“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Topple the dollar, and with it goes American power.

The Barack Obama vision of a more social-democratic country was conceived almost without reference to the greatest economic catastrophe to hit America for 80 years.

Obama's house of prosperity may yet be a castle in the air

He feels like the right man to be President, but has he come at the right time, asks Charles Moore in Washington.

Charles Moore The Telegraph
Last Updated: 7:51PM BST 17 Apr 2009

The best way to arrive in Washington is by rail. You leave the platform and enter the magnificent main hall of Union Station. Then, through the glass doors, you see the Capitol proud on the hill in front of you. When I came that way this week, and saw it all in the blossom-filled spring sunlight, I momentarily felt the slightly insane optimism that grips James Stewart when he first claps eyes on the same view in the classic film Mr Smith Goes to Washington. He is the tall, thin, young senator whose innocence, against all the odds, prevails.

Until January, Barack Obama was a tall, thin, young senator, and one reason he is President of the United States today is because he answered – in modernised form – that American yearning for purity and simplicity. He knows that his appeal is still strong, which explains why, virtually every day, he makes a speech.

On Tuesday, at Georgetown University here in Washington, Mr Obama spoke about the economy. I was told that the White House, hypersensitive to conveying the wrong visual message, insisted that the university's device, which includes the initials IHS, the traditional, particularly Jesuit, abbreviation for Jesus Christ, be obliterated from the backdrop. But the President invoked the Sermon on the Mount all the same.

He reminded his audience of how the well-meaning attempt to spread home-ownership in America had been perverted into forms of debt so ill- or unsecured that they had provoked the world financial crisis. He repeated Jesus's parable of the two houses. One was built on "a pile of sand", and so fell when the rain came. The other was built upon a rock. "We must build our house upon a rock," said the President.

The house that Barack wants to build is architecturally grand. It will have five pillars, he announced. The first is that Wall Street will have new rules to reward "drive and innovation, not reckless risk-taking". The last is that "new savings in the federal budget… will bring down the debt for future generations". Sandwiched between these pillars are the other three. Each of these involves "new investments" – education, renewable energy, and health care. This, said Mr Obama, would be the "new foundation".

How rock-like is that foundation likely to be? Back in Britain, we still await Alistair Darling's Budget, to find out how he proposes to restore financial order to government, but in America, Mr Obama's is already there for all to read. I am grateful to Larry Lindsey, former economic adviser to three Presidents, for drawing my attention to Table S.9. It states that the total "required to be borrowed from the public" (the PSBR, in British-speak) in the fiscal year 2009 is $2.562 trillion. That is 18 per cent of American GDP. Fiscal 2009 ends on September 30. Given what the federal government needs to borrow in the time that remains, the sum works out at between $6 and $10 billion per day. I make that roughly the entire British annual defence budget in one week.

Normally, a country borrowing on that scale faces collapse, and has to call in the IMF. America is not a normal country, of course: it is the axis on which the world turns, with the currency to which people resort for safety. In the past, its huge deficits have never produced the catastrophe predicted for them. Perhaps they will not do so this time, although what the nation faces today is more than twice as big as the largest previous deficits in US history (under Ronald Reagan). But it does make one wonder whether the President's five-pillared house is a castle in the air.

Like New Labour, Mr Obama likes to speak – he used their favourite phrase again in Georgetown – of "tough choices". So when he offers his social reforms to the American people, he argues that they will be financially as well as morally virtuous. He says he is attacking entitlements – what Tony Blair and later David Cameron called "the bills of social failure" – and he rightly castigates the waste and fraud in existing US medical provision. But it is not clear that these choices are actually going to be made. What is clear – it is publicly stated – is that an extra $634 billion has been allocated in the Budget to begin to create his new health-care system. When Aneurin Bevan set up our own dear NHS, one of his beliefs was that better health care, by making people well, would lead to lower health spending. To say that these savings did not materialise is the understatement of the century.

Two thoughts occur.

The first is to ask what markets will think of this as it sinks in. Suppose, for example, that this burden of debt crowds out the economic recovery that Mr Obama is trying to engineer. Suppose that the small stirrings of life showing just now disappear in the third quarter as nervous Americans continue to save, not spend, and more people lose their jobs. The world contemplating buying US government debt will understand why it might be worth spending big to repair the banks. Would it feel the same about money borrowed for a US-style NHS and lots of windmills? If the world really doubted America's dedication to its own fiscal and financial order, that would topple the dollar, and with it American power.

