Friday, January 30, 2009

TCRP Calls for Texas Delegation to Vote NO on Bailouts

Contact: Joe Gimenez, 512.358.1041

Travis County Republican Party Votes NO on Bailouts
Countywide Precinct Chairs Unanimously Oppose Congressional Largesse

AUSTIN – The grassroots organizers of the Travis County Republican Party unanimously approved exerting pressure on Travis County’s Congressional delegation to stop the TARP-bailouts of financial institutions and failing businesses.

At its regular quarterly meeting of its Executive Committee of precinct chairmen Monday, the TCRP approved sending a clear message that local Republicans are dismayed at the lack of fiscal responsibility on display in Washington.

“Ever since the bailouts were announced in September there’s been strong grassroots opposition to throwing good money after bad in bailing out mismanaged institutions,” said Rosemary Edwards, the TCRP chairwoman. “We want Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, as well as Congressmen Lloyd Doggett, Michael McCaul and Lamar Smith, to know that their supporters back home are closely watching their votes on this matter. We want fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C.”

The TCRP measure urged its delegation to:
• Cease all future bailouts of financial institutions and failing businesses by TARP, Treasury Department or other executive action, Congressional action and/or the Federal Reserve, and
• Discontinue all bailouts already offered, but not yet given in part or whole, and
• Repeal TARP, and
• If TARP cannot be immediately repealed, pass an amendment requiring complete transparency of the actions of the United States Secretary of the Treasury and his subordinates regarding the bailouts.

“It was also my sense at the meeting that Travis County Republicans feel the fiscal ‘stimulus’ offered by the Democrats is not going to produce the private sector jobs that have driven our economy since the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan cut taxes and demonstrated the revenue positive effects of inspiring entrepreneurial activity and corporate investments. I think it’s safe to say all of us here in Travis County would like to see our Congressional delegation take a stand for lower taxes, a true stimulus measure,” Edwards said.

Political Ad Paid for by the Travis County Republican Party - 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 315, Austin, Texas 78758 –

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Final Act of Grace - Bush frees Ramos and Compean

Fox News reports that President Bush commuted border agents Ramos and Compean's prison sentences.

Obama Hopes and Fears

An NRO article on the current political landscape shares some poll results on the question of what voters are hoping, fearing, and expecting out of the Obama administration. A sampling of Democrat hopes in graph form:

And Republican fears:

The big picture:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Democrats, Crimes and Media Amnesia

Another "Democrat Commits Crime, Media Forgets party Label" story found by Urbangrounds: "Racine, Wisconsin Mayor Gary Becker was planning on going to the Obama inauguration party next week. But his plans have been cut short because of a little legal trouble — namely he was trying to hook up with what he believed to be a 14-year old girl that he met on the Internet. ... But guess which word they intentionally omitted from their story? Yep — DEMOCRAT."

Democrat Boondoggle costs $6700 per family

Powerline shares info on the Biggest boondoggle ever from House minority leader Boehner. The Democrat bill will cost $825 billion, or $6,700 per family or: "enough spending to give every man, woman, and child in America $2,700."

And for what? Saving jobs, expensively:

"President-elect Obama has said that his proposed stimulus legislation will create or save three million jobs. This means that this legislation will spend about $275,000 per job. ...

Not really on infrastructure:
7. Although the House Democrats' proposal has been billed as a transportation and infrastructure investment package, in actuality only $30 billion of the bill - or three percent - is for road and highway spending.

Not much real tax cuts:
Almost one-third of the so called tax relief in the House Democrats' bill is spending in disguise, meaning that true tax relief makes up only 24 percent of the total package - not the 40 percent that President-elect Obama had requested.

It's really about growing the Government but not the economy.

The Democrat boondoggle is destined to be a failure in terms of helping the economy.

Texas Senate Breaks Gridlock

Dan is the man. If not for Senator Dan Patrick, we'd probably have another session of wimp-out on key issues like voter ID. Instead, a Partisan Fight Breaks Out in Texas Senate over breaking gridlock by changing Senate rules, which led to Texas Senate voting to suspend the 2/3rds rule on the voter ID bill. The Democrats protested, in part by putting forward their pet issues to suspend the rules on - More on this here.

Democrats used the Senate's two-thirds rule to kill the voter ID bill in the previous session and other bills. You would need 21 of the 31 members – to move legislation to the floor, and with only 19 Republicans, the Democrats were holding veto power over certain bills, in particular voter ID. "[Sen Dan] Patrick wants the Senate to adopt a rule requiring 19 senators – precisely the number of seats the GOP now holds – to approve moving bills to the floor."

It is common sense that it is wrong to abuse the majority by stopping bills in the Texas Senate that have a solid majority support. The 2/3rds rule is too high a barrier, we should change it to 3/5ths like in the US Senate.

On Jan 15th, the Texas Senate did go partway on that, and Senator Dan Patrick said:

This is a major step forward for the people of Texas. During the 80th Session, Democrats took advantage of the two-thirds rule by blocking the passage of voter identification legislation. The people of Texas do not want gridlock in the Texas Senate on issues that are important to them. ...
Ultimately, I believe that the two-thirds rule should be changed to a three-fifths majority for bringing all bills to the floor. Today’s rule change is a great first step toward accomplishing the will of the people.

Right on both counts. A bonus is that liberals are going bonkers and exposing their own hypocrisy in the process. As I said, Dan is the man.

Bush - A Look Back

Ace of Spades: "To me, this is the quintessential Bush moment" - President Bush at Yankee stadium after 9/11.

Risk is a Four-letter Word, pt 2

Risk and the Recovery, a good explanation of what went wrong in banking. Calculated Risk blog shows that many of the financial panic numbers are easing - TED spread is down under 1, for example, 3-mo LIBOR is at 1.1%. On the other hand, Industrial output fell at an 11.5% rate in the fourth quarter, so even as financial factors stabilize, the recession feeds on itself.

if you are looking for good news, some leading indicators are starting to turn.

I share stimulus thoughts on Keynes:

When we look back in 2012 at what was done in 2009, we wont care if the Q4 2009 numbers were this or that, we WILL care if we are saddled with an extra trillion of foriegn debt that we can't easily pay back, suffering under subpar growth because our deficits and inflationary policies got out of hand and we had to 'fix' that with high-tax high-interest-rate stagflation-era policies. ... Keynes was wrong. In the long run we aren't dead, in the long run we look back, older and wiser, and say: "What the hell were we THINKING?!?"

44 - An Outsider's View

Our 44th President will be sworn in Tuesday. Obama has been active enough it seems as if he is President already. President Bush is helpfully acceding to Obama requrests on TARP money and last Thursday gave a farewell speech. There will be no Obama inauguration events for me. I will be at work on Tuesday, and will not be doing anything special except working hard at my high-tech job that in recent days seems more at risk than ever before in a long career. (We have had several layoffs where I work in recent months.)

