Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Two Americas

Disraeli said it 150 years ago. So there's no need for a do-over. Here's what he said, in Sybil or the Two Nations.

Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by different breeding, are fed by different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws ... THE RICH AND THE POOR.

In America there are Two Nations, between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy. Nor are they governed by the same laws. I mean the conservatives and the liberals. But there is one difference between Disraeli's England and our America. Liberals may be ignorant of conservative habits, but conservatives know a lot about liberals.

We know that liberals are more optimistic right now. Michael Barone writes that government workers are much more optimistic right now. Maybe that's because the stimulus bill has saved lots of government jobs, but not created many private sector jobs.

We know that liberals are less happy than conservatives. That's what Peter Schweizer tells us in Makers and Takers.

We know that government workers earn more than private-sector workers. Estimates range from 38 percent more to 45 percent more.

And then a chap like Thomas Frank can wonder in What's the Matter With Kansas? why ordinary working Americans are deserting the Democratic Party.

Barone again:

Democrats have been surprised that so many downscale voters oppose their big spending programs. Maybe many of those voters have noticed how much of that spending has gone to public-sector union members, leaving the rest of America with a less than happy new year.

It was always going to end like this. The heart and soul of the Democratic Party since at least the days of the first big city machines has been privilege. That was supposed to be a good thing when government was carving out privilege for the little guy.

For years the little guy believed the stories that Democrats told him. He turned his eyes away from the obvious truth that government is force and that the government that forced others to give to him would one day turn to force him to give to others.

Unsurprisingly, the Democratic privilege game has developed mission creep over the years. Now the notion of privilege extends to all those helping the little guy.

So we have a monster government health program that's supposed to help the little guy but instead creates lots of jobs for credentialed Democrats and makes health care to expensive for the little guy.

We have government education that makes education that is supposed to help the poor get a hand up but instead creates lots of jobs for credentialed Democrats and makes education too expensive for the little guy on his own.

We have welfare that creates lots of jobs for social-worker Democrats but destroys the working class culture of the little guy.

The heavens cry out for justice, and maybe in 2010 the American people will hear the cry, and learn the most important lesson. That people insisting that they want to help you just want to help themselves. Maybe they just want to help themselves to your money or your vote.

There are Two Americas. They are the Makers and the Takers, and, in 2010, most Americans know who they are.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Year Resolution

Here's my New Year Resolution. I'm not going to pile on to my liberal friends in 2010 about the evils of the Obama administration.

It will be a big effort. But I figure why not? Democrats are going to have an annus horribilis in 2010 with or without snarky commentary from their conservative friends.

Yes, you say. That's all very well. But liberals didn't miss a beat in the eight years of the Bush administration. They started complaining about the stupidity of President Bush even before the election. And Vice President Cheney became the evil Svengali from a very early day. Don't liberals deserve a does of their own medicine?

They do. But we are conservatives. We don't descend to liberal behavior. And anyway, I am not saying that I won't write about liberal follies. I am just saying I am not going to ram it home personally to liberal friends and acquaintances.

There's an affirmative action thing here, because liberals are not yet ready to take their place in society without assistance from a caring culture. Liberals are just not used to taking abuse. So a robust exchange of views would be too much of a blow to their positive self-esteem.

Here's what I won't be saying to my liberal friends.

  • The year 2009 was the year the locusts ate. Everything that President Obama and Congress did was stupid or worse,
  • The $787 billion stimulus was stupid. If you want to stimulate the economy, do it with tax cuts.
  • The Obama approach to terrorism was stupid. That's why we got the hot-pants Christmas bomber. Because Democrats don't think we are in a war.
  • The Obama approach to health care was stupid. What we need is not more freebies and subsidies and rationing leading inevitably to "death panels" but more people paying full freight for routine health care rather than through third-parties.
  • The Obama approach to energy was stupid. Even if we are facing a huge global warming crisis, we should respond by adaptation, not by carbon capture and a vast web of taxation and regulation.
  • The Obama approach to finance was stupid. We need to get as quickly as possible to a system that has a lot less politics in it. Instead, the Obama administration wants to inject more politics into the system with a consumer finance regulatory agency.

I could go on, but I won't because that would be piling on.

We conservatives have more important things to do than get snarky with our liberal friends. We need to be working on an electoral tsunami next November. In my view, 50 seats in the House would be an embarrassment. I reckon we need to aim for a 100 seat Democratic loss in the House in order to keep our self respect.

That would really be sending a message, and a much better message than any personal message to a liberal friend.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Conservative Women Pols: For Real?

Even lefties like A.C. Kleinheider in Nashville are noticing. Conservative women politicians are front and center.

Beyond a steady rightward shift and an increasingly reactionary rhetoric, conservative leadership is taking on another characteristic — it’s becoming more female.

See what I mean? We'll discuss "reactionary rhetoric" another time. But the interesting thing is that Kleinheider cant' help wondering if it is all for real.

But just because there are no strings doesn’t mean they aren’t being used...

[as in] Rep. Marsha Blackburn taking on Al Gore in congressional hearings, the more confrontational political work is increasingly being left to women.

Obviously, Kleinheider suspects that the conservative back-room boys may be shoving the girls out front to do the dirty work.

Well, maybe. But I suspect that the simple assumption is the correct one. Conservative women, i.e., the kind of women that build their lives around love--of God, of family, of children--are waking up to an America that isn't good for them and for the ones they love. So they are becoming active and they are doing something about it. He quotes Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R-TN):

"The amazing thing to me about the tea parties is, when you look out across the crowd, the crowd is predominantly female. ... It’s amazing, the number of women attending these events, and women are speaking out as never before. ... They are looking at what’s happening with the cost of health care, they are truly concerned about the strong arm of government reaching into their lives and into their pocketbooks."

That reads to me like a spontaneous political movement that isn't being stage-managed by anyone.

In fact we know this. The august wing of the Republican Party is afraid of and embarrassed by Sarah Palin. And it was completely blindsided by the Tea Party movement.

It all connects with my notion of a woman-centered, woman-led conservatism. The issues of the future are woman issues. Shall society center around the family and free association? Or shall it center around government and the individual? Shall health care be government-centered and controlled? Shall education be government-centered and controlled? Shall welfare continue to be a government provision of charity, or return to its old ways, inspired and run by women?

It's beginning to look as if American conservative women are taking control and deciding that they must lead the resolution of these great questions.

Frankly, I couldn't be happier. Nearly a century after they got the vote, women--real middle-class women, not rich liberal women--are moving to the center of political power and are eager to work for change, good conservaive change.

Now we'll see something.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Government Doesn't Work

The lesson of the hot-crotch bomber incident is not that, as Secretary Napolitano said, "one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked."

No Madam Secretary. Do not insult us with that kind of talk.

The lesson is that once more, the cumbersome, complicated, bureaucratic security system failed to prevent a terrorist from carrying out a terrorist act. As The Wall Street Journal says:

The lesson here is the same as Flight 93 on 9/11 and shoe-bomber Richard Reid, which is that civilians willing to act in their own self-defense are a crucial part of "homeland security." The willingness of passengers and crew to identify potential threats seems more useful than more onerous airport screening, which only gives terrorists the satisfaction of knowing they have made air travel even more unbearable. The new rule to keep passengers in their seats in the final hour of some flights seems all too typical of arbitrary rules that inconvenience innocents but not terrorists.

And guess what. If you get up in the last hour of flight no doubt they'll want to arrest you. Although maybe if you are a Black Panther, you won't. That's the record of the Obama Justice Department thus far. Rules apply to ordinary Americans but not to favored clients of the Obama client state.

This all reminds me of the whole point of the Second Amendment: "A well-regulated militia..." You can have all the armed forces and police and security services in the world, but it still comes down to the individual citizen stepping up and protecting himself and all of us. Government doesn't work.

There's a good side to all this. After the last decade of cynical political game-playing by the Democrats on terror and on economic policy and a host of other things, they are now in charge and they are responsible. Didn't connect the dots? Democratic problem. Fannie and Freddie still belly up? Democratic problem. Unemployment in the stratosphere? Ask your Democratic friend about that.

