The Locker Room

February 1, 2010

You might be a progressive if.....

Posted by George Leef at 4:10 PM

If you think Obama is serious about lowering federal spending while simultaneously proposing new billions in subsidies for commuter trains. Today's Wall Street Journal has this excellent piece by Wendell Cox. Obama says that we must not "fall behind" other countries with regard to high-speed rail, but Cox concludes, "With a record budget deficit, it makes sense to fall behind in spending on high speed rail that we don't need with money we don't have."

Obama has used the "we can't fall behind" argument before -- with respect to college degrees. Just because other countries are doing something doesn't mean it's a good idea for us to do it too.

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The American press fiddles while the IPCC burns

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 4:03 PM

Just from the last couple days. From India, from Scotland, from England. And from the US?

Linkable Entry is a superlative

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 3:40 PM

Speaking of today's Under the Dome report on the Olbermann distinction extended to our Mr. Hood.

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Easley and Perdue aren't the only public officials getting free flights

Posted by Rick Henderson at 2:40 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be, too. 

Since Nancy Pelosi took over as Speaker in 2006, she's rung up millions in military travel expenses to commute between San Francisco and Washington.

Worse still, she also appears to have requisitioned entire flights for the personal use of her children and grandchildren. That is, unaccompanied by any member of Congress, her kids, in-laws and grandchildren are utilizing entire military passenger jets for their routine travel needs.

Let's see if these documents, reportedly obtained through a Freedom of Information Request, are legit.

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Why do greedy & corrupt people go into politics?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:34 PM

It's where the money is.

This is true of governors, senators, Brazilian mayors, and their hangers-on. As a bonus observation, a new paper shows why the quality of politicians goes down as budgets and corruption increase.

In other words, Mike Easley's friends and family did not have to become better at what they did because they were inside a system where quality mattered less than connections.

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Insurance choice is better and pharmaceuticals save money

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:08 PM

From the National Bureau of Economic Research, two important papers on health care and insurance.

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WaPo fires a volley and misses

Posted by David N. Bass at 12:32 AM

The Washington Post is doing its best to paint the blossoming conservative revolt against President Obama's policies as a "secretive" network of radicals masquerading as normal people, using New Media outlets to manipulate the political landscape.

Yes, conservative groups are networked together. Yes, they have many of the same funding sources. Yes, they are using the New Media. Whoopty-do-dang. Take at look at the liberal movement if you want a convoluted mish-mash of who sits on what board who funded that initiative or other.

But — my goodness! — the Heritage Foundation's weekly "blogger's briefing" is catered by Chick-fil-A, which was founded by a Christian! Don't you see the dire consequences of this for the future of our country?

Nice try, WaPo. Maybe next time.

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You might be a progressive if...

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 11:17 AM

...despite this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this, you continue to cite the IPCC as the basis for truth on global warming.

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Re: The thing about Andrew Young's book

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:11 AM

David, I am quite sure I would have found that interview "cringe inducing, gut wrenching, and disgusting," but as I have said, I am simply tired of hearing about that gruesome train wreck and wish it would just go away.

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RE: The thing about Andrew Young's book about John Edwards

Posted by David N. Bass at 11:00 AM


I found the 20/20 interview with Young cringe inducing, gut wrenching, and disgusting. It leaves viewers with the assurance that no major character in this saga of lies is innocent — least of all Young.

Young tries to cast himself in a sympathetic light. He apologies profusely, even while justifying his behavior. He tries to come across as a normal guy caught in a whirlwind of political deception that wasn’t his own making. He was a victim, you see, caught between Edwards’ girlfriend and his wife. And anyway, he was only trying to save the world by getting Edwards elected, a delusion that many of Edwards’ campaign workers and supporters apparently shared.

The underlining theme of Young’s story is that he acted in good faith. Yet he agreed to accept cash, gifts, and perks that were nothing more than bribe money in the end. He admits that he and his wife succumbed to greed. But they’re still mired in it. When the cash dried up, he went to a publisher and agreed to throw Edwards under the bus.

Much of what Young says and writes might be true. He's given sworn testimony to a grand jury. But he’s given us little reason to trust him and lots of reasons not to. The release of his book is one more way to capitalize on the Edwards’ implosion. Young is going wherever the money is.