The second thought occurred to me because I had made my train journey to Washington from Princeton University. There I had been lecturing, 30 years on, about how Margaret Thatcher confronted economic crisis when she first came to power in 1979. The point that strikes one is that it was the crisis which, above all, galvanised her, captured her intellect, harnessed her energy. Like Churchill in relation to the Second World War, she felt that all her life had been a preparation for that hour. Her vision of what was wrong with her country, and how to put it right, was seen entirely through the prism of the crisis.

The same cannot be said of Barack Obama. This is not merely because he has no previous experience of governing. It is because his idea of what he wants to do is really something quite different from what is actually happening to his country. In his inauguration address, he spoke of the need to get on with the business of "remaking America". For him, that economic stuff is not really part of the remaking, but a distraction from it. His vision of a more social-democratic country was conceived almost without reference to the greatest economic catastrophe to hit America for 80 years. He barely had to argue, or even think about it before or during the campaign. It shows. He says that his education, energy and health reforms must happen so that "such a crisis [the financial one] never happens again", but he merely asserts the link: he does not prove it.

Through his astonishing personal qualities, allied with his ethnicity, Mr Obama feels like the right man to be President. But perhaps he has come at the wrong time.


  1. Under the Barack Obama plan for America, the federal government needs to borrow between $6 and $10 billion per day for the next year.

  2. US GDP in 2008 was $14 trillion. If the American public saves ten percent of that they can save $1.4 trillion or $3.8 billion per day. Mission impossible.

  3. If you despise so much of what Amerikkka represents, you do not care what about the effects of the borrowing.

    If America has to burn down and collapse, let it be so, as long as you are able to rebuild society as you envision it.

    Also, considering the source, the references to building on rock and the five pillars is creepy.

  4. Marginal Revolution:

    Partisanship Bias and the Economy
    Alex Tabarrok

    Andrew Gelman and John Sides, writing at FiveThirtyEight, have a very good post on how partisanship biases perceptions of the economy. It's well known that views of the economy often differ by partisan identification but that could be explained by differences in interests. What Gelman hammers home is how partisanship can cause people to have views widely at variance with reality (regardless of interest) and how quickly views can change when partisanship changes even when the facts stay the same.
    A good example comes from the research of Larry Bartels. He analyzed a 1988 survey that asked “Would you say that compared to 1980, inflation has gotten better, stayed about the same, or gotten worse?” Amazingly, over half of the self-identified strong Democrats in the survey said that inflation had gotten worse and only 8% thought it had gotten much better, even though the actual inflation rate dropped from 13% to 4% during Reagan’s eight years in office. Republicans were similarly biased about the Clinton-era economy: in 1996, a majority of Republicans thought that the budget deficit had increased. This partisan filter was also evident after the Democrats’ retaking of Congress in 2006. Research by Alan Gerber and Greg Huber shows that Democrats became much more optimistic, and Republicans more pessimistic, about the national economy.

    Views about foreign policy manifest a similar bias. For example, from 1965 through 1968, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to support the Vietnam War, but starting in 1969, it was the Republicans who were (slightly) more hawkish.

    Could such biases be a product of the relatively mild economic conditions of the past twenty years? Early returns from 2008 and 2009 suggest that partisan biases still operate. According to Gallup Poll data from just before the November election, 20% of Republicans and 8% of Democrats were “satisfied with the way things were going in the United States.” Immediately after Obama’s inauguration, the parties flipflopped: 18% of Democrats and 14% of Republicans expressed satisfaction. That gap has only grown. In February polls, 20% of Democrats but only 10% of Republicans expressed satisfaction.

    The same pattern emerges in consumer confidence. ABC News surveys surveys show that the views of Republicans became 19 points more negative between October and mid-April. Meanwhile, the views of Democrats improved by 10 points, even as the economic news became grimmer.

    April 16, 2009 at 01:29 PM

  5. Read this two or three times:

    "HONG KONG, April 17 (Reuters) - China's reserve-building plan targets total purchases of 1 million tonnes of aluminium, 400,000 tonnes of copper and 400,000 tonnes of lead and zinc together over three years, a report on a website controlled by China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association said on Friday.