Anyone who thinks this inauguration is more ‘historic’ than any other that happens every four years is implicitly resting their case on a black guy becoming President. Certainly, there will be that 'first' item for the history books, a barrier breached, but to think it means something different about the President himself is to judge people by the color of their skin. Those people are either racists or race-hustlers caught up in the phoney ‘specialness’ of diversity.

The reality is more mundane, although it does have an epochal nature to it. The Democrats now own Washington DC more completely than at any time since the 1960s under LBJ. The result of Liberals in charge is what you would expect from bad liberal policies - an economy on the ropes, a world more dangerous, a culture more degraded.

Obama is swimmer in the conventional wisdom of the liberal elites. His ‘pragmatism’ is little more than calculating the dead-center of the liberal elites' thinking and tacking his sails to it. Hence his proposal on the 'stimulus' bill seems to be a recipe of moderate-plus-liberal creation. His ‘idealism’ is nothing more than academic liberalism. His political courage? Not in evidence yet, as he waffled on Burris, cut Richardson loose but hung on to Geitner (who did worse, is a tax cheat).

Since Obama was elected in early November, the economy shed almost a million jobs, the stock market went from the Dow at 9400 to 8200 (as of jan 17, 2009), companies are going bust, and the prospects for the future are dimming. They are not dimming in spite of Obama’s and the Democrat's plans, but in concert with them. The bailouts and TARP have been a stopgap, the trillion dollar deficit spending boondoggle will not be a stimulus for economic growth, but nothing more than an exercise in Government blundering. Alas, the people in charge do not have a clue how to enact economic growth policies. Result? Dont expect economic growth, as the history of Japan in the 1990s (and their failed Keynesianism) will be repeated here.

Those same Democrats who were hampering Bush’s efforts to keep America safe are now in charge of the same. Will they learn to keep us safe, or knee-jerk attack the people (DoD) and methods (waterboarding, Gitmo) that have kept us safe?

There is not much hope there. I had earlier (in the previous campaign) said that Obama would be worse than Carter. Maybe not. He seems to be smarter than Carter, perhaps more like a Clinton than even his supporters had thought. But on economy and foreign policy, it would be a stretch to expect anything above ‘mediocre’. Obama doesn’t have clue one about how to achieve the top line goals of economic growth and defense of our sovereignty, for the simple reason that the elite views he derives his worldview from are not focussed on that at all.

Every election is a mini-revolution, and the good thing is that our political system can evolve without violence and with the assent of the people.

Any good democracy needs a good loyal opposition, to keep those in power as honest as possible. The bogus meme that the opposition has a duty to "want him to succeed" has been played by the Obama side. Actually, we know his policies are contradictory and his goals are dangerous, so for the good of the country, we should want him to be stymied in enacting his policies, so America can succeed. However, at this moment of Democratic super-majorities, what Obama and the liberal Democrats want, they will get. It will be the job of the loyal opposition to 'speak truth to power' and point out where they are wrong. Since power corrupts, it’s easy to point out the foibles of those in power and be right about it. Yet a good loyal opposition needs to show the alternative path forward, and not just be in the position of saying “No” to the bad ideas of the liberals in power. That is our duty, and that is what we will do.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Honest Mistake?

Like bleating Obamedia sheep, the liberal MSM talking heads are repeating the phony-baloney Obama official talking point that their treasury-secretary nominee made "an honest mistake" when he 'forgot' to pay taxes on IMF earnings for four years. Between him and Charlie Rangel, if this kind of tax cheating is 'honest' then let's free anyone convicted of tax evasion, because every tax evader made a 'mistake'.

But I am worried even if this cheat was a mistake, because Paulson's Lehman mistake cost us a financial crisis:

One day the preferred shares of Freddie Mac (nyse: FRE - news - people ) and Lehman Brothers (nyse: LEHMQ - news - people ) were considered to be smart money speculations; the next day they were nearly worthless. You can thank Secretary Henry Paulson's panic attack for that. In September he suspended the preferred dividend payments for Fannie Mae (nyse: FNM - news - people ) and Freddie Mac when it was placed into conservatorship. With Lehman, Paulson allowed an overnight implosion, thereby causing $75 billion of damage that wouldn't have occurred with an orderly wind-down of this firm (according to Lehman's restructuring firm, Alvarez & Marsal).

Then, perhaps realizing his mistake (my emphasis), Paulson thought he could make things right by saving AIG, allowing it to continue paying its preferred dividends.

You see, an 'honest mistake' doesn't make it right, and another Treasury Secretary making 'honest mistakes' like, oops, screwing up on taxes or trying to save money by cheating, is the last thing we need in the financial system. Let's get a guy who did his taxes honestly. I suspect former Rep Bill Archer, who always did his own taxes, is still around.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Conservative alternative economic recovery package

Economic Recovery: A Choice, Not An Echo presents a comprehensive set of policies that would steer us back into long-term economic growth. Good list of what needs to happen - "What he said."

Note that one critique is that many provisions are not geared towards the 'immediate problem' of the recession. True, but that misses the point. The whole problem with the Obama plan and the thinking in Washington is that it is very short-term 'crisis' focussed. We already have $700 billion in TARP funds and a Fed 0% interest rate policy for the short-term crisis. We need to think about the LONG-TERM economic health of USA. Adding another $1 trillion to the deficit to attempt a short-term temporary boost to GDP output in 2009 will help in the margins now, but add to a debt burden that will saddle us later. It will hurt more than help, especially if it is on non-productive boondoggle spending.

As such, we should take the opportunity NOW to think about what policies we need in place for long-term economic growth. The conservative 'alternative' presented does that.

Mark Strama Breaks His Own Law

Blue Dot Blues called Mark Strama's HB 105 "Worst bill of early filing", and I started to look into this shockingly overreaching bill and I found much in it bizarre and hypocritical.

Strama's bill exempts "out-of-state political committee" from limits and places low $500 limits for State Rep contributions. What?!? So a group of Californians can get together and buy a seat with big contributions, but citizens in a State Reps district are themselves limited to $500 each and cannot fight back? Why Strama would put Texas political contributors in the back of the bus compared to out-of-state folks is strange, unless you contemplate that out-of-state is where the liberal money comes. This is a Democrat Out-of-state Liberal Group Power Grab to give them an edge over Texans.

