Too funny. Too good. Too sad.
From the Illinois Policy Institute, a group we can expect to hear more from over the next few years. (H/T Megan).
Technorati tags : Chicago, graft, corruption, Rod Blagojevich
"Buried on the business page of The New York Times Saturday were the details of Detroit's biggest snow job yet—literally as well as figuratively. Turns out that Cerberus CEO John Snow, who spent three-and-a-half lackluster, and some might say lap-doggish, years as President Bush's second Treasury secretary, is leading a who's who of crony capitalists in a lobbying campaign for a taxpayer bailout to "salvage Cerberus' investment in Chrysler."
That's right. Not to save the jobs of Chrysler employees or America's disappearing manufacturing base, mind you, but to prevent "one of the world's richest and most secretive private investment companies" from having to take a relatively modest financial hit and use some of its own capital to prop up the smallest of the major automakers."
"Chief Executive Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. told The Associated Press on Tuesday they are confident that the borrowing, coupled with restructuring and new product plans, will get them through the recession without relying on the government. Ford even said the century-old company that bears his family's name might be able to use the independence from loans to its advantage. I think if they see Ford as a company trying to pull itself up by its own bootstraps, and making it on its own and pulling the right levers, I think that could be a positive for us," Ford said."
"President Bush may ignore Congress and give the Big 3 the money they want, anyway... That the bailout fund in question was designated for entirely different purposes and is blatantly unconstitutional doesn’t seem to bother the president. One wonders if Democrats will rail against this as an abuse of power or see it as an act of benevolence."
"I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy. I do not mean our political and civil liberties... the threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America."
"What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important. I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never... I will forbid the entry into this country of one drop of foreign oil more than these goals allow...I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel -- from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun...I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000. These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay... To make absolutely certain that nothing stands in the way of achieving these goals, I will urge Congress to create an energy mobilization board which, like the War Production Board in World War II, will have the responsibility and authority to cut through the red tape, the delays, and the endless roadblocks to completing key energy projects... I ask Congress to give me authority for mandatory conservation and for standby gasoline rationing. To further conserve energy, I'm proposing tonight an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems. And I'm asking you for your good and for your nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense -- I tell you it is an act of patriotism."
"Michael Kinsley says, “People who want divided government are afraid of politics.” Indeed. For fear is the most reasonable response to the recognition of what politics is. GOP 2010!"
"So in a sense what I’m arguing is that Barack Obama will be wise to govern as though he has a more divided government that he actually has. Although not yet settled, it is looking like Obama will not have a filibuster-proof Senate (60 votes). Let that be viewed as a blessing in disguise, a manifestation of divided government that will in the long run do Obama (and the country) more good than harm. This is because the one thing Obama has to fear is a voter backlash in 2010 and 2012 that puts Republicans back in control of the House and/or Senate."
"...certainly bi-partisanship would be great but not for its own sake. I asked him to think about what's gotten done during two years of divided government versus 6 years of single party government -- far more got done in those first six years; the fact that it was mostly bad is beside the point. Single party Democratic rule is the only way we're going to actually advance a mainstream agenda, which the American people have voted for 2 cycles in a row: ending the war in Iraq, funding stem cell research, increasing access and affordability to health care, curbing carbon emissions to rollback the effects of global warming, closing Guantanamo Bay and restoring our reputation abroad (and certainly the list goes on...)"
"In 2006, I was happy to see Democrats gain control of Congress. And for the same reasons I offered then, I hope they lose this election. The reason: In this country, the best government is divided government. President Bush needed a Democratic Congress to counter his worst instincts, as did Bill Clinton before him. Obama has nothing to check him but himself, which is rarely a sufficient protection from partisan overreaching. For the next two years, of course, unchallenged Democratic ascendancy is a fact of life. But in the Senate, it takes 60 votes to do anything. Right now, the Democrats have 58 seats. If Democrat Al Franken were somehow to win on a recount in Minnesota, they'd be one shy. But a victory for incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss today would prevent them from attaining a filibuster-proof majority."
