Friday, February 27, 2009

My CPAC updates at Watercooler

#cpac

Check out my CPAC '09 updates at PAWaterCooler.com

Blather

The Other Discussion on Race

Bill Russell sighting
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Monday, February 23, 2009

The Stimulus Trap

The Commonwealth Foundation has some links explaining why some Governors are (and more Governors should be) thinking twice about taking the stimulus money.

Photobucket

It's a trap!

State expands services with stim-money... stim-money runs out... state left holding the bag for more government than we had before.

It's almost like a bunch of career Democrat Congressional staffers wrote the bill to purposely expand government. Oh wait.

Vichy Businessmen

I hope the Chamber of Commerce is happy...

Dem Robocalls are citing the Chamber's support of the spendulus bill to attack Republicans.
“Hello, I’m calling on behalf of House Democrats with an important message about the economy,” the text of a sample phone call reads. “Did you know Congressman Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) voted against President Obama’s economic recovery plan, endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? McCotter’s empty rhetoric can’t hide that he voted to raise the AMT tax on 22 million middle-class Americans and against the largest tax cut in history.”


Thanks Chamber!

Tax and Borrow and Spend

If the old-school Democrats were "tax and spend", and Bush was "borrow and spend", Obama is "tax and borrow and spend".

The maddening part of relying on higher taxes to mitigate the budget deficit is that doing so undermines the very justification Obama used to sell the stimulus bill. If stimulus is equivalent to spending, any attempt to take it out on the back end through taxes is anti-stimulative (or, "retardant" if you prefer, which now that I see it, I do prefer).

Keynes is rolling over in his grave.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Raining on Parade's EFCA shill

Not many would suggest that Parade (you know, that thing in your weekend paper) is at the cutting edge of journalism or commentary, but it is very widely read. This week's "Intelligence Report" on EFCA/Card Check is somewhere between laughable and infuriating.

Even the title, "Does America Still Need Labor Unions?", suggests a false choice about what the EFCA vote represents. Nobody, not a single bleeding soul, is saying that unions aren't necessary, and failure to pass EFCA in no way endangers unions.

They identify the shorthand "Card Check", but fail to identify what exactly why the phrase "Card check" is significant. EFCA is described as "[making] it easier for workers to join unions and would tighten penalties for employers who try to stop them."

Sounds great! Where do I sign on?!

Supporters such as Human Rights Watch and the NAACP say the bill provides important protections for the middle class. Opponents like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association say it increases labor costs and hurts the bottom line.
Well, that's not all business interests say it will do. Parade doesn't offer a glimmer about increased unemployment, nothing about exporting jobs, nothing about the mandatory arbitration, nothing about loss of the secret ballot to the card check mechanism, and certainly nothing about potential (okay, likely) intimidation by organizers.

Parade then goes on to explore the straw man argument about whether or not we should have unions with a Cornell "labor expert" professor, who is more than happy to oblige.

Now, nobody who takes political issues seriously would put much weight behind something in Parade, but that the issues aren't won or lost in the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal. They're won by implanting little bits of bias into the mainstream voter's subconscious.

This propaganda piece looks like a little bit of nothing, but it isn't.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Matter Box Challenge

( @DavidAll , #TechGOP )

David All stated his interest in adapting "matter box" direct mail packages of free stuff to a political context. Here's my contribution:

  • An individual wishing to have a box must interact online with the candidate’s message, (not merely fill in personal/demo data), and should be encouraged to share contact information of friends.

  • If the matter box contains consumable goods like candy bars, etc., the goods should have the candidate’s messages or factoids inside like a fortune cookie or Bazooka Joe wrapper, and could direct the voter back to the original website for more free stuff. (“Did you know that x% of Americans have problems with issue-ABC? Candidate Smith has a plan for issue-ABC. Find out more at [website] and sign up for our [box-o-stuff].”)

  • If the candidate is distributing more durable "commitment mechanism" goods like T-shirts, bumper stickers, bobbleheads, yard signs, etc, there should be multiple issues of each item (even if only two of each). Sales of these items on candidate websites should encourage (through direct request and through price structure) the purchase of duplicate items for sharing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Who's feeling their ideological oats now?

Conservatives are constantly castigated about our desire to primary severe partisan defectors like Linc Chafee and Arlen Specter. But those guys have committed a list of political sins as long as my arm.

