Monday, September 05, 2011

Cruising the Web

Mark Steyn argues that we need to change our culture before we can successfully change our economy.
Adolescence, like retirement, is an invention of the modern age. If the extension of retirement into a multi-decade government-funded vacation is largely a function of increased life expectancy, the prolongation of adolescence seems to derive from the bleak fact that, without an efficient societal conveyor belt to move you on, it appears to be the default setting of huge swathes of humanity. It was striking, during the Hurricane Irene frenzy, to hear the Federal Emergency Management Agency refer to itself repeatedly as “the federal family.” If Big Government is a “family,” with the bureaucracy as its parents, why be surprised that the citizens are content to live as eternal adolescents?
As Byron York reports, all the liberals have left is to paint the right as a bunch of theocrats in order to scare independents from voting for them. Hope and change have failed so fear is their greatest electoral tactic.

In an excerpt from a new biography of Jane Fonda, the activist actress is portrayed as a naive and weak fool who just wanted to be involved in leftist causes but didn't understand them or know how to gain prominence without surrendering her personality to stronger-willed men. She was being used by everyone involved in her political causes from her husband Tom Hayden to the Black Panthers and the various anti-war groups. She provides a primary example of why no one should pay attention to what movie stars say about politics.

Mickey Kaus catches
the Obama team in a revealing blunder. They sent out a fundraising email saying that "[i]t’s been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American people need them to be focused on. As Kaus points out, the Republicans have controlled the House for only 8 months. It must just seem longer to the Democrats. I guess the Pelosi Democrats weren't focused on what the American people wanted them to be focused on either.

Alex Beam writes in the Boston Globe that, if the Koch brothers didn't exist, the liberals would have to make them up. Even if they've done less than other groups like Bloomberg's media empire, they're still viewed as the source of all satanic evil in politics.

Seth Mandel notes the attitude
of the supposedly above-it-all Barack Obama. The WHite House and Obama are clear that they're done, after these 8 months, of trying to work with Congress and so Obama is going to take a speech before the Joint Session of Congress to propose plans that they know the Republicans oppose and then proceed to paint them as obstructionists when they oppose his proposals. Meanwhile, he'll try to to channel everything he possibly can through executive action.
So he’s not going to go through Congress anyway. He has no plans to get anything passed in the legislature, he just wants to slam Republicans while the public is watching. And notice the barely-veiled conditionality of that municipal spending: it’s not actually to offset costs, just to boost the teachers’ unions by having districts that agree to take the funds stop firing teachers.

Where is that first-class temperament when we need it?
John Hinderaker has some fun with CBS's supposedly neutral reporting on the President's speech. It's an outrage that the President has to delay by one day his plans to save the American economy.
But to conclude, let’s just focus on CBS News’s claim that Obama’s new proposals–whatever they may turn out to be–are “too important to wait another day.” If those proposals are so important, where have they been for the last 2 1/2 years? Or, to be more cruel, where were they last week when Obama was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard? “Too important to wait another day?” Tell that to the president.
While conservatives might be happy that President Obama temporarily delaying EPA's ozone rule, let's not forget that he's just pushed its implementation back to after the election. And let's not ignore all this time waiting for the decision on the EPA rule has cost businesses.
But, given what this spin at least inadvertently admits in an attempt to avoid admitting even more, let's look at the cost of this mismanaged effort, of his having imposed just the sort of wasteful bureaucratic redundancy which he says here is costly and not helpful to good governance (don't want to put words in his mouth but isn't that the implication of avoiding more, going forward?)

What has it cost us all, this past 20 months of EPA wasting taxpayer money because they looked at the calendar but apparently didn't really look at the calendar? Also requiring the productive sector of the economy to spend huge sums responding and delay investment decisions, maybe even move elsewhere?
John Podhoretz argues that Obama is stuck in a rhetorical trap for his speech this week. He'd like to blame the economy on all the structural problems that he was stuck with when he became president, but such downbeat talk will not achieve the speech's purpose of giving people confidence in the economy. And all Obama is left to propose is more of the same failed policies that he's already tried. So he can propose more of the same stimulus ideas that he would like to pretend were working to bring us out of the recession until all of that "run of bad luck" happened. When the GOP block those plans, he can run against them as a rerun of the 1948 supposed "do nothing" Congress. Given that his proposals aren't all that popular in the first place, it is no certain bet that the public will be convinced that it is a terrible thing that the Republicans are blocking them.

Vandals in Poland
have painted swastika on a Holocaust memorial and painted the words "they were flammable" on the monument.

And newly released documents reveal that Neville Chamberlain held secret talks with Hitler's government after the Munich agreement in order to try to make the Nazis less unpopular in England so as to advance Chamberlain's policies of appeasement. This was before the Germans moved into Czechoslovakia thus making it quite clear that they had no intention of living up to Chamberlain's treasured Munich agreement.

The Detroit News begs President Obama to adopt policies that would stop stifling real economic growth. Of course, that would mean backing off from all that he has stood for and done in his first term. So don't expect such common-sense understanding of why businesses aren't hiring now.

The U.S. Postal Service is nearing default on its payroll. The true problem is the union contracts that it's signed that prevent it from laying off the workers it needs to lay off as it contracts to survive in a world where more and more people are sending e-mails instead of going to the Post office. They're also bound into expensive pension plans for retired workers and generous health care for current workers. It's in a dangerous bind between declining revenue and increasing costs. Get used to it - this is the model that many local and state governments have gotten used to with their government workers. They won't be able to pay the workers they have now because of promises made to workers no longer working.

And this is a story to really make you angry. Remember the infamous 2005 Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court case that allowed local governments to apply eminent domain to take private land away from homeowners or private businesses in order to give the land to other private companies so that they can perchance build something that would bring in more jobs or tax money to the community? Well, six years later, that land taken from Susan Kelo and her neighbors is still sitting empty because Pfizer never developed it. And now it's being used as a dump site for storm debris from Hurricane Irene. So much for the Supreme Court's confidence that New London had a careful plan of how to best use that land. Once again, we should remember that government is not the best determiner of how to plan economic growth. And when we hand such planning power over to the government, rights tend to be trampled on and that growth often just somehow doesn't seem to appear.