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March 10_ 2010

VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 17

									March 10, 2010

From Anne Applebaum we learn more about discord in Euro-relations.

"Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks. And sell the Acropolis too!"—headline, Bild newspaper, March 4,
2010

...What he meant, though, was more accurately reflected in that Bild headline: The Germans are fed up with
paying Europe's bills. They don't want to bail out the feckless Greeks with their flagrantly inaccurate official
statistics; they resent being Europe's banker of last resort; they object to the universal demand that they plug
the vast holes in the Greek budget deficit in the name of "European unity"; and for the first time in a long
time they are saying it out loud. Not only are tabloids demanding the sale of the Acropolis, Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany's deeply serious paper of record, has pointed out that while the Greeks are
out protesting the raising of the pension age from 61 to 63, Germany recently raised its pension age from 65
to 67: "Does that mean that the Germans should in future extend the working age from 67 to 69, so that
Greeks can enjoy their retirement?' ...

...Germany is still effectively in recession; unemployment is relatively high; and the new ruling coalition has
sworn to curtail spending. That means that for the first time in a long time, Germans are feeling a direct
pinch on their incomes, on their pensions, and on state institutions, including schools. If they don't feel like
bailing out other people at this particular moment in the economic cycle—particularly people with an earlier
retirement age—no one can blame them. ...

...Which is why this wave of German indignation over the Greek bailout is so important. After all, Germany is
now run by a generation with no personal memories of the war. ... Sooner or later, the Germans will
collectively decide that enough sacrifices have been made and that the debt to Europe has been paid.
Thanks to the ungrateful Greeks with their island villas and large pensions, that day may arrive more quickly
that we thought it would.



In the Telegraph, UK, Simon Heffer looks at the undoing of Obama. Coming from a socialist
democracy, Heffer assumes that Fox is causing part of the liberals' problem, rather than
realizing that Fox reflects the perspectives of more Americans than the left-biased MSM. But
with that caveat, he has some interesting commentary.
..."Obama's big problem," a senior Democrat told me, "is that four times as many people watch Fox News as
watch CNN." The Fox network is a remarkable cultural phenomenon which almost shocks those of us from a
country where a technical rule of impartiality is applied in the broadcast media. ... The public loves it, and it
is manifestly stirring up political activism against Mr Obama, and also against those in the Republican Party
who are not deemed conservatives. However, it is arguable whether the now-reorganising Right is half as
effective in its assault on the President as some of Mr Obama's own party are.

Mr Obama benefited in his campaign from an idiotic level of idolatry, in which most of the media participated
with an astonishing suspension of cynicism. The sound of the squealing of brakes is now audible all over the
American press; but the attack is being directed not at the leader himself, but at those around him. There
was much unconditional love a year or so ago of Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's Chief of Staff... Now,
supporters of the President are blaming Mr Emanuel for the failure of the Obama project, not least for his
inability to construct a deal on health care. ...

...The root of the problem seems to be the management of expectations. The magnificent campaign created
the notion that Mr Obama could walk on water. Oddly enough, he can't. That was more Mr Axelrod's fault
than Mr Emanuel's. And, to be fair to Mr Emanuel, any advice he has been giving the President to impose
his will on Congress is probably well founded. The $783 billion stimulus package of a year ago was used to
further the re-election prospects of many congressmen, not to do good for the country. ... The health care
Bill, apparently so humane in intent, is being "scrubbed" (to use the terminology of one Republican) by its
opponents, to the joy of millions of middle Americans who see it as a means to waste more public money
and entrench socialism. For the moment, this is a country vibrant with anger. ...



Nile Gardiner blogs about a WaPo editorial from Jackson Diehl on Obama's lack of foreign
friends.
...Jackson Diehl is one of the most influential and thoughtful writers on US foreign policy inside the Beltway,
and his latest take on Obama’s struggling international leadership will cause some consternation in The
White House, not least as it comes from the heart of the media establishment.

...Diehl’s central thesis is correct. Barack Obama has failed to invest time in cultivating critically important
alliances as well as friendships with key strategic partners.

One only has to look at the appalling treatment Great Britain has received at the hands of the Obama
administration to grasp the scale of the problem. At the same time, though Diehl does not go into this, the
president has spent a huge amount of effort “engaging” with hostile regimes, from Iran to Sudan to
Venezuela, in a futile attempt to change their behaviour. ...



Mark Steyn writes about how government encroachment is reaching critical mass.
... A Californian reader of mine, standing slack-jawed before the “Permit to Sell Bedding” hanging at the
back of his local Wal-Mart, channeled a bit of (misattributed) George Orwell: "We sleep soundly in our beds
at night because rough bureaucrats from the Bureau of Home Furnishings stand ready to do violence to
those who would sell us unlicensed pillowcases. “...

