Victor Davis Hanson hits a lefty/liberal nerve with his Ironies of 2008.
Mandatory and hilarious reading.
Syria rebels release nuns held since December
6 minutes ago
""Everyone thought it was easy money," he said wistfully."Of course.
Creating Facts on the Ground [Mark Krikorian]
The 100,000th business has signed up for E-Verify, the free program that enables employers to check electronically whether new hires are authorized to work. (It's the Bratton Corp. of Kansas City.) Back in May, DHS's policy director reported that at least one in 10 new hires nationwide was already being verified this way, and the number of participating firms has grown by 50 percent since then. And after a new rule kicks in a week from today, requiring federal contractors to also use the program, DHS estimates the proportion of all new hires who are verified will climb to perhaps 20 percent. The point is to make use of E-Verify a standard part of the hiring process, even without a statutory mandate, and thus close off more and more of the job market to illegal workers (most of whom work on the books). In the shorter term, this growth makes it essentially impossible for the Democrats to kill E-Verify (it needs to be re-authorized in March), as many of the open-borders crowd would like them to do.
Ethanol’s Federal Subsidy Grab, Leaves Little For Solar, Wind and Geothermal Energy
Posted by GasMan on January 8, 2009
WASHINGTON, January 8, 2009 – As Congress and the incoming Obama administration plan the nation’s next major investments in green energy, they need to take a hard, clear-eyed look at Department of Energy data documenting corn-based ethanol’s stranglehold on federal renewable energy tax credits and subsidies.
An Environmental Working Group (EWG) report released today uses data from a little noticed analysis buried in an April 2008 report from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The information unearthed by EWG shows that solar, wind and other renewable energy sources have struggled to gain significant market share with modest federal support. Meanwhile, corn-based ethanol has accounted for fully three-quarters of the tax benefits and two-thirds of all federal subsidies allotted for renewable energy sources in 2007.
The corn-based ethanol industry received $3 billion in tax credits in 2007, more than four times the $690 million in credits available to companies trying to expand all other forms of renewable energy, including solar, wind and geothermal power.
“With America facing an exploding federal deficit and the crisis of climate change,” report author and EWG Midwest Vice President Craig Cox said, “it defies common sense to continue to lavish billions of tax dollars on corn-based ethanol, a fuel that has failed to fulfill its promises at every turn.”
“Corn-based ethanol production, spurred by federal subsidies and mandates, is polluting our nation’s water, eroding our soil and plowing up precious wildlife habitat — and worst of all is likely contributing to global warming,” Cox said. “As the polluting ethanol industry gets fat at taxpayer expense, proven clean technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal are fighting for support. America needs a truly renewable energy portfolio, and the evidence is mounting that corn-based ethanol will not get us where we need to go.”
Go here for the full report - http://www.ewg.org/node/27498
If elected RNC Chairman Blackwell’s mission would be to change the culture of the RNC, which he thinks has become too dependent on Washington connections cultivated with the soon-to-be nonexistent Bush Administration. To help make the break, he’s pitched RNC members on a new revenue sharing program that would kick-back ten percent of net fundraising proceeds to state parties....
Blackwell is also a strong advocate for opening up the RNC’s “voter vault” database to members, which helps satisfy the outside pressure for all RNC candidates to become more tech-friendly without riling older RNC members who are turned off by complex tech talk.
As a business model – not politics – I’m skeptical this can work on a daily basis. There are reasons why magazines appear weekly or monthly, not daily. As politics – well, the Times’s relentless cramdown of skewed, confirmation bias opinions-as-facts this election cycle represents one of two things. The cramdown might so annoy that segment of its readership that still cares about facts on the traditional basis of them being, well, true that it recalculates price in relation to facticity and drops the paper subscription, crippling the business model even further. In that case, I sincerely hope that the Times’s and its employees think the political self-satisfaction was worth it. Or, alternatively, the cramdown might handsomely pay off in cementing the emotional bond ever more closely with the core subscribing, offline readership and allow it to raise the price, directly and indirectly, to a smaller, wealthier, more devoted leisure class audience. But is there really room for a daily New Yorker?
