had never heard of a “derecho” before June 29, when one of these speedy and destructive windstorms ploughed through the capital, leaving behind dead bodies and battered homes and more than a million households without power. Now the storm is over, and one can expect this obscure meteorological term to pass just as swiftly into everyday speech. Exotic, vaguely menacing, and evoking senseless, abrupt calamity, “derecho” is an especially apt description of America in the age of Obama.

Like the homeowners in Fairfax County, Va., picking up felled tree branches and putting in insurance claims, Americans across the country are still recovering from the Obama derecho that struck the nation from 2009 to 2010. The damage from that whirlwind has been ugly. The cost has been enormous. And another one may form at any moment.

A spectacular confluence of events swept Obama into office. Seven years of war, almost a year of recession, and seven weeks of financial crisis pulled down the incumbent president’s approval rating on Election Day 2008 to an atrocious 25 percent. Obama’s opponent was a war hero and a courageous statesman who nevertheless seemed rather anachronistic, not to mention confused at the bewildering and frightening economic situation.

Obama, on the other hand, had a smooth and graceful and likeable character that appealed to America’s best hopes and dreams of racial and partisan conciliation. His running mate was a dolt, but a familiar one. They promised a new tone in Washington, sound economic management, lower health care premiums, cutting the federal deficit in half, and an end to the war in Iraq. This was the winning ticket, 53 percent to 46 percent.

The economy worsened after Obama’s election. Unemployment spiked. The government took over the financial system, nationalized mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, consumed AIG, drew closer to buying GM and Chrysler, and drastically expanded the monetary base to prevent credit from dissolving further.

The economic and legal and political arrangements that had led to two decades of expansion were being re-written hastily and unthinkingly. A deluge of taxes and spending and regulations was let loose, with the stated aim of transforming the base of a system that had produced the most prosperous civilization in history. It turned out that when Obama spoke of putting America on “a new foundation,” he meant it. …


Toby Harnden covers the jobs report.

… Speaking in Poland, Ohio, Obama took nearly 10 minutes before he turned to addressing jobs and the latest unemployment report.

‘You know, we learned this morning that our businesses created 84,000 new jobs last month, and that overall means that businesses have created 4.4 million jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs,’ he said.

‘That’s a step in the right direction.’ Repeating that the report was ‘a step in the right direction’ he added: ‘But we can’t be satisfied, because our goal was never to just keep on working to get back to where we were back in 2007.

‘I want to get back to a time when middle-class families and those working to get into the middle class have some basic security. That’s our goal. So we’ve got to grow the economy even faster.’

Romney ripped into Obama. Speaking in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where he has been holidaying this week, he described the report as a ‘kick in the gut’ for Americans.

‘American families are struggling. There’s a lot of misery in America today, and these numbers understate what people are feeling and the amount of pain which is occurring in middle class America.’

Hammering his core campaign message, Romney said: ‘It doesn’t have to be this way. The president doesn’t have a plan. …


David Harsanyi says the White House doesn’t want us to “read too much” into the unemployment numbers.

The U.S. economy added a paltry 80,000 jobs in June, which isn’t even enough to keep up with population growth. Economists had expected that 90,000 or more jobs would be added, but private-sector job growth dropped, prolonging a trend that started early this year.

The unemployment rate remained at 8.2 percent. This is the 41st straight month we’ve been at 8 percent or higher. But Alan Krueger, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers said in a statement that, “It is important not to read too much into any one monthly report. There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making.” …


Michael Barone thinks the president’s trip to the “rust belt” the day of the jobs report was a bit of bad timing.

… he seems to have been left with little to say. No wonder he resorted to making jokes about his family and adding, “People’ve been commenting: I need to gain some weight.”

As if to compensate, he ate some grits — a staple once you get an hour of so south of Washington, but not so much up north.

But what else could he talk about? Certainly not the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules shutting down coal-fired electric plants. Nor his decision blocking the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

He could hail the development of fracking in the region’s Marcellus shale natural gas formation in the region, except for the fact that regulators in his administration seem intent on shutting it down.

