Unnecessary Government Spending Is Easy To Find

I was reading Roger Simon’s piece on “things the government could do without” — in which he suggests taking the axe to the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, among other things, as a start — and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the things government agencies spend our money on.  In just a few minutes of browsing on the Department of Housing and Urban Development website, I wandered into the grant-making section and found these nuggets of potential cost-cutting goodness:

  • $5,000,000 for a Farmers Market Promotion Program, which provides grants of up to $100,000 “to help improve and expand domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.”  (Funding Opportunity Number: USDA-AMS-FMPP-2010).
  • $492,000 for “an institution of higher education to conduct research on the national economic impact of all types of cooperatives.”  (Funding Opportunity Number: RDBCP-10-04-REIC).
  • $5,000,000 to “Develop a program to involve youth in cooperative efforts in cultural and natural resource conservation related to Reclamation projects on a Nationwide basis.”  (Funding Opportunity Number: R10SS40Y29).
  • $75,000 for a  “Fishing Kids Events” in which urban kids  get to “fish in group’s [sic] on-shore for up to 60 minutes receiving instruction by experienced anglers, or guides, on angling techniques and environmental stewardship.” 
  • $3,000,000 to study “the dynamic relationships between behavioral and social environment factors on the one hand and the basic mechanisms of sleep-wake and circadian regulation and function on the other.”  But they don’t want any “research on or development of treatments or interventions for disorders of sleep or circadian rhythms.”   Too useful, I guess.  (Funding Opportunity Numbers: RFA-HD-11-101, RFA-HD-11-102).
  • $6,000,000 for “funding and technical assistance to catalyze the implementation of locally-driven projects to remove dams and other river barriers, in order to benefit living marine and coastal resources, particularly diadromous fish.”  (Funding Opportunity Number: NOAA-NMFS-HCPO-2011-2002644).
  • $1,900,000 “to advance research on basic processes and mechanisms of self-regulation” of cognition, emotion, and behavior.  (Funding Opportunity Number: RFA-AG-11-010).
  • $150,000 for “a cooperator to develop a framework that identifies the overarching principles as well as the elements or key characteristics of organizations and communities that foster digital inclusion,” whatever that PC gobbledygook means. (Funding Opportunity Number:  FDI-2010).
  • $30,000 for a  project “designed to connect students to local natural resources, to foster emotional ties with the local environment, and to provdie [sic] guidane [sic] for practicing heaalthy [sic] habits for personal fitness and health. 
  • $100,000 in “grants for K-12 teachers, enhanced online wildlife conservation resources for high school teachers, Youth Conservation Engagement grants and development of conservation career profiles for youth.”  (Funding Opportunity Number: FWS-NCTC-2010-15).
  • $3,750,000 to study “how newly learned, effortful, and goal-directed behaviors transition to less effortful, automatic, and essentially non-goal-directed behaviors that are more easily maintained over time.”  (Funding Opportunity Number: RFA-HL-11-035).

In under an hour, I was able to identify $25,497,000 in wasteful federal grant spending (and I tried to avoid “stimulus” grants altogether). 

Don’t get me wrong — a case could be made that every one of these programs has some merit.  And if they were pursued through donated dollars, I could support many of them. 

But taxpayers, not voluntary donors, are funding all of this stuff.  I see nothing in the Constitution about providing federal support for farmers markets, sleep deprivation research, fishing outings, or developing conservation career profiles for kids. 

And yes, $25,497,000 is chump change in our federal budget.  But these examples are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the low-hanging fruit I could gather in just an hour.  This is before taking a hard look at programs taking a much larger bite out of taxpayers’ wallets.

Throw in the entire National Endowment for the Arts ($167,500,000 in FY 2010), the National Endowment for the Humanities ($171,315,000 in FY 2010), and federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($420,000,000 in FY 2010), and we are starting to talk real money. 

