Jan 262009

Watching the Obama administration promises to be like watching a Dilbert cartoon. I began to form that opinion back in the days of President-Elect Obama. Now that he is really the president, we’re still getting Dilbertisms.

George Will: “Days before becoming responsible, in the eyes of a public fixated on the presidency, for almost everything, Barack Obama vowed to convene a ‘fiscal responsibility summit.'”

Jan 262009

Less than a week after the inauguration, John Kerry and Kent Conrad choose fear over hope. Their article in Monday’s WSJ is not unlike the fear-mongering that sent us to war in Iraq and which established the USA Patriot Acts that gave us the Homeland Security department.

An extra nice touch is the way they blame the Bush administration for the TARP program which Congressional Democrats passed only after they bribed Republicans with extra pork to go along. They blame the TARP program for a list of items that will be bad about the new stimulus program, too, plus suggest a few new items that will make their new stimulus program even worse than TARP.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration failed to fix the problems in our financial system, refused to help homeowners, and didn’t pass stimulus measures to create jobs in order to lay the foundation for stronger economic growth in the future. Instead, it handed out large sums to struggling financial institutions under TARP in order to prevent a complete financial collapse. But it did so without consistency, without adequate transparency and accountability, and without restoring the credit availability that our economy desperately needs.

Jan 262009

Speed Gibson points out that cars don’t guzzle gas, people do. That’s a good argument for a netzero gas tax vs CAFE standards.

Speed says “The market regulates all this just fine, or would if the government would stop interfering.” I don’t completely go along with that, as it doesn’t take care of regulating the external costs of fossil fuel consumption. But a netzero tax would harness market forces to do the parts that markets do best.

Jan 242009

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has got to be jealous of Barak Obama these days. Putin had to have over 20 journalists murdered in order to get the rest of them to be as compliant as the ones covering Barak Obama.

Just how compliant are Obama’s people? Carol Marin of the Chicago Sun-Times explains:

The press corps, most of us, don’t even bother raising our hands any more to ask questions because Obama always has before him a list of correspondents who’ve been advised they will be called upon that day.

And Obama did it without firing a shot.

Or maybe American journalists are not as tough as those in Russia. Maybe we should import some of the surviving Russian ones to help fight off the re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine. A report on Eric Holder’s evasions on that subject is here.

Jan 232009

I found something to disagree with in Obama’s inaugural speech:

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.

At least he didn’t say the important question was whether the government makes the trains run on time.

And he didn’t say the government had to do a good job at these things. It’s a pretty low bar for keeping government programs. All he said the government has to do is help. Even if these programs do a worse job than would be done without them, he says he plans to keep them. Well, most government programs do some good, somewhere, for someone. That’s what dog and pony shows are for — to show that the taxpayers that at least somebody, somewhere is benefiting.

But even if all his government programs would be wildly successful at these goals, they wouldn’t necessarily be good. A big government is a powerful government. Power corrupts, whether it’s power exercised on the streets of Iraq or at the local medical clinic. If there are no other countervailing institutions to wield power in competition with and in opposition to that of government, history tells us that we the people will suffer, even if the government provides us with well paying jobs and health care.

Jan 222009

Two things that made me laugh today:

1. This quote from P.J. O’Rourke:

In the language of politics there is only one translation for the phrase “hope and change,” to wit, “big, fat government.”

2. This item from Google News.


It made me wonder how CBS news knew this.

Was it learned at a news conference? “Mr. President, what did you do on your first morning in office.” “The first thing I did after breakfast was fix my gaze on national security.”

Or was it at an Oval Office photo op where he was photographed staring out the window? “What’s he doing?” “Shhh. He’s fixing his gaze on national security.”

Well, if you have nothing interesting to report, I suppose one can be reduced to writing cliches.

For more fun with the term, you can google for “fixes gaze.” You’ll find that even George Bush was capable of fixing his gaze, whatever it means.

CBS may have been embarrassed by its own headline, because the title is still there if you search Google News, but when you go to the actual link it now says something less silly. Trying to take away our fun, it looks like.

Jan 192009

What to do if you have a serious messiah complex, but the people don’t want to be saved, at least not by you?

For example, suppose you’re a lifeguard at the beach and you have a serious need to be a hero. There might be a kid who needs a rescue, but that’s not going to be enough. Like I said, you have a serious messiah complex.

You can find the biggest kid on the beach and order him to go rescue the kid in trouble, or else. Then go out and hold them both underwater a while. Then let go. If they still don’t want your help, push them under for a while longer.

Eventually they’ll accept your help, and then you’ll have an flock of adoring and grateful followers.

What if you don’t like getting wet? In that case you could become Treasury Secretary or Federal Reserve Chairman, and do basically the same thing to our country’s banks.

Welcome to the world of re-regulation. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of heroes in the next few years.

Jan 192009

Here’s a clue: If you think everybody in the room shares your enthusiasm (or dismay) over the ascension of Obama to power, you need to talk less and listen more. If everyone actually does share your enthusiasm (or dismay) you need to be in a room with a more diverse group of people.

I’ve been in rooms with both oblivious types (pro- and anti-) in the past couple of days. I managed to keep my mouth shut and save it for my blog.

Jan 192009

Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek is thinking of a giant wiki where we can keep track of all the trickles in the Democrats’ trickle-down stimulus plan.

Wouldn’t it be great to keep track of how long it takes the money to get spent, what actually happens on the ground and so on? There’s no way a reporter can follow it. Or an economist. So let’s use the wisdom of crowds, the many-eyeball approach.