The Locker Room

July 19, 2010

You might be a progressive if...

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 8:19 PM are against the death penalty for someone convicted of murder by a legally constituted court of law but favor the assassination (death sentence) of Americans citizens accused by the Obama administration of terrorist activities with no trial and no due process.

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NC man becomes editor of Al Qaeda magazine

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 7:14 PM

Courtesy of the Daily Caller,

A young North Carolina man who has moved to Yemen appears to be the editor-in-chief of a flashy new Al Qaeda magazine that features bomb-making instructions and an article by Usama bin Laden, U.S. officials said Monday.

Samir Khan, a 24-year-old American citizen who left the country last October, is believed to be the top editor of Inspire, a newly launched online magazine that seeks to recruit members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – the notorious terror group’s Yemeni branch that is linked to the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound U.S. flight last Christmas.
He lived in Charlotte, according to this blog profile.

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:14 PM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Rick Henderson's report on the partisan split in a congressional vote to defund stimulus spending on highway signs that tout stimulus spending.

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Public: No Consent to be Governed

Posted by Daren Bakst at 4:00 PM

On the CJ Ticker, there's an interesting Rasmussen poll on whether the public believes the federal government has the consent of the governed.

Only 23% of those surveyed believe the federal government has such consent.  That's a shocking number. 

I'm going to agree with the 23%, to some extent.

We may not like what Congress is doing, but we have consented to be governed by those politicians.  By "we" I mean the majority, not everyone.

Much of the concern expressed in the article discussing the poll seems to focus on Congress--it isn't representing the public's interest.  That I agree with, but that doesn't mean there isn't consent for them to govern us.

If we don't like the job Congress is doing, then we have recourse--vote members of Congress out of office.

There is however one huge area where we haven't consented to be governed.

There also are the administrative agencies.  There are hundreds of thousands of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats passing laws out of whole cloth based on their own preferences.  Congress simply delegates away its power to these agencies without any clear direction and the agencies can do whatever they want.  When it comes to these powerful agencies, there isn't consent of the governed.

As long as we can vote, we give consent to be governed.  If we don't like our political choices, we can get involved in the political process.  I agree with the sentiment of those polled that Congress isn't representing the interests of the public, but that shouldn't be confused with a lack of consent.

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Like it or not, you're religious

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:25 PM

Whether you pray in a church or believe wholeheartedly that there is no God, you're religious.

That's the argument Eric Dent, professor of management at UNC-Pembroke, offered during his presentation today to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society.

By religious, Dent means that we all approach life with fundamental "starting axioms" that are not subject to proof. In the video clip below, he explains why debates about particular issues must account for those fundamental differences in starting axioms.

4:10 p.m. update: Click play below to watch the full 50:24 presentation.

You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

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Bad health care news is bad news

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:22 PM

More small companies in Massachusetts are dropping insurance coverage for their employees rather than pay higher premiums. This means Massachusetts taxpayers will pay more to subsidize insurance coverage for more people while the Massachusetts state government limits what insurance companies can do and how people in Massachusetts get care.

In New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, meanwhile, companies looking to save money are taking policies that prevent individuals from seeing some health care providers -- what one person calls "Gucci doctors".

It's not clear if the subsidized Massachusetts plans will meet federal rules for health insurance (or if those who don't qualify for subsidies are even buying insurance). The choice-limited plans will not. Because all of these changes are happening after President Obama signed the health care law, none of them are safe from federal regulations.

Jonathan "Pyrrhus" Cohn claims that both of these scenarios are actually good news about the health care law. You see, don't you? how companies dropping coverage because it is too expensive under RomneyCare sets a great precedent for the future of health insurance under ObamaCare.

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Is this the worst political advice ever?

Posted by George Leef at 12:38 AM

Michael Gerson, who helped craft much of the rhetoric behind Bush II's big government conservatism, tells the GOP not to fall for libertarian thinking. In this Cato@Liberty post David Boaz gives a devastating rejoinder.