There is another bizarre provision:

A candidate or officeholder who accepts one or more
political contributions in the form of loans, including an
extension of credit or a guarantee of a loan or extension of credit,
from one or more persons related to the candidate or officeholder
within the second degree by consanguinity, as determined under
Subchapter B, Chapter 573, Government Code, may not use political
contributions to repay the loans.
Why can't a political contribution repay another political contribution? There really is no public purpose behind it. Yet didn't Mark Strama take out a loan from his own uncle and himself in order to win his seat initially? He took out more than $100,000 in loans which got him on the map politically. And didn't he pay it back in part with campaign contributions? Is this a "Mea Culpa", guilt complex, or just an attempt to close the door to any upstart who might try the same strategy he tried? I'm thinking the latter. This is an Incumbent Protection Act, designed to create a minefield of impossibility for challengers to unseat better funded competitors.

The final point of irony and hypocrisy from Mark Strama is this. Mark Strama has taken PAC money, special interest money, Fred Baron's Annie's List money. He has repeatedly violated the limits that are in his own bill, certainly well above that low $500 limit, meaning he would be in jail today if his bill was law. Why file a bill with legal requirements that Strama himself will not live up to? Why can't he walk the walk on such a bill? Is "hypocritical liberal Democrat" a redundant term?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ACLU Attacks Do-Gooders in Catholic Church

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, or without without getting sued by the ACLU.

Money Matters, Big and Small

So you think you're retirement account did poorly? State Pension funds lost $865 billion : "Assets for 109 state funds declined 37 percent to $1.46 trillion over the 14 months ended Dec. 16."

I don't care who you are, that's funny. Oh, and that Sen Voinovich guy is retiring. The RINO herd is thinning. Go, Rob Portman!

How Trial Lawyer Fred Baron Saved the Texas Dems

The article about the $5 million political group funded by Fred Baron say it's this guy Matt Angle, but it seems to me the money made the real difference:

the Democratic Trust provided crucial dollars, research and ideas, especially considering that six Democrats won Republican House seats in 2006 and 2008 by fewer than 1,000 votes.
This millionaire's money helped House Reps Strama, Bolton, Moldanado, and others in their local central Texas races via Annie's List. Millionaire funded strategies like this seem to be the SOP for the Democrats. Billionaire liberal George Soros funds national groups. Gay-activist millionaire Ted Gill in Colorado funds multi-million effort to turn that state blue, and succeeds. And a millionaire trial lawyer helps the Texas House go almost Democratic. In all cases, the elites and special interests have been the unseen puppetmasters of the Democrat's successful political strategies.

Trial lawyer money has been running the Texas Democratic party for years. Baron also gave 'hush money' to the woman who had John Edwards' (another trial lawyer turned politician) love child. Trial lawyers are like leeches on the economy; they get rich on the mistakes of others and rob victims of accidents a second time. It this time of economic distress, they are the last people we should be turning to for political advice or support. Anyone who takes their money should be turned out of office. That includes the local pro-abort Annie's List takers.

Priorities For the Texas Lege

There is a silver lining to that $9 billion hole in the budget that Susan Combs has predicted. Now the Texas lege has more important things to worry about than the phony Global Warming Threat.

It is easy to worry about the economy: "There is no way out of this mess without a reduction in the standard of living for US households." Texas will no escape being a part of the global recession. First, oil prices down mean the oil & gas industry is not going to make the money it made recently, and oil royalties are way down. That in turn will hit Texas Permanent School Fund and other revenue streams. Companies like Dell, TI, IBM, Toyota (making trucks in San Antonio) are cutting back. Construction has dipped. Yet Texas will do better than most states, having a record of stronger job growth than most states during the growth period.

What the Texas lege needs to do about it all is simple enough: Balance the budget without raising taxes or harming prospects for jobs and growth. That means, yes, to saying "No" to any job-killing regulations on CO2. Since 2008 temperatures were colder than 8 of the last 11 years, there has been no real global warming since 1998. Global cooling is happening just in time to save us from very dangerous regulations, and the recession is a reminder of what the real priorities should be: 1. Economic growth 2. Jobs 3. Fiscal responsibility.

Now if only the politicians in Washington were smart enough to figure that out too, we might not have gotten into this mess.

Monday, January 12, 2009

NYTimes files bad journalism complaint

New York Times whines about bad journalism in an article in which The Atlantic predicts (probably correctly) the demise of the New York Times. Oh the irony.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Speaker Straus Waltzes Into Power

A brand new day in the Texas House. Straus says House agenda up to members: "Straus is promising to empower his committee leaders, let the members set the agenda and, most important for him, bring civility to the House floor." Speaker Straus is promising no retribution to the Craddick-supporting members.

My thoughts: If Straus treats the Craddick-supporting members fairly, there probably won't be a problem from the cosnervative side. Craddick's not coming back as Speaker, and Straus was not the cause of Craddick's downfall. The real danger would be if Straus over-indulges the Democrats to the point of disappointing conservatives, which may make some of the Republicans rebel and do to Straus what they did to Craddick. But that would be down the road. For now, Straus seems to be playing it just right, giving the House membership room to 'breathe' and do what they want. Both power and the attending power struggles may devolve t othe various committee fiefdoms.

A fly in the ointment: Speaker Straus will not do any heavy lifting to get Republican House members elected against Democrat incumbents. So who will?

Obama's Team Sandbags the Jobs Numbers

Now the mystery of that weird concept of Obama promises of "saving jobs" is revealed!

Obama's "Keynesianism on crack" plan 'saves jobs' by Sandbagging the employment numbers. They say that by Q4 2010 we have two scenarios:
Without Stimulus $11,770 GDP 133,876,000 Payroll Employment
With Stimulus $12,203 GDP 137,550,000 Payroll Employment
Effect of Package Increase GDP by 3.7% Increase jobs by 3,675,000

I say: Look at the numbers Obama is inheriting. Q3 2008 total employment number was 137,331,000. And due to job losses that were huge in the last quarter, it dropped to 135,489,000 in December. See the jobs report. What they are claiming is that with Obama's plan, the total employment numbers will be no higher than they were in Q3 2008. This is not 'creating' any net new jobs, this is merely treading water. They are further making the very dubious claim that the economy, if left to its own devices without huge Government deficits, would in 2010 have 4 million fewer jobs than in 2008. When in the last 60 years did that happen? Never! Obama is sandbagging the numbers, concocting an alternative scenario that is nothing more than a fearful spectre, so that zero net job creation will still be 'saving jobs'.

Maybe Obama knows about the history with FDR and the fact that you do not get big job creation from boondoggle spending: "Nearly a decade of then-unprecedented increases in federal spending on public relief and public works projects never managed during the Depression to lower the unemployment rate into single digits or restore our gross domestic product (GDP) to the level it had achieved in 1929."