The coming year, 2010, is going to be an annus horribilis for the Democrats and it couldn't happen to more deserving people. We are in this mess because of their failed model of top-down expert administrative statism lubricated by shameless Chicago-style machine politics. If they get away losing less than 50 seats in the House I'd say they can call it a miracle. Democrats deserve to lose 100 seats in the House and a switch in the Senate too.

It probably won't happen for one simple reason. The American people are too nice to give them the boot they deserve.

Anyone still not sure about a New Years resolution has got it now. Vote them out. All of them. Vote them out early and often.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Two Obamas

Just when we thought that we had President Obama pegged as a egoistical ditherer with a tin ear and a Chicago-machine appetite for thug politics, along comes Peggy Noonan on Christmas Day.

Apparently we have got it all wrong. Obama is nice to his staff, carefully preps himself before meetings, and genuinely cares about doing the right thing. Here's an Obama aide:

The president, he suggested, tends toward the long view and the broad view. "Here's what I know about him. He still has this amazing ability to tune out the noise from Washington, read the letters from the people, listen to their concerns, listen to his advisors, hear both sides, absorb all the information, and make the decision that he honestly feels is right for the country."

His base, his silent majority, still loves him, although quietly. Yes, the aide knows that everybody else is giving up on the president.

He is aware that Obama is "perceived as alternately too weak and too Chicago, too left and too right, too willing to compromise and too beholden to his majority, too detached and too much meddling in too many things." The administration needs "to do better in resetting the story and telling it the way we want it told."

Let's leave out the cheap shots, above "resetting the story," and dish out some honest advice.

Mr. President, if you honestly just want to do what is best for the nation then you have to stop the cheap rhetorical tropes. You must not just tell the truth but be seen to tell the truth.

  • Stop the cheap stuff about "false choices."
  • Stop the endless blaming of Bush
  • Stop all the "I" stuff
  • Stop insisting on the impossible in your central, landmark initiative. You can't offer more health care for less in a program of subsidies and administrative regulation.
  • Stop the 60-vote-in-the-Senate partisan strategy

All the above stuff is incompatible with the wise-father story that your aide is serving up to Peggy Noonan.

If the president really is the worthy and sensitive leader that his aide represents to us, then he has some serious rethinking to do. And the rethinking should not be about the message. It should be about the stuff that Obama knows that isn't so.

This is a great mysterious world and there are many things we don't know. But there are a lot of things we do know about government. Mainly we know about what doesn't work. You could say that there is a "settled science" on a lot of this. But liberals are reluctant to admit it, because liberal politics is based upon a lot of knowledge that isn't so.

Mainly, what we've learned about government in the modern, democratic era, is that it is wasteful, inefficient, and it divides people. Or as we say here at roadtothemiddleclass,com: cruel, corrupt, unjust, wasteful, deluded.

So the government that governs best governs least. The best government is a limited government that requires its people to cooperate among themselves to produce and acquire the needful things of life. The worst government is a government that meddles and interferes in everything and plays favorites.

Mr President, your aide says that you are a worthy man that is appreciative and listens well, thinks through things and then makes decisions. If this is so, then the reason for the Other Obama, the one that has made such a mess of his first year as president, is that he's got a fundamentally wrong view of the world. Much as you are earnest and determined to do the right thing, it must be that you don't understand how the world works and how it could be made to work better.

The first thing you could do is call in a bunch of Republican moderates and ask them what you are doing wrong. After all, they are the kind of people who might actually break ranks and support you if you made an honest effort to propose policies that they could support.

Otherwise we conservatives are going to persuade the American people that we understand their needs and their dreams better than you do. And if that happens, you are toast.

Merry Christmas, Mr. President.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monopoly Monay, Bush, and Obama

Just imagine what would have happened if President Bush had said, just after sending the troops into Iraq and passing the Bush tax cuts:

"We can't continue to spend . . . as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money."

Well, the scorn of the comics on Saturday Night Live would have been the least of his problems.

But now comes President Obama, the bright political star of 2008 worrying about wasting the taxpayers' money. He's got to be kidding. Writes Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal:

Whatever one's view, [the health bill's] trillion-dollar-plus cost is an agreed given. Days earlier the public saw Congress vote to raise the debt ceiling by almost $290 billion to make room for the needs of the $800 billion stimulus bill, the unprecedented $3.5 trillion budget, and the House's approval Dec. 16 of a new $154 billion jobs bill. Amid this President Obama said Monday: "We can't continue to spend . . . as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money."

As a convinced conservative and partisan, I almost want President Obama to give us more of this. Because it is clear that, however the mainstream media may shield him, people just hate his agenda--which is to spend the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people like Monopoly money.

President Obama wants to spend more money on government health care. He has already spent a lot more money on government education. He wants to spend more money on government energy projects. He is spending more money on welfare, partially rolling back the Clinton-era welfare reform. He is planning a big jobs bill to spend more money.

The problem is that we know that all these things just treat taxpayers' money as Monopoly money. People waste government health-care dollars because it's not their money. People waste education dollars, K-12 to college, because it's not their money. Corporations waste money on hare-brained green energy projects because the government subsidies give them free money. Jobs bills are known to be less effective in creating jobs than tax-rate cuts for businesses and business owners.

And President Obama talks about Monopoly money? President Bush would never have got away will nonsense like that.

Nor, I suspect, in the end, will President Obama.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bleeding Health Care?

Darn it! I was thinking about comparing the ObamaCare health care bill to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, but Michael Barone has beat me to it!

Of course, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was the effort of the Democrats in 1854 to extend slavery northwards to Kansas and Nebraska, if the settlers wanted it.

Sen. Stephen Douglas (D-IL) thought that he was cooling the heat of the slavery question with this act, but instead he fanned the flames of the slavery issue into Bleeding Kansas and a civil war.

The Republican Party was created in angry response to run-up to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It won 46 seats (from zero) in the House of Representatives in the elections of 1854.

The election of 1854 was a maelstrom. The American Party (the anti-immigrant "Know Nothings") won 62 seats (from zero) and the Democratic Party lost 73 seats, going from 157 seats to 84 seats. The Whigs lost 11 seats. The Dems and the American Party formed a coalition. At that time there were only 252 seats in the House.

(The problem for the new Republicans--against slavery and for truth, justice, and the American Way--was that the Democrats picked up 48 seats in 1856 while they picked up 44, so the Democrats still ran the House. It wasn't until 1858 that the Republicans became the largest party in the House, and 1860 that the Republicans became the majority party. They actually lost seats in 1860 and became the majority party because the southern states seceded.)

Michael Barone thinks that ObamaCare might be a rerun. We don't know how unpopular the Kansas Nebraska Act was. No polling in those days. But we know how unpopular ObamaCare is.

On the health care bill, there can be little doubt about public opinion. Quinnipiac, polling just after the Senate voted cloture, found Americans opposed by a 53 percent to 36 percent margin. Polls suggest that Democrats may suffer as much carnage in the 2010 elections as they did in 1854.

So let's make the comparisons. Barely a month after President Obama was inaugurated a new popular political movement, the Tea Party began to erupt, in direct opposition to his agenda. There happens to be a popular political figure rather similar to Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was a rough-hewn, ill-educated politician, with little experience, from the frontier state of Illinois. Sarah Palin is a rough-hewn politician from the frontier state of Alaska. And so on.

Of course, nobody can know what will transpire next year--or beyond. The Democrats seem to think that President Obama's popularity will go to 60 percent when the American people find out what is in the bill.

But I do like the idea of Democrats losing 73 seats in the House. Wow. That would teach someone a lesson.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tsunami or Happy Ending?

Democrats are touting the notion that their health bill will become popular once people start to experience the goodies. The Politico's Manu Raju writes:

[B]ecause some of the most popular insurance reforms in it will take effect sooner than other parts of the bill, [Democrats] think Republicans will have a hard time getting voters to line up against it...

[Tom Harkin (D-IA) listed a handful of measures that would take effect soon, including a prohibition against denying coverage for children with pre-existing conditions and a provision allowing children to stay on their families’ policies until age 26 — even though most of the benefits don’t take effect until 2014.

He could be right, of course. But at Contentions, Peter Wehner sees a tsunami of voter rejection.

