Archive for October, 2010
October 19th, 2010 at 1:20 am
Texas Still Thumping California on Economic Policy
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Last month, we profiled how federalism is alive and well in economic policy — as exemplified most explicitly in the sharp contrast between California and Texas (a topic we’ve been exploring for nearly a year).

As John Steele Gordon points out in the Contentions blog over at Commentary’s website:

It is often pointed out that the states make great laboratories for political-science experiments. And an experiment has been underway for quite a while testing the liberal model — high taxes, extensive regulation, many government-provided social services, union-friendly laws — against the conservative model — low taxes, limited regulation and social services, right-to-work laws. The results are increasingly in. As Rich Lowry reports in National Review Online, the differences between California and Texas are striking. Between August 2009 and August 2010, the nation created a net of 214,000 jobs. Texas created more than half of them, 119,000. California lost 112,000 jobs in that period.

California has always prided itself on being a leading indicator for the rest of the nation. We’ll see how well they like that designation when it turns out to mean being the canary in the coal mine.

October 18th, 2010 at 10:12 am
Severability Clause: Pelosi Had to Pass the Bill to Find Out What Wasn’t In It
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“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”  That was Nancy Pelosi last March, promoting that Pandora’s Box known as ObamaCare.  Well, it turns out that Pelosi and the bill’s proponents may be upset to find out what is not in it.  Namely, they failed to include a severability clause in their haste.

So what is a “severability clause,” and why might it matter?  A severability clause is a simple provision stating that if a court later declares one or more subsections of a bill void, the remainder of the bill remains valid and enforceable.  Without a severability clause, an entire bill can be jeopardized even if a very small part of it is stricken by the judicial branch.  Now, with separate lawsuits challenging ObamaCare quickly proceeding toward judicial reckoning, it is possible that the entire package may crumble if its individual mandate (forcing free citizens to engage in involuntary commerce by purchasing approved health insurance) or some other clause falls.

There is no guarantee in this regard, as the Supreme Court just this year curiously allowed the tangled Sarbanes-Oxley web to survive despite its own absence of a severability clause.  Nevertheless, the complete demise of ObamaCare due to the failure to add a simple severability provision could be one positive byproduct of ObamaCare’s sloppy birth.

October 16th, 2010 at 2:05 pm
Justice Alito Planning to Skip President Obama’s Next State of the Union Address

You may remember Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s reaction to President Barack Obama’s scolding of he and other conservatives on national television last January.  According to Alito, he’s finished with the farce of sitting stone-faced while being harangued.

The 60-year-old justice, an appointee of President George W. Bush, acknowledged with a smile that his colleagues “who are more disciplined refrain from manifesting any emotion or opinion whatsoever.”

Alito, answering questions following a speech Wednesday at the conservative Manhattan Institute in New York, also said, “Presidents will fake you out.” The institute provided an online video link to Alito’s talk and question-and-answer session.

The president will begin a sentence with an invocation of the country’s greatness, Alito said. If justices don’t jump up and applaud, “you look very unpatriotic,” he said.

But, Alito continued, then the president may finish the thought by adding “because we’re conducting a surge in Iraq or because we’re enacting health care reform.” Justices aren’t supposed to react to statements about policy or politics.

The better course, Alito said, is to follow the example of more experienced justices like Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and the recently retired John Paul Stevens. None has attended in several years.

“So I doubt that I will be there in January,” Alito said.

H/T: The Associated Press

October 16th, 2010 at 1:44 pm
Author of ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ Explains How Networks & Hunches Lead to Big Discoveries

For anyone wondering how large organizations can put pieces of time-sensitive information into a coherent, real-time picture, author Steven Johnson provides an answer.  In his book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Johnson explains ‘the adjacent possible;’ i.e. alternative paths.  In the short video below, Johnson discusses the missed opportunity pre-9/11 to match up the FBI’s ‘Phoenix Memo‘ with the arrest of a would-be terrorist who said during flight school that he didn’t need to know how to land.

If our nation’s intelligence community is ever going to function efficiently, it’s going to need a way to match information in a fast, coherent way.  Maybe Johnson’s book could help.

October 15th, 2010 at 1:11 pm
Conservative Women Leading the Social Network Revolution

Slate’s Noreen Malone writes an incisive article detailing the secret behind the rise of conservative female activists: superior use of social networking.

This brand of social activism also happens to perfectly dovetail with the brand of conservative feminism that was being promoted at the (Smart Girl Summit): You can maintain your duties as a wife and mother but also become involved in the movement through making phone calls, handing out flyers, running for school board if national office seems too disruptive to your family. ( “Start small, build big” was another theme—school board leads to county leads to state, etc.) You can organize an entire conference and run a highly trafficked Web site but, since those activities are not professionalized, still call yourself a stay-at-home mom. And those “maternal” skills—organization, communication—are just as good, if not better than, a high-powered professional résumé in a movement that’s asking for foot soldiers. (But high-powered résumés are OK, too—cf Liz Cheney.)

