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Saturday, November 1, 2008
Excellent Readings

Excellent readings, with excerpts in most cases. The categories and their (sizes) are: Not About the Election or Its Issues (small). The Howler of the Week (small). What We'll Get If We Get Barack Obama (large). Economics Generally (medium).

Not About the Election or Its Issues

Is anyone thinking about Laura Bush's legacy? Kathleen Parker says it's impressive.

The Howler of the Week

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the howler of the week, quoted at her local ABC affiliate's web site. She is speaking of what things will be like if the Democrats win large majorities in both the House and Senate. Coming nearly two years after her broken earlier promises of political nirvana, the bit about accountability would have been a good candidate for howler of the week, were it not for the line about bipartisanship which follows.

Elect us, hold us accountable, and make a judgment and then go from there. But I do tell you that if the Democrats win, and have substantial majorities, Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan.

What We'll Get If We Get Barack Obama

Don't be daunted by the title of Paul Greenberg's "The Joy of Losing." It doesn't fit the excellent essay itself. (Writers usually don't write their own titles. Editors do -- in this case, apparently, after reading only the first paragraph.)

Jonah Goldberg says Obama's "new" ideas are throwbacks to FDR. An excerpt:

Note: If Obama wins next week, all three of his preconditions [for establishing universal health care] will have been met, and his colleagues in the House and Senate are itching like junkies for a new New Deal. Only in a country of amnesiacs could one claim that socialized medicine is a "new idea."

Blowing away the dust and cobwebs from ancient wares doesn't make them new. Save for his skin color, Obama doesn't represent anything novel. Rather, he symbolizes a return to an older vision of the United States that was seen as the "wave of the future" eight decades ago.

Here are Mark Steyn's first and last lines, plus a few from the middle. The italicized portion of the first excerpt are a positively brilliant, concise explanation of the polls. (The italics are mine.)

Across the electric wires, the hum is ceaseless: Give it up, loser. Don't go down with the ship when it's swept away by the Obama tsunami. According to newspaper reports, polls show that most people believe newspaper reports claiming that most people believe polls showing that most people have read newspaper reports agreeing that polls show he's going to win.


The spirit of the age is: Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it. Why can't the government sort out my health care? Why can't they pick up my mortgage?


The only reason why Belgium has gotten away with being Belgium and Sweden Sweden and Germany Germany this long is because America's America. The soft comfortable cocoon in which western Europe has dozed this last half-century is girded by cold hard American power. What happens when the last serious western nation votes for the same soothing beguiling siren song as its enervated allies?


Peggy Noonan thinks a President Obama will be like the dog who chases the car and finally catches it: Now what? I think Obama will be content to be King Barack the Benign, Spreader of Wealth and Healer of Planets. His rise is, in many ways, testament to the persistence of the monarchical urge even in a two-century old republic. So the "Now what?" questions will be answered by others, beginning with the liberal supermajority in Congress. And as he has done all his life he will take the path of least resistance. An Obama Administration will pitch America toward EU domestic policy and UN foreign policy. Thomas Sowell is right: It would be a "point of no return," the most explicit repudiation of the animating principles of America. For a vigilant republic of limited government and self-reliant citizens, it would be a Declaration of Dependence.

If a majority of Americans want that, we holdouts must respect their choice. But, if you don't want it, vote accordingly.

Steven G. Calabresi analyzes the likely trends in federal courts at all levels if Barack Obama becomes president. Here are his opening and closing lines. There's scary stuff in between.

One of the great unappreciated stories of the past eight years is how thoroughly Senate Democrats thwarted efforts by President Bush to appoint judges to the lower federal courts.


Nothing less than the very idea of liberty and the rule of law are at stake in this election. We should not let Mr. Obama replace justice with empathy in our nation's courtrooms.

Orson Scott Card writes of what's at stake in this election and why you should vote. Here's an excerpt on the latter topic:

The radical Left wants you to believe the election is already over. Obama has won, so you might as well stay home.

Don't believe them. Hold on to some hope.

Make sure you vote. Make sure everyone who cares about the same things as you also votes. Call them. Twice. Give them rides. Thank them after they voted.

Even if you're in a state that is regarded as a foregone conclusion. Utah. Massachusetts. Your vote still matters.

Thomas Sowell writes of misguided taxation:

Who writes the checks does not tell you who really pays the costs [of taxes]. . . . The idea that you can single out one segment of society to be taxed or mandated, for the benefit of the rest of society, is reminiscent of a San Francisco automobile dealer's sign: "We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you."

In a further endorsement of John McCain, Charles Krauthammer lists what we'll get if we elect Barack Obama. (He's wrong on one thing: After this quoted passage, he writes, "This is not socialism." I beg to differ.)

What will you get?

(1) Card check, meaning the abolition of the secret ballot in the certification of unions in the workplace. Large men will come to your house at night and ask you to sign a card supporting a union. You will sign.

(2) The so-called Fairness Doctrine -- a project of Nancy Pelosi and leading Democratic senators -- a Hugo Chavez-style travesty designed to abolish conservative talk radio.

(3) Judges who go beyond even the constitutional creativity we expect from Democratic appointees. Judges chosen according to Obama's publicly declared criterion: "empathy" for the "poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old" -- in a legal system historically predicated on the idea of justice entirely blind to one's station in life.

(4) An unprecedented expansion of government power. Yes, I know. It has already happened. A conservative government has already partially nationalized the mortgage industry, the insurance industry and nine of the largest U.S. banks.

This is all generally swallowed because everyone understands that the current crisis demands extraordinary measures. The difference is that conservatives are instinctively inclined to make such measures temporary. Whereas an Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Barney Frank administration will find irresistible the temptation to use the tools inherited -- $700 billion of largely uncontrolled spending -- as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to radically remake the American economy and social compact.

David Harsanyi writes of Obama the redistributionist in an excellent column with a delightful title, "If It Redistributes Like a Duck . . . ." I actually e-mailed him to disagree with him calling Obama's economics "not socialism" but "more like Robin Hood economics" -- on both of which points I have recently blogged. Here are enough lines to give you the flavor of the piece. (The last sentence below deserves to survive the election and be quoted for decades to come.)

If you believe that "fairness" -- a childishly subjective idea that ought to be quarantined to playgrounds and Berkeley City Council meetings -- should be meted out by the autocrats inhabiting Washington, D.C., your faith will be duly rewarded.


The proposition that government should take one group's lawfully earned profits and hand them to another group -- not a collection of destitute or impaired Americans, mind you, but a still-vibrant middle class -- is the foundational premise of Obama's fiscal policy.


Bush's failure, however, should not be counted as a failure of markets or capitalism. And even if it were, history shows us that the failures of capitalism are a lot more fun than the absence of capitalism.

Economics Generally

A lot of what folks say and believe about economics just doesn't make sense. Walter Williams calls it "wackonomics." His parting shot:

Wackonomics isn't all bad. There's an upside to it. It spares people the bother of having to understand the complexities of the world.

The last quarter was the first quarter that looks like a recession. I expect the current quarter will make it official.

This San Diego Union Tribune editorial is a fairly clear, concise account of the current economic debacle's origins. It begins:

The mismanagement of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is no orphan. It has many fathers, and deregulation of financial markets isn't one of them.

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