The Locker Room

January 19, 2009

Bush Responds To Public Outcry!

Posted by Shelley Gonzales at 5:09 PM

Remember the two U.S. border agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso, which were prosecuted and convicted in 2005 for shooting a border-crossing drug dealer in the buttocks? The convictions of these two men caused quite a stir in the local Texas community as well as the entire nation.

Well, it appears that the nation's plight to free them has not gone unnoticed. On Bush's last official day as President of the United States, he "responded to the calls for compassion" by granting commutations for both men. While I believe these men should have been completely pardoned, a commutation is almost just as good! 

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Digital tax update

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:03 PM

For those of you who found today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive interesting, don't expect an update Wednesday.

The Revenue Laws Study Committee meeting originally scheduled that morning has been bumped back to Tuesday, Jan. 27, the day before the General Assembly convenes its new session.

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John Locke's opposition to slavery

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:12 PM

Some historians have tried to discredit John Locke's contributions to the history of freedom and liberty by casting him as a supporter of the institution of slavery.

The historical record proves that characterization is unfair, according to Holly Brewer, associate professor of history at N.C. State University. Brewer discussed Locke's stance on slavery during her presentation today to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society.

Click play below to access one of Brewer's key themes.

5:10 p.m. update: Watch the entire 57:03 presentation by clicking the play button below.

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

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Kicking off "Spirit of Inquiry" 2009

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 2:58 PM

The Pope Center is now accepting nominations for its second "Spirit of Inquiry" Contest. The Spirit of Inquiry Award honors North Carolina faculty who inspire class discussion, drive their students to greater achievements, and imbue them with a love of knowledge.

Nominations will be accepted from now until May 15, 2009.

More information about the Spirit of Inquiry Contest can be found here. We look forward to discovering excellence on North Carolina’s campuses.

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Rent seekers update: Mayors get in the game, too

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:56 PM

Look at all the people spending time and money going to Washington, hiring lobbyists to go to Washington, and doing everything they can in Washington to capture some of this "free money" that President Bush, Congress, and President-elect Obama have made available to everyone to (stifle gag) "save the economy": bankers, auto representatives, other industry representatives, smut distributors, governors and state legislators (not to be confused with smut distributors), even local officials and mayors (the News & Observer headline about nine NC mayors joining the game is unintentionally funny: "Mayors: We'll spend stimulus wisely").

This is rent-seeking gone mad. Everyone is hoping to get a piece of the action. All they have to do, apparently, is call their wants by the euphemism of the year, "shovel ready" (and by shovel referring not to John Edwards' posin' shovel, but to projects about which we are supposed to believe that poor suffering workers are standing there with foot on shovel just waiting desperately in growing poverty for someone, somewhere to give them the money to get started, which only government can do).

Remember the Winners' Free Lunch Law? You're going to hear plenty of examples of it in the coming weeks.

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A strong dissent on the coronation (oops, inauguration)

Posted by George Leef at 12:03 AM

Sheldon Richman has the bad manners here to point out that what's going to happen tomorrow in DC is the peaceful transfer of violent power. Most Americans will be distracted and bamboozled by all the inane hoopla, but the somber fact is that the new regime will be no better at protecting life, liberty, and property than was the preceding one.

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Video of flight 1549 crash landing

Posted by David N. Bass at 11:13 AM has survelliance footage of flight 1549 crash landing into the Hudson. Truly a miracle that no lives were lost.

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Re: Obama working the room

Posted by Jon Sanders at 09:44 AM

It's comforting to know that the President-elect is a friendly guy, David, but a friendly guy who wants to issue a new declaration of independence and supplant the Bill of Rights' protection of individual rights from government intrusion — despite over two centuries' worth of Americans understanding it to protect individual rights from government intrusion — with this poison-pill notion that it really only protects "group rights" (secured by government at the expense of individuals — a complete inversion) amounts to a smiling significant threat to American freedoms and the continued success of the American experiment.

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Government, property rights, and looting

Posted by George Leef at 08:54 AM

Professor Michael Rozeff asks an embarrassing question here -- what if the government stops playing its supposed role of protecting private property and instead starts acting like a mob of looters?

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Obama works the room

Posted by David N. Bass at 08:28 AM

North Carolina's senior senator, Republican Richard Burr, had some good things to say about President-elect Barack Obama in this Politico story:

Behind the scenes, Obama and his team are ... courting prominent Republicans and conservatives through frequent phone calls, e-mails and private sit-downs.

The selection of evangelical pastor Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation and Obama’s dinner with right-of-center writers at George F. Will’s home drew significant buzz. But the transition also has quietly reached out to other prominent figures atop the Southern Baptist Church, Charles Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministry and the Jewish Orthodox Union.

“I think he’s done an extremely good job so far,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who received a call from the president-elect last week. “On both the quality of his nominees and the contact that he personally or his skeleton staff have had with members on the Hill — I think they’ve done just an exceptional job at that.”

Burr, who declined to share what he and Obama spoke about, said it helps to have one of the Senate’s own now in the White House, a rare thing in the modern presidency.

“One, you’ve got to understand that we’re friends. Two, the way he interacted with us as a member of the Senate — he hasn’t forgot that. In the early stages now he still has a cell phone and BlackBerry and he’s using them.”

All fine and good. But to quote a trite phrase, talk is cheap. Obama's agenda leaves zero room for conservatives, even if he extends verbal olive branches from time to time. More to the point, his record in the Illinois Senate and U.S. Senate is hardly bi-partisan. Right-leaning lawmakers would be wise to look behind the charisma to where a damaging ideology lurks.