I wrote in a previous article that Obama needed a 'worse alternative' so that he could claim credit for the economic recovery even if his plans actually didn't do any good at all for the economy. His team has kindly showed their hand, with numbers that make plain the Obama economy will be mediocre, and Obama will still want to 'take credit' not for creating any real jobs but for 'saving us' from unrealistic fearmongering projections of huge job losses that will never be.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Quote of the Day: Mencken on taxes

“The intelligent man, when he pays taxes, certainly does
not believe that he is making a prudent and productive
investment of his money; on the contrary, he feels that he is
being mulcted in an excessive amount for services that, in the
main, are downright inimical to him. . . . He sees in even the
most essential of them an agency for making it easier for the
exploiters constituting the government to rob him. In these
exploiters themselves he has no confidence whatever. He sees
them as purely predatory and useless. . . . They constitute a
power that stands over him constantly, ever alert for new
chances to squeeze him. If they could do so safely, they would
strip him to his hide. If they leave him anything at all, it is
simply prudentially, as a farmer leaves a hen some of her eggs.”

-H.L. Mencken

Language Abuse & the Non-saving of Jobs

Today I found a gem of an essay by Orwell that is more than apropos in these times of massive media misdirection; Orwell's lesson is about language and its abuse. You cannot speak clearly unless you think clearly, but Orwell's essay explains that unclear writing can conversely harms our ability to think clearly:

"modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. " - George Orwell, 1946
His derision is particular towards hyperbolic political bloviation:
"Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." - George Orwell, 1946
Orwell advises to stop using dead metaphors, passive voice, long or foreign or jargon words when plain and simple will suffice; his rules are along the lines of Strunk & White's "omit needless words" but his agenda is really up our alley as well - it's about truth. That padded, overwrought, fuzzy, gauzy bloviation masks rather than reveals truths and it destroys rather than creates precision.

This Orwell essay I found hyperlinked via Patterico, from comment to an article dedicated to trying to decipher a Krugman quote. Quoth Paul Krugman:

“[A]ppointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.”

The back-story is that CNN reporter Sanjay Gupta criticized Michael Moore for Moore's errors in the movie "Sicko". This 'sin' of daring to critique the left is putting the extremists in a tizzy. So Krugman is, apparently, in the usual assume-the-conclusion manner of arrogant liberals like Krugman, saying that Gupta is 'wrong'. Krugman is so wrapped up in his own warped worldview, he cant see how ironic his statement is. Krugman the Unaccountable has lied in his column on many occasions, and gotten it wrong on others. His World is Upside Down.

Krugman expresses himself indiretly because any direct assertions would be seen as bald-faced lies; these are lies with hair and a disguise. A an all-purpose self-justifying elocution that assumes its conclusion, it throws in a legitimate concern - our culture's lack of responsibility - to make an illegitimate personal attack. One comment retorted in 'throw it back in his face' manner a la Don Luskin:

Krugman’s ongoing employment, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

The rhetorical form has many uses, and as a can be batted back as follows in times when you need the handy-dandy rhetoric (of the kind Orwell blasted as unthinking):

Voting for Obama, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

The issue of misdirected language also comes into focus as Obama ramps up a PR effort to sell the big Government boondoggle program.

The word torturing that is going on recalls the word abuses of the Clinton era. To Clinton, Government spending was 'investment' and proven-to-be-economically-beneficial tax reductions were 'risky schemes'. Obama has taken up the "investment" euphemism for Government boondoggle spending, and added his own wrinkles. We are now adding another abusive concept: The "saving of jobs."

Redstate notes how Obama is all over the map on what exactly his program will do:

In the November 29th-edition of his weekly address, Obama backed away from the goal of “2.5 million more jobs” over two years and said he wants to “create or save 2.5 million new jobs”

On December 20, Obama upped the goal to “create or save 3 million jobs in the next two years.”

In the January 3rd-edition of his weekly address, Obama revealed that “more than eighty percent of the three million jobs will be in the private sector.”

Today, in the January 10th-edition of his weekly address, Obama now claims his bailout will create three to four million jobs. Ninety percent of them in the private sector”

How can the man who is about to be president of the United States throw away his credibility by proposing five different goals over eight weeks on such an enormous spending proposal?
Excellent question. The answer - when you speak of "saving jobs", you have already let on that the numbers are meaningless anyway. How do you measure a 'saved job'? If the economy loses 2 million jobs in 2009, will Obama admit defeat or declare victory, saying "We would have lost 4 million jobs without my magic-unicorns-and-pixie-dust bill, but only 2 million jobs were lost, so actually we saved 2 million jobs!" Is that what he means? In short, Obama has redefined his objective into meaninglessness. Obama's plan really has no serious goals whatsoever regarding jobs, and that is on purpose: it will likely have no positive effect whatsoever on private sector hiring; it will instead 'create' jobs on a much smaller scale than he claims and only in the public sector through the burte force of massive increases in Government spending.

The Sham-Wow President-Elect is using every infomercial trick-in-the-book, including polling on the plan's marketing verbiage, and using the pathetic trick "Buy Now Or It will be Too Late." If you were ever in a store or car sales lot that used the "Today Only Price" you might know about the trick salesmen pull to create "buyer's urgency". The Politicians are creating an urgency for $800 billion in Government spending. Hence the Pelosi gambit of "We will pass a bill or never go on break in February." Why the urgency over $800 billion? They surely cannot spend it all next month? Why not have the spending for this year only be in the immediate package, and all spending for the next fiscal year be in a package passed later, when there is a better understanding of the economy situation and needs?

The liberal MSM is joining in the high-pressure media sales tactics with the breathless world-may-collapse reporting on the package, insinuating that only more government boondoggles stand in the way of economic Dunkirk, upside-down-world claims that Government spending is the needed stimulus (not asking why what didn't work in Japan 1990s won't work today), with a subtext "If we dont pass this in 30 days, everything could collapse." In truth, the Democrats want quick action because they want to make the appearance of doing something, then take credit for the natural healing of the economy; "We will have incredibly dire consequences" if we don't pass it, say Democrats like Gov Corzine; in truth, the 'crisis' they see is a crisis in state budgets that (gasp) might actually have to be tightened should the states not get a bailout.

If the goal is economic growth in the private sector, tax rate reduction and pro-growth incentives are the answer. But that's not Obama's priority. The purposes, goals, results and consequences of the Obama big-Government boondoggle will be far different from what we are being told. Thus it requires mis-direction and abuse of language to sell this program now, and will require more linguistic misdirection after it passes, is tried, and fails to create all those private-sector jobs that Obama claims he can "create or save".

Friday, January 9, 2009

Democrat Corruption Roundup

How fitting that on the day when Senate-seat-selling Democrat Gov Blagojovich joins the elite club of "impeached but too-shameless-to-resign" politicians (ex-Pres Bill Clinton, charter member) to have this bumper crop of news:

Roland Burris Discussed Senate Seat With Blagojevich Insider.