There is a deal of ruin in a nation, but by the time you’ve got a Bureau of Home Furnishings you’re getting
awful near the limit. Of all the petty regulatory burdens piled upon the citizen in the Age of Micro-Tyranny, I
dislike especially the food-handling licensing requirements in an ever-multiplying number of jurisdictions
from Virginia to Oregon that have put an end to such quintessentially American institutions as the bake sale
and the lemonade stand. So civic participation withers, and a government monopoly not just of power but of
basic social legitimacy is all that remains. ...

...In this election season, if you’re not committed to fewer programs from fewer agencies with fewer
bureaucrats on less pay, you’re not serious. I’d say we need something closer to Thatcher-scale
privatization in Britain 30 years ago, or Sir Roger Douglas’s transformative Rogernomics in New Zealand in
the mid-Eighties, or post-Soviet Eastern Europe’s economic liberalization in the early Nineties. Aside from
the restoration of individual liberty, a side benefit to closing down or outsourcing the Bureau of Government
Agencies and the Agency of Government Bureaus is that you’d also be in effect privatizing public-sector
unions, which are now one of the biggest threats to freedom and civic integrity. ...


In the New Editor we learn about Obama's next focus. Perhaps Congress could keep him tied
up with Obamacare summits for a few more months.
Look out, here comes the next big political shakedown... the Obama Administration is uneasy "with the
increasing control a handful of corporations have over the nation's food supply" and wants to "examine the
concentration of power in rural America."

Administration officials "emphasized that no action would be taken if competition was deemed fair. The point
is to listen and learn."

This ought to end well ...
In the WSJ, Daniel Henninger helps rectify one aspect of American history unfairly condemned
by liberal educators.
...a small classic by Hillsdale College historian Burton W. Folsom called "The Myth of the Robber Barons: A
New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America" (Young America's Foundation). Prof. Folsom's core
insight is to divide the men of that age into market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs.

Market entrepreneurs like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Hill built businesses on product and price. Hill was the
railroad magnate who finished his transcontinental line without a public land grant. Rockefeller took on and
beat the world's dominant oil power at the time, Russia. Rockefeller innovated his way to energy primacy for
the U.S.

Political entrepreneurs, by contrast, made money back then by gaming the political system. Steamship
builder Robert Fulton acquired a 30-year monopoly on Hudson River steamship traffic from, no surprise, the
New York legislature. ...

If the Obama model takes hold, we will enter the Golden Age of the Political Entrepreneur. The green jobs
industry that sits at the center of the Obama master plan for the American future depends on public
subsidies... Politically connected entrepreneurs will spend their energies running a mad labyrinth of
bureaucracies, congressional committees and Beltway door openers. ...

...Great employment markets are discoverable only by people who create opportunities or see them in the
cracks of what already exists—a Federal Express or Wal-Mart....



From News Busters, we get the skinny on Dan Rather's watermelon remarks. We are also
struck by how incoherent he was.
HDNet's Dan Rather stepped on one mine after another in the racial minefield that exists when talking about
the nation's first black President as the former CBS anchor, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over
the weekend, uttered the following take on the President's ability to get health care passed and how the
GOP and independents would view it. [audio available here]

DAN RATHER: Part of the undertow in the coming election is going to be President Obama's leadership.
And the Republicans will make a case and a lot of independents will buy this argument. "Listen he just hasn't
been, look at the health care bill. It was his number one priority. It took him forever to get it through and he
had to compromise it to death." And a version of, "Listen he's a nice person, he's very articulate" this is
what's been used against him, "but he couldn't sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers
to flag down the traffic."

While Rather may not have been being intentionally racist one has to wonder what the reaction would be if a
conservative had used similiar language on the show.



We are happy to have Dilbert back. He has more issues with his Shop-Vac.
Yesterday I decided to make some man points. (-1 for knowing I need them.) Recently we purchased online
a big metal rack to hold free weights. (+1). The delivery guy left the package outside the door when we were
gone. I wasn't strong enough to carry it inside. (-1 for having no upper body strength.) So I tipped it on its
end and "walked" it into the garage. (+1 for using science to move a heavy object.)

The rack required assembly. This was a problem because all of my tools had been stolen from the garage
last week. (-1 for leaving tools unprotected. -1 for having so few tools that they all fit in one basket. -1 for not
replacing them the same day. -1 for not having an attack dog in the garage.)

The main tool I needed was a rather huge Allen wrench. I didn't own that sort of tool even in the days when I
had tools. (-1 for inadequate toolage.) So I dropped everything, jumped in the car, and headed to Home
Depot for a tool buying spree. (+1 for going on a hunt for tools. -1 for calling it a spree. +1 for intending to
buy tools for which I had no immediate use.) ...




Slate
Germany Is Tired of Paying Europe's Bills
If Germans feel less guilty about the war, they won't make sacrifices to help feckless Greeks.
by Anne Applebaum


"Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks. And sell the Acropolis too!"—headline, Bild newspaper, March 4,
2010

Sometimes they cut to the essence of the story, those tabloid headline-writers, even when they haven't got
the quotation exactly right. What the German politician being quoted in the Bild article cited above actually
said was, "A bankrupt party must use everything he has to make money and serve his creditors. … Greece
owns buildings, companies and several uninhabited islands, which can now be used to repay debt."