He could repeat his calls for “investment” in education, but even if you don’t regard that as a political payoff to the teachers unions, the dividends are going to be a long time coming in.

And calls for investment in infrastructure may lead people to recall his chuckling admission that there are no shovel-ready projects, thanks to regulatory and legal roadblocks.

The uncomfortable fact is that Obama doesn’t have a convincing economic story to tell. The recovery summer promised for 2010 and for 2011 and again for 2012 has yet to arrive.

Obama needs majorities in the Rust Belt counties to carry Ohio and Pennsylvania again. But last week’s bus tour shows he’s having difficulty in this historically Democratic territory.


Ed Carson lists 10 ways the lousy jobs report is just the tip of the iceberg.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by just 80,000 in June, slightly worse than expected and the third straight month of sub-100,000 job growth. The jobless rate held at 8.2%. The employment report was disappointing. Here are 10 reasons why the jobs market is even worse than the headline figures.

1. Unemployment has topped 8% for 41 straight months. Last time above 8% – December 1983.

2. The jobless rate actually makes the labor market look better than it actually is. The rate only counts people who want a job but don’t have one. But the labor force participation rate was 63.8% in June, just above near modern-era lows. (It was 66.2% in January 2008 and 67.3% in April 2000). Otherwise, unemployment would be around 11%.

3. The employment-to-population ratio for those aged 25-54 dipped to 75.6% in June, down sharply from 80% in January 2008. Many economists left and right view the core employment ratio as one of the cleanest views of the labor market, because it includes those who have stopped looking for work while excluding the bulge in retirees and young adults in school. …

July 8, 2012

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Bill Kristol has some needed advice for Romney.

Remember Michael Dukakis (1988) and John Kerry (2004)? It’s possible to lose a winnable presidential election to a vulnerable incumbent in the White House (or in the case of 1988, a sitting vice president). So, speaking of losing candidates from Massachusetts: Is it too much to ask Mitt Romney to get off autopilot and actually think about the race he’s running?

Adopting a prevent defense when it’s only the second quarter and you’re not even ahead is dubious enough as a strategy. But his campaign’s monomaniacal belief that it’s about the economy and only the economy, and that they need to keep telling us stupid voters that it’s only about the economy, has gone from being an annoying tick to a dangerous self-delusion. …


Charles Krauthammer on the new imperial presidency.

… Obama’s presumption is Olympian. He takes America into a war in Libya with U.N. approval but none from Congress. Yet that awful Bush had the constitutional decency to twice seek and gain congressional approval before he initiated hostilities.

The Department of Health and Human Services issues Obamacare regulations treading so heavily on the free-exercise rights of Catholic institutions that Obama’s own allies rebel. The new regulation concocted to tame the firestorm blithely orders private insurers to provide free contraceptives to employees of the objecting religious institutions. By what possible authority does a president order private companies to provide free services? To say nothing of the 1,200 Obamacare waivers granted with royal arbitrariness according to the (political) whims of an HHS secretary.

And now immigration. Obama adopts a policy of major non-enforcement of the immigration law — a variant of the very Dream Act he could not get through even a Democratic Congress — and promulgates it unilaterally, while his Justice Department claims the right to invalidate state laws that might in some way impinge on that very non-enforcement.

The Republican presidential campaign centers on the ineffectiveness of this administration: failure at home, passivity abroad. A fine electoral strategy. But as citizens we should be grateful. Given the administration’s extravagant ambitions, incompetence is its saving grace.


Kimberley Strassel expands on the subject.

The ObamaCare litigation is history, with the president’s takeover of the health sector deemed constitutional. Now we can focus on the rest of the Obama imperial presidency.

Where, you are wondering, have you recently heard that term? Ah, yes. The “imperial presidency” of George W. Bush was a favorite judgment of the left about our 43rd president’s conduct in war, wiretapping and detentions. Yet say this about Mr. Bush: His aggressive reading of executive authority was limited to the area where presidents are at their core power—the commander-in-chief function.

