Friday, July 30, 2010

Building to the Upchuck

Rich Lowry says that federal Judge Susan Bolton is a joke. Well, not her, exactly, but her decision blocking the Arizona law on illegal immigration.

But I think that the decision is just another hurl point on the road to the Big Upchuck.

You'll remember "Obama and the Upchuck Factor." That was the prescient article I wrote a year ago explaining the periodic voter upchuck of Democratic presidents. Back in FDR's time it took about 6 years for the upchuck. By President Clinton's time it took two years.

But under President Obama, the upchuck took only six months.

Can't we all get along and create a politics without the Upchuck Factor?

Not really. The buildup to the Obama Upchuck shows why.

Back in the Noughties, Democrats built up a fine narrative about corrupt Republicans, stupid Bush, extremist right-wing Christians, and an illegal war. Democrats, on the other hand, were nice moderate veterans running for Republican seats in Congress. They were all for family values and balanced budgets and went to church and provided a moderate alternative to the corrupt right-wing warmongers around Bush.

How can you counter a narrative like that, especially when the fake media echoes it everywhere?

You can't. You have to wait until the Democrats come to power and take the mask off.

Then you find out that the awful Christian right-wingers look like Sunday school teachers when compared with the left-wing ideologues in the Obama administration.

Then you find out that the moderate Democrat freshmen and sophomores voted for the extreme and unpopular ObamaCare, knuckling under to the power plays of Pelosi & Co.

Then you find out that, when it comes to disasters, Bush's Katrina response looks like a model compared to the Keystone Kops routine of Obama and the Busted Oil Well.

Then you discover that your high-toned objections to fundamentalist Christians rather pale beside the prospect of gigantic tax increases in January 2011.

Then you find out that the Obama administration has no idea of a moderate economic policy.

Then you find out that the vague words about health care reform mean a root-and-branch government takeover of the health care system.

And then you find out that the Obama administration has no intention of enforcing the laws on immigration.

Look, all this is natural and healthy. There's no way of avoiding it.

The fact is that you need a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress every decade or so just to remind everyone what the Democrats are really all about.

That way, everyone can build up to the coordinated National Upchuck on Tuesday, November 2, 2010.

National Upchuck Day. Why, there's still time for a resolution from Congress to celebrate it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two-Thirds of Americans Oppose Death Tax

Over at the Fiscal Times they are marveling over the unpopularity of the estate tax. Properly, writes Eric Schurenberg, Americans ought to love the estate tax, because only two percent of families pay it. Then there are the loopholes, like the first million of assets, and this:

In addition, expenses for your funeral, any charitable bequests, and every cent you leave your spouse are all tax-free. In 2008, according to estimates by the Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center, the wealthiest 1 percent of households paid over 80 percent of the $23 billion the tax raised; the top tenth of a percent alone accounted for 46 percent of the total.

Such a deal!

In fact, two thirds of Americans oppose the "death tax" including 55 percent of Democrats. They just don't think it's fair. So how do progressives reverse the sentiment of ordinary Americans and persuade them of the truth, that a "robust" estate tax is fair? Schurenberg turns to Bill Gates, Sr.

“American society has made it possible for wealthy men, women and their families to have an elegant life, first-class education, and virtually unlimited options about where to go and what to do. Society does have a just claim on these fortunes."

Actually, it is freedom that makes this possible. Because in most societies, the elegant life is reserved for the political elite.

In reality, it is not "society" but the robust efforts of jumped-up nobodies like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford and Sam Walton that make it possible for all of us to live our comfortable lives. Society and people in general get a huge benefit from the fortunes of rich men, because riches these days come from serving the consumers really well. Think Steve Jobs and Apple.

It's understandable that progressives want to recapture the fortunes of rich men. Progressivism is a philosophy of power, and progressives since the French Revolution have revolted against the idea of wealth and power independent of the political elite.

But the pressing need these days is for people of independent means who can challenge the power of the politicians and the activists. That doesn't mean we need a new cabal of feudal barons making trouble in the hinterland.

But it does mean that we need a class of people who can be summoned to testify before Congress and have the courage to tell the solons to go take a jump in the lake.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Are Dems This Stupid?

This week the Democrats tried to pass in the US Senate a campaign finance bill that would have privileged liberal groups like unions and penalized corporations. That's after they stepped back from the unpopular cap-and-trade bill, and after the passing of the unpopular ObamaCare bill, and the derisive "stimulus bill."

Don't they get it? Hugh Hewitt wonders:

The Manhattan-Beltway media elite have fundamentally misunderstood or refused to believe what is happening in front of their eyes, and their blindness has apparently led the MSM-addicted Congressional Democrats to ignore the issues that do concern voters while pushing forward an agenda that deeply offends an already outraged electorate. The president's deep-seated ideology similarly renders him incapable of understanding the depth of the rejection of his agenda that is sweeping the country.

Most ruling classes get this way. They settle into their sinecures and lose the sharp edge they maintained when they were insurgents besieging the citadel of power.

In the case of Barack Obama, thoughtful people were already saying in 2008 that Obama and his people only knew urban politics--in Chicago and Boston. They really didn't know much about the ordinary suburban American people that constitute the majority.

That's leads to a piece from Wesley Pruden that explains why the president isn't getting any traction these days. No matter how great a salesman you are, you can't ignore Rule #1 of selling:

He never learned the drummer's first rule for success: "You gotta know the territory."

You have to hand this to the Democrats. They are master tacticians of day-to-day politics. They excel at 24-7 political combat.

But they seem to lack a strategic sense of what is prudent and possible.

I'm reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow right now. The astonishing takeaway is that Hamilton, who was in his early twenties when he became General Washington's chief of staff, had an amazing strategic vision.

Hamilton saw, at age twenty-one or twenty-two, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, that the patriot strategy should be one of retreat, avoiding battles with the British. He saw throughout the war and particularly in 1782, when the un-paid revolutionary army started getting fractious, that there was no substitute for a strong central government with the power to tax--and pay its soldiers.

It is this penetrating vision that Democrats lack today. They do not see into the future. They do not understand how their brazen political tricks utterly disgust the average American. They do not see the greater currents at work in our society.

And so they will fail. Hugh Hewitt again:

Taken all together the Democrats are not merely headed towards a political cliff, they are sprinting towards it.

