Archive for March 2nd, 2009

Video: Senate unconstitutionally approves a congressional seat to DC

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

National security and tennis

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Powerline:

This morning Scott wrote about the Davis Cup tennis match between Sweden and Israel, which Swedish authorities scheduled for Malmo, a largely Muslim city, and then barred the public from attending for “security reasons.” In fact, it seems obvious that the point was to make an anti-Israel political statement.

It’s only fair to note the more positive outcome of another tennis story: the United Arab Emirates’ refusal to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer to enter the country to participate in a WTA tournament in Dubai. The Emirates, like Sweden, cited “security concerns.” The WTA, however, didn’t buy it and fined the tournament’s organizers $300,000; Peer and her doubles partner will receive compensation for the slight.

Several prominent players spoke out against the Emirates’ action, including Venus Williams, who won the women’s singles title:

Venus Williams hailed ‘brave’ Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer after winning the Dubai Tennis Championship on Saturday. Peer was denied entry into the United Arab Emirates for the tournament.

“I felt like I had to talk about her,” Williams said. “I thought it was brave of her to come here and try and play despite knowing that it is not going to be easy for her. My dad grew up in an area where if you spoke too much, it was your life. So I felt I had a small opportunity to say something where everyone will listen.”

She added: “I am not here to rock any boat or upset people, I am just here to do things that are right….”

Andy Roddick, America’s top-ranked player and number six in the world, refused to play in Dubai even though he won the tournament there last year:

America’s Andy Roddick says he won’t defend his title at the Dubai ATP tournament next week in protest at the UAE’s refusal to grant a visa to Israel’s Shahar Peer at the WTA event at the same venue.

“I really didn’t agree with what went on over there,” Roddick told Saturday’s Los Angeles Times. “I don’t know if it’s the best thing to mix politics and sports, and that was probably a big part of it.”

AP on Paul Harvey

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

The AP:

Known for his resonant voice and trademark delivery of “The Rest of the Story,” Harvey had been heard nationally since 1951, when he began his “News and Comment” for ABC Radio Networks.

He became a heartland icon, delivering news and commentary with a distinctive Midwestern flavor. “Stand by for news!” he told his listeners. He was credited with inventing or popularizing terms such as “skyjacker,” “Reaganomics” and “guesstimate.”

“Paul Harvey was one of the most gifted and beloved broadcasters in our nation’s history,” ABC Radio Networks President Jim Robinson said in a statement. “We will miss our dear friend tremendously and are grateful for the many years we were so fortunate to have known him.”

In 2005, Harvey was one of 14 notables chosen as recipients of the presidential Medal of Freedom. He also was an inductee in the Radio Hall of Fame, as was Lynne.

He composed his twice-daily news commentaries from a downtown Chicago office near Lake Michigan.

Rising at 3:30 each morning, he ate a bowl of oatmeal, then combed the news wires and spoke with editors across the country in search of succinct tales of American life for his program.

At the peak of his career, Harvey reached more than 24 million listeners on more than 1,200 radio stations and charged $30,000 to give a speech. His syndicated column was carried by 300 newspapers.

His fans identified with his plainspoken political commentary, but critics called him an out-of-touch conservative. He was an early supporter of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy and a longtime backer of the Vietnam War.

Perhaps Harvey’s most famous broadcast came in 1970, when he abandoned that stance, announcing his opposition to President Nixon’s expansion of the war and urging him to get out completely.

Ms. Magazine covers abortionist Tiller

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Ms. Magazine:

A motion by Dr George Tiller’s lawyers to dismiss the criminal case against him was denied yesterday by Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens. This pre-trial motion sought to dismiss criminal charges against Dr. Tiller of Wichita, Kansas for allegedly violating a state law requiring an “independent” second physician’s concurring opinion before performing later term abortions. Tiller is an abortion provider who is one of the few late-term abortion providers in the US that serves women with troubled pregnancies and complicated health problems.

