American Thinker: From Cordoba to Marbella, and everything in between

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via American Thinker: Clarice’s Pieces: From Cordoba to Marbella gives an excellent summary of the insanity of the past week, from Marie-Antoinette 0bama’s Marbella trip to tge Ground Zero mosque, and everything in between. Zjust about the one thing missing is the fire-sale of Newsweek to the husband of Rep. Jane Harman.

Light blogging continues here as, in realspace,we wrap up a relocation to a new assignment.

The emperor has no clothes

A new expose is making the rounds of the blogosphere: see, e.g.: The Examiner: “numerous bogus claims on Obama resume” and also Chicago Law School faculty hated 0bama

Without getting too far into “who hated whom” at U of C law school (academia can at times make cliquish Junior High School girls look mature), one of the basic facts has been known to me since mid-2008: that 0bama’s claim of having been a “professor” at U. of C. law school is resume-padding. He was a part-time outside lecturer, who was never even given adjunct faculty status, let alone regular faculty status. For those unfamiliar with academia’s pecking order: this is like the difference between having played as a hired session musician on a couple of BigRockBand tracks vs. being a semi-permanent member of the tour band vs. being a member of BigRockBand itself.

From elsewhere within academia, Bill Jacobson (h/t: Pi Guy) has this: “You Were Right About Obama”

I knew it would happen, and today it did.

I received a call from a former client and friend, a guy in his late 70s, who was a huge Obama supporter and a fairly mainstream liberal and Democrat.

In the past my friend very much enjoyed getting me agitated by frequently mentioning the latest Frank Rich or Maureen Dowd column about the evil of Sarah Palin. At his age, getting me aggravated was pretty much his main form of entertainment.

In the months after the election the relationship was somewhat strained. There were certain things we just didn’t talk about, although he would poke me in the political eye from time to time.

I haven’t spoken to my friend in many months, probably since the fall or summer. So I was pleased when his name showed up as an incoming call on my cell phone, although I wondered how we would dance around the subject of Him.

The first sentence out of his mouth was, “Let’s get it out of the way, you were right about Obama.”

Not being satisfied with mere contrition, I asked him whether he was bs-ing me, and he said no, he meant it.

My friend spends half the year in Florida along with his similarly ancient friends. He’s predicting a “Republican sweep” in November, although his dissatisfaction with Obama is not the result of a conversion to conservatism. He feels that Obama broke so many promises, and “he’s just another politician.”

If Obama has lost my friend, the Frank Rich-loving, Sarah Palin-hating greedy Democratic geezer that he is, the Democrats are in deep electoral trouble.

Looks like his friend, like many, was having a Hans Christian Andersen moment. Just like the girl at the bottom of the picture (h/t: Pi Guy):

Everyone said, loud enough for the others to hear: “Look at the Emperor’s new clothes. They’re beautiful!”

“What a marvellous train!” “And the colors! The colors of that beautiful fabric! I have never seen anything like it in my life!”

They all tried to conceal their disappointment at not being able to see the clothes, and since nobody was willing to admit his own stupidity and incompetence, they all behaved as the two scoundrels had predicted.

A child, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, went up to the carriage.

“The Emperor is naked,” he said.

“Fool!” his father reprimanded, running after him. “Don’t talk nonsense!” He grabbed his child and took him away.

But the boy’s remark, which had been heard by the bystanders, was repeated over and over again until everyone cried: “The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It’s true!”

The Emperor realized that the people were right but could not admit to that.

He though it better to continue the procession under the illusion that anyone who couldn’t see his clothes was either stupid or incompetent.

And he stood stiffly on his carriage, while behind him a page held his imaginary mantle.