Though Malcolm Gladwell makes some excellent points about the limitations of social networks as vehicles for social change, the increasing use and adaptability of social networking technology is allowing a whole new breed of conservative activists (homeschooling mothers) to dramatically impact the national political scene; at least when it comes to news coverage and GOP primaries.

Stay tuned…

October 15th, 2010 at 1:03 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  The Cheney Way: Why Washington Needs More Anti-Heroes
Lee:  Latest IRS Data: Wealthier Americans Again Paid More than Their “Fair Share”
Ellis:  The Scourge of Public Employee Compensation

Freedom Minute Video:  Liberals Running Scared from the Conservative Comeback
Podcast:  SCOTUS Opens October 2010 Term with New Face and New Cases
Jester’s Courtroom:  Born to Golf

Editorial Cartoons: Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz: Question of the Week
Notable Quotes: Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

October 15th, 2010 at 12:21 pm
Congressional Effect: Making Money While Congress is Out of Session

Check out this Fox Business interview with Eric Singer, the founder of Congressional Effect Management, an investment firm that only gets into the stock market when Congress is out of session.  The key to Singer’s strategy is avoiding ‘political risk’ – the damage to wealth creation that Congress causes through taxes and regulation (real or threatened).

Read this CFIF profile of Congressional Effect Management for a more in-depth discussion on Singer’s time-tested, data-driven approach.

October 15th, 2010 at 11:14 am
Video: Liberals Running Scared from the Conservative Comeback
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino comments on the desperation tactics and outright lies of President Obama and his liberal allies against their political and ideological opponents. 


October 15th, 2010 at 9:27 am
Podcast: SCOTUS Opens October 2010 Term with New Face and New Cases
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Interview with Megan Brown, a Litigation and Appellate attorney at Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, D.C., on the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court’s October 2010 Term.

Listen to the interview here.

October 14th, 2010 at 10:49 pm
Parallel Universe: Europeans Warning U.S. About Economic Irresponsibility
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Further proof that the Beltway Keynesians have taken us down the economic rabbit hole: it’s now falling to Europeans to warn us that inflation and stimulus are tanking the dollar. Consider the following from the Financial Times:

Increasing expectations the Federal Reserve will pump more money into the US economy next month under a policy known as quantitative easing sent the dollar to new lows against the Chinese renminbi, Swiss franc and Australian dollar. It dropped to a 15-year low against the yen and an eight-month low against the euro …

A senior European policy-maker, who asked not to be named, said a further aggressive round of monetary easing by the US Federal Reserve would be “irresponsible” as it made US exports more competitive at the expense of its rivals…

Russia’s finance minister Alexei Kudrin, in a meeting with European Union officials, blamed the US – and others – for global currency instability.

He said one reason for exchange rate turmoil “is the stimulating monetary policy of some developed countries, above all the United States, which are trying to solve their structural problems in this way”.

The entire justification for the creation of the Federal Reserve was to ensure that monetary policy would be insulated from political pressure. If Ben Bernanke chooses to act as a handmaiden for the profligacy of the Obama Administration, then he deserves to be cleaning out his desk just as much as the president.

October 14th, 2010 at 6:08 pm
Obama Shamelessly Pivots to Plead that His Hands Are Tied Whenever it Suits His Momentary Needs
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One year ago, the Obama Administration rammed through an auto bailout benefiting Big Labor that utterly obliterated the contractual rights of secured creditors.  Obama has also famously charged like a bull through a china gallery on ObamaCare, Arizona’s immigration enforcement law and myriad other issues.

Despite those abuses of authority, Obama shamelessly pivots to plead that his hands are tied whenever it suits his momentary needs.  Appearing on MTV today, Obama was confronted with an inconvenient question about his failure to make good on his sanctimonious promise to end the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  His answer?  “It has to be done in a way that is orderly…  I do have an obligation to make sure that I’m following some of the rules.  I can’t simply ignore the laws that are out there, I’ve got to work to make sure that they are changed.”

Obama may soon be hoping to achieve a Clintonian recovery following a disastrous mid-term Congressional election, but his clumsiness to date doesn’t suggest that he’s in the same league as Slick Willie.

