Daniel Patrick Moynihan

By , February 28, 2011 11:50 am

The New York post has a column today about the prescience of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, one of my favorite people.

According to writer Bob McManus, Moynihan saw the future of public unions, and it was not rosey.

“[NYU economics professor William J.] Baumol started out by asking himself why the costs of the performing arts always seemed to be rising” Moynihan wrote. “I remarked that if you want a Dixieland band for a campaign rally today, you will need the same [number of] players you would have needed at the beginning of the century. Productivity just hasn’t changed much.”

But per-player costs — salaries and benefits — had risen dramatically, and the price of that Dixieland band along with them.

So, too, the price of health care, the senator argued. An already labor-intensive industry was becoming even more so with each technological advance — driving per-patient productivity ever lower and overall costs inexorably higher.

The same, he said, is true of what he termed the “stagnant [public-sector] services” — including “education high and low, welfare, the arts, legal services, the police. This means that the [costs] of the public sector will continue to grow.”

Moynihan had an eye for what seems obvious today. And he was not shy about telling others what he saw, a trait that served him well–and impressed me–when he served as the U.S.’s ambassador to the United Nations.

My cousin, then an aide to Senator Alan Simpson, once arranged a tour of the Capitol for me. The highlight was when a door swung open as I walked by, revealing Senator Moynihan, bow tie and all, talking to someone behind what had been closed doors.

The Democrats–hell, the Republicans–could use someone like him right now.

On Taxes, Entitlements, and Deficits

By , February 28, 2011 11:25 am

I’m a conservative who leans libertarian, and here’s what I think about taxes, entitlements, and deficits. It all comes down to trust, and Congress has lost mine. Consequently, I will not agree to any tax increase unless and until I see real movement on the budget front. By that I mean I want to see real cuts given the realities of the budget. In other words, I realize that defense and entitlements make up such a large proportion of the overall budget that there is no way we’re going to be able to get real deficit reduction without either making big cuts there or raising taxes or both.

Now I’m willing to cut entitlements, even social security–and I’m on the verge of retirement. I could probably find cuts in the Defense budget as well. And I’m agreeable to raising some taxes. However, I’m not willing to do any of this until Congress regains my trust. And it can only do that by getting serious about cutting what can be cut now. No more political gamesmanship. No more calling $80 billion in cuts “draconian.” No more quibbling about this jot and that tittle. Start cutting now and don’t stop until we’ve eliminated every unnecessary program, all wasteful expenditures, and each and every earmark.

Do that, and I’m willing to talk about tax increases and reduced entitlements. Don’t do that, and I’ll do what I can to see that you’re not re-elected.

It’s all about trust. And you don’t have mine.


By , February 27, 2011 1:08 pm

I haven’t been paying as close attention to Libya as Christopher Hitchens has, but I share
his impressions
of Obama’s performance.

Grand speeches do not a President make. Grand principles do.

Yup, They’re Good

By , February 26, 2011 11:39 pm

BYU beats SDSU.

The Stereotype that Dares Not Speak Its Name

By , February 25, 2011 1:20 pm

In explaining why East Coast college basketball teams did not recruit the Jimmer, a coach at Hofstra says,

“I think everyone in the Northeast fell into the same trap,” said Steve DeMeo, an assistant at Hofstra who scouted Fredette while at Providence. “I think basketball coaches are guilty of stereotyping, and to get past that you have to watch the kid play a lot of times.”

Pete Thamel, who wrote the story for The New York Times, leaves it at that. No discussion. No explanation of what stereotype DeMeo was talking about. No need to.

The Jimmer is white. And as everybody knows, white men can’t jump. Not on the East Coast anyway.

Fortunately, many people don’t buy into the stereotype.

With No Evident Sense of Irony

By , February 25, 2011 9:09 am

Paul Krugman is at it again. In a piece titled Shock Doctrine, U.S.A., he sees all sorts of connections between what’s happening in Madison and what happened in Baghdad in 2003. And of course, there’s the obligatory reference to Bush. Can’t have a Governor Scott Walker walking around without a Bush stamped on his forehead like a scarlet letter. That mission accomplished, he takes off in a way that only an op-ed writer cum Nobel laureate can–a laureate with no sense of irony.