What he meant, though, was more accurately reflected in that Bild headline: The Germans are fed up with
paying Europe's bills. They don't want to bail out the feckless Greeks with their flagrantly inaccurate official
statistics; they resent being Europe's banker of last resort; they object to the universal demand that they plug
the vast holes in the Greek budget deficit in the name of "European unity"; and for the first time in a long
time they are saying it out loud. Not only are tabloids demanding the sale of the Acropolis, Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany's deeply serious paper of record, has pointed out that while the Greeks are
out protesting the raising of the pension age from 61 to 63, Germany recently raised its pension age from 65
to 67: "Does that mean that the Germans should in future extend the working age from 67 to 69, so that
Greeks can enjoy their retirement?'

With an unerringly poor sense of timing, the Greeks have, in response, chosen precisely this moment to
flaunt their own set of resentments. One Greek minister complained to the BBC that the Nazis "took away
the Greek gold that was in the Bank of Greece, they took away the Greek money and they never gave it
back." The mayor of Athens has demanded 70 billion euros for the ruins the Nazis left behind after the war.
The Greek consumer organization, not exactly thankful for the German bailout or Europe's demands for
Greek budget cuts, has called for a boycott of German products. Officially, the Germans have described
these comments as "not helpful." Unofficially, the German press is foaming at the mouth (see above), for
once reflecting accurately the views of both German politicians and German voters.

More curious is the question of why this is happening at this particular moment: After all, the Germans have
been paying for European unity—not just the currency but the farming subsidies, the assistance to poorer
regions, the highways in Spain and Ireland—for decades without ever complaining much. In Warsaw, one
sees children's playgrounds proudly bearing signs declaring that they have been "built with European
money," most of which presumably comes from German taxpayers. So why are those German taxpayers
suddenly complaining about the Greeks?

The obvious answer is to do with that poor timing: Germany is still effectively in recession; unemployment is
relatively high; and the new ruling coalition has sworn to curtail spending. That means that for the first time
in a long time, Germans are feeling a direct pinch on their incomes, on their pensions, and on state
institutions, including schools. If they don't feel like bailing out other people at this particular moment in the
economic cycle—particularly people with an earlier retirement age—no one can blame them.

The less obvious answer is related to those comments about Nazis. The driving force behind the creation of
the European Union, back in the 1950s, was Germany's guilt about the war. Although other countries had
different motives, the whole point of European economic and political unity, from the German point of view,
was to drown the German nation and its singular history into something larger and more palatable.

Along the way, Europe also acquired other reasons for its existence: The euro—the European currency that
has been rendered wobbly by the Greek national debt—was created to help the single European market
compete with the United States. But political feelings run deeper than economic needs, and without that
fundamental German urge to sacrifice national sovereignty, the whole thing will fall apart.

Which is why this wave of German indignation over the Greek bailout is so important. After all, Germany is
now run by a generation with no personal memories of the war. Germany's historical debate is now focused
on the fate of Germans who suffered from wartime bombing and postwar deportation, not with the fate of
Germany's victims—in Greece or anywhere else. Sooner or later, the Germans will collectively decide that
enough sacrifices have been made and that the debt to Europe has been paid. Thanks to the ungrateful
Greeks with their island villas and large pensions, that day may arrive more quickly that we thought it would.



Telegraph, UK
The end of the road for Barack Obama?
Barack Obama seems unable to face up to America's problems.
by Simon Heffer




The once mighty Detroit seems on the verge of being abandoned

It is a universal political truth that administrations do not begin to fragment when things are going well: it only
happens when they go badly, and those who think they know better begin to attack those who manifestly do
not. The descent of Barack Obama's regime, characterised now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and
talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president, has been swift and precipitate. It was
just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American
presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons.

Despite the efforts of some sections of opinion to talk the place up, America is mired in unhappiness, all the
worse for the height from which Obamania has fallen. The economy remains troublesome. There is growth –
a good last quarter suggested an annual rate of as high as six per cent, but that figure is probably not
reliable – and the latest unemployment figures, last Friday, showed a levelling off. Yet 15 million Americans,
or 9.7 per cent of the workforce, have no job. Many millions more are reduced to working part-time. Whole
areas of the country, notably in the north and on the eastern seaboard, are industrial wastelands. The once
mighty motor city of Detroit appears slowly to be being abandoned, becoming a Jurassic Park of the mid-
20th century; unemployment among black people in Mr Obama's own city of Chicago is estimated at
between 20 and 25 per cent. One senior black politician – a Democrat and a supporter of the President –
told me of the wrath in his community that a black president appeared to be unable to solve the economic
problem among his own people. Cities in the east such as Newark and Baltimore now have drug-dealing as
their principal commercial activity: The Wire is only just fictional.