VP-Elect Joe Biden's son, accused of fraud, reaches settlement.

Pennsylvania Governor does 'pay-to-play', gets fingers caught in till: Democrat Governor Ed Rendell's friends get state money in no-bid no-contract billing. Speaking of Ed Rendell and pay-to-play, Donor tied to Richardson corruption probe gave to Rendell and Obama.

Which brings up yet another 'pay to play' deal: Pay-to-Play Politics, the SEIU and Obamacare.

What ever happened to the Charlie Rangel investigation? Good question. Better question: Why isn't this man in jail or at least hounded out of office for his years of tax evasion? The shameful 'money quote': "There's no limit whatsoever on the amount of time Chairman Rangel can remain chairman, despite the ethical questions he faces."

Bribery case in Mississippi: Federal authorities have seized $425,000 from a former district attorney, Ed Peters: “Peters was a member of a conspiracy to corruptly influence a sitting State of Mississippi Circuit Court Judge,”
Members of the conspiracy - Scruggs, Balducci, Patterson, Scruggs’s son Zach, and a law partner, Sidney Backstrom - all pleaded guilty to charges related to the Lafayette County bribery conspiracy. Funny, the article doesn't mention it, but they are all Democrats. Overview of the Dickie Scruggs shakedown conspiracy, or, how a bunch of plaintiffs lawyers used corruption to turn a state into a slot machine. In case you think it can't happen in Texas, just ask Dan Morales (oh yeah, another Democrat).

Asking why they would do that is like asking: Why does Soros want Norm Coleman out of office so bad?

PS. Wait How could I miss this one? - "Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon was indicted Friday on charges that she accepted illegal gifts during her time as mayor and City Council president, including travel, fur coats and gift cards intended for the poor that she allegedly used instead for a holiday shopping spree." Took the press 11 pargraphs to admit the politician is a Democrat.

So many corrupt, lawbreaking Democrat politicians, so little time!

Spending by any other name still costs $$$

Obama team is Poll-testing policy talking points - another sign that Obama is another Clinton third term. Massive federal Government deficit spending will be called "investment" to make the debasing of our currency and shafting of our chidlren's future appear more palatable.

Kudlow is still looking for a pony in the horse manure.

Even on healthcare, It's the spending stupid: "In 2006, U.S. health spending totaled $2.1 trillion. ... In 2006, consumers' out-of-pocket spending represented 13% of total health spending, down from half in 1960. ... Because most patients don't pay medical bills directly, they have little interest in using less care or shopping for lower-priced services. Providers (doctors, hospitals, drug companies) have no interest in limiting care."

More socialized medicine, SCHIP expansion, and Government intervention will only make this problem of overspending worse.

The Failure of FDR

... in a handy graphic form, thanks to NR:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Biggest. Govt. Ever.

WSJ on the "The Deficit Spending Blowout" and the biggest Government ever:

Toss that in (Obama's spending plan) and add more expected bailout cash, and if the economy stays slow the deficit could reach $1.8 trillion, or a gargantuan 12.5% of GDP.... CBO estimates that even before the stimulus federal spending will climb to an all-time high 24.9% of GDP, ... Add the stimulus and bailout cash and we estimate the federal spending share of GDP will climb to 27.5%.

Truly horrific numbers - welcome to semi-socialist America. And all that debt won't help Uncle Sam's credit rating.

The Money Quote on Corrupt Democrats

Democrat Scandals Show Need for Limited Government. So says Colleen Carroll Campbell. Instapundit shares money quote:

Accusations of financial impropriety also continue to surface against Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., the House Ways and Means Committee chairman being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, continues to dodge questions about his sweetheart mortgage deal from Countrywide Financial, a company implicated in the nationwide mortgage collapse. And several other Democratic congressmen are facing media scrutiny for suspicious financial deals and earmarking practices. . . .

Given how poorly many of our national political leaders handle the perks and purse strings they already control, we should think twice before giving them free rein to exponentially expand government and manage even more of our money.

P.J.O'Rourke spoke of money in the hands of the lege in terms of giving whiskey and car keys to teenaged boys. Or you could speak of matches and gasoline to arsonists. We are about to see a trillion dollars spent by the most socialist and leftwing Congress ever. In a blind and absurd spree of wasteful and misdirected Government squandering. I called it Keynesianism on crack. Maybe we need to call this ponzified bailout spree Madoff madness. It's a socialist Ponzi scheme that will surely have many undesirable and unintended consequences.

The Chicago Way comes to DC, but TNR claims the Democrat scandals don't matter (yet). But a tinge of Obama buyer's remorse in the comments: "But, he's not even in office yet and his administration is already looking like Clinton's. Not just a scandal a week, but a scandal every other day." Yup, given all the Clinton retreads getting appointed and scandals popping up, it sure is looking like a Clinton third term.

PS., has the scoop on Obama nominations.

McCaul for Texas AG?

Well, it will only be in the cards if Greg Abbott is making a move upwards, but McCaul puts an exploratory committee together for Attorney General.

Given the people crowding the space for U.S. Senate and Governor, could this mean Greg Abbott for Lt Governor?

Memo to Kudlow: Start being a watchdog, not a lapdog!

Kudlow asks how big Government is Obama and doesn't answer the question right.

Larry Kudlow is so sold on 'tax cuts' he gleefully reports on them being '40%' of Obama's big Government spending plan without reading the fine print. He's a dog who found his bone, but he fails to notice it's a fake - the supply-side watchdog has gotten distracted. You have to read most of the column before he admits the goose egg in the Obama 'stimulus' plan:

"And many of the tax cuts are refundable credits, which really are a form of government spending."

Didn't the previous Democrat President, Clinton, play these semantic games, calling spending 'investment' and other nonsense? Now, giveaways to non-taxpayers are called a tax cut by sleight of hand of 'credits' that are Government checks mailed by the IRS. Wow, so if medicare payments we sent by the IRS, socialized medicine could be one big tax cut too. In reality, 100% of Obama's Big Government spending plan to stimulate socialism is "a form of government spending", but 40% is packaged
as tax cuts, since the IRS will be shelling out the dough. No, it's not right to think of this as equivalent to a tax cut since the pocket that gets the money is not getting it from private sector effort and in many cases don't pay taxes at all. This is a huge EITC expansion, a huge transfer payment expansion - and transfer payments are not and never have been 'tax cuts'.

So what we have now is an $800 billion stimulus package with $300 billion of so-called tax cuts which could infer less spending than before — maybe only $500 billion worth.

Have we gotten to the point where we put 'only' next to $500 billion spending sprees? That amount is too huge in any case.

While Kudlow is right to point out that the TARP 'investment' is wrong scored as deficit, where he is wobbly is on thinking that implies we should ignore the deficits at all. Remember, the Obama plan WILL be spending, $800 billion in an added deficit - $500 billion spend by political bureaus, and $300 billion in targetted refundable tax credits. This is Keynesianism on crack.

