Archive for June, 2010

Too much debt, too much regulation, too much uncertainty, and…

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Why Obamanomics Has Failed
Uncertainty about future taxes and regulations is enemy No. 1 of economic growth.

wo overarching reasons explain the failure of Obamanomics. First, administration economists and their outside supporters neglected the longer-term costs and consequences of their actions. Second, the administration and Congress have through their deeds and words heightened uncertainty about the economic future. High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth.

How about the “stimulus”?

Most of the earlier spending was a very short-term response to long-term problems. One piece financed temporary tax cuts. This was a mistake, and ignores the role of expectations in the economy. Economic theory predicts that temporary tax cuts have little effect on spending. Unless tax cuts are expected to last, consumers save the proceeds and pay down debt. Experience with past temporary tax reductions, as in the Carter and first Bush presidencies, confirms this outcome.

Another large part of the stimulus went to relieve state and local governments of their budget deficits. Transferring a deficit from the state to the federal government changes very little. Some teachers and police got an additional year of employment, but their gain is temporary. Any benefits to them must be balanced against the negative effect of the increased public debt and the temporary nature of the transfer.

The Obama economic team ignored past history. The two most successful fiscal stimulus programs since World War II—under Kennedy-Johnson and Reagan—took the form of permanent reductions in corporate and marginal tax rates. Economist Arthur Okun, who had a major role in developing the Kennedy-Johnson program, later analyzed the effect of individual items. He concluded that corporate tax reduction was most effective.

Don’t expect much of that any time soon. Instead, businesses face,

  • the burden of government-mandated healthcare, and whatever it may mean if they hire new employees
  • cap and trade, “Who will be forced to pay?”

Additionally, the expansion of Medicaid increasing the burden on the states, the bailouts, which

ran roughshod over the rule of law. Chrysler bondholders were given short shrift in order to benefit the auto workers union. By weakening the rule of law, the president opened the way to great mischief and increased investors’ and producers’ uncertainty.

And, to top it off, something the article doesn’t mention directly:
As the Gulf oil spill is demonstrating, an absence of leadership and an overload of bureaucratic shortsightedness.

None of the above make for sound economic policy. Combined, they are recipe for disaster.

As James Pethokoukis notes, private-sector led growth is the only way to avoid U.S. economic collapse

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US finally accepts some assistance on Gulf oil spill UPDATED

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Seventy days after the explosion, and only from a few countries.

Friggin’ unbelievable that it’s taken this long, and that they’re still undecided on the rest:
US accepts international assistance for Gulf spill
US accepts international assistance in dealing with massive oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

The United States is accepting help from 12 countries and international organizations in dealing with the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The State Department said in a statement Tuesday that the U.S. is working out the particulars of the help that’s been accepted.

The identities of all 12 countries and international organizations were not immediately announced. One country was cited in the State Department statement — Japan, which is providing two high-speed skimmers and fire containment boom.

More than 30 countries and international organizations have offered to help with the spill. The State Department hasn’t indicated why some offers have been accepted and others have not.

Go read the charts in this post, “Under consideration”: the Obamatrina approach to crisis-solving, to get an idea of what countries are offering.

Timeline from RightChange, via Ace,

Oil Spill Timeline from RightChange on Vimeo.

Ace has the flaming skull on this post: Blame the EPA: Dutch Oil Spill Response Ships Could Suck 99% of Oil From Gulf, But Can’t Get Approved, Because EPA Demands 99.9985% Purity. Betsy has a post on the pathologies of the federal bureaucracy. Flopping Aces found “A Whale” – World’s Largest Oil Skimmer Waiting on EPA and Coast Guard Approval

A Taiwanese-owned, Liberian-flagged tanker, the A Whale, has been modified for skimming up to 500,000 barrels of oil-contaminated water a day. To put this in context, if the system works as intended, it could skim in less than two days an amount of oil equal to all the oil skimmed in the past 7o days of the ongoing Deepwater Horizon spill. The A Whale is designed to operate offshore where most skimmers have difficulty operating. It is currently in Norfolk, VA awaiting approval of separate waivers from the Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow it to begin testing. Because the A Whale would be operating well offshore it is not believed to require a Jones Act Waiver.

Allahpundit:

If you’re not tearing at your hair after reading that, read this report from the New Orleans Times-Picayune about federal red tape keeping other skimmers out of the gulf. And not just foreign skimmers, either: For instance, thanks to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, you need minimum levels of certain equipment aboard (like booms) or else it’s no go. This is where we’re at after weeks of oil gushing at a rate of around one Exxon Valdez every three or four days.

It’ll get worse. There are hurricanes on the area.

UPDATE
Bi-partisan? Oh yeah, babeee…

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) wanted to fly 10 lawmakers down to the Gulf of Mexico to see the damage caused by BP’s gigantic oil spill first hand.