Last Thursday the House of Representatives passed a jobs Bill, costing $15 billion, which would give tax
breaks to firms hiring new staff and, through state sponsorship of construction projects, create thousands of
jobs too. The Senate is trying to approve a Bill that would provide a further $150 billion of tax incentives to
employers. Yet there is a sense of desperation in the Administration, a sense that nothing can be as
efficacious at the moment as a sticking plaster. Edward B Montgomery, deputy labour secretary in the
Clinton administration, now spends his time on day trips to decaying towns that used to have a car industry,
not so much advising them on how to do something else as facilitating those communities' access to federal
funds. For a land without a welfare state, America starts to do an effective impersonation of a country with
one. This massive state spending gives rise to accusations by Republicans, and people too angry even to
be Republicans, that America is now controlled by "Leftists" and being turned into a socialist state.

"Obama's big problem," a senior Democrat told me, "is that four times as many people watch Fox News as
watch CNN." The Fox network is a remarkable cultural phenomenon which almost shocks those of us from a
country where a technical rule of impartiality is applied in the broadcast media. With little rest, it pours out
rage 24 hours a day: its message is of the construction of the socialist state, the hijacking of America by
"progressives" who now dominate institutions, the indoctrination of children, the undermining of religion and
the expropriation of public money for these nefarious projects. The public loves it, and it is manifestly stirring
up political activism against Mr Obama, and also against those in the Republican Party who are not deemed
conservatives. However, it is arguable whether the now-reorganising Right is half as effective in its assault
on the President as some of Mr Obama's own party are.

Mr Obama benefited in his campaign from an idiotic level of idolatry, in which most of the media participated
with an astonishing suspension of cynicism. The sound of the squealing of brakes is now audible all over the
American press; but the attack is being directed not at the leader himself, but at those around him. There
was much unconditional love a year or so ago of Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's Chief of Staff; oleaginous
profiles of this Chicago political hack, a veteran of that unlovely team that polluted the Clinton White House,
appeared in otherwise respectable journals, praising the combination of his religious devotion, his family-
man image, his ruthless operating technique and his command of the vocabulary of profanity. Now,
supporters of the President are blaming Mr Emanuel for the failure of the Obama project, not least for his
inability to construct a deal on health care.

This went down badly with friends of Mr Emanuel, notably with Mr Emanuel himself. His partisans,
apparently taking dictation from him, have filled newspaper columns and blogs with uplifting accounts of the
Wonder of Rahm: as one of them put it, "Emanuel is the only person preventing Obama from becoming
Jimmy Carter". They attack other Obama "sycophants", such as David Axelrod, his campaign guru, and
Valerie Jarret, a long-time friend of Mrs Obama and a fixer from the office of Mayor Daley of Chicago who
now manages – or tries to manage – the President's image. These "sycophants" have, they argue, tried to
keep the President above politics, letting Congress run away with the agenda, and gainsaying Mr Emanuel's
advice to Mr Obama to get tough with his internal opponents. This naïve act of manipulation has brought its
own counter-counterattack, with an anti-Emanuel pundit drawing a comparison with our own Prime Minister
and ridiculing the idea that Mr Obama should start bullying people too.

The root of the problem seems to be the management of expectations. The magnificent campaign created
the notion that Mr Obama could walk on water. Oddly enough, he can't. That was more Mr Axelrod's fault
than Mr Emanuel's. And, to be fair to Mr Emanuel, any advice he has been giving the President to impose
his will on Congress is probably well founded. The $783 billion stimulus package of a year ago was used to
further the re-election prospects of many congressmen, not to do good for the country. America's politics
remain corrupt, populated by nonentities whose main concern once elected is to stay elected; it seems to be
the same the whole world over. Even this self-interested use of the stimulus package appears to have failed,
however. Every day, it seems, another Democrat congressman announces that he will not be fighting the
mid-term elections scheduled for November 2. The health care Bill, apparently so humane in intent, is being
"scrubbed" (to use the terminology of one Republican) by its opponents, to the joy of millions of middle
Americans who see it as a means to waste more public money and entrench socialism. For the moment, this
is a country vibrant with anger.

A thrashing of the Democrats in the mid-terms would not necessarily be the beginning of the end for Mr
Obama: Bill Clinton was re-elected two years after the Republicans swept the House and the Senate in
November 1994. But Mr Clinton was an operator in a way Mr Obama patently is not. His lack of experience,
his dependence on rhetoric rather than action, his disconnection from the lives of many millions of
Americans all handicap him heavily. It is not about whose advice he is taking: it is about him grasping what
is wrong with America, and finding the will to put it right. That wasted first year, however, is another boulder
hanging from his neck: what is wrong needs time to put right. The country's multi-trillion dollar debt is barely
being addressed; and a country engaged in costly foreign wars has a President who seems obsessed with
anything but foreign policy – as a disregarded Britain is beginning to realise.