Yes, but don't they see what they are doing to themselves? No, they don't. They have become a classic aging dynasty. They don't understand the roots of their power; they don't understand the injustices their power has spawned; they don't understand the people they rule.

And that's a shame.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Power Leads to Injustice

Last week Sen. James Webb (D-VA) wrote an important op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about race politics.

The fact is, he argues, the current "diversity" policy of the governing elite is a policy that discriminates against whites. A policy that was intended to help black victims of pervasive discrimination now discriminates in favor of all "people of color" including millions of people who came to the United States whos never experienced any discrimination.

Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years. Contrary to assumptions in the law, white America is hardly a monolith. And the journey of white American cultures is so diverse (yes) that one strains to find the logic that could lump them together for the purpose of public policy.

The fact is that, e.g., in the South, there are whites that have experienced significant and extended deprivation and hardship, even as considered in the dry-as-toast categories of liberal social science. And "diversity" programs often help non-whites that are anything but deprived.

There is a word for this sort of thing. Injustice. Injustice that will rise up out of the hinterland and sweep to vengeance one day with a terrible swift sword. And as usual, the ruling elite doesn't have a clue what is coming.

Jim Webb calls for an end to diversity programs, except for blacks: "Beyond our continuing obligation to assist those African-Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end."

No, Jim. You just don't get it, not even now. What the Negro needs, above all, is to be left alone. That was true 150 years ago just as much as it is now, when Frederick Douglass wrote the following:

What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us... I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! ... And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... your interference is doing him positive injury.

Do nothing, Jim! Have the decency to respect the American Negro as a person as worthy and as capable as yourself. Let the Negro alone to make his or her individual journey to the center of this Nation of Nations. When he or she is left alone, no longer the darling of the political elite, then he or she will have a chance to find their place. Not the place that the Southern racists wanted for them. Not the place that the Northern liberals wanted for them. Not even the place that African Americans might think is waiting for them.

No, what is waiting for African Americans, if left alone, is a destiny that nobody can know.

Meanwhile, a horrible indictment is building up against liberals in the scales of justice, growing heavier every day. It is frightening to consider the retribution that is coming.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Cold Civil War

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's house conservative Kyle Wingfield reviews the week of Shirley Sherrod and the use of the race card. He worries that US "politics increasingly resembles a cold civil war", and that last week represents the first successful testing of the race card as a weapon of the right.

Of course it's a cold civil war. Clausewitz's dictum: "War is a mere continuation of politics by other means" applies to civil war as well as any other war. Domestic politics, we might say, is merely civil war by other means. The insults and provocations of the daily game of politics all point towards the ultimate domestic threat, the jump to real war rather than the normal "politics ain't no beanbag."

You get to civil war, in my view, when the Ruling Class gets clumsy, just like the bloody Brits in the runup to the Revolutionary War. The Obama administration is a good example. Obama ran for president as a healer who would calm the rancor of the Bush years. He would be post-partisan and post-racial.

Instead he and his counterparts in Congress have mounted an attempt at partisan breakthrough, attempting a huge liberal agenda that would be almost impossible to reverse. Thus the huge stimulus plan, which starts up a whole raft of new programs under the guise of one-time stimulus. Thus ObamaCare, rammed through on a party-line vote. Thus the Dodd-Frank financial reform that merely increases government control over the financial markets.

When you do that, you expose the fictions of politics. You expose the reality underneath the comfortable euphemisms of day-to-day politics, that we are all in this together, that each government reach for power is in fact a consensus of all parties, that government programs are kindly attempts to help people rather than payoffs to supporters. And you encourage a growing minority to believe that only force will serve to redress its grievances.

Today the Weekly Standard has a big piece on President Obama's shift to divisive populism: "The Unpresidential President." James W. Ceaser argues that a president makes himself bigger by being inclusive and presidential. He makes himself smaller when he gets down and dirty. And President Obama, as his problems mount, resorts more and more to naked populist demonizing of the opposition.

The president should take a look at the tactics of his predecessors. President Bush was presidential to a fault, avoiding partisanship except in the direct runup to elections in 2002 and 2004. President Clinton, in his inimitable way, faked bipartisanship even at his most partisan, as in: Those Republicans are opposing my bipartisan balanced budget.

The big question in the cold civil war comes down to this: if and when the American people, led by conservatives, decide to roll back the welfare state, will liberals accept the will of the people and keep their supporters peaceful, or will they "take to the streets?"

It's the difference between Ireland and Greece.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Fight over the Economy

Today there's a curious column from economist Paul Krugman sneering at the Republican call for a return to Bush era economic policies. He's evidently against the extension of the Bush era tax-rate cuts.

In recent weeks, G.O.P. leaders have come out for a complete return to the Bush agenda, including tax breaks for the rich and financial deregulation.

Meanwhile Larry Kramer is calling for corporate income tax-rate cuts as the sure way to ignite a very sluggish economic recovery.

Think of all the economic obstacles of spending, taxing, and regulating coming out of Washington. What should be done to spur growth? Keep tax rates down. And stop passing massive regulatory bills, like the bank reform Obama just signed into law.

By the way, if Bush passed "tax breaks for the rich" how come the income tax share paid by the rich went up in the Bush era? Here are the numbers from the IRS for the federal income tax paid in the Bush years for the top income brackets.

Share of Federal Income Tax Paid by The Rich
YearTotalTop 0.1%Top 1%

Notice that the only years in which the tax share of the rich went down was prior to the implementation of the Bush tax cuts (OK, the recession had something to do with it).

So. With the Bush tax cuts the share of income tax paid by the rich went up--substantially. I just don't understand how you get to "tax breaks for the rich" from this data.

We are going through a period where the American people are going to experience, first hand, the claim of Keynesian economics, that you get out of recessions with government stimulus spending.

The record of the decade when the US was stuck on stupid suggests that stimulus spending and business-bashing don't work.

Already, key Democratic senators are getting nervous. They are worried that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts will abort the recovery and endanger their political futures.

The fact is that government spending is too high. Government tax rates are too high. Government borrowing is too high. Government regulation is too high.

This is the year when all the rhetoric from the liberal elite on the wonders of government power is going to break down.

If only the American people could be saved from the hardships ahead.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Miss is as Good as a Mile

When we look back upon the presidency of Barack Obama we will think just this. How could he have thrown away such an opportunity?

