Posts Tagged: Things

Dec 10

Reply to Ilya Regarding Evidence on How Leftists See Things

I have been arguing that leftist thinking typically involves a preconception of overlordship, with “the people” or “the state” (in the Hegelian sense, not merely the government) being the overlord. The best way to think of it is that the American people collectively own what I have called the “substructure” of the United States of America. Resorting to analogy I wrote: “you own the soil, perhaps, but the state owns the ‘flower pot’ within which your soil sits.” With the people owning the “flower pot,” you are then party to an implicit contract with the overlord restricting how you use your property and what contracts you make within the overlord’s realm.

On this conception of the configuration of ownership, the situation is analogous to entering a workplace and agreeing to limits on talking on your mobile phone, or entering a restaurant and agreeing to rules against wearing hats indoors, or entering a lease on an apartment and agreeing to rules limiting where tenants place a satellite dish. In these analogies, the mobile phone, the hat, or the satellite dish is your property, but you have voluntarily entered into a contract against doing certain things with it.

Ilya has suggested that most leftists do not actually think this way. Rather, he suggests that they, like libertarians, subscribe to an individualist configuration of ownership, and simply favor more restrictions on individual liberty than do libertarians.

I wish Ilya were right in this matter. I wish that leftists would affirm the individualist configuration of ownership, and identify liberty and coercion as libertarians do. They would then make themselves responsible to the presumptions and burdens of proof carried by such semantics. Unfortunately, I do not find Ilya’s arguments persuasive.

Ilya has suggested that survey data about the Kelo decision supports his contention about how leftists see things. As Ilya puts it, the survey data “show that the overwhelming majority of both the general public and self-described ‘liberals’ oppose such transfers, with many expressing great indignation about the Court’s decision.”

I see a couple of problems in invoking the Kelo survey results as evidence against my conjecture that leftists have overlordist preconceptions.

First, one can have overlordist preconceptions and still oppose certain rules that the duly appointed officers of the overlord implement. By analogy, I might think that my employer’s rules against mobile-phone use, the restaurant’s rules against wearing hats indoors, or my landlord’s rules about satellite-dish placement are bad or even immoral. Even though I disagree with the rule, I do not deny that the employer owns the worksite, the restaurant owner owns the restaurant, or the landlord the apartment complex. Likewise, if we subscribe to overlordism and the government passes a law forbidding the selling, manufacturing, and transporting of alcoholic beverages (as did the 18th Amendment), we could disagree with that rule without giving up our overlordism.

Second, in the case of the Kelo question, a survey respondent might have overlordist preconceptions and judge the decision to be a violation liberty. The reasoning here would be that the Kelo decision upholds a violation of the contract that Suzette Kelo had with the people, a contract based on the United States Constitution. That is, if a respondent with overlordist preconceptions regards the decision as unconstitutional, then he would regard the decision as a liberty violation, but that does not mean that he subscribes to the individualist configuration of ownership. He is still an overlordist.

Thus, I do not see the survey findings about Kelo as significant evidence against my conjecture about overlordist preconceptions.

Evidence regarding my conjecture would have to address not merely whether people agree with a certain decision or policy, but whether they view it as a liberty violation – two matters that we must learn to keep distinct. That is the kind of evidence I offered from the questionnaire put to people who had signed a petition to raise the minimum wage (Klein and Dompe 2007). But Ilya attempts to shoot down that evidence, saying it “is at best only very weak evidence for Daniel’s point.”

I find problems with Ilya’s criticisms of the minimum-wage questionnaire. First, that employment is a matter or contract, not property relations, is immaterial: In the overlordist view, the contract with the overlord is a matter of permissible contracts as well as property issues. Second, Ilya represents the question as asking whether the minimum wage law is a significant coercion, rather than what the question in fact asked, which is whether the law is coercive in a significant sense of that term. Third, he criticizes the sample of respondents, who were economists, who, he says, tend to be utilitarians. I do not see why that should affect how they see the underlying configuration of ownership. Finally, he criticizes the complexity of the question and suggests that respondents may have answered hastily without fully understanding the question. Yes, the question was very unusual and conceptually complex, but such is the nature of asking someone how they conceptualize a matter in terms of liberty/coercion. As for the possibility that the respondents answered hastily, note that the respondents were told that their answers to the questionnaire would be made public and would not be anonymous. They originally put their names into the public realm by signing the “raise the minimum wage” petition, and we proceeded to make our questionnaire public and non-anonymous as well. These circumstances would militate against responding carelessly or hastily.