Referencing Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” he argues that Paul Bremer’s push for privatization in Iraq

was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, [Klein] suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Ahem, comments by the newly elected Mayor of Chicago come to mind, but that doesn’t count, I suppose, because his and his boss’s multi-trillion dollar exploitation of a crises imposed a vision of a less harsh (for some), more equal (for some), more democratic (for some) society. But I digress.

Krugman continues,

In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor’s budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state’s fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions — an offer the governor has rejected.

What he means by the attack on unions having nothing to do with the budget is that . . . hell, I have no idea what he means. If collective bargaining has no impact on Wisconsin’s budget, then union members have been getting screwed by their leaders for a long, long time.

He continues,

What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy.

Pot to kettle and more. Where are the corporations and the wealthy in the drama in Madison? Last I checked, we were talking about public employee unions protesting against the state government, which gets its political power from average Joe Wisconsin.

And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.

Only 144 pages long? Not over 1,000? And there are some extraordinary things hidden in there too? Really?

I’m out of time, but you get the idea. But if you don’t, let me take you to the 3rd from the last paragraph in Krugman’s piece, the paragraph where he trots some other allegedly evil doers out on to the stage, out from the shadows for all conspiracy theorists to see,

If this [the push for privatization of state-owned power plants] sounds to you like a perfect setup for cronyism and profiteering — remember those missing billions in Iraq? — you’re not alone. Indeed, there are enough suspicious minds out there that Koch Industries, owned by the billionaire brothers who are playing such a large role in Mr. Walker’s anti-union push, felt compelled to issue a denial that it’s interested in purchasing any of those power plants. Are you reassured?

And the left criticizes Glenn Beck. At least he apologizes occasionally.

And Part of the Reason is the Doctrine of Separation of Powers!

By , February 24, 2011 9:32 am

Two quotes from this piece of campaign literature posing as journalism should be enough.

First, the writer, mischaracterizes Citizens United:

The nonprofit group Common Cause has complained that the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision on campaign financing last year – on a narrow majority backed by Thomas and Scalia – opened the door to heightened corporate contributions from the Koch empire. (emphasis supplied)

No, Citizens United only opened the door to independent corporate expenditures on things like political ads and such.

Second, the writer betrays an unfamiliarity with the basic constitutional doctrine of separation powers when he writes,

The group’s appeal for legislation faces political as well as potential constitutional hurdles, partly because members of the Supreme Court are now the final authority on the appropriateness of their ethical behavior. Decisions to recuse, or step away from deliberations, by tradition have been left up to the individual justices at the center of any complaint, contrary to the practice on most state supreme courts. (emphasis supplied)

The Supreme Court has always been the final authority on the ethical behavior of its members–unless and until such behavior warrants impeachment. To have it otherwise, would be to allow Congress the power to meddle in the affairs of the Court for political purposes, something the law professors involved in this bit of political theater and preemptive action should admit they’re doing.

I’m just guessing here, but I’m willing to be that you can look high and low and still won’t find any of the names of these 700 busybodies on a letter of this sort decrying the actions of a liberal Justice.

Let Your Light So Shine Before Men

By , February 23, 2011 10:01 am

In times like these,

the church I belong to shines even more brightly. God bless the people of New Zealand.

(AP Photo/TV3 via Associated Press Television News)

My Son Used to Fantasize About This Guy

By , February 22, 2011 10:55 am

In grade school, my now 33-years old son, used to fantasize about sneaking into Libya and knocking off this guy:

He obviously never got beyond the fantasy, so now Libyans are having a nightmare.

Bountiful Baskets – St. George, Utah

By , February 20, 2011 11:08 pm

Saturday morning at 7:00 AM I drove up the street from my mother’s winter home to St. George’s Sandstone Elementary to pick up my first Bountiful Basket. My daughter had been raving about them for some time now, so I had to check them out.

Verdict? She’s right. For just $15, this is what I got:

No, I didn’t walk away with all of those baskets. They gave me two, one from the left (vegetables) and one from the right (fruit). Here’s a close up of the fruit basket.

My mother tells me that as much as I got, the baskets are often much fuller. I highly recommend taking advantage of the Bountiful Baskets in your town.

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