Friday, April 30, 2010

Navy Stuff

Some stuff I posted elsewhere for those interested in the Navy. Here, and here.

Immigration Cartoon

From Investors Business Daily

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Another week in the books ladies and gentlemen, and as a way to punctuate it, your reader-friendly blog gives you the Big Fat Friday Free For All. Your chance to sound off, to tee up topics for discussion, or to just plain make a damn fool of yourself. Now, get to it!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Pound Of Flesh; And Soon, Your Spleen

New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has introduced a measure into that state's legislature that would automatically enroll all state residents as organ donors, unless they specifically opt out the donation program.

Remember, it's for the children.

British PM Debate Features Sobriety Test

Which David Cameron appears to have failed.

News You Can Use: Lowering High Blood Pressure

Get busy--five times a week.


The Teddy Kennedy Wind Farm Approved

Now that Teddy Kennedy has moved to his eternal rest, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the offshore windfarm that threatened to muss up the Kennedy compound view of the Atlantic.

Good for Salazar. I'm not a huge fan of wind power (simply doesn't scale well), but I am in favor of diversifying the supply to the electrical grid.

Obama To Sue Arizona For Enforcing Federal Law

It seems some in the Obama Administration are urging the Justice Department to file suit against Arizona for passing a law which essentially makes the Federal crime of being in the country illegally also a State crime. I have deep reservations about the Arizona law, but the Feds are just plain caught with their pants down on this one, not doing their jobs, not enforcing current Federal law, and not providing the resources necessary to control the southern border.

Gulf Of Mexico Oil Platform Explosion and Spill

Republicans were heartened by President Obama's State of the Union Address in which he gave the (mushy) green light to increased offshore domestic oil drilling (and nuclear power). It was a decision that went against his grain and that of a big part of his party, and it was one that many of us applauded.

This explosion and fire on the platform in the Gulf cannot be helping things. A tragic situation not unlike this in the late 60's dealt California's offshore oil business a crippling blow, and what we see here is exactly what those arguing against the President's expansion have pointed to. After years of talking about how all the platforms did so well even against Katrina-force winds, this explosion/spill is seriously undercutting industry credibility.

Reason On The President's Fiscal Responsibility Commission

We didn't spend as much time on this last night on the radio show as I would have liked--but no big deal as Reason online has a nice discussion here for us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Agenda For Tonight's Radio Show

Be sure to tune into my show tonight on Blog Talk Radio--The Conservative Wahoo Live! starts at 8PM and goes for an hour. Call in at (347) 637-2203 and join in the fun.

Here's what I'm planning to talk about:

--Arizona Immigration Story
--South Park Fatwa
--Role of Shame in our society--is there one? Does shame exist?
--Goldman Sachs circus
--Commission on Fiscal Responsibility

and time permitting, Big Fred will lead us in discussing "How deep is your commitment to the Republican Party? If the other side rolled on guns and abortion, would you still vote republican?"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

English Spoken Here

Tim James is one of a pretty large field of candidates for Governor of Alabama (CW made me promise not to say that word that begins with "gubernatoria" and ends in "l"). Among his campaign promises: to eliminate the other dozen languages besides that oddball, English, on the Alabama driver's exam.

I like it. It's going to foment racial hatred...from the left. We'll hear attempted parallels to Selma and Birmingham of the 60s, but it simply won't resonate.

On a grander scale, I'd like to see something like: "This is the United States of America. You are welcome to join us. There is a line to get in. You need to get in that line if you want to get in. And there are some things you'll have to do once you get in line. Learn our language. Learn our customs and honor them. Obey our laws. Work hard. We like that here. A lot. We look forward to meeting you and becoming neighbors and especially fellow citizens. We'll even pitch in and help you get a start in your newly-earned pursuit of happiness. But we are a picky lot. Get out of that line and try to sneak in? Break our laws? Try to make us eliminate our customs? Get in the way of our pursuits of happiness? We DON'T like that here. A lot. This is the United States of America. Don't ever forget that."

A Friend Has A New Blog

Retired Vice Admiral John "Boomer" Stufflebeem's got a new blog, on Crisis Management, Messaging and Life.

Boomer is a great guy and a superb reader of people.

On my way to command as I left the Pentagon, I went to spend some time with him and seek his advice on success in command. "Learn how to under-react" was his advice. He said that those who are purposely trying to get you spun up will be disappointed, and those who are wary of your actions will be be fortified. Best advice anyone gave me, bar none. Didn't always implement it, but when I did, I thought of Boomer.

Welcome to the Blogosphere, my friend.

The Transactional Nature Of Friendship

I was very recently chatting (electronically, mind you) with a friend on Facebook, when I insinuated that she took a "transactional" approach to our friendship. She expressed dismay (to the extent that dismay can be expressed in Instant Messaging) and demanded that I explain. My explanation was pretty clear--our online conversation began as the result of an inquiry from her about the defense industry. She had already sent an email request with the same general inquiry, and now she had popped into my IM queue. My thoughts as I received these requests were--"Hmmmm......I seem to have contact with this person under two circumstances; when I seek her company, and when she wants information from me."

Now mind you, this person is an absolute delight. Fiercely intelligent, politically savvy, and wickedly funny, an hour's lunch conversation with her is not to be missed. But for some reason, I was struck in that moment with a sense that her reaching out to me in the time of our brief friendship had generally been linked with an attempt to gain some kind of information with me--while my reaching out to her had been abidingly social and conversational. Furthermore, I contented myself smugly with the notion that somehow, my approach to the friendship was more "authentic" because I sought nothing from it.

And then I began to examine my own presumptions.

Let's say for the sake of argument that I am right about this woman's approach to our friendship, and that my "use" to her as a friend is largely determined by my ability to provide her with relevant information. What "use" is she to me? Put another way, is there any such thing as "self-less" friendship, or do we choose and keep friends largely as a result of the extent to which they make us feel good, or laugh, or think more deeply, or what have you? Why is my desire for her conversation and company any less transactional than her desire for information? She sees me as a source of information and perhaps reasonable company and conversation. I see her as a source of lively entertainment and conversation, which makes me happy. I get something from her friendship, she gets something from mine. Both parties to a transaction, perhaps with different aims in mind. But nonetheless, the friendship is transactional from both ends.

Can friendship--even close, enduring, longstanding "Best Friend Forever" friendship--escape its elementally transactional nature? Is there any such thing as "selfless" friendship?

Where Has Goldwater's Ghost Been On This Story?


WaPost Giddy At Prospect Of Tax Increase

Gotta love the Bought and Paid For Media--including the newspaper of record here in our nation's capital. In this editorial, the Post views Barack Obama's recent prevarication on his pledge not to raise taxes on "the middle class" (those households making less than $250K a year--a pledge he has since broken several times, including his support for mandatory health insurance which is of course, a tax on the middle class) with glee. Calling the President's campaign pledge a "...foolish..." promise, the Post is like a puppy thumping its tail on the rug at the prospect of a broad-based tax hike. Here's the Post:

"Given the size of the government he wants to run, and given the size of the debt and existing obligations that he inherited, hewing to this position is untenable. But we heard -- at least we thought we heard -- the glimmerings of an opening in Mr. Obama's interview last week with CNBC's John Harwood, and the president's comments are worth revisiting as the commission prepares to hold its first meeting today."

Shall we look parse this statement a bit? First of all, the "size" of the government he wants to run is not a given--it can be restrained, it can be reduced. Secondly, the "size of the debt and existing obligations that he inherited" while substantial, pales in comparison to his additions thereto and their amplified additions in the years to come.

In the military, we have a canard about the Air Force that goes something like this--when they get the money from Congress to build a new Air Force base, they get enough to build the gyms, the schools, the housing, the hobby shops, the car wash, etc, then go back to Congress and complain they don't have enough for the runways and hangars. It sorta works that way with the Obama Administration; create a $900M stimulus that doesn't stimulate anything but community activist organizations, add a $1T health care plan and throw some student loans on top of it and pretty soon, you find yourself saying "we don't have enough coming in to pay for all this". So you seat a commission that you pack with folks you know will support what you wanted all along--and that is, more revenue to do more things. The non-virtuous cycle repeats itself, and our fiscal future is undermined.

This is what passes for Democratic solutions to tough fiscal problems.

Presidential Commission On Debt

President Obama's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform gets underway tomorrow, a body of 18 members, 12 of whom come from the US Congress. Though it seems to me the natural debt reduction commission IS the US Congress, the pragmatist in me realizes that sometimes you need a "splinter" group to go off and look really hard at hard problems. The members have "pledged" to take initiatives agreed on by 14 of 18 members forward in Congress.

It sounds as if both spending cuts and tax increases are on the table. Republicans would be advised to ensure that a third option--tax reform--is on the lips of all its members, as shifting from an income-based taxation system to a consumption-based system is ultimately the smart, long play for the Party (and the country).

The Commission will make its initial report in December of this year (after the 2010 Elections, natch).

Radio Show Bleg

Ok folks, busy next two days for me, what with moving out of the Arlington crib and all--so I need some help putting together the agenda for the radio show tomorrow night (Wednesday). What subject(s) do you think are worth talking about?

Monday, April 26, 2010

The State Of Publik Edukashun

Iowa middle school language teacher (HA!) Terry Hoffman organized a group of students to protest school spending cuts.

Looks like she should have been covering grammar that day instead.


More Signs of America's Elegant Decline

A highly respected source identifies yet another sign of our decline vis-a-vis China.


Hell Hath Frozen Over--In Which I Agree With Paul Krugman

I wrote last week about the role of the credit ratings agencies in the fiscal crisis from which we are only now furtively beginning to recover. I cited them as a prime candidate for the kind of government regulation I am in favor of--the kind that makes markets more free--not less.

No fan of free markets, Mr. Krugman has a column out this morning in which he aims his bile at the credit ratings agencies and details their decline from honest broker to co-conspirator.

Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.

The Protected Status of Islam

Ross Douthat has a smart column today on the irony of the South Park/Islam controversy--that South Park may freely skewer any and all other person's or groups--but take on Islam/Muhammad--oh boy, they've gone too far.

Western Civilization has to stop apologizing for itself, and that includes its history of satire and parody. Threats of violence should be met with scorn and derision, not meekly surrendered to.

....not with a bang but a wimper.

Fareed Zakaria On Goldman

Fareed Zakaria is a smart guy, a little too CNNish in a "global community" kind of way, but smart nonetheless.

He does a good job in this piece laying out the broad strokes of the government's case against Goldman Sachs.

At the end of the day, Goldman will walk because while what they did strikes many of us as wrong or unfair, it will not be found to be illegal. There continues to be a difference between unfair and illegal, and that is a good thing.

E.J. Dionne On The Supreme Court

See if you can get through the first paragraph of this editorial without shaking your head in disgust. I double dog dare you.

For a minute there I thought the Administration might run out of reasons to raise taxes.

Those fun-loving cutups over at the International Monetary Fund are not usually in the position of lecturing their host and main benefactor but according to a report in the Washington Post:


Or, if you are a Democrat,

THE UNITED STATES NEEDS TO (reduce government spending or) RAISE TAXES.

From the article:
"The level of the correction needed is large, perhaps 10 percent of gross domestic product. In the United States, that would amount to roughly $1.4 trillion annually, to be cut from government programs or raised through new taxes."

I can't help but feel as if complaining about another trillion in taxes would be like complaining about a paper cut on your right hand as your right arm is being severed at the shoulder.

No matter what, given that we are now living with the consequences of over half the voting population's 2008 drinking binge, higher taxes are coming. The higher taxes, especially combined with the taxes coming from last year's spending spree, will reduce personal discretionary spending, stalling the marketplace and pretty much completing the Eurofication of the USA. Better start dusting off my French (I refuse to learn Spanish and CW has German covered).

As an aside, I wonder if the word "trillion" is going to get its own star on the walk outside Grauman's Chinese Theater. It certainly has become famous over the past year and a half.

P.J. O'Rourke and The Plague Of "A' Students

PJ's a national treasure, and his look a the Obamaites as insufferable A student prigs is spot on.

For the record, I am an insufferable prig with a B (3.08) college GPA.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ahh, the Joy of Shaving Your Face Every Morning for the Rest of Your Life

Never mind the incredible medical feat of reconstructing a human face, it seems to me that a beard generating face would require additional medical effort and risk to the less-hirsute option. Yet this face transplant recipient apparently felt a need to go for the ZZ Top upgrade and his doctors (and apparently a donor who was more than happy to get rid of his own shaving requirements) willingly agreed.

I reluctantly shave every morning because I become even less visually appealing than I already am when I grow a beard. But the act of shaving is not something I enjoy doing. Especially when, in a rush to get the chore over with, I nick a nanometer of facial hide that apparently is all there is between the atmosphere and my aorta for the amount of blood that spews forth (I look soooo nice with two or three rolls of Charmin stuck to my face).

So I have to wonder, why the extra cost, risk and effort when the patient had the chance to avoid shaving for the rest of his life?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

We Will Remember In November

A very powerful video from the Republican Governors Association. Haley Barbour's got his act together.

The Next American Real Estate Bubble... upon us. Let's review--low interest rates + low money down + $8K tax credit = bubble. As long as we continue to subsidize bad personal investing behavior (the mortgage interest deduction which drives poor investment balance and diversification) we will find ourselves fighting this ridiculous boom/bust real estate cycle.

The Role Of The Credit Raters In The Meltdown

Very interesting story here about the role of corporate culture at the credit rating agencies, one that drove analysts to continue to provide higher investment ratings on vehicles and products then their analysis would support--because of the fear of lost profits from those whose products were being rated.

We had a very well-informed caller on the show Wednesday night speak at length of the role of the credit rating agencies in the melt-down, and this article seems to back some of that up.

When I think of financial industry reform, I always talk about reforms that make the market "more free". In this case, the fact that these ratings agencies were very likely rating these vehicles improperly to support their own bottom lines--favored one side of a market transaction over the other. This is not a free market. Here is where government could have a salutary role in regulating the activities of the ratings agencies.

An Immigration Law In Arizona

All politics is (are?) local, so they say, and we have now an instance where a local response to a national issue threatens to become a national issue. I speak of course of yesterday's signed bill in the State of Arizona. From the WaPost article, "Under Arizona's new law, to take effect in 90 days, it will be a state crime to be in the country illegally, and legal immigrants will be required to carry paperwork proving their status. Arizona police will generally be required to question anyone they "reasonably suspect" of being undocumented -- a provision that critics argue will lead to widespread racial profiling, but that supporters insist will give authorities the flexibility to enforce existing immigration laws."

Where to begin, where to begin. First thing though, this issue is definitely on the agenda for the radio program on Wednesday night. To tee things up though, I have a couple of thoughts:

1. While the Feds control the borders, the states bear the brunt of federal border protection ineffectiveness. States and localities deal with crime, indigent issues (food, health care, shelter) etc. that flow from poor border protection, only very rarely is this a federal problem (once an illegal is in the country).

2. Arizona's Governor is a Republican in a tight re-election race. This issue (being tough on illegal immigration) plays well with her base.

3. Being tough on illegal immigration/border control plays well everywhere with the Republican base--but it plays horribly among Hispanics--a group that Republicans are trying to make inroads with in order to construct electoral majorities.

4. Politically speaking and tactically speaking, this is a problem for Republicans nationwide and will put Republicans on the defensive at the very time they need to be on the offensive. Why will this put Republicans on the defensive? Because the Bought and Paid for Media will naturally alight to the plight of the downtrodden immigrant and the worst parodies of Republicans and Conservatives will play out hourly in the news cycle. I'm not saying this is right, I'm saying that this will happen. Immigration reform is a loser issue for Republicans and the Democrats know it. Harry, Nancy and Barack are just fine with the AZ Governor stepping out in the lead like this. If this thing breaks out as a big issue--Repubs will do well in November--just not as well as they could.

5. The porous nature of our border with Mexico is a scandal and a serious national security issue. THIS is where Republicans need to concentrate our fire. Aiming it at the people who make it across the border ultimately undercuts our effectiveness. I have sympathy for the problems that Arizona officials face because of the feds inability to perform a very basic job (border protection), but this law, this series of actions by Arizona is a political poison pill--and a civil rights tinderbox.

6. What are the triggers that will drive an Arizona police officer to "reasonably suspect" that someone is here illegally? Presumably, how someone looks or dresses or speaks may play into it. But aren't there a ton of people in the American southwest who are solid, natural born American citizens who would trip the "your papers please" request from the law enforcement official? Some would say, "well yes, but that is the price we pay for our liberty"...which is nice, as long as it isn't YOU who are accosted on the street and told to produce your ID. This isn't a case of producing an ID in order to gain access to a service, benefit or emolument. This is the production of ID papers simply at the whim of a police officer who "reasonably suspects" that you might be illegal. There is a difference, friends, and it is an important one.

7. I used to be in the Navy, and we feared two things at sea--fires and floods--and the flood metaphor works here. When there was a flood, the first thing you did was isolate the source of the flood--shutting valves, patching pipes, plugging holes--or what have you. You did not worry about "dewatering" the space until the hole was patched. Republicans need to take a "flooding" approach to illegal immigration--we need to vastly rein in the anti-immigrant talk and policies that target the actions of illegal immigrants already here (de-watering) --and concentrate our energy EXCLUSIVELY on fixing the border (isolate the leak). Once we've got policies, resources and processes in place--we should turn to immigration reform that actually begins to get at the tougher questions of what to do with illegals who are here. These are severable issues, and I think we ought to sever them.

8. President Obama is sitting back and licking his chops at the prospect of a civil rights case that will invariably flow from the logical and foreseeable implementation of this law. Nothing good for Republicans will come of this.

I know we've got a lot of Red Meaters out there, and this issue is something for you to get your teeth into. Resist it, and urge Republican leaders to resist it. This is a pitch in the dirt--we shouldn't be swinging at it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Look At Health Care Unintended Consequence

Henry Waxman backed down and decided not to haul the CEO's in to explain why they were following corporate law and informing their stockholders that Obamacare would cost profit.

Got this little gem off my broker line today.


List Of Companies Posting Charges Related To Health-Care Law

Apr 23, 2010 12:30:00 (ET)

Starting in 2013, companies that provide prescription-drug benefits for retirees under Medicare can no longer deduct this subsidy from their taxes, due to the federal health-care overhaul signed into law on March 23.

Since companies had created an asset based on these expected deductions, they will now need to take a charge to reflect the fall in the asset's value.

The following companies have announced the amount of their health-care-related charges. Search the subject code N/HCC for the latest news on this topic.

Merck & Co. (MRK) -- $150M in 1Q

Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) -- $40 million in 1Q

Chubb Corp. (CB) -- 7 cents in 1Q

Deluxe Corp. (DLX) -- 7 cents in 1Q

PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) -- $40 million in 1H

Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) -- 9 cents in 1Q

Altria Inc. Group Inc. (MO) -- 1 cent in 1Q

Deluxe Corp. (DLX) -- 7 cents in 1Q

Sherwin-Williams Co. (SHW) -- 10 cents a share in 1Q

Baxter International Inc. (BAX) -- 7 cents a share in 1Q

Boeing Co. (BA) -- $150 million in 1Q; cut 2010 view by 20 cents a share

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) -- sees 2010 earnings cut by 10 cents a share

Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL) -- 5 cents a share in 2Q

Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) -- 12 cents a share in 1Q

Gannett Co. (GCI) -- $2.2 million in 1Q

MetLife Inc. (MET) -- $75 million in 1Q

PPF Industries (PPG) -- $85 million in 1Q

United States Steel Corp. (X) -- $27 million in 1Q

CNH Global NV (CNH) -- $20 million in 1Q

AT&T Inc. (T) -- $1 billion in 1Q

3M Co. (MMM) -- $85 million to $90 million in 1Q

Exelon Corp.(EXC) -- $65 million in 1Q

Verizon Communications Inc.(VZ) -- $970 million in 1Q

Carpenter Technology Corp.(CRS) -- 13 cents a share in 3Q

Ingersoll-Rand Co. Ltd. (IR) -- $41 million in 1Q

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) -- $96 million or 25 cents a share in 1Q

Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) -- $15 million to $20 million in 1Q

Deere & Co. (DE) -- $150 million in 1Q

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) -- $100 million in 1Q

Prudential Financial (PRU) -- $100 million in 1Q

Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL) -- $17 million in 1Q

Goodrich Corp. (GR) -- $10 million in 1Q

AK Steel Holding Corp. (AKS) $31 million in 1Q

Honeywell International Inc. (HON) -- $13 million in 1Q

Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) -- $5 million in 1Q

Kroger Co. (KR) -- $1.5 million to $2 million in 2010

Illinois Tool Works INc. (ITW) -- $22 million in 1Q

CMS Energy Corp. (CMS) -- $17 million in 1Q

Eaton Corp. (ETN)-- $25 million in 1Q

Exelon Corp. (EXC) -- $65 million in 1Q

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG) -- $20 million in 1Q

Brush Engineered Materials Inc. (BW) -- 7 cents a share in 1Q

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 23, 2010 12:30 ET (16:30 GMT)

Jonah Goldberg On Neo-Socialism

I first wrote about Barack Obama's neo-socialism last November on the blog--inspired (as always) by Jonah Goldberg's writing and thinking about what kind of ideology actually was at the heart of the man. Jonah quite nicely linked to my post on National Review Online, and I had my biggest one day readership ever.

In the May issue of Commentary, Goldberg has expanded on this theme in a masterful way. It's a longish article (Commentary being a journal not for the short attention span generation), but it well worth reading. I can't decide whether I like Goldberg better when he's light and snarky or when he's firing on all intellectual cylinders (as he is in this piece). Either way, he's just better at this stuff than almost anyone else doing it.

H/T Instapundit

Porn Caused the Melt-down

At last, we have it. We now know what caused the financial crisis. No, it wasn't a lack of regulatory authority. No, it wasn't a lack of regulators. No, it wasn't a lack of rules with which to regulate.

Turns out SEC folks were too busy surfin' porn.


Big Fat Friday Free For All


Just got back to the Farm and the scale. Not good....

All Time High (April 1 2009): 192.2
Diet start (June 1, 2009): 189
Last Friday: 182 (3/26/10)
Today: 182.6
Goal: Sub 170

I was actually pretty good (not great) this week--I guess I should be thankful there's not more damage than this....

Where has the time gone, friends? We've come around again to your day, the day when you share your thoughts, unburden your consciences, let the rest of the world know what is REALLY BUGGING YOU.

What are you thinking about? What are you reading these days? Any worthwhile objectives lined up for the Summer? What's going on?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hard Bats And Softballs

In other news...

Three bisexual men are suing a national gay athletic organization, contending they were discriminated against during the national Gay Softball World Series in 2008.

The suit alleges the North American Gay Athletic Alliance deemed the men "not gay enough" to participate in the series.

I guess it's true what they say, you sleep with one woman and you're labeled for life.

Hat tip: NRO

New Jersey Proud

Some of you know that I grew up amidst the strip malls of South Jersey, departing for Charlottesville in late Summer 1983 and returning since only as a visitor. That said, I must express great pride in the State, its Governor, and its voters for having the courage to say "enough is enough". Standing up to the teachers unions and other public unions has been difficult, but it is not without its reward. Voters across New Jersey this week sent 54% of their education budgets back to the drawing board--mostly as a result of Governor Christie's leadership.

Good for you, Jersey.

I Love This Guy

Alonzo Rachel came under the scrutiny of the New York Times Charles Blow after Blow attended a recent Tea Party. Rachel responds brilliantly in the a video message here.

H/T Instapundit

Biting The Hand That Feeds Him

Barack Obama is heading to New York today (to the famous Cooper Union College--where Obama's totemic spirit president Abe Lincoln gave the speech that catapulted him into the 1860 Presidential race) to give a speech on reform in the financial industry today. I look forward to the speech for several reasons, not the least of which is to see yet another example of the folly of campaign finance reform in play.

News this week was that Goldman Sachs senior execs ponied up for nearly $1M in contributions to then candidate Obama's presidential campaign. Has this money bought them ANY relent from the abuse of the President? Has it bought them a vote on the SEC which would have waylaid the suit brought this week against them for fraud? Nope.

I have a sweet sense of schadenfreude as I watch Wall Street get hoisted on its own petard at the hands of the Obama Administration. You guys--you fatcats for whom pocketbook issues long ago ceased to be a reality--you guys for whom things like taxes and budgets are things of the past--you guys, who have the liberty and luxury to care about great, weighty social issues because your own everyday problems are attended to by your money or one of your household staff--you who freely gave of your own money to this neo-socialist "reformer"--oh yes, he'll reform now. He'll reform you and the rest of us into the long, slow decline that is just over the horizon.

Wall Street needs reform--and Conservatives need to shape up and realize that. What Liberals don't realize though is the shape that reform should take--and that is, any reform MUST make the markets MORE free. Our financial system nearly collapsed under the weight of the dual evils of a legitimate regulatory structure that was not implemented, and the collective "thumbs on the scale" of government, policymakers, and big banks--any reform that does not address the advantage gained by these latter players in what is supposed to be a "free market" does not comprise reform worth having.

China's Housing Bubble?

Goldwater's Ghost has been on this one for some time--we're not out of the woods yet.


Cross-walk Etiquette

Dear Pedestrian,

Good morning, Sir. I hope you're well this fine day, though from the carefree look on your face this morning at 0645, I would surmise that things are going nicely for you. I'd like to bring up a small matter of commuting etiquette with you if you don't mind. Yes, yes, I know. I'm one of those cretins of carbon who uses his own automobile to get to work in the morning. I realize that I am commuting on a much lower moral plane than you, who burns nothing but calories as you perambulate off to your day's toils.

But, as we are all not so fortunate (or unfortunate) to work within walking distance of our dwellings, some of us continue to drive--and it is with us that you must occasionally share common commuting space. By this, I mean those portions of the roads which you must cross to once again gain access to that which is yours and yours alone--the sidewalk.

Would it be too much to ask that you walk briskly through the crosswalk? Now again, I realize that you have the right of way--doubly so because the little light in the crosswalk regulator tells us that--but would it be too much to ask that you take a moment from the iPod induced reverie to realize that in addition to extending the length of time for my commute (waiting for your glacial stroll across the street), you are exposing yourself unnecessarily long to the hazards associated with sharing horizontal byways with two-ton automobiles? I say this with all due consideration for your health, as not all drivers will be as conscientious as I, sitting there, waiting, watching, turning my head several times to espy other bi-ped commuters. No Sir--you are unnecessarily hazarding yourself and I must protest. Additionally, think of all the additional carbon burned every day all around the country, as motorists sit at cross-walks waiting for the ennobled, protected by law hoofers cluelessly strolling across four lanes of downtown traffic.

Sir--for your sake and the sake of our Mother Earth--I beseech you on this Earth Day--put a little spring in your step as you cross the street. Think globally, act locally.

Conservative Wahoo Live! Added to Red State Talk Radio Network!

Great news--our little Internet Radio Show (The Conservative Wahoo Live!) has been added to the lineup of shows featured on the Red State Talk Radio Network, America's Premier Conservative Talk Radio Network. This is great news, as it provides another channel for the program to be heard.

As of now, my show is heard every day at 1PM and 4PM--as others are added to the lineup I'll probably be heard less often.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Agenda For Tonight's Radio Show

Join me tonight at 8PM on The Conservative Wahoo Live! Here's a working agenda for the program:

1. Nanny State Update: Salt Limits:
2. Male/Female Pay Equity
3. Regulating the Financial Industry
4. Obama and Golfing
5. Supremes on cruelty to animals
6. West Virginia Mine Disaster
7. NSA Leaker Prosecution

Call in to join the fun!

(347) 637-2203

Frank Luntz On Financial Industry Regulation

We'll spend some time on the radio show tonight on financial industry regulation--but in the meantime, take a few minutes to page through the 30 slides of this presentation by Republican Pollster Frank Luntz. I really like his work--and I enjoy watching him on TV.

Lots here to chew on for the show.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Equal Pay Canard

Christina Hoff Sommers decimates the "women make 78 cents on the dollar" meme. A couple of key graphs:

"This study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers."


"Men also work longer hours and are more willing than women to take dangerous but well-paid jobs as truck drivers, loggers, coal miners, or oil riggers. (My American Enterprise Institute colleague Mark Perry has suggested we designate October 11, 2020, Equal Occupational Fatality Day. That is how far into the future women will have to work to experience the same number of work-related deaths that men experienced in 2008 alone. )"

Read the whole thing. H/T NRO

Prediction: "Found" I-Phone Story A Hoax

I smell's a rat here.

UPDATE: Based on CR's confusion, I am asserting that this is indeed an Apple iPhone prototype--the hoax is that it was "accidentally" left behind in a bar.

Radio Show Bleg

Hey folks--what are the topics you think we ought to kick around on the radio show tomorrow night? Let me know in the comment section of this post and I'll get an agenda out tomorrow morning. Cheers!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Some Realism On Air Travel

Here's an interesting column from this morning's WaPost--adding a little realism to what people seem to remember as the "golden age of flying".

I remember having to dress up for flights in the early 70's--not an airline rule, but clearly the norm. Not anymore.

Spirit Air has announced that they will begin charging for carry-on bags. GOOD! I have no problem with that. You should be charged for your seat, and for whatever else you bring along. Anything that can be done to minimize carry-ons is OK by me!

"Hey, You OWE Us!"

The White House Press Corps bitches about its treatment by the Obama Administration.

H/T Instapundit.

San Francisco 1906

Great bit of footage here taken from a streetcar in SF days before the famous earthquake.

Gates Memo Sounds Alarm On Iran

Interesting story in the New York Times this morning on a "secret" memo they have obtained in which Defense Secretary Robert ("Bill") Gates (heh, heh) decries the lack of a coherent administration policy to deal with Iran's attempts to become a nuclear weapons state. The subtle sub-text of the memo is that there doesn't appear to be any real thinking within the administration about what happens if The One's vaunted oratory and "anti-Bush" policy of "engagement" don't actually work.

There are quite a few angles to this story, so let's take it up in some detail, shall we?

The first question is, who is the leaker--or more appropriately, where in government is the leak coming from? Who are the candidates? 1) The Office of the Secretary of Defense 2) the Joint Staff 3) The White House 4) The State Department. As to which it is, one has to move on to the next question--why would it be leaked. I give likelihoods that the organization cited is the source in percentages.

OSD (15%)would leak it under a few different circumstances--the most likely of which would be that Gates had grown frustrated with a lack of support within the administration for true strategic thinking. What could cause this frustration? The ascendancy of the "engagement"ists at State and on the National Security Council, political types who cannot fathom the possibility that the President's rhetoric on engagement will not produce results. What could this be a signal of? Fraying of relations among the big three--Gates, Hilary Clinton, and Jim Jones (NSC).

The Joint Staff (20%) would leak it under much of the same circumstances, including the possibility that OSD isn't pushing hard enough. The uniforms have plans on the shelf for military options--but what they fear is having to resort to such options with a thinly stretched force simply because there was insufficient care paid to creating a series of political approaches. I wouldn't put it past the Joint Staff to end-run OSD on this.

The White House (NSC) (5%) could have leaked this too. I have a tough time coming up with a good reason for them to do so except strategic communications--that is, talking to other regional governments, friends and allies through the media. The there is foment within the upper levels of the national security apparatus on this important question can be "amplified" in a way that convinces regional friends and allies that we are taking this threat seriously.

When it comes right down to it though, I think the State Department (60%) is our most likely culprit for the leak. Political types there--with personal stakes in the success of President Obama's policies--including engagement--want to see the Secretary of Defense embarrassed and isolated. Portray him and his ilk as a bunch of warmongers not given to letting the fine art of diplomacy run its course, while we Mandarins of foreign policy here at Foggy Bottom run the show and are TRULY loyal to the President.

I just can't see how this memo signals a good thing for the Administration.

Cross-posted at Information Dissemination

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ramesh Ponnuru Is Wrong On Income Taxes

This is a long post. For my short attention span readers, move on.

There has been a good bit of talk here on the blog and on the radio program about the recently released Brookings statistic that indicated 47% of wage earners either pay no income tax or actually get money BACK from the government. Many Conservatives--myself included, believe that this is an unhealthy state of affairs for our country. Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review does not agree. One picks a disagreement with Mr. Ponnuru at one's own peril, as he is not only one of the smartest Conservatives out there, he is unbeatable in a serve and volley blog debate. But because I am unaware of Mr. Ponnuru's reading habits, I will assume he doesn't read this blog and will proceed to take him on.

First, some background on how we got to where we are. The incomparable Keith Hennessey reminds us all that it was largely REPUBLICAN policies that accelerated the removal of so many people from the rolls of those paying income taxes in the first place. Additionally, a kindred spirit of Ponnuru's on the Weekly Standard blog makes the point that a widely distributed (or even universal income tax liability is "wildly ahistorical".

Here's the gist of Ponnuru's argument from a blog entry on The Corner: "Most conservatives are convinced that it's a major problem that 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes. I'm not. The argument -- which has been steadily picking up adherents on the Right for ten years -- is that people who pay no income taxes are likely to perceive big government as a free good and therefore become more supportive of it than they would be if they paid income taxes. A secondary argument is that it is important, as a matter of both morals and civics, for everyone to pay taxes."

Ponnuru further points out that "the distinction between income taxes and payroll taxes" probably doesn't strike the people who pay them as deeply meaningful.

Ponnuru wraps up his argument--like any good analyst--by searching for signs of its confirmation in data. This he finds here: "Another difficulty for the thesis: Attitudes toward government do not appear to have become more liberal as the number of people paying no income tax has increased. In August 1992, Gallup found that 50 percent of Americans thought that "government should do more to solve our country's problems" Gallup asked the same question in June 2008 and got the same results. No clear pro-government trend can be found in other polling results".

to summarize the arguments against everyone paying income taxes I offer the following:

1. Such broad-based tax liability is ahistorical.
2. People who pay no income tax but who do pay payroll taxes do not distinguish between them.
3. Because there has been no increase in the general acceptance of a more liberal approach to government, there is insufficient evidence to support the commonly made assertion that people who do not pay income taxes are more likely to be pro-government.

I take each in turn.

1. The historicity of a broad-based income tax liability is interesting, but irrelevant. Truth is, we didn't even HAVE an income tax in this country for its first 126 years; so the fact that it has evolved from very narrowly focused pre-WWII to more broadly based post-WWII seems to suggest that the GENERAL trend over time has been to MORE broadly institute it, rather than less broadly--the last twenty years have been the exception--historically.

2. That people without income tax liability do not consider themselves as not "paying taxes" (as I see Ponnuru's argument) is again--interesting, but irrelevant. The fact is--they are not contributing to the everyday operations of the federal government--from which they are deriving benefit. That they pay into insurance programs from which they will likely one-day handsomely benefit (and in the case of social security--to an extent far in excess of what they have paid it) adds weight to the requirement that they do so. Put another way--because Ponnuru believes that they don't make this distinction matters not to those who do--the 53% of the American public who ARE paying for the contributing operations of the federal government over and above that which is destined to come back to them in entitlement benefits.

3. Ponnuru's point about there having been no increase in general liberal attitudes toward government as there has been a decline in the percentage of workers who have no income tax liability is simply incomplete. His statistic is a blunt instrument--measuring only a general inclination across an undifferentiated sample. What would be meaningful to me would be some way of distinguishing among socio-economic groups. Has the tax paying portion of the spectrum become less liberal about the role of government while the non-tax paying portion has become more? Could the flatness in the sample be explained in such shifting proportions? We don't know--because the statistic just doesn't prove what Ponnuru thinks it does. It would also be interesting to look at the voting patterns of those in the "no liability" category. Would Ponnuru be satisfied if the data revealed a heavily Democratically skewed result? Or would that simply show that poor people vote Democrat?

Again--Ponnuru is a brilliant thinker--and to his credit--he wants to see hard data that indicates that not paying income taxes is in some way connected to a nascent movement to more radically redistribute wealth before he gets onboard the bandwagon to institute a mandatory "contribution" level (in my estimation, 1% should be the bottom bracket, even if tax credits indicate money coming back from the government. Once a taxpayer's credits get them to the 1% level, the credits would have no impact). I can't give him that data. I can give him the benefit of the ancient Greeks--who told us that the natural devolution of democracy is to the tyranny of the mob. I can give him the growing evidence that it is an important political objective within the modern Republican Party that all citizens have some continuing responsibility to fund the operations of the government.

I am coming to conclude that this will be an important issue going forward--one in which in the interests of a perceived sense of "fairness", Republicans will wind up supporting a broad-based tax increase--largely aimed at eliminating the pool of no income tax liability workers. This will put both parties in unusual positions--Republicans supporting a tax increase, and Democrats walking away from it. We shall see.

Ross Douthat Surveys The Conservative Landscape

Ross Douthat is fast becoming one of my favorite Conservative voices. He writes a column for the New York Times among other things, and he blogs at the Times' blog site.

This entry really does a great job of laying out the tensions between the different tribes who pow-wow under the Conservative tent (laid bare a bit yesterday by my post on Tea Parties).

I'll summarize it this way--there is the intellectually motivated policy wonk think tanky crowd (my homies, though they'll surely never have me), there's the "movement" Conservatives (Radio, Foxnews, Tea Parties, etc) and there's the politicians. All three groups have to live with each other and for Conservatives to govern, they have to cooperate. But it's not always pretty.

I do think we're in a bit of an intellectual renaissance with respect to Conservative policy-making. Time in the wilderness will do that for an ideology, and I think we're making progress.

Douthat's analysis here is worth the read.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kathleen Parker's Teacher Muse

I'm not that big a Kathleen Parker fan--I have referred to her as "our side's Maureen Dowd" more than once and apparently the Pulitzer Committee agrees, bestowing this year's prize for commentary upon her.

That said, this is a lovely column, evoking many memories in me of great teachers I had who challenged and inspired me. Art Sharon. Jack Kunz. Jim Forrest. John Jenks. Sam Evangelista. Men of great wit and learning, men of superb intellect and poise. Marianne Brindisi belongs on any list of great and influential teachers in my life, branding me with a love of the German language that persists to this day.

I come down on teacher unions hard in this column, but my goodness, how I respect teachers....ironic, and perhaps inconsistent. But it is what it is.


Language Inquiry

According to this story, a young man at Michigan State University has been arrested for pilfering some 79 "pairs" of women's "thong" underwear. That's right--the story certifies that all 79 articles were of the "thong" variety.

My question to those of you familiar with the "thong" variety of women's underthings is, exactly what is it a "pair" of? Seems to me that a thong is more like the "anti-pair".

I'm just sayin'.

Jobless Benefits Extended--Unemployment Persistent; Related?

Yesterday, the Congress passed and the President signed YET ANOTHER extension of unemployment benefits.

I know we are in a recession. I know we've fallen on tough times. But I can't help but feeling that the extended benefit regime encourages people to stay unemployed longer (or more to the point, hold out longer for a better situation).

I am not alone.

Tea Parties, Michele Bachman and TARP

Regular readers of the blog know that I have not fully embraced the Tea Party movement, and people who know me well might rightly conclude that I will never feel totally comfortable with the zeitgeist the movement now rides. But I think as a sentient being and a conservative Republican, I have been derelict in my duties in not paying closer attention to the movement.

So over the past few days, I've tried to turn the corner on that a bit. No, I did not attend a Tea Party rally, but I should have. I watched plenty of video, listened to lots of podcasts, and read a ton of interviews, polls and blogposts.

I see amazing positive energy, I see genuine love of country, and I see a mixed bag of free thinkers and those who seem to ape whatever it is they last heard on the radio or saw on their favorite conservative TV program. I am struck by some of the contradictions I hear. I simply LOVE listening to Seniors complain about socialist takeovers of the healthcare system, and in the next breath decry cutting medicare to pay for it.

What I like least of all though about the Tea Party movement is some of the speakers who whip Tea Partiers into collective frenzies, speakers who appeal to the lowest common denominator and who use simplistic and over the top rhetoric to drive home often very important points. For instance--Saxby Chambliss addressed a crowd yesterday and was presumably talking about tax code simplification--a worthy, important subject. How did it get packaged? A discussion of how he's working to get rid of the IRS, how he was working for a time in which "we" determined how much tax we paid rather than the government" (presumably a reference to a tax system geared to consumption rather than work/saving). Again--good topics to take on, but rhetoric so base and simplistic as to detract from the important policy questions.

I know, I know--some of you will think "but CW, you're an egghead policy wonk Bill Kristol Republican--Chambliss isn't talking to you". And you'll be right. But then you will have answered the unasked (thus far) question--"why isn't the CW more taken with the Tea Party movement". They simply aren't talking to the likes of me.

Another example of "they're not talking to me" was a clip I heard of Minnesota Republican Michele Bachman from one of the Tea Parties yesterday. Representative Bachman is a darling of the Tea Party movement, and has never met a camera/microphone she didn't like (me either). That said, when talking about (again) a very important topic--and that is, increased government intrusion into the marketplace--she cited the fact that this latest round began under a Republican President--when the Congress passed the $700B "bailout of the big banks--a bill that I did not vote for". Said with great pride.

So here we have a "spokesperson" for this movement proudly crowing about having rendered what I consider to be one of the most scurrilous votes Republicans made during the contagion that was the credit market melt-down. Now that the credit markets are ungummed, now that the Dow is up 70%, now that the economy is clearly recovering from the recession and now that it is increasingly indisputable that the $700B TARP bill saved our entire economic system--Representative Bachman excites a crowd by saying she did not support the only thing government has done in the past two years to actually MAKE THINGS BETTER. And the crowd loved it.

I can understand the revulsion that bailing out Wall Street causes in people. I can understand the disdain people have for the folks on Wall Street--aided and abetted by Congress and the Presidency (both parties)--who recklessly hazarded our Republic's financial health--but I cannot support ridiculous, demagogic rhetoric detached from economic and policy reality and promoting a vote which had it prevailed--would have sent this economy into depression.

There are tough problems out there friends, and the solutions will not be easy. I have a tough time thinking I will find them at a Tea Party.

In Which I Am Quoted (sort of) In A Fox News Story

Fox reported on the uproar following the Navy's naming a ship after John "Abscam" Murtha, and they cited some unnamed blogger for the following brilliant statement:

"Another blogger wrote that it "seems oddly premature" to affix "Murtha's name to a ship while real and continuing issues of ethics violations and abuses of power remain fresh in the collective memory."

Wherever could they have found such eloquence?

Big Fat Friday Free For All

C'mon now, give it up. What's on your mind? Tired of the pollen? Tired of surrendering your hard earned treasure to the IRS?

Let it rip!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


There is no truth the rumor that the Navy will name the next Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) after retiring SEIU President and Union-Thug-In-Chief Andrew Stern. Heh.


Tactile Minds, a pornographic magazine for the blind, has been launched in the UK - complete with explicit text and raised pictures of naked men and women.

There is hope for capitalism after all.

Congressional Dems To Skip Budget Process This Year

From the WaPost and straight from the horse's mouth (well, Steny Hoyer), Democrats (like Republicans while they were in control) are unlikely to bring up budget talks this Fall, as we wouldn't want all those untidy facts to come out right about the time folks are trying to get re-elected.

Here's Steny's riff: "it is difficult to pass budgets in election years because, you know, they reflect what is the status. And the status of this country was brought into deep debt by the economic policies of the Bush administration."

Notice the continuing reliance on the previous administration; notice the evasion of responsibility by the Majority Leader of the party in power in Congress since 2006. Notice what's missing here: any suggestion that such a budget might actually MITIGATE any of the debt we currently find ourselves in, whether legacy Bush debt (actually, Bush debt is the accumulated debt of the Republic, but that's another post) or Obama debt.

Obviously, they will eventually have to take up the budget--but it will be after the November elections.

Such courageous people, our Representatives in Washington.

Plan for Tonight's Radio Show (4/14)

For those who wish to tune in to the Conservative Wahoo Live! Internet Radio Program at 8PM here is the lineup of conversation for tonight’s show:

• Stevens Retiring, Supreme Court nomination
• My definition of “Center-Right”
• 2012 Republican Race overview
• Confederate Week in Virginia
• Navy to name ship after John Murtha

Be sure to call in at (347) 637-2203 to air your views and join in the conversation.

Navy To Name Ship After Murtha

The Navy announced yesterday that it will name a SAN ANTONINO Class LPD in honor of recently deceased Representative John Murtha (D-PA).

Putting aside for a moment the continuing farce that is the Navy ship-naming convention, affixing Mr. Murtha's name to a ship while real and continuing issues of ethics violations and abuses of power remain fresh in the collective memory--seems oddly premature.

Additionally, the irony of US Marines riding to battle in a ship named for a man who so recklessly pre-judged the guilt of Marines involved in the deaths of non-combatants in Haditha, is manifest.

This is a poor decision, and it should be reconsidered.

Cross-posted at Information Dissemination

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stern To Step Down At SEIU; Hasn't Chosen His Ambassadorship Yet

SEIU President, heavy Obama supporter and union thug-in-chief Andrew Stern has decided to resign from his current position, one he's held nearly 14 years.

White House Officials indicated that Mr. Stern has yet to tell the President where to appoint him.

WaPost Fawning Administration Portrait, Part 28

I wonder what the dialogue is like in the newsroom; does the Political Editor scream out "hey, we haven't had a fawning profile of an administration figure in 23 days--somebody get ON IT!" and then "voila", we have one--much like this latest version in which we are educated about the under-utilization of the uber-talented, oh so smart and "he's got the pulse of the President" Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Methinks Jason Horowitz will find himself on the Gibbs Christmas card list now, and well maybe Gibbs will even answer his phone calls without evasion.

I love the reference the fact that Obama had slipped the press pool representative--as if he'd committed an impeachable offense. Good on Obama. We do not have a RIGHT to have his kids' soccer game covered, simply because the One attended. Why the Press thinks we do, or that it has some duty to cover it, is beyond me.

Topics For Tomorrow Night's Radio Show

I'll be thinking about a program for our hour together on internet radio tomorrow night, so I want to ask the intelligent, eloquent, and passionate among you to suggest topics I might want to work into the lineup. Just leave your ideas here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

On The Train

As I write this, I am speeding along the Northeast Amtrak corridor (well, speeding is a relative term) from Wilmington, DE to Stamford CT where I have some "bidness" to transact tomorrow. Tonight I'll be staying with friends of the Kitten who are now my friends, yet another benefit of coupled living.

Have I mentioned how much I like taking the train? Anywhere? I have plenty of leg-room (not a trick when you are as modestly sized as I, but none of the big fellas look too cramped either), my cell-card is giving me access to the interwebs, I can get up and stroll about as I see fit and can simply stare in a daze out the window as I watch the various suburban and urban settlements of the Northeast reveal themselves to me--but only for an instant.

I could do this regularly--certainly more regularly than flying. Flying is such a bother--the train is simply a better way to travel--at least in this part of the country. We've had plenty of running gun-battles here about government financing for highspeed rail, but when I think about the stuff I want the feds involved in--and there isn't much--moving people and stuff around this great land of ours seems right in their sweet spot.

Hilary Clinton To SCOTUS?

Not hearing much noise about this, so it's probably just a conversation I'm having in my head. But why wouldn't Barack Obama put Hillary in the Supreme Court.

1. She'd be a reliable lefty vote
2. She'd bring the "politician" voice back to the Court some have longed for since Sandra Day O'Connor retired.
3. She'd be taken out--completely--as a political force to be dealt with (can you say Teddy Kennedy, 1980 Democratic Primary Challenge?)
4. As bruising as the fight would be in the Senate--it would be a whole lot LESS bruising than if they nominated some of the people they are currently thinking about.

I'm just sayin'.

UPDATE: I spoke (wrote) too soon.

Republicans Say Obama SCOTUS Pick Must Be "Mainstream"

Hogwash. Barack Obama won the Presidency, and he won it in a walk. His party controls both chambers in the Congress. While he does not have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, he has a large majority.

Of course I would like to see a "mainstream" nominee from Obama--but Republicans have no right to expect it. ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, and we got pasted in 06 and 08. And by the way, I hardly think our friends on the left think John Roberts and Samuel Alito represented "mainstream" picks by George Bush--and we didn't care. We had the whip hand, and we used it.

What do we have? Well, we have the filibuster, and we ought to use it. But we shouldn't go around hoping that President Obama will all of a sudden see the light and nominate a moderate to the Supreme Court. That's lunacy.

A Victor Davis Hanson Travelogue

VDH describes his travels around his homestate of California. Some really interesting observations here, including:

"A strange elite I suppose likes and pays for the ambiance — that is, living among people like themselves — of upscale university centered communities. Why? I have a theory. It allows them to be liberal and progressive in the abstract, without having to live the logical consequences of their utopianism, or deal with the underbelly of American life. Take the most sophisticated Palo Alto dweller, and a week outside of Laton on a farm would make her, well, “seasoned” so to speak, and challenge much of her assumptions about wealth and poverty."

We really don't spend much time considering what poor in America means these days. Hanson does. He reminds us that it means running water, corpulence, air conditioning, cell phones, and flat screens. This "unjust" and "unfair" system of market capitalism has done a pretty fair job providing even its underclass a pretty fair deal.

All this courtesy Instapundit.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Separated at Birth?

While watching Meet the Press this morning,
I can't help but notice the resemblance between Secretary Gates and Senator Sessions...

Reason Magazine On The Nuclear Posture Review

I generally agree with the "much ado about nothing" tone of this piece by Reason's Steve Chapman on the just completed Obama Administration Nuclear Posture Review. We covered the NPR on the radio show Wednesday night, but here is a review of my position:

What's To Like:
**It reduces warheads, but not by much
**It leaves our missile defense program untouched
**It is a place to "cooperate" with Russia on something constructive

What's To Dislike:
**Walking away from research and testing is a bigger deal than Chapman supposes; what incentive is there for top physicists to enter this research field anymore? So as the stockpile degrades and obsolesces, so will the brainpower.
**Reduction in warheads and the general administration view of a "nuclear free world" could send a message of weakness to nations who look to us for their nuclear umbrella (Japan, South Korea) that we're not such a reliable partner anymore. This could cause perverse incentives to build their own weapons.

What's Not To Get Too Excited About:
**Obama's repudiation of nucs against a non-nuclear nation, even if they use chem bio on us. First of all, this is like all political promises, breakable, and it would be if necessary. Secondly, more experienced wargamers can take me to task on this--but my sense in the wargaming I've done and read about is that it takes a BUTT TON of doing to get Americans to use Nucs in anything but retaliation for nuclear attacks on our soil. Obama basically has given away a use case we were highly unlikely ever to exercise--and he reaps from it (albeit from his already adoring international fan-base) the concomitant political praise of someone who has greatly compromised on something important.

Crossposted at Information Dissemination

David Broder Discovers National Debt; World Awaits Similar Discovery of Government Spending

David Broder's addled mind continues to punch out 750 words a week for the WaPost, and this time he's treated us once again to the old standard of the left--that we need to raise taxes to deal with our accumulating debt--never mind that policy choices have created (and exacerbated) this debt.

This is how the left would have it; create entitlements (even when national debt is already out of control) then point back at the fiscal "crisis" to justify raising taxes.

Little or no talk of cutting spending, in this article or anywhere else.

Republicans In New Orleans (Part II)

The news out of New Orleans is that the adults are in charge--this focus on 2010 over 2012, even if it is just window dressing, bespeaks a seriousness that the task ahead demands.

I wish I were there.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Republican Beauty Contest In New Orleans

There's an interesting gathering of the GOP going on in the Big Easy this weekend, called the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. Most every report I've read speaks to the energy in the room. Nice to hear Sarah Palin fire back at President Obama for his lack of nuclear strategy credentials (though he HAS been president for nearing a year and a half, so that's got to count for something, no?).

Pretty much all the Republican contenders for 2012 are making the trek to New Orleans--including Governor Rick Perry of Texas who gave what the story writer called a "thundering" address. Perry's doing a good job in Texas (though Texas is a "weak governor" state), though I wonder whether the country would be willing to go back to that well again so soon after GWB. I'm going to learn a little more about Governor Perry to see whether there is any there, there.

Jonah Goldberg on The Euro-izing Of America

Straight wisdom from the NR sage. I made a similar argument supporting our place (and Europe's "free riding") at Heritage.

No Representation Without Taxation

Via Instapundit--I love this blog post, as it hits two of my favorite pet peeves: the alarming number of people who pay no income taxes in this country, and middle class entitlements. It lays out in common sense language the twin cancers that are sapping this country of its vitality. Be afraid, America. Be very afraid.

What A World Without Nuclear Weapons Looks Like

A grim reminder of what state power on state power warfare looked like. For those who pine for such a world....

H/T Instapundit

Friday, April 9, 2010

On Being a Man from The Department of The Navy

A straightforward, often hilarious, compendium of manhood compiled from the meanderings of the minds of a few Naval Officers.

Stevens To Retire From SCOTUS

As expected.

This will not change the balance of the court, as he is a reliable left of center vote.

Obama "Lashes Out" at Sarah Palin

Lots of news on the right-wing interwebs yesterday about the President's dismissal of Sarah Palin's criticism of his Nuclear Posture Statement. On Gateway Pundit, this blogger referred to it as "Lashing Out" at Palin.

Here's what Obama said:

“I really have no response to that. The last I checked, Sarah Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News.

Pressed further on Republican criticism that his strategy restricts the use of nuclear weapons too much, Obama added:

“What I would say to them is, is that if the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff are comfortable with it, I’m probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.”

This is lashing out? Have we become so incredibly over-sensitized that this is what counts for "lashing out" in modern political debate? Fact is, HE'S RIGHT. When did Sarah Palin become a voice of authority on nuclear strategy issues?

I think we all need to stiffen our backbones a bit.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Well ladies and gentlemen, here it is, our weekly Friday forum for getting things off your chest. What is bothering you these days, besides an inch of pollen on every horizontal surface? Any topics you want covered on the radio program? What do you think of the Nuclear Posture Review?

Unburden yourselves, people.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tom Boswell Priggishly Moralizes On Tiger

I'm generally a fan of WaPost sportswriter Tom Boswell, but this piece is ridiculous. The suggestion that Woods' prodigious infidelity has "damaged" golf is laughable--it has damaged Tiger Woods' reputation as a man and a human being. But it has done nothing to the sport. If anything, a win at Augusta would be good for golf, and good for Tiger.

Nevermind The Bollocks...

...Malcolm McLaren is dead. The former Sex Pistols manager died this morning of cancer at age 64.

Leaving Las Vegas...And Bel-Air...And The Bahamas...

Things are tough all over. Actor Nicholas Cage's Bel-Air mansion was put up for auction yesterday morning after Cage defaulted on an $18 million loan on the property. Bidding opened at $10.4 million, but was quickly halted after there were no takers. The property now reverts back to the foreclosing lender - one of six holding loans on the home.

The home, once owned by Dean Martin and later by Tom Jones, was described by one realtor as 'frat house bordello'. Sounds like someone's soon-to-be-former Arlington splash pad.

Cage's financial woes have recently become fodder for tabloids. In October, Cage sued his former business partner, accusing him in part of "lining his pockets with several million dollars in business management fees while leading Cage down a path toward financial ruin. "

If his partner was responsible for Cage picking his recent roles, there might be a case. NOT THE BEES!!!!

Bernanke Warns On Deficits

Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is sounding the alarum about the growing menace of budget deficits (and long term debt) to the US economy.

I'm glad he's doing it. Some think the Fed Chair should stay out of "political matters" (like raising taxes, cutting spending, etc)--but the more I hear Alan Greenspan pilloried for his tenure, the more I feel that the Fed Chair has become the uber-meister of the US economy as a whole--and as such, he should sound off when he feels we're headed in a bad direction.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Richard Thaler, co-author of Nudge, provides a well-argued response to Glen Whitman's critique of libertarian paternalism.

...the risk of the slippery slope appears to be a figment of Professor Whitman’s imagination, and clear evidence of his bathmophobia. To be fair to him, this phobia is hardly unique to him and Professor Rizzo. Slope-mongering is a well-worn political tool used by all sides in the political debate to debunk any idea they oppose. For example, when the proposal was made to replace the draft with an all-volunteer army, the opponents said this would inevitably lead to all kinds of disastrous consequences because we were turning our military into a band of mercenaries. The argument is perfectly versatile. If we allow (blacks, women, gays. . . .) into the military then (fill in the awful but inevitable consequence here). If we allow free speech then we will give voice to the next Hitler.
Instead of slope-mongering we should evaluate proposals on their merits. (We devote a chapter of Nudge to an evaluation of the choice architecture used in Sweden’s social security experience.) Helping people make better choices, as judged by themselves, is really not a controversial goal, is it?

Some Press Coverage Of Me Doing My Day Job

From Defense News.

The Conservative Wahoo LIVE! Tonight at 8PM

Ok folks, we're back in the swing of things with another hour of "the thinking person's conservative talk radio". The tentative plan for tonight is:

1. Why Liberals Love Apple (not that some Conservatives don't also)
2. Nuclear Treaty with Russia/Nuclear Posture Review--why it is a good thing, and what might be some weaknesses.
3. A Discussion of Conservative Radio
4. Henry Waxman and the CEO Healthcare Shakedown
5. A Discussion of Immigration Reform
6. Great week in sports (NCAA, Masters, Start of Baseball)

You can catch the program on the web at The Conservative Wahoo Live!, and call in at
(347) 637-2203. I'd like to make a heartfelt request for more listeners to call in--your calls are what make the show, not my monotonous blather.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Heritage Foundation Seapower Video

The Video of today's panel is up here. It was a lot of fun.

Keith Hennessey on Subsidizing "Underwater" Mortgage Holders

Longtime readers of this blog will note that there are few subjects that get my dander up more quickly than the suggestion that "underwater" mortgage holders should in some way be "aided" by government. Underwater mortgages are NO different than diminished 401K's or any other investment. Investing means risk, and that risk sometimes means that one loses money. In the case of the mortgage however, one STILL retains the "shelter" value of the asset, and by this, I mean the PHYSICAL shelter value--even in the absence of monetary value equal to that of the investment.

The incomparable Keith Hennessey weighs in on this issue with eloquence and precision I can only aspire to, as the Obama Administration implements yet another plan to "keep people in their homes".

His differentiation between fixed rate underwater mortgages and ARM underwater mortgages is a useful one from a policy perspective. If you're payment isn't changing (fixed), you have absolutely nothing to complain about if the value of your house declines (well, nothing more than any other investor who has suffered losses). If you have an ARM--well then--in the way of POLICY--there is more room for government assistance. Ideologically, I still think it stinks.

I once again make the one statement in this blog that may come back someday to kill my political career--and that is, the home mortgage interest deduction should be eliminated. Period. Kaput. It advantages one class of investment over others, it encourages people to buy more house than they can afford, and it skews investment portfolios--which should be diversified and balanced--to too highly weight real estate. The arguments about home-ownership being somehow related to better civic life are overdone, as study after study in Europe (where home-ownership is less) have shown.

Cato On "The New Paternalism"

Glen Whitman of Cato has a longish, but very well-argued point here on what he calls "The New Paternalism", or the increasing tendency of government to intervene "moderately" in areas where it previously did not wield influence. Whitman's best argument is sampled below:

"This would be no great concern, were it not for the tendency of the middle ground to shift over time. A newly adopted middle-ground quickly becomes the status quo. Then a more intrusive option takes center stage, and what used to be the middle-ground becomes one of the bookends. To take just one example, legally mandated enrollment in savings plans (with exit option) seems like the middle ground right now. But once it becomes standard, it will occupy the laissez-faire position. Then a “Save More Tomorrow” policy (with exit option) becomes the new middle-ground. And once that has been adopted, it too becomes the low-end, while automatic enrollment with freedom to choose your investments but without the option to exit entirely becomes the middle. By this route, a series of minor steps can eventually make even mandatory enrollment with specified minimums, highly restricted investments, and no opt-out seem like the “reasonable middle.”

Sports News

What a fantastic final game last night's Duke-Butler contest turned out to be--you almost could sense from the start that it would be tight. I kept waiting for Duke to put them away, and well, they never did. That final shot clanging off the rim was the first time in the game I thought Duke had a defensible lead. Wonderful.

Also, my traditional hometown football team--the Philadelphia Eagles--have traded their aging, injury prone quarterback (yes--Donovan McNab is both of those things) to the Washington Redskins. For some reason, people here in the DC Metro region think this is a good thing. I think it is yet again, a sign of Danny Snyder's incompetence. But what do I know.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tom Friedman On Entrepreneurship

Tom Friedman does a pretty good job here talking about the conditions for entrepreneurship to thrive in the US. In fact, I don't find fault with much he says here. But I do find myself wondering how he explains his slobbering fascination with the centrally managed autocracy in China. Are we supposed to believe that atmosphere is more conducive to entrepreneurship?

He Saw The Melt-Down Coming....

...and he asks why others didn't. Good question, interesting article.

Heritage Foundation Appearance Reminder

To those in the DC Metro region with nothing to do tomorrow (Tuesday April 6) at 11:00 AM, come on out to The Heritage Foundation where I'll be appearing on a panel discussing Seapower in the 21st Century. Click the link to register, or if you'd like to watch the panel over the web.
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