NY Democrats on the other hand, don't like Sen. Gillibrand's position on guns, and Rep. McCarthy is looking at a primary challenge.

Aside from the gun issue (where I'm sure she will find true religion when the votes come up, just as Casey has on abortion), it seems Gillibrand's biggest problem is that her first name isn't Carolyn or Caroline.

Gillibrand has the opportunity to hold that Senate seat forever and a day and bring a lot of power to New York, and certain Democrats are going to try to muck that up over small potatoes.

Who is the exclusive, petty, ideological party now?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We told you so, Lindsey

Sen. Lindsey Graham is shocked (shocked!) that governance under mister self-proclaimed bi-partisan, the Light-Bringing unicorn rider Obama, has been less than bipartisan w.r.t. HR-1...

But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he knows bipartisanship when he sees it, and he didn’t see it. Graham was a member of the “Gang of 14” that took heat from both parties in 2005 for negotiating a compromise on judicial nominations.

“If this is going to be bipartisanship, the country's screwed,” Graham said.

The bill, he said, was rammed through the House, where it got no Republican votes. He said the Senate committee markups were perfunctory.

We all told you and Senator Maverick that you were selling yourselves cheap. Now our judicial nominations go by the wayside and Dem governance will install all the mini-Ginsburgs they can find without us having jack squat to say about it.

"Screwed" indeed.

The anti-stimulus vote had more Democrats than the pro-vote had Republicans. Clearly we're the ones who weren't playing cricket.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spendulus in the Shadows

Though it probably falls under the "emergency" self-exemption for Obama's promise to air all bills five days before signing (an already broken promise), it would be nice if members of Congress actually got to see the 800 1434 page bill (and counting!) before they vote on final passage.

But apparently you only get to see the bill if you're on board.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bureaucrat Union runs pro-spendulus political ads

The Hill reports, "Radio ads target House, Senate GOPers on stimulus"

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Americans United for Change will launch the spots in 18 House districts, as well as three states represented by GOP senators who voted against the Senate version of the stimulus.

Gee, color me surprised. A union of bureaucrats thinks that spending a bunch of money on bureaucracy and pet projects is absolutely necessary for the country.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hope among the rubble - Dodd "vulnerable"

The Hill reports on a Quinnipiac poll showing Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) to be vulnerable. (Liebs is also hated, but he's not up in 2010.):

Fifty-one percent of those polled said they probably or definitely will not vote for Dodd in 2010, when he is up for re-election. Fifty-four percent said they were not satisfied with Dodd’s explanation of his receiving preferential rates on two Countrywide Financial mortgages.

51% for "anybody but Dodd" is rather harsh.

I guess being a Friend of Angelo has its downside.

I don't expect we could run an uber-conservative type, but maybe the Northeastern species of Republican isn't dead just yet.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Jonah Goldberg call your office

This guy needs a copy of your book, pronto.

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Prime Time Spin

Obama's prime-time address is a load of crap.

There is no urgency that can't wait a week or even a month for a better bill. The spending on this bill is not that front-loaded. The "urgency" is a political urgency coming from the crumbling support for this bill.

The idea that there's a significant cadre of Republicans who just want to do nothing is a straw man argument, and an outright lie.

Just because a line item isn't "an earmark" doesn't mean it isn't pork, or isn't a pet project. There's lots of pork in this bill.

"Civility" was not on display in Williamsburg.

I think Obama is vastly overstating the breadth of support of this bill among economists.

Mocking the past excesses of the Republicans does not make their current criticisms any less valid.

There are perverse incentives in this bill with respect to funding for state and local governments.

If Obama wasn't aware of the debate about the efficacy of FDR's New Deal policies then he's not particularly well informed about the subject. Or he's lying. Take your pick.

Interesting that most of the press questions are about foreign policy. The press knows/hopes the stimulus will pass and either don't want to rock the boat or lack the knowledge to do so.

I am oddly optimistic about tomorrow's Treasury plan, which has the potential to be the real stimulus.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Red Meat at NRO

I agree with everything these guys said (run-time 9:17):

Honeymoon is over

Dr. K. is right, the honeymoon is over.

And after Obama’s recent remarks at Williamsburg, VA, I’ll go so far as to say – It’s on like Donkey Kong.