Again, I enjoy NPR, This Old House, many forms of art, and so on.  In fact, my wife and I attend the symphony and plays, we are members of the Denver Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, and she is on the Boards of two art-related nonprofits.  But I do not think the government has any business funding art, tv, or radio.  If an audience wants it, they will support it.  If not, then why should taxpayers?

If we are to get spending under control and rein in the deficit, we need leadership that will take a close look at the budget and make hard choices about what is really necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of the U.S. and its citizens.  We need to cut spending, not raise taxes.

Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Obama Administration Is Now Lying About Its Support For The Iraq Surge

As President Obama prepares to go on TV tonight and attempt to lay claim to the Bush Administration’s victory in Iraq, Robert Gibbs is hitting the airwaves to spread falsehoods about Obama’s prior support for the war effort.  In particular, Gibbs had this to say on the Today show:

What is certainly not up for question is that President Obama, then-candidate Obama, said that adding those 20,000 troops into Iraq would, indeed, improve the security situation, and it did.

Writing at Commentary Contentions, Peter Wehner proves that this statement is a lie.  On the very night that President Bush’s announced the surge that broke the back of the insurgency in Iraq, then-Senator Obama made the following statement: “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” 

Gibbs’ claim to the contrary is not a shading of the truth. It is not a careful parsing of words to imply something that maybe is not exactly true.  The statement is an outright lie. 

In an important essay, also at Commentary, Wehner goes on to catalog statements by liberal surge opponents in Congress and the media, including then-Senators Clinton and Biden, Senator Kerry, and various columnists at the NYT and WaPo.  Do read the whole thing.  The mendacity and political gamesmanship during a time of war is staggering when looking at it in the rearview mirror. 

Like the victory in the Cold War, liberals are in the process of trying to re-write history to claim that the Iraq war victory was won in large part because of them, when both wars were won despite liberals’ vociferous and often nasty opposition to the policies and the policy-makers responsible for winning them.

Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Colorado Democrats Fail To Understand Bill They Drafted, Blame Attorney General John Suthers

One of the reasons I am in favor of restraint in legislation and less government intervention is because our elected legislators, in particular, are constantly reminding us of how bad they are at doing the job we elected them to do.  Today’s example comes to us courtesy of the Colorado General Assembly. 

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed and Governor Ritter signed into law House Bill 1351 (a/k/a House Bill 10-1351), which regulates and limits the interest and fees that can be charged for “payday loans.”  In general, a “payday loan” is a loan in which the lender takes a post-dated check as the sole security for a short-term loan in the amount of the check minus finance charges and fees.  See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 5-3.1-102(3).  

Since there is no collateral, and the borrower is almost by definition living on the financial edge, these loans carry a high level of risk to lenders, and lenders historically charged borrowers a correspondingly high amount of interest and fees.   House Bill 1351 sets six months as the minimum loan term, imposes a maximum interest rate, and prohibits lenders from charging a pre-payment penalty. 

The Denver Post reports that a “controversy over payday-lending regulations has escalated after the two Democratic lawmakers behind the industry overhaul said the Republican attorney general’s staff has favored lenders when it comes to fees.”  The controversy arises, according to two Democrat sponsors of the bill, from the question of whether “lenders should have to refund a portion of the loan-origination fee to borrowers who repay their debts early.” 

Unfortunately, the Denver Post did not bother to quote House Bill 1351 itself.  It did, however, find space to note more than once that Democrats have accused John Suthers of improperly accepting campaign donations from payday lenders while his staff drafted regulations implementing the bill. 

So who is right here?  Through the magic of the Internet, I found and now present to you the relevant language of House Bill 1351 (with emphasis paragraph breaks added): 

A lender may charge a finance charge for each deferred deposit loan or payday loan that may not exceed twenty percent of the first three hundred dollars loaned plus seven and one-half percent of any amount loaned in excess of three hundred dollars. Such charge shall be deemed fully earned as of the date of the transaction

The lender may also charge an interest rate of forty-five percent per annum for each deferred deposit loan or payday loan. If the loan is prepaid prior to the maturity of the loan term, the lender shall refund to the consumer a prorated portion of the annual percentage rate based upon the ratio of time left before maturity to the loan term. 

