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Friday, October 07, 2005

A Haircut or a Shave?

Patrick O'Connor of The Hill reports there is at least one Congressman that recognizes that all this Katrina relief has to come at the exchange of budget cuts. O'Conner reports:

House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) yesterday announced that he would recommend an across-the-board 2 percent cut to all discretionary spending bills, including the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.

Nussle also recommended that the White House submit a detailed reconstruction plan to Congress and issue its budget numbers for the next fiscal year three months early so that both chambers’ budget committees would have extra time to factor disaster-recovery costs into next year’s bill.

These guys are never from the Northeast. I am not sure the 2% goes far enough but it is a start. Nussle says the cut will create $16 billion in savings from an $840 billion budget.

We can all start with a shave but the hair is looking rather shaggy. Actually, it looks like I did in 1975. That should be next.

Miers Is The Fault Of Senate Republicans

My wish came true and Thomas Sowell has written an article this week. True to form, Sowell provides a dispassionate assessment of the Bush coice of Harriett Miers for SCOTUS by granting Bush has a "weak hand" to play. Writes Sowell:

President Bush has taken on too many tough fights -- Social Security being a classic example -- to be regarded as a man who is personally weak. What is weak is the Republican majority in the Senate.

When it comes to taking on a tough fight with the Senate Democrats over judicial nominations, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist doesn't really have a majority to lead. Before the President nominated anybody, before he even took the oath of office for his second term, Senator Arlen Specter was already warning him not to nominate anyone who would rile up the Senate. Later, Senator John Warner issued a similar warning. It sounded like a familiar Republican strategy of pre-emptive surrender.

I would easily trade a Janice Brown for a Miers if I could get privatization of Social Security in the bargain. These are tough times for the President. But Sowell is right that the performance of the senate Republicans has been less than stellar. (But then Coulter will ask why Bush backed Specter over the conservative candidate in the primary?).

Of course, there is no guarantee that Miers will be a "bad" justice. Writes Sowell:

Does this mean that Harriet Miers will not be a good Supreme Court justice if she is confirmed? It is hard to imagine her being worse than Sandra Day O'Connor -- or even as bad.

Tony Snow takes a different view in delighting at the froth spewing from the conservatives over the nomination. He writes:

On the positive side of the ledger, the Miers nomination highlights George Bush's delicious disdain for the Beltway culture. One can imagine his chortling with delight upon finding a way to irritate worthies of both parties. The president also stressed an unorthodox but admirable criterion for selecting judges and other officials granted positions of high trust and authority: He talked about Harriet Miers' character.
Harriet Miers, the president suggested, won't get her head turned by such blandishments because she has principles. She'll remain true to conservative precepts and won't "grow" in office, regardless of what The New York Times says about her.


With the NYT circulation dropping by the day, its influence on anybody is becoming suspect.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Crude And O'Reilly

Today, the crude oil price dropped below $60 per barrell. I am no expert on oil but could the price fluctation, this time downward, have anything to do with market forces? Or is Bill O'Reilly right that the powerful oil company CEO's are just toying with our wallets? Sometimes they take more of our money and sometimes, just for shits and giggles, they decide to lose money and lower the price. It is hard to figure out why price gouging is not a constant thing.

For more on Bill's lack of knowledge about the oil and gas world and economics in general, read Alan Reynolds' "The Foolish Factor".

"More Eminent Domain" In Error But Essentially Correct

My post below More Eminent Domain was linked on Don Luskin's Conspiracy To Keep You Poor And Stupid. A writer corrected an error which I have corrected in my post. Instead of the Riviera, Florida town condemning 6,000 homes, it was actually 2,000 homes with 6,000 residents. Thanks for the correction.

Another post in Luskin's blog linked to an article in the Star Ledger. In Union Township, a developer who wants to build townhomes raised about $70,000 for an influential assemblyman. That assemblyman has influenced the township to institute condemnation on a piece of property the developer needs. Incidentally, the current owner of that property has been trying to develop that same land for 5 years but has not gotten local politicos to grant her the zoning approval. Now, the town is invoking condemnation on her in order to allow another developer to build townhomes.

Whether it is 2,000 homes or 6,000 homes (and I promise to double check my statistics for accuracy), the principle remains. Whether the people in office are from your party or the opposition, the power held by government will be abused. That is why government power must be reduced to essentials.

Hiring Someone You Do Not Know

With charges of cronyism against Bush for choosing Harriet Miers to replace Sandra O'Connor, Scrappleface reports:

A clearly disappointed President George Bush this morning announced that he had failed to locate a total stranger to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and was forced to settle for someone he knows and trusts.

While the conservatives feel frustrated that they have been denied the ability to name a SCOTUS justice with real conservative credentials, and there is no solid paper trail of court decisions to support an opinion on her jurisprudence, the charge that Bush should not appont someone he knows personally is a desperate claim.