After pretending for a couple of days to be bipartisan and receptive of criticism, Obama showed his true feelings about stimulus, revealing himself to be every bit the Keynesian we hoped he wasn’t:

So then you get the argument, well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill. What do you think a stimulus is? (Laughter and applause.) That's the whole point. No, seriously. (Laughter.) That's the point.


No, that’s not what a stimulus is, or needs to be. One of the most widely circulated ideas on the right is a FICA tax suspension, which would simultaneously pay workers more while making their labor more affordable to their employers. Sounds better than waterparks and condoms to me.

Obama’s needling about tired old philosophies is rather ironic. The economic theories he criticizes may be slightly off at the margin, but they are the best working models of human behavior created, and they are the ideas responsible for the wealth of Western Civilization and the economic dominance of freer societies over more restricted ones.

Tax policy did not create the housing bubble, nor did a lack of government spending. Those are the issues at hand in the current bill, not regulatory issues (for which the Democrats share their portion of blame as well).

Obama’s naked Keynesianism, on the other hand, is a thoroughly debunked theory that bears absolutely no resemblance to reality. It has been intellectually discredited for half a century. If there is any “tired, old philosophy”, it is this red-headed stepchild of Keynesianism.

Keynes once expressed this sentiment:
“If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal mines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez faire to dig the notes up again . . . there need be no more unemployment”


This is essentially what Obama is advocating by his stimulus equals spending statement. I suspect the only reason the Democrats aren’t suggesting Keynes’ money-in-coal-mines scheme is that it would show people how much coal we really have in America, or at least irritate the coal miners’ labor union.

I am increasingly convinced that Obama is not merely wrong, or having values at odds with my own, but that the Light-Bringer is a little on the dim side. Only a childish ideologue would defend the wasteful spending in the stimulus bill. It is utterly indefensible. Obama’s Williamsburg speech amounted to a tantrum.

Many Republicans, including myself, were willing to compromise on meaningful spending, not wasteful spending. The GOP was basically sold on infrastructure spending. They weren’t, as Obama caricatures, wishing to rely only on tax cuts.

Not too long ago, a person could refinance his home to pay off higher interest credit card debt. A trillion bucks would make a heck of a socialized re-fi. But Obama’s plan isn’t to restructure America’s debt. The plan is the equivalent of taking the mortgage money and blowing a big chunk of it on blackjack and booze in Vegas.

Say “hi” to Elvis for me.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Quote of the Day: Biden

I suspect our VP will provide many amusing quotations over the next four years:
If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there’s still a 30% chance we’re going to get it wrong.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bork on Martinis

Judge Robert Bork on the martini.

Though I started with vodka martinis, I eventually was won over to the dark side of the classic gin martini. I wouldn't sneer at a vodka martini, but I wouldn't order one either.

Bork makes a lot of sense, but I like mine not quite as dry as his (though very dry by historical standards), and with a single olive... just enough to get some of the oil and salt in the drink. A lime is also acceptable, and I suppose Bork's lemon might be workable too. And yes, on the rocks is a crime against humanity.

Not sure what Bork has against bourbon or scotch though. Too sweet? Not relative to other drinks. When smoking a cigar, a martini works better as a palate cleanser, but a good bourbon will get the job done too.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hoyer's limit on stimulus

Noted economist That lying fool Rep. Steny Hoyer has identified the precise amount of stimulus needed.

$900 billion, give or take.

You see, $800 odd billion is just fine. Over nine, and man, whew! You're really pushing it there!

Of course, Hoyer is in no position to know how much stimulus is economically warranted. So he's simultaneously admitting two things:
  • that $900 bn is a politically determined arbitrary figure
  • that the Democrats are working on a definition of spending = stimulus no matter what it's spent on
Projects like dog parks that were wasteful and stupid before do not magically become less wasteful or stupid due to some exogenous event.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Murtha -v- Russell, Part Deux?

Is Russell planning a redo against John Murtha? The website suggests so. http://russellbrigade.com/

Could be interesting.

New Deal Quote of the Day

"We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work."

--1939, Henry Morgenthau - Treasury Secretary under FDR

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Goodbye to Opie

Sad to see it, but Rep. Adam Putnam is leaving the House to run for Florida Ag. Commissioner.

This sort of thing is bound to happen, losing our Rock Stars in the midst of a sharp political minority of indeterminate length, but it's still disheartening.

If only he had decided to run for Senate from Florida we'd have something going for us.