This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
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Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

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Obama’s Oval Office Infomercial Print
By Troy Senik
Wednesday, June 16 2010
Having dispensed with his jaundiced attempt at choreographed compassion, Obama quickly resumed his traditional batting stance. The final ten minutes of the speech reverted to the closest thing there is to an Obama Doctrine: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s admonition to 'never let a crisis go to waste.'

Furnished from the planks of the HMS Resolute, a British ship that once patrolled the icy waters of the Arctic, the presidential desk that is the centerpiece of the Oval Office is a talisman of power. If you’ve ever been in the same room with it (as this author has), you begin to wonder if it gives the president his air of authority instead of vice versa. The desk, regal and somber, seems almost a modern-day Excalibur, yielding its power only to a capable handler. It’s thus doubly noteworthy that on Tuesday night it seemed to swallow President Obama.
 
In his first address to the nation from the seat of presidential power, Obama appeared timid and unsteady – a bizarre performance from an individual whose comfort with executive symbolism was sufficient to see him adopt a modified presidential seal (complete with a Latin inscription) for his podiums during the days when he was still just a candidate for the nation’s highest office. Using the arrhythmic hand gestures of a freshman speech student and miscuing on his verbal emphases, Obama committed the cardinal sin of presidential speechmaking: inauthenticity.
 
Perhaps this was an inevitable byproduct of the medley that Obama chose to sing for the nation. The first seven minutes of the president’s seventeen-minute remarks – not coincidentally, the most jarring – were a paint-by-numbers attempt at much-deserved empathy for the residents of the Gulf Coast. After a turgid regurgitation of his administration’s efforts thus far in the region, Obama made a play for populist solidarity. It didn’t fly. Those watching at home became keenly aware that this was probably the first time in the man’s life that he had used the word “shrimpers.” 
 
There wasn’t much tangible hope for the Southeast in the speech. The president touted his assemblage of “a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers” to quench the thirst of those who develop their ideas of presidential leadership from watching disaster movies. There were presidential commissions and a comprehensive economic recovery plan for the Gulf (absent specifics), a tone-deaf acknowledgment that this administration thinks that the committee is the most elemental form of human social organization. And there was, of course, the worthwhile promise to make BP compensate for the damage in the region – a plan that, in light of the preexisting cap on the oil company’s liability, seems utterly incompatible with the Constitution’s prohibition of bills of attainder.
 
Having dispensed with his jaundiced attempt at choreographed compassion, Obama quickly resumed his traditional batting stance. The final ten minutes of the speech reverted to the closest thing there is to an Obama Doctrine: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s admonition to “never let a crisis go to waste.” 
 
It turns out, with a convenience bordering on synchronicity, that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect springboard to relaunch the president’s quest for a green economy. Given that this crusade is quixotic even by the through-the-looking-glass standards of the Obama White House, what followed was the elevation of blather to an art form.
 
Making the utterly correct case that the Minerals Management Service charged with regulating offshore drilling vacillated between corruption and incompetence, Obama thundered, “Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility - a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.”  No serious figure in American politics holds this view. Obama is a man who once famously said, “I don’t oppose all wars … what I am opposed to is a dumb war.” Why is he then incapable of understanding conservatives who feel the same way about regulatory policy?
 
Obama’s diagnosis of our “oil crisis” was plagued by the same fatuousness. Proving the wisdom of the adage about having just enough knowledge to be dangerous, the President gravely warned, “We consume more than 20% of the world's oil, but have less than 2% of the world's oil reserves.” And this is a problem because? Is the modern, petroleum-dominated economy that is the White House’s scourge somehow simultaneously running short of fuel? As global demand increases, prices will go up … and alternative fuel sources will become relatively cheaper. In other words, the market will eventually furnish the outcome Obama is trying to manufacture from Washington at taxpayer expense.
 
How about this gem, beloved by the energy independence crowd: “Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil.” Yet, according to Department of Agriculture statistics for 2009, we send nearly $4.2 billion overseas every day for food products. Neither is an economic crisis, because we’re sending money, not “wealth.” We value the product we receive in the exchange more than the money we’re trading for it. Otherwise the deal would never take place. This is protectionism in evening wear.
 
When Obama finally brought the speech to a direct endorsement for his cap-and-trade legislation he praised it as “a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America's businesses.” And thus did we elect King Canute president.

No elected official in America is capable of making one form of energy more profitable than another unless he moonlights in research and development. What they are capable of doing – and what cap-and-trade explicitly does – is penalizing profitable energy and subsidizing its unprofitable counterparts until they reach an economic inflection point.
 
So it was that on June 15, 2010, a President of the United States sat behind the Resolute desk and proposed to solve the worst environmental problem in the nation’s history through an agenda of mandatory impoverishment.  The country was better off when he just seemed inept.

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"In nominating Barrett to the Supreme Court, [President Trump] kept his promise by choosing an undaunted originalist -- someone who interprets the Constitution based on the understanding held by its ratifiers.Trump's most profound effect on the Constitution will come when she and the other Trump Justices apply that originalism to the questions of liberty and equality."Read entire article here.…[more]
 
 
—John C. Yoo, Heller Professor Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law
— John C. Yoo, Heller Professor Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law
 
Liberty Poll   

Do you believe Republicans will continue to hold a majority in the U.S. Senate following the 2020 election?