    Jia Mingxing, president of state-research group, Antaike, discussed the three-year plan in a CCTV show late on Thursday, the report said. (

    Kang Yi, chairman of the association, said on the same program that China's non-ferrous stimulus plan aimed to phase out old capacity of 800,000 tonnes of aluminium, 300,000 tonnes of copper, 400,000 tonnes of zinc and 600,000 tonnes of lead over three years, the same report said. (Reporting by Polly Yam; Editing by Ken Wills)"

    China is stock piling metals and at the same time reducing manufacturing capacity. Think about this.
    China is hoarding the metals. China reduces capacity to produce the metals. Other countries are then tempted to increase capacity, but China can destroy their attempt and capital investment by flooding the market and driving down the price.

  6. Yeah, right now, we're seeing a partisan bias against protesting the Presidents economic policies. But, I agree that partisan bias can blind the sufferer to certain truths. And it can happen to the best of us.

  7. RE: Sat Apr 18, 07:38:00 AM EDT

    On your premise, Obama wins either way. I need coffee.

    RE: April 16, 2009 at 01:29 PM

    Regardless of understand facts, figures and details, everyday, some of the most ignorant people in America sign legislation they do not read and do not understand. They truly are representing their constituents.

  8. Of course, if you're one of those individuals who (as Buckley put it with regard to a fellow writer and political commentator) has a running distemper, it doesn't matter who's in office where: The picture is invariably one of idiots empowered by imbeciles, with the republic somehow hanging on to spite the stupid.

  9. RE: Sat Apr 18, 07:38:00 AM EDT

    On your premise, Obama wins either way. I need coffee.

    RE: April 16, 2009 at 01:29 PM

    Regardless of their understanding the facts, figures and details, some of the most ignorant people in America sign legislation that they do not read and do not understand. They truly are representing their constituents.

  10. But I see you beat me to it, dear host.

  11. I corrected my last post, and was going to erase it, but then your response would lose context. Being the gentleman that I am, I shall leave the first for purposes of clarity and reluctantly as an eternal testament to my sometimes sloppiness.

  12. No problem at all. Everyday, I admire your husband's taste in woman.

  13. "Yeah, right now, we're seeing a partisan bias against protesting the Presidents economic policies."

    I don't think it's a bias against protesting the policies. It is to some extent a bias against those who are undertaking them. (I myself have a bias against protests. Because I find them silly and for the most part useless.)

    Political tribalism: It's what keeps parties in business.

  14. His "taste in woman" runs toward whiny and bitchy, unless there's one I don't know about. But I offer the consolation of a fine meal.

    Speaking of: Tomorrow is our anniversary.

    And today, we are at 49 days and a wake-up on his return to Colombia.

  15. That's an interesting tidbit of China news. Unfortunately it's not clearly reported.

    I take it that China plans on using up those amounts of non-ferrous stock and purchasing replacement stock as a part of their 3-year stimulus plan. But the article does say capacity and not inventory.

    If you are correct, it won't matter to the US that much because we're on our to becoming the largest little nanny state sociably living in a state of denial.

  16. Well, Happy Anniversary, Trish!

    I always take a hell of a beating when I forget ours, which I always do, right on time!

    A real whipping I get....

  17. See, we're an imaginative and clever people:
    Strategies for trimming summer vacation costsWe will adjust to a reduced station in life and the whirled.

  18. Why, thank you, bob.

    Getting to this day of the year sometimes feels, for either of us, like we should be presented with a big cardboard check, confetti raining down. "Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Trish! You won!"

  19. And bless his heart, he has never forgotten the day.

  20. The value of the dollar has been steadily eroded for the past 60 years. The ability of the US to succesfully project power has declined along with it.

    There is nothing new to the Obama Program, it is just another 8 miles of track, headed in the same direction as the last 60.

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. "His "taste in women" runs toward whiny and bitchy, unless there's one I don't know about. But I offer the consolation of a fine meal."

    Never too late to take an Adult Ed Course in
    Whiny and Bitchy 101to give your well fed spouse everything he desires.