Few Democrats understand the depth and intensity of opposition that exists toward them and their agenda, especially regarding health care. Passage of this bill will only heighten the depth and intensity of the opposition. We’re seeing a political tsunami in the making, and passage of health-care legislation would only add to its size and force.

That's why we have politics and elections. So we can judge who is right on the prognostication front.

It is incontestable that the Democrats are sending us further into the subsidy swamp, and creating huge problems down the road. Says The Wall Street Journal edit page:

WellPoint found that a healthy 25-year-old in Milwaukee buying coverage on the individual market will see his costs rise by 178%. A small business based in Richmond with eight employees in average health will see a 23% increase. Insurance costs for a 40-year-old family with two kids living in Indianapolis will pay 106% more. And on and on.

Apart from political rage, people are going to try to avoid these costs.

Leaving aside the politics, we should understand what is going on here. When politicians start handing out free stuff they raise the costs for everyone else. That means that most people have to take the government program because the alternative is too expensive. So? Let everyone jump into the government program. It may not be great, but it is something, and we all share the cost of public goods.

Well, the problem is that the poor get screwed. Medicaid is already a mess because health providers are so poorly reimbursed that they don't want Medicaid patients. That means lousy care for the poor. We know of course that schools for the poor are lousy. And welfare just destroys the low-income family.

Meanwhile federal government employees get 40 percent more than private sector workers, and state-and-local government employees earn 37 percent more than private sector workers. Every private sector enterprise and its employees have to pay for all this. Since government spends about 40 percent of GDP that means that every business owner and every worker has to pay for that 40 percent every day before they earn a dime for themselves.

That means that it's too expensive to hire the poor and the unskilled, because they are just too expensive when you have to pay for government as well as the worker.

And as the unintended consequences come in, politicians think up a new way to subsidize their supporters.

We know that the liberal welfare state will blow up eventually. If things can't go on forever, they won't.

The only question is whether the American people can defuse the bomb before it goes off. One indication would be if they turn against the Democrats that are pushing "affordable" health care down the nation's throat.

Maybe they will. Maybe they won't. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cash for Cloture and Beyond

You have to give the Democrats credit. They know that ObamaCare is unpopular. They know it is going to cost them seats in Congress. But they are going ahead anyway. And last night, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) got the critical cloture vote he needed to pass ObamaCare through the United States Senate.

It's easy to sneer at "cash for cloture," the deals that Harry Reid has done to secure the last few votes for the watered-down ObamaCare. But the fact is that deals like that are always a last-minute feature of major legislation. This is not new or modern. Judas Iscariot needed thirty pieces of silver (probably a fortune back then) to betray the Son of God. What's a few hundred million to a senator? It's not as if it's Harry Reid's own money.

For conservatives the question is: What next? Is this just another step in the ongoing enlargement of government, the conversion of a free society into an administrative satrapy of the progressive educated elite? Or will this turn out to be a great turning point?

The answer to the question is: White women.

The Democratic coalition is a coalition of minorities, including, improbably, if you like, the biggest minority in the nation: white women. Up to now, white women have supported the Democratic agenda enough to keep the welfare state rolling forward.

It's easy to understand why. The modern welfare state advertises itself as woman's helper. It offers health care, education, and welfare, all of which are dear to every woman's heart, the resources she needs to care for her family.

But what if this wonderful help turns out to be a terrible mistake? Suppose government welfare turns out to destroy marriages and families among the poor? Suppose government education fails to educate and lazily "dumbs down" education to make life easier for teachers? Suppose that government healthcare becomes an indifferent bureaucratic machine, as it has in England and Canada, with Orwellian committees called NICE designed to limit care?

The task for conservatives is to persuade middle-class women to look the gift horse in the mouth, to realize, on closer inspection, that the winning proposition made by persuasive politicians is not good for women. It is not good for their young children. It is not good for their husbands. It is not good for their aging mothers.

Because, quite simply, a bureaucratic administrative state is necessarily a one-size-fits-all state. It is rigid and rational. It has nothing to do with love. It have nothing to do with compassion. It has nothing to do with caring. It is a creation of politics and power. And that has nothing to do with women and the way they experience their lives. Woman stands at the opposite pole from rigidity and rationalization. To a woman everything is unique, personal, and special: her life, her family, her children.

Perhaps the only person who can persuade women away from the welfare state will be a woman. Perhaps it must be a woman. Perhaps that woman is Governor Sarah Palin.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blindsided by the Left

No. I'm not talking about the White House. I'm not talking about the way that the managers of ObamaCare didn't see the revolt from their lefty base coming.

Although you would have to say that this White House bunch must be about the worst political operation in living memory.

I'm talking about Me. I feel completely blindsided. And that's not because I still haven't seen The Blind Side. No, what has me flummoxed is this: I never thought that the Angry Left would explode over the Individual Mandate.

Here's what the Kos Kids and the Keith Olbermann and Howard Dean are all in a twist over. They are outraged that the health bill as it stands includes an individual mandate (Americans are forced to buy health insurance) but doesn't include the public option (Americans are forced to buy health insurance, either from an insurance company or, wonder of wonders, from the government.)

So? What's the big deal? Compulsion is compulsion, ain't it?

That's that you think. That's what I thought. We wus wrong.

Didn't you know that it is utterly unacceptable to Force Liberals to Buy Health Insurance from an Insurance Company! Injustice! Not to be endured! Keith Olbermann says he'll rather go to jail.

See, liberals have no problem forcing you and me to go get our health insurance at the DMV. They don't care a whit about subjecting Americans to the indignity of bad service from SEIU members. No problem with that.

But don't you dare force a liberal to buy health insurance from an insurance company! Over that our liberal friends will take to the streets, will go to jail.

I don't think that our liberal friends realize what they are communicating to us with this utterly screwy hissy fit. I don't think they understand the ObamaCare is the biggest political screw-up in modern times. I don't think they realize that they are setting up the perfect storm in 2010. I don't think they realize they have utterly split the Democratic Party and they have utterly unified Republicans. Michelle Malkin:

Social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, the GOP leadership, Sarah Palin's heartland supporters, conservative think-tank intellectuals, D.C. and Manhattan conservatives, Big Business and small-business conservatives, Joe the Plumber conservatives, and every stripe and flavor of conservative in between are all united against the Democrats' proposed government takeover of health care. All.

Now you would have to say that forcing all conservatives into a united front takes a rare talent. After all, conservatives amount to 40 percent of the American people. That's a lot of people.

But it takes even more talent to split the Democratic Party. Between the Angry Left and the liberal think-tankers, between unions and trial lawyers. And so on.

And over the individual mandate. I just didn't see it coming!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Barack's Tin Ear

How could the man that demolished the Clinton machine make such a mess of his first year as president? That's the question that Michael Goodwin asks today.

Come on now, Mr. Goodwin. It's not that hard. I thought we worked all that out with Robert Redford and The Candidate. Of course, we were supposed to think that the clueless candidate, creature of his handlers, was the stereotype for Republicans. Democrats, we all knew, were principled reformers that hardly needed packaging. Not like the Richard Nixon of Joe McGinnis's The Selling of the President.

Well maybe so. But I have a suspicion that President Obama is the closest we are likely to come to an empty suit of a president. It is pretty obvious that he lacks the experience in the dirty work of day-to-day government administrative leadership.

But let's get back to Goodwin, who writes that Obama doesn't seem to care that the country is giving up on him.

Voters by a large margin have said for months they don't want the health-care overhaul he's pushing, so he pushes harder. They want less spending and debt, so he doubles down on pork, bailouts, handouts and taxes.

Let's go on.

They thought he would deliver bipartisanship, and he gives his hard-left allies the keys to the kingdom.

His vision is little more than a string of gauzy utopian platitudes glued together with fear, as when he told fellow Dems yesterday that the flawed health-bill represented "the last chance" for reform.

The last chance? Forever?

His charge that bankers have an obligation "to help rebuild the economy" by making more and presumably riskier loans boggles the mind. Low standards are the hair of the dog that led to liar loans and other housing disasters. By all means, let's do it again.

When something goes wrong, it's not his fault. "Fat-cat bankers," "greedy" insurance companies, doctors who do amputations just for the money, special interests, the media -- the media! -- have all taken their turns being blamed for what he hasn't fixed.