There are lessons from the stumbling of Mr Obama for our own country as we approach a general election.
Vacuous promises of change are hostages to fortune if they cannot be delivered upon to improve the living
conditions of a people. The slickness of campaigning that comes from a combination of heavy funding and
public relations expertise does not inevitably translate into an ability to govern. There is no point a nation's
having the audacity of hope unless it also has the sophistication and the will to turn it into action. As things
stand, Barack Obama and America under his leadership do not.




Telegraph Blogs, UK
Barack Obama: the lonely world leader
by Nile Gardiner

Jackson Diehl, a lead editorial writer at The Washington Post, has a rather damning piece on Obama’s world
leadership today entitled ―Where are Obama’s foreign confidants?‖

In preparation for his article, Diehl “asked several senior administration officials, separately, to name a
foreign leader with whom Barack Obama has forged a strong personal relationship during his first year in
office. A lot of hemming and hawing ensued.”

The Post article will certainly strengthen a growing perception in Europe that Barack Obama doesn’t really
have much personal interest in the transatlantic alliance. Not one Obama official mentioned the British Prime
Minister, and a less than convincing case was made for a close relationship with other European leaders,
including the French President and the German Chancellor. To his credit, President George W. Bush
invested a huge amount of energy in Washington’s partnership with London, and after the departure of
Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroder, shored up relations with new, more pro-American leaders, in Paris
and Berlin.

Here are some excerpts from Diehl’s hard-hitting op-ed:

"The paradox here is that Obama remains hugely popular abroad — from Germany and France to countries
where anti-Americanism has recently been a problem, such as Turkey and Indonesia. His following means
that, in democratic countries at least, leaders have a strong incentive to befriend him. And yet this president
appears, so far, to have no genuine foreign friends. In this he is the opposite of George W. Bush, who was
reviled among the foreign masses but who forged close ties with a host of leaders — Aznar of Spain, Uribe
of Colombia, Sharon and Olmert of Israel, Koizumi of Japan.

Jealousy or political rivalry may play a part — Sarkozy is one of several Europeans who have wanted to
assume the role of Obama’s closest ally and reacted poorly when he didn’t respond. But another big cause
seems to be lack of interest on Obama’s part. Focused intently on his domestic agenda, the president is said
to be reluctant to take time to build relationships with foreign leaders. If something has needed to be done or
decided, he has readily picked up the phone. If not, he generally hasn’t been available.

Would Sarkozy have fought French public opinion and sent more troops to Afghanistan (he has refused) if
he had been cultivated more by Obama? Would Israel’s Netanyahu be willing to take more risks in the
(moribund) Middle East peace process if he believed he could count on this U.S. president? Would Karzai
cooperate more closely with U.S. commanders in the field if Obama had embraced him? The answers seem
obvious. In foreign as well as domestic affairs, coolness has its cost."

Jackson Diehl is one of the most influential and thoughtful writers on US foreign policy inside the Beltway,
and his latest take on Obama’s struggling international leadership will cause some consternation in The
White House, not least as it comes from the heart of the media establishment.

While I would question whether any US administration could guarantee greater French support for the
Afghanistan mission, Diehl’s central thesis is correct. Barack Obama has failed to invest time in cultivating
critically important alliances as well as friendships with key strategic partners.

One only has to look at the appalling treatment Great Britain has received at the hands of the Obama
administration to grasp the scale of the problem. At the same time, though Diehl does not go into this, the
president has spent a huge amount of effort ―engaging‖ with hostile regimes, from Iran to Sudan to
Venezuela, in a futile attempt to change their behaviour.

I’ve written at length on Barack Obama’s foreign policy failings, which are legion. For a president who ran an
election campaign promising to raise ―America’s standing‖ in the world, he is doing a spectacularly bad job.
Obama seems bored and disinterested in foreign policy, and has made little effort to strengthen existing
alliances or to build the kinds of enduring friendships with key foreign leaders that are vital for projecting
strong US leadership across the globe. He has even treated America’s closest ally with utter contempt,
throwing the Anglo-American Special Relationship onto the bonfire.

Without a doubt, the president is leading the United States on the path of decline as a world power, a
dangerous course which a future US administration will have to reverse. Barack Obama cuts an increasingly
lonely and at times isolated figure on the world stage, with few real friends, but confronted with the same
array of deadly enemies that his predecessor faced. America, and the world, deserves better.



National Review
Leviathan Swallows a Toaster
by Mark Steyn

Recently, in yet another example of the reforming zeal that swept Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger into office,
California’s Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair was merged with the Bureau of Home Furnishings
and Thermal Insulation to create a new streamlined, more efficient bureau called — wait for it, stand well
back — the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation.