More “hope and change”

The “hope and change” keeps coming in:

  • half of all commercial real estate mortgages underwater by end of 2010?! Tech Ticker, Yahoo! Finance – http://shar.es/m2bCv
  • 3wood at Correspondence Committee – Churches struggling financially http://shar.es/m2bck
  • Unemployment stays flat at 9.7%, partly due to mass hiring of temporary government workers, particularly census workers http://bit.ly/9SDx4T
  • Underemployment, however, rises to 20.3% in March http://shar.es/m23EW

Meanwhile, a U. of Chicago law professor is quoted http://shar.es/mrUdO as saying 0bama was never on the regular or adjunct faculty because he was “unqualified, lazy, and never attended faculty meetings”. Despite the continued water-carrying of the media (here http://shar.es/m2by2 a journalist is quoted as saying the “White House wants [crude slang term for oral ministrations] in the media sense in exchange for access” [UPDATE: more here. “Access of evil”, heh), Gallup has the approval of BHOzo at an all-time low: http://bit.ly/cNku0d . As another politician from Illinois is often quoted as saying: “You can fool some of the people all the time; all of the people some of the time; but not all of the people all of the time.” Even Ed Koch, who went all-out in campaigning for Chairman Zero, turned his back on him: http://shar.es/m238K.

UPDATE: Don Surber: “The federal government now pays more to borrow money (3.93%) than I do on my mortgage (3.375%). I have better credit.” Res ipsa loquitur.

Robert J. Samuelson: The looming US budget crisis

Robert J. Samuelson, a journalist who takes his duty to objectivity so seriously that he refuses to vote  in any elections, has a must-read piece on the looming US budget crisis. Some gleanings:

When historians recount the momentous events of recent weeks, they will note a curious coincidence. On March 15, Moody’s Investors Service — the bond rating agency — published a paper warning that the exploding U.S. government debt could cause a downgrade of Treasury bonds. Just six days later, the House of Representatives passed President Obama’s health-care legislation costing $900 billion or so over a decade and worsening an already-bleak budget outlook.[…]

Let’s be clear. A “budget crisis” is not some minor accounting exercise. It’s a wrenching political, social and economic upheaval. Large deficits and rising debt — the accumulation of past deficits — spook investors, leading to higher interest rates on government loans. The higher rates expand the budget deficit and further unnerve investors. To reverse this calamitous cycle, the government has to cut spending deeply or raise taxes sharply. Lower spending and higher taxes in turn depress the economy and lead to higher unemployment. Not pretty.

Greece is experiencing such a crisis. Until recently, conventional wisdom held that only developing countries — managed ineptly — were candidates for true budget crises. No more. Most wealthy societies with aging populations, including the United States, face big gaps between their spending promises and their tax bases. No one in Congress could be unaware of this.

Two weeks before the House vote, the Congressional Budget Office released its estimate of Obama’s budget, including its health-care program. From 2011 to 2020, the cumulative deficit is almost $10 trillion. Adding 2009 and 2010, the total rises to $12.7 trillion. In 2020, the projected annual deficit is $1.25 trillion, equal to 5.6 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). That assumes economic recovery, with unemployment at 5 percent. Spending is almost 30 percent higher than taxes. Total debt held by the public rises from 40 percent of GDP in 2008 to 90 percent in 2020, close to its post-World War II peak.

To criticisms, Obama supporters make two arguments. First, the CBO says the plan reduces the deficit by $143 billion over a decade. Second, the legislation contains measures (an expert panel to curb Medicare spending, emphasis on “comparative effectiveness research”) to control health spending. These rejoinders are self-serving and unconvincing.

Suppose the CBO estimate is correct. So? The $143 billion saving is about 1 percent of the projected $12.7 trillion deficit from 2009 to 2020. If the administration has $1 trillion or so of spending cuts and tax increases over a decade, all these monies should first cover existing deficits — not finance new spending. Obama’s behavior resembles a highly indebted family’s taking an expensive round-the-world trip because it claims to have found ways to pay for it. It’s self-indulgent and reckless.