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The thing about Andrew Young's book about John Edwards

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:32 AM

The guy is a known liar — i.e., we know he lied about John Edwards during the campaign, we know he lied about his paternity of Rielle Hunter's child — and we are supposed to take his book now as the real truth?

Pardon me if I can't help thinking he's doing what he's been doing for years: telling people what they want to hear about John and Elizabeth Edwards.

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Grammy Awards recap

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:19 AM

Had Jimmy Carter won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, I would have made this my last Grammy recap ever. Fortunately, Michael J. Fox won the Grammy in this category, bucking the trend of awarding Grammys in this category to heroes of the Left.

While Beyonce appeared to be the big winner last night, I would argue that the big winner was the San Francisco Symphony recording of "Mahler: Symphony No. 8; Adagio From Symphony No. 10," which won three Grammys - Best Engineered Album (Classical), Best Classical Album, and Best Choral Performance.

Stephen Colbert won a Best Comedy Album Grammy for "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All!" Steve Martin, who owns two Best Comedy Album Grammys of his own, won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for "The Crow/New Songs For The Five-String Banjo."

There were a few disappointments. The Best Rap/Sung Collaboration did not go to the comical "I'm on a Boat" by The Lonely Island and T-Pain. I also hoped that "Take Me To The Water: Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music And Photography 1890-1950" would win the Grammy for Best Historical Album but it lost to some album about chess. Finally, I truly believed that the Grammy for Best Short Form Video should have been awarded to Oren Lavie for "Her Morning Elegance." I have posted the video below, because it is pretty clever, unlike "Boom Boom Pow" by The Black Eyed Peas, which won the Grammy for no apparent reason.

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Mark Twain on man and government

Posted by George Leef at 10:15 AM

Over the weekend, I happened to watch the 1944 film about Mark Twain starring Fredric March and by coincidence today I come across this essay on Twain's liberalism (in the old sense, of course) by Jeff Tucker.

What would Twain think of what has become of the United States in the century since he died in 1910? He'd be aghast. Here's just one good line I pulled from Tucker's essay: "The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble... and there is great danger that our people will lose that independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman of German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked ... and in time, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise."

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Barnes contrasts Obama and Clinton as presidents

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:13 AM

Fred Barnes recommends in his latest Weekly Standard piece that President Obama "escape the ideological grip of congressional Democrats and the liberal base of the Democratic party (they’re one and the same)," following the example Bill Clinton set after 1994 election setbacks.

But Barnes has seen no signs that the current president is moving in that direction:

Certainly there was nothing in Obama’s State of the Union address last week to indicate he understands the fix he’s in or has devised a credible way to get out of it. His message, though he didn’t put it in quite these words, was that he’d rather fight for unpopular liberal policies than switch to broadly appealing centrist ones. 

A bad omen for Obama and Democrats was the pleased-as-punch response of Capitol Hill’s top Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It makes my job a little easier than if he were moving to the middle and picking up people,” McConnell says. “I naïvely thought he was going to do a course correction.”

McConnell characterizes the Obama strategy as: “Ignore the public, we know what’s best, full speed ahead.” The practical effect is to yield the political high ground to Republicans. “He can call us the party of no till he’s blue in the face,” McConnell says. “It depends on what you’re saying no to.”

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Obama and Reagan

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:03 AM

In the latest TIME, Mark Halperin is the latest columnist to discuss ways in which President Obama can learn from the example of the 40th president.

One of the more amusing recommendations is the following:

Create more Obama Republicans. Candidate Obama had broad appeal for Republicans and conservative-leaning independents. Now his image and agenda have left him without any calling card to widen his support (essential for winning policy fights and elections). The Gipper wooed so-called Reagan Democrats by finding common cause with them on key issues such as national security and lower taxes while still keeping his political base solidly on board. Education, spending cuts and maybe even health care are all ripe areas where Obama can make another effort to reach out to voters, if not intransigent Republicans in Washington.

Candidate Obama did win support from some Republicans, many of whom were disgusted with the Bush administration and Republican-controlled Congress for their failures to live up to the GOP’s traditional values of limited government that lives within its means. Other Republicans who voted for Obama bought into the 2008 candidate’s moderate to conservative-sounding campaign pledges on some key issues.