When designing the minimum-wage questionnaire I wrote the liberty question to get at the issue of this Cato Unbound exchange. The responses show that very few leftist economists answer as Ilya suggested they would, and that a flat-out majority selected the option: “I give little to no weight to that definition of liberty; the minimum wage law is not coercive in any significant sense.” These responses are a unique form of evidence on the very questions with which we are dealing.

In Ilya’s comment he repeatedly quotes me as describing overlordism as the view that “everything is owned by the state.” In retrospect I see that I should have avoided any such simplified variation of the idea – I used those words as a warm-up to the fuller idea elaborated in my original essay. That is, I should have described overlordism only in terms of a contract between the individual and the owner of the substructure/ realm/”flower pot,” a contract that thereby envelopes his actions within the polity.


Klein, Daniel B. and Stewart Dompe. 2007. “Reasons for Supporting the Minimum Wage: Asking Signatories of the ‘Raise the Minimum Wage’ Statement.” Econ Journal Watch 4(1): 125-67. Link

Cato Unbound

Dec 10

Mitch McConnell says the darndest things

Thumbnail image for mcconnelltaxcuts.JPG

I’m not surprised that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to spend the next two years kicking President Obama in the shins. What does surprise me is that he keeps saying he wants to spend the next two years kicking President Obama in the shins. Yesterday, he told Politico that “there’s much for [the Democrats] to be angst-ridden about. If they think it’s bad now, wait ‘til next year.” A few months ago, when National Journal asked him, “what’s the job?,” he said, “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

This is not how prominent politicians tend to talk. Bipartisanship might be mostly illusory in Washington, but it’s very popular in the country. And polls continually show that Americans think President Obama more sincerely interested in bipartisanship than the Republicans are — which theoretically gives him the upper hand if and when he does choose to go to the mat over something. So why does McConnell speak this way? The theories I’ve heard are:

1) The Mr. Smith flicks off Washington theory: McConnell himself is a hardcore partisan who truly dislikes Obama. The guy says this stuff because he’s an uncommonly honest politician.

2) Jon Chait’s theory: McConnell is worried about the tea parties, both in Kentucky, where they knocked off his favored candidate in a primary, and nationally. This is how he stays ahead of them.

3) The DeMint theory: The common take on McConnell on the Hill is that he’s terrified of Jim DeMint’s growing influence among Republican legislators. McConnell can’t out-conservative DeMint — in part because he’s simply not conservative in the way DeMint is, and in part because, as leader, he’ll have to sign onto compromises that DeMint will never support — so he’s trying to out-partisan him, with the central insight being that most conservatives are bigger partisans than they are ideologues.

4) The negotiator’s theory: McConnell is a creature of the Senate. He makes deals. The tax deal, for instance, was McConnell’s. So he repeats these comments for two reasons: First, to show the White House that he’s not a pushover, and is not impressed by them and should not be taken lightly. And second, to underscore his partisan credibility so that when he does cut deals with the White House, he has the conservative capital necessary to sell them as something other than capitulations to Obama.

5) He’s communicating with his members and allies: Senate Republicans will remain in the minority next year, and so McConnell’s job in 2011 will be the same as his job in 2010: Keep everyone together on procedural votes so Democrats can’t move their agenda forward. McConnell is giving these quotes to Beltway publications like the National Journal and Politico, which are best understood as message boards where the professional political class talks to itself. By making his intentions public in these forums, McConnell is letting his members — not to mention allied lobbyists, advocacy groups, etc — know how seriously he’s going to take party loyalty over the next two years.

Any that I’m missing?