President Obama had the chance to forge a new center-left majority that could govern for a generation.

Think about it.

In the Fall of 2008 the economy was in free fall. Americans were prepared to believe it was all the Republicans' fault. But Candidate Obama proposed to get beyond partisan differences and the games in Washington. So what did President Obama do?

President Obama backed the most partisan economic program in our lifetimes, one that practically no Republican could be bullied into supporting. The result? The Tea Party exploded onto the public square within a month of the president's inauguration and independents started bleeding away by the summer of 2009. The president could have disappointed his base (as presidents must do) and forged a co-opting policy that commanded the middle ground and left the right out in the cold. But he didn't.

Candidate Obama gave the impression that his presidency would be post-racial. That's what his famous speech in Chicago in 2004 was all about. But President Obama has acted as a full-on race warrior. His supporters constantly resort to the race card in demonizing his opponents. As a result, the president is losing white moderates. He had a chance to command the middle ground on race and leave the right out in the cold. But he didn't.

Rush Limbaugh hit the nail on the head yesterday while discussing the Shirley Sherrod flap (the black USDA administrator who told an NAACP audience that she realized that her job was not to conduct a race war but a class war). After noting how quickly the mainstream media has rallied round her and the way her remarks were taken out of context, Rush asked what happened to the mainstream media time after time when his remarks have been taken out of context? He then said that the president could put an end to all this race-card game forever. He could say: That's It! We are going to stop this divisive race baiting right now. This administration will not tolerate racism and it will not tolerate false accusations of racism.

At once I felt a partisan chill of fear. Why, if the president did that he would win reelection and probably get the center-left majority that he has almost thrown away with his left-wing economic policy.

But then I thought. Oh no he won't. If President Obama didn't have the strategic vision to understand how a moderate economic policy would create a lasting Democratic majority, then he's hardly likely to realize the strategic opportunity to his party of calling an end to race politics.

Still. I am almost overwhelmed by the scale of the lost opportunity for Democrats. Everything was set up in the fall of 2008. The economy was in free fall; the candidate had promised a new era of post-racial, post-partisan politics.

But as it turned out, the candidate didn't believe the words put into his mouth. It was all just focus-group-driven pablum. President Obama believes in the old religion. He believes in big government. He believes in race wars. And as for class wars...

And in November his party is going to suffer the biggest defeat at the polls in our lifetimes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Old Order Changeth

The delicious exposes in the online Daily Caller have inaugurated an era that conservatives couldn't really imagine.

In the old days.

In the days of the old-time "objective" media.

Under the old rules conservative public figures knew that the rules were harsh. Anything they said could be taken out of context and published and used to humiliate them and drive them out of public service.

Liberals never had to watch their words because--well because liberal journalists just didn't snitch on other liberals.

But now we have the internet. Now everything that everyone does is recorded. It's on someone's flip camera. It's sitting on an email server. Or it's sitting on JournoList, the liberal journalist listserv.

Now the rules have changed. Now liberals can be embarrassed. One liberal may call for someone to play the race card on prominent conservatives in order to protect presidential candidate Barack Obama. Another one may call for the government to shut down Fox News.

Liberal Jonathan Chait at The New Republic is right to say that there's nothing to see here. Just a bunch of liberals trash-talking. Hey, everyone does it.

But Jonathan Chait doesn't get it. We conservatives are over the moon, as the Brits say, because we never thought we would live to see the day when liberals would be having to twist around and wriggle to get out of an embarrassing gaffe. Yet here we have a bunch of liberals doing what we always suspected they were doing.

Yes, of course, a bunch of trash-talking liberals doesn't add up to media bias or unprofessional journalism. But now liberals are hoist on their own petard.

It is liberals who have insisted that the "culture" of a work place could in itself be a case of racism or of harassment. They were shocked at the crude remarks that men made in the office when women were around. Something had to be done. Laws were needed. Regulations were necessary.

Well, we all know where this sort of thing leads. It leads to the remark taken out of context and a gross injustice, as seems to have happened to a black USDA official, Shirley Sherrod, for a remark taken out of context at an NAACP Convention. Reporter Stephen Spruiell:

A white farmer came to her for help, and because she perceived him to be like the others, she fobbed him off on a white lawyer — "his own kind." But the lawyer didn't help the farmer, and that is what led Sherrod to revise her previous biases against whites and to resolve to assist all economically distressed farmers, white or black, who came to her for help.

But Sherrod lost her job because Andrew Breitbart published an edited video that took the her racist treatment of a white farmer out of context and the bureaucrats and the White House ran for the hills and threw her under the bus.

Yeah, I know. Conservatives know all about remarks taken out of context. But that doesn't make it right for conservatives to do it to liberals. We are better than that.

Charles Taylor makes a central point in A Secular Age that all moral movements set up an us-and-them situation. We are the good guys and they are the bad guys. It ends up as a moral feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. The key test of a religious or political tradition is its method for cutting the moral feud short.

We know how it is done. It is done through the social virtues of friendliness, forgiveness and kindness. Not from the bad guys suing for forgiveness and mercy, but from the good guys offering it freely.

As the evil liberal age comes crashing down about liberal ears and the old order changes, the most important job for conservatives is to end the poverty of the liberal culture, to replace the million rules and pervasive "zero-tolerance" for crimes against liberalism with a new culture of tolerance.

Tolerance means giving the benefit of the doubt to the evil other guys.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Liberals Conspire to Play Race Card

I'm generally opposed to conspiracy theories. I'm like Henry Higgins,

A patient man am I, down to my fingertips, the sort who never could, ever would, let an insulting remark escape his lips Very gentle man... But let a liberal in your life!

The thing about conspiracies is that people, especially politicians, are really too lazy to operate a proper conspiracy.

But now we learn that liberal journalists on "JournoList" did in fact conspire, in the strict sense of the word, to play the race card in 2008 over Reverend Wright and his racist remarks. Their problem was that the exposure of videos showing Barack Obama's pastor delivering racist rants in church would damage the narrative of Obama as a "post-racist." Jonathan Strong at the Daily Caller:

Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage. In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Then of course we have the "N-word" accusations, that Tea Party activists shouted racist epithets at black congressman as they walked from a House office building to the Capitol for the key vote on ObamaCare. As Scott Johnson of Powerline writes to New York Times reporter Matt Bai:

Let me elaborate just a bit. Specifically, you said: "There have been scattered reports around the country of racially charged rhetoric within the movement, most notably just before the vote on the new health care law last March, when Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, the legendary civil rights leader, was showered with hateful epithets outside the Capitol." This statement is demonstrably false on several grounds. The folks at Power Line have rather exhaustively examined this issue and it is quite clear that Carson's claim was either knowingly false when made, or that he was seriously mistaken. Moreover, your statement repeats and even adds to a baseless narrative that is being desperately repeated by officials within the Democratic Party.