The buck doesn't stop on his desk!

Well. You can see where this is leading. Some time, maybe half way through next year, the American people will decide that they really don't like Barack Obama.

They will decide that they never did like him. In fact you will find that only about 47 percent of voters remember voting for him.

Added to that you can expect that unemployment will be dragging out for years. Why? Because the Democrats, determined not to learn the lessions of Reaganomics, are pushing the failed policy of government jobs bills instead of tax rate cuts for business and entrepreneurs.

Nancy Pelosi says that Democrats are ready for a tough fight next year. We are preparing for it, she says.

Good. But if the American people really don't like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and if unemployment is up around 10 percent, and if inflation starts up in the fall of 2010. Well. It only takes 41 seats to take back Congress.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Obama Double-Cross

Politicians always betray us. That's because they promise us things that they can't possibly deliver.

It's not really their fault. We insist that they promise us impossible stuff. What's a pol to do?

But it seems to me that President Obama has made the double-cross into a principle of government.

The current health bill is the prime evidence of this. President Obama and the White appear to have made all kinds of insider deals with the major health care special interests. They did a deal with Big Pharma, presumably promising to limit price controls on drugs. They did a deal with the insurance companies, promising to force Americans to get health insurance. It return Big Pharma paid for a bunch of ads and the insurance companies didn't bring forward Harry and Louise to worry on national TV about the administration's plan.

Of course they also had a nod-nod-wink-wink deal with liberals on single payer. They would go as far as they could towards single payer using a disguised single payer system they called the public option.

They also had a deal with AARP. They would kill Medicare Advantage so that AARP could sell more Medigap policies.

But they have reneged on their deal with the insurance companies, because Congress lacks the backbone to levy really stiff fines on people who don't sign up for health insurance.

And who knows when they will renege on their deals with the other special interests?

But the administration seems to think that the double-cross is just politics as usual. Maybe that's the way they play it in Chicago.

But there is a wider sense in which the Obama administration has double-crossed the American people.

  • There was the promise to lower taxes on 95 percent of taxpayers
  • There was the promise to heal the partisan divide
  • There was the promise to keep the lobbyists out
  • There was the promise of transparency

Yeah. What happened to all that stuff?

A lot of what Obama promised was a change in tone. President Bush promised a change in tone, too, when he became president. And he spent the early part of his presidency trying to do bipartisan deals--like No Child Left Behind.

President Obama has clearly chosen not to do bipartisan. Particularly on his signature health bill. You just can't do a massive upheaval on health care on a partisan basis and have a shred of a claim to embrace bipartisan government.

President Obama's presidency is turning out to be very different, in tone and in substance, from the presidency he promised. He profoundly misrepresented what an Obama presidency would be all about.

That is probably the main reason his popularity is collapsing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Health Care Meltdown

Are we finally seeing the collapse of welfare state politics under the weight of its internal contradictions? Er, no. Not yet.

But we are certainly seeing the Democrats in a very uncomfortable place. But not to worry, writes the AP's David Espo.

"Our bottom line is that the bills as they are coming through will genuinely slow the growth of health care spending, both public and private, by about 1 percentage point a year for an extended period," said Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

So that's all right.

But why? Why do the Democrats insist on this crazy, unpopular, unjust nationalization of health care. Byron York has been talking to an unnamed Democratic strategist. There's three ways in which the Dems are committed to this madness.

  1. House leadership view. Dems like Pelosi have waited forever to pass this universal health program, and if they lose 20-40 members next year, it's a price they are willing to pay. (Easy for them: senior Dems represent bombproof liberal districts.)
  2. White House view. There will never be a better time to do it than right now. (They don't have an election next year.)
  3. Senate View. They figure that vulnerable Dems like Dodd and Reid are vulnerable anyway. Health care won't make that much of a difference.

But why push on when they know that the public is against it?

"Because they think they know what's best for the public," the strategist said. "They think the facts are being distorted and the public's being told a story that is not entirely true, and that they are in Congress to be leaders. And they are going to make the decision because Goddammit, it's good for the public."

I think there is a name for this. Delusion.

That's why I think that the next two election cycles are going to be the most important since the New Deal elections of 1932, 1934, and 1936, which set the United States upon the current statist path.

We need a decisive turn in national politics that sends an unmistakable message to the political elite, the educated elite, and the cultural elite. This is the message:

Change your ways or we will change you.

Above all we must send the message that the whole point of the United States is freedom, the freedom to live your life without government politicians, government experts, and government bureaucrats breathing down your neck. It's in the Declaration of Independence:

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
It's not that hard, surely.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Whole Foods Republicans?"

Everyone worries about the Republican big tent. It never seems to be large enough.

The latest worry, from Michael Petrelli, is that a majority of college-educated voters went for Obama: 53 percent.

According to exit-poll data, a majority of college-educated voters (53%) pulled the lever for Mr. Obama in 2008—the first time a Democratic candidate has won this key segment since the 1970s.

That certainly is a problem. But what's the solution?

What's needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate "Whole Foods Republicans"—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. These highly-educated individuals appreciate diversity and would never tell racist or homophobic jokes; they like living in walkable urban environments; they believe in environmental stewardship, community service and a spirit of inclusion.

So how to woo these voters to the Republican column? The first step is to stop denigrating intelligence and education...

The same is true for Mrs. Palin's inability to name a single newspaper she reads...

Even more important is the party's message on divisive social issues. When some Republicans use homophobic language, express thinly disguised contempt toward immigrants, or ridicule heartfelt concerns for the environment, they affront the values of the educated class.

Hmm. The thing is that Republicans don't do these things. They just don't believe in big government solutions to intelligence and education; they don't like the elite press that sneers at them. And they don't like the liberal bullying on race, sex, and the environment.

In the conservative view, the Whole Foods set has drunk the liberal Kool Aid. They've bought the liberal snobbery: We are the enlightened people and conservative Christians are ignorant yahoos that don't deserve to be taken seriously.

Obviously a political party can't treat the Whole Foods set as liberal dupes. That goes against Rule 1 in politics that you don't insult anyone. It turns waverers into opponents and opponents into enemies.

But what Republicans can do is go to work on liberal lies: brand the Democratic Party as the nasty party. There's an real upside to a campaign like that. It happens to be true.

Everything that liberals touch is nastified. Social Security? A terrible deal for educated people. Government health care? Treats educated people like idiots. Education? A dysfunctional mess that threatens the education of educated people and their children. Cap and trade? A top down monstrosity of taxing and subsidizing that treats the American people like delta-minus morons to be shoved around like numbers.

While George W. Bush was president the Democrats had a free rein to characterize all conservatives and Republicans as idiots. The Whole Foods crowd went along, because they were flattered to be in the in-crowd.

But Obamanomics and ObamaCare make it pretty clear that the Whole Foods crowd are to be the piggy-bank for liberal plans. Somehow that didn't get much play in the awful Bush years and in the immaculate campaign for Hope and Change.

Whole Foods shoppers are right now finding out what Obama is doing to their pocket books, what he will do to their children's education, and what he will do to the environment. Think waste, fraud, and abuse.

Let's be nice to the Whole Foods shoppers. They are good people. They just made the mistake of listening to the propaganda from the nasty party and believing it.

Now they know what we know. Government is force, and politicians are only interested in power. Educating the people? Saving the planet? Fabulous way of winning elections, baby! Fools 'em every time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Job Killer! Job Killer! Job Killer!

That's the Republican refrain for now. Whatever President Obama and the Democratic Congress does, Republicans condemn it as a "job killer."

ObamaCare? Job killer. Cap and trade? Job killer. $787 billion stimulus? Job killer. Copenhagen Climate Summit? Job killer. EPA's CO2 regulation? Job killer.

Trouble is: they're right.

But then everything the government does is a job killer. Everything the government does is born of some frustrated scribbler who is irate that the unhampered market doesn't provide what he wants it to provide, for free.

Then he makes the fateful step. Let government do it.

Trouble that government makes a mess of everything it does, including war and policing.

Meanwhile the Obama administration goes on its way, taxing, spending, and regulating as fast as humanly possible. Barney Frank has a comprehensive financial regulation bill ready for the floor of the House. Did you know?