Current Kansas Attorney General Steve Six has criticized the investigation of Tiller by Kline, but has said the charges against Tiller should stand, according to the Associated Press. In his decision, Judge Owens wrote that Kline’s “procedures have certainly been questioned by the Kansas Supreme Court, but his conduct in the investigation does not merit the sanction of the dismissal of the charges or suppression of evidence, according to the Wichita Eagle.

USD 259 now ‘diverse,’ but can students read and multiply?

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

On paper, Wichita governnment-run schools don’t discriminate based on “culture” or “socioeconomic status” — that won’t affect the wealthy, because they can afford private schools.

From KSN in Wichita:

The Wichita school board adopted three new diversity policies that now include sexual orientation in its language.

One policy reads: “The Wichita public schools shall ensure that there is no discrimination based on but not limited to race, ethnicity, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, religion, disability, or skill level in the placement, instruction, and guidance of pupils.”

“It’s the first step to change everywhere,” said Keynon Tucker after the vote.

Keynon’s with the group Student’s United who first approached the board on the subject back in 2007.

“The young men continued to yell such things as fags and then grab sand and threw it in our faces, and I was gay bashed,” Jasmine, a North High Senior told the Board at that 2007 meeting.

The students wanted sexual orientation added to USD 259′s anti-discrimination policy. But the district’s legal council warned such a change could set them up for lawsuits.

10,000 new jobs? Just the latest fabrication from Sebelius.

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

The Kansas Meadowlark looks at a recent claim, one with no reported facts to support it, from Gov. Sebelius, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, and KDOT officials.

“Brian Wilson reported that Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) explained that $365 million in debt-stimulus would support 10,000 jobs in Maryland.  Wilson showed that the average highway construction worker makes about $32,000 a year.  10,000 jobs * $32,000 = $320 million, or 87.7% of the total, leaving only 12.3% for construction materials, like concrete, asphalt, steel.”

And:

“Wilson investigated where the 10,000 job number came from.  Wilson could find no hard evidence for the 10,000 figure, and the one source he found had a huge disclaimer.  Watch the  “Crunching the Numbers” video.

Wilson asked an economist if the job numbers could be believed.  Economist Peter Morici said the numbers were “absolutely inaccurate” and are a “gross exaggeration.”

Today, Kansas announced $377 million in highway projects that would provide 10,000 to 11,000 jobs.  Wilson’s job math seems to beg similar questions in Kansas, and whether there really are 10,000 jobs here.”

The Meadowlark concludes:

“Using Brian Wilson’s job math,  yearly salaries for 10,000 to 11,000 highway jobs would cost about $320 million to $352 million.  This would mean that 84.9% to 93.4% of the total cost for these highway construction jobs would be salaries, leaving only 6.6% to 15.1% to buy concrete, asphalt, steel, and all the other materials to build the roads and bridges.”

Berger: Government v. The Markets

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

An editorial by Christopher Berger:

Government v. The Markets

Over the course of the past several months, a concensus has formed in Washington that our current economic troubles are the fault of free markets, that this crash proves once and for all the inefficacy and invalidity of a free market system, and that what we really need is government interference and intervention in the markets via regulation and cash infusions leading to substantial ownership stakes in major corporations, possibly nationalization of troubled industries.  I’ve got news for those people: it’s been tried, and it hasn’t worked.  What hasn’t been tried in this instance is, in point of fact, true free market capitalism.

The story of how the housing situation came to be, and just who is to blame, has been well documented in conservative circles.  In short, government overregulation is responsible for the mess, whole and entire.  Via threats of investigation, the Clinton Justice Department intimidated banks into making irresponsible loans to people they knew would likely never be able to pay them back, and at the same time offered to purchase away the bad loans via Fannie and Freddie.  This led to a glut of money available to purchase housing without a proportionate increase in the supply of housing, and thus to the skyrocketing property values in this country.