"Already the Republicans are toughening up, seeing the light of day. After nearly a decade of signing off on horrible legislation and looking the other way as a Republican president chewed through our liberties, they are new converts to the cause of limiting the government because a Democrat will be president. At the same time, we are witnessing the disgusting spectacle of Bush lecturing us on the merits of the free market. After eight years of wars, the police state, bailouts, and regulations, he is newly concerned about his legacy, and so he is following the path of Hoover, who was horrible in office and better out of office. Thus is Bush, of all people, sounding like a champion of the free society. Already, you can see that the political constellation is lining up in a way that is more friendly to the cause of liberty. The Democrats are up to their old tricks, which are transparently dumb and dated. The Republicans are responding with smart and sound criticisms. The government looks poised for a fantastic gridlock that will let the liquidation take place so that we can move toward a good recovery."
"Nancy Pelosi scares the shit out of me. One of the reasons I voted for Obama was because I didn’t believe the “uber liberal” hype and believe that he’d change the political tone in Washington by building consensus with Republicans, an approach necessitating a govern-from-the-middle administration. While I believe divided government is the best government, I also felt that Obama won’t force a Democratic-majority Congress to bend to his will blindly (and that even if he wanted to, Blue Dog Democrats would block him from doing so) …"
"In 1974, it took two-thirds of the U.S. Senate to approve cloture and force a vote on a bill. After the 1975 reform, it took only 60% of the Senators to shut down debate. This naturally leads to the question: What will prevent the Democrats from rewriting the rules to lower the cloture bar to 51 Senators? In practical terms, that means the gagging of the Republican minority. We will have one-party rule, utterly. The only downside is that voters might see it as a power grab (which it is) but with a smooth-talking president of the same party, who will raise the issue? Surely the Democrats will spin it as as democracy in action; after all, it still takes a majority to shut down debate, correct? But this would be a sea change in the way Congress does business and it may leave the GOP gasping for air... At the same time, many libertarians recognize that divided government is the best real-world check on the short-term growth of government (in a later blog, I will address the long term). By any measure, one-party rule by a left-wing party is not good for the values libertarians hold dear. If cloture reform does not worry you, I will not mention the frequent talk in the 1970s about statehood for the District of Columbia — guaranteed Democratic seats in the U.S. Congress. In a word, gird your loins and get ready for unchecked Democratic rule. If you thought it could not get worse than unified GOP rule, then history may prove you wrong."
"Was bei uns Regierung heißt – und dem die Häuser gegenübergestellt sind – nennt sich in den USA administration; der gesammelte Politikbetrieb heißt government. Exekutive und Legislative werden zwar am gleichen Tag gewählt, aber in unterschiedlichen Systemen, so dass split-votes möglich sind (Wahl für Demokraten-Präsident und Republikaner-Kongress). Das Ergebnis kann ein divided government (Präsident und Kongress-/Senatsmehrheit unterschiedlicher Partei) oder ein united government (Präsident und Kongres-/Senatsmehrheit gleiche Partei) sein; die Regel seit 1968 ist das divided government. Gerade in den seltenen Phasen des united government war es allerdings interessanterweise schwieriger für den Präsidenten zu regieren. Die Regeln des Kongresses arbeiten gezielt darauf hin, ein divided government zu ermöglichen, setzen dies allerdings nicht voraus. Seit der starken Polarisierung durch neue soziale Bewegungen und christliche Konservative ab etwa 1968 ist ein divided government noch wahrscheinlicher als ohnehin."
"I would point out that these sorts of anti-corruption measures are things that the Republicans should be doing anyways. Divided government is supposed to help fight corruption. So why aren’t they?"
"Investment analyst John Rutledge on Nov. 22 offered “Forbes on Fox” the most succinct argument in favor of divided government I’ve heard: if a mugger is chasing you, you hope he’s slow. President Obama, the Pelosians and other Dems in full, unchecked control of the White House and both houses of Congress is the equivalent of a very, very speedy mugger closing in on you in a long, narrow alley with no escape in sight. We are about to experience purportedly benevolent dictatorship, and it’s hard to like our chances. The problem with benevolent dictatorship is there seem to be very few benevolent dictators... Why can’t we get some real journalism about such financial matters? Dave Ramsey commenting about cutting up credit cards and paying your house off is well and good, but taxpayers deserve a lot more information about the billion-dollar limit credit cards being handed out by Paulson and promised by Obama. We could all stand to learn how they’re creating and assuming debt so enormous our great-grandchildren won’t see it paid off."