  23. Roxana Saberi---

    Iran Said to Convict U.S. Journalist of Spying - An Iranian court has convicted the American journalist Roxana Saberi of espionage and sentenced her to prison.

  24. I designed and taught that course.

  25. You know damned well that if she has been working for NPR and BBC there is little chance that she is a US spy. Nevertheless, we make some kind of deal for her release.

  26. And, as the author pointed out, the whirled has proclaimed the US economy to be unsustainable, for most of the past 40 years.

    Those predictions, they've not hit the mark, yet.

  27. Jamie Glazov
    United in Hate ---

    United in Hate analyzes the Left's contemporary romance with militant Islam as a continuation of the Left's love affair with communist totalitarianism in the twentieth century. Just as the Left was drawn to the communist killing machines of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Castro, so too it is now attracted to radical Islam.

  28. Whit,
    Maybe she's an Iranian Spy on the West, and Iran's evolved to our level:
    Punishing our own defense mechanisms.

  29. I'm sorry but this is a bit too much:
    The house that Barack wants to build is architecturally grand. It will have five pillars, he announced. The first is that Wall Street will have new rules to reward "drive and innovation, not reckless risk-taking". The last is that "new savings in the federal budget… will bring down the debt for future generations". Sandwiched between these pillars are the other three. Each of these involves "new investments" – education, renewable energy, and health care. This, said Mr Obama, would be the "new foundation".Google Five Pillars

  30. Doug:
    I just heard the Glazov interview on Dennis Miller Radio. Miller gave him a hard time.

    Re: the left's interest in Islam; I think its because Islam is the number one religious contender with Christianity and therefore has a huge appeal for the whirled.

  31. Don't know what your problem is, Whit, long as you cover any images of .esus in your home, and invest your savings in an interest free Bank of the Caliphate, you'll be fine.

  32. Miller has yet to comprehend that there ARE indeed folks that experience Glee when the USA suffers pain and humiliation.

    ...many, his friends.

    Take al-Franken, for instance...

  33. SENATOR al-Franken, that is. bad.

  34. Sat Apr 18, 09:52:00 AM EDT sure looks like a post to me.

  35. Did he pick that up in the madrassas?

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. Sandwiched between these pillars are the other three. Each of these involves "new investments" – education, renewable energy, and health care. This, said Mr Obama, would be the "new foundation".Google Foundation of IslamWTH!!!!

  40. I may be Smilin and Bowin,
    but I Ain't no run of the mill
    House Nigger.
    ...a third edit charm.
    You're Welcome.

  41. You better get a Crescent badge on that there hat Quick-Like, boy!

  42. Shaking hands with Chavez is bad.

    I can't remember the last time anyone here but Whit or Dear Host came in on the FTA with Bogota.

    Have a nice Saturday.

  43. And rufus. Lest rufus be forgotten on this matter.

  44. 42. trangbang68:

    Does the release of this interrogation methodology prejudice the trial of KSM and others in such a way to guarantee that the vermin at the ACLU can get mistrials? I wonder if that’s the reason why Obama released the information, so that he can release the Islamo-fascists without bearing the reproach.

    43. Doug:

    Have Faith:
    I heard KSM will be required to Tea Bag Anderson Cooper.

    Who knows what we’ll get out of that?
    …the Royalties from the Video should cover a Trillion of the Three we owe.

  45. ...what I meant to say was KSM will be required to be Tea-Bagged by Coop.
    ...ah well,

  46. "Drive and innovation" Seattle style:

  47. Great video, Whit. My kinda gal.

  48. To heck with the politicians. It's Springtime in Ms, it's Saturday Morning, and I've got a "slight" hangover. All's right with the world.

    Oh, wait, I'm slightly older than Methusalah. Oh well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad. :)

  49. As for the "copper, alumnum, et al" stuff. Metals have been cheap, and China's been stocking up. They know the recession won't last, forever. That's about it, I think.

    You gotta remember that China's a country of over a Billion people, and about half of them work for the government. That half a billion probably give about a billion interviews, daily, so you're going to get some "interesting" soundbites out of there from time to time.

  50. A tidbit that has not been sufficiently remarked upon, I think, is that China is still "Growing" at about 6% in spite of the recession in the rest of the world. That warrants a little "Pondering."

    There really IS a "Domestic" market there. And, a Domestic market of a Billion people trying to "get rich" has got to be something to behold.