October 14th, 2010 at 5:40 pm
Rejecting the San Francisco Mentality

The Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald has an eye-popping expose on the insane delusion about the ‘root causes’ of homelessness among what passes for San Francisco’s intelligencia.  Though the entire article is worth reading, one passage deserves special mention for the way it shows how disconnected are the captains of ‘Homelessness, Inc.’ from the actual motivations of the people they claim to serve:

An unintentionally hilarious letter to the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2010 revealed just why the homelessness-industrial complex is so desperate to claim the Haight infestation for itself: government contracts. “The majority of the youth on the streets and in the park are in the Haight seeking support to address the issues that have led them there,” wrote the executive director of Larkin Street Youth Services in criticizing the sit-lie proposal. “Funding to help these youths through outreach, case management, education and employment has been severely cut over the past two years. . . . Rather than rallying in anger, a better use of our time is to focus on helping youths exit the streets so they can find work and housing and become contributing members of the community.” Translation: Homelessness, Inc. wants more money.

Larkin Street’s analysis of why people hang out in the Haight is as wildly inaccurate as the Coalition’s fingering of unaffordable rent. Few, if any, of these vagrants are “in the Haight seeking support to address the issues that have led them there,” unless “support” means money for booze and drugs. To the contrary, the “youth” are there to party, en route to their next way station. As a platinum blonde boozily announces in The Haight Street Kids: “I love this city, love your fucking life.” A tall youth draped around her adds: “It’s awesome for traveling kids to stop in when they need a break.”

Predictably, the offer of services and housing—which San Francisco’s round-the-clock outreach workers constantly put before the Haight Street vagrants—is usually turned down. As for becoming “contributing members of the community,” that’s definitely not on the agenda, either. Asked what he saw for himself in the future, a “traveler” in the Stanford documentary rolls his eyes, smiles nervously, and shakes his head for nearly a minute before replying: “A hot dog, there’s definitely a hot dog in my future.”

Sanity is dead.  Long live Progressivism!

October 14th, 2010 at 5:09 pm
CFIF Statement On Federal Judge’s Ruling Allowing Constitutional Challenge to ObamaCare to Proceed
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A federal judge in Florida today ruled that 20 U.S. states can proceed with a lawsuit against the recently passed federal health care legislation on the grounds that its individual mandate is unconstitutional.  In response, CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella released the following statement: 

The Center for Individual Freedom commends the court for recognizing and validating arguments presented by the plaintiffs, who have provided substantive legal arguments regarding the unconstitutional nature of the legislation’s mandate on individuals and the troubling power grab by the federal government represented in it.
“We will continue to join the plaintiffs and others in advocating the merits of this case, making it clear to the American public that the legislation is an unconstitutional infringement on the freedom of individual Americans.”

October 14th, 2010 at 3:41 pm
BREAKING: Federal Court Rejects Obama Administration Effort to Dismiss States’ ObamaCare Challenge
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In a refreshing victory today for individual freedom, the concept of federalism and Constitutional principles, a federal judge in Florida rejected the Obama Justice Department’s request to dismiss the challenge by 20 states against ObamaCare’s unconstitutional provisions.

Among other things, Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the states can proceed in their argument that ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which forces citizens to engage in involuntary commercial transactions by purchasing insurance, violates the Constitution.  The Obama Administration, which couldn’t seem to decide whether ObamaCare passed Constitutional muster as a “tax” or under some other convenient authority, contended that the challenge should be thrown out in its entirety.  With this preliminary legal victory, the case can now proceed toward trial.

October 14th, 2010 at 2:39 pm
Heritage Foundation Releases 2010 ‘Dependence on Government’ Index

In case you needed reading material for your daily ‘two minutes’ hate’ this month, the Heritage Foundation released today its much-anticipated 2010 Index of Dependence on Government.

It’s not cheerful reading.  From the abstract:

The number of Americans who pay taxes continues to shrink—and the United States is close to the point at which half of the population will not pay taxes for government benefits they receive. In 2009, 64.3 million Americans depended on the government (read: their fellow citizens) for their daily housing, food, and health care. Starting in 2015, the Social Security program will not receive enough taxes to pay all the promised benefits—which will be hard for all job-holders, but devastating for roughly half the American workforce that has no other retirement program. Add in last year’s preposterously named American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, spiraling academic grants, flat-out farm socialism, the swelling ranks of Americans who believe themselves entitled to “free” government benefits—and now the government takeover of the nation’s health care system—and the very nature of this country’s republican form of government is called into question. Like they have been doing since 2002, Heritage Foundation policy experts lay out the increasingly gloomy facts. Can Americans pull back from the brink of complete dependence on government?

A great companion piece to Heritage’s ‘Dependence Index’ is the Legatum Institute’s ‘Prosperity Index,’ an equally in-depth look at policies that grow individual wealth instead of destroy it.