House Democrats said no.

I say the Republicans should still go, paying for their own expenses, and see the damage.

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Podcast postponed

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Today’s podcast had to be postponed until tomorrow at 11AM Eastern due to a rescheduled appointment. The subject will be the bill in the House Agriculture Committee that Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson wants to pass, which would lift US travel restrictions to Cuba (Cubans can’t get anywhere unless the Cuban government tells them to, so that will remain unchanged).
Thank you for your patience and support.

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Tuesday night musical: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

From the musical, now playing on TCM, A Brotherhood of Man

Mad Men has a lot to thank to Robert Morse and the original HTSIBWORT, too,

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Psst, wanna make $100,000? UPDATED: $100, PBR, and now, subway fare, too!

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Andrew Breitbart’s got how:
Reward: $100,000 for Full ‘JournoList’ Archive; Source Fully Protected

I’ve had $100,000 burning in my pocket for the last three months and I’d really like to spend it on a worthy cause. So how about this: in the interests of journalistic transparency, and to offer the American public a unique insight in the workings of the Democrat-Media Complex, I’m offering $100,000 for the full “JournoList” archive, source fully protected. Now there’s an offer somebody can’t refuse.

I therefore offer the sum of $100,000 to the person who provides the full “JournoList” archive. We will protect that person’s privacy and identity forever. No one will ever know who became $100,000 richer – and did the right thing, morally and ethically — by shining the light of truth on this seamy underworld of the media.

Cash, undeclared, and ready.

Someone’s got to take that offer.

UPDATE
Offer: $20 and a Case of PBR for JournoList Emails About The Weekly Standard.
Heck, I must join in the offers:
$2.25 or 1-way subway fare for JournoList emails about Fausta’s blog.

UPDATE, Wednesday 30 June
,
GM Roper:

I think if Fausta threw in a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich she’d have a taker.

It’s a deal, GM! Subway fare and a PBJ!

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Tut’s own private dick?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

After the Russian spies and Cat Woman, it’s time for today’s important penis news:
On the trail of Tutankhamen’s penis

When I started investigating a news story about the possible cause of King Tutankhamen’s death, I never expected to end up on the trail of his penis.

And why is that?

But on closer scrutiny of his paper, I spotted a note admitting that the penis in question is no longer attached to the king’s body.

Well, at least it wasn’t because Tut had been watching too much internet prn.

Sing it, Steve,

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Cat Woman in a burqa?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Another news item today like something out of a movie?

A PURR-FECT DISGUISE: A wanted poster shows a likeness of the masked woman who robbed Arche shoes at Astor Place in Manhattan and The Body Shop in Forest Hills, Queens, last week.

Thief of a thousand a couple of disguises and very little brain:
Holy masquerade! Cat woman strikes.

But wait, she wears Cat Woman mask to Arche, and only takes $86 from the register?

According to the source, the lithe 5-foot-6, 115 pound thief, described in a wanted poster as possibly Middle Eastern, strode into the store at around 1:30 p.m. She prowled for about 45 minutes before donning her disguise and pouncing on a sales clerk.

Love how she put on her mask after being caught on tape, but then there’s the report: Hmmm… lithe? prowled? pounced? The guy who wrote this report for the NY Post has a huge crush on Halle Berry, for sure.

“Give me the money. I have a gun,” read a note Cat Woman passed to the worker, according to the source.

She got her paws on $86 in cash and scampered off, the source said.

Oh yeah. The reporter just purrs over Halle. $5 says he’s got this poster somewhere in his habitat:

But back to the thief:
What was she thinking? Arche shoes are $300+. Couldn’t she at least get a few pairs in her size, and then get the register cash for cab fare and lunch money?

Anyway, the next disguise was a burqa, which she wore to – where else – The Body Shop. No irony intended on the burqa/cosmetics statement.

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The spies next door

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

News from the Cold War, today, a week after Obama took Medvedev out for a burger:
Ten Alleged Secret Agents Arrested in the United States
Multi-year FBI Investigation Uncovers Network in the United States Tasked with Recruiting Sources and Collecting Information for Russia

Eight individuals were arrested Sunday for allegedly carrying out long-term, “deep-cover” assignments in the United States on behalf of the Russian Federation, the Justice Department announced today. Two additional defendants were also arrested Sunday for allegedly participating in the same Russian intelligence program within the United States.

In total, 11 defendants, including the 10 arrested, are charged in two separate criminal complaints with conspiring to act as unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States. Federal law prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the United States without prior notification to the U.S. Attorney General. Nine of the defendants are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

They lived near here:

The defendants known as “Richard Murphy” and “Cynthia Murphy” were arrested yesterday by FBI agents at their residence in Montclair, N.J.

