Monday, February 28, 2011

Sharpshooter

Our soldier qualified on his rifle as a "Sharpshooter," the middle of the three qualification levels (not Expert but better than Marksman).




He claims that that was the last test that he was concerned about...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

I wouldn't have guessed that there was still one left...

And then there were none...
Frank W. Buckles died Sunday, sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused.

In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor. "I knew there'd be only one someday," he said a few years back. "I didn't think it would be me."

Labels:

| Links to this post

May Thy Holy Spirit

This lovely piece by Paul Tchesnokoff was performed on 2/27/2011 by the Park Street Church Sanctuary Choir.





My favorite rendition of it, however, will never be duplicated or heard again. In 1999 (May 31, to be exact) a group of 12-18 members of the choir touring Greece and the Czech Republic, performed that piece (a capella, obviously) inside the beehive tomb(which may or may not be the tomb of Agamemnon) in Mykines (Mycinea), Greece.


The tomb is carved into a hillside,


a round room with a domed ceiling, all stone.


As you can imagine, the acoustics are something special, and for a piece like this one, utterly perfect. The tour guide that day, when we got back onto the bus, told us that "I come here often with groups, and everyone sings in there, but I've never heard anything like that before."

And probably never will again.  I don't expect to...

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Friday, February 25, 2011

Labor brute force rules

Michael Graham has a good piece on the current union activity in the Boston Herald this morning. The best line is probably this:
The only person who had worse press coverage this week than organized labor was Moammar Gadhafi — and he had to bomb his own people to get it.
It's a good piece. Click through and read it...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wisconsin senate seats

Michael Ramirez:

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Public unions force taxpayers to fund Democrats

On Wisconsin, again, this time from Michael Barone...
[President Obama] added that "public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens."

Enormous contributions, yes -- to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.
Think that's overstating it? Skeptical?

Just look at the way that Democrats are responding to any and all efforts to cut back on the power of those government unions...

Labels: , , , ,

| Links to this post

"Achieved Is The Glorious Work"

Park Street Choir and Orchestra, from Haydn's "The Creation," on 2/20/2011.



Achieved is the glorious work,
the Lord beholds it and is pleased.
The Lord beholds, and is well pleased.
In lofty strains, let us rejoice.
Our song let be the praise of God.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why is there still a Somalia?

To quote Tuco (from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), "if it's time to shoot, shoot. Don't talk..."

Can we agree that it's time to shoot?
Four Americans taken from their yacht in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates have been shot dead, the US military has said.

US naval forces on the way to try to rescue the Americans heard gunshots and on arrival found the four hostages had been killed.

Two pirates were killed and 15 detained during the incident, which took place on Monday.

The remains of two other pirates, who had been dead for some time, were found. The US military did not state how those two died. In total the US said 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking of the American's yacht, the Quest.
I ask again, why is there still a Somalia? And what, exactly, are the navies of the world for if not for dealing with exactly this kind of thing?

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

The importance of Wisconsin

There's an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal this morning by Steve Malanga which lays out the centrality of the Wisconsin government union showdown in the crisis of the states' fiscal health. I recommend reading it all. As I mentioned the other day, this is probably the most important economic issue being "discussed" in the country at the moment, even more than the Federal budget issues.

Steven Malanga: The Showdown Over Public Union Power
Government workers have taken to the streets in Madison, Wis., to battle a series of reforms proposed by Gov. Scott Walker that include allowing workers to opt out of paying dues to unions. Everywhere that this "opt out" idea has been proposed, unions have battled it vigorously because the money they collect from dues is at the heart of their power.

Unions use that money not only to run their daily operations but to wage political campaigns in state capitals and city halls. Indeed, public-sector unions especially have become the nation's most aggressive advocates for higher taxes and spending. They sponsor tax-raising ballot initiatives and pay for advertising and lobbying campaigns to pressure politicians into voting for them. And they mount multimillion dollar campaigns to defeat efforts by governors and taxpayer groups to roll back taxes.
I long ago came to the conclusion that government employees ought not be allowed to unionize. Everything that has happened in the intervening years has hardened that position...