If what you want is to dress up funny and bond with a lot of other people in front of a great light show, well, you don't need the Nazis to do it anymore - even in Berlin. Since Elvis, the bonding-and-catharsis element of mass media has expanded to outdo anything that any politician can deliver. We describe an especially popular politician today as looking "like a rock star," rather than the other way around, after all. (Could there be a worse insult than describing a rock musician as looking "like a Congressman?" I can't think of one.) And if you're a working-class guy with lousy prospects, well, you can learn to play guitar, or to make music on your computer, and then you, too have a chance at being the guy under the lights - and without having to invade Russia.
"Obama made broader arguments, too, saying that the private sector, typically the answer, cannot do what is needed now.
"At this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe," he said."
Fortunately, Sally C. Pipes is one of the few who has explored the reality of government-controlled medical treatment in Canada and other countries. Among the things she discovered is that new life-saving medications that go immediately into the market in the United States take a much longer time to become available to Canadian patients — if they ever get approved by the bureaucrats.
As with so many government programs, “the poor” are used as a political justification for imposing government-controlled medical care on everyone. But The Top Ten Myths of American Medical Care shows what a fraud that is. First of all, the average uninsured American has above-average income — and people living in poverty are already eligible for Medicaid.
There are of course some serious problems with Medicaid, as there is with government medical treatment at Veterans Administration hospitals and with Medicare. But such things only highlight the dangers of having the government take over the rest of the medical sector, given its dangerous failures where it is already involved in medical matters.
The lure of something for nothing may be seductive when you are in good health. But it can become a bitter irony when you are waiting for months for surgery to relieve your pain or when your life hangs in the balance while some bureaucrat decides whether you can get the best medication or something older and cheaper.
The Top Ten Myths About American Medical Care can literally be a life-saver. What it reveals is unlikely to be told by the mainstream media or by other enthusiasts for the magic phrase “universal health care.”
Mythmaking is in full swing as the Bush administration prepares to leave town. Among the more prominent is the assertion that the housing meltdown resulted from unbridled capitalism under a president opposed to all regulation.
Like most myths, this is entertaining but fictional. In reality, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were among the principal culprits of the housing crisis, and Mr. Bush wanted to rein them in before things got out of hand.
Rather than a failure of capitalism, the housing meltdown shows what's likely to happen when government grants special privileges to favored private entities that facilitate bad actors and lousy practices.
Fannie and Freddie are "government-sponsored enterprises" (GSEs), chartered by Congress. As such, they had an implicit promise of taxpayer backing and could borrow money at rates well below competitors.
On Depression-Era Policies that “led to recovery”, Jim Powell
In his most recent column, Harold Meyerson writes about the process now underway to determine “which of the paths that Depression-era America embarked upon actually led toward recovery.” He criticized Herbert Hoover’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a misguided policy to be sure (along with the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff and the 1932 tax hike).
But Hoover left office in 1933. Since Mr. Obama has promised a “New New Deal,” one might expect Mr. Meyerson to point out something that Hoover’s successor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did that “led to recovery.” He doesn’t.
Truth be told, that’s probably because Meyerson doesn’t have much to choose from. Unemployment averaged 17 percent during the New Deal period; the only thing FDR did that banished high unemployment was conscripting 12 million men for World War II. In my book FDR’s Folly, I suggested a number of reasons this happened: The New Deal tripled taxes, which meant consumers had less money to spend and employers had less money for hiring; a number of New Deal laws made it more expensive for employers to hire people, which also meant less hiring; New Deal soak-the-rich taxes discouraged investment, and it’s almost impossible to create private-sector jobs without investment.
Other policies hurt Americans in other ways. Several New Deal laws banned discounting, when desperate people needed bargains; the New Deal authorized the destruction of food when people were hungry; the New Deal established hundreds of cartels and monopolies; the New Deal centralized the power of the Federal Reserve, and the Fed’s first major policy decision was a blunder that brought on a crisis within a crisis (the depression of 1938); the New Deal broke up the strongest banks and did nothing about laws that prevented thousands of banks from diversifying their depositor bases and their loan portfolios (Canada didn’t have these laws, and it went through the Great Depression without a bank failure).