Alas, none of the package incentivizes production, income and investment directly through reduced tax rates and lower regulations. Good ideas are left on the shelf: A capital gains tax cut, that would instantly lift asset values and good by itself end the housing and credit crunch in one fell swoop; the idea of alternative tax plan, like the Gohmert idea of a real tax cut via a tax holiday; making Bush tax cuts permanent; repeal of Sarbanes Oxley; making permanent R&D tax credits; tax cut to allow repatriation of US corporate capital overseas without a tax hit.

Kudlow states the Obama plan is popular. The media builds it up like the Second Coming. Nobody is pointing out the Swiss cheese nature of his plan - it's full of holes due to the failed nature of govt spending programs. If even conservative commentators fall on the job of pointing out the truth about how erroneous his plans are, while the liberal MSM Obamedia is in their usual slavish devotion mode, why wouldn't 65% of the people think there is nothing wrong with Obama's plans, even if flawed and fallacious?

Kudlow is right to point out the lack of Republican conservative alternative response, but he is wrong to praise this instead of pointing out what is wrong with it and should be better. And no, Kudlow is wrong to 'bargain down' or let Obama off the hook just because he won more votes in November. If Obama is right, fine, say he is doing good. But he's not, and it's feeble to end up saying: "I guess I could say it could have been worse." This is inexcusable bargaining down. Basically he's not Stalin, so we can relax - that is not a proper response to bad public policy that just happens to not be as bad as you might have feared.

The only appropriate response to Obama's dreadful plan is full and outright opposition to a plan that will not help the economy long term, is a flagrant waste of money on the spending side that will make a temporary and barely noticable improvement in short-term consumption, opens the door to huge amounts of boondoggling and waste, while harming our nation's fiscal balance.

It needs to be made clear that:

  • There is NO stimulus at all to private sector economic activity without REAL tax cuts and not fake giveaways mislabelled as tax cuts
  • Excessive Government spending that loads on the debt is not a good idea and has consistently FAILED in the past to spur the economy
  • There are many GOOD IDEAS to improve the economy out there - tax rate cuts, regulation reform, pro-energy policies, investment incentives, trade initiatives - that should be part of any 'stimulus' and to not include them is to harm the economy
The correct answer to Kudlow's question is that we are afflicted by the biggest shift to big Government in Federal policy since at least LBJ's era and possible the 1930s. There is zero intellectual, moral or economic justification for it, but to fail to acknowledge this reality or to downplay it is to disserve the readers. There is no way a $500 billion spending plan could NOT be viewed as massive.

Conservative media: It's time to stop being lapdogs and start being watchdogs!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Democrat Tax-and-Spend Increase of the Day

Plenty more to come, but first up is higher taxes on cigarettes to pay for Government subsidies for people making up to $80,000. They probably cost $100 a pack by now.

Massive New Govt Spending Harms Economy

They can pretend to call a Trillion dollar boondoggle a 'stimulus' but that doesnt make it so, anymore than calling chicken-fried steak 'a low-calorie diet'. Government spending does not stimulate growth. As WSJ on why stimulus plans fail explains, it just shifts the spending from one pocket to another:

"... the government can spend $1 billion hiring road builders and purchasing asphalt, it must first tax or borrow $1 billion from other sectors of the economy, which then lose a similar number of jobs.

In other words, highway spending merely transfers jobs and income from one part of the economy to another. As economist Ronald Utt has explained, "The only way that $1 billion of new highway spending can create 47,576 new jobs is if the $1 billion appears out of nowhere as if it were manna from heaven.""

This list of Heritage Stimulus Dos and Donts, has a list of "Donts" that sounds sadly like the proposed Democrat bill. Here's what NOT to do - Stimulus Ideas That Would Make the Economy Worse:
  • Spend public money in hopes of driving growth.
  • Use rebates to "inject" money into the economy in an effort to increase demand.
  • Try to create jobs with frivolous transportation spending.
  • Implement non-stimulative tax cuts.
  • Bail out states that mismanaged their own finances.
  • Fail to learn from the experience of other nations.

If we review the floated plan: It 'tax cuts' that are almost all 'non-stimulative' tax cuts that help special interest cases but don't lower rates on economic production; the rest - amounting to an enormous hundreds of billions of dollars - is the unhelpful boondoggle of Government spending for the sake of spending 'stimulus'. It will not stimulate - it will SOCIALIZE the economy. This is economic stupidity of the highest order and would send the nation into terrible debt with zero benefit to the economy.

David Limbaugh cites a chilling quote from the FDR era, cited by Burton W. Folsom Jr. in "New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America." The quote is from FDR's Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr.:

"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And an enormous debt to boot."
IBD: Paving projects won't boost economy: "It should not be forgotten that it is Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, the WPA, to which we owe the word "boondoggle." " Do we want that to Obama's legacy as well? Boondoggles, an enormous debt, and an economy that sputters along? That will be the legacy if this mistaken policy is enacted.

Obama does Pay to Play

Inauguration sold to highest bidder: "HBO did not disclose how much they are paying for the Obama inaugural, but the money will go to the Obama Inaugural Committee." A public ceremony is being used for the political and monetary gain of Obama and friends. Politics Chicago-style, get used to it.

Lance Armstrong In Politics?

Can Armstrong shake up Texas? Yes, he could: As mayor of Austin. But statewide? Consider this:

Armstrong had a couple celebrity girlfriends after divorcing the mother of his three children in 2003, and he announced two weeks ago that his current girlfriend will also be the mother of his fourth child. The baby is due in June.

I agree with the comment "Texans probably won't look favorably upon Armstrong's tumultuous personal life." That kind of personal life is not the example we want leaders to set. Celebrity didn't make Kinky Governor and wouldn't make Lance Armstrong Governor (or U.S. Senator). His pro-choice, pro-gun-control views and shack-up relationships slice off almost half the voters in Texas right there. He'd probably be bored with a legislative gig, so why not mayor of Austin first - a race he could surely win - then see how the politics shoe fits?

So count me as a "Lance for Mayor" guy. Beside, I am up for anyone to keep Lee Leffingwell out of the job.

Tale of Two Speakers

Autocratic Speaker Commits Outrages - will anyone notice?

Here in Texas, the weakened Republican House majority (a bare one vote advantage) enabled a rebellion among some Republicans to topple Speaker Craddick. The "ABC" (anyone but Craddick) Republicans, who numbered 11 and included infamous RINOs (like Tommy Merritt) were able to find a candidate that they could rally around and the Democrats would accept, Rep Joe Straus. He's a relatively new Representative, which I suppose is why he seems to have fewer enemies than others. This left Craddick with no cards left to play. It also give us the irony that despite the nominal Republican majority, the speaker is now the choice of more Democrats than Republicans.