Read it all.

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Monday, February 21, 2011

Yes, there is a reason to rein in public employee unions

Jennifer Rubin takes her turn schooling Ezra Klein on the fight in Wisconsin...
Walker is seeking to reset the terms of union wages and benefits; no one is proposing to simply stop paying. Union contracts and "give backs" are negotiated every year by labor and management. The notion that whatever is given can never be lost is the sort of maximalist labor mind-set that led to the demise of multiple private industries in the United States.

The Wisconsin debate comes down to a simple question: do the voters and their elected representatives have the final say in how the state spends its money? The unions and their backers argue that through a variety of hardball tactics -- sick outs, legislative absenteeism, etc. -- that the unions, a small sliver of the population, get to control the outcome.

This is at the root of the objections to the very concept of public employee unions.
I know that I haven't written, or even linked, on this story yet, but it's probably the single most important economic story going on in the country right now, even more important than the budget story in Washington. If the states cannot get their budgets under control, then the Federal government has got no chance of doing it. Governor Walker is fighting the good fight in Madison, and the response of the opposition shows that the big government union types know it...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Made it through...

Ok, the ground is still covered with snow (in fact, more is falling right now) but we've reached one of the milestones of "having made it through the winter." There will not be another weekend without a Red Sox game of some kind until at least October...

Labels:

| Links to this post

"...the destruction of the society which accepts it..."

I've written before about C.S. Lewis' brilliant book The Abolition of Man and his prescient observation therein that
The practical result of education in the spirit of The Green Book must be the destruction of the society which accepts it.
The evidence continues to pile up that he was absolutely correct:
Residents in Surrey and Kent villages have been ordered by police to remove wire mesh from their windows as burglars could be injured.

Home owners in the villages of Tandridge and Tatsfield in Surrey and in Westerham, Brasted and Sundridge in Kent have said they are furious that they are being branded 'criminals' for protecting their property.

Locals had reinforced their windows with wire mesh after a series of shed thefts but were told by community police officers that the wire was 'dangerous' and could lead to criminals claiming compensation if they 'hurt themselves'.
...
Crime reduction officer for Tandridge PC John Lee commented: 'We are constantly advising homeowners to protect their property and the contents of their shed or garage, however, a commonsense approach needs to be taken.

'To properly secure your sheds, Surrey Police strongly advises people to invest in items such as good-quality locks and bolts, and not to resort to homemade devices, as this could cause injury.'

A police source added: 'Homemade devices can cause injury and there have been cases where criminals have sued for injuries they have suffered while committing a criminal act.

'We are advising people to do whatever they can to protect their property, but wire mesh is not one of the suggestions we would make.'
20 or 30 years ago, that would have read as parody. Sadly, no longer...

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Friday, February 18, 2011

Choir rehearsal

Some are better than others. There are times when we go through some material that I don't care for, and other times when it's all good. Last night was one of the best in a while.

There was the classical stuff:
Mendelssohn: "And Then Shall Your Light Break Forth" - The final chorus from Elijah, and one of my favorite choral pieces.

Beethoven: "Hallelujah" from Christ on the Mount of Olives

Haydn: "Achieved Is The Glorious Work" from The Creation
And a couple of more modern works that are also excellent:
John Ness Beck: "Upon This Rock"

Rene Clausen: "At the Name of Jesus"
And a piece from the Russian Orthodox church:
Tchesnokoff: "May Thy Holy Spirit" - In 1999, a group of about 20 members of this choir (about five of whom are still here) sang this a capella inside a "beehive tomb" carved into a hill in Mykines in Greece. It was the single most unforgettable musical moment of my lifetime. Our guide, when we got back onto the bus, said, "I've heard a lot of people sing inside that tomb, but I've never heard anything like that."
So, as rehearsals go, this one was top-notch...