Why not the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings, Lingerie, and Gift Wrap? I used
to be able to whistle the main themes from the Hungarian Communist-era smash hit The State Department
Store (a proletarian operetta, with none of the counts and princesses), but really The State Department
Store Regulatory Agency is an even better jest. A Californian reader of mine, standing slack-jawed before
the ―Permit to Sell Bedding‖ hanging at the back of his local Wal-Mart, channeled a bit of (misattributed)
George Orwell: We sleep soundly in our beds at night because rough bureaucrats from the Bureau of Home
Furnishings stand ready to do violence to those who would sell us unlicensed pillowcases. ―The state has no
place in the bedrooms of the nation,‖ Pierre Trudeau famously told Canadians, but evidently it does if you’re
consummating your same-sex marriage on an unregulated counterpane.

There is a deal of ruin in a nation, but by the time you’ve got a Bureau of Home Furnishings you’re getting
awful near the limit. Of all the petty regulatory burdens piled upon the citizen in the Age of Micro-Tyranny, I
dislike especially the food-handling licensing requirements in an ever-multiplying number of jurisdictions
from Virginia to Oregon that have put an end to such quintessentially American institutions as the bake sale
and the lemonade stand. So civic participation withers, and a government monopoly not just of power but of
basic social legitimacy is all that remains.

Yet, even as they approach the moment of triumph, there is great peril here for the Democrats. I believe it
was Rich Lowry who first noted that, unlike the culture wars of the early Nineties over ―God, guns, and
gays,‖ this time round conservatives have succeeded in making big government itself a cultural issue. Yet it
goes beyond that. Every day, more and more people understand that there’s not enough money to pay for
this stuff, and there never will be — in other words, that the entire shtick is a fraud. That’s an ever tougher
sell for Democrats, particularly now that, in the cold gray light of the long morning after, ―hope‖ and ―change‖
are revealed to be merely an abbreviation for a vast overstaffed Bureau of Hope and Change, whose
Assistant Directors of Change and Deputy Commissioners of Hope are on a quarter-million per annum and
contemplating retirement at 55 from their three-year study group to examine whether we need a new Hope
Application Form and Change Permit.

In this election season, if you’re not committed to fewer programs from fewer agencies with fewer
bureaucrats on less pay, you’re not serious. I’d say we need something closer to Thatcher-scale
privatization in Britain 30 years ago, or Sir Roger Douglas’s transformative Rogernomics in New Zealand in
the mid-Eighties, or post-Soviet Eastern Europe’s economic liberalization in the early Nineties. Aside from
the restoration of individual liberty, a side benefit to closing down or outsourcing the Bureau of Government
Agencies and the Agency of Government Bureaus is that you’d also be in effect privatizing public-sector
unions, which are now one of the biggest threats to freedom and civic integrity.

But, if that all sounds a bit extreme and if 2010 is just a slightly-swingier-than-usual midterm, then things are
going to get grim very quickly. In my essay a few weeks back (―Welcome to Rome,‖ January 25), I noted that
Europe’s somewhat agreeable decline had been cushioned by America, and that the problem with American
decline is that this time round there’s no rising power volunteering to do the cushioning. Because of the
American security umbrella, countries like Germany were able to transfer military spending to social
programs. Lacking that option for Obamacare, the Democrats propose to ―control costs‖ by refusing to
acknowledge them: Medicare-reimbursement levels will be ―capped,‖ which means that an ever greater
number of doctors will cease to perform services for which they are not properly remunerated. And wait till
we’ve Medicared the rest of the economy.

In an election cycle or two, the demographic balance between wealth creators and state dependents will
shift decisively in favor of the latter, further disincentivizing the former from the thankless task of feeding the
leviathan. In an economically moribund America, the Age of Entitlement Insolvency will hit sooner rather
than later, and pimply burger flippers will rebel or flee rather than prop up entire Florida retirement
communities. Faced with a choice between unsustainable entitlements and an armed forces of global reach,
the United States, as Europe did, will abandon military capability and toss the savings into the great sucking
maw of social spending. That, in turn, will make for not only a more dangerous world but a more vulnerable
America that, to modify President Bush, will wind up having to fight them over here because we no longer
have the capacity to fight them over there. From the state-licensed, SEIU-staffed bake sale to Armageddon
— in nothing flat.
2010 is not necessarily the last but is at least the antepenultimate chance at avoiding this fate. If we choose
otherwise, well, we have regulated our bed, and we will have to lie in it.



The New Editor
Administration to launch probe of 'Big Agriculture'
by Tom Elia

Look out, here comes the next big political shakedown... the Obama Administration is uneasy "with the
increasing control a handful of corporations have over the nation's food supply" and wants to "examine the
concentration of power in rural America."

Administration officials "emphasized that no action would be taken if competition was deemed fair. The point
is to listen and learn."

This ought to end well ...



WSJ
Bring Back the Robber Barons
There's a big difference between entrepreneurs who make a fortune in the market, and those who do
so by gaming the government.
by Daniel Henninger

Faced with high, painful unemployment as far as the eye can see, the government naturally is here to help.

