Wotka World Wide

Friday, April 30, 2010

This seems to be a reasonable assessment of the recent Arizona immigration law. And in the New York Times, no less. I would love for anyone to explain where this commentator is wrong. But I think one side would rather just cover their ears and shout "racist" at everything they don't want to take the time to fully understand.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Among the many over-reaches in the Dodd Finance Reform Bill are the pernicious corporate governance provisions, which attempt to rewrite corporate governance standards from a federal, rather the the traditional state, perspective for all corporations.

Senator Dodd is determined to further damage our financial system as much as possible in the death throes of his career. Why the man who pushed many of the policies that caused the financial collapse in the first place is trying to write regulation to "fix" everything that isn't broken is beyond me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cutting aid to democracy groups in Egypt. More change I guess. Wouldn't want to upset a dictator that jails bloggers and reporters.
And now the bureaucrats in Missouri may be following Illinois' example and cutting benefits for future employees. I generally don't like following Illinois' lead in anything, but in this case I'll make an exception, as it is so necessary to the future financial solvency of the state. Now if they can just get started on current pensions, which will soon overwhelm state budgets...
Two Republican staffers were attacked and brutally beaten by angry protesters after an event in New Orleans. Of course, an actual violent attack on conservatives draws no media coverage. It wouldn't fit the narrative they are pushing.

To see a typical white-washing of events here, with the ridiculous comment to the effect that "those types of insults don't usually originate from those that would protest Republican events". Of course, major media were only too happy to jump to conclusions about racist statements at the Capitol Hill health care rally, with zero evidence to back it up. Now there is actual violence that hospitalized two people and they are afraid of "jumping to conclusions".

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Department of Justice is asserting the right to read anyone's email pretty much whenever they would like. They are pushing Yahoo on this in court, but Google and others are rushing to Yahoo's defense. I guess our government is taking cues from China now on how to regulate the internet. Apparently the Fourth Amendment conveniently doesn't apply to the internet. And I thought these abuses were supposed to end under this new enlightened Administration. Guess like they all these power grabs after all.

UPDATE: DOJ Abandons Warrantless Attempt to Read Yahoo Emails. For now...
Obama and lobbyists. Another broken promise.
Last week, Goldman Sachs was calling for more government regulation of the financial industry, as they recognized that it would ultimately benefit them, as more regulation benefited Philip Morris, and more recently, the major pharmaceutical companies.

Now, Goldman Sachs has been accused of fraud by the SEC, for of all things, failure to disclose conflicts of interest. Funny how that works. This company is so tight with both major parties that they are openly contemptuous of the investigation, so certain are they that the charges won't stick. However, I think they might be in for more trouble than they realize, or at least I hope so, as the moves of this company and its former officers as recent US Treasury Secretaries helped lead the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse.

That being said, I don't see them as being affected too much by this, other than taking a temporary prestige hit, and their position as the preeminent investment bank won't change, owing to their political connections (check out donor records for U.S. Senators to get an idea of how much these guys make it rain for Senatorial campaigns). They will end up coming out ahead if the financial overhaul working its way through the Senate comes to fruition, and this SEC move might even be a calculated gambit on their part to help encourage the Senate to pass a reform bill that will ultimately benefit them more than anyone else, as the government will do the hard and expensive work of due diligence in evaluating other firms more fully that will only help Goldman make more informed investments in the end.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Illinois takes an important step on public employee pension reform, cutting benefits for future employees (but not current ones). This was a bipartisan effort for once, although Republicans say they want to go further and reduce benefits for current employees as well, as that is what is killing the state budget ($11 billion in the red). Of course, unions are very unhappy, and are threatening action against Democrats for their support for this measure. Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is also pushing a tax increase in the state income tax, from 3% to 4%. Don't look for the Republicans to sign on to that one though.
Questioning the wisdom of the new 2.3 percent medical devices tax, with a short economics lesson in future growth rates to illustrate the point. When a defibrillator manufacturer is losing 80 percent of their profit margin from this tax, something isn't right.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Jacob Sullum looks at the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate:

Unlike growing wheat or marijuana, the decision not to buy medical insurance does not produce anything, let alone a commodity traded between states. Maybe so, say ObamaCare’s defenders, but that decision has an impact on the demand for insurance and on the health care market (one-sixth of the economy!), which the federal government is trying to control in the same way that it tries to control the marijuana trade (with similar prospects of success).

This sort of reasoning leaves nothing beyond the reach of Congress, since anything you do (or don't do) can be said to affect interstate commerce. In its 1995 decision overturning a federal ban on possessing guns near schools, the Supreme Court cautioned against the temptation "to pile inference upon inference in a manner that would bid fair to convert congressional authority under the Commerce Clause to a general police power of the sort retained by the States." That kind of analysis, the Court warned, threatens to "obliterate the distinction between what is national and what is local."

In a recent Heritage Foundation paper, Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett and two co-authors note that the decision upholding wheat quotas does not mean "Congress can require every American to buy boxes of Shredded Wheat cereal on the grounds that, by not buying wheat cereal, non-consumers were adversely affecting the regulated wheat market."
As always, Jacob brings up some great points. It will be interesting to see how our justice system eventually deals with the legal issues forced into consideration by this new mandate.
Robert Kagan at the Washington Post notes the damage being done to our international relations by President Obama and his policies. It appears that the efforts made to focus on the belligerents have resulted in the neglect of traditional allies. Not to mention the scorning of Israel for having the audacity to build homes in their capital city. More:
While displaying more continuity than discontinuity in his policies toward Afghanistan, Iraq and the war against terrorism, and garnering as a result considerable bipartisan support for those policies, Obama appears to be departing from a 60-year-old American grand strategy when it comes to allies. The old strategy rested on a global network of formal military and political alliances, mostly though not exclusively with fellow democracies. The idea, Averell Harriman explained in 1947, was to create "a balance of power preponderantly in favor of the free countries." Under Bill Clinton, and the two Bushes, relations with Europe and Japan, and later India, were deepened and strengthened.

This administration pays lip-service to "multilateralism," but it is a multilateralism of accommodating autocratic rivals, not of solidifying relations with longtime democratic allies. Rather than strengthening the democratic foundation of the new "international architecture" -- the G-20 world -- the administration's posture is increasingly one of neutrality, at best, between allies and adversaries, and between democrats and autocrats. Israel is not the only unhappy ally, therefore; it's just the most vulnerable.

Hopefully the folly of this new strategy will become apparent before too much damage is done to certain relationships. No progress will be made with the belligerents without the full-fledged support of our traditional allies, and their dissatisfaction is weakening our position in Afghanistan, with the UK and the Dutch recently withdrawing their troops (generally seen as some of the best in the theatre). These situations should be getting more attention than trying to improve relations with countries like Burma and Syria. One can only hope that the Obama State Department is good at quickly gaining experience at what is an effective strategy and what is not. Strategy from wishful thinking is often more dangerous than the realpolitik so often criticized by many on the Left.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Wait, so NASA'a climate data is worse than the East Anglia-CRU data? And they admit to it? You don't say...