And, on that theme, here's a video of the aforementioned Beethoven piece:

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Opportunity Costs and government overload

One of my friends1 posted on facebook this morning, decrying the HR 1 continuing resolution for funding the rest of the year on the grounds that it cuts funding for the NIH by 5.6% ($1.6 billion) for the year, and encouraging people to call their representatives and complain. I responded:
OK, so you call and demand that they not cut NIH. Someone else calls and demands that they not cut NPR. Someone else calls and demands that they not touch Social Security or Medicare. Someone else demands that Federal education funding not be cut.

Guess what NIH funding looks like when the Government finally defaults because there's just no money left and they can't print enough to keep the lights on. This is the result of making promises you can't keep and promoting unsustainable policies. Eventually, as Margaret Thatcher said of socialism, "you run out of other people's money..."
One of the fundamental concepts of economics that many people miss is Opportunity Cost. In a world of scarcity, which ours is, there is a cost to everything you do. Sometimes the costs are quantifiable in dollars, sometimes the costs are resources, sometimes, the costs are just time. But there is always a cost.

When the government spends time, money and resources doing something that is not one of its legitimate functions, that time and money and those resources cannot then be spent on its legitimate functions. Every dollar for NPR comes from somewhere, and can't be used for Cancer research. Every dollar for the National Endowment for the Arts can't be used for cancer research. Every dollar that disappears into the gaping maw of the federal education bureaucracy can't be used for cancer research. I can get a new car this year or I can have my house sided and my deck replaced or I can take my wife to Europe for a week, but I cannot do them all. If I go out and spend $25,000 on a new car, I can't then turn around and complain that I haven't got the money to replace my roof. That's the opportunity cost.

The Federal government long ago overflowed its constitutional banks, and the resultant flood is going to drown us all if it isn't contained. If cancer research is a legitimate government function (which could be argued, though certainly isn't self-evident) then those who are fighting for it need to fight against the illegitimate government functions that are consuming those resources. The resources are not unlimited.


1 - And it's worth noting, I think, that this is someone who supported the ACA [Obamacare], because that's part of the reason that I responded.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Analysis of the day

From the editors of the Wall Street Journal:
This was supposed to be the moment we were all waiting for. After three years of historic deficits that have added almost $4.5 trillion to the national debt, President Obama was finally going to get serious about fiscal discipline. Instead, what landed on Congress's doorstep on Monday was a White House budget that increases deficits above the spending baseline for the next two years. Hosni Mubarak was more in touch with reality last Thursday night.

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Idle thought

You know, for some reason the events in Egypt are not making the Obama/Carter comparisons less compelling...

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Monday, February 14, 2011

Atlas Shrugged - part 1

I watch this with a mixture of fascination and dread...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Red Sox Spring Training, Alfred E. Neuman ("What, me worry?") edition

I don't have time for the full analysis yet, but I'm working on it. What I do have, as pitchers and catchers report, is a quick look at the team from a "what am I worried about" perspective. I've listed the positions from biggest to least concern, with the following "concern level" meanings:
1 - Barring unforseen disaster, this is a strength
2 - Barring forseen disaster, this is a strength
3 - Strength if everything works, but it might not
4 - This is a strength only in an absolute best-case scenario
5 - There's a problem here with no obvious solution