The Senate passed a $15 billion "jobs bill." Its proudest piece is a tax credit for employers who hire a person
out of work at least 60 days. The employer won't have to pay the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax for what
remains of this year. If the worker stays on the job at least a year, the government will give the employer
$1,000.

As to the earlier $787 billion stimulus bill, Vice President Joe Biden praised it in Orlando this week as an
engine of job creation, while he stood before a pile of broken concrete and asphalt. The subject was
highways.

Finally, Barack Obama's government now may force companies to raise wages and benefits by squeezing
their federal contracts if they don't.

Maybe there's a better way.

***

Let's bring back the robber barons.

"Robber baron" became a term of derision to generations of American students after many earnest teachers
made them read Matthew Josephson's long tome of the same name about the men whose enterprise drove
the American industrial age from 1861 to 1901.

Josephson's cast of pillaging villains was comprehensive: Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor,
Jay Gould, James J. Hill. His table of contents alone shaped impressions of those times: "Carnegie as
'business pirate'.'' "Henry Frick, baron of coke." "Terrorism in Oil." "The sack of California."
I say, bring 'em back, and the sooner the better. What we need, a lot more than a $1,000 tax credit, are
industries no one has thought of before. We need vision, vitality and commercial moxie. This government is
draining it away.

The antidote to Josephson's book is a small classic by Hillsdale College historian Burton W. Folsom called
"The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America" (Young America's
Foundation). Prof. Folsom's core insight is to divide the men of that age into market entrepreneurs and
political entrepreneurs.

Market entrepreneurs like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Hill built businesses on product and price. Hill was the
railroad magnate who finished his transcontinental line without a public land grant. Rockefeller took on and
beat the world's dominant oil power at the time, Russia. Rockefeller innovated his way to energy primacy for
the U.S.

Political entrepreneurs, by contrast, made money back then by gaming the political system. Steamship
builder Robert Fulton acquired a 30-year monopoly on Hudson River steamship traffic from, no surprise, the
New York legislature. Cornelius Vanderbilt, with the slogan "New Jersey must be free," broke Fulton's
government-granted monopoly.

If the Obama model takes hold, we will enter the Golden Age of the Political Entrepreneur. The green jobs
industry that sits at the center of the Obama master plan for the American future depends on public
subsidies for wind and solar technologies plus taxes on carbon to suppress it as a competitor. Politically
connected entrepreneurs will spend their energies running a mad labyrinth of bureaucracies, congressional
committees and Beltway door openers. Our best market entrepreneurs, instead of exhausting themselves on
their new ideas, will run to ground gaming Barack Obama's ideas.




James J. Hill (center) built a great railroad on his own dime

If the goal is job growth, we need to admit one fact: Political entrepreneurs create fewer jobs than do market
entrepreneurs. We need new mass markets, really big markets of the sort Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie
created. Great employment markets are discoverable only by people who create opportunities or see them
in the cracks of what already exists—a Federal Express or Wal-Mart. Either you believe that the philosopher
kings of the Obama administration can figure out this sort of thing, or you don't. I don't.
FDIC chief Sheila Bair whacked bank bonuses Tuesday. People on the East Coast spend too much time
around the finance and insurance industries. If the price of rediscovering the American job machine is some
people across the land getting really rich, it's a small price.

One of the richest now is Larry Ellison, the 1977 founder of Oracle Corp. (49,000 employees), whose tastes
run to huge boats, bigger houses and paying Elton John to play for his friends at the Cow Palace. Someone
in our politics has to find the courage to say, So what? If the next Ellison and Oracle ripples into American
life as many new jobs and family incomes, I'm happy to be grossed out by parties and boats. The alternative
is a nation of Pecksniffs, choking on virtue.

We live in a world of rising competitors—foreign robber barons—who don't much care about our endless
quest for health-care justice. The U.S. on its current path to a stage-managed economy floating in a lake of
taxes will keep down the greatest population of intellectual and managerial firepower the world has seen.
The rest of the world admits that, with the recent exception of the Chinese, who think we're ready to be
taken. We have young people impatient for the chance to do what Carnegie, Rockefeller and Hill did. Let
them.



News Busters
Dan Rather: 'Articulate' Obama Couldn't Even 'Sell Watermelons'

by Geoffrey Dickens



HDNet's Dan Rather stepped on one mine after another in the racial minefield that exists when talking about
the nation's first black President as the former CBS anchor, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over
the weekend, uttered the following take on the President's ability to get health care passed and how the
GOP and independents would view it. [audio available here]

DAN RATHER: Part of the undertow in the coming election is going to be President Obama's leadership.
And the Republicans will make a case and a lot of independents will buy this argument. "Listen he just hasn't
been, look at the health care bill. It was his number one priority. It took him forever to get it through and he
had to compromise it to death." And a version of, "Listen he's a nice person, he's very articulate" this is
what's been used against him, "but he couldn't sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers
to flag down the traffic."

While Rather may not have been being intentionally racist one has to wonder what the reaction would be if a
conservative had used similiar language on the show.