In addition, the lender may charge a monthly maintenance fee for each outstanding deferred deposit loan, not to exceed seven dollars and fifty cents per one hundred dollars loaned, up to thirty dollars per month. The monthly maintenance fee may be charged for each month the loan is outstanding thirty days after the date of the original loan transaction. 

The lender shall charge only those charges authorized in this Article in connection with a deferred deposit loan. 

There isn’t even much ambiguity, if any.  

There are three allowed charges: (1) a finance charge that is “fully earned as of the date of the transaction”; (2) a maximum interest rate, with a refund of a “prorated portion of the annual percentage rate” upon prepayment; and (3) a monthly maintenance fee.  Since the finance charge is “fully earned as of the date of the transaction” it was intended to be non-refundable.  This is confirmed by the fact that only a “prorated portion of the annual percentage rate” is declared to be refundable upon prepayment.  That is the only reasonable interpretation of the language drafted and passed by the General Assembly. 

It is the General Assembly’s job to draft legislation.  If the legislators failed to accomplish what they intended, that is not the fault of the Attorney General’s Office.  Its job is merely to give effect to the language drafted by others. 

Nevertheless, the Denver Post magically transforms a story that should be about Colorado Democrats either not understanding the clear, unambiguous language of a bill they drafted, or misinterpreting it for political purposes, into a  controversy about campaign contributions and implementing regulations.

Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Another One For The “Imagine The Outrage If A Bush Appointee Had Done It” File

Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, urged Department of Education employees to attend Sharpton’s rally against Glenn Beck through an internal email sent to 4,000 federal employees.  As the man says:

“It sends a signal that activity on behalf of one side of a political debate is expected within a department. It’s highly inappropriate … even in the absence of a direct threat,” [David] Boaz [of the Cato Institute] said. “If we think of a Bush cabinet official sending an e-mail to civil servants asking them to attend a Glenn Beck rally, there would be a lot of outrage over that.”

Yep, the NYT/WaPo/CNN/MSNBC/NPR, etc. would have spent the rest of the week hand-wringing about how such abuse of power threatens the very fabric of the nation.  In this case, we’ll listen to crickets chirping instead.  Media bias is not only about how  stories are covered.  It is often about whether stories are covered at all.

There is no question that the Al Sharpton event was a political event largely aimed at supporting Obama and opposing Republicans and tea party supporters.  As such, it is highly inappropriate for the political appointees of the Obama Administration to suggest that other federal employees turn out to support it.

Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

“If art is designed to pose a question to the world, these seemed like asinine questions no one really wanted answers to. “

I think that a lot when viewing art that is supposed to mean something, actually. 

The quote is from a funny article at Cracked about the Burning Man festival.  Apparently, running around in a scorching dust pit for 7 days with a bunch of half-dressed smelly leftovers from the last Grateful Dead tour is not as fun as it sounds.

Via Ace’s sidebar.

Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Proposed Amendment 63 To The Colorado Constitution Challenges ObamaCare

The Independence Institute has gathered enough signatures to place its “Right to Health Care Choice” citizens amendment to the Colorado Constitution on the ballot for the November election.  If Amendment 63 is passed, Article II of the Constitution of the State of Colorado would be amended by the addition of a new Section 32 to read as follows:

(1) All persons shall have the right to health care choice. No statute, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or enforced by the State of Colorado, its departments and agencies, independently or at the instance of the United States shall:

     (a) require any person directly or indirectly to participate in any public or private health insurance plan, health coverage plan, health benefit plan, or similar plan; or

     (b) deny, restrict, or penalize the right or ability of any person to make or receive direct payments for lawful health care services.