Photo credit: By J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Ezra Klein

Dec 10

One Of Two Things Rep. Jeff Flake Wants To Cut: Head Start Program For Needy Kids

Appearing on Fox and Friends yesterday morning, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who will sit on the powerful appropriations committee next year, advocated the creation of a new congressional panel to look for things to cut in the federal budget. When host Brian Kilmeade asked Flake for examples of what he would like to cut, Flake listed only two items: ethanol subsidies and Head Start, the venerable early education program which he said is “not money well spent”:

KILMEADE: But give me an example of what you’d liked to cut, where you saw waste already.

FLAKE: Well, our farm programs, for example. … Another program is Head Start, for example. We spend a considerable amount of money when study after study shows it’s not money well spent. And we’re going to have to cut programs like this, if we’re going to trim this budget.

Watch it:

Flake’s two proposed cuts, representing just $ 15 billion, would do almost nothing to reduce the deficit. But more importantly, they reveal a disturbing set of priorities, in which help for impoverished children gets the ax before legitimately wasteful programs, or budget-busting tax increases for the wealthy.

Head Start is a valuable early education program, which has helped millions of low-income children and their families through comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services since it was started in 1965. Despite Flake’s claims that “study after study” show the program is a waste, “[s]ubstantial research finds that [Head Start] programs provide educational benefits,” help “improve the health of the children and families they serve,” and “benefits its children and society-at-large by reducing crime.” And contradictory to Flake’s claim, a longterm study in California found that “our society receives nearly $ 9 in benefits for every $ 1 invested in Head Start children.”

Certainly, Head Start has room for improvement. But the solution is to fix its problems and improve the program, not to scrap it all together. The Obama administration has been working to do just this, and has increased funding to Head Start though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Center for American Progress has proposed several ways to improve Head Start, beginning with moving the program to the Department of Education from Health and Human Services, where it is currently housed.

But even with its problems, there are dozens of better places Flake could look to cut $ 7 billion dollars — a relatively meager sum that represents just 0.002 percent of the federal budget — than on the backs of needy children.

Wonk Room

Dec 10

MSN Trashes Palin Show: ‘Killing Dozens of Living Things and Millions of Brain Cells’

People clicking through for a list of Best and Worst TV of 2010 found mostly rave reviews, but near the end of the list came the "Worst," and critic Chris Larkin really blasted Sarah Palin's Alaska with the usual disdain that anyone would kill animals (but wishes a bear would harm Palin):

See Sarah fish. She Sarah hunt. See Sarah log. All eight parts of this shameless ad for the Alaska Division of Tourism involve the killing of dozens of living things and millions of brain cells. Where's an attacking bear when you really need it? The saving grace is watching the former vice presidential candidate well up while discussing Trig, her 2-year-old son who suffers from Down syndrome. But these rare heartfelt moments can't sustain the otherwise painful tedium. Five million viewers watched the premiere, a record for TLC. Three million viewers watched the second episode. Two million viewers were not wrong.

read more - Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Dec 10

MSN Trashes Palin Show: ‘Killing Dozens of Living Things and Millions of Brain Cells’

People clicking through for a list of Best and Worst TV of 2010 found mostly rave reviews, but near the end of the list came the "Worst," and critic Chris Larkin really blasted Sarah Palin's Alaska with the usual disdain that anyone would kill animals (but wishes a bear would harm Palin):

See Sarah fish. She Sarah hunt. See Sarah log. All eight parts of this shameless ad for the Alaska Division of Tourism involve the killing of dozens of living things and millions of brain cells. Where's an attacking bear when you really need it? The saving grace is watching the former vice presidential candidate well up while discussing Trig, her 2-year-old son who suffers from Down syndrome. But these rare heartfelt moments can't sustain the otherwise painful tedium. Five million viewers watched the premiere, a record for TLC. Three million viewers watched the second episode. Two million viewers were not wrong.

read more blogs

Dec 10

5 most surprising things about WaPo “Monitoring America” investigation?

Government is inefficient and tips lines create work.

The Washington Post’s Monitoring America series provides no great surprises for anyone who worries about the right to privacy in the age of terrorism.  These concerns have been in tension against the need to protect the nation from terrorists at home and abroad, and both Left and Right have objected to certain measures and practices [...]