But all that is just noise.

The real trouble for the president is that the wheel of fortune is turning, as Victor David Hanson writes.

The real trouble is that the Democrats are whistling past the graveyard, as Mona Charen writes.

The real trouble is that climate change is the new socialism, as Charles Krauthammer writes.

The real trouble is that the IPCC scientists really were trying to pull off a trick to hide the decline in the Briffa tree proxy results that brought the whole Hockey Stick temperature chart into question, as Steve McIntyre shows.

The real trouble is that politicians always and everywhere want to increase the power of politicians. And the only way they know to do that is to bribe the electorate with free money.

The only solution to our troubles is limited government. That means limited power to regulate the economic sector. It means limited power to tax. It means limited power to spend.

"There is such a thing as society. It's just not the same thing as the state." David Cameron said that a few years ago now, and it encapsulates the conservative critique of the liberal administrative state.

Humans are social animals, not statist animals. Humans are citizens, not subjects. They are civilians, not soldiers.

And courtesy of President Obama and his little helpers, we are getting a national seminar in why this is so.

It's not just that government is a job killer. It's that government kills almost everything it touches. That's because government is force, and human society grows out of sociability, good will, cooperation, fellow feeling.

When will our Democratic friends ever realize this and stop proposing their poison gas proposals?

The truth is that they never will. They get whacked upside the head every now and then. In 1980. In 1994. Then they go quiet with their statist plans for a season. But then their love of power and bossiness takes over and they return with new ideas for force and compulsion, and making the state bigger and the people smaller.

Will it never end?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Next Up: Tea Party Convention

Our liberal friends have a foolish habit of not taking conservatives seriously.

They can't help looking at the great sprawling conservative movement and seeing a train wreck about to happen. (Conservatives, by contrast, are always afraid that liberals are about to take over the world.)

Take the latest political head-scratching from Dan Eggen and Perry Bacon Jr. at the Washington Post.

Buoyed by their success in capsizing a moderate Republican candidate this fall in Upstate New York, tea party activists and affiliated groups are unveiling new political action committees and tactics aimed at capitalizing on conservative opposition to health-care reform, financial bailouts and other Obama administration policies.

So what is the upshot?

The strategy poses both an opportunity and a risk for the beleaguered Republican Party, which is seeking to take advantage of conservative discontent while still fielding candidates who appeal to independent voters.

Well, yes, sort of. But it kinda misses the point. After all, the problem with the NY-23 election was that the Republican Party in New York selected a candidate who did not appeal to independent voters. She was designed to appeal to moderates that voted for Obama in 2008. But those moderates are history.

Look. The NY Republicans made what seemed, in the spring of 2009, to be a canny choice. But the ground was already shifting under their feet.

The takeaway from NY-23 is that, if the Republican Party bigwigs knew then what they know now, they would never have chosen Dede Scozzafava. The sweet spot has moved decisively to the right.

What we are seeing right now is a healthy, vigorous debate in the conservative world about where conservativism goes next, what its issues will be, and what political vehicle will transport the movement into the future.

It's true that it is just possible that a new political party will emerge out of the process. And it might replace the Republican Party. But it is not likely. The Republican Party is not split. It is not in the situation of the Whig Party where it couldn't decide what to do about slavery.

If anything, the conservative world is in a fantastic place right now. All the disaffected voters that deserted the Republicans in the 2000s have been energized into activism by the leftward lurch of the Obama administration. And there is nothing like a common enemy to unify the quarreling factions of a big sprawling movement.

Then there's this. The Tea Party movement is planning a convention in February, the National Tea Party Convention. It is sponsored by Tea Party Nation, American Majority, National Taxpayers Union, Smart Girl Politics, and SurgeUSA. It is scheduled for February 4-6, 2010.

Who do you suppose the featured speakers are? Republicans Sarah Palin (R-AK) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN). What does that tell you?

And let us not forget that Sarah Palin is the antithesis of a party workhorse. A major source of her popularity in Alaska was that she took on the corrupt establishment of her Republican Party when she ran for election as Governor. And that was after establishing a reputation as an anti-corruption reformer.

Sarah Palin is clearly aligning with the new independent conservative force that the tea party movement represents. She will appear, as she builds political strength over the next two years, as a new broom looking to sweep out the musty establishment of the Republican Party.

The opportunity is great, and the strategic situation is ideal. We have a Democratic Party lurching well to the left of the American people and pushing unpopular policies on health care, environment, and bailouts with party-line votes in Congress.

You couldn't do a better job of doing everything possible to unite the opposition if you tried. Thanks, fellahs!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Separation of Science and State

The current ClimateGate flap does not tell us anything new. We already know that scientists are completely in the pocket of the politicians. This was made transparently clear recently on CNN when scientist Michael Oppenheimer sounded like a politician and climate auditor Steve McIntyre sounded like a scientist.

We know why this is so. Money. Follow the money.

Modern governments want to gin up the moral equivalent of war so that they can mobilize the resources of the nation to fight it. The preferred way of ginning up a moral equivalent of war is to get the scientists to declare a disaster. Maybe social scientists declare poverty a disaster. Physical scientists declare the environment or the climate a disaster. Politicians butt in, announce that the science is settled, and declare the moral equivalent of war.

In the case of climate it is the United Nations ginning up the crisis through the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The idea is to create a moral equivalent of war on an climate crisis and invest the United Nations with global taxes so that it can lead the fight.

I believe it is time for all people of education and feeling to stop this assault on our freedoms. The only thing government is any good at is war, real war. When it tries to gin up moral equivalents of war it just makes a mess. Think education, health care, pensions, welfare.

In the United States we express such broad-scale political sentiments in our Constitution. So here is the text of a proposed Twenty-eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Amendment - Freedom of Science

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of science, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Back in the Dark Ages, we know, government and religion were closely linked. The king derived his right to rule from God and the priests derived their power from association and support of the king.

In the pre-scientific age, this compact arrangement made sense, but by the 18th century it had become an embarrassment. It made the church into an appendage of the crown, and a rather feeble one at that.

So the Founding Fathers called for a dis-establishment of religion in the Bill of Rights. The result is that the United States is the most religious country in the world among developed nations.

Thomas Jefferson called this arrangement the separation of church and state. It succinctly symbolized the whole concept of the separation of powers within the government between legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

In his seminal work The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism Michael Novak has differentiated not just government but the whole of modern society into three sectors: the political sector, the economic sector and the moral/cultural sector.

These three sectors are, and ought to be, separate and divided centers of power. In part, this is agreed by all. Everyone agrees that the political sector should not dominate the moral/cultural sector, nor the moral/cultural sector issue orders to the political sector. Everyone agrees that the economic sector should not dominate the political sector.

But some reactionary liberals find it very hard to deal with the idea that the political sector should not own and dominate the economic sector.

And we know why. Liberals live for political power and political power is nothing without power over the economic sector. Some day they will get their comeuppance. But that is not our concern today. We are concerned about science.

The ClimateGate scandals demonstrate that association with the political sector has utterly corrupted the scientists. And we know why. Money. Money is the mother's milk of science, and scientists will do anything to get it. So they go along with power plans of the politicians, and serve up politically motivated science, "settled science," as they call it, to the politicians in return for research money.

It is time make a break with the past and advance boldly into the future. We must end the government domination of science. Science cannot prosper as an established appendage of government. It can only be corrupted. So science must be separate from government. We must have a separation of science and state.

It won't be easy. Science is embedded in government schools, government research labs, government research foundatations, government universities. And of course there is the relation between the Department of Defense and military science.

But we must begin the journey. Science must not, and should not be, of right, an appendage of government. And the start of that journey is an act of disestablishment. Science must be separate from government and must no longer waste its prestige in pandering to the shabby manipulations of professional politicians.

Let us begin the journey today.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The ClimateGate Smoking Gun

Here it is. You were expecting it. You've learned from repeated experience that every "-Gate" has a smoking gun. ClimateGate is no different.

Willis Eschenbach is the chap who found the smoking gun. Willis is a frequent commenter and contributor at Climate Audit and What's Up With That. Willis found the smoking gun in Darwin, Australia.