Dilbert's Blog
Man Points
by Scott Adams

Yesterday I decided to make some man points. (-1 for knowing I need them.) Recently we purchased online
a big metal rack to hold free weights. (+1). The delivery guy left the package outside the door when we were
gone. I wasn't strong enough to carry it inside. (-1 for having no upper body strength.) So I tipped it on its
end and "walked" it into the garage. (+1 for using science to move a heavy object.)

The rack required assembly. This was a problem because all of my tools had been stolen from the garage
last week. (-1 for leaving tools unprotected. -1 for having so few tools that they all fit in one basket. -1 for not
replacing them the same day. -1 for not having an attack dog in the garage.)

The main tool I needed was a rather huge Allen wrench. I didn't own that sort of tool even in the days when I
had tools. (-1 for inadequate toolage.) So I dropped everything, jumped in the car, and headed to Home
Depot for a tool buying spree. (+1 for going on a hunt for tools. -1 for calling it a spree. +1 for intending to
buy tools for which I had no immediate use.

As soon as I got to Home Depot I asked a guy who was wearing an orange apron for directions to the men's
room and the tool aisle. (-1 for asking directions. -1 for having a bladder like a pregnant woman. -1 for not
already knowing where the tool aisle was at my local Home Depot.)

I saw a display of hammers and acted as if I were evaluating them by lifting each one and giving it a mock
motion toward, in no particular order, a nail, a victim, and beer can. I quickly found that I can't tell the
difference between a good hammer and bad one. (-5). I went down the row and tossed screwdrivers, pliers,
wrenches, drill bits, and anything else that looked remotely useful in my cart. At the checkout counter I
grabbed two Snickers and worried that maybe I'm eating too much chocolate lately. (-1)

Back home, fully tooled, I discovered that the bench was apparently used, or at least beat up pretty badly. I
considered sending it back. (-1) But in the end I figured that it would just get banged up in a week anyway,
so no big deal. (+3) I commenced assembly.

My first problem is that there were no step-by-step assembly instructions, just a picture of the parts along
with arrows as to where they should end up. (-1 for wishing I had step-by-step directions.) I reckoned I
needed a crew of four to hold the shelves and the ends in place so I could tighten the bolts with my brand
new oversized Allen wrench. (-1 for needing help.) All of the pieces of the shelf were steel and very heavy,
so you couldn't hold it together with one hand while applying bolts with the other. And my garage was not
outfitted with oversized clamps. (-1 for having no oversized clamps.) I considered asking Shelly for help. But
if you need help from your wife at this stage of a project, you might as well use the box cutter you just
bought at Home Depot to remove your own nards and keep them in a jar in the kitchen, on the spice rack
between the cumin and the bay leaves. (-1 for being able to name two spices.) So I stood and stared at the
various components of my potential weight rack and rotated the pieces in my mind until I could imagine a set
of steps that would make a team of helpers unnecessary. (+1.)

It worked. Not only had I purchased the correct tools (+1), but I figured out a way to tilt and prop the bench
parts in just the right way to make it a one-man(ish) job. Now all I needed to do was vacuum some debris left
from the packaging and it was a job well done. And for that I needed...my Shop-Vac. (+1 for having a Shop-
Vac.)

The Shop-Vac stared at me from across the garage. It was a Medusa-like tangle of power cord, hose
tentacle, and attachments. I would need to move it nearly ten feet without strangling myself, losing an eye,
or breaking an ankle. This time I wasn't afraid. My testosterone was spiked from assembling the weight rack,
and from being around lots of new tools. For once, this would be a fair fight. I grabbed the Shop-Vac's hose,
it countered by dropping an attachment on my foot. I yanked its power cord, and it swung around and
knocked over a screen. When I went to save the falling screen, just as the Shop-Vac planned, the hose
wiggled out of my hand and wiped the tool bench clean of all items weighing less than a pound. Oh, now I
was in it. Soon the air was filled with curses and the sounds of screaming wheels on concrete. There were
arms and hoses and cords everywhere. I moved the Shop-Vac five feet and dared to imagine victory. Then I
remembered that the vacuum bag wasn't inside the Shop-Vac, because someone had borrowed the monster
to vacuum water. Oh God, I would have to open it.

I ripped off its top and cleaned its insides, all the while afraid it would regain consciousness before the
operation was complete, and go all Doctor Octopus on my ass. All I needed to do was slip the bag hole
frame thing into a slot where the hose meets the Shop-Vac torso and I would be done. But I couldn't quite
get it to fit. I tried once, twice, three times. It looked so simple, but somehow the Shop-Vac found a way to
resist. I tried a 25th time, then a 26th.
After approximately the 50th unsuccessful attempt, and after a hole formed in the only vacuum bag I
possessed, things went dark. I beat the Shop-Vac to death on the concrete floor, then picked up the pieces
and put them in a pile as a warning to the other tools. (+10)

The broom and dustpan decided to give me no resistance.

								
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