(2) This section shall not apply to, affect, or prohibit: (A) emergency medical treatment required by law to be provided or performed by hospitals, health facilities, or other health care providers; or (B) health benefits provided in connection with workers’ compensation or similar insurance.

(3) “Lawful Health Care Services” means any service or treatment permitted or not prohibited by any provision of Colorado law.

(4) This section is intended to reflect and affirm the powers reserved to the State by U.S. Const., Amend. X, and to implement the powers reserved to the People by Section I of Article V of this Constitution.

(5) This section shall become effective upon proclamation by the Governor, shall be self implementing in all respects, and shall supersede any provision to the contrary in the Constitution of the State of Colorado or any other provision of law.

(6) If any provision of this section or the application thereof to any person, entity, or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this section that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this section are declared severable.

This looks like a well-drafted Amendment, and it would send a powerful message to Washington if passed.  It is also very difficult to argue against in the current political environment.   I expect and hope that Amendment 63 will pass in November.

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

More Thoughts On Regulation Arising From Mile High Cab Decision

I previously wrote about the general effect that regulation often has on competition in the context of the Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision in the Mile High Cab case recommending that it not be allowed to introduce 150 new cabs into the Denver-area taxi market.

The matter fascinates me because I have experience with regulated industries, and the hidden costs of regulation are a a huge problem in my view.  Rather than comment further on the decision itself or the Denver taxi market, I would like to note one of the great costs of the regulatory state that often goes unnoticed — the time, energy, and money that simply dealing with the regulatory state entails.  I often refer to these costs as “friction.”  The Mile High Cab case provides a lesson in the high cost of friction in the system. 

Mile High Cab made a simple request — permission to operate 150 cabs of various makes and models, model 2000 or newer, seating 5 or more passengers.  It made this request on September 11, 2008.  The process is not close to finished.  And so far, it has not been simple.

The ALJ’s decision denying Mile High cab’s request is about 80 pages long.  Almost 10 pages of the decision are devoted to discussing the procedural history of the case to date.  In other words, 1/8 of this lengthy decision is spent just describing what happened in the case prior to the decision’s being issued. 

From mid-September 2008 until mid-2009, the parties and the ALJ dealt with various procedural things that had to be worked out before moving on to deciding what to do in the case.  Meanwhile, at least ten other taxi and shuttle companies “intervened,” meaning they joined the case to have a seat at the table and try to influence the decision.

Based on statutory standards governing such matters, the hearing  at which evidence was to be presented was split into three phases.  The hearing was then scheduled for August 24 through 31, and September 9 through 15, 2009. 

Before the first witness was called at the hearing, the ALJ had to address 26 motions — requests filed with the ALJ  seeking rulings on various matters — which occupied the entire first day of the hearing.  During the following weeks of the hearing, 71 exhibits were entered into evidence.  Fourteen witnesses testified on behalf of Mile High Cab, and sixteen testified against it, including paid expert witnesses hired by each side.

After the hearing, the parties filed “Statements of Position” summarizing favorable evidence and arguing that the ALJ should reach whatever conclusion each party desired.  These statements were filed October 14, 2009. 

The ALJ’s decision was then issued July 20, 2010.  It is only a recommendation that the Public Utilities Commission can accept, modify, or reject.  After that, the parties can appeal the Commission’s decision to the Colorado court system.

As an attorney, the time and resources expended so far on this matter are not the least bit surprising to me.   Hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least) have now been spent trying to determine whether adding 150 cabs in Denver is good for consumers or not.  And even today, there is no finality as to the matter.

A better — and certainly more efficient — way would be to just let competition sort these things out.  If Mile High Cab had simply entered the market with 150 cabs in September 2008, we would know for certain by now if they were a viable competitor and whether consumers would gain or lose by their presence.  Instead, as of August 2010, we really have no idea.

