Senator Michael Bennett. Who?

A few weeks ago, I went to a fundraiser for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who is running for Colorado Governor.  I doubt I will vote for him due to my general belief that a Republican governor will be much less hospitable to  public employees’ unions, and my conviction that the public employees’ unions are actively destroying the economic viability of the states in which they have established a beachhead. 

But who knows?  John is a decent guy who has been a good mayor, and in most respects I think he would be a fine governor.  He has a small business background and is no liberal firebrand as far as I can tell.  And best of all, he made his money running one of the earliest brewpubs to grace our fair city.  If he comes out against the unions he may very well get my vote.  (Full disclosure, The Wife and I visit his old brewpub, the Wynkoop, most Sundays for a pint or two.)

I should have expected the deluge of Democrat party emails that my modest contribution would generate, since my contributions to John McCain during  the ’08 presidential election (unenthusiastic though they were) have resulted in an onslaught of mail, robocalls, and emails asking for more money for various candidates.  But I didn’t. 

Anyway, all that is by way of background.  Sorry (or I would be if anyone actually read this crap).

The point of this post is that this morning, I received the latest installment of email money-begging on behalf of Senator Michael Bennet.  Who the hell is that, you ask?  My point exactly.  Sen. Bennet was appointed in January 2009 to fill the seat vacated by now-Interior Secretary John Salazar.  He came out of nowhere, surprised everyone, and since then, I don’t think he has accomplished much in the intervening 16 months. 

So today, I get an email from former Governor Roy Romer asking for my support (not a chance) for Bennett, and making the following statement:

My life has taken me in many directions, but no honor has meant more to me than the privilege of serving as Colorado’s governor, and no matter where my journey leads, that trust — to fight for Colorado — will always be my guide.

That’s exactly why I’m so proud to support a fighter for Colorado unlike any I’ve seen before: Michael Bennet.

Really?  What, exactly, has Sen. Bennet fought for?  If anything, I certainly haven’t heard of it.  Here are the most recent entries from the In the News section of Sen. Bennet’s website:

» 06.28.10 Denver Post – Kid gardeners take produce to buyers, diners

» 06.22.10 Brush News-Tribune – Regional director to hold conversations in Brush

» 06.18.10 CBS 4 – Bennet Installing Solar Panels To Promote Jobs

» 06.11.10 Denver Post – Colorado’s delegation seeks to save Lockheed jobs

» 06.09.10 Denver Post – Bennet plans bill to replicate Denver principal training nationally

» 06.04.10 Denver Business Journal – Export-Import Bank deal to boost Stolle Machinery

» 06.04.10 The Colorado Statesman – Fort Logan honors fallen soldiers

» 06.02.10 Bennet seeks expansion of “Troops to Teachers”

» 05.29.10 Greeley Tribune – Bill for rural home loan program passes

» 05.28.10 35 veterans in valley receive rent vouchers

» 05.26.10 Senate passes bill to name west Greeley post office for W.D. Farr

Pretty thin gruel.  And the only real substance is bad stuff.  “Bennet plans bill to replicate Denver principal training nationally.”  Why?  It might work; it might not.  But there is no reason to try to impose principal training on a nation-wide basis.  Maybe Illinois or New Mexico have slightly different priorities. 

Or how about this one: “Bennet Installing Solar Panels To Promote Jobs.”  Don’t get me started.  Great.  He is off promoting stupid “green jobs” initiatives that will distort the market in alternative energy, waste billions, and lose jobs.  Think I am overstating things?  Ask Spain how it has worked out.  A study of Spain’s green jobs program found the following, among other key points:

1. As President Obama correctly remarked, Spain provides a reference for the establishment of government aid to renewable energy. No other country has given such broad support to the construction and production of electricity through renewable sources. The arguments for Spain’s and Europe’s “green jobs” schemes are the same arguments now made in the U.S., principally that massive public support would produce large numbers of green jobs. The question that this paper answers is “at what price?”

2. Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created. 

* * *

7. The study calculates that since 2000 Spain spent €571,138 [$701,000] to create each “green job”, including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job.

 Please don’t fight for us, Sen. Bennet.  We can’t afford it.

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Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 10:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Stupid Spending

Via Drudge,

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has so far awarded $1.44 million in federal funds to a project that, among other things, is estimating the size of the population and examining the “social milieu” of male prostitutes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Oy.  To steel and butcher a line from Glenn Reynolds, I’ll believe we can’t do much to cut the budget (and instead have to raise taxes) when the people who keep telling me we can’t do much to cut the budget (and instead have to raise taxes) start acting like we can’t do much to cut the budget.  Seriously, (1) who cares about the size of the population or the “social milieu” of male prostitutes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and (2) who thinks we should be spending the tax dollars of United States citizens to study the population and the “social milieu” of male prostitutes in Vietnam?

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

The NYT’s Take on McDonald

How is it possible that they miss the irony here?  In attacking the McDonald decision, the NYT editorial board has this to say:

The court’s members ignored the present-day reality of Chicago, where 258 public school students were shot last school year — 32 fatally.

Uh, how was that gun ban working out, Chicago?  Yet, according to the NYT, the gun ban was so ineffective that they really need a gun ban, therefore the Constitution cannot mean what it says?  OK. 

The editorial also does a nice job of showing how the NYT wants its preferred outcome to determine what the law should be, instead of the law dictating the outcome:

[T]the justices spent scores of pages in the decision analyzing which legal theory should bind the Second Amendment to the states. Should it be the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, or the amendment’s immunities clause? The argument was not completely settled because there was not a five-vote majority for either path.

The issue is not trivial; had the court backed the immunity-clause path championed by Justice Clarence Thomas, it might have had the beneficial effect of applying more aspects of the Bill of Rights to the states. That could make it easier to require that states, like the federal government, have unanimous jury verdicts in criminal trials, for example, or ban excessive fines.

To the extent that I understand it, as it is not an area of law that I have studied, I agree with Justice Thomas.  The early decisions neutering the Privileges and Immunities Clause make no sense, and Justice Thomas does a great job of demonstrating that the Privileges and Immunities Clause is where the Court should be looking in these cases.  But that is not because looking to the Privileges and Immunities Clause might have had any “beneficial effect.”  It may or may not, and reasonable minds can differ as to whether the effects to which the NYT points would be beneficial, whether in the abstract or in concrete manifestations. 

The point is, the question of whether constitutional rights (a/k/a privileges and immunities) are free from governmental intrusion is not supposed to turn on whether the effect is “beneficial” according to the NYT, 5+ Ivy League lawyers, or me.  As the McDonald majority held, the question is whether “the Framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”  The historical and textual analyses of the Heller and McDonald decisions make clear that they did.  If the NYT editors think the implications are not sufficiently “beneficial,” they should advance the cause of amending the Constitution, not ignoring it.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

More McDonald v. Chicago

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary Contentions notes a WaPo editorial regarding the McDonald decision in which the editors observe a new-found respect for the opinion of legislatures and ask the courts to “‘act with proper restraint and respect for the limits of the judicial role’” with respect for Second Amendment rights.  Her key observation: “Once you acknowledge that something is a fundamental right, the highest level of judicial scrutiny applies — whether it is abortion, free speech, or gun ownership.”

Ms. Rubin is quite correct.  McDonald creates a real problem for those on the left who are enamored of certain rights and want them to be sacrosanct and inviolate, while being less concerned about legislative encroachment on what they deem to be lesser rights.  If forced to support fairly draconian restrictions on the Second Amendment as reasonable, they will be undermining cases, particularly abortion cases, that have previously held that restrictions on rights deemed fundamental must be very strictly reviewed and narrowly tailored. 