The Statesman did an editorial jab this week, kicking Craddick when he's down, accusing him of autocratic ways as the reason for his downfall. Funny, but I pretty much would expect that to go with the job description of "Speaker", as you have to bruise egos to get things done in politics. But when it comes to double-standards, liberals are the tops; the autocratic ways of LBJ, Texas House Speaker Pete Laney, or John Connally are probably revered by the same folks who bashed Craddick for whatever similar toe-stubbing of House members he engaged in.

That's not to say this won't be an improvement in the House, since intraparty fighting was not helping win elections or govern well, but it really leaves questions like: So who's in charge? Upcoming Speaker Rep Straus, while a 'stalwart' Republican with okay fiscal conservative ratings (71% from TFR, "A" from AFP Texas), has had Planned Parenthood support, business interests tied to gambling, and a weak voting record on social conservative issues. Rep Naishtat called him a "moderate Republican". Will he be a 'bipartisan' sellout that flips the House in a liberal direction on many issues? We will find out as the session unfolds, but the Democrats are thrilled with the change and the ones with the most trepidation are those in conservative circles.

Which gets me back to the other Speaker, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. The Democrats have gotten an undeserved strengthening of their majority in Congress, and have now cemented their power with multiple outrages and abuses that - as usual - the media is ignoring. The House Democratic leadership have decided to Reverse the Gingrich-era 'fairness rules':
Pelosi’s rule changes -- which may be voted on today -- will reverse the fairness rules that were written around Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.”

In reaction, the House Republican leadership is sending a letter today to Pelosi to object to changes to House Rules this week that would bar Republicans from offering alternative bills, amendments to Democrat bills or even the guarantee of open debate accessible by motions to recommit for any piece of legislation during the entire 111th Congress. These procedural abuses, as outlined in the below letter obtained by HUMAN EVENTS, would also include the repeal of six-year limit for committee chairmen and other House Rules reform measures enacted in 1995 as part of the Contract with America."

... Pelosi’s proposed repeal of decades-long House accountability reforms exposes a tyrannical Democrat leadership poised to assemble legislation in secret, then goose-step it through Congress by the elimination of debate and amendment procedures as part of America’s governing legislative process.

An autocratic House Speaker is committing outrages! Will we get a rebellion, or is the entire Democrat party in cahoots to bastardize democracy? Will the Statesman dare to tell the truth about Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership burning down reforms on Capitol Hill? Dare I ask? The insult added to injury here is the deafening silence on the part of the media to daily outrages of corruption, malfeasance and incompetence by the Democrat majority in Washington. Senators selected by soon-to-be-indicted Governors and a House that is ramrodding repeals of ethics reforms - welcome to Obama's America.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Worst Climate Predictions of 2008

Watts Up With That shares the worst climate predications of 2008. 2008 was the year where temperature facts upended global warming hysteria, and the climate fearmongering predictions were put on ice, so to speak.
It may have even disproved the AGW hypothesis. To put it in graphic terms:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Two Predictions, and Obama's Lucky Timing

Two predictions for 2009:
1. The Stimulus Plan, whatever it is, will not actually help the economy. However, since the economy will recover despite what the government does, Obama will get 'credit' for getting the economy back on track anyway.

2. The stock market will be up this year, by about 15-20% or so. The VIX peaks at bottoms. It peaked at an incredible 70 in late November. It was a panic bottom unparalleled in 50 years. That was the bottom for the stock market, which remains undervalued as of now. We wont get that panic VIX reading again, and if we do, time to buy. Probably we will have a January rally and a pullback in the spring as the market digests whatever nonsense Obama comes up with and Q4 and Q1 numbers are shown to be bleak. Recoverey wont be until later in 2009, but stock market will anticipate that in the late spring when the real rally will occur. We have already passed the bottom, the bad news is priced in to the market, and any price under S&P 900 or Dow 9000 is a good buying oppty. The current negative reporting casts a negative pall on the marketplace and makes buyers less certain and willing to invest. The intrepid investor wins.

How does bullishness about the market comport with pessimism about the so-called 'stimulus' bill? Even Government stupidity and meddling cannot stop the growth of the natural economy.

A video explanation on why Keynesianism is wrong, from Dan Mitchell at Cato. He points out how Keynesianism didn't work in the New Deal era, in Japan in the 1990s, and elsewhere. There is the flaw in the defense of the FDR New Deal and the Nazi Germany examples that are touted as precedents for fiscal stimuli. Had nothing been done, would the natural rebound in the economy have been any slower? Or perhaps it would have been faster? We did the opposite of what we should have done in 1991 if you follow Keynesianism, we raised taxes and were trying to cut the budget, yet by 1992 the economy was in recovery and Q4 1992 growth was 4%. Why? Because the natural economy has its own force anyway.

Consider 2 alternatives:
1. Suppose we fail to do the stimulus at all, through an amazing feat of political incompentence, gridlock, etc. The economy recovers in late 2009 and grows in 2010. Unemployment peaks at 8% in June 2009, then falls to 6% by end of 2010.
2. Suppose we do the stimulus as planned, most spending doesnt really hit until late 2009 to 2010. The economy recovers in late 2009 and grows in 2010. Unemployment peaks at 8% in June 2009, then falls to 6% by end of 2010.

EVEN IF THE ECONOMIC RESULT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME AS IF NOTHING GOOD WAS DONE, SOME 'CREDIT' WILL BE TAKEN BY THE POLITICIANS FOR THE RECOVERY. This 'stimulus' is not about improving the economy but more about politicians showing themselves to be useful enough to deserve re-election.

Consider it Obama's lucky timing. Even a mediocre record will look good, since he inherits an economy at its low point.

There is an alternative scenario, wherein rather than a normal recovery, we face years of minimal growth. The Japanese 'lost decade' of subpar growth, the Great Depression are precedents. The common theme? They were both failed attempts to revive the economy through Government spending and intervention. FDR managed to allow the depression he inherited to linger for 8 years, and enacted many coutnerproductive and bad policies that put dampers on the economy. Yet FDR remains revered by (too) many.

It could happen here, should the Obama Democrat plans become excessively counterproductive, and the best preventative for it would be to oppose and limit the many attempts at further Government intervention in the economy. In short, to save the economy we need to stop the bailouts, tax hikes, global warming regulations, and over-spending bills that will drag the economy down. Yet we have to do it in an environment that is tailor-made for liberal Democrat success. On that, I am less hopeful.

Dinosaur Media's Bad 2008

Annus Horribilus for the media - worst bias ever, and a slide to low trust and low credibility: "more than 50% of Americans polled now do not trust the press."