The good news is that there are no level 5 concerns on this team, as I see it. So here's how I feel as ST opens:
  • Catcher - The one obvious trouble spot on the team. Varitek's old, Saltalamacchia's unproven. It might not be a disaster, but it's sure not an obvious strength. CONCERN LEVEL: 4
  • Designated Hitter - Has David Ortiz got another 2010 level season in his 35 year-old bat? It not obvious what 'Plan B' would consist of, so we hope so… CONCERN LEVEL: 4
  • Right Field - JD Drew is 35 and coming off a down year. That doesn't mean that he's done, but it does mean that it's conceivable. CONCERN LEVEL: 4
  • Starters - Jon Lester is an Ace. I expect a solid performance from Clay Buchholz, albeit at a higher ERA than he put up last year. Beckett and Lackey are each coming off down years, but have a history of success. And Matsuzaka has been frustrating but effective when healthy. CONCERN LEVEL: 3
  • Center Field - Ellsbury missed essentially the entire 2010 season. We can assume that the ribs are healed, at this point, but what effect does that missed time have on his development? Who is right about his defense, those that praise him or those, like the Red Sox, that think he not the greatest CF in baseball? Is there lingering damage to his relationship with his teammates? CONCERN LEVEL: 3
  • Shortstop - Marco Scutaro is a solid, competent major league shortstop, both offensively and defensively. There's a lot of evidence that suggests that Jed Lowrie, when healthy, is much more than that. This is the one interesting spring training positional battle, but there are two good options. CONCERN LEVEL: 3
  • Bullpen - The caveats are that relievers are notoriously inconsistent year-to-year, and that both Jenks and Papelbon are coming off of (at least superficially) bad seasons. That said, this group is deep, with a long history of being very effective. They've got at least four swing and miss pitchers to close out games. This should be a strength. CONCERN LEVEL: 2
  • Third base - Offensively, this is a tremendous strength. The question here is defense. I've seen mixed reports about Youkilis' 3rd base "D" and he's moving across the diamond in the opposite direction that players normally move as they age. The Sox will be strong at this position, but how strong depends on whether his defensive performance adds to his offensive performance or detracts from it. CONCERN LEVEL: 2
  • First base - Assuming that Gonzalez is healthy, and I see no reason not to assume that, he's an MVP candidate. Could it take a couple of months for him to adjust to the new league and new pitchers? It's possible. But he's an in-his-prime, great-fielding, great-hitting left-hander with a Fenway swing. He's going to put up monster numbers over the next five years, starting in 2011. CONCERN LEVEL: 2 (only because of the possible adjustment time)
  • Left Field - Like Gonzalez, Carl Crawford is moving to a new team and a new park. Unlike Gonzalez, there are no competition adjustments to make. CONCERN LEVEL: 1
  • Second base - Dustin Pedroia is two seasons removed from an MVP award, and while he missed most of 2010 with an injury, it was a fluke event injury, not a chronic or wear-and-tear injury. Second base remains a strength on this team. CONCERN LEVEL: 1

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Friday, February 11, 2011

Soldier status update

From a letter received today:
Fired training rounds from AT-4 (Anti-Tank weapon) and M203 (grenade launcher attached to an M16), saw 2 M203 rounds and 1 AT-4 rounds fired. THEY WERE AWESOME! - M203 Phump. Boom! aT-4 Boom! BOOM! The AT-4 mangled part of an (already ruined) tank!
Every boy's dream...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rove: Democrats Can't Filibuster ObamaCare Repeal - WSJ.com

Interesting read in the Wall Street Journal from Karl Rove this morning - Democrats Can't Filibuster ObamaCare Repeal
Director of the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush, Mr. Hennessey now teaches at Stanford Business School and is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Last week on his website, KeithHennessey.com, he made the case that congressional Republicans could use the reconciliation process to kill ObamaCare with 51 votes in the Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives.

The Budget Act of 1974 established the reconciliation process. The House and Senate Budget Committees can direct other committees to make changes in mandatory spending (like ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies) and the tax code (such as ObamaCare's levies on insurance policies, hospitals and drug companies) to make spending and revenue conform with the goals set by the annual budget resolution.

For example, under reconciliation the Senate Budget Committee could instruct the Senate Finance Committee to reduce mandatory spending on insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion. These two items make up more than 90% of spending in ObamaCare. All the changes from all the committees are then bundled into one measure and voted upon. Because reconciliation is protected by the rules of the budget process, it doesn't take 60 votes to bring it up and it requires only a simple majority to pass.
I thought that passing the bill the way the Democrats did, under reconciliation, was an abuse of the process. I'd be inclined to feel the same way about attempts to repeal it that way. On the other hand, there would certainly be a poetic justice to that which is not unattractive...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Big boots, little man

From the pen of the always brilliant Michael Ramirez comes an appropriate response to the Democrats attempt to 1) claim Ronald Reagan and 2) claim that Barack Obama is another Ronald Reagan.