Traditionally, we conclude this Carnival by including one "off-topic" submission, as a grudging acknowledgment and proxy for the many off-topic submissions received. Off-topic in this context meaning - no mentions of "divided government" or gridlock. For this edition we selected Alli presenting something else for us to worry about in "Rahm Emanuel Advocates Compulsory Civil Service" posted at The Smoking Argus, saying,
"In “The Plan: Big Ideas for America“, co-authored by Representative Emanuel and Bruce Reed, the two lay out their vision of the “Homeland’s” new compulsory civilian service, writing:“It’s time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal [mandatory] civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service.”If the arrogance alone in such sentiments bothers you not, the two “centralized planners” go on to say:“Republicans will squeal about individual freedom...”Such blatant disdain for individual liberty is a sentiment only of tyrants. We have seen this ruse perpetrated on us for the last eight years as it relates to the false justification for preemptive war. Let us not now be chastised away from our liberty based upon a centralized planner’s definition of patriotism."
Most state native game fish face extinctionThe referenced study was commissioned by California Trout, Inc. - a conservation and advocacy group founded by a group of trout fisherman. I've always felt the the most effective environmentalists are the hunters and fishermen and women hell-bent on ensuring that their prey of choice is abundant. As an enthusiastic (if mostly incompetent) "catch and cook" trout fisherman, I include myself in that class (I promise to graduate to 'Catch & Release' if I ever - you know - actually start catching trout on a fly line).
Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer"Most of California's native salmon, steelhead and trout species face extinction by the end of the century unless the state acts quickly to provide adequate freshwater and habitat, according to a study released Wednesday by the state's leading salmon expert. Twenty of 31 species of the prized fishes are in sharp decline, including the Sacramento River winter run of chinook salmon, the Sierra's California golden trout and coastal coho, according to the study by Peter Moyle, a nationally known UC Davis professor of conservation biology... In the 316-page study, Moyle calculated the survival chances into the next decades of 12 kinds of salmon, 11 kinds of trout, eight kinds of steelhead and one species of white fish."
"Trout are an "indicator species:" when trout disappear from a lake or river, that watershed is in trouble. When our streams and rivers slow down, dry out or heat up, trout are the first to feel it. When trout they die off in an area, they leave critical gaps in the ecosystem that cannot be filled by other species."
"With the Big Three auto makers now in a plainly visible death spiral, the automotive bailout debate is kicking into overdrive. The disagreement hinges on whether a bailout is necessary to support an important industry or whether the unprofitable dinosaurs of the past should be allowed to fail as America focuses on an information-age, service sector, and alternative energy future. As usual, both sides have it wrong. The government should let the Big Three fail not because we no longer need an auto industry, but because we desperately do. What we do not need is the bloated, inefficient auto industry that we have today. By allowing the Big Three to fail, their capacity will be turned over to new owners who will be able to acquire the means of production at fire sale prices and hire workers at globally competitive wages. The result will be a more efficient auto industry making cars that people around the world actually want to buy at prices they can afford. Such auto makers could conceivably be profitable and could become the cornerstone of a manufacturing renaissance in the United States. In contrast, Ford, Chrysler and GM are never ending money pits that threaten to swallow a good deal of our economy."
Lance at QandO quotes Henry Blodgett's explanation:
"From the early 1920s through 1985, the average level of debt-to-GDP in this country was 155%. The highest peak in history (until the recent debt boom) was in the early 1930s, when debt-to-GDP soared to 260% of GDP. In the 1930s, the ratio then cratered to 130%, and it remained close to that level for another half century.In 1985, we started to borrow, and last year, when we got finished borrowing, we had borrowed 350% of GDP. To get back to that 155%, we need to get rid of more than $25 trillion of debt... The banks have written off $650 billion so far. So we suppose that's a start."
Kroft: "Where is all the money going to come from to do all of these things? And is there a point where just going to the Treasury Department and printing more of it ceases to be an option?"
Mr. Obama: "Well, look, I think what’s interesting about the time that we’re in right now is that you actually have a consensus among conservative Republican-leaning economists and liberal left-leaning economists. And the consensus is this: that we have to do whatever it takes to get this economy moving again, that we’re gonna have to spend money now to stimulate the economy. And that we shouldn’t worry about the deficit next year or even the year after. That short term, the most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession."
"If libertarians’ left-wing opponents have conflated free markets with pro-business intervention, libertarians’ right-wing opponents have done all they can to foster precisely this confusion; for there is a widespread tendency for conservatives to cloak corporatist policies in free-market rhetoric. This is how conservative politicians in their presumptuous Adam Smith neckties have managed to get themselves perceived—perhaps have even managed to perceive themselves—as proponents of tax cuts, spending cuts, and unhampered competition despite endlessly raising taxes, raising spending, and promoting “government-business partnerships.”