The problem runs in both directions, of course.  But given the left’s decades of advancement of their chosen policies through the courts as fundamental rights, pushing the debate into somewhere in the middle is probably a pretty good trade-off for many on the right.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 11:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Re: Home Sales Plummet as Tax Credit Ends

A few days ago, I commented on the drastic drop in home sales following the end of the Homebuyers Tax Credit crutch and speculated that at least some of the money went to sellers in the form of higher prices than the market would otherwise bear.  To recap, a wealth transfer (or more accurately, a taxpayer debt transfer) to sellers in this form results in buyers who use the credit obtaining their homes at above market rates; immediately upon expiration of the credit, the home depreciates to its market value, leaving the buyer underwater.  Stephen Spruiell at NRO’s The Corner reports that, surprise!, this is exactly what is happening.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  

McDonald v. Chicago

In case you have not read it (justifiable, given the 200+ pages of opinions the case generated), the Supreme Court issued a decision holding that the Second Amendment applies equally to the states.  The prior decision striking down the DC gun ban applied only to federal restrictions.  The majority opinion is pretty straightforward. 

Justice Scalia’s separate opinion is what really caught my eye.  He does an excellent take-down of Justice Stevens’ dissent, including this brilliant response to Stevens’ attempt to cast his activist position as one of judicial restraint: 

 

The notion that the absence of a coherent theory of the Due Process Clause will somehow curtail judicial caprice is at war with reason.  Indeterminacy means opportunity for courts to impose whatever rule they like; it is the problem, not the solution.  The idea that interpretive pluralism would reduce courts’ ability to impose their will on the ignorant masses is not merely naïve, but absurd.  If there are no right answers, there are no wrong answers either.

 

The rest of the opinion simply eviscerates Stevens’ approach, which cannot be described as anything more principled than “the Court should allow restrictions that I like on rights that I don’t like (guns), and the Court should not allow restrictions that I don’t like on those rights that I do like (abortion).”

 I also enjoyed this part:

 JUSTICE STEVENS next suggests that the Second Amendment right is not fundamental because it is “different in kind” from other rights we have recognized. . . .  In one respect, of course, the right to keep and bear arms is different from some other rights we have held the Clause protects and he would recognize: It is deeply grounded in our nation’s history and tradition.
 I would add that it is also deeply grounded in the actual words of the freaking document.  You know, the part about “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  It is amazing that Justice Stevens has no qualms about implying all kinds of things that are not in the text but cannot just accept it when the Constitution actually says something in black and white.Stevens’ posturing is just more of people on the left trying to wrap themselves in the mantle of judicial restraint, while taking positions that cannot possibly be squared with it.

Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Home Sales Plummet as Tax Credit Ends

Poof.  Sales dropped a whopping 33% on expiration of the idiotic tax incentive offered to home buyers.  The only thing shocking here is  that the braniacs in the Obama Administration actually thought that giving away taxpayer dollars in this way would accomplish anything other than lining the pockets of homebuyers (who get the credit) and homesellers (who can raise prices to capture at least some of the credit) with borrowed tax dollars.

Almost no one who would otherwise not buy a house is going to buy a house because of an $8,000 tax credit.  What people will do, however, is move their purchase forward or backward in time to take advantage of using other peoples’ money.  Once the bribe expires, sales plummet.  The overall net number of sales for the relevant time period is the same with or without the incentive.  And to the extent that the seller extracted a higher price due to the incentive than the market would otherwise bear, the seller is left with a home that is worth less than market value immediately after closing.  Billions wasted, just to move a few sales up one month, have them crater the next, and leave people in houses that are likely worth some amount less than they paid.

If you have any doubt, just check out this chart at Hotair.  “Cash for clunkers” acted in precisely the same way, causing no net change in car sales. All it did was spend billions to move sales up a month or two.  