(I'm not an editorial cartoonist, but it seems to me that there's also a Lloyd Bentsen/Dan Quayle joke somewhere in this situation, just waiting for someone to draw it...)

Labels: , , , ,

| Links to this post

This is sad...

Brian Jacques, Writer of Redwall Series, Dies at 71
Nearing midlife, Mr. Jacques (pronounced “Jakes”) took a job driving a milk truck in Liverpool, where he was born and lived to the end of his life. On his route was the Royal School for the Blind.

Invited in for a nice cup of tea one day, he volunteered to read to the students. Over time, he grew dissatisfied with the books available — too much adolescent angst, he later said — and vowed to write his own.

He wrote what he called “a proper story,” brimming with battle and gallantry. Titled “Redwall” and published in 1986, it became the first installment in what is now a best-selling 21-volume children’s fantasy series.

Mr. Jacques died on Saturday in Liverpool, at 71.
He certainly did write "proper stories" and the Redwall books are wonderful. Even better are the full-cast recordings that he did of them. (He didn't do all of them, but at least a few.) He had a radio career, as well, and understood what sounded right. We saw him do a reading many years ago, when the kids were little, and he talked about some of the different influences on the characters. The hares, for example, are all modeled after the RAF pilots of the WWII era. The moles are Liverpudlian coal miners. And the casts that he put together to record them understood what they were doing - they make for wonderful listening.

And they were wonderful books, filled with action and excitement and gallantry and nobility and "proper" human virtues. In a world where there's too little of all of them.

For the last 10 years or so, there's been a new Redwall book under the Christmas tree every year. It's sad that there won't be anymore...

RIP, Mr. Jacques.

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

It's truck day!

The Boston Red Sox equipment truck leaves Fenway Park today, headed for Fort Myers, FL and spring training. It's one of the early signs of spring, and much appreciated right now...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Pet peeve

Ok, this is not actually topical at the moment, but I heard it mentioned on the radio this morning, and it irritated me (as it always does). So let me just address it (again? have I written about this before?) today.

NFL football teams sell season-ticket packages. In those packages, they sell tickets to eight home regular season games and two home preseason games. That's the package - if you want to buy it, that's what you buy. Obviously, the tickets to preseason games are not as valuable a commodity as the tickets to the regular season games, but they're all in the package, and the teams tend to charge a "per-game" price that's the same for all ten of the games. Which leads to fan complaints and media pontification (this is a big Peter King hobby-horse every August) about how the NFL is ripping off its fans. (The comment that spurred this this morning was Gerry Callahan's comment that "the NFL is fleecing its most loyal fans.")

Here's the thing - the teams put a package together and offer it for sale. No one has to buy the package. No one who doesn't feel that the value in the package is worth the price of the package has to pay it. If someone buys the package, it's foolish and pointless to complain that "the Patriots made me buy tickets to the preseason games." No one made him buy anything. The preseason games were part of the package.

Consider the following three ticket packages.

Package 1: Tickets to eight regular season games, $125 each, and tickets to two preseason game at no charge. Total cost: $1000

Package 2: Tickets to eight regular season games and two preseason games, ten games total, $100 each. Total cost: $1000

Package 3: Tickets to four regular season games, $250 each, and tickets to four regular season games and two preseason games as a "bonus" at no charge. Total cost: $1000
Under the Gerry Callahan/Peter King logic, a team offering package 2 ($1000 for the ten games) is ripping off its fans by forcing them to buy preseason tickets that they don't want, but a team offering package 1 ($1000 for the ten games) would be doing the right thing by its customers, since they aren't making anyone buy those preseason tickets, but are giving them away instead. A team offering package 3 ($1000 for the ten games) would presumably be praiseworthy.

Obviously, that's idiocy. People buy season ticket packages because the total utility to them of the package is worth the total cost of the package. It doesn't matter what the individual game pricing is for any of the games - what matters is the cost of the package and the value of the package to them. If the perceived value exceeds the cost they buy, if the cost exceeds the perceived value they don't. Period.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Oh, if only...