    Guarantee you, they didn't buy enough.

  51. "The Ann Rand solution is for the Doctors to leave the hospials. Which is the only legal remedy that they'll have. The Doctors should embrace the Federal medical policy, and do their jobs, as described, or leave those jobs."

    Verbosity in the support of fatuity is no virtue

  52. An Island in the Caribbean should be taken over by Doctors there to practice Medicine without interference by the Government.

    People like Ash can go to the government sponsored health care facility stateside.

    Others to the Isle of Doctors.

    The quality of your health care is going south.

    It's a serious matter. We are killing little kids that survive abortions.

    It's not long till Rufus and Bob are on the chopping block.

    Barack Obama is a twisted, ugly man.

    He's a twisted, ugly man, inside.

  53. We are killing little kids that survive abortions.

    Barack the twisted, confused bastard, recommends a 'comfort room' for them to die in.

    Barack Obama is a twisted, confused, repugnant man.

  54. Look at that bastard high fiving with Chavez, bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia, nestling up to the killer Castro.

    Suggesting 'comfort rooms' to the survivors of abortions.

    I'm beginning to agree with Whit--we've lost our moral compass, we will pay for it.

  55. Are you suggesting, elijah, that those Doctors that wish to leave the medical service, due to their conscience, be drafted into service, regardless of their beliefs?

    That the Federals not allow Doctors to "opt out" of a Federally approved approved Service Provider?

    Draft those Doctors and Nurses right into Federal Service.

    It has been done before, it could be done, again.

  56. They'll have to wait a while on Rufus, Bob. He's armed, and his eyesight is still pretty good ('ceptin for readin, that is.)

  57. We've got some dimwit head of Homeland Security calling me, and you too, "right wing extremists".

    Michael Savage, whatever you think of him, was a far darting mind in saying that Homeland Security may be turned against YOU.

  58. This'll run its course, Bob, just like it always does.

    BTW, as for the title of the post:

    The strength of the Dollar is a function of American Power;

    American power is NOT a function of the strenth of the dollar.

  59. Anything that would be required to avert a crisis or emergency in medical service delivery to the citizenry would be approved, by Congress.

    Even to drafting Doctors into the Army and assigning them to work at civilian hospitals.

  60. Hope you are right, Rufus.

    Things do sway this way and that, I admit.

  61. Same complaints that the anti-Bush folks had, back in the day.
    About the Patriot Act, bob.

    If we decide to go for a ride in the way-back machine, those that now are aghast at the power of the Federals, thought it fine that GW Bush was having Homeland Security wire tap 'subversives' without warrants.

    Anything to "protect US'.

    Except now, bob, they are protecting US, from us.

    Like the fellow what killed 2 and wounded 6 in that liberal Church. Guy wanted to "Kill Liberals" until the cops killed him.

    Your other friend, habu, oft spoke of shootings, assassinations and other such domestic political violence, "just sayin'", he'd say.

    Others spoke of sniping at ACORN offices.

    Right here at the Elephant Bar.

    That type public speech, in and of itself, constitutes a great deal of the Federals' concern.

    Justifiable concern, citing fellows out in commons that are willing and able to "Kill Liberals".

    Them that write such vile stuff about the President of the United States. Encouraging those of less self restraint.

  62. Them that write such vile stuff about the President of the United States. Encouraging those of less self restraint.It's not vile stuff.

    Alas, it's the truth, backed up by many a video recording of the words out of a truly vile man's mouth.

    If I could point to a video recording of Desert Rat suggesting we have "comfort rooms" for the abortive survivors I would be within good taste to point that out too.

  63. And, I have said many a time, just yesterday if I recall aright, I'm not for violence, not yet, I think revolution with guns is a bad way to go. We have all the things in place now to make a good society. We need to adhere to our democratic ways, and I think the prospects of improving things with guns is almost zero.

    I don't like talk of shooting, I like talk of kicking the bums out through another election.

  64. Recall I criticized Jefferson, who called for a 'revolution' every twenty years, as being a really stupid comment by an otherwise good guy.

