March 12, 2009

Byron York Explains Why Obama and His Party Don’t Like Our Founders

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:23 pm

It’s because they too would want his plans to fail.

From yesterday’s Washington Examiner (HT to excerpts read by Rush Limbaugh guest host Jason Lewis):

Why The Founding Fathers Would Want Obama’s Plans to Fail

James Madison was not specifically contemplating Barack Obama, or Nancy Pelosi, when he wrote Federalist No. 63. But reading the document — one of the seminal arguments in favor of adopting the U.S. Constitution — it’s clear Madison knew their type. And he knew they would come along again and again in American history, if Americans were lucky enough to have a long history.

Obama and Pelosi, along with their most ardent supporters, are the types to see a crisis, like our current economic mess, as a “great opportunity,” as the president put it last Saturday. They are the types, after a long period out of power, to attempt to use that “great opportunity” to push through far-reaching changes in national policy that had only a tangential connection, if at all, to the crisis at hand. And they are the types the Founding Fathers wanted to stop.

In the Federalist Papers, written 221 years ago, Madison addressed the need for a Senate to accompany the more populist House of Representatives. An upper body, he wrote, “may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions.”

For the times when a political leader would attempt to capitalize on those errors and delusions, the Founders prescribed the Senate, with its members elected to terms three times the length of those in the House, originally chosen not by the people but by the state legislatures.

….. Now is the time for the salutary interference of temperate and respectable citizens, otherwise known as the 41 Republicans in the United States Senate. It is their job to help the president in areas where there is widespread agreement that he should be helped, and hold the line on everything else.

Of course the economy is in crisis. But if Obama had his way, everything would be treated as if it were a crisis. Health care is a crisis. The environment is a crisis. Education is a crisis. In truth, those other areas are not crises, and the Senate’s job is to delay action on them until Obama’s power to stir popular passions fades.

There is a problem in all of this, in that the Senate is also beholden to special-interest groups to such an extent that their ability to act as a backstop against the passions of the moment has been at least partially, and I believe mostly, neutered.

I know that fellow SORer Repeal the 17th would agree with me that York’s write-up explains why the 17th amendment, the direct election of US senators, was such a big mistake. In fact, I see he posted on Wednesday morning about this ahead of me.

Sorry to seem undemocratic folks, but the Founders set it up so that Senators would be selected by the legislators exactly to be the kind of backstop York hopes for, and to give states their correct level of influence in national affairs. The 17th makes York’s hope remote at best.

Lucid Links (031209, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:25 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

Best description of the Troubled Assets Relief Program yet — “an unaccountable secretive national hedge fund which buys lousy assets at inflated prices from banks mismanaged for personal profit by multi-millionaires, and makes non-consensual capital calls on uninformed, captive, financially unsophisticated families.” — i.e., taxpayers. I suppose rank and file taxpayers are seen by the elitists as “unsophisticated,” but at least most taxpayers know that income is supposed to be greater than or equal to outgo.

An anonymous columnist at Pajamas Media writes — “Get Ready for Obama’s Department of ‘Extreme’ Justice.” Money sentence: “Indeed, virtually every nominee to date is far to the left of the legal mainstream.” Also: “President Obama has nominated individuals who are extremists on issues such as abortion, pornography, and euthanasia.”

From House Republican Leader John Boehner — “President’s Embryonic Stem Cell Decision Runs Counter to His Promise to ‘Be a President for All Americans.’”

Michelle Malkin — “Tax-subsidized ACORN mob teams up with L.A. teachers.” As I noted in a post yesterday, only the news outlet that Michelle referred to mentioned ACORN’s presence.

James Morrow (HT Instapundit) — “The Calgon President.”

This small collection of posts about a legal billing matter is in reality an indicator that something is rotten in Michigan’s legal community. There is cause for believing that the extended family of Mitt Romney is intertwined with it.

Heh: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — “The Dodd Couple.”

From the Wall Street Journal — “Obama, Geithner Get Low Grades From Economists.” Money passage: “On average, they gave the president a grade of 59 out of 100. …. (Tim) Geithner received an average grade of 51. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71.” But “In December, before Mr. Obama took office, three-quarters of respondents said the incoming administration’s economic team was better than the departing Bush team.” Reality bites.

Hope for earth, from Gallup — “Although a majority of Americans believe the seriousness of global warming is either correctly portrayed in the news or underestimated, a record-high 41% now say it is exaggerated. This represents the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming seen in more than a decade of Gallup polling on the subject.”

Mark Tapscott nails the Team Obama mindset — “policy-making by perpetual crisis.”

Positivity: Stunning! Stem cells from adult cells

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 8:01 am

From Chennai, India:

9 Mar 2009, 0542 hrs IST

It was ‘Eureka, we did it too’ for a core team of scientists at the well-equipped stem cell research centre, located in Bagayam in suburban Vellore in north Tamil Nadu. For the first time in India, the scientific team, which began work on generating iPS (induced Pluripotent Stem) cells from mice in October 2008, scored a success in February 2009.

Working in labs in the hexagonal building in the quiet mofussil town, scientists experimented with infection-free mice recently acquired from certified labs in the US. Cells extracted from mouse tail tips were grown in a tissue culture plate to obtain adult fibroblasts (cells of tissues that play a vital role in wound healing). The iPS cells appeared 12 to 14 days later and were tested for their embryonic stem cell-like characteristics. The results were more than satisfactory.

“The discovery that embryonic stem cells can be generated from adult cells, in other words, adult cells can be reprogrammed as embryonic stem cells, is considered to be the holy grail in stem cell biology,” pointed out Dr R V Shaji, heading the team researching iPS cells.

The iPS cells have two major applications. First, they can used to study mechanisms of disease or test drugs and secondly, they can be used to treat diseases without immunological rejection, which is a major problem with embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells taken from other human beings. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

Swaps Stopped: Cities in LA Co. Were Doing Stimulus Funding Deals With One Another

It seems that so-called stimulus package funding is being spread around so widely that some of its beneficiaries can’t figure out how to spend it as intended.

When it became clear to a few small cities in California’s Los Angeles County that they didn’t have appropriate transportation projects for their promised stimulus funding, they decided to sell the rights to that funding to other nearby locales at a discount. The selling city’s resulting cash would then go into its unrestricted general fund and could be spent on anything the city wished.

Apparently these transactions aren’t that unusual in the topsy-turvy world of California state and municipal finance. But it was a, uh, bridge too far for LA County’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). After approving a few stimulus-related swaps (noted in stories here and here), the MTA reversed course and putting the kibosh on those and prohibiting any future deals (noted in stories here, here, and here).

Apparently it hasn’t occurred to anyone, including the local media, or the New York Times’s Jennifer Steinhauer, that if these municipalities really don’t need and can’t use the money, US taxpayers ought to be first in line to get it back.

Here’s a portion of the coverage from the Whittier Daily News:

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials on Tuesday canceled deals that several area cities were poised to make to sell their shares of federal stimulus funds to the highest bidder.

MTA board members allocated a minimum