But the CBO estimate is misleading, because it must embody the law’s many unrealistic assumptions and gimmicks. Benefits are phased in “so that the first 10 years of [higher] revenue would be used to pay for only six years of spending” increases, a former CBO director, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, wrote in the New York Times on March 20. Holtz-Eakin also noted the $70 billion of premiums for a new program of long-term care that reduce present deficits but will be paid out in benefits later. Then there’s the “doc fix” — higher Medicare reimbursements under separate legislation that would cost about $200 billion over a decade.[…]

So Obama is flirting with a future budget crisis. Moody’s emphasizes two warning signs: rising debt and loss of confidence that government will deal with it. Obama fulfills both. The parallels with the recent financial crisis are striking. Bankers and rating agencies engaged in wishful thinking to rationalize self-interest. Obama does the same. No one can tell when or whether a crisis will come. There is no magic tipping point. But Obama is raising the chances.

Krauthammer: VAT is coming

Charles Krauthammer: The VAT is coming  [Read the whole thing]

OBAMA KNOWS that the debt bomb is looming, that Moody’s is warning that the Treasury’s AAA rating is in jeopardy, that we are headed for a run on the dollar and/or hyperinflation if nothing is done.

Hence his deficit reduction commission. It will report (surprise!) after the November elections.

What will it recommend? What can it recommend?

Sure, Social Security can be trimmed by raising the retirement age, introducing means testing and changing the indexing formula from wage growth to price inflation.

But this won’t be nearly enough. As Obama has repeatedly insisted, the real money is in health care costs – which are now locked in place by the new Obamacare mandates.

That’s where the value-added tax comes in. For the politician, it has the virtue of expediency: People are used to sales taxes, and this one produces a river of revenue. Every 1 percent of VAT would yield up to $1 trillion a decade (depending on what you exclude – if you exempt food, for example, the yield would be more like $900b.).

It’s the ultimate cash cow. Obama will need it. By introducing universal health care, he has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. Which is why all of the European Union has the VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19 percent. France and Italy: 20%. Most of Scandinavia: 25%. [Israel’s is somewhat lower, at 16% — Ed.]

American liberals have long complained that ours is the only advanced industrial country without universal health care. Well, now we shall have it. And as we approach European levels of entitlements, we will need European levels of taxation.

Obama set out to be a consequential president, on the order of Ronald Reagan. With the VAT, Obama’s triumph will be complete. He will have succeeded in reversing Reaganism. Liberals have long complained that Reagan’s strategy was to starve the (governmental) beast to shrink it: First, cut taxes – then ultimately you have to reduce government spending.

Obama’s strategy is exactly the opposite: Expand the beast, and then feed it. Spend first – which then forces taxation. Now that, with the institution of universal health care, we are becoming the full entitlement state, the beast will have to be fed.

And the VAT is the only trough in creation large enough.

As a substitute for the income tax, the VAT would be a splendid idea.

Taxing consumption makes infinitely more sense than taxing work. But to feed the liberal social-democratic project, the VAT must be added on top of the income tax.

Ultimately, even that won’t be enough. As the population ages and health care becomes increasingly expensive, the only way to avoid fiscal ruin (as Britain, for example, has discovered) is health care rationing.

It will take a while to break the American populace to that idea. In the meantime, get ready for the VAT. Or start fighting it.

People of a classical-liberal bent in Western countries who see things going pear-shaped look to the USA as an alternative to immigrate to. At this rate, why should they bother?

Related news item:

Is 0bamacare constitutional?

JCM on C2 addresses the (un)constitutionality of 0bamacare:

In my wanderings through the innerwebz in pursuit of opinions regarding the Constitutionality of Health Care Reform (HRC), I came across a lot of stuff. And instead of doing a massive link dump, I’ve chosen to bore you with with my own take on all those opinions and add my own to the cacophony.

The ORP (Obama – Reid – Pelosi) Troika is basing HRC on three legs to make their argument for the Constitutionality of the bill. Presuming they care about such esoteric notions as Constitutionality.