Read this post »

Hot Air » Top Picks

Dec 10

Wonkbook: The do-something Congress keeps doing things


The 111th Congress refuses to go quietly into that sweet night. Friday, of course, saw the $ 850 billion tax deal sent to President Obama. On Saturday, the Senate broke the filibuster protecting the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rules. On Sunday, it passed the food safety bill. Those three accomplishments — all of them significant in their own right — now join the 111th’s other achievements: Health-care reform, the financial-regulation bill, the stimulus, Ted Kennedy’s national-service bill, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and student-loan reform, just to name a few. And the 111th may not be done: Chuck Schumer wants them to stick around to pass a bill giving health benefits to the Ground Zero responders.

That is not to say it hasn’t failed on at least some of what it promised to do. We still don’t have a national energy strategy, of course. The House passed a cap-and-trade bill, but it languished in the Senate. Immigration reform has been ignored, and the DREAM Act — a consolation prize at best — was choked off by a filibuster. There are dozens of nominees sitting on their hands, and the collapse of the omnibus spending bill means the federal government will only be funded until March — at which point you can expect a Republican House to use the leverage of a possible government shutdown and a vote on the debt limit to play some serious hardball.

But for now, spare a thought for the 111th, the most productive Congress we’ve had in decades. The common complaint with politicians is that they make all these promises and then head to Washington and do nothing. Whatever you can say about the 111th, you can’t say that. Love their record or hate it, they headed to Washington and did exactly what they said they were going to do.

Top Stories

The Senate will punt on the federal budget until March, report Jessica Holzer and Patrick O’Connor: “The Senate moved ahead Sunday night on a deal to fund the federal government through March 4, setting the stage for a budget fight early next year, when Republicans will wield more power. Congress has failed to pass legislation to fund the government for the full fiscal year that began Oct. 1, relying instead on several short-term measures. The most recent one expires on Tuesday, and a failure by Congress to approve new funding by then could lead to a government shut-down. On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) arranged for a Tuesday vote on a plan to fund the government through early March.”

The food safety bill will pass after all, reports Lyndsey Layton: “A bill that would overhaul the nation’s food-safety laws for the first time since the Great Depression came roaring back to life Sunday as Senate Democrats struck a deal with Republicans that helped overcome a technical mistake made three weeks ago and a filibuster threat that seemed likely to scuttle the legislation. After a weekend of negotiations, tense strategy sessions and several premature predictions about the bill’s demise, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) reached a deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that the GOP would not filibuster. Without notice and in a matter of minutes Sunday evening, the Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent, sending it to the House, where passage is expected.”

The DREAM Act failed to break a filibuster Saturday, reports Shankar Vendatam: “Deporting almost 800,000 illegal immigrants might antagonize some Democrats and Latino voters, Obama’s skeptical supporters said the president told them, but stepped-up enforcement was the only way to buy credibility with Republicans and generate bipartisan support for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. On Saturday, that strategy was in ruins after Senate Democrats could muster only 55 votes in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a measure that would have created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Under Senate rules, Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome Republican opposition to the bill. The House of Representatives had passed the measure this month, 216 to 198.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to keep Congress in session to pass health aid for 9/11 first responders, reports Manu Raju: “New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday that the House should stay in session until the Senate passes a new version of a bill aimed at giving health benefits to Ground Zero workers. Setting up a clash in the final days of the congressional session, Schumer - along with fellow New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand - offered a modified version of a bill Sunday giving compensation to rescue workers who fell ill from the toxic dust stemming from the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.”

Massachusetts shows what a world with an individual mandate can look like, reports, well, me: “It’s time to check in on how Massachusetts is doing. And the answer, basically, is pretty well. This week, the state’s health and human services agency released the results of a new, independent survey examining coverage in Massachusetts. More than 98 percent - 98 percent! - of the state’s residents now have health insurance, as do more than 99 percent of the state’s children.”

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

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Self-released rock interlude: Keepaway’s “Yellow Wings”.

Still to come: EJ Dionne argues that liberals should make peace with big business; states suing Bank of America for foreclosure fraud; a plan to save Medicaid; a plan to save the Post Office; and a baby panda tries and fails to climb up a slide.