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Kissell a fundraiser 'loser'

Posted by David N. Bass at 11:17 AM

CQ Politics puts 8th Congressional District Rep. Larry Kissell in its "fundraising losers" category for the second quarter. It's more bad news for the freshman Democrat who faces Republican Harold Johnson in November:

Speaking of notoriously bad fundraisers, freshman Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) raised a dismal $104,000 for the quarter. And while that’s better than the $72,000 he raised in the first quarter, it won’t do anything to make his battleground district look any less of target in a Republican-friendly year. Kissell had less than $300,000 in the bank at the end of June. Former sports broadcaster Harold Johnson raised $171,000 for the quarter and had $82,000 on hand at the end of a quarter that saw him fight his way through a primary runoff that didn’t take place until late June.

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Who's blinder than Blinder?

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 09:23 AM

On the debate over new 'stimulus,' retaining the Bush tax cuts vs. allowing them to expire, or increasing unemployment benefits by $1.00, Alan Blinder states in today's Wall Street Journal:

"...consider three different ways to add a dollar to the budget deficit: increase unemployment benefits by $1, give a $1 tax cut to someone earning $50,000 a year, or give a $1 tax cut to someone earning $5 million a year."


"The unemployed worker struggling to make ends meet will likely spend the entire dollar right away. The $50,000 earner probably will spend the lion's share of it, saving just a bit--that's what most Americans do. But the $5,000,000 earner probably will save most of the new-found dollar."

Horrors! Blinder assumes, a la Keynes, that money saved is (for all intents and purposes) money buried forever in the backyard, tossed into the fire, or simply vanished out of existence. This because he sees only the short run intent of the $1, doesn't choose to understand that money is perhaps most importantly an intertemporal instrument of exchange: not just a medium of exchange in the short run. So if I want vegetables in my diet from now on, I can buy them all now and warehouse them as best I am able into the indefinite future, or I can put aside some money so that each week I can buy fresh vegetables then and there. True, the vegetable market now gets no giant 'stimulus,' but why should that be the point? If I am a competent individual (and there's the deliberate Keynesian Blind spot, and the rub), I can decide over time what actions best coordinate my plans.

Blinder's attitude that denies that the rich guy deserves to save instead of spend--because he's impoverishing the rest of us, hoarding wealth and ruining the stimulus, presumably—is exactly the elitist stance that he condemns. But of course money saved is not money hoarded, it's invested and made to grow wealth. Noticed any differences in Americans' standards of health and living since 1800? 1950? 1990? Of course, and that was not government stimulus, guys. Get your blinders off. 

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 07:55 AM

  • U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, D-12th, is among eight Republicans and Democrats in Congress under ethics investigations.

  • Democratic strategist Gary Pearce reacts to positive Republican fundraising numbers with a big “uh-oh."

  • Obama doesn’t fare well in potential 2012 matchups against Republicans, according to Public Policy Polling.

  • Republican Ilario Pantano doubles up on U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-7th, in fundraising in the second quarter, but he’s still trailing the centrist Democrat overall.

  • Farmers group rallies behind U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, a Democrat running for re-election in the 8th Congressional District.

  • The Washington Times reports on state legislatures up for grabs this year, finding that Republicans have a shot at taking 23 legislatures compared to Democrats' four.

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North Carolina’s recovered Bill of Rights

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:08 AM

If you’re fascinated by the story of North Carolina’s recovery of its stolen Bill of Rights, you might enjoy the new book Lost Rights by David Howard.

Howard discussed his work Sunday during a presentation at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books & Music. Click play below to watch’s 50:14 recording of Howard’s speech.

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I know many of us would like to forget the 1970s, but …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:07 AM

Michael Crowley of TIME takes decadal ignorance to the extreme when he writes the following:

Even a recent Goldman Sachs analysis recommended that policymakers consider more stimulus spending.

But Obama and his advisers know their hands are tied. Polls show that voters either don’t understand — or don’t buy the long-established economic theory of John Maynard Keynes, which calls for more government spending (even if it means running up deficits) to help the economy through hard times. (Emphasis added.)

Had this been written in the early 1970s, when Keynes’ ideas had held sway for decades, Crowley’s assessment would have been unremarkable.

But the combination of high inflation and high unemployment of the 1970s disproved Keynes’ primary pump-priming stimulus arguments, and his theory has been “disestablished” for about as long as it was “established.”

Roy Cordato discussed the problems with Keynesian economics during a 2009 Carolina Journal Radio interview.

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What was that about economic uncertainty?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:05 AM

North Carolina’s sluggish recovery from the economic slump is due to some extent to uncertainty about the future.