From the Washington Examiner, Republicans declare war on federal regulations
The Republican-led House this week will push through legislation aimed at making government rules and regulations less burdensome for business, setting up a standoff with President Obama over some of his key initiatives, including the new health care law, and testing Obama's efforts to appear more business friendly. The House measure, scheduled for a vote Thursday, would require committees "to inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed regulations" and the rules' effect on jobs and economic growth.

The GOP's assault on federal regulations will begin in the Government and Oversight Reform Committee, where business leaders will testify this week about which regulations they believe are hindering job creation.
I'd love to believe that this effort would actually lead somewhere, but I'm not particularly hopeful...

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Monday, February 07, 2011

"All claims made for it were false..."

From the WSJ, a good piece from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels: An ObamaCare Appeal From the States:
Unless you're in favor of a fully nationalized health-care system, the president's health-care reform law is a massive mistake. It will amplify all the big drivers of overconsumption and excessive pricing: "Why not, it's free?" reimbursement; "The more I do, the more I get" provider payment; and all the defensive medicine the trial bar's ingenuity can generate.

All claims made for it were false. It will add trillions to the federal deficit. It will lead to a de facto government takeover of health care faster than most people realize, and as millions of Americans are added to the Medicaid rolls and millions more employees (including, watch for this, workers of bankrupt state governments) are dumped into the new exchanges.

Labels:

| Links to this post

Obama's Super Bowl Party menu...

...serves as a reminder, once again, that the media only recognizes hypocrisy as a Republican sin...
The rest of the menu for the 100 or so guests at the White House bash is tailgate-friendly even if served inside the Executive Mansion: bratwurst, kielbasa, cheeseburgers, deep-dish pizza and Buffalo wings with sides of German potato salad, twice-baked potatoes and assorted chips and dips.
But you see, it's OK when the food nannies in the White House eat those foods that they condemn everyone else for eating because, after all, they're good people, with good intentions, doing good and progressive things to make the world a better place...

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Friday, February 04, 2011

Spotted on facebook...


"Hundreds gather to protest Global Warming....."



(Original here...)

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Soldier status update

I may or may not find something interesting to comment on during the day, but some of you would like to know that I just booked plane tickets. Lori and I are flying to Missouri on 3/23 for the 3/24 9:00 graduation ceremony. He's supposed to get an off-base pass, at that point, so that we can spend the day with him. He then ships for AIT on Friday, and we'll fly back.

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Thursday, February 03, 2011

More Obamacare unconstitutionality commentary

This time, an excellent article from Randy Barnett and Elizabeth Price Foley in the Wall Street Journal.
The Obama administration attempted to cloak an unprecedented and unsupportable exercise of federal power in the guise of a run-of-the-mill Commerce Clause regulation. When the weakness of that theory was exposed, it retreated to the Necessary and Proper Clause and the taxing power. Judge Vinson's decisive rejection of all these theories is another significant victory for individual liberty—the ultimate purpose of federalism—and it lays the intellectual groundwork for every decision on the mandate yet to come.
Read it all.

Labels:

| Links to this post

Ben Nelson announces that he's leaving the Senate in 2012

OK, not in so many words, but effectively, yeah, he's got two more years then he's done...
The Senate on Wednesday voted down a repeal of President Obama’s healthcare law in a 47-51 party-line vote.

The vote came two weeks to the day the Republican House voted 245-189 to repeal the law, and just days after a federal judge ruled Obama’s signature legislative achievement is unconstitutional.

...

Republicans have acknowledged their goal with the vote was to get Democrats on record as defending a law that remains deeply unpopular with large swaths of the public. Twenty-three Senate Democrats are up for re-election in 2012, and many of them face tough races.

"I think the American people understand fully this issue and they know for sure where Democrats and Republicans are," McConnell said after the vote.
Nelson (D-NE) had a chance, and declined to take it.

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Mitch McConnell's promise kept

Well, I recommended this, so obviously, I approve...
Earlier today, McConnell announced in a press avail: "We pledged to the American people that we would seek to repeal this 2,700-page bill that seeks to restructure all of American health care and put the decisions in Washington. I'm pleased to announce that all 47 of my members will be voting to repeal Obamacare." Thirteen Democrats won't join them, and maybe none will. But the process of pressuring vulnerable Democrats to go on the record in support of an unpopular, exorbitantly expensive and quite possibly unconstitutional statute has begun.