That would be no big deal if the programs were free, but they weren’t.  They cost billions in deficit spending that will have to be extracted from the productive sectors of the economy sooner or later, further depressing investment and ultimately economic growth and job creation.  Heck of a job, guys.

Update: But at least the program included plenty of fraud!

Published in: on June 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm  Comments (1)  

MoveOn Scrubbed their “General Betray Us” Ad . . .

. . . as soon as Obama embraced Gen. Petraus to save his ass.  Clowns.

Published in: on June 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Surprise!

Obama’s oil spill panel is larded up with environmental activists instead of people who actually know anything about oil.  There is nothing wrong with having anti-oil opinions — it is childish to despise oil, and it is hopelessly naive to think we have any ready alternatives, but it is not wrong to dislike the concept of using vast amounts of oil.  On the other hand, it certainly is wrong to think that the outcome of any inquiry by this panel is anything but pe-ordained.

Published in: on June 21, 2010 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Part-Time Spill Recovery Chief

Sounds about right for an appointment by the Golfer-in-Chief.

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pissing Off/On Our Allies

Visa Instapundit, the Economist reports that the Brits are not happy:

Nobody should underestimate the scale of BP’s mistake, nor the damage that it has caused. But if the president does not stand up for due process, he will frighten investors across the board. The damage to America’s environment is bad enough. The president risks damaging its economy too.

No one should be surprised.  Remember GM and Chrysler?  I have a good friend who is an in-house attorney representing bond funds.  He is also a life-long liberal.  During the GM bankruptcy, he was appalled at the lawlessness of the government’s strong-arming of bondholders. 

Query: if a government does not respect property and other legal rights, who in their right mind would invest there?  Would you invest in a farm in Zimbabwe?  Didn’t think so.

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Obama Is Not Smart

The genesis of this post is my harassment of a liberal friend last night (amazing that The Wife didn’t kill me for it, since I was pretty obnoxious).  I believe that President Obama is not smart.

I don’t mean ignorant, though he certainly appears to be ignorant of history, economics, and various other things.  Now, we are all ignorant of various things — I, for example, am utterly ignorant regarding chemistry, high fashion, baseball, and the appeal, even to teenage girls, of Justin Bieber.  But simple ignorance is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about raw brainpower.  I do not believe Obama has much of it. 

Obviously, that is a bit of a departure from the conventional wisdom.  A google search for “Obama brilliant” generates 9,540,000 results.  Columnists, whether they are celebrating or bemoaning the incredible downward slide of his presidency, seem professionally obliged to make note of Obama’s brilliance before moving on to a bewildered analysis of how someone so smart can find himself in such a mess so quickly. 

Consider, however, Occam’s Razor — the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  The simplest explanation of Obama’s myriad spectacular failures is that he is just not very smart. 

The evidence:

School.  Obama went to Harvard.  Is that irrefutable proof of brilliance?  That’s where W went as well.  I liked W a lot more than O, but I can’t say he would be my first choice to design a rocket.

Law Review Editor.  Wow, Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review.  A sure sign of brilliance is brilliant scholarship.  So let’s look at Obama’s scholarly works.  What . . . there aren’t any?  How is it that the editor of the Harvard Law Review didn’t write anything worthy of publication in, say, the Harvard Law Review?  Because he had nothing smart to say.

Constitutional Law Scholar.  See above.  The guy taught at U of Chicago for twelve years, with no impact on constitutional law, the U of C, students, or anything else as far as we can tell.

Poet.  

UNDERGROUND

Under water grottos, caverns
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Rushing water,
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.

Speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Lawyer.  Obama has never had a real job.  Trust me, being a summer associate at a national law firm is not a real job — it is a good-paying, no responsibility, waste of time.  More about lunches and firm-sponsored paintball outings and rafting trips (I am not kidding) than legal work.

Community Organizer.  Assuming that being a community organizer means anything, what, exactly, did he accomplish as a community organizer?  Can anyone name one thing?  Didn’t think so.

Legislator.  Well, at least Obama sponsored authored supported read spoke about voted “present” on various pieces of groundbreaking forgettable legislation as a State Senator then Illinois Senator.  Remember that video of an Obama supporter trying to remember his legislative accomplishments?  That’s because there were none.  None.  Not one.  The only thing of significance he ever was is a legislator, and he was an utterly insignificant one.

Speechifier.  Go back and watch video of his early efforts to talk without a teleprompter.  He got better, but imagine what he would be like if the media subjected him to 10% of the hostility W faced anytime he appeared before the media instead of the sycophantic softballs Obama gets.

Economics. Faced with an economic crisis, Obama went to Congress and announced that we have to spend a trillion dollars.  That’s all he did.  So Congress went nuts and spent a bunch of borrowed money on random stuff, to no effect whatsoever.  Unemployment ignored the spendulous — or reacted in the opposite manner than intended — and kept on rising, since employers know who is going to have to pay the piper when all is said and done.  So what do you do when Plan A backfires, try it again as Plans B, C, D, and so on. Throwing money at unions the problem didn’t work, so the obvious solution is throwing more money at unions the problem.  How about a change of direction, Einstein?

Foreign Policy.  We have officially, egregiously, irresponsibly, and, dare I say it, stupidly, alienated our two most important, steadfast, and time-honored alliances.  The Brits and the Israelis are understandably pissed at us, the rest of Europe doesn’t trust us, and bowing (literally) to our various adversaries has produced exactly no results.  Nothing.  The Iranians haven’t given up their nukes, the Palestinians are no less savage, Russia is re-exerting itself, the Chinese are doing whatever the hell they please, the North Koreans are sinking South Korean ships, and so on.  But at least the Western European media loves us!  So what if the Iranians get nukes and have made clear — in english, repeatedly, through their president — their intentions to nuke Israel.

The Environment.  Even the Euros have given up on the myth of global warming, so what we really need in response to the Gulf oil catastrophe is an energy tax.   Really?  Tax every corner of production in the United States to cut carbon emissions during a recession? Even true believers in the faith of global warming have to concede that this is a pretty bad time to impose a new tax every productive endeavor in the country.  But not Obama.

So tell me, what is the evidence that the guy is smart?

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm  Comments (7)  

Further Alienating our Closest Ally

According to the Daily Mail, “Britain’s pension funds . . . rely on BP’s dividend income to provide £1 in every £6 they receive each year. ”  That dividend has already been cut, and if British pension funds rely on BP dividends for 1/6th of their income, they are holding lots and lots of BP shares.  Obama’s $20 billion slush fund is going to leave a mark, as will all of the political grandstanding and criminal prosecutions.  If BP goes under, it will have a devastating impact on our allies, and our alliance.

Nice reset.  Maybe the White House should try one of those Staples “easy” buttons next time around.

Published in: on June 17, 2010 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

And Now for Something Completely Different….

I do some minor woodworking and generally dig tools.  Toolsnob is a great source of reviews and information for such things, and today links some plans for Adirondack chairs.  Looks like a great weekend project.

Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Re: Re: Re:

At the end of a long take-down of Obama’s speech and the administration in general, Victor David Hansen notes the changing tone of the previously sycophantic media:

[T]he sudden damning of Obama’s leadership is a symptom that Obama is turning radioactive, and not even Chris Matthews wants to be the last zealot in Washington crafting yet another narrative of how brilliant and tingly a soon-to-be 30% president “really” is.

In a weird way, the green issue is a gift from the gods for the liberal media: it allows them “on principle” (cf. Maureen Dowd) to distance themselves from Obama (as in “we don’t compromise with the environment” when, in fact, they compromise on everything from Predator assassinations, windmills off Martha’s Vineyard, solar panels in tortoise country, Guantanamo, etc. as long as there is power to be had or amplified).

As they say, read the whole thing.

Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm  Leave a Comment