Joe Coletti mentioned Friday during his reaction to the state’s latest unemployment data that one of the sources of the uncertainty is the potential expiration of Bush tax cuts.

For more detail on the uncertainty associated with those tax cuts, check out this brief item from Bloomberg Business Week.

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Fixing troubled state budgets

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:04 AM

North Carolina is not alone in relying on gimmicks or placeholder provisions to meet its budget obligations, a fact Bloomberg Business Week emphasizes in a new report.

But Peter Coy also points to states that are using a budget crisis as an opportunity for real reform:

Some state lawmakers are using the mess as an opportunity, a chance to ram through reforms to help fix the structural budget imbalances that, if left unaddressed, will plague them for decades to come. New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has forced the state's unionized teachers, for the first time, to pay for part of their health-care coverage. Indiana cut the cost of a prison meal from $1.43 to 99 cents by contracting out the job. Last year Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick signed a cost-saving law permitting the use of civilian flaggers for road work, ending the state's status as the only one requiring uniformed police officers at all road construction sites.

Coy makes some other valuable observations, tackling subjects like the “spend and tax” cycle:

States need to set up a mechanism that will tame their own worst instincts—that is, prevent them from caving in to special interests and overspending once the crisis eases. New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch is proposing an independent review board that would issue quarterly reports on whether the state was making "adequate progress" toward permanent budget balance. If not, the governor would have authority to make across-the-board cuts.

Another “mechanism” to prevent overspending? How about a constitutional amendment limiting government spending increases to inflation plus population growth, one of five good ideas listed here.

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Obama and free trade

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:03 AM

Nina Easton of Fortune wishes President Obama would spend more time listening to retiring Caterpillar chairman Jim Owens:

Obama tapped Owens for his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and Owens often surfaces in photo ops meant to show that the White House is reaching out to business leaders. But don't confuse appearance with substance: If the President actually took Owens's advice on how to help U.S. companies compete globally, he'd do a 180 on trade.

When Owens looks around the globe, he sees the leaders of developing countries moving aggressively to remove trade barriers, while the U.S. sits on the sidelines.

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Avoiding the magical solutions

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:02 AM

Allan Sloan of Fortune magazine favors a “heavy” tax on electricity, gasoline, and other energy sources. But you don’t have to agree with him on that point to see the truth in this assessment:

It's much easier to look for a magic solution than it is to adapt to reality. Take energy, for instance. These days "clean energy," also known as "green energy," is being presented as the magic solution for global warming, our dependence on foreign oil, and the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe even for warts and bad breath. A typical example of the hype, from one of President Obama's speeches about BP: "The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now."

But embracing a future -- whatever that means -- isn't the same as solving a problem.

And what about the obsession with green?

Green energy, which is promoted endlessly by business as well as the government and various pols, is a great idea. It sounds great, and it would be great. But it's being way oversold and will take years -- or decades -- to have any major effect.

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U.S. News editor is no fan of Obama’s anti-business rhetoric

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:01 AM

Mortimer Zuckerman starts a recent U.S. News column with this line: “The growing divide and tension between the Obama administration and the business world is a cause for national concern.”

Zuckerman adds:

[C]onfidence is an imperative if the business community is to invest, take risks with start-ups, and altogether get the economy going again to put the millions of unemployed back to productive work.

This is what businessmen do when they are free to conduct business. For example, in the two decades of the 1980s and 1990s, the United States created 73 million new private sector jobs—while simultaneously losing some 44 million jobs in the process of adjusting its economy to international competition. That was a net gain of some 29 million jobs. A stunning 55 percent of the total workforce at the end of these two decades was in a new job, some two-thirds of them in industries that paid more than the average wage. By contrast, continental Europe, with a larger economy and workforce, created an estimated 4 million jobs in the same period, most of which were in the public sector (and the cost of which they are beginning to regret).

How could America achieve this? It is because of the get-up-and-go culture that reflects individualism, courageous entrepreneurialism, pragmatism, adaptability, and innovation.

Those admirable traits don’t operate as well in a climate of economic uncertainty.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:42 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Donna Martinez's report about Orange County officials' efforts to convince voters to endorse a sales-tax increase.

John Hood's Daily Journal describes the N.C. Association of Educators' efforts to block education reform.

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