And the house looks like any other NJ house,

Richard Fernandez writes about What the Russian Sleepers Did in New Jersey:

New Jersey cell
[Spring 2009] “[i]nfo task” from the spring of 2009, in advance of “Obama’s visit to [Russia], ” … information on the U.S. position with respect to a new Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear programs. Moscow Center indicated that it “needs intels (related to this [sic] topics) which should reflect approaches and ideas of ‘[Russia] policy team member’: [four names of sub-cabinet United States foreign policy officials, omitted]. Try to outline their views and most import Obama’s goals which he expects to achieve during summit in July and how does his team plan to do it (arguments, provisions, means of persuasion to ‘lure’ [Russia] into cooperation in US interest).”

[Feb 3, 09] “had work-related personal meetings with [a prominent New York-based financier, name omitted] and was assigned his account” … “financier prominent in plitics,” “an active fundraiser for [a major political party, name omitted],” and “a personal friend of a [a current Cabinet official, name omitted]. A response from Moscow Center indicated that the financier “is checked in C’s database – he is clean. Of course he is a very interesting ‘target’. Try to build up little by little relations with him … maybe he can provide … with remarks are US foreign policy … White House internal ‘kitchen’ …

[Oct 18] “vital for R, highlighting US approach and providing comments made by local expert (political, economic) scientist’s community. Try to single out tidbits unknown but revealed in private by sources close to State department, Government, major think tanks.”

[October of 2009] “Info: on gold” …

[December 2009] “strengthen … ties w. classmates on daily basis incl. professor who can help in job search … collect information on certain university associations … students who apply (or are hired already) for a job at CIA …

[Jan 19, 2010] “a job with a private sector entity that would involve ‘lobbying’ … concerned “might require an extended background check.”

Richard points out that the NY Times has no time for sleeper cells, but the issue is this,

The NYT maybe mistaken in thinking the only useful kinds of subversives are those who take pictures of blueprints with Minox miniature cameras. Agents who can influence policy at the direction of foreign intelligence important too. The pattern is clear. These sleepers were to do mostly what policy wonks, journalists, lobbyists and activists routinely did. The Russians worked to use the sleepers as spotters, semi-open source intel gatherers and influence peddlers. One of the interesting aspects of the modus operandi is that the distinction between their tasks at the behest of a foreign power and what activists might ordinarily do is pretty small. They met people and influenced options — that’s what people in policy circles do! This espionage case raises the question: if the behavior of Russian agents is outwardly no different from people who are practicing the “highest form of patriotism” what is the difference between the two? When the question: ‘whose side are you on?’ ceases to be a legitimate test of patriotism, how is treachery defined? Outwardly the sleepers did for love of the Rodina what many would do out of resentment toward their own country. Maybe the Russians will eventually return home to a medal. They knew at all events, whose side they were on.

Some people have no doubts.

And those who have doubts have the agents turn up on TV talk shows, go on book tours and get on the cover of People magazine.

Would you like some fries with that?

UPDATE
Peruvian-born journalist accused of being Russian spy against the US

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Supreme Court supports gun rights

Monday, June 28th, 2010

High Court Rules in Favor of Gun Rights

The Supreme Court ruled for the first time that gun possession is fundamental to American freedom, giving federal judges the power to strike down state and local weapons laws for violating the Second Amendment.

Hooray!

In a 5-4 ruling, the court held that the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right that binds states.

You can read the decision here. Starting on page 68, read Justice Thomas’s decision, with a history lesson. More from Instapundit

it really is interesting how much emphasis the majority, and Justice Thomas’s concurrence, put on the racist roots of gun control. See this article and this one by Bob Cottrol and Ray Diamond for more background. And isn’t it interesting that this is happening on the same day the Senate’s last Klansman went to his reward?

SCOTUS blog apparently is down. Will update with link once it’s available.

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Robert Byrd dies, age 92 – updated with VIDEO

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The Senate’s last Klansman died at 3AM today. The Washington Post refers to him as

Robert C. Byrd, 92, a conservative West Virginia Democrat who became the longest-serving member of Congress in history and used his masterful knowledge of the institution to shape the federal budget, protect the procedural rules of the Senate and, above all else, tend to the interests of his state, died at 3 a.m. Monday at Inova Fairfax Hospital, his office said.

As a young man, Mr. Byrd was an “exalted cyclops” of the Ku Klux Klan. Although he apologized numerous times for what he considered a youthful indiscretion, his early votes in Congress — notably a filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act — reflected racially separatist views. As those views moderated, Mr. Byrd rose in the party hierarchy.

Back in 2001 he was still going at it,, only with a better veneer.

Instapundit:

And keep a list of hagiographers in the press who don’t mention Byrd’s Klan connection. Then we can cross-index with the Journolist membership when it comes out . . . .

Indeed.

UPDATE
Newsy report,

pp

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

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