Face it. If you were an employer and knew that the person you were going to hire would have a job for the rest of his/her life, never able to be fired, like in Europe, would you hire someone you did not know?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sowellicism

I have not seen a Thomas Sowell column in a few weeks and know it is not because he is follwing the SF Giants in the pennant race-post season. Wherever he is, I hope he is resting up. the next 20 years are going to be tough taking on the elites as they complete their nose dive to obscurity.

For anyone needing a "Sowellicism", I found this from his book "Is Reality Optional?: And Other Essays".

Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. In area after area - crime, education, housing, race relations - the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.

Eminent Domain Coming To The Gulf

Meanwhile, it looks to be one big land grab by municipalities throughout the damaged Gulf area per CNN Money's Shaheen Pasha.

Bart Peterson, mayor of Indianapolis and an officer of the National League of Cities, says:

"I would expect eminent domain to play a significant role in the rebuilding of New Orleans. My guess is that it will be used carefully and prudently to make sure that the primary beneficiaries will be the people of New Orleans and not the land speculators."

Sure.

Why shouldn't the towns use Kelo? The law protects the municipalities in takings for private development and the costs of demolition have been largely reduced by the force of the hurricanes. Think about it. What is the FMV of an uninsured home that is now a pile of rubble?

Kelo represents a "living Constitution" unencumbered by the philosophy or intent of the Founders.

Thanks to Bill Suda for the link. He knows how angry I am about the decision.

He's Gotta Have it

Torben Hansen, a man with cerebral palsy in Denmark, seeks the government to pay for prostitutes for service at home. Reports BBC:

In Denmark, local authorities compensate disabled people for extra costs incurred because of their disability.

"I want them to cover the extra expenses for the prostitutes to get here, because it's a lot more expensive getting them to come to my home rather than me going to a brothel," Mr Hansen told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"It's a necessity for me. I can't move very well, and it's impossible for me to go there."

The ACLU has not decided whether they will take his case. I have to tell Torby it was a nice try. Now that would drive up a deficit quickly.

New Orleans Can Show Us The Way

Would you move to New Orleans as a resident or businessman if they return to the high welfare, big government corruptionism of pre-Katrina? The answer is likely "No". That is why this is the big opportunity to take a levelled (but not level) place and rebuild it from a free-market capitalist framework. Then we will see who really wants to live and work there. And it will be a better place than before Katrina.

However, John Stossel points out how unions are demanding wage law enforcement at a time when entrepreneurs are most needed. Asks Stossel:

Why can't we have a little experiment? Suspend labor laws and licensing laws, reduce taxes and establish school vouchers in one small place. If it is a bad idea, as the unions and lovers of big government contend, that will be clear soon enough. I suspect they really fear success: Schools will improve, business will recover, a thousand ideas will bloom. Then everyone hemmed in by bureaucracy's suffocating rules will want Louisiana's freedom, too.

The answer is there is fear that those "free to choose" answers will succeed. With success will be the real life debunking of the socialist dream, still alive in academia, the media and leftist Think Tanks.

Clint Bolick reports how the NEA and Ted Kennedy are attempting to block school vouchers from reaching the hands of the parents in Katrina's locations. 372,000 children are without schools. Who will ensure these children are educated? The government or the parents? Who has an interest to provide education quickly and in satisfaction to its customers? Government or private schools? Maybe the NEA and Kennedy are willing to block the children from schools because, God forbid, "Intelligent Design" may makes its way into a class discussion without ACLU blessings.

Per the Index of Economic Freedom, the United States ranks in the top 20 for most economically free countries in the world (actually we rank only13th). That is why we and the others continue to increase our population through immigration. Gabriel Openshaw reports in the Von Mises website:

Even within a country, we can see migration from more restrictive to more free market policies. In the United States, net migration is 23% greater to states that have a right-conservative governor than to states with a left-liberal governor, and in general the conservative political platform is more pro-free market.[3]

Even at the county level, 97 of the top 100 fastest growing counties in America voted conservative, or more free market, in the last election.[4] Again, the principle holds.

So, if we want people to vote with their feet and grow with their effort, the free market solution to New Orleans is at the ready.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pandering Democrats Jump On Bennett

Dennis Prager hits those who claim that Bill Bennett's recent radio comment as racist. As Prager recaps in "The Bennett libel divides the decent left from the indecent left", the context and the quote in question:

In response to a caller who said that America "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years," Bennett made the point that one cannot argue against abortion by pointing out anything theoretically positive that could come from either allowing or outlawing abortion. For example, he went on to say, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." And he immediately added, for the sake of those who might distort his meaning, that aborting all black babies would be "impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible."