Two states are suing Bank of America for fraud, report Andrew Martin and Michael Powell: “In withering complaints filed in state courts in both states, the attorneys general accused Bank of America of assuring customers that they would not be foreclosed upon while they were seeking loan modifications, only to proceed with foreclosures anyway; of falsely telling customers that they must be in default to obtain a modification; of promising that the modifications would be made permanent if they completed a trial period, only to renege on the deal; and of conjuring up bogus reasons for denying modifications.”

The charitable deduction should be reformed, writes Richard Thaler:

Obama’s housing regulator nominee faces a Senate fight, reports Nick Timiraos: “The White House’s pick to head the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac appears unlikely to win Senate confirmation before Congress adjourns due to a sharp policy disagreement between the White House and Senate Republicans over how to regulate the mortgage-finance giants. Senate Republicans are pressing to delay the confirmation of Joseph A. Smith, the North Carolina banking commissioner, to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. They are concerned he might allow Fannie and Freddie to participate in an Obama administration initiative to write down loan balances, say people familiar with the matter.”

Free market fundamentalism is on the rise despite being wrong about everything, writes Paul Krugman: “The free-market fundamentalists have been as wrong about events abroad as they have about events in America — and suffered equally few consequences. ‘Ireland,’ declared George Osborne in 2006, ‘stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policymaking.’ Whoops. But Mr. Osborne is now Britain’s top economic official. And in his new position, he’s setting out to emulate the austerity policies Ireland implemented after its bubble burst. After all, conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic spent much of the past year hailing Irish austerity as a resounding success. ‘The Irish approach worked in 1987-89 — and it’s working now,’ declared Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute last June. Whoops, again.”

Cash should be abandoned in favor of electronic money storage, writes Jonathan Liptow:

Progressives should make peace with Big Business, writes E.J. Dionne: “There have been moments in our history when important elements of business were ‘progressive’ in the sense of recognizing that social reform was in capitalism’s long-term interest. In a seminal 1995 article in the American Prospect about business opposition to President Bill Clinton’s health-care reform, the political writer John Judis recalled that during the Progressive Era, ‘business leaders and organizations played an indispensable role in developing and promoting the social legislation that first blunted the sharp edges of laissez-faire capitalism.’ Judis’s conclusion still rings true: that ‘without a business community moderately supportive of social reform, little is possible in the present era.’”

Adorable animals on playgrounds interlude: A baby panda fails to climb on a slide.

Health Care

Medical suppliers are beginning to pay surgeons directly, report John Carreyrou and Tom McGinty: “Medtronic and the surgeons say the payments are mostly royalties they earned for helping the company design one of its best-selling spine products. Corporate whistleblowers and congressional critics contend such arrangements-which are common in orthopedic surgery-amount to kickbacks to stoke sales of medical devices. They argue that the overuse of surgical hardware ranging from heart stents to artificial hips is a big factor behind the soaring costs of Medicare, the government medical-insurance system for the elderly and disabled.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell insists his state’s health care lawsuit is “not political”:

The way to improve Medicaid is to increase funding, not slash it, writes Jonathan Cohn: “By far, the best way to improve Medicaid would be to give it more money per beneficiary — so that it pays providers something closer to what Medicare and private insurance pay. Do that and those Medicaid patients in Baton Rouge would get care that looks more like the treatment people with good insurance receive…In general, the people attacking Medicaid want to spend less on the program. And while critics sometimes argue private insurance could deliver coverage more cost effectively, the claim is hard to fathom. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicaid spends on average $ 2,500 per year for non-elderly adults — roughly half what a single person pays today for a private health insurance premium.”

Liberals can’t protect the individual mandate if they can’t limit the Commerce Clause, writes Adam Serwer:

Domestic Policy

The budget compromise will save food stamps, reports David Rogers: “Democrats predicted final approval this week of a year-end budget compromise ceding major leverage to Republicans in future battles but also giving the White House added protection for Pell Grants for low-income college students…After a late-breaking drive, the White House won an exception for the Pell program to avert what could be a one-third cut from the maximum per-student grant authorized for the 2011-12 college year. Those receiving such aid are overwhelmingly students from families earning under $ 40,000 annually, and as demand has grown with the recession, Pell faces an estimated $ 5.7 billion shortfall.”