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Global Warming Activists Beg For Respsect, While Staging Play Fights Wearing A Crab Suit

This is kind of sad, actually:

They put on what they called a “CarnivOil” – a fake carnival with a stilt-wearing barker, free “tar balls” (chocolate doughnuts), and a suit-wearing “oil executive” punching somebody dressed like a crab. It was supposed to be satire, but there was a bitter message underneath: When we fight the oil and gas industry, they win.

“We killed the clean-energy bill! There’s still no cap on oil spills!” yelled Heather Brutz, the barker, who was pretending to speak for the industry. “And now, for our graaaaaaand finale, we’re going to pass the diiiiiirty-air act!”

* * *

Every few minutes, there would be a fight. The person in the crab costume – said to be boxing on behalf of the environment – would take on the fake oil executive. Each bout followed the same script: The oil executive would bribe the referee, who would make the crab take off his boxing gloves.

Soon after, the crab would be lying on the mat, KO’d.

“Oh! The Earth is down! It’s taken too many hits!” yelled “ref” Scott Thompson. “Remember, folks, just like in the real world, big oil always gets the upper hand!”

Guys, you aren’t losing the global warming debate because of bribes, etc. by “Big Oil.”  In fact, in Washington the Obama Administration and Congress are desperately shoveling vast amounts of money into the pockets of “green industries” that compete with the oil industry and calling it “stimulus.”  The environmentalist/global warming movement — which is not synonymous with people who care for and want to protect the environment — are in fact losing the global warming debate in part because they refuse to engage in it.

The global warming movement declared the science settled, the debate over, and skeptics to be on par with Holocaust deniers.  They then asked for the entire economy to be remade overnight at a cost of trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, and the entirety of our competitive position in the world market. 

It turns out, however, that it is the university and government scientists who have been incessantly ringing the alarm bells — while happily collecting millions in research grants — who have been relying on faulty science, refusing to share their data, and even cooking the books to support an advocacy position rather than performing actual science. 

On top of that, the world has witnessed elaborate conventions attended by thousands of global warming activists arriving by private aircraft and tooling around in gas-guzzling limousines.  Making matters worse still, prominent activists such as Al Gore and James Cameron refuse to engage in debate, rely on hyperbole, falsehoods, and ad hominem attacks against skeptics, while living carbon-intensive lifestyles of the rich and famous. 

Global warming activists have squandered so much credibility that restoring it will be difficult, and it will take far more than street theater involving fake carnivals, stilt-wearing barker, and guys dressed up like crabs.  It will require rigorous science, intolerance for sloppy, manipulated, or faked data and models, and the good faith engagement of skeptics in debate. 

If environmentalists can prevail on the merits of the debate, they will advance their movement.   If not, and I see no signs that they will even try, the global warming agenda will remain dead in the water.

Via Ace of Spades HQ.

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  

The Denver Post — Searching For Hypocrisy By Ken Buck, While Ignoring Hypocrisy By Michael Bennet

The Denver Post is trying to brand Ken Buck as a hypocrite because he is campaigning against earmarks as a Senate candidate after trying to landing some for Weld County when he was Weld County District Attorney.  Nice try, but wrong.  

The problem of earmarks is that those doling out the money are not spending it on the basis ef merit.  They are directing it to supporters and constituents to get themselves re-elected.   They are unseemly, a source of corruption, and an incredibly inefficient way to spend money.  Earmarks should therefore be abolished.  

But earmarks are spending federal money — i.e., money extracted from taxpayers throughout the nation.  So if, for example, Colorado’s elected officials swear off earmarks, while California’s don’t, Colorado’s taxpayers will get less of their federal tax dollars back in the form of federal spending and a greater proportion will instead be spent in states such as California. 

As a Weld County D.A., Buck should have sought as much federal money as possible — it may not be spent well, but it won’t be spent any worse than if it is spent elsewhere, and at least some of that money was extracted from Weld County taxpayers.  You can’t blame a guy for playing by the rules, even if the rules are a bad idea. 