1 – The General Welfare clause.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

2 – The Interstate Commerce Clause

Article 1 Section 8

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

3 – The taxing power granted in the 16th Amendment.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Summarizing as briefly as possibile the objections to bringing HRC under one or all of this clauses. The objections will be as insofar as possible from the postion of an Constitutional Originalist. I will not be considering the shift away from original intent, especially since the FDR and the New Deal courts.

General Welfare

This clause has two limitations in original intent. The first is it is constrained by enumerated powers of Article 1 Section 8. Second is that it is GENERAL not INDIVIDUAL.

Health Care especially the provision of health care is not an enumerated power of Congress. Madison was quite clear, the General Welfare Clause is constrained by the enumeration of powers. Note the specific language used in Article 1 Section 8. . . . and general Welfare of the United State; . . .

Could Health Care be construed in some manner as General Welfare of the United States? The answer would [s]till be no. General, means just that. The “welfare” the action provides is for the General public that benefits The United States, everyone equally and simultaneously. General Warfare would by no means consider diminishing one person, to benefit another. Even at [its] best HRC is still individual welfare. The difference is having a military to protect all of us, and a soldier assigned as a personal bodyguard.

Commerce Clause

Congress is empowered to regulate commerce. In [its] original intent, it was the commerce, not industry and production that was regulated. Again note the language, to regulate Commerce with . . . , and among the several States, . . . the purpose of the commerce clause was to keep trade and business, especially between states, free and open. They expressly did not want tariffs and disparate rules making trade between the states more difficult. The commerce clause restricts the states, not businesses and industry from operating.

This clause is the singularly […] most abused, it has become the way to regulate business in the United States. Not only business, but the lack of business. In Wickard the court ruled individual production[,] of a product for individual consumption, was interstate commerce and therefore subject to regulation. HRC takes that concept to the final stage, that the lack of commerce, i.e. choosing not to buy health insurance is interstate commerce.

Taxing Powers

This why the IRS is being included in HRC as the revenue generating and enforcement authority. This amendment give the power to tax to Congress, it doesn’t give Congress the power to provide a service to the people, and most definitely not the power to use the coercive power to government to require individuals accept a service provided.

I am certain HRC will be challenged on all three legs, as well as other points. From an originalist perspective the decisions should be clear cut, HRC doesn’t have a Constitutional leg to stand on. How will the courts rule with the more contemporary interpretations, whether or not originalist interpretations will hold that is the trillion dollar question.

The ORP Troika also throw another thing on that the table, hoping to confuse the issue.

Health Care is a Right.

Umm, no. Health Care is NOT a Right. Yes, I know, I’m a mean, evil bitter clingy right winger. This is where subtitles of language are very, very important. To be clear, you do have a right to health care, but health care is not a right. There is a world of difference between the two phrases.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Rights are intrinsic, not extrinsic. The individual is endowed with rights. These rights are a component a condition of being an individual. Theses intrinsic, endowed, inalienable rights can be abridged, denied, suppressed, oppressed by men and governments. That doesn’t mean they still don’t existed [sic], just that these rights are being unjustly denied.

Rights are not extrinsic, they are not provided by external sources. The same forces that can deny them can protect them but not grant them. The founding of this country is based on the premis[e] that government deriving [its] just powers from the consent of the governed would protect those rights. Government is not the source, cannot provide a right. Government can merely can be a protector.

Access to health care has on impact on life, of that there is no doubt. Access to air also has and impact on life. It would be untrue to say, air is a right. You have a right to air, to maintain life. No one, can legally, morally or justly deny you air, generally that would be called murder. When air, or anything external is the right is where things run amok. When air is a right, it implies that air should, no must, be provided the individual. That someone else must breath for the individual. When something, air or health care is the right, it places demands on someone else to provide it for the individual. Not that the right to that “thing” be protected, but that, that “thing” be provided.

Placing this demand on another individual is an just denial of their rights. This is why rights are intrinsic, operating out from, exercised by the individual. Not provided to the individual. The individual can exercise his rights, unencumbered to go out and obtain health care. The right to health care.