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Henry Hazlitt's analysis of the Depression

Posted by George Leef at 07:48 AM

I hadn't known before that in 1933 Henry Hazlitt was canned from his position at The Nation because he argued so brilliantly that the Depression was a result of bad government policies, not some failure of capitalism. Jeff Tucker discusses this revealing piece of history here.

Then as now, naive wishful thinking dominates on the Left. Just as the editors of The Nation wanted to believe that government economic domination was the right course in 1933 (and therefore couldn't keep around a superb writer who demonstrated otherwise), today the Left insists contrary to all evidence that our current economic debacle is due to "free market ideology" and can only be alleviated by massive federal spending and increasing politicization of society.

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Wrong to the end

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:50 AM

It’s only fitting that TIME’s last potshot at George W. Bush — at least the last one aimed during his tenure as president — would mix snark with some misstatements of important facts. I’m speaking of “The Moment,” a feature that has provoked past responses in this forum.
He is the free-market apostle who wound up ordering massive government intervention. The clarion of free trade and lawful immigration who leaves office with protectionism and isolationism resurgent. The would-be uniter with the wedgelike effect.

Free-market apostle? Wrong. The whole idea of “compassionate conservatism” signaled Bush’s willingness to use the federal government to achieve his desired ends. Clarion of free trade? Tell that to the critics who bashed him for his support of steel tariffs early in his tenure. Tell it to Bruce Bartlett, who wrote a book calling Bush an “impostor” before it was wildly popular to kick the 43rd president. A would-be uniter? That much is true, but the circumstances of his electoral victory over the Goracle probably made that goal impossible from the start.

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It’s the time of the season …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:48 AM

… for the Zombies, er, zombies “feeding off taxpayers, investors, and workers.” So says the latest Business Week, in its description of “has-been” companies that are about to “menace the U.S. economy.”

It’s curious that the magazine highlights a valid problem, yet fails to mention that these zombies are a direct result of government interference in the market process.

No targeted tax breaks? No regulations benefiting the large corporations that can afford to hire lobbyists to write them? No unnecessary barriers to entry into the marketplace? No government to bail companies out of unprofitable ventures? No zombies.

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Not this skeptic

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:46 AM

Maria Bartiromo’s latest Business Week feature starts with:
Even Barack Obama's critics and skeptics would concede that in this moment of global distress, the installation of the young senator from Illinois as America's first African American President is a moment of hope.

On the contrary, “hope” is not the word this skeptic would apply to his assessment of the likely impact of an administration even more inclined to favor big-government. illiberal, collectivist policies than the outgoing crowd.

It’s a moment of foreboding. The one ray of hope is that our new president is enough of a politician to ignore the crazier ideas put forward by his most rabid supporters.

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Deflating the FDR myths

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:44 AM

Those who look to President-elect Obama as the vehicle for a revival of FDR-style politics should be careful what they wish for.

Sure, the principle-free partisans want a president whose style and political skill will guarantee Democratic hegemony for at least a generation. In that regard, FDR offers a good template.

Other well-meaning folks, though, want Obama to emulate Roosevelt because they believe the latter’s big-government policies pulled the United States out of the depths of the Great Depression.

We’ve discussed this myth before in this forum, and Jonah Goldberg tackles the topic again in the latest print edition of National Review:

While it’s certainly true that there is no consensus that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression, there is a sweeping consensus that the New Deal didn’t end it. The vast majority of historians and economists — including Paul Krugman — will concede that the Great Depression didn’t end until either World War II or the post-war economic boom (that’s a whole other argument). In other words, only after FDR himself admitted he was no longer going to play the role of “Dr. New Deal” and instead became “Dr. Win-the-War” was there any real chance of ending the Great Depression. If a golfer can’t hit the ball to save his life with a five-iron, but smacks the dickens out of it with a seven-iron, it’s hard to see how his improved score demonstrates the effectiveness of five-irons.

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Neuhas’ reaction to the Fairness Doctrine

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:41 AM

Before he died, The Rev. Richard John Neuhas contributed a dozen pages of observations for “The Public Square” section of the magazine he founded, First Things. Most interesting is the last item, in which Neuhas writes a matter-of-fact account of his “contending with a cancer,” explaining that he neither feared death nor refused to live.

But another item attracted my attention because of its link to topics we’ve discussed in this forum. In a brief review of the new book A Manifesto for Media Freedom, Neuhas takes aim at the Fairness Doctrine.

[T]he argument over reimposing the Fairness Doctrine and inventing new forms of government regulation is not about moral improvement — although some may claim it is — but about control and, more specifically, control by those who presume to know what is best for ordinary folk who cannot be trusted to make their own decisions. And … it is about the First Amendment. It is an unremarked oddity that advocates of government control readily exempt newspapers from their proposals. It is as though, on this question, they are the champions of “originalism” rather than “the living constitution” in their legal interpretation. Since the founders knew only about newspapers when they forbade “abridging the freedom of speech or of the press,” the First Amendment, they seem to be suggesting, does not apply to other forms of communication. I am not as sure as some that today’s “media cornucopia” is an unmitigated good, but it seems clear enough that the proponents of government control, in the name of ensuring fairness and neutrality, are engaged in a partisan power grab that is distinctly unfriendly to freedom, which is among the greatest of social goods.

Click here to read a recent Carolina Journal Online exclusive about the Fairness Doctrine, and click play below for a snippet from Donna Martinez’s interview with Jon Ham on the topic from Carolina Journal Radio program No. 292.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:38 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features a report about some legislators' interest in taxing digital downloads.

John Hood's Daily Journal focuses on the problems associated with the federal government's official poverty rate.

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