Willis looked at Darwin and found that the only continuous record over the last century, at Darwin Airport, shows a mild decline in temperature, about 0.5 deg C. All of the decline happens in the first half of the 20th century; the second half shows a mild warming. Guess what the climate scientists delivered as an adjusted record? A strong warming trend of +1.2 deg C.

Way to go fellahs!

Of course, it's impossible to figure out what the Climatic Research Unit did with the data. CRU doesn't divulge raw data and methods. Only the unimpeachable results.

But NOAA's Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) does divulge the raw data. And Willis finds that they have just punched in huge increases in temperature, based on trends from nearby records, to fill in missing info.

Only nearby for Darwin is 500 km away!

My guess is that this isn't a conspiracy. It's just laziness. The Climate scientists ginned up a method of homogenizing data that worked for the US and Europe, and then applied it to the rest of the world without thinking and checking too carefully. Or maybe they made cursory checks way at the end of the project when they had run out of money. Probably they just threw up their hands and just walked away from the problem.

But the fact is that the whole job needs to be done over. Then we'll find out just how serious the current warming is. If there is any.

And all that must come before we can determine whether humans are responsible for the warming. If any.

Go on. You'd better read the whole thing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Problem of the Fed

With Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke up for renomination, United States senators are taking the opportunity to grandstand. And the editors at National Review aren't too pleased.

Neither the Fed nor the Treasury nor the FDIC has functioned flawlessly throughout this crisis, but together they have functioned well enough: better, even, than many had expected, and Bernanke’s clear thinking has helped to unify and coordinate their efforts.

The problem with the Fed is not whether or not it functioned well during the financial crisis. The problem is the way that a government central bank makes crises more likely.

The Federal Reserve System's most important vital role is as lender of last resort. Crudely speaking, that means that the Federal Reserve will print money, in a crisis, to bail out the credit system.

But the only reason that a credit system ever needs bailing out is that some players are suspected of being unable to make good on their obligations. This is inevitable in a highly leveraged credit system. Quite simply, when an institution is highly leveraged it means that it can't honor their obligations if things go south. When you are 90 percent leveraged, it means that when the underlying assets decline by a mere 10 percent, you are insolvent.

And, of course, banks are the primary culprit in this game. Banks are allowed to leverage beyond 90 percent.

But banks belong to the era of horse-drawn credit, when there wasn't a large market for securities. Today there is a global market for credit in all its ramifications from equity to secured debt to unsecured debt to derivatives. All of these different financial instruments display different combinations of risk and reward.

It shouldn't be that hard to set up rules to keep everyone above water, to limit the exposure to debt (which is a rigid contract to pay interest and principal) and encourage equity (which is a partnership for sharing risk).

But the problem is government. Government likes to make credit cheap, meaning encourage debt financing. But that tends to make it riskier.

No problem, says the government. We have a central bank which can fix a credit crisis as lender of last resort.

Well, yes. But there is a cost to the lender of last resort role. The cost is inflation. The job of the lender of last resort is to flood the jammed wheels of credit with oceans of lubricating debt. Prudent investors pay the price in devalued dollars.

When people like Ron Paul agitate for an end to the Fed, they are calling for an end to the moral hazard of a government central bank. When the central bank is owned by the government, it represents the interests of the government first and the people second.

And clearly, the Fed has been the government's central bank, not the people's central bank. It bails out the government--or the government's banking system, and the people pay for it.

The simple fact is that the value of the dollar has decreased by about 98 percent on the Fed's watch. In the first century of the USA, when it didn't have a government central bank, the value of money declined by 10 percent.

We are Americans, and we can do better.

Friday, December 4, 2009

GOP and Young People

Young voters went 66% for President Obama last year. As you might expect, for Hope and Change are the very life-blood of youth. What's not to like?

Well, here's what. An agenda of mandatory health insurance, cap-and-trade, and tax increases is not going to do much to help young people get a start in life. Not when young people are forced to pay for grandma's health care, high energy prices, and taxes to keep powerful interests in clover.

With that sort of agenda, young people are likely to stay unemployed well into the 2010s.

Maybe young people should reconsider their support for Obama. Maybe you already are. Maybe you are really natural Republicans, if only you knew.

So let's go over the issues one by one. And the best way to do that is with the ten points of the new GOP Purity Test being floated by some Republican National Committee members. We will look at each point in turn, and leave out the "Whereas's."

1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

Obviously you young people like the government spending money on education. But I wonder if you realize that all that money is not for you, but for the vast education blob. You'd do much better if you had the money to spend yourself, rather than have the government spend it on educational bureaucracy.

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

You do realize, don't you, that the central policy change in ObamaCare is to force young people to get health insurance and to force young people to pay much more for health insurance than at present? The idea is to get young people to help pay for all the health subsidies that the government will be handing out to its supporters.

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

I know you chaps believe in saving the planet, but you do realize, don't you, that cap-and-trade is going to make it harder for you to build a career, start a family, and buy a house. Because when you make energy more expensive you make everything more expensive, and that hurts young people just starting out.

(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

Helping unions win elections is great if you want to go and work for the DMV and be a bump on a log for the rest of your life. It will make it harder for people without political connections. That usually includes young people.

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

Everyone is in favor of immigration and assimilation, but not when it threatens their job. Since young people are typically the least experienced and the lower paid, you are the most at risk when illegal immigrants are competing for low-skill low-paid jobs,

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

I can understand that many young people might not like America's wars. After all, it's young men that have to fight them and die in them. But someone has to do it, and we honor those young men and women that do.

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

Young people have supported the elimination of nuclear weapons in the past. It would be wonderful to have a world of Kant's Eternal Peace. But what do you do if Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons? You gotta contain them, right?

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

Gays have done a pretty good job persuading young people that relationships are relationships, and when people love each other... I'd just like to say this. As a man, I appreciate that the more heterosexual marriage is deprecated, the easier it is for us men to prey on young women. The most powerful thing a woman has going for her is the right to say No.

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing, denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

The thing about abortion is that the people most in favor of it are young men. I wonder why?

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership;

Well, we conservatives have a thing about this. I suppose because it's symbolic. It says we are not completely dominated by government and its all-enveloping rules and regulations. it's a fantasy, of course. The government could round us all up tomorrow if it felt like it. But it's nice to dream.

It's funny how young people have tended to support the left over the years when their economic interests so clearly require an open and competitive marketplace. Perhaps young people like the left because it seems to offer a security blanket against a cruel hard world with promises of equality, care and compassion.

The only problem, of course, is that the only way you can get care and compassion is in free relationship with others. Government doesn't do care and compassion. Government is force.

Youth of America, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Entrepreneurial Virtual Newsroom

Conservatives don't get to choose Time's Man of the Year. The whole point of the exercise is to boost some liberal notion, not legitimize conservatives.

It's a part of the progressive message machine, a "giant food chain of intellectual thought, with respectability unquestioningly bestowed on just about everyone of any note who believed" in the progressive belief system.

That's Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator. Even though he's not on the food chain, he has a candidate for the most important mover and shaker of 2009. The folks in the Virtual Newsroom. We all know who they are.

In one corner are the newspaper and magazine people, as of old. But then there is talk radio. And now there are the TV people on Fox News.

But then there is the "Internet 'desk.'"

What's particularly interesting here is the size of this division. Job applications pour in hourly from conservative bloggers around the nation. The applications are stamped "hire now" by someone wearing a Harry Potter-style "invisibility cloak" and the virtual newsroom expands yet again.

Finally there are the popular authors and their books: Mark Levin in Liberty and Tyranny, Ann Coulter in Guilty, Glenn Beck in Common Sense, Laura Ingraham in Power to the People, Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism, Michelle Malkin in Culture of Corruption, Dick Morris in Catastrophe.

The glorious thing about it is that it is not the bureaucratic Big Media model of the liberal media. The Virtual Newsroom is a living, breathing example of Hayek's "spontaneous order."

No one "has" to write or broadcast a particular story. It's a free market in story ideas out there on the Virtual Newsroom floor. As a result, creativity reigns. A million different ideas float through the Virtual Newsroom on any given day[.]

And one of two of them has the potential to be a blockbuster. Maybe it exposes the corruption of ACORN. Or it exposes the crazy extremists in the White House. Or it crunches over the "climate consensus."