October 13th, 2010 at 10:20 pm
Professor Obama and Barney Frank Explain the Stimulus
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A nice jab from the folks over at Politizoid:



October 13th, 2010 at 10:36 am
Ramirez Cartoon – Obama: Look! Lincoln is Taking Foreign Money Too!
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 12th, 2010 at 8:09 pm
Brit Newspaper Releases ‘Top 20’ Tea Party Leaders

According to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, here are the bottom ten of the Top 20 leaders of the American Tea Party movement:

11.  David Koch, industrial magnate

12.  Rand Paul, GOP U.S. Senate candidate in Kentucky

13.  Jim DeMint, Republican Senator from South Carolina

14.  Judson and Sherry Phillips, founders of Tea Party Nation

15.  Michael Leahy, blogger

16.  Mark Williams, former chairman of the Tea Party Express

17.  Ken Buck, GOP U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado

18.  Mark Skoda

19.  Joe Miller, GOP U.S. Senate candidate in Alaska

20.  Sal Russo, chief strategist, Tea Party Express

The rest of the Top 20 will be released soon.  In the meantime, go here to read more about the figures listed above.

October 12th, 2010 at 7:48 pm
The Nobel Peace Prize Committee (Finally) Gets One Right

Recently, the committee conferring the Nobel Peace Prize decided to give the award to someone who actually deserves it: jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.  Excerpts of his writings can be found in Q & A form here.  In the snippet below, Xiaobo explains the importance of continuing to pressure the Chinese regime to free its people from dictatorship:

Does your struggle for democracy in China have any significance for the rest of the world?

To eliminate the negative effects of the sudden rise of dictatorial communist China on world civilization, we must help the world’s largest dictatorship transform into a free and democratic country as soon as possible. In the great cause of global democratization, China is a key link: if China is in the game, then the game is on for everyone.

Therefore, whether to let the CPC dictatorship, which has taken more than one billion people hostage, continue to degrade human civilization, or to rescue the world’s largest hostage population from enslavement, is not only a matter of vital importance for the Chinese people themselves, but also a matter of vital importance for all free nations.

Were China to become a free country, its value to human civilization would be incalculable. It would inevitably follow in the wake of the global collapse of the Soviet Eastern European totalitarian empire to bring about another global avalanche among the remaining dictatorial systems. It would be difficult for dictatorial regimes such as North Korea, Myanmar, Cuba, and Vietnam to continue, and those Middle Eastern countries with firmly entrenched dictatorial systems would also suffer a great blow. ~ The Negative Effects of the Rise of Dictatorship on World Democratization, 2006

Now, think about this plea in light of the Obama Administration’s position that the U.S. considers human rights concerns as secondary to economic cooperation.

Do we?

H/T: MercatorNet

October 11th, 2010 at 10:25 pm
Weakness in the West Wing
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As we profiled in last week’s Freedom Minute video, they’re currently doing a bit of housekeeping in the Obama White House, with key departures coming throughout the ranks of the senior staff. Thus far, the biggest change has been on the economic team, with the departures of Peter Orszag, Chrisina Romer, and Larry Summers. Last week’s announcement that General Jim Jones would step down as National Security Adviser, however, shows that the bloodletting is now spreading to the president’s foreign policy team.

Unfortunately, the upshot of this transitional period seems to be replacing plaques rather than policies. The new economic advisers promise more of the same. And on national security, we may actually be trading down.

While General Jones was known for keeping banker’s hours and not being a particularly influential member of Obama’s inner circle, his military credentials insulated him from being viewed as too dovish on foreign policy. Not so his replacement, Thomas Donilon, whose past successes include being in-house counsel at Fannie Mae (you can’t make this stuff up).

Writing in today’s New York Post, AEI’s Arthur Herman lays out the case for pessimism at Obama’s choice for the nation’s most powerful national security position:

Donilon is the anti-Kissinger, the bureaucrat’s bureaucrat. By every account, he measures success by the number of position papers he has read and sees process as important as substance in foreign policy.

He learned this working as chief of staff for the most colorless and ineffectual 20th century secretary of state, Warren Christopher. Formerly No. 2 at State in the Jimmy Carter years, Christopher embodied the Carter mindset of seeing America as an arrogant problem child that needs to be spanked and grounded if the world is to have any peace.

That mindset now rules the Obama White House.

It’s why Obama is comfortable with America’s steady decline both economically and strategically, why he’s pushing for more defense cuts and why he clearly resents having been talked into backing the surge strategy in Afghanistan — a problem he wishes would simply go away.

For those wondering if Obama is going to pull off a Clintonesque renaissance in the wake of a mid-term drubbing, the appointment of advisers even more ideologically extreme than their predecessors provides an answer.

We’ve always known that Obama views himself in quasi-religious terms. Now it’s beginning to look like he’s setting himself on a path of political martyrdom.