Conservative Political Commentary

[Under the Radar?] Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution, and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context (This blog was given its name before I decided it was going to be a political blog.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Democrats Condemn Arizona Law and Pander to China and Mexico

The western front of the United States Capitol...Image via Wikipedia
What are they thinking? In discussing China’s favorite subject, human rights, with the Chinese, Obama Administration people throw Arizona under the bus, apparently believing that China has better human rights policies than Arizona. Then the President of Mexico comes to D.C. to do consulting work in Congress on U.S. legislation by bashing Arizona’s immigration law and urging Congress to ban assault weapons, receiving cheers and standing ovations from Democrats for his trouble. You’d think he’s man of great wisdom, almost Obama-like in charisma.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) had an appropriate response to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, as reported by Jordy Yager at The Hill:

“It’s inappropriate for a head of state to question our laws, especially when the state of Arizona only acted in the best interest of its citizens and with the support of seventy percent of its people …

“The state of Arizona is stepping in where the federal government has failed,” said Hatch. “It is trying to stop waves of illegal immigrants, many of whom are dangerous gang members and drug and human traffickers, from crossing into its communities.” [1]

Inappropriate is putting it mildly. It was inappropriate for Calderon to say, and it was inappropriate for members of Congress to receive enthusiastically. When did foreign leaders start telling our Congress what laws they need to pass, and when did they start slamming our state legislatures? And, worse, when did the President and Congressional majority start thinking such things are good ideas?

It simply reinforces the anti-American chord that resonates through this Democratic Party. Blame America first. Why not question Mexico’s policy of exporting people the United States and expecting them to be welcomed without question? Why not take a look at Mexico’s own policy on illegal immigration, which would show the unbridled hypocrisy of Mr. Calderon’s comments?

A commenter at the Hill article said, very well, I think: “The Dems invite a foreign President to come in [and] attack an American state, to weigh in on a domestic political issue — and the best the Republicans can do is have Hatch say it's ‘inappropriate’? The whole Republican delegation should have walked out in unison…” [2]

One of the main themes of the Obama Administration has been criticism of and apology for America to foreigners. State Department official Richard Posner said his department discussed human rights with Chinese officials and our own State Department brought up the Arizona immigration law as an example of (potential?) human rights violations. I’m not Bill O’Reilly’s biggest fan, but he hits this nail pretty squarely on the head:

What were these people thinking? That they’re going to impress China with an apparently over-sensitive “conscience”? China is the bad guy on human rights. Chinese citizens have basically no civil rights at all. If they’re moving about and living their own lives, it’s only because the government hasn’t yet felt like or got around to stopping them. Also, China certainly doesn’t treat their illegal immigrants kindly.

Primary-winning Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul remarked that President Obama’s statements against BP concerning the oil spill sounded un-American, particularly his comment about his “boot on their neck.” I agree, and I would further suggest that Obama may really want his boot on every American’s neck. He certainly doesn’t mind demonizing Arizonans, when the problem is mainly caused by the country of his friend Calderon and the Obama Administration’s lack of fortitude in controlling the border.

His approach on the Arizona question does not appear to be good politics, though I suppose it fits his fascist-socialist agenda. To him, that’s more important. Rasmussen reports that 71% of Arizona voters support the immigration law, [3] which presumably includes some Hispanics. And multiple polls have shown that American voters support it by over 60%. But Obama is accustomed to governing against the will of the people. While Clinton was accused of governing by polls, Obama seems to be governing by the opposite of the polls’ findings.

What next? Getting the Greek prime minister to come and counsel us on money management?

[1] Jordy Yager, “GOP lawmaker blasts Mexican pres. comments as inappropriate,” 05/20/2010, The Hill, Blog Briefing Room.

[2] Ibid., comment.

[3] Rasmussen Reports, “71% in Arizona Now Support State’s New Immigration Law,” 05/20/2010.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Obama & Co.: Steadily Destroying the First Amendment

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

The First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and freedom of the press (including internet freedom) is in the crosshairs of the Obama Administration. There is underway a process designed to lead to close government control of “free” expression, leading by steps to a fascist-socialist-Marxist end, that is, government control of individual speech and public media.

It sounds so innocuous as explained by Obama people. It’s just government doing its job to protect the people from others who would take “unjust” advantage of their ability to publish, broadcast, blog, or otherwise convey their opinions and beliefs.

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, widely viewed as a “moderate” court pick (not liberal enough for some of the radical left?) has written disturbing things about freedom of speech.

Cass Sunstein
Kagan hired Cass Sunstein as a Harvard Law professor in 2008, and declared,

“Cass Sunstein is the preeminent legal scholar of our time -- the most wide-ranging, the most prolific, the most cited, and the most influential. His work in any one of the fields he pursues -- administrative law and policy, constitutional law and theory, behavioral economics and law, environmental law, to name a non-exhaustive few -- would put him in the very front ranks of legal scholars; the combination is singular and breathtaking.” [1]

Sunstein now is President Obama’s “regulatory czar,” and is busy finding more things to regulate and implementing new controls.

While the views of Kagan and Sunstein on free speech might appear to be just an approach from a different direction, they really represent a profound shift from American constitutional tradition. As every conservative knows, liberals are in support of reinterpreting the Constitution to arrive at their desired outcomes, in this case, tending to silence opposition to government policies.

It is a serious and seriously wrong assumption that government has, constitutionally, the authority to control or regulate public discourse. Constitutional restrictions on free speech have traditionally been limited to actions which happen to involve speech, but which constitute an imminent danger of lawless action, generally violent action such as a riot or armed insurrection. Under the Constitution, expression of any and all views is permitted, though with some requirements as to general peace, e.g., parade permits, noise limits, etc.

The Supreme Court has held such restrictions on government (and the First Amendment is about what government cannot do, not what citizens cannot do or must do), for example:

…[B]y 1964 the Court could say with unanimity: “we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”[2] And in 1969, it was said that the cases “have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”[3]

The First Amendment’s wording is very strong against laws restricting the freedoms it mentions. But the current administration has demonstrated that they have little to no regard for the Constitution, evidenced by the fact that virtually everything they are doing in domestic policy is either unconstitutional or constitutionally questionable.

Cass Sunstein is in favor of regulating the internet in order to achieve a “balance” of ideas.

Mondo Frazier at DBKP quotes Sunstein as follows”

“The sites of one point of view agree to provide links to sites of the other point of view. So if you’re reading a conservative magazine, they would provide a link to a liberal site. And vice versa, just to make it easy for people to access to competing views.

“Or maybe a popup on your screen that would show you an advertisement or maybe even a quick argument for a competing view.

“If we could get voluntary arrangements in that direction, it would be great and if we can’t get voluntary arrangements maybe Congress should hold hearings about mandates.” [4]
Frazier opines:

Sunstein verbally shuffles around and throws out the “aw shucks” smokescreen: “If we could do this voluntarily…”

BUT, as usual, a Cass Sunstein argument devolves to: if the people won’t do what’s good for themselves voluntarily, government will have to nudge them in the right direction–using the force of the government, of course.

Readers have a simple formula for determining loss of freedom: when a government official talks of “doing something for your–or the public’s–own good,” it means you’re about to lose part of your freedom. [5]

I completely agree.

Ed Lasky at American Thinker writes:

In the past, we have seen Barack Obama and his supporters attempt to chill any sort of scrutiny or criticism of him. Many of his records - whether they are transcripts from Occidental or Columbia - have not been released. He lost his senior thesis (on Soviet nuclear disarmament) from Columbia University (how likely was that to happen, given that he felt his own life was important enough to write an autobiography in his young 20s), and his records from his time in the Illinois state senate were “lost.”

Having records “disappeared” (as well as ditching embarrassing people from his past under the bus) was just one aspect of attempts to avoid scrutiny. Another manifestation of this dynamic, was the constant use during the campaign of the “race card” to brand any critics as racists or smear artists. [6]

In Sunstein’s book, Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech, he calls for a “New Deal” for “free speech,” analogous to FDR’s New Deal rather than the traditional “marketplace of ideas” approach of Justice Brandeis and others. [7] This indeed is a suggestion for radical change and is easily seen to violate the letter of the First Amendment, and the spirit as well.

Sunstein points out that New Deal laws and agencies restricted speech, for example, the SEC, the FCC, the NLRB, and the FTC. [8]. I would point out that many of FDR’s New Deal laws and agencies were unconstitutional. By the time the courts got around to declaring some of them so, the damage was already done. Sunstein leaves little doubt that he regards free speech as a “problem.”

Elena Kagan
Elena Kagan , as Solicitor General, represents the United States Government in Supreme Court Cases. Her job as an advocate requires her to argue the cases she’s given, but, for example, in U.S. vs. Stevens she seems to go well beyond her duty, to introduce a suggested new standard for protected speech.

In this case, she argued that a law prohibiting the distribution and sale in international or interstate commerce of materials depicting cruelty to animals (e.g. dog fights, cock fights, etc.) was constitutional notwithstanding an appeals court ruling against it. While she presented some good arguments, she also contributed this: “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.” [9]

A Chicago Sun-Times “Other Views” article (from Stop the ACLU) reports as follows:

Writing for the 8-1 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts called this claim “startling and dangerous,” adding: “The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it.” [10]

Kagan’s view is that government may decide if certain speech is worth protecting.
“In Kagan's view, the main goal of First Amendment doctrine is not to maximize freedom or promote robust debate, but to ferret out impermissible motives for speech restrictions.” [11]

From the transcript on Citizens United rehearing oral arguments (09/09/2009):

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: But we don't put our -- we don't put our First Amendment rights in the hands of FEC bureaucrats; and if you say that you are not going to apply it to a book, what about a pamphlet?
GENERAL KAGAN: I think a -- a pamphlet would be different. A pamphlet is pretty classic electioneering, so there is no attempt to say that 441 b only applies to video and not to print. It does – [12]

In her journal article, “Private Speech, Public Purpose,” Kagan describes three theories or approaches to free speech under the First Amendment. First, the idea that the First Amendment is designed to give maximum freedom and opportunity of expression, which is the traditional interpretation reflected in Chief Justice Roberts’s comment.

The second is, she says, “audience-based.” “Under this theory, restrictions on speech pose more or less danger depending not on the sum total of speech prevented, but on the extent to which the restrictions distort or impoverish the realm of discourse.” [13]

Of course, the preventer is government, taking to itself the power to control public discourse. This cannot be reconciled with the clear wording of the First Amendment, and must result in arbitrary control and suppression of speech the government finds unfavorable. This approach is favored by those who would reinstate the Fairness Doctrine or try to silence talk radio, etc. This seems to be the Obama Administration’s preferred view.

The third approach is a search for the motive of the governmental actor, which Kagan seems to think is really the main concern in First Amendment cases. “The application of First Amendment law is best understood and most readily explained as a kind of motive-hunting.” [14]

Thus she focuses here on the source rather than the consequences.

It must be emphasized that the views of Cass Sunstein and Elena Kagan are compatible with, if not identical to, the views of Barack Obama. When they speak officially, in their current capacities, they speak for the president. It is clear, then, as we already knew, that Obama is not a great advocate for freedom of speech, and is prepared to restrict it if it will help his agenda. One reason he appointed Kagan, as some have stated, is that he wants her on the Supreme Court to vote for him in case any of his policies are challenged.

In a position as important as Justice of the Supreme Court, there should be the highest regard for the Constitution, and for the responsibility of government to protect liberty rather than diminish it. Kagan fails this test, reinterpreting the Constitution through false assumptions (governmental authority to regulate public discourse and to determine what speech may be banned, etc.) Liberals believe that all problems are the responsibility of the federal government, and that the government has adequate authority to deal with them as they wish. The letter of the Constitution need never get in the way.

This is the Progressive view: government experts taking over decisions normally made by the people for themselves, including who may say what, and how they may say it. Their goal is to get everything into harmony with the great fascist-socialist program. The confirmation of Kagan should be resisted and, if possible, filibustered.

[1] “Elena Kagan,”

[2], “Freedom of Expression – Speech and Press,” citing New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 270 (1964).

[3] Ibid., citing Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969).

[4] and [5] Mondo Frazier, “Obama Czar Cass Sunstein: Internet Mandates, Spread the Link Love,” 05/18/2010, DBKP – Death by 1000 Papercuts – DBKB.

[6] Ed Lasky, “Cass Sunstein's despicable ideas on regulating the internet” 07/12/2009, American Thinker.

cited by Death by 1000 Papercuts.

[7] Cass R. Sunstein, Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech. New York: The Free Press, a Division of Simon and Schuster, First Free Press paperback edition, 1995, p. 34, previewed at

[8] Ibid., p. 33.

[9] Quoted by Mark Tapscott, “Kagan: Speech is free if government decides it has more value than ‘societal costs’”
U.S. brief available here.

[10] Van Helsing, “Kagan’s Contempt for the First Amendment,” 05/13/2010, Stop the ACLU.

via Chicago Sun-Times, “Other Views.”

[11] Jacob Sullum, “The Bounds of Silence,” 05/12/2010,

[12] Transcript on Citizens United rehearing oral arguments, 09/09/2009, p. 66. Available here.

Cited by Bradley Smith and Jeff Patch, “From Banning Books to Banning Blogs: How the DISCLOSE Act will restrict free speech,” 05/18/2010,

[13] Elena Kagan, “Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine,” (1996), The University of Chicago Law Review, 413:63,
p. 425. Link is to a pdf file.

[14] Ibid., p. 414.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Methinks They Do Protest Too Much

A sign at the international boundary between C...Image via Wikipedia
To listen to some of the people who object to Arizona’s new law making illegal immigration a state offense, you’d think the state was setting up some kind of SS organization to arbitrarily round up and harass Hispanic citizens and illegal immigrants. But, to the contrary, the law is only designed to do what federal law already supposedly does.

The openness of the Mexican border has been serious problem for years, and the federal government has refused to take sufficient measures to control it. There are Border Patrol agents who give a valiant effort to a problem that’s too big for them to handle. The White House has all but said let’s welcome everyone who wants to come in, and provide them with health care, education, union membership, and voting rights.

Illegal immigrants are a significant potential Democrat voting bloc, so liberals want to go after them, offering as much as possible in the way of full government benefits.

The Arizona Law Has Been Criticized from the Start
The law itself, considered quite strict, is described by a New York Times article as intended “to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.” [1]

President Barack Obama criticized the law before Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed it, saying it “threatened ‘to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe,’” according to the article. [2]

The main objections center on the authority of the police to require immigrants to show immigration papers or else be detained. The concern is that the law would be used to unjustly harass Hispanic citizens and illegals, and would lead to racial profiling. The governor gave assurances that police officers would be trained in proper application of the law and that racial profiling would not be tolerated. There would not be random stops of Hispanics to check for immigration papers.

While concern about abuse is understandable, police already require people to show papers for various things, such as driver’s license and registration at a traffic stop, etc. Most people don’t object to that, even though it could conceivably be misused to harass people. If it were, protests could be filed and corrective action taken.

“…Arizona is the first state to demand that immigrants meet federal requirements to carry identity documents legitimizing their presence on American soil,” the Times article reports. [3] So the law is simply a means of enforcing federal law which the federal government can’t be bothered to enforce.

Americans Largely Approve of the Law
An IBD/TIPP Poll indicated that 60% of Americans approve of the Arizona law [4]. Rasmussen reported that 64% of Arizona voters favor the law, with 30% opposing it. Also, according to Rasmussen, “Like voters across the nation, most Arizona voters (57%) favor an immigration policy that welcomes all immigrants except ‘national security threats, criminals and those who would come here to live off our welfare system.’” Further, 76% believe that securing the border takes priority over legalizing the status of undocumented workers. [5]

According to Rasmussen: In Florida, 62% would like a similar law for their state, with 31% opposing [6], and 55% of people in Colorado would approve a similar law for their own state, with 35% opposing [7].

Given these numbers, Arizona’s law should be good politically in Arizona and nationwide, despite the voices of protest. Americans in general appear to be tired of the lack of effective action by the federal government to control the Mexican border, even to the point that Mexican drug battles sometimes cross over onto U.S. soil. Meanwhile, the Mexican government considers it good policy to export people to the U.S. and demand special rights for them here. Mexico itself provides nothing but legal trouble for people found to be in their country illegally.

The New York Times article mentioned above states that Governor Brewer’s signing of the law represents a strong rebuke to Janet Napolitano, former Arizona governor and now Homeland Security Secretary, since she refused to sign such a law herself. [8]

The law has met strong resistance among liberals, many of whom think that immigration laws need not be enforced and the border should be open to all who wish to come to America to live. They don’t give much consideration to the fact that a nation’s sovereignty requires that it control its borders. Too many are not concerned much with American sovereignty at all

Boycotting Arizona
The left realizes they are in the minority on this issue, so in attempting to make it appear that opposition to this law is a general groundswell, they are making as much noise as possible, and in those areas where liberals bear rule, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, etc., high-powered politicians, entertainers, athletes, etc. are speaking up to denounce the law and encourage boycotts.

The cities of San Francisco (a “sanctuary city”) and Los Angeles, among others, have restricted official travel to Arizona.

The Los Angeles Times reported as follows:

Calls for boycotts spread throughout California this week after the bill was signed by Brewer on Friday. The law is scheduled to take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends this week.

On Tuesday, seven members of the Los Angeles City Council signed a proposal for a boycott, calling for the city to “refrain from conducting business” or participating in conventions in Arizona. Councilman Ed Reyes, who coauthored the proposal with Councilwoman Janice Hahn, said he wants city officials to spend the next 90 days assessing the financial relationships that exist between various city departments and businesses based in Arizona.

“If Arizona companies are taking our money, I want to sever that,” he said. [9]

Of course, people have every right to speak and demonstrate, as do those who favor the law and oppose a boycott – their important message includes showing that this opposition is far from universal, and that the Arizona law makes a lot of sense. I don't know how effective the boycotts may be, but they seem completely unjustified, but may, as one blogger pointed out, have the benefit of keeping liberals out of Arizona.

The White House is considering a legal challenge to the law, which makes little sense to me. Arizona is a sovereign state, not a unit of the federal government. If the law turns out to be arbitrarily enforced, offensively and shabbily dealt with, courts will rule on the abuses and perhaps the law itself. But the basic idea of simply making illegal in Arizona what is supposed to be already illegal in the United States shouldn’t offend anyone.

Another aspect of the protests is that they may bring out some of the more radical leftists who see this opposition as a vehicle for promoting revolution. So look for a few “revolutionaries” to start promoting Marxism more loudly.

In Arizona, state leaders understand that illegal immigration is a problem the federal government refuses to adequately confront, particularly, controlling the border. As Governor Brewer pointed out, it’s a problem that Arizona didn’t create, but must deal with.

The Heritage Foundation’s The Foundry blog states, “Governor Brewer should be applauded for preserving rule of law and taking the power out of Washington to direct the debate on immigration reform. The federal government should listen clearly: state and local governments don’t like what the feds are offering.” [10]

George F. Will points out the inconsistency of liberals about profiling: “Although liberals are appalled by racial profiling, some seem to think vocational profiling (police officers are insensitive incompetents) is merely intellectual efficiency, as is state profiling (Arizonans are xenophobic).” [11]

The legislature and governor of Arizona have shown considerable wisdom and courage in passing a law that should be a model for other border states to consider, and states can be expected to assert their sovereign responsibilities, especially in view of the lack of help from the federal government. The Obama Administration seems to want everything to await “comprehensive immigration reform,” i.e. amnesty, probably coupled with a come-one-come-all policy, any form of which rightly figures to be a tough sell.

[1] Randal C. Archibold, “Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration,” 04/23/2010. The New York Times.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[4] Sean Higgins, Investor’s Business Daily, “IBD/TIPP Poll: 60% Favor New Arizona Immigration Law,” 05/04/2010,

[5] Rasmussen Reports, “Arizona Voters Favor Welcoming Immigration Policy, 64% Support New Immigration Law,” 04/28/2010.

[6] Rasmussen Reports, “62% in Florida Favor Arizona-style Law on Illegal Immigration,” 05/05/2010.

[7] Rasmussen Reports, “55% of Colorado Voters Favor Immigration Law Like Arizona’s,” 05/08/2010.

[8] Archibold, see [1].

[9] Anna Gorman and Nicholas Riccardi, “Calls to boycott Arizona grow over new immigration law,” 04/28/2010, Los Angeles Times.

[10] The Foundry, “New Arizona Immigration Law Makes Sense,” 04/23/2010, The Heritage Foundation.

[11] George F. Will, “A law Arizona can live with,” 04/28/2010, The Washington Post.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It Isn’t Only Greece That’s in Trouble

Assorted international currency notes.Image via Wikipedia

Socialist Paradise Fails
Let’s see – The nation of Greece has spent itself into near-default by social welfare programs that enable people to retire early at near-full salary, to work under the most generous conditions, and have many things provided to them by the government. This has naturally led to crushing debt, endless deficits and the supposed need for a large-scale bailout. Since the bailout providers want some assurance that Greece will put its fiscal house in order, some austerity measures have been approved. This has resulted in riots by angry union members, and has caused deaths.

There are so many things wrong with this situation, it’s hard to understand how wrong it is. And the proposed cure is worse than the disease.

When Greek politicians were approving these unaffordable, deficit-incurring benefits for everyone, and people were enjoying them, was no thought given to the ultimate cost? Politicians buy votes by providing government benefits to people who will gratefully vote for them. As for the long-term consequences, they’ll be dealt with later. Political successors will handle it. Except that this fiscal mess is coming to a head and has to be dealt with now.

To the Rescue with Big Bailouts
The European Union, the European Central Bank, the IMF, and the central banks of other countries, including the U.S., have concocted a bailout plan that not only is supposed to save Greece, but head off possible default by other fiscally weak European nations. After stock markets momentarily seemed to panic, causing the Dow to lose 1,000 points during one session, then regain most of it before the close, news of the latest bailout efforts sent euphoria through the markets, but apparently only for a day.

Don’t worry, soft-hearted liberals are coming to the rescue, printing money to pour into the problem, money that must ultimately be provided by taxpayers of other nations, including the United States. Should foreign bailouts be a big item in America’s budget? A great many people were and are opposed even to domestic bailouts, as they should be.

The plan is like a long-term European version of the TARP bailouts the U.S. provided in 2008. Banks considered “too big to fail” were forcibly given bailout money and the government took equity positions in them. The financial regulatory bill now in the Senate is basically a continuation of the U.S. TARP authority of the Treasury Secretary, and despite the claim that it will stop “too big to fail,” it will actually perpetuate bailouts of large banks.

Moral Hazard
As a New York Times article points out,

Another big issue is whether bailing out economies creates moral hazard. Other countries may continue to skirt the kinds of actions that would lower their budget deficits and debt loads — steps painful to the public and dangerous to politicians — because they too can expect to be rescued. [1]

If any large entity, be it bank, business, or nation, is assured that it will be rescued in case of trouble, a moral hazard is unavoidably created. “No matter what happens, we’ll be OK. Sure, there will be restrictions on us, but what if we don’t completely follow them? We’ll still be OK, because our benefactors don’t want to be in the position of having wasted all that money without an ultimate bailout,” the beneficiaries would be tempted to think, and to some extent, would think.

An Investors Business Daily editorial of 05/10/2010 states the following:

By bankrolling irresponsible governments and firms, a new generation will learn that virtuous behavior will be punished and bad behavior rewarded. This is a recipe for future meltdowns, when the next generation's failures will expect that they too will be rescued.

Except they won't be. They can't be. That's the real tragedy here…. [2]

The bailout itself is a moral violation, because it unjustly forces nations’ taxpayers to pay for the huge mistakes of other nations which should be held accountable for their own actions. There generally are no government bailouts available for individuals or small companies who face financial failure – only bankruptcy, as it should be.

Until governments lose the concept of “too big to fail,” which they show no sign of doing, we will see a continuing string of large bailouts until the bailers themselves need a bailout, and there will be no one to provide it.

Currency Crisis in the Making
Ron Paul says that the Greek problem is a world problem and is not only a financial crisis, but a currency crisis (YouTube via Below the Beltway blog):

Predictable Result
The lesson that should be learned here, but probably won’t be, is that we are seeing the inevitable natural result of socialism. The basic path that led Greece to this point is being followed in America by the Obama Administration and the Fed: “Keynesian” spending, new entitlements, vast welfare spending, huge deficits, massive growth of government, probable high unemployment for years, and all taxpayers soon to be made poorer through high taxes. America urgently needs a change of direction toward limited government, sound money, low taxes, and encouragement of private sector economic activity.

Who do we turn to when our fiscal and monetary house of cards collapses?

[1] Landon Thomas, Jr., and Jack Ewing, “A Trillion for Europe, With Doubts Attached,”
05/11/2010, The New York Times.

[2] IBD Editorials, “The Euro Zone’s $1 Trillion Mistake,” 05/10/2010.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

After the Big Spill

Workers using high-pressure, hot-water washing...Image via Wikipedia

Leftist environmentalists have been given a valuable gift in their struggle to stop offshore oil drilling: The BP-TransOcean oil spill. The timing is fortuitous for them, soon after President Obama’s proposal to expand offshore oil exploration. The oil spill is disastrous and tragic. People have died, businesses are threatened with extinction, and BP itself, on the hook for great expense, now with government’s “boot on its neck,” possibly faces its own end.

Llewellyn Rockwell at Mises Institute writes:

It is not as if BP profits by oil leaks, or that anyone reveled in the chance to dump its precious oil all over the ocean. BP gains nothing from this. Its own CEO has worked for years to try to prevent precisely this kind of accident from occurring, and done so not out of the desire to comply with regulations, but just because it is good business practice.

In contrast to those who are weeping, we might ask who is happy about the disaster:

1. the environmentalists, with their fear mongering and hatred of modern life, and
2. the government, which treats every capitalist producer as a bird to be plucked. [1]

As unfortunate as this accident is, it is not a sufficient reason to give up on offshore drilling, or the significant expansion of offshore drilling. That would be like giving up automobiles because of the Toyota acceleration problem, or giving up airliners because of a major crash. The Exxon Valdez oil spill did not result in a ban on oil tankers.

Among those backing continued offshore oil drilling and production are Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson:

Speaking at a jobs summit in Washington, D.C., Perry repeatedly suggested that the spill was "an act of God." He said he hoped the massive spill would not lead to a "knee jerk" reaction to stop new or existing offshore drilling….
Patterson, who like Perry, has a long history of touting the safety of offshore drilling, said the accident was isolated and had not changed his views.

“Keep in mind that the last spill of this magnitude was in 1979, and that's 31 years ago,” said Patterson, whose office is responsible for oil spill cleanups in Texas. Patterson was referring to a June 1979 oil platform blowout that spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing extensive damage along the Texas coast. [2]
CNS News reported that “Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said halting plans for offshore drilling because of the spill would be like stopping the space exploration program because of the 1986 Challenger explosion.” [3]

When one considers the large amount of offshore oil activity, and the rarity of serious accidents, this incident is not sufficient to justify stopping or refusing to allow additional offshore drilling and production.

CNS News carried an AP article on April 29 reporting that “[White House Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs and other officials said President Barack Obama remains committed to plans to expand offshore drilling to areas that are now off limits….” [4]

But this plan appears to be on hold as the president awaits a report from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar:

“The president was specific in ordering Secretary Salazar to look at all the possible aspects of what could and did go wrong in this instance, to report back to him in that 30-day period,” Gibbs said. “This is an administration that is going to take whatever information it gets from that and have it dictate our decision in going forward.” [5]

In addition to the concerns over the loss of life and economic damage, environmental cleanup is going to be costly and time-consuming. But the importance of pressing ahead with offshore oil activity overrides concerns about the environment, as serious as they may be. The environment will recover, as it did after other spills. The risk of further spills of this type in the near future is very low. Offshore oil production is indispensable. There are hundreds of offshore oil rigs and thousands of miles of pipelines, and tens of thousands of workers, who normally operate effectively and safely.

Rockwell emphasizes their importance over the “ecosystem”:

The abstraction called the “ecosystem” — which never seems to include mankind or civilization — has done far less for us than the oil industry, and the factories, planes, trains, and automobiles it fuels. The greatest tragedy here belongs to BP and its subsidiaries, and the private enterprises affected by the losses that no one intended. [5]

The accident needs to be investigated and the spill cleaned up. BP must be held to account for the damage. Democrats want to increase the environmental cleanup liability limit from $75 million to $10 billion. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he supports the proposal, but downplays its chances for Senate approval. [6] While BP says they will pay all appropriate damages, and they should, the proposed bill smacks of an ex post facto law. The government should have changed the limit before, if it was too low. It seems like political manipulation to try to change it now. If there are problems with BP’s compensation for damage, deal with them as they arise. They’re already likely to go out of business as a result of this spill.

[1] Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., “Feel Sorry for BP?” Ludwig von Mises Institute.

[2]Aman Batheja and Maria Recio, “Perry backs offshore drilling, says spill may be act of God,”

[3] Fred Lucas, “After Oil Spill, Obama Uncertain on Offshore Drilling Policy,” CNS News.

[4] Matthew Daly, Associated Press, “White House: Oil Spill Could Affect Drilling Plan,” at CNS News.

[5] Lucas, see [3].

[6] Meredith Shiner, “Harry Reid backs BP liability bill,” Politico.

Photo illustrates workers using high pressure hot water washing to clean an oiled shoreline after Exxon Valdez oil spill.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Obama’s Agenda vs. Problems and Promises

President Barack Obama is experiencing some of the trials of the presidency that cannot be smoothed over by teleprompter eloquence or diplomatic initiative. An AP article by Tom Raum describes several major situations the President is dealing with, after his battle on health care: high unemployment, financial crisis, Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Times Square bombing attempt, Middle East “peace process,” and a Supreme Court vacancy [1]. Also, we suppose, flooding in Tennessee.

After years of lambasting George W. Bush for the response to Hurricane Katrina, liberals are seeing the model of correctness in Obama’s public response to (1) the oil spill and (2) the flooding: (1) Remark on how long it may take to correct the problem, and put pressure on the rig owner to clean it up, and (2) (fill in Obama’s flood response here).

Everything is politicized these days. Probably, the government and BP will do the things expected of them toward cleaning up the spill, and there will be declarations of disaster areas and federal help for flood victims. In both disasters, there will be substantial private relief efforts also. I don’t want to criticize Obama for things beyond his control. He will probably take the appropriate actions. But he may not have a lot better success than G. W. Bush did with Katrina.

Meanwhile, our hearts go out to the families of those lost, and all who have been injured or are otherwise suffering as a result of these disasters.

On things that are proper subjects for political comment:

The economy is beginning to recover, mainly because there is still something of the structure of a free market, despite the government’s persistent meddling and manipulation, and outrageous spending. We should be concerned about the economic (not to mention freedom) effects of the new health care law when the changes take effect. Two other big dangers: Cap and trade, which would deal a serious blow to the recovery, and VAT, which Obama will likely try to have enacted. It has been suggested that Obama’s deficit commission is there to give him cover for massive tax increases, specifically VAT. This would annihilate Obama’s promise of no tax increase for families making under $250,000, a promise already pretty well done for.

Cap and trade would leave America and Americans poorer from new taxes and regulations, and would do nothing for the environment. This should be a no-brainer, but for some reason it isn’t. Mainly, it’s just a device for expanding government power and control over citizens’ everyday lives, like the health care law. It will make people more dependent on government since they’ll have less freedom and less disposable income.

Mr. Obama’s job in dealing with the current tough situations is made more difficult by the fact that his priorities are, I believe, misplaced. He is determined to get his socialist-fascist program in place, at the expense of other needs, such as reduced unemployment, increased private sector economic activity, and building any kind of national unity. His agenda is polarizing and goes against the wishes of most of the American voters, but he knows better than they, he thinks, and is determined to get as much of this stuff done as he can before the elections put a stop to some of it.

Several of his major campaign promises have been casualties of his agenda, notably the aforementioned no-tax-on-below-$250K and some others mentioned below.

Describing Obama’s recent “Nuclear Security Summit,” Susan Dale, of Human Events Guns & Patriots notes the following:

This meeting, oddly enough, did not include the nuclear and soon to be nuclear nations of North Korea and Iran, both of which are led by lunatics and which are the two countries that are primarily responsible for current international fears of rogue nuclear activity. No worries, here, however, as our fearless leader, in an impressive display of courage, determination and diplomatic mastery of international affairs, faced down Canada, Chile and the Ukraine from implementing their nightmarish nuclear scenaria. We can now rest easy knowing that warheads will no longer be heading our way from Ottawa, Santiago or Kiev. [2]

Also, she notes that the meeting, from which the press was excluded, violated Obama’s promise of transparency [3], which had already been destroyed by the antics of the Administration and Congress in the health care and cap and trade bill processes.

Another broken promise:
“Barack Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This will eliminate taxes for 7 million seniors…” [4]

Politifact lists 110 promises Obama has kept, most of which have been beneficial to special interests but not the economy, plus 19 which have been broken, 34 compromised, 83 stalled and 255 “in the works.” [5] Some of the promises kept have been fortunate, such as “Expand access to places to hunt and fish,” but many unfortunate, such as “Raise fuel economy standards.” Many of the “kept” promises relate to the healthcare law and “green” energy topics.

The main reason the economy has not rebounded more quickly is the misguided government response: Massive spending and new entitlements, ballooning deficits and rumblings about getting the spending and deficit under control via new taxes. Private sector businesses find this a difficult environment for investing and hiring, with several possible new laws to make things worse.

Right now, the economic outlook is slightly improved, but the horizon remains clouded.

[1] Tom Raum, Associated Press, “Analysis: Obama beset at once by multiple crises,” 05/04/2010, at Yahoo! News.

[2] Susan Dale, “Out Neronian Leader,” 05/04/2010, Human Events Guns & Patriots.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Barack Obama’s Comprehensive Tax Plan,” PDF linked from, at

[5] Politifact.

Photo : Obama in Prague