The market solution to such asset overvaluation, currently playing out in the stock exchanges of the world, is to revalue assets downward to a more reasonable comparative level.  This is the sensible response to such a situation.  It’s very painful, but it’s also over relatively quickly, and as soon as the assets have been allowed to recede to their realistic values and the financial fallout from this has worked itself through the market, the economy can start growing again.  The whole thing can take less than a year, and while it’s a very painful year, it’s also not the grinding depression we saw last time someone tried quite this level of government intervention and investment in the private sector.

The government solution, as we’re seeing, is to pour taxpayer’s money into bad corporations that should have been allowed to fail or declare bankruptcy, wait a few months, then pour more money in, etc, until at long last entire sectors end up as a government owned entity.  We haven’t reached that terminus of this sequence of events yet, but attempts to get us there are coming, make no mistake, beginning in the banking industry.  Nationalization of industries is the government solution to problems of this nature, rather than something to help the market recover.

Government exists as a necessary evil.  This was the view of the framers of our Constitution, the founding fathers of this nation, those who imbued it with their hopes, aspirations, and ideals.  The sole legitimate purpose of government, they maintained, was to protect a nation from those who would do it harm, to protect the liberties of the people while at the same time preserving their safety.  These two objectives must remain in balance, and the Obama administration is careening towards one while openly destroying the other, and will end up accomplishing neither (which may actually be their goal; to quote Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”).

Our founding fathers were great students of history and philosophy, and were strongly influenced in their thinking by the ideas of the French philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau.  One of the most central ideas in his seminal work, The Social Contract, was, following Hobbs, that a nation comes together initially for communal protection from exterior threats, and constitutes a single body (as distinct from the state, which is composed of a subset of the nation which carries out the function of communal government), and that therefore, moving beyond Hobbs, a criminal attacks not just one part of the nation but the nation itself.  Thus the criminal, says Rousseau, can be said to have declared war on the nation, and thus is punishable as an exterior threat to the nation.  Thus it falls within government’s legitimate purview to prosecute and punish criminals, depriving them of their liberty, because they are a threat to the continuing liberty and safety of the nation itself.

This line of thinking could be extended without remarkable effort to justify government intervention in the markets sufficient to prevent private sector manipulation of the markets (insider trading, currency manipulation, etc.) to ensure a level playing field.  But beyond that legitimate function of government, no further interference can be justified or, in fact, tolerated under this model, because the government itself, Rousseau’s state, then becomes itself a threat to what it is supposed to be protecting: the nation’s liberty, in this case economic liberty.  That’s what’s happening here.  The government is interfering, under the guise of producing stability and economic safety, not to protect the economic liberties of individuals and corporations but to shackle them for their own protection.

It becomes difficult to imagine a more insidious method for removing a people’s freedom than one which will induce them to enter bondage willingly, precisely as the Obama administration is doing.  It’s what any government intervention over economic problems does of necessity.  Government intervention is something alien to a truly free market, and it creates ripples, which must be addressed (usually by more government intervention), until the government is either thrown out of the markets or ends up running the show.  We give our governments a monopoly on force so as to protect us from exterior threats, renouncing our right to punish offenders ourselves in favor of the government acting on our behalf, but that monopoly of force can also be turned on us, as it is being in this instance.

The Soviet Union was Keynesianism in action.  The people there were miserable and downtrodden in their socialist utopia, and their economy was stagnant.  They were promised safety and prosperity, but all they received was poverty and virtual slavery.  The freedom of our marketplace, not government intervention, is what made us an economic superpower (though WWII didn’t hurt things), and if we would but restore it by reducing regulations and confiscatory taxes, we would bounce back from this recession faster than anyone believes possible.  It would be painful, but it would be short.  The markets will out-produce and outgrow the government every time, provided the opportunity to do so (as companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s demonstrate on a daily basis).  So why can’t we take off the chains?