Here's an all-American one liner about race, that issues from the resolution passed at the NAACP convention accusing the Tea Party of racism. I have polished it to make it snappier.

There's a difference between the Tea Party and the NAACP. In the Tea Party you look for racism on the fringe. In the NAACP you look for racism on the stage.

There is no need to get angry about all this liberal race-card playing. It's gone beyond that. Liberals are like the boy who cried Wolf! Liberals have loved the power that the race card gives them, and liberals, the Ruling Class, love power. But one day the American people will tell liberals to shut up.

My guess is that that day occurred some time between President Obama's inauguration in 2009 and the passing of ObamaCare in the spring of 2010.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is Dodd-Frank the New Smoot-Hawley?

Eighty years ago, at the twilight of the great Republican age from 1861 to 1933, the Congress passed and the president signed the tariff bill to end all tariff bills.

We are talking about Smoot-Hawley, the Tariff Act of 1930. It was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Reed Smoot (R-UT) and in the House by Rep. Willis Hawley (R-OR). It raised tariffs on imports to near record levels and is credited with helping to put the Great in the Depression of 1929-1933.

Smoot-Hawley was signed into law in June 1930. In November 1930, in the mid-terms, Republicans lost 52 seats and control in the House and the GOP lost eight seats in the Senate, but not control.

For us today, there is something almost menacing and Dickensian about the compound word "Smoot-Hawley." It seems to ooze narrow-minded folly and blindness.

Is it possible that history is repeating itself?

It is telling that the stock market started to swoon back in April 2010 about when it became clear that the Dodd-Frank finance reform bill was likely to pass. Why? Well maybe the market is starting to price in the uncertainty and the costs that the complex Dodd-Frank bill is likely to insert into the US economy. Various analysts have looked at the bill (JP Morgan Chase reportedly has 100 teams working on it) and they all seem to agree that it will introduce a vast new infrastructure of regulation and political meddling.

In other words, the Democrats are going for another Big Push at what they have been doing for 100 years. Regulating, politicizing, bureaucratizing. That's what they know how to do. That is, apparently, the only thing they know how to do. So they are doing it. Seems just like old times and a rerun of the Sen. Smoot and Rep. Hawley show in another era.

Well, at least the American people got rid of the protectionist Republicans in short order.

The question is: what will the American people do with the Smoots and the Hawleys of our time?

Sen. Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Frank (D-MA) were both enthusiastic supporters of politicized home mortgages in the last hurrah of Fannie and Freddie, before they became a $400 billion black hole. Fannie and Freddie were at the center of the reckless credit binge of the last ten years. Now they want to regulate the finance industry more closely, but do nothing about Fannie and Freddie.

Chris Dodd, in case you have forgotten, was famous as a "friend of Angelo" Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide, the deceased mortgage mill that fed mortgages to Fannie and Freddie.

It would be appropriate if our modern day Smoot and Hawley blindly set up an electoral disaster for the Democrats in the House just like their political role models. After all, experts are already predicting a 40 seat swing to Republicans in the House, and big wins in the Senate.

The point is that politicians then and now are venal and blind to everything except the next political power play. They know nothing about economics. They know nothing about justice. They know nothing about finance.

What politicians know how to do is divide the people and get elected. And they know how to reward their supporters.

That's why limited government is such a good idea. The more power you give to politicians the more they will abuse it. You may think that this program or that program will benefit you, and therefore the nation at large will benefit. Remember "what's good for liberals is good for the country?"

But the power you give to your guys can be turned, with the change of parties, into a scourge to cut your back to ribbons.

Some people only learn this the hard way.

To help make the connection with Smoot-Hawley, there seems to be a Dickensian flavor to the very names of the legislators proudly sponsoring our 21st century Regulation of Abominations. Dodd-Frank sounds awfully close to that venal law firm of Dodson and Fogg that made life so difficult for the admirable Mr. Pickwick.

Let's hope for the early end to Democratic power. But let us also hope that the aftermath of the Smoot-Hawley tariff, the disaster of 1929 to 1939, the valley of the shadow of death, is not visited again upon the American people.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Worst Administration in History

You can always tell a liberal. You just can't tell her anything.

With the stock market in retreat this morning and the headlines full of a weak recovery, the Obama administration is trying to sell Americans on the idea it is pro-business.

Oh yeah? You mean the administration that passed the biggest government takeover in history, ObamaCare? The government that passed the biggest subsidy of government jobs in history, the stimulus bill? The government that passed the most opaque financial reform bill in history, Dodd-Frank, that creates 243 new rule-making processes at ten federal agencies?

You mean that administration?

None of this had to happen. It wouldn't have happened if the Obamis at the White House and the Reid-Pelosi machine politicians and the policy professionals had stepped back and fashioned the Obama agenda around a bipartisan formula.

If they had listened to the Other America, the 80 percent of America that is not liberal.

It wouldn't have happened if President Obama had governed according to the mandate he got from the American people, which was to form a moderate, post-partisan, post-racial administration and mend the broken, corrupt game in Washington, DC.

But he didn't, and now he must reap the whirlwind.

What a pity that the liberal mainstream media didn't do its job. What a pity that the administration got blindsided because it got so much toadying coverage from the elite media.

How did we get here? We got here because liberals never listen. Business is corrupt, they say. Wall Street is greedy. Conservative think tanks are bought and paid for by Big Oil. The American people are racist.

It's a closed system. Everything can be explained. Everything is the fault of the other guy.

Well, we are about to witness the biggest political meltdown in our life-times. I am calling for an 80 seat shift in the House of Representatives. Not because I think that we'll actually see such a move--I'd say 60 seats is more realistic--but because I think we need to set a challenging goal.

We need to give liberals a gigantic blow upside the head. For their own good, you know.

Pat Buchanan hauls out a quote from Eric Hoffer today.

Every great movement begins as a cause, eventually becomes a business, then degenerates into a racket.

Actually, he's wrong. According to Wikiquote, the real quote is:

Up to now, America has not been a good milieu for the rise of a mass movement. What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation.

You can say that again.

Actually, it's obvious. Anyone trying to start a political movement is probably trying to increase the amount of force in society. Force usually ends up in a racket, a corrupt racket to take other peoples' money and give it to your supporters.

As a political movement turns into a racket, the leaders and the supporters have to turn off their consciences and keep telling themselves that the crimes they are committing are really the very essence of innocence and idealism. So they block their ears and eyes and pretend that everything is all right.

Liberals have been doing that for the last generation and more. That is why they have to demonize everyone that opposes them--as racists, sexists, homophobes, deniers. That is why they have resolutely refused to listen to the voice of conservative reform.

The net result is the worst administration in history. Now all we need is a monumental rejection at the polls.

Then we can get to work making American great again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Democrats' Regulatory Solution

From the beginning of the financial crisis of 2008 Democrats blamed "deregulation." Without the proper regulatory safeguards greedy Wall Street bankers made risky loans and hid their losses in off-balance sheet shenanigans.

Never mind that the regulators were found to be asleep at the switch.

So their solution is Dodd-Frank, a 2,300 page bill of financial re-regulation that will, according to the Wall Street Journal edit page, require 243 rule makings from ten different government regulators: FDIC, the Fed, the Treasury, etc.

On the same day, libertarian John Stossel complained that we've become a "nation of a million rules."

Not the kind of bottom-up rules that people generate through voluntary associations. Those are fine. I mean imposed, top-down rules formed in the brains of meddling bureaucrats who think they know better than we how to manage our lives.

Yet the US Congress and the Obama administration have faith that all those bureaucrats are going to look up from their rule-makings and come together to stop the financial king pins from folly when the next big boom comes.

The great illusion of our age is the faith in rules. It's natural, of course, because we have demolished the old system, the penumbra of culture that stopped people from violating the rules. In the old days of face-to-face community people had a sense of shame and obligation. They had an invisible dog fence. They didn't need a real fence to control themselves.

The less admirable side of our culture of rules is that is pure politics. Our modern governments use the financial system to give government a cheap source of credit, and to hand out subsidies to favored supporters. Inevitably, this process gets out of control. Fannie-Freddie started out as a way of spreading mortgage risk in the depths of the Great Depression. It ended up as an out-of-control program, cheered on by politicians like Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), that sprayed trillions of dollars of mortgages at people who couldn't even afford a down payment.

The great task of conservatives, after the current regime has sunk into failure, will be to revive a workable capitalism. It must be built on trust and character, not bureaucratic rules.

The new economy must have less debt. It must be fail-safe enough not to need elaborate regulatory groins and breakwaters. And it must keep the politicians and the activists at arms length.

That's a tall order. But it is essential. Capitalism is too important to be left to the bureaucrats and the politicians.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Palin Trumps Race Card

Ever since the dawn of time--well the 1960s, anyway--Democrats have been playing race cards from the bottom of the deck in the national game of bridge. And they have won rubber after rubber with their cheating.

Yesterday, July 13, for instance, the NAACP played the race card on the Tea Party, passing a resolution accusing it of tolerating bigotry. No doubt they expected Tea Parties to scurry and hide under rocks, as people usually do when accused of racism.

But today, July 14, 2010, is a day that will live... Well, it will mark the turning point on race.

Today Sarah Palin used her Facebook page to blast the NAACP and its resolution.

I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.”

Then off she goes, talking about a nuisance suit she just won over a "spurious charge of racism," Tim Scott, "poised to become the first African-American Republican Congressman from the former Confederacy since Reconstruction", and Todd's Yupak Eskimo family. Wow. Seems to me that Palin had a few shells in the ready-use locker and was just waiting for this opportunity.

Now, I'd say, the boot is on the other foot and a shocked NAACP is finding itself on the defensive.

It has taken a while, but liberal commentators like Michelle Cottle of The New Republic are beginning to acknowledge that Sarah Palin is an extraordinary political talent. There's a reason for this, of course. Palin has come up the hard way in politics, starting out as a city councilwoman in 1992. If she weren't good we wouldn't know about her.

Who could blame the white Tea Partiers if the race-card argument were true? Ordinary middle-class whites, as I blogged yesterday, are the chaps that the political elite has forced to pay for its race-based affirmative action programs. If lower-income whites (who have nine-to-one odds against admission to selective colleges compared to lower-income blacks) were the darlings of the liberals, as they were in the 1930s, they would be in the streets, led by the liberals, demanding justice.

Instead lower-income whites have borne the insults of an overweening elite for nearly two generations. Finally they have taken to the streets. It is not over race, but over the simple idea of freedom and out-of-control government debt. As Sarah Palin writes, Tea Partiers are people

who simply want government to abide by our Constitution, live within its means, and not borrow and spend away our children’s futures.

Yeah. That just proves they are racists.

Meanwhile Sarah Palin has scored a hit, a palpable hit.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Screwing Lower-class Whites with Diversity

We've known for decades that the folks really getting screwed by affirmative action are "poor whites." Not professional-class whites. Not liberal whites. Just the God-and-guns whites.

But nobody does anything about it.

There's a recent update on "diversity," the name given to affirmative action after the Supreme Court decided the Bakke case. It's a study on admissions at eight selective colleges by Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford of Princeton, reported by Russell K. Nieli. Yep, poor whites get royally screwed as we knew. But here's another category that get pushed to the back of the line: students with extracurriculars in JROTC, 4-H, and Future Farmers of America.

Here's what liberal admissions officers do to get their numbers right, with 5-7 percent black and appropriate Hispanic admissions (By the way, you can count Afro-Caribbean and African immigrants as "black").

Black: "Enormous advantage over whites given to blacks": +310 SAT pts advantage over whites.

Hispanic: "substantial admissions boost... which Hispanic students get over whites": +140 SAT pts advantage over whites.

Asians: "must do substantially better than whites": -140 SAT pts disadvantage vs. whites

If you start counting by class, then poor whites get clobbered in their chances for admission:

Lower-class blacks: "ten times as likely" to get admission as lower-class whites.

Lower-class Hispanics: "eight times as likely" to get admission as lower-class whites.