This extrinsic vs. intrinsic view of rights is the core of Obama’s 2001 comments in an interview that the Constitution is flawed in that is a document of negative rights for government, instead of positive rights. When rights are intrinsic then government must be constrained from denying and abridging those rights, government must be limited in its power. With the positive rights model, government must be empowered to provide not only grant and provide rights, but provide the substance of those rights as well.

HRC is fatally flawed when viewed from an Originalists Constitution point of view but also from an the perspective of individual rights in the classical liberal point of view.

0bama arguing for positive instead of negative rights cuts to the heart of the difference between the American and French revolutions, with 0bama taking the French side, and classical liberalism the American side. At heart, it emanates from what Thomas Sowell calls the “constrained” vs. “unconstrained” visions of human nature.

In the unconstrained vision, all human problems are evntually amenable to solution if only the wisest men (the “anointed”) get the power to do so and guarantee every individual his/her every need, with the aid of a large government apparatus. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a classic expression of the unconstrained vision. (A physicist might say it presupposes a Newtonian, deterministic universe.) The unconstrained vision naturally leads to expansive government and “positive rights” of individuals (such as putative rights to a job, to a minimum level of income, to “free” education and “free” healthcare,…) Communism, Nazism, and Islamism are extreme “unconstrained” ideologies: more moderate examples are Euro-style social democracy and the clericalist welfare statism that goes by the name of “Christian democracy” in many European countries. American left-liberalism is likewise in the “unconstrained” camp.

In the constrained vision, the human power to solve human problems is limited by practical constraints, by the “law of unintended consequences”, and by the limits of human intellect —  be it an individual’s or the collective one of an oligarchy. (A physicist might think of a nondeterministic universe — quantum, chaotic, or both). As the constrained vision is inherently pessimistic about the ability of government (or any human endeavor) to cure all social ills, it tends to err on the side of caution where it comes to government power, and naturally leads to limited government constrained by negative rights (things government is not allowed to do to you or cannot force you to do). Classical liberalism and libertarianism are typical expressions of the “constrained” vision.

Note finally that the above discussion has not directly raised the Tenth Amendment and the limits it places on Federal power (although the Commerce Clause indirectly references it): “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In this context, “the United States” refers to “the Federal government”. Obviously, neither the Constitution nor the Amendments delegate the power to impose a healthcare mandate on citizens to the Federal government…

Legislative malpractice

This picture snapped by Dr. Helen Smith (a.k.a. “Instawife”) says more than a thousand words:

In the comments to another picture (unrelated) posted by Insty, I found this righteous rant on the same topic:

You’re right; we are living in the age of America’s decline. I can remember both my own parents and many others of their age who absolutely refused to accept government help and would have starved before asking for it. They thought that their obligation was to make enough to deal with their own problems and that people who took money from the government were lazy beggars.

I could see among the people my age, starting in the 70’s, that this attitude no longer pertained. The thinking seemed to be that if they could get by without working, no matter who was paying the bill, they were happy with the situation.

Our population has grown and ingested a large number of lazy people who think themselves entitled to a free living at someone else’s expense. They’ve not the slightest qualm at using the IRS as a weapon to force those who work for their money to pay large sums of that money to support the parasites and sloths who refuse to support themselves.

If Obamacare passes, as a nation we’ve just taken the anchor, wrapped it around our necks, and jumped overboard. We’re done and absolutely, irrevocably doomed to national default and currency destruction. I’m embarrassed to think that I live in a country whose political class is either so stupid, or so venal, as to not admit this.

I used to be very angry at the 52% who voted for Obama. I now realize that it was the entire system that could produce such ignorant fools that was at fault. America has got a lot of waking up and growing up to do, and they’re only just beginning those tasks. The next decade is going to be damned ugly because the sheeple are going to find out just how much the mistakes they’ve allowed to happen are going to hurt them.

UPDATE: Roadside billboard has Dhimmi Carter saying: “They can’t call me the worst president anymore”. Signed: “Paid for by a small business owner”.