  65. it's your statement above the WSJ physician's article

    the truth be known you toss yourself softballs at EB, hoping to knock one out of the park, but lo and behold, your own statements strike out your own counter arguments, and the jibber jabber begins

    we understand the frustration

    your occasioanal eloquence is appreciated however

  66. Jibber jabber in the pursuit of eloquence is no vice.Stuff Goldwater said:

    Or, maybe he just meant to. :)

  67. :) heh, that hit the ringer....

  68. Going Literary, We Can Mention "Jacob's Ladder" Another Idea Of Those Pesky JewsThe idea of Jacob's Ladder has been reflected in literature time and again, and is a very deep idea of the human race and its search for the transcendant.

    But I think Obumble is missing the point.

    He is a man that wants to have "comfort rooms" for the surviving aborteds.

    This misses the point.

    Guy is a total asshole.

  69. It is an old old theme in poetry, and philosophy too, that we are all beginners here.

    And that the path from me to Thee is a long and dreadful path.

    Very fearsome.

    Yet certain.

    So I forgive Obumble, who knows nothing, and I pray for him.

    We need to vote this moron out ASAP.

  70. See how the beings go more ethereal as they go up.

    I submit, this is reality.

  71. I know where the line I used came from, elijah.

    You still have not come with another option, for thse Docs and nurses.
    Other than leaving the profession.

    That the National Review sees crisis if we go down that road, and you linked to it, I imagine you see an impending crisis, too.

    I see that there could be one, no doubt. But again, what is the alternative and how is it achieved, if the objective is maintaining the Bush "Conscience Clause", instead of reverting to Nixon's.

    If a crisis mode is obtained, because of the reversion to the 36 year old Conscience Clause Standard, would the Federals draft Doctors, as they did during the Korean conflict?

  72. The alternative to allowing the Doctors to quit, is not allowing them to, and forcing them to do procedures that they find morally obscene, under penalty of imprisonment, perhaps.

    I'd be opposed to that, but many who have been elected would not be.
    The idea of forced service to the State is as old a dirt.
    The powers that be would have to "do something" to avert a medical service crisis.

    I submit they will, do something.

  73. If Obama goes beyond reverting to the Nixon Standard, then we'd be witness to an intentional creation of another crisis.

    Again, but in this instance, it'd be a Health Service Crisis instead of financial. The Government would have to "do something", a crisis being something to valuable to waste.

  74. That threat of crisis is the only leverage those Christian Doctors have.
    It only works if the Obama Team does not want a crisis. I think that there may soon be a case to be made that the Federals want a crisis to develop, would welcome it, actually.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. Don't be fooled by the Headlines, the light of truth and justice, it is still coming and will burn those it shines upon.

    A truth commission on torture is needed.

    We need to know if, as former Bush administration officials insist, torture worked in preventing attacks on Americans

    April 18, 2009

  77. 'Torture memos' embolden Dems.


    President Barack Obama’s decision to release the so-called “torture memos” has emboldened civil-liberties activists and top Democrats in Congress to step up their demands for ever broader disclosure of the most closely held secrets of the Bush anti-terror fight.

    Liberal groups are seizing on the graphic memos, saying Obama has set a powerful precedent for the release of other anti-terror tactics, including warrantless wiretapping. In Congress, the memos have intensified calls for a “truth commission” to conduct a broad investigation into alleged excesses by the Bush administration.

    The response is exactly what some in the administration privately feared when Obama decided to reveal the legal memos detailing aggressive CIA interrogation techniques. They worry the burden will shift to Obama to release other documents - or be forced to explain why the torture memos could be released but others ones cannot.

  78. Truer words have never been written by Fred Barnes, but I doubt if it makes a lick of difference.

    Defeat Obamacare

    Now is the time for Republicans to justify their existence

    by Fred Barnes.

    As isolated as Republicans appear to be in Washington, they often find allies in the struggle to keep the federal government from becoming the command-and-control center of American life. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups have stymied organized labor's drive for legislation ("card check") to unionize workers without a secret ballot election. Moderate Democrats in Congress have joined the opposition to the perilous plan ("cap and trade") to limit carbon emissions at the expense of a growing economy.

    But there's one issue on which Republicans are alone and President Obama and Democrats have the upper hand: health care. Indeed, the prospects have never been better for expanding Washington's role in even the smallest decisions made by doctors and patients. Thwarting this won't make Republicans more popular. Their efforts might be in vain. But at least they'll be heroes in the cause of defending private health care and preserving individual freedom. They'll vindicate their existence as Republicans.