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

"Just one more law will fix it..."

Remember that C.S. Lewis quote from yesterday? Go ahead and read it again, refresh your memory of what it says.

Then read this story on the Cost of Meth Prohibition by Megan McCardle:
If you've been following drug laws at all, you'll know that you can no longer buy cold medicine with pseudoephedrine without getting a clerk to get it for you from behind the counter, and signing for it. That's because pseudoephedrine is an ingredient in the most popular amateur syntheses of methamphetamine. By making it hard to get, authorities hoped that they could fatally damage the meth trade.

It's long been an article of faith among libertarians that this was simply going to push manufacture to Mexican gangs, but now Keith Humphreys tells me that it hasn't even done that. Instead, armies of "smurfers" are getting around the sudafed purchase limits; a box of pseudoephedrine-laden pills purchased for $7 to $8 can bring $40 to $50 from meth dealers. So meth use is back up...

...what we're effectively talking about is making it impossible for people to unplug a stuffy nose without going to a doctor. Which in turn means either that we're going to spend $50 to $100 per cold (obviously, much more expensive than even a bunch of really terrible meth lab fires) or that people are going to go without treatment.
So I'm going to quote myself again.
This is a problem of utopianism. So many of the issues that we, as a country, face right now are the result of people who believe, really, truly believe, in the perfectability of the human condition. And the driving mindset is the delusional belief that if we could just, somehow, someway, pass the right laws, institute the right government programs, then everything would be perfect. The nonsensical belief that we can do away with violence, hunger, disease, thirst, war, accidents, illiteracy, animal attacks, dandruff, undercooked burritos, global warming, hemorrhoids and the heartbreak of psoriasis if only we could institute the right government programs. There are no inherent problems with humanity that lead to problems, at least none that can't be legislated away, and with enough of the right kind of laws, humanity can achieve perfection, where everyone is smart and educated, has equal wealth and no disputes with his neighbors, a Lake Wobegone world where everyone's above average.

It's public policy from the John Lennon ("imagine all the people living life in peace") school, and it requires government policies from the Vladimir Lenin school. Because you can't perfect human behavior in a free society. (You can't perfect it in a totalitarian society, either, but there are always going to be some who believe that, if they only had a little more control, if the could only institute a few more restrictions, they could make everything perfect.)

Labels:

| Links to this post

Some commentary on the Vinson decision

I don't have anything at the moment, but here are three good commentaries on the decision by Judge Vinson yesterday, striking down Obamacare in totality.

Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post:
Liberal pundits who have consulted liberal law professors about liberals' great achievement -- ObamaCare -- are pronouncing the ruling by Judge Roger Vinson to be much to do about nothing....It is, we are told, "curious," "odd," or "unconventional."

These are complaints, not legal arguments. And they suggest that the left was totally unprepared for the constitutional attack on their beloved handiwork.

Aaron Worthing at Patterico.com:
I will say that compared to the pervious Virginia case striking down Obamacare, this decision exhibits far better writing. Judge Hudson in Virginia seemed to constantly say, “well, the plaintiffs say this and the defendants reply with that” and never made it clear what, if any, of their reasoning he agreed with. By comparison Judge Vinson has written an opinion that sets out exactly what he thinks of the law and does so with some eloquence. While I do not appreciate what appears to have been pot-shots at Justice Kagan and President Obama, I think overall this is a far more sound and persuasive opinion.

Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy:
As I have often noted in the past, this decision is just another step in an ongoing legal battle. Ultimately, the issue of the individual mandate will be resolved by the courts of appeals and probably by the Supreme Court. Still, Judge Vinson’s ruling is a victory for opponents of the mandate. It’s also extremely well-written, and thereby provides a potential road map for appellate judges who might be inclined to rule the same way.
If you're interested at all, click on the links...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post