I made a similar point when Freakonomics first came out in my analysis of the NYT review of the book. While it is true that a large percentage of children aborted may have become criminals, I opined that many would have been contributors to a better world. Bennett opined in a similar fashion that it is likely that those aborted would have contributed positively into the economy. The book in question theorizes that, rather than due to tougher policing policies by mayors of major cities, credit for the drop in crime is due to the abortions of lower class fetuses. No question that very class of Americans is the majority of criminals serving sentences in jail. And no question that a majority of them are black, mostly men.

I had asked: "[W]hether Roe v. Wade’s “benefit” to society of ridding the world of some criminals was offset by the world losing a potential Thomas Sowell (unwanted by his mother and raised by his grandmother in Harlem)."

So a logical inference from Freakonomics would be that to abort all black children would reduce the crime even more. Bennett admits that while this is logical, it is disgusting as a real policy. In fact it is ridiculous. It is equally as ridiculous to think that it was espoused by Bennett as a real policy consideration. Especially given Bennett's very words!

Anyone who takes Bill Bennett's infamous comment as racist is either ignorant or lying. Because I do not think leading Democrats or purported "black leaders" who are running to the media denouncing Bennett are ignorant, then they are lying about exactly what was said, what its meaning is and concluding Bennett is racist.

And why are they lying on this subject? Da da! To score points in the media and win the voters who cannot digest a simple rhetorical device. We continue to see this party failing to develop beneficial policies. They are always looking for the emotional reaction to events to make political points with their constituents. So they locate any comment by a leading conservative and twist it for political points.

With Bush's and the Republican party's recent failures, people like me would be ripe to pick for a clear thinking (libertarian-minded) Democrat. Sadly, given the opportunity the leaders of the Democrat party seek to pander.

Monday, October 03, 2005

More Eminent Domain

A Florida city is planning to use eminent domain to remove 6,000 unwanted residents in about 2,000 homes to build a billion-dollar waterfront yachting and housing complex. The town, Riviera Beach is a poor, predominantly black, coastal community.

Didn't someone say the Kelo decision would embolden this use of government powers? Didn't someone advise that historically those losing their homes were poor? Didn't someone warn that blacks would likely suffer displacement if Kelo were allowed to stand?

Is this the precedent that Chief Justice Roberts must follow per questioning by leading Democrats? Want an education on civics? Read Clarence Thomas' dissent in Kelo.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

NYT Fesses Up, Finally, Sort Of

Gail Collins, editor at the NYT, has written a column explaining its new policy regarding Corrections on articles in op ed pieces.

This public change of policy comes after the hounding by bloggers, most notably Donald Luskin at Conspiracy To Keep You Poor and Stupid, who regularly show how “The Newspaper Of Record” consistently misstates facts, without correction. Collins explained that the NYT has adopted a more open correction policy so posterity will receive accurate reporting. She mentions the fear that an inaccuracy may be continued 50 years from now should a researcher rely on the NYT. Therefore, corrections will now be more “open and notorious” in a “For The Record” column of errata placed underneath the specific column being corrected.

What was not addressed by Ms. Collins is the true “Why?” of the exercise. Yes, if the NYT is “The Newspaper Of Record”, then future reference to it by researcher is likely and that demands accuracy. But what we critics of the paper are seeking is the admission that errors are consistently made to favor liberal causes and to disprove or portray negatively conservative policy.

It is no secret that the NYT star columnists Paul Krugman, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd write columns pursuing policy from the left of center camp. They are smart, snide and witty. They make caustic arguments regularly against conservatives and President Bush in particular. All we ask is that when they use statistics and facts to bolster their arguments, such be correct. The blogosphere ensures today what had not been done for a century prior to the internet- uncorrected claims by “The Newspaper Of Record” would go unchallenged. Armed with the same numbers, reasonable minds may differ. Absent factually correct information that all can analyze, the reader will never know if the argument propounded is reasonable.

Collins never confesses that too many, some would cynically say an overwhelming majority, "errors" in reporting facts portray their political opponents negatively. Thus, they use their newspaper as an uneven playing field in their run to a public opinion touchdown. However, in a country with heavy partisanship, the arguments that quote the NYT must be accurate for their own credibility.

What am I really saying?

The marketplace of ideas that a free press assists in maintaining is the best protection for democracy and representative government. When a major, influential member of the press does not live up to its responsibility for reporting accurately, then the press has failed in its duty to the people. The press, then, cannot assume the people will continue its fealty to, not only the newspaper in question, but to the institution of journalism itself. And, in a country that had become open to qualifications upon freedoms and principles enounced in the Constitution, often seen, for instance, in NYT editorials favoring gun control, eminent domain use by governments and campaign finance regulation, a newspaper known for reporting inaccurate information can become a casualty.

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