Jamelle Bouie interviews an academic defender of earmarks:

We should be using the Postal Service to collect data, writes Michael Ravnitzky: “The service’s thousands of delivery vehicles have only one purpose now: to transport mail. But what if they were fitted with sensors to collect and transmit information about weather or air pollutants? The trucks would go from being bulky tools of industrial-age communication to being on the cutting edge of 21st-century information-gathering and forecasting. After all, the delivery fleet already goes to almost every home and business in America nearly every day, and it travels fixed routes along a majority of the country’s roads to get there. Data collection wouldn’t require much additional staff or resources; all it would take would be a small, cheap and unobtrusive sensor package mounted on each truck.”

Great moments in university bands interlude: The University of Hawaii band forms into a person walking.


Renewable energy groups are getting a frosty reception from Republicans, reports Darren Samuelsohn: “Groups like the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association must deal with the awkwardness of trying to work with the same Republicans who opposed their efforts to put a lid on greenhouse gases…Republican leaders are critical of giving long-term life to the renewable sector, which is expected to get a short-term boost via the tax-extender package. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said he’s skeptical of the rationale behind spending $ 10 billion a year over the past decade on subsidies for wind and solar power.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller is conceding defeat on blocking EPA climate rules:

An omnibus lands bill likely will not pass the Senate:

A renewable energy standard has a chance of gaining Republican support, reports Ben Geman: “Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Saturday that a ‘clean’ energy standard for electric utilities could gain traction among Republicans in the next Congress even though it would create a new federal mandate. Murkowski, the top GOP member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the standard should allow wide discretion for states and regions, which would help build support. ‘I think there is a level of flexibility that allows you to achieve the goal of reduced [greenhouse gas] emissions, but gives you the ability to determine what it is you are going to do and how you are going to do it. I don’t think that is a mandate that scares people away,’ she told The Hill in the Capitol.”

The Navy and Marines are going green, writes Tom Friedman: “Their efforts are based in part on a recent study from 2007 data that found that the U.S. military loses one person, killed or wounded, for every 24 fuel convoys it runs in Afghanistan. Today, there are hundreds and hundreds of these convoys needed to truck fuel — to run air-conditioners and power diesel generators — to remote bases all over Afghanistan. Mabus’s argument is that if the U.S. Navy and Marines could replace those generators with renewable power and more energy efficient buildings, and run its ships on nuclear energy, biofuels and hybrid engines, and fly its jets with bio-fuels, then it could out-green the Taliban — the best way to avoid a roadside bomb is to not have vehicles on the roads.”

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews, Mike Shepard, and Michelle Williams. Photo credit: Bill O’leary - The Washington Post.

Ezra Klein

Dec 10

These are a few of Reid’s favorite things

Stalling on treaties and jamming lame-duckers …

Only in a lame-duck session of Congress could a meat dress worn by Lady Gaga have any relevance to national security and foreign policy.  Harry Reid attempted to embarrass Republicans complaining of getting jammed on START by talking about how many events have occurred since Barack Obama and Dmitiri Medvedev signed the treaty, moving from [...]

Read this post »

Hot Air » Top Picks

Dec 10

The Federal Government Can’t Do Lots Of Things

Today, a Republican judge in Florida will hear oral arguments in the most high-profile lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. The crux of the plaintiffs’ argument in that case is that, if the federal government can require individuals to carry health insurance, then it is “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power,” and this [...]
Wonk Room

Dec 10

Things You Won’t Read About at Media Matters, Episode XXIV

**Written by Doug Powers

Will the left now be asking some of their like-minded brethren to tone down their “class warfare” rhetoric?

First, some background on what happened yesterday from The Blaze:

As we reported earlier, Clay Duke, a Florida man whose wife had been recently fired by the local school system, took matters into his own hands Tuesday as he entered a Bay County school board meeting armed with a handgun. After school board members tried to talk Duke down, he raised his pistol and began firing randomly at the seated school board members.

He missed all of them. A security guard then shot and wounded Duke. At that point Duke killed himself.