The problem is that none of President Obama’s goals — as exemplified by actual pratice, rather than campaign rhetoric — jibes with the typical Republican’s priorities. In contrast, “Reagan Democrats” tended to agree with the 40th president’s fundamental world view, even as they clung to a party whose national leaders had moved away from them ideologically.

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A man bites dog story: Klein bashes a teachers’ union

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:01 AM

Like Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, TIME political columnist Joe Klein sets aside some of his illiberal biases (temporarily) in his latest column on the issue of school reform.
[Race to the Top] established a $4.35 billion fund that Education Secretary Arne Duncan could distribute to states on the basis of their willingness to reform their schools. Duncan's definition of reform — a common one these days — demanded more school choice and competition as well as an emphasis on teacher evaluation and accountability. "Duncan really nailed this," says New York City Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey. "You can use federal funds to drive a reform agenda. You can buy change, even from state legislatures ... although in our case, the opponents were pretty ingenious — invidious and ingenious."

Who are the opponents? The teachers’ unions, of course:

The teachers are among the most powerful interest groups in New York State (and nationally, in the Democratic Party). The UFT's slogan is "A Union of Professionals," but it is quite the opposite: an old-fashioned industrial union that has won for its members a set of work rules more appropriate to factory hands. There are strict seniority rules about pay, school assignment, length of the school day and year. In New York, it is near impossible to fire a teacher — even one accused of a crime, drug addiction or flagrant misbehavior. The miscreants are stashed in "rubber rooms" at full pay, for years, while the union pleads their cases. In New York, school authorities are forbidden, by state law, to evaluate teachers by using student test results.

Klein flubs much of the rest of the column (especially when he tries to identify the reforms that have worked), but he nails the attack on intransigent union bosses. It’s nice to see Klein displaying some good judgment, even if one suspects the only motivating factor is his urge to promote President Obama.

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I suspect John Hood would agree

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:00 AM

Even if you hadn't guessed it by the award the John Locke Foundation presents in his name each year, James K. Polk is one of JLF President John Hood's favorite historical figures.

That's why John is likely to enjoy the following passage from John Steele Gordon's review in the new Commentary of the latest book on Polk, A Country of Vast Designs. Gordon explains why Polk is the only man among the lesser-known presidents who served between Jackson and Lincoln whose reputation deserves rescue from obscurity:

James K. Polk belongs only chronologically among these nobodies. At the beginning of his presidency, on March 4, 1845, the United States encompassed 1.7 million square miles and barely reached the Rocky Mountains. Four years later, the United States had a long coastline on the Pacific as well as the Atlantic and would soon come to dominate both oceans, a fact that has had ever greater geopolitical consequences. The national territory increased by 70 percent under Polk, as Texas, Oregon, and the Southwest were acquired.

Indeed, much of iconic America today — Hollywood, Las Vegas, the Alamo, the Grand Canyon, the redwood trees — became part of this country not only while James K. Polk was president but also because he was president. Polk was, unabashedly, the president of Manifest Destiny. …

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An apt metaphor

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:59 AM

Perhaps you've seen the John Malkovich//Glenn Close, Colin Firth/Annette Benning, or Ryan Phillippe/Sarah Michelle Gellar movie versions of the story, but the original Les Liaisons Dangereuses is a book outlining a tale of deceit and subterfuge through a series of letters.

Jillian Melchior deserves kudos for citing the 18th-century novel in a new Commentary article on another scandal fueled by secretive correspondence:

At first glane, Climategate's leaked correspondence is the Dangerous Liaisons of the scientific world. Despite the drumbeat informing the public that science strongly supports the climate-change thesis, the hacked data paint a picture of a community of experts afraid of scrutiny, wiling to use underhanded methods to silence doubters, and content to eliminate evidence that might undermine both their theories and their funding.

Yet the scandal has not led to serious policy reconsiderations or even significant stigmatization for many of the scientists and organizations implicated. Instead, even as fundamental suppositions about climate change were being challenged, the Environmental Protection Agency took initial steps to implement the most extensive carbon-emissions regulations the United States has ever seen. And only a few weeks afterward the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, with 192 countries in attendance, began without meaningfully addressing the Climategate e-mails.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:48 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Don Carrington's report on the impact of federal and criminal investigations on aides and supporters of former Gov. Mike Easley.

John Hood's Daily Journal focuses on Liberty's Kids, an animated television series that helps teach American history to children and to those who are still children at heart.

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