As an example of how badly the media did, H/T to Protein Wisdom, we get Patterico's LA Times "dog trainer" Year in Review 2008, an excellent and detailed review of the LA Times' 2008 shenanigans, mis-reporting, media bias and more:

This year, L.A. Times editors slammed Sarah Palin, John McCain, and McCain’s ally Joe the Plumber — while they protected Barack Obama and his allies, including unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers and radical Palestinian Rashid Khalidi. The paper described a 19-point margin in opposition to gay marriage as a “narrow margin,” and displayed the usual politically correct attitudes on race, abortion, and crime. We watched the paper overreach on the story about Judge Alex Kozinski’s porn collection that wasn’t. And the paper retracted a story by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chuck Philips, in one of the most embarrassing incidents in the paper’s history. This year saw a campaign of relentless distortions on DNA evidence; the bankruptcy of Tribune Company; and a collection of errors like none we’ve ever seen before.

The litany of horribles is well worth reading. Meanwhile: Media journalists donate to Dems 100-to-1 over Republicans. All this bias sure isn't helping the newspaper business. The Austin Statesman publisher, Cox, is shutting down its DC bureau.

Paul Mulshine misses the newspaper, but Instapundit stands up for the bloggers. As does Jules Critenden, more forcefully, pointing out where bloggers have done the reporting that the MSM is unwilling to do, while admitting the need for professional standards.

Mulshine asks:

Over the past few weeks, I've watched a parade of top-notch reporters leave the Star-Ledger for the last time. The old model for compensating journalists is as obsolete as the telegraph. If anyone out there in the blogosphere can tell me what the new model is, I will pronounce him the first genius I've ever encountered on the Internet.

Jarvis says give it up, you're doomed. Much as I'd love the liberal MSM to go down like the Titanic, here's my attempt at genius:

We live in an era of a surplus of general information, and a surplus of opinion. Blogs are everywhere (like right here). You want to know something? It's trivial to find out, via google. Anything that is easy is not value-added. The cost of a bit of information is now effectively zero, so the younger generation is trained to not pay for news that to them comes free much faster and more pargetted via the internet. Sam Zell points out that 86% of the cost of a newspaper is print, paper, distribution. That's a 7 to 1 cost disadvantage to internet journalism, which itself faces the problem for "free versus fee". Editorials are simply a waste of ink on so many levels. Why pay good money for editorials when the Statesman tells me things I know are false? Our opinions here are free for the the taking (and a lot more on target).

The opposite of the general information and opinion is hard-reporting of the specific and unique. What is distinct and different is valuable, inside information - real journalism that is unique will still be of use to people. Papers that get and stay local, and use that to maintain readership, will survive. There is no reason for any newspaper to have any employees outside of the hometown of their publication, since they can simply get the rest via the wires. And reprinting news 18 hours out-of-date from when its on the internet in dead tree form may not be a strong business model. Giving people information they cannot get elsewhere is. The newspapers of tomorrow will shed the political bias, shed the blandness, and become focussed, locally relevent, and interesting enough to keep readers. Instead of same thing every day, think of 5 to 7 days of weekly papers: one day on business, one on life and arts (e.g. Austin's XLEnt model), one on local politics, one on neighborhood concerns. Shifting some reporting and coverage from a daily to weekly focus could slim down the whole operation of a paper and make it more efficient, without losing the depth needed to be valuable. At the same time, create a cross-feeding of different media formats - internet, print, radio, and TV. Content is king, so leverage it as best you can through all media.

Or just cut more staffers, continue the status quo and hope for the internet to get un-invented.

Some advice for student journalists, alas it doesn't include "quit J-school and get an MBA." But the advice includes this gem:

The world doesn’t need more music reviewers or opinion spouters. The world needs more people willing to ask tough questions. The first step to reversing journalism’s tarnished image is to have the guts to dig for information the public can’t easily find themselves, and be an advocate of unbiased, straightforward truth.

Good advice for journalists, and good advice for bloggers too. My resolution here is going to be asking more tough questions, and sharing more of the information the liberal MSM is not willing to share.

A New Year & New Stimulus

Happy New Year. This blog, having had a brief Christmas and New Years haitus, turns two. On this newest day of the new year, my thoughts turn to the political economy. The new President is going to make an economic centerpiece of expanded Government spending, aka "stimulus spending".

Obama team's disorganization slows stimulus. A good thing, since the stimulus won't stimulate. Economist Backus says spending stimulus won't stimulate. He's right. Then there is the problem of finding out we are helping fat cats and not widows and orphans, e.g., Malkin: UAW's money pit.

What would work to stimulae the economy? Greg Mankiw points out that stimulus multipliers for tax cuts are much higher than for spending increases.

The obvious thing to do would be to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, and/or end the AMT, to eliminate uncertainty over future income tax rates. Greg Mankiw wants lower payroll taxes and to pay for it with higher gas taxes, sounds right up the alley of the 15% solution that we've proposed, to shift taxes from production to consumption.

How about a plan to allow FULL EXPENSING OF ALL CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN 2009 and 2010 and a cut in corporate tax rates?That would drastically incentivize capital spending in 2009 and 2010 - FedEx CEO Fred Smith proposes it:
Let us permit US companies to write off all their capital expenditures when they make them, as opposed to the current system of long-term depreciation. Why? Experts such as Ernie Christian and Gary Robbins have said that, over time, every dollar of tax cuts for expensing adds about nine dollars of gross domestic product growth. Even without counting the benefits to the economy of new jobs, it is a relatively cheap option for the US Treasury, since the only cost to the government is the time value of money.

The path the Obama Democrats will take will be a different one. Use the crisis as an excuse to ramp up more spending. Republicans need to say no to that.

We need a reminder that we don't want another New Deal or Great Society, because they didn't work the first time and won't work a second time. Another reminder that many of FDR's New Deal policies did economic harm:

"The purpose of the NIRA and NLRA was to promote labor and trade practice provisions so as to limit the extent of competition between firms and competition between workers. Among the NIRA codes that Cole and Ohanian highlight include minimum prices below which firms were not allowed to sell their products, restrictions on productive capacity and the amount that could be produced, and limitations on the workweek. Cole and Ohanian concluded on the basis of model simulations that these kinds of New Deal policies might have accounted for 60% of the persistence in the output gap.
... I openly confess to believing that government policies that were explicitly designed to limit manufacturing, agricultural, and mining output may indeed have had the effect of limiting manufacturing, agricultural, and mining output."

To recap, Obama and the Democrats will repeat prior failed policies to make it look like they are fixing a problem of Government's own making. They will then take credit for the results (hopefully good) and leave the taxpayer with the bill. Our only hope is that enough incompetence will intervene to slow down the train of ill-conceived policies.

Happy New Year.