    Obama's liberal reforms would probably be irreversible. Most ominous is creation of a government health insurance program open to everyone. The respected Lewin Group estimates such a program would soon cover 130 million Americans, most of them refugees from private insurance. It would only be a short step to a Canadian-style, single payer system run by bureaucrats in Washington.

    It's worth noting how Canadian health care failed to save the life of actress Natasha Richardson after a recent ski accident. The nearby hospital had no scanning equipment or neurosurgeon, and there was no helicopter
    to fly her to a trauma center. By the time she arrived at one, she was brain dead. Why wasn't proper treatment and equipment at hand? Government had decided not to pay for them.

  79. Obama, in contrast, has assigned Democrats in Congress the task of drafting the health care bill. This is both smart and politically safe. They're in sync with Obama on a mandate that every American have health insurance with generous minimum benefits, that businesses offer it to employees or pay a stiff fine, and that people have the option of switching to government health insurance.

    That's not all. Obama and other Democrats now talk about health care in a more appealing fashion. "They've co-opted Republican rhetoric on health care," a leading Washington lobbyist says. They've learned this from extensive polling. Would voters like the option of choosing between employer-based health insurance and a government insurance program? Of course they would, particularly when the word "public" is substituted for "government."

  80. Obama would regulate new 'bubbles'

    As he battles the economic downturn, President Barack Obama is bracing Americans for a recovery different than any in recent memory – not a go-go return to prosperity like the 1990s but a slow, steady climb to stability.

    “We know that an economy built on reckless speculation, inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards does not create lasting wealth. It creates the illusion of prosperity, and it’s endangered us all,” Obama said recently.

    But what Obama rarely says about ending the “cycle of bubble and bust” is this: He’s prepared to intervene to make sure that kind of red-hot growth doesn’t occur.

    And he’s willing to do it with added government regulation if needed to prevent any one sector of the economy from getting out of balance – the way the dot-com boom did in the 1990s and the real-estate market did earlier this decade.

    According to Austan Goolsbee, a key Obama economic adviser, the president plans to focus on stopping bubbles along with preventing busts. And in an interview with POLITICO, Goolsbee said the administration will be on the lookout for new bubbles, like the tech stocks or housing prices.

  81. ... he’s willing to do it with added government regulation if needed to prevent any one sector of the economy from getting out of balance ...

    Team Obama runs a full court press, while the Republicans are still looking for a coach.

  82. Jobless Rate Climbs in 46 States, With California at 11.2%.

    California and North Carolina in March posted their highest jobless rates in at least three decades, as unemployment increased in all but a handful of states during the month, the Labor Department said Friday.

    California's unemployment rate jumped to 11.2% in March, while North Carolina rose to 10.8%, the highest for both since the U.S. government began a comprehensive tally of state joblessness in 1976.

    The state-by-state employment figures showed only a few states avoiding the deterioration seen nationwide. Unemployment rose in 46 states during the month, and 12 states plus the District of Columbia posted unemployment rates in March that were significantly higher than the 8.5% nationwide figure the government released earlier this month


    While into his second 100 days Obama maintains his 60% approval rating.

    He's a steamroller, baby.

  83. The movement is growing--




  84. More "Drive and Innovation" Seattle style.

    Where's Mat?

  85. I'm a sap.

    But I'm listening to Art Bell, and he and a caller are talking about how the sun falls into the ocean in Hawaii, and how it sometimes makes a big flash, doing so.

    And I recall my friend Ann, who I grew up with, and she told me about this, as she had moved to Hawaii.

    And I recall how she kissed me so softly once, on my face. She married one of my friends, and got divorced, and later married a fellow from Hawaii.

    Her mother and my mother were friends, both working at the court house.

    Her brother was a doctor, and had a genetic defect, something to do with the immune system. He died.

    Ann had it too, and had to go through a heart/lung transplant.

    She survived, but then one day in her garden, working in her garden, she had a reaction, and fell to the ground and died.

    I recall her kiss, and how she told me about her husband, and how she loved the guy.

    And how the sun sinks into the Pacific with a flash.

    I'm a sap.