Thankfully this maniac was a terrible shot. Here’s a brief video from WMBB of the first shot so you can see just how close he was:

What motivated him? Yes, his wife recently lost her job, but lots of people are losing their jobs without trying to kill innocent people.

Even absent any further details, you can be certain he wasn’t a Tea Party member or right-wing talk radio aficionado, or this would be all over the network news by now:

Clay Duke, the man who opened fire on a Florida school board Tuesday, posted a “last testament” on Facebook decrying the wealthy and linking to a slew of progressive sites including and

The chilling Facebook statement, posted under the “About Clay” section, talks about being born poor and how the rich “take turns fleecing us”:

Replace those two sites with “Glenn Beck” and “Tea Party” and you’d be looking at the lead story on all the nightly newscasts, with the actual shooting as a mere backdrop.

So who’s to blame for this shooting and suicide? Media Matters? Bernie Sanders? No — Clay Duke is to blame (I refuse to shed my “personal responsibility” streak as tempting as it can be at times).

Meanwhile, as Media Matters is still busy trumpeting how dangerous Glenn Beck’s “violent rhetoric” is, there’s not a mention on their site of the media that Clay Duke considered worthy of following. Some media just don’t matter when it comes to these things.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Michelle Malkin

Dec 10

Three things we learned from Cliff Lee’s new deal with Philly -

CBS News
Three things we learned from Cliff Lee's new deal with Philly
During the courtship of free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee, the term "mystery team" became a buzz phrase, a two-word summary of the classic rouse used by sports agents to generate more interest in their client and condemnation of the way the mostly
Surprise: Cliff Lee headed to PhilliesUSA Today
Winners and losers in Lee's midnight return to
Lee Accepts Late Bid by PhilliesNew York Times
Dallas Morning News -Los Angeles Times
all 935 news articles »

Sports - Google News

Dec 10

A Few of the Bitter Half’s Favorite Things

It’s so good to be Queen, sometimes it must take an effort to stay bitter:

On a tip from TED.


Dec 10

Vikes won’t cater to Favre’s streak, plus 10 things to watch for Sunday -

Fox News
Vikes won't cater to Favre's streak, plus 10 things to watch for Sunday
Brett Favre's consecutive games streak is in jeopardy because of an injury he suffered in Week 13 against the Bills. Talked to Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier about his quarterback situation last night and came away unsure about whether Brett Favre will
Brett Favre practices, doesn't throwESPN
Favre takes snaps in practiceAtlanta Journal Constitution
Favre's streak won't be extended with a one-snap cameoProFootballTalk
Wall Street Journal -CBS News
all 1,879 news articles »

Sports - Google News

Dec 10

Things That Are Either Significant Or Meaningless

When I went to Germany in October of 2009, I would tediously find a way to insert a question about whether or not Germany should rethink its export-oriented economic model into every discussion. The answer was universally “no.” Here in December of 2010, the answer is sometimes “yes.” It’s impossible to assess the real significance of the shift because of course I’m talking to different people. But I think there’s a real change. The outcome of the last election followed by the arrival of the CDU-FDP coalition followed by strong economic growth has, paradoxically, created the incentive for left-of-center Germans to start coming up with ideas about underlying weaknesses in the model.

Meanwhile, German consumption is in fact now rising.

What you of course don’t here is “Germany is richer than Greece, Spain, or Portugal so naturally transfer payments to working class Germans should be cut in order to finance transfer payments to the poorer working classes of Greece, Spain, and Portugal.”


Dec 10

Dept. of stranger things have happened

Matt Bai wrote this morning:


The idea [of a Democratic primary in 2012] seems to have little momentum for now, not least because there isn’t an obvious candidate, and because such a challenge would seem to have about as much chance of success as, say, a reality show about David Hasselhoff.

A reader emails:


I’m perplexed by Bai’s analogy. The Hoff does have a reality show on A &E! (Uh, my wife happened to be watching it last night.) Is Bai’s point that a primary challenge, while unanticipated and undesired, could really happen? Or is he a regular viewer declaring that the show will inevitably fail? Maybe he somehow missed this latest addition to the “celebrity” “reality” television.

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