The biggest irony is that although the New Deal was supposed to help the middle class and the poor, it was mainly the middle class and the poor who paid for it. The biggest source of revenue — bigger than the federal personal income tax and the federal corporate income tax — was the federal excise tax on beer, wine, cigarettes, chewing gum, soda, and other things bought disproportionately by middle-class and poor people. Moreover, New Deal spending was skewed away from the poorest people who lived in the South, and instead targeted toward political “swing” states where average incomes were more than 60 percent higher — even FDR pursued his interests as an incumbent.
Perhaps the most obvious lesson to be learned from the New Deal: Don’t try anything like that again.
We suspect there's at least one habit of the 110th Congress that won't change in the 111th: The Members think they can get away with anything -- and usually do.Let's help the 111th Congress see the light.
For too long the Republican story line has been “Too Much Lawbreaking,” when instead the real problem is “Too Much Immigration” — only one part of which involves lawbreaking. This exclusive focus on illegal immigration — opposing amnesty and pushing for more enforcement — is both incomplete and counterproductive. Incomplete because the effects of illegal immigration aren’t that different from those of legal immigration — an illiterate Central American farmer with a green card is just as unsuited for a 21st-century economy as an illiterate Central American farmer without a green card. And it’s counterproductive because the focus on criminality can seem punitive and serve to polarize the debate, potentially aliening not just immigrant voters, who really aren’t that numerous, but the native-born, who want less immigration but don’t want to feel bad about themselves for holding such a view.
A new approach would retain the widely popular, and morally compelling, support for more consistent application of immigration laws and opposition to legalization — but make them part of a broader push for a more moderate level of future immigration overall. If the debate focuses solely on legality, ultimately there’s no real argument against amnesty and open borders. You just legalize the whole thing and the issue goes away — no illegals, no problem. In the appropriately larger context, amnesty is bad not only because it rewards lawbreaking (which it does), but also for the same reason that the Visa lottery is bad: it leads to excessive immigration.
The Emancipation Proclamation is not as eloquent as the Gettysburg Address. It is a legal document, with words such as "whereas" and "aforesaid" and "in witness whereof." Yet it is a piece of writing American to its core, issued in the faith that We the People have the means and responsibility to correct our nation's flaws.
Almost a century and a half after Lincoln's proclamation, our nation prepares to inaugurate its first African-American president. Some may say the achievement was too long in coming. Yet it is an achievement in which all Americans can take great pride.
This is not to say that President-elect Barack Obama will be immune to failure, of course. Nor should he be immune to criticisms of his policies. But we mark the Emancipation Proclamation anniversary with this remarkable fact: For the first time in modern history, the head of state of a major world power will be a black man. It is the sort of accomplishment that makes America the wonder of the world.
"The glory of this land has been its capacity for transcending the moral evils of our past," Ronald Reagan once said. "For example, the long struggle of minority citizens for equal rights, once a source of disunity and civil war, is now a point of pride for all Americans."
A point of pride now more than ever.
The reason why US scientists take a particular interest in the forecasting skills of the UK Met Office is that, through its Hadley Centre, its temperature data are one of the four official sources on which the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change bases all those projections of global warming which have the Western world's politicians under such a spell.
The Met Office, which played a key part in setting up the IPCC, has long since abandoned any pretence that it is an impartial scientific body when it comes to promoting its favourite cause of man-made climate change.
As the Met Office's website boasts, its ''world-leading expertise'' enables it to provide ''an understanding of the future through risk analysis and long-range forecasting''. It stages seminars to equip ''professionals in Government and the public sector'' to ''dispel scepticism about climate change in your organisation''.
It is just a pity that our Met Office's comically consistent inability to predict weather even a few weeks ahead (let alone a century hence) is beginning to make it an international laughing stock.