By contrast, presidents are at their weakest in the realm of domestic policy—subject to checks and balances, co-equal to the other branches. Yet this is where Mr. Obama has granted himself unprecedented power. The health law and the 2009 stimulus package were unique examples of Mr. Obama working with Congress. The more “persistent pattern,” Matthew Spalding recently wrote on the Heritage Foundation blog, is “disregard for the powers of the legislative branch in favor of administrative decision making without—and often in spite of—congressional action.”

Put another way: Mr. Obama proposes, Congress refuses, he does it anyway.

For example, Congress refused to pass Mr. Obama’s Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for some not here legally. So Mr. Obama passed it himself with an executive order that directs officers to no longer deport certain illegal immigrants. This may be good or humane policy, yet there is no reading of “prosecutorial discretion” that allows for blanket immunity for entire classes of offenders. …


Mark Steyn thinks big government is going to fail here.

… Insofar as it works at all, Big Government works best in small, highly developed, northern Continental nation states with a sufficiently homogeneous population to have sufficiently common interests. You can get by with it for a while in Mediterranean Europe, mainly because of a somewhat desultory attitude to the rule of law: in Italy and Greece, there are prohibitions against everything, but nobody obeys them and so, after a fashion, life goes on. Anglophone nations are generally disposed to abide by the law, and so, if there are a bazillion regulations, the average citizen will make a sincere effort to comply. But if you’re, say, Australia and you’re attempting to design a health care system for 20 million people across an entire continent, it’s just about doable.

But no advanced society has ever attempted Big Government for a third of a billion people – for the simple reason that it cannot be done without creating a nation with the black-hole finances of Stockton, California, and the Black-Hole-of-Calcutta fetid, airless, sweatbox utility services of Rockville, Maryland. Thanks to Obamacare, in matters of health provision, whether you’re in favor of socialized medicine or truly private health care, Swedes and Italians are now freer than Americans: They have a state system and a private system, and both are relatively simple. What’s simple in micro-regulated America? In health care, we now have what’s nominally a private system encrusted with so many statist barnacles that it no longer functions as either a private or state system. Thus, Obamacare embodies the strange no-man’s-land of statism American-style: The U.S. is no longer a land of republican virtue and self-reliant citizens but it’s not headed for the sunlit uplands of Scandinavia, either. …


David Harsanyi spots some Ray LaHood nonsense. 

It’s not every day you hear a cabinet member praising authoritarians abroad. Then again, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unleashes so many preposterous statements he makes Joe Biden look like a high priest of Vulcan.

In my career, I’ve been lucky enough to meet cabinet members, governors, senators and even a few presidential candidates, but, honestly, I’ve never met anyone less impressive at the higher levels of government than LaHood. When I listened to him claim that commercial flying was a perilous mode of transportation, heard him say that bullet trains would soon replace cars and claim that building more bike lanes would solve the congestion problems in major cities … well, how can I put this: giving someone this silly a cabinet position should be an impeachable offense. Remember this is the guy who recklessly, and without evidence, suggested Americans “stop driving” Toyotas for safety reasons right in the middle of the debate over the General Motors rescue. …


Alana Goodman writes about Romney’s $100 million month and the voters view of Obama as the extremist.

This might explain what President Obama was so worried about during his frantic Air Force One plea for donations last weekend:

The Romney campaign, along with its Romney Victory fund and the Republican National Committee, raised more than $100 million in June, obliterating the campaign’s goal and setting the one-month record for any Republican campaign, according to a GOP official. …

… If President Obama has sounded nostalgic for his 2008 opponent John McCain lately, it’s because he’s trying to make the case that the once-moderate Republican Party has fallen into the hands of extremists like Mitt Romney (cue skeptical side-eye). But according to a Rasmussen poll, likely voters are not buying it. Forty-seven percent say Obama’s views are “extreme” while just 31 percent say the same about Romney: …