Lower-class Asians: "seven times as likely" to get admission as lower-class whites.

Then there's the penalty for conservative extracurriculars:

"Being an officer or winning awards" for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, "has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions." Excelling in these activities "is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission.

Maybe these liberal college admissions administrators need to study up the law of the land, as promulgated recently by the US Supreme Court.

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

Justice is justice, but injustice cries up to the heavens for redress. One day, the heavens will call down the most frightful retribution on the monstrous injustice of liberal "diversity," the injustice that poor whites have borne for so long with such patience.

Monday, July 12, 2010

When They Start to Laugh At You

When they took Robespierre, the Terror of France, to the guillotine, the crowd is said to have mocked: "La bas à le Maximum!"

That was a taunt at the Law of the General Maximum, a program of wage and price controls passed by Robespierre and the Jacobins.

Robespierre had implemented the General Maximum because inflation from fiat paper money had increased prices and people wanted the government to "do something." You can imagine that the General Maximum had exactly the effect that all wage and price controls have had throughout history. It led to more inflation and general hoarding as people refused to bring price-controlled goods to market.

In the end, the Stalinist Robespierre was sent to his death with the name of his failed economic policy ringing in his ears.

President Obama, though a constitutional president, will also learn to fear the taunts of the people as his economic policy fails to produce a vigorous recovery.

The worst thing is that people are laughing at him. They are laughing at the stumbling mistakes of his administration. They are laughing at the over-the-top black racists calling for a race war on the "crackers." They are laughing at his hesitant response to the Gulf oil crisis. They are laughing at the transparent folly of his administration's suit against Arizona.

Of course, things are going to get much worse for the president. His ill-starred health reform will create conflict and rage when peoples' health insurance starts getting wigged around by incompetent regulators.

Think what else the president has to look forward to.

A new Republican House of Representatives will renew the budget battles of the 1990s. Only this time the American people will probably side with the House against the president. That's because Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton when it comes to political agility and talent.

In 2011 Sarah Palin will start dancing around the President like Squirrel Nutkin. Liberals will keep expecting her to self destruct, but she won't because Sarah Palin is a seasoned politician who knows how to play the game of politics. She worked her way up the hard way.

Will we have a double-dip recession, as everyone is predicting? Probably not, but the economy ain't gonna be pretty.

The tragedy is, of course, that the people who will suffer most are the young and the minority and the ill-educated. Exactly the people that Democrats profess to care about.

Why won't Democrats learn that the only way to help the helpless is to provide a solid productive economy without gimmicks? Ever since the 1930s Democrats have believed in economic gimmicks and subsidies as the way to help the helpless. The flaw in their program is that smart operators and crony capitalists always manage to crowd in before the helpless. It is the "little people" that get stuck with the underwater mortgages and the bankers that trouser the bonuses. That's how government always works. Goodies from the government spread outward from the connected to the less-connected and end up screwing the common people.

The end of a political dynasty is always an ugly thing. When people cease to fear the power of the elite they start to get rambunctious. But to the Old Regime the unkindest cut of all is the ungratefulness and the scorn.

Now liberals are going to get a taste of what it's like to be on the wrong side of history. You have to feel sorry for them.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Political Center: Open for Lease or Buy

This week marks the point at which everyone woke up in their canoes and heard the sound of the waterfall up ahead waiting for President Obama and the Democrats this Fall.

Where did it all go wrong? After all he was supposed to inaugurate The Emerging Democratic Majority, as John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira prophesied back in 2002.

Democrats were "progressive centrists," wrote Judis and Teixeira. Democrats wanted to "supplement the market's invisible hand... to ensure that the public interest is served... government regulation of business... strengthen social insurance programs... shield workers from... insecurities... stronger social safety net." But they were centrists that wanted government "to steer, not to row" with "incremental, careful reforms" that would improve health coverage without a takeover of the private health-care market.

Democrats were the party of the transition "from urban industrialism to a new post-industrial metropolitan order" in three main areas. In work, Democrats represented the new professionals, "crafts workers... frustrated by the imposition of market imperatives". In values Democrats represented "a libertarian ethic of personal life." In geography Democrats represent the new "postindustrial metropolises... peopled by the new professionals who live according to the ethics of postindustrial society."

The happy prophesy of Judis and Teixeira shows how easy it is to write an optimistic scenario and how hard it is to put it into practice.

Obama & Co talked a good line about a centrist America, but when it came to governing, they said "we won" and rammed old style patronage "stimulus" and radical health care takeover through Congress. They talked about the postindustrial future but in practice have demonstrated just how important the industrial-era labor unions are to their political makeup with huge payoffs to government employee unions, auto unions, and now maritime unions. They have written a financial reform bill that puts the government's visible hand in complete control of the financial system.

And at the back of it all is the delusion that government is a beneficial force, a "visible hand" that can serve the public interest. No it can't, at least not most of the time. Government is force. Politics is power. That is why the founders created a limited government.

Democrats in January 2009 were like Hitler's army in June 1941 with nothing but the open country of suffering Russia before them. They could have nailed down a huge new majority coalition if they had pursued consensus politics and befriended the moderates.

They could have had a bipartisan stimulus, but scorned to throw a few crumbs to the Republicans to get a bipartisan majority. They could have crafted "incremental, careful reforms" to health care and got big bipartisan majorities for their pains. But they didn't, and now, out of the long grass has suddenly emerged a vast counterattacking army that nobody even knew existed in November 2008. Just as Stalin got the Russian people in their tens of millions to fight against the Nazis.

Now the Democrats are staring into the face of the biggest political disaster of our times.

The consequences of the great Democratic Failure of 2009-2010 are incalculable. But one thing is certain. The center ground of US politics is vacant. For Lease or Buy. Any offers?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Heir to Hayek?

What with Glenn Beck popularizing F.A. Hayek and The Road to Serfdom, not to mention Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, any sensible conservative would be looking around for more red meat to throw on the barbie.

Look no further. I think I just found the heir to Hayek. His name is Alasdair MacIntyre.

The common theme with Beck and with Goldberg is that the root of all evil is the Progressive movement that flourished at the turn of the 20th Century, especially in the decade just before World War I. And as many writers remind us, for instance Tiffany Jones Miller today on NRO, the Progressives all went to school in Germany in the half century before 1900. They came back with a Prussian faith in bureaucracy, in Hegelian progressive evolution, and government social insurance programs just like Bismarck's.