Sorry liberals. It may be annoying and frightening, but the Virtual Newsroom is here to stay, whatever the Democrats in the Senate do to shut it up.

And even if you folks won't give any recognition to the Virtual Newsroom, we know it's there and we honor its noble Inky Wretches.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

1,000,000 Page Views Strong

Yesterday, December 1, 2009, a day which will live, in history, was the day that reached its first million page views.

It was March 23, 2007 when the site first went live, and in 5 days it had its biggest day ever, 3,353 visits, after a boosting by Andrew Sullivan on The Atlantic blog.

Since then, has grown to become the world's leading government spending website, with over 1.000 visits a day. There is really else nothing out there that gives you:

  • 200 years of federal spending
  • 100 years of state and local spending
  • 200 years of GDP (thanks to measuringworth,com)
  • 200 years of federal debt
  • 16 years of state and local spending for individual states
  • Charts, charts, charts
  • Downloads, briefings, and more

The reason that is so popular is simple. Google puts it up at the top of its rankings on literally dozens of search phrases. For instance, it appears at #1on Google's search results for the following searches (and many more): "us government spending" and "government spending as a percentage of gdp" and "government spending 2009" and "government spending breakdown".

And let's not forget's sister sites: and They are no slouches either.

The interesting thing is that, even though merely regurgitates official government statistics, it outperforms the sites where the official statistics are published.

The reason is not too difficult to figure out. is all about getting the data out and presenting it in the most convenient and appealing way possible. It's not just the numbers, it's the charts, it's the links, it's the briefings, it's everything.

How high can go? Well, it doesn't have celebrity gossip and it doesn't have beautiful babes, so there is a limit.

But here is an interesting factoid. Last year, in 2008, naturally had a surge of traffic in the weeks before the election. The interest peaked about a week after the election at 500 visits per day, and by New Year's, traffic was down by 80 percent to 100 visits per day.

Not this year. Traffic hit 1,000 visits per day in early November, and continued up. After an understandable stall over Thanksgiving it is still going up. No sign of a decline for Christmas shopping and holiday cheer. Not yet.

Could it be that this year Americans are passionately interested in the workings and the expense of their government as never before, and that next year they intend to do something about it?

Only time will tell.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The ObamaCare Train Wreck

Do these people really understand what they are doing with ObamaCare? It doesn't sound like it.

Hugh Hewitt had a couple of ObamaCare supporters on his radio program on Monday. And they, Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic and Henry Aaron of Brookings, didn't have a clue.

They didn't really know where the Medicare savings were coming from. Except that Jonathan Cohn knew they were coming from productivity improvements like better infection control. Dr. Henry Aaron knew the money was coming from somewhere:

The story is that if one is going to extend coverage as the Senate plan would do to 25 to 35 million, or currently uninsured Americans, they’re going to consume some more health care services. And the money to pay for that needs to come from somewhere. Most of the money would come from projected growth in productivity of health care delivery under Medicare.

This sort of thing shows that the Democrats have lost the plot. They are just playing one group off against another. They are going to give uninsured Americans more health care services and they are going to take it away from other Americans.

But that's not what Democrats are for. They are for giving America glorious benefits and taxing the rich or evil corporations. Nobody is supposed to have to pay for all this. Especially not grandma. It is all supposed to appear magically.

You cannot suddenly turn up and say that, hey, we are going to take away benefits from you seniors to give to the uninsured Americans. Not after a century of demanding benefits for seniors. You don't do that. You don't ever take benefits away from welfare state recipients.

My view is that the current generation of Democrats are like the inheritors of an imperial dynasty. Two generations back there were rough tough Democrats that came out of the hills and conquered the United States for themselves and their supporters.

But now the Democrats are soft and civilized. They are used to the easy life in their inherited Senate seats and their fluffy think tank berths and their leisured academic tenure. They think that grants grow on trees. And they don't know how to appeal to the great mass of Americans.

Actually, they don't like the great mass of Americans.

More and more, it is looking like a Perfect Storm coming up for our Democratic friends. They played their tactical game beautifully in 2006 and 2008. They blamed everything on Bush and the Republicans, and they sold the American people on the idea that they were post-partisan moderates.

Now they want to govern like McGovern and the American people are upchucking.

And the upchucking has only just begun.

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Blind Side" a Hit

It was nearly three years ago that we wrote about the story of Michael Oher. He's the left offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, and his story was told by Michael Lewis in The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

Oher was a throwaway child of the ghetto and a drug-addict mother. Until he was adopted by a Christian high school and a wealthy couple.

Now The Blind Side is a major motion picture with $100 million in grosses for the first two weeks.

Star Parker writes about The Blind Side today, and, as a black conservative, well she might. It's all very well to look at the inspirational side of the story:

Michael Oher's story has already received much attention. How a homeless black 15-year-old winds up in a Christian private school and how a white Christian couple adopted him and helped him develop to get the grades to stay in school, become a star athlete, an All-American football player and a multimillion-dollar NFL draft pick.

But then there's the other side.

Our wake-up call should be that the factors that saved and transformed Michael Oher's life stand in stark contrast to the government solutions we hear from Washington about dealing with our problems relating to poverty and education.

Oher had attended 11 different public schools. He had a grade point average of 0.6. He had been in foster homes and typically would sleep on the floor at different houses, finding food where he could. Maybe was saved him was that he was a "gentle giant."

Of course, he was as dumb as a post.

When they first tested him at Briarcrest, the Christian school, he had an IQ of 80. Then later when they tested him again after he'd brought his school work up, he tested at 100-110. "The psychologists were dumbfounded."

President Obama wants to spend more government money on schools. What is is smoking? Government never did anything for education.

School choice and traditional values are the answers. It's freedom, not bureaucrats, that produces miracles. Michael Oher may be an exceptional individual, but his story need not be an exceptional story.

We can change all this liberal failure and injustice, you know. Any time we want. It's called voting.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Worse the Better

That was the line attributed to Vladimir Lenin. Actually, it seems that Lenin was quoting the Marrxist theoretician G.V. Plekhanov:

If the Cadets don’t stick to the rule—the worse, the better...," says Plekhanov, "they themselves will have to admit that they have made a big mistake[.]

At any rate, when the other side is doing its best to wreck the country then you sometimes wish they would do the job properly.

Conservative commentators are falling all over each other reporting on the devastation of the Obama age.

Here is Fred Barnes:

"Change must come to Washington," Mr. Obama said in a June 2008 speech. "I have consistently said when it comes to solving problems," he told Jake Tapper of ABC News that same month, "I don't approach this from a partisan or ideological perspective."

Candidate Obama was also strongly against lobbyists: "they're part of the problem," he said. But when you grow government, as the president clearly is trying to do, you increase partisanship and you increase the need for interests to send lobbyists to Washington.

Then there is Kim Strassel reporting Sen. Jim Imhofe's (R-SC) assertion that "Cap and Trade is dead:

So declares Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, taking a few minutes away from a Thanksgiving retreat with his family. "Ninety-five percent of the nails were in the coffin prior to this week. Now they are all in."

"This week" refers to ClimateGate, or the CRUTape Letters, the revelations of cooking the books at Britain's Climatic Research Unit.

Now there is Victor Davis Hanson saying that, when it comes to bad news, "We ain't seen nothing yet." If you are worried about "High unemployment, the recession, and a terrorist resurgence in Afghanistan," don't worry. There is more bad news coming. Think: increased oil prices, increased interest rates for Uncle Sam to pay, increased terrorism, and increased taxes.

And at the center of it all is the utterly wrong-headed reinvention of health care, panned by Charles Krauthammer. It amounts to:

hundreds of new provisions, regulations, mandates, committees, and other arbitrary bureaucratic inventions. Worse, they are packed into a monstrous package without any regard to each other. The only thing linking these changes — such as the 118 new boards, commissions, and programs — is political expediency. Each must be able to garner just enough votes to pass. There is not even a pretense of a unifying vision or conceptual harmony.

It really does seem as though President Obama and the Democrats are determined to run the ship of state on the rocks. Kim Strassel:

Nearly every Obama policy has thrilled either the president's base in the Democratic Party or a liberal interest group but practically no one else. Nearly every policy is unpopular with a majority or large plurality of Americans.