Consider the conservative virtue-term “privatization,” which has two distinct, indeed opposed, meanings. On the one hand, it can mean returning some service or industry from the monopolistic government sector to the competitive private sector—getting government out of it; this would be the libertarian meaning. On the other hand, it can mean “contracting out,” i.e., granting to some private firm a monopoly privilege in the provision some service previously provided by government directly. There is nothing free-market about privatization in this latter sense, since the monopoly power is merely transferred from one set of hands to another; this is corporatism, or pro-business intervention, not laissez-faire. (To be sure, there may be competition in the bidding for such monopoly contracts, but competition to establish a legal monopoly is no more genuine market competition than voting—one last time—to establish a dictator is genuine democracy.)
Of these two meanings, the corporatist meaning may actually be older, dating back to fascist economic policies in Nazi Germany; but it was the libertarian meaning that was primarily intended when the term (coined independently, as the reverse of “nationalization”) first achieved widespread usage in recent decades. Yet conservatives have largely co-opted the term, turning it once again toward the corporatist sense."
"We will need a Republican President in 2008 to maintain a divided government state. Fortunately we have some great Republican candidates. Hagel, Giuliani, and McCain would all make great presidents, and all are a significant improvement from what we have today."
We had divided government for two years. As outlined in this recent post, we can can document that divided government did indeed begin to incrementally undo some of the damage of One Party Rule along with accruing benefits consistent with historical divided government precedent. One possible fly in the ointment - while 2007 spending growth was indeed restrained, it is yet To Be Determined what the final spending tally will be after we include 2008 spending with bailouts and stimulus packages included. I expect the final conclusion may depend on whether the bailouts are characterized as spending or "investments" as some have suggested. I'll update the blog with a final assessment of our painfully short exercise in divided government in a future post.Assumption 2) The "100 year precedent" holds for the House of Representatives.
I first learned of the "100 year precedent" from a Ken Fisher analysis predicting election results in 2006.After the 2008 election, with 8 seats still undecided, the Democrats picked up an additional 20 seats and will have a crushing 81+ seat majority in the House. Given the difficulty of changing majorities in the House, there is almost no likelihood of Republicans retaking the majority before 2014 and probably longer (even with strong political winds at their back the Democrats only picked up about 20 seats in'08 - do the math).Fisher used this precedent to predict that Republicans would continue to hold majorities in both house of Congress in 2006, since they had a structural advantage in the Senate races. Here is the interesting part. His prediction was completely wrong, but the 100 year precedent held up! Instead of neither the House or Senate changing majorities as Fisher predicted, both the House and the Senate changed majorities in 2006."A basic rule of politics and a little-known fact: The Senate changes hands so much more easily than the House that in 100 years the House has never changed hands unless the Senate has, too. Since the Seventeenth Amendment allowed for direct election of Senators in 1913, the House majority has never changed hands without the Senate also doing so... For the Democrats to win the House they must win the Senate..."
Why is it so difficult to change majorities in the House? Partially because voters tend to like and re-elect their own representative, even if they have a very low regard for Congress as a whole. Approval ratings for Congress were worse than for Bush, but the overwhelming majority of representatives were re-elected. The fact that both parties conspire to gerrymander districts to the advantage of incumbents is another big factor making it difficult to unseat incumbents in the House of Representatives.
|Year - 2010||15 – Dems||19 – Rep|
|State ↓||Incumbent ↓||Party ↓|
|New York||Chuck Schumer||Democratic|
|North Dakota||Byron Dorgan||Democratic|
|Kansas||Sam Brownback *||Republican|
|New Hampshire||Judd Gregg||Republican|
|North Carolina||Richard Burr||Republican|
|South Carolina||Jim DeMint||Republican|
|South Dakota||John Thune||Republican|
|2012||Dem – 24||Rep - 9|
|State ↓||Incumbent ↓||Party ↓|
|New Jersey||Bob Menendez||Democratic|
|New Mexico||Jeff Bingaman||Democratic|
|New York||Hillary Rodham Clinton||Democratic|
|North Dakota||Kent Conrad||Democratic|
|Pennsylvania||Bob Casey, Jr.||Democratic|
|Rhode Island||Sheldon Whitehouse||Democratic|
|West Virginia||Robert Byrd||Democratic|
|Connecticut||Joe Lieberman||Independent Democrat|
|Texas||Kay Bailey Hutchison||Republican|