The trouble with Hayek is that he is not so good with the sound bites, meaty phrases that encapsulate his ideas for a popular audience.

But now I am reading Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue and many parts of it read like Hayek, only better. Chapter 8 is entitled "The Character of Generalizations in Social Science and their Lack of Predictive Power."

OK, the title is not too pungent. But MacIntyre tackles the Hayekian theme that social scientists do not possess the predictive knowledge of natural science.

The fact is that social scientists long for the predictive power of natural science and they often act as if they have, or are about to, realize that goal. In fact they cannot, because of the peculiar relationship between the individual and society. We individuals want to to be "in some degree opaque and unpredictable." This is necessary, for

each of us... aspires to preserve his independence, his freedom, his creativity, and that inner reflection which plays so great a part in freedom and creativity, from invasion by others.

But if we are to execute long-term projects of creativity we need to operate in a social environment that provides predictability.

We are thus involved in a world in which we are simultaneously trying to render the rest of society predictable and ourselves unpredictable.

In this environment it is likely that knowledge about the social realm will be "characteristically, and for the most part" rather than universal law-like predictions. This means that organizational success and predictability are mutually exclusive. If I want to execute on a creative project I would have to create a predictable organization. But a predictable organization is not good at executing on a constantly changing creative goal.

Since organizational success and organizational predictability exclude one another, the project of creating a wholly or largely predictable organization committed to creating a wholly or largely predictable society is doomed and doomed by the facts about social life.

Now comes the clincher.

The effects of eighteenth-century prophecy have been to product not scientifically managed social control, but a skillful dramatic imitation of such control. It is histrionic success which gives power and authority in our culture. The most effective bureaucrat is the best actor.

Now, is not MacIntyre making exactly the conservative case against Obamism? Do not liberals always and everywhere create a skillful dramatic imitation of social control. Except when something real happens, like an oil spill, and it turns out that dramatic imitation is not quite the same thing as effective action?

We know already that the welfare state is bound to fail in a vast burial mound of unfunded liabilities, about $100 trillion at the last count. It is based on confident predictions that you can predict the shape of rational bureaucratic programs decades of into the future, completely disregarding the fact that people will start to use their unpredictable cunning to game the system, to use its predictability and its bureaucratic rules against it.

But you knew that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Double Dip and Hayek vs. Keynes

It all comes down to "swimming baths" versus productive investment. That's my take from the latest round in the Hayek vs. Keynes wars. In dueling letters to The Times of London in 1932, teams of battling economists proposed solutions to the Great Depression. Wrote Keynes and his pals:

If the citizens of a town wish to build a swimming-bath, or a library, or a museum, they will not, by refraining from doing this, promote a wider national interest.

Hayek & Co. countered with this:

We are of the opinion that many of the troubles of the world at the present time are due to imprudent borrowing and spending on the part of the public authorities.

But the key to ending depressions, it seems to me, is to fix the balance sheets of underwater market participants. The reason you get panics is that, when asset prices decline, parties with highly leveraged balance sheets find themselves underwater. Counterparties sensibly lack confidence in these compromised actors and avoid transactions with them. That's why the infamous TARP was implemented: to fix the balance sheets of the banks so that they would have positive equity and other people would trust them. Once it was clear that TARP had succeeded the markets turned and confidence was restored.

Now, of course, we have a different problem. The huge fortune thrown at "stimulus" by the Obamis has brought into question the balance sheet of the United States itself. Has the enormous increase in the National Debt put the governments of the United States underwater?

And that returns us to the Hayek vs. Keynes argument. Does spending on municipal luxuries and "shovel-ready" projects really help? Capitalism teaches us that prosperity issues out of profitable enterprise, work that produces more value than it consumes. The record of municipal enterprise is that local politicians spend money on things the voters and the special interests want, not on things that makes the city more prosperous. Most government projects are money-losing white elephants.

The Hayek method, practiced by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, is that sound money and a good investment climate with low tax rates sets the stage for rapid recovery. But our liberal friends just don't want to believe that.

They may have to learn the hard way. As Poor Richard put it in 1743:

Experience keeps a dear school, yet Fools will learn in no other.

That's Benjamin Franklin for you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Liberal End Game

Ever get that fin de siècle feeling? I do. I feel that the liberal era is thundering to a close. In all kinds of ways. Like the following:

  • Elect a president on the basis of symbolism not on proven leadership ability.
  • Pass Doofus health-care reform that destroys the medical industry.
  • The over-the-top advocacy for Keynesian "stimulus" by tame economist Paul Krugman. When you have a really good idea, it doesn't need that Big Push to keep it going.
  • Liberals wondering about free will. Dr. Helen wryly observes that the liberal elite suddenly have their doubts about the existence of free will. My my, how convenient when a Democratic administration wants to make all our decisions for us.
  • Liberals clueless about conservatives. In liberal media these days they seem to need a reporter to cover the "conservative beat." Jonah Goldberg passes on a suggestion from Byron York. "Have the conservatives cover the liberal beat and the liberals cover the conservatives." My! What a concept.
  • Financial reform authored by the political firm, Dodd & Frank, that helped create the problem.

This end-of-an-era stuff gets me all tingly. It's the same excitement I get watching the YouTube video of the SS Liberal riding up the beach at Alang, India, headquarters of the global ship-breaking industry.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Faith in America

Enough with the pessimism already, writes Ross Douthat in The New York Times, and I agree.

Yes, the Obama administration is bungling everything, and the recovery will be tepid at best. But it's unlikely that the economy will swoon into a double-dip recession. And yes, the decline in M3 is troubling. For sure the mega-tax increase that is scheduled for January 1 is an act of economic folly. As is the proposal being floated around to implement a VAT tax.

Actually, the experts are always worrying about a double-dip recession at this stage of the business cycle. So there!

They are right to worry, of course. The stupidity of the political class knows no bounds. And almost everything the political class does is harmful to the economy. Why? Because pretty well everything the political class does takes money out of the hands of people who are doing something constructive and productive and hands it over to people who are not.

But this is America and America is different. Here the people rule--or at least they manage to throw the bums out from time to time--and this nation of immigrants is born of people who had the courage to up sticks and try life on another continent.

Think on the bright side:

  • President Obama is not the political genius we were sold in 2008. He seems to be a rather pedestrian, rather inarticulate leader who seems to be good at dividing the nation rather than assembling a consensus for his program.
  • Democratic Underground, the liberal blog site, is banning criticism of Obama. Wow! That it should come to that!
  • The election of a Republican Congress in 2010, or something close to it, will make it very difficult for President Obama to gun the economy for reelection in 2012. It was FDR's shameless policies in 1935-36 that set up the horror of the 1937 recession.
  • The American people are in full revolt. And here's hoping that young people, who voted 67 percent or so for Obama, will soon start to appreciate they were sold a bill of goods.

This is not going to be a revolution. The walk back from Obamism will be slow and painful. Because we are Americans and we are conservatives. And we don't believe in reckless, divisive change.

We just believe that America is the last best hope of mankind on Earth. Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural that America was the "last best hope of earth." Ronald Reagan amplified his words to "last best hope of man on Earth."

America is the Great Exception. And long may it continue.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A SCOTUS That Thinks Like America

Our liberal friends make a big deal about diversity. But true to their values, they are not interested in a real diversity of thought and spirit, but only a diversity of the members of their political coalition, organized around race, class, and gender identity.

Still, with the anticipated elevation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the bench, the US Supreme Court is going to be singularly unbalanced, even by liberal standards. There will be three liberal women on the court. What about liberal men? OK, I suppose they are represented by Stephen Breyer, a former aide to Edward Kennedy. They should be so lucky.

You have to admit that the women span the gamut of liberal womanhood. There is the liberal ACLU activist, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There is the liberal quota minority hack, Sonia Sotomayor. And now there will be the liberal university and executive branch administrator, Elena Kagan. That must be very satisfying to liberals. Three feminist role models. All on the Supreme Court. You go girls.

Only thing is, liberals are way overrepresented on the Court. According to Gallup, self-identified liberals represent 20 percent of the population. So that would make a maximum of two liberals on the bench. At 44.44 percent, liberals are more than double their share of the population. Instead we have three liberal women alone. What about a conservative woman, girls?

There are, of course, four conservatives on the Court, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. But that's OK, because conservatives represent about 40 percent of America. We sure could use a conservative woman in that bunch, if you ask me.

The real gap on the Court is moderates, people who switch from one view to another, as the mood takes them. Anthony Kennedy is the only moderate on the court, and all I can say is that moderates are sadly underrepresented. For one thing, the lack of moderates reduces the potential for suspense and excitement. You never know where a moderate is going to come down on any particular issue.

It's time that moderates get all riled up about this. After all, do they really want liberals making all the decisions for them, including three movement-liberal women?

I'll tell you what I think, as we head into the Independence Day weekend. I think the present makeup of the Supreme Court it's cruel, corrupt, unjust, wasteful, and deluded.

It is wrong to have so many liberals on the Court.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Testing Regulation to Destruction

My weekly oped discusses the endgame of Keynesianism, a bad idea when it was introduced with Wordworthian bliss 75 years ago, and a bad idea as it gets tossed onto the ash heap of history along with the Obama administration.

As I wrote, there was never going to be an easy exit from Keynesian economics:

We won’t bury Keynesian economics until after Keynesian economics buries the liberals.

The way things are going, Keynesian economics is going to bury liberals something frightful.

But then there's another bad idea that liberals cherish, and that's in trouble too. The regulatory state.

For liberals, the free market is inherently flawed. It doesn't meet basic human needs in health care, education, care for the poor, and care of the environment. Government must do this. It must create programs to correct the mistakes of the market, and it must minutely supervise the operations of corporations and businesses to correct corporate greed. The result is a vast regulatory and administrative structure directing resources and behavior by political means rather than market means.

After a dispiriting 30 years of Reagan-Bush when regulation was stalled and even rolled back, liberals have enacted a veritable spring flood of regulatory legislation. ObamaCare places the whole of health care under minute administrative regulation. The proposed cap-and-trade places the whole energy sector under minute regulation. The Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill proposes an intensified administrative regulation of the financial industry. And then there's all the stuff under the radar.

Meanwhile we are seeing the administrative state in action in the Gulf oil spill. We can see that in the past the regulators for the offshore oil business has been too lax. It was clearly a case of regulatory capture. But now that we have a disaster on our hands, the regulators are tightening up. No barges can go out until they have fire extinguishers. Giant Dutch oil skimmers can't operate because they don't quite meet the standard for oily water discharge.

Notice the difference between the regulatory approach and Wal-Mart at Hurricane Katrina. CEO Lee Scott told his workers that in the emergency they would be making decisions way above their pay grade. Just do the right thing, he said.

Conservatives have a faith system when it comes to the regulatory state. Our faith comes from the scholarship of Friedrich Hayek the Nobel economist. Beginning with The Road to Serfdom and continuing through The Constitution of Liberty and The Fatal Conceit he argued that the bureaucratic, administrative state was bound to fail because it did not, could not, know enough to direct the economy.

Our free economy, he argued, was the result of human action but not of human design. A complex system like the global economy evolves out of the millions of actions and decisions of market participants.

What was needed, he argued, was general rules and responsibilities, expressed in the legal code. What the regulatory state always ended up producing was detailed procedures and administrative discretion.

We have seen, in the Gulf oil crisis, how the regulatory state fails. The regulatory process results in the regulated industry conforming to the regulation rather than conforming to prudent business or technical practices. It is the same as the complaint we hear about education under national standards and testing. Teachers teach to the test, not to the needs of the children.

The whole point of law is to deal with things when they go wrong. When you damage someone or something then you must pay to make them whole. Of course, that is impossible, so the law attempts to provide compensation in lieu of making the damaged party whole.

But government regulation assumes that if you can create bureaucratic procedures and permits then you can make everything right before the fact. Of course, there is a place for standards and permits. But ultimately, you have to rely on the judgement of the parties involved.

Our liberal friends are making a huge bet on their regulatory state as they capitalize on their liberal hour. According to conservative political and economic ideas, it will fail, and it will fail big. Only then can we start to repair the damage with a common-sense conservatism that trusts but verifies.

If only we didn't have to have a meltdown first. But then we were never going to get out of the liberal regulatory state on the cheap.

We won’t bury the regulatory state until after the regulatory state buries the liberals.

And that's no error.