Democrats have spent the last 30 years claiming that Republicans and conservatives were the most monstrous and demented extremists. Their campaign hit a fortissimo in the last years of the Bush administration and yielded bumper returns in the campaigns of 2006 and 2008.

Well, now we are getting a dose of real extremism, in contrast to the mild conservatism of President Bush, and this extemism is spelt O-B-A-M-A-R-E-I-D-P-E-L-O-S-I.

And the American people hate it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Don't Take Freedom For Granted

It's Thanksgiving, the holiday when we count our blessings. And it's the time also to count the second greatest of them all. We are talking about the trio of blessings: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Marriage activist Maggie Gallagher has something to say about this.

Freedom may well be a right, but the most important thing about freedom is that it is a good.

What's the difference? Rights are what you are owed. Goods have to be made. Freedom is a gift. We didn't make it by ourselves for ourselves. We have to be grateful for it.

We owe the simple debt of thankfulness to those who came before -- who suffered, celebrated, fought and died to create the society we now enjoy. That's history. And we owe it to those who created our freedom to pass on the gift.

Then Gallagher gets to the pure Burkean moment.

That is patriotism: the debt that we the living owe to the honored dead, which we can pay only by caring for future generations yet unborn.

I would say rather: "That is conservatism." Modern conservatism is the self-conscious articulation of the unarticulated Way of the ancestors. And the central point is the argument made by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Let us run the actual quote:

Society is indeed a contract. But it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science, a partnership in all art, a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible and invisible worlds, according to a fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable oath which holds all physical and all moral natures, each in their appointed place.

The great gift of Edmund Burke, as the founder of modern conservatism, lies in this articulation of the unspoken wisdom of the ages. The social contract we live under is not just between the living. It is "between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born." And this is not just an artifice, a trick of social control. It lies at the center of life and its purpose.

For if we humans survive and thrive it will be because we have maintained the gossamer thread that is the contract between the generations. Between us the living, between those already gone before, and those yet to come.

That is why we are thankful, on this day of all days. We are thankful to have received the gift of life and the gift of freedom. From those who have gone before.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thank Goodness It Wasn't Any Worse

Many conservatives are railing today at the financial bailout of Fall 2008. After the failure of Lehman Brothers Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson engineered a $700 TARP fund to prevent the contagion from spreading. And conservatives hated it.

I maintain that a banking bailout was the right policy, and a banking bailout--designed to prevent a meltdown of the credit system--is the only kind of bailout that makes sense in an economic crisis. If the credit system goes, then everything goes.

Today, at Thanksgiving 2009, it looks like the worst is over and that the economy will survive its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

That is something to be thankful for.

But it is clear that the national elite has not learned the proper lessons from the crisis. We have seen no effort to reduce the subsidization of debt. We have seen not effort to get the government out of gunning the economy. We have seen no effort to reduce the politicization of the economy.

The lesson of 2008 is clear. Government can't be trusted with monetary policy. It can't be trusted with credit policy. It can't be trusted with economic policy. The reason is simple. The only thing that politicians and activists and lobbyists are interested in is power. Their interest in monetary policy extends no further than printing money when the government gets in a jam. Their interest in credit policy extends no further than subsidizing their supporters. Their interest in economic policy extends no further than apologies for government domination of the economy.

The only thing that government can do is fight against enemies foreign and domestic. To this end, of course, it needs complete access to the nation's wealth when it is actually fighting a war. But after the war the resources should be surrendered back to the private sector.

Because politicians know nothing about money, credit, and business. And they like it that way.

The best way to celebrate future Thanksgivings would be to give thanks to the day when we got the government out of the economy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"I have also felt really tired"

The dam has burst on the politicized climate science operation, the Hockey Stick Team, run by Phil Jones at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and Michael Mann of Penn State University.

The release of a decade of emails between the principals of the Hockey Stick Team shows that the team was not really doing science. It was doing politics. Roger Tracinski's piece on the release of the CRUTape letters is as good a review of the situation as any.

What does it mean? It means that Steve McIntyre, the Canadian statistical expert and proprietor of Climate Audit (and now CAMirror), is vindicated. It was years ago in the early 2000s that McIntyre started looking at the Mann Hockey Stick paper, MBH98, and discovered what was to him a startling lack of due diligence.

Since then Steve has plugged away, "auditing" the work product of the Hockey Stick Team, exposing all the shoddy work and trying, with increasing success, to get access to their raw data and their methodology.

On November 22, 2009, in a comment, Steve McIntyre responded to a commenter asking him about the data in the CRUTape Letters.

Sure, I’ve nibbled at it, but I’ve spent more time on the mail so far. It’s hard to know where to start. I also have felt really tired.

Yes. I imagine after a decade of work, and after years of battling against calumny and obstruction, there is a "Nunc Dimittis" feeling about this moment. For you folks without a religious education, it means: "Now let thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word." In the large sense, McIntyre's work is done. He has got the world to pay attention to his voice crying in the wilderness. Now the consequences will play out according to their own momentum.

Because now the Hockey Stick Team has been exposed. The Team members have fiddled with the data; they have politicized the scientific publication process; they have had troublesome people fired.

And all the world knows it.

The Hockey Stick Team has had millions of dollars to play with. Other climate researchers have had billions to spend.

But one thing we can say today for sure. We do not have a scientific basis for spending trillions of dollars battling climate change. We just do not have the knowledge to justify it.

Especially now that we know that we can't trust the scientists doing the research.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Now It's Obama's "Boob Panels"

The current flap over breast-cancer screening illustrates the utter folly of the government-expert model for health care.

Recently the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new guidelines for women getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer. It recommended that regular screenings not start till the age of 50.

Unfortunately, the government has been running a PR campaign for decades advising women to seek regular mammograms from the age of 40. Naturally the breast cancer activists are all in a tizzy, and now the White House has gotten into the act trying to damp down the firestorm. Reports Fox News:

The White House went on defense Wednesday about new government findings that advise against routine mammograms for women under 50, saying the guidelines are merely a recommendation and that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that produced the report out this week has "no power" to deny health care coverage.

Well, no. Of course not. No power. Not today. But this is just another outbreak of the "death panel" syndrome. Of course this is just an advisory from a government task force. But you can easily put two and two together and predict that down the road, when ObamaCare is desperately trying to reduce health care costs, that it will start to make the findings of advisory panels mandatory, and that the "boob panel" will decide when and where women can get mammograms.

This is not rocket science. It issues from the very concept of rational government by experts. You set up a bureaucratic program based on rational, scientific findings. You implement the rules uniformly, nationwide.

The problem here is with the whole concept of government health care. In a world of freedom women pay for most of their health care at the point of delivery. Women that believe themselves to be at risk of breast cancer based on family history or other causes pay to get regular mammograms. They discuss the risks with their doctors and they understand that there are risks associated with regular X-rays. No problem here, unless you can't afford a regular mammogram. In that case, you are dependent on the kindness of strangers.

But in the liberal government model, mammograms are a "benefit," paid for by the government-mandated health plan. Whether you like it or not, mammograms are included in the standard benefit package mandated by various government advisory panels. Or they are excluded by order of one of the government expert advisory panels. Now everyone is dependent on the kindness of strangers.

Only trouble that politicians and activists and experts are not kind. They have other interests: power, notoriety, fame, science. To them, any one woman worried about a strange lump in her breast is roadkill, unless she can be used as a helpless victim, a prop in a media report on New Hope for Cancer Sufferers. Even then she is roadkill.

So the solution is not to have dozens of advisory panels mandating this and that. The solution is to have a free and prosperous citizenry that can afford to pay for their own preventative care, if that is important to them, or not, if it is not.

This is important. You can spend you money on cancer screening, or maybe you want to spend it on better schooling for your child. Either way, you are taking a risk. Maybe you should spend the money on screening. Maybe the special enrichment program you send your kid to turns on a lightbulb and changes a life.

It's not a very hard concept to visualize. Not unless you mind is clouded by the idea that government experts make all these decisions: who should have breast examinations and where; which kids have enrichment programs and how.

The concept is called freedom.