So while I don’t support the use of earmarks, I also cannot support a decision to unilaterally disarm.  I would actually prefer that Buck earmark if elected Senator, while lobbying against the earmark system.

David Harsanyi notes a much better example of hypocrisy by a Colorado Senate candidate that you won’t see reported in the Denver Post’s news pages.  Sen. Bennet told this to Good Morning America:

A fiscal policy that relies on cutting taxes for the very wealthiest of Americans, the people that needed tax cuts the least, borrowing the money from the Chinese and forcing our kids to pay for those taxes is not a fiscal policy that the people of Colorado are interesting in pursuing. I don’t think we can afford it.

Bennet made $12 million in two years shortly after the Bush tax cuts were enacted.  If he thought his taxes were too low, why didn’t he just pay more?  That is always an option.  Shouldn’t we expect those who assert that taxes are too low to voluntarily pay more as an example to the rest of us? 

Indeed, anyone who contends that taxes are too low should put their own money where their mouth is and cut a check to the U.S. Treasury.  Yet they don’t.  That really is hypocritical.

Published in: on August 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bennet Talks Like A Deficit Hawk, But He Walks Like A Big-Spender

I recently wrote about Senator Bennet’s sham Deficit Reduction Act.  Vincent Carroll hits him pretty hard on federal spending/deficit reduction in today’s Denver Post:

If you’re partial to stern warnings about the growing national debt and grand schemes for shrinking it, Bennet is your man. But be sure to avert your eyes from his actual record.

Pay no attention to the contrast between Bennet’s green-eye-shade rhetoric and his drunken-sailor votes. Rest assured that 18 months of supporting one lavish spending and bailout bill after another provide no hint whatsoever of Bennet’s core fiscal philosophy.

As recently as June, Bennet joined 44 other senators to back another stimulus package that would have added $80 billion to the deficit. Now, $80 billion may be chump change by Washington’s standards, but it’s still $80 billion. A dozen Senate Democrats actually broke ranks with the administration to defeat the plan, but not our fiscal hawk from Colorado. He thought the federal spending spree that absolutely, positively needs to end shouldn’t end quite yet.

Quite so.  Regardless of what Bennet says about federal spending, we have a record of what he actually does.

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Colorado’s Senator Bennet On The Campaign Trail — Not Exactly A Profile In Courage

Now he tells us: “Regarding spending during his time in office [Sen. Bennet] said, ‘We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet’ and, ‘in my view we have nothing to show for it.'”  Maybe Senator Bennet  should have voted against some of that spending when he had the chance.  Instead, he voted for the Obama Administration’s measures that added massive amounts of debt to our balance sheet in record time.

“Regarding the expiration of the Bush tax cuts[,] Bennet would not commit to a position on whether to extend them simply saying, ‘I hope we look at it comprehensively.’”  In other words, he’s against extending them but afraid to say so. 

By “look[ing] at it comprehensively,” Bennet means he wants deficit reduction through higher taxes (if he wants deficit reduction at all).  The point of the Democrats’ “comprehensive” review of deficit reduction measures is to find a way to promise spending reduction while delivering tax increases.

“Bennet also received a question about whether he would support card check and declined to give a firm answer saying, ‘I have not been a sponsor of the employee free choice act and the bill as written will not come to the floor to a vote.'”  In other words, he’s in favor of it, but afraid to say so.

If you are in favor of higher taxes, Senator Bennet, just stand up and say it. If you are in favor of eliminating the secret ballot for unionization votes — that is what “card check” is, in effect — stand up and say so.  Don’t hide behind gibberish about bill sponsorship and voting procedures.

Bennet may not be a career politician, but he sure sounds like one.

UPDATE: Bennet’s comment regarding trillions in debt, “nothing to show for it” is being highlighted on Drudge.  That is not someplace you want your gaffes to be linked.

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm  Comments (2)  

The Law Of Supply And Demand Unexpectedly Remains In Force

Remember cash for clunkers?  It was one of the Obama Administration’s green initiatives, where new car buyers were given (borrowed) tax dollars if they traded up a few miles per gallon and their used cars were then destroyed. 

The program was touted by the Obama Administration and the media as being wildly popular and therefore successful.  It never seemed to dawn on the Administration or the media that any program that gives one group of people another group’s money will be pretty popular among the group receiving the money.  Anyway, that’s old news.

This isn’t: Edmund’s reports that the  “average price of a three-year old car is 11.1 percent higher than it was last year – the highest year-over-year increase since Edmund’s began keeping records in 2004.”  Unexpected!  Not exactly.

Anyone who has heard of a novel concept called “supply and demand” knows that, if you reduce supply, but demand remains the same, the price increases.  Apparently, no one in the Obama Administration is familiar with the concept.

Let’s not forget who won and who now loses as a result of the cash for clunkers fiasco.  The people who received tax incentives had enough money or sufficient income to go buy a new car.  The people now stuck paying higher prices are those who can only afford to buy used.

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

There Is Nothing Dignified About Charles Rangel

Ethically-bankrupt Representative Charles Rangel is lamenting the situation he finds himself in.  He didn’t cause it, mind you.  It just happened. 

And dignity demands that he stay in Congress for at least one more term:

Rangel even responded to a particularly high-ranking critic, refusing President Obama’s month-old request that he “end his career with dignity” at the end of his current term.

“Frankly, he has not been around long enough to determine what my dignity is,” Rangel said of the baby-boomer Obama.

This has nothing to do with dignity. Rangel has nothing to do with dignity.  He is all about ego and corruption.

Rangel is one of those politicians who appropriates others’ money, spends it on things they may or may not want, makes sure that some of the money ends up in the pockets of his cronies, names the project after himself, and then expects us to thank him for his service.  There is nothing dignified about it.

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Sweet, Sweet Gridlock

David Harsanyi waxes eloquently at Real Clear Politics about my favorite condition of government.  Gridlock. 

If I had more confidence in our elected officials, I would probably prefer to have conservatives in control, at least if they were fiscal conservatives as opposed to the hard core social types.  But I don’t.  So the next best thing is gridlock. 

The best thing government can do is leave us all alone — secure the borders, protect the homeland and our interests abroad, then stay out of the way as much as you can, and thank us for giving you a job.  But the Bush II Administration proved that the impulse to do more is hard to resist.  They were a hell of a lot better than the current crowd, but they still expanded the size and cost of government.  If you are the hammer, it is tough to avoid seeing the world as a nail.

So if self-restraint is not in evidence among our political class, the next best thing is diffuse power.  The disastrous Obama Presidency would have been far less so (though not in the realm of foreign policy) if the Republicans controlled just one of the houses of Congress.  My preference has generally been for the President to be a Republican, the Senate to be in Republican control, and then the House can belong to the Democrats. 

As Harsanyi says, come November, “Republicans will have enough votes to prevent any more great leaps forward. Nothing of consequence will happen. And nothing could be better.”

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Brave Sir James Cameron Bravely Ran Away

Movie director James Cameron announced that he “wanted to call those [global warming] deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out,” in a debate in the former frontier mining town of Aspen, Colorado.  He then changed the format, then banned cameras, then excluded the media, then just chickened out.

With apologies to the Monty Python gang:

Brave Sir [Camr’n] ran away.
Bravely ran away, away!
When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
Yes, brave Sir [Camr’n] turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.
Bravely taking to his feet
He beat a very brave retreat,
Bravest of the brave, Sir [Camr’n]!

Funny how the guys who are so certain that the evidence is conclusive, the science sound, and the world must change its entire energy base no matter the cost don’t seem particularly interested in discussing the merits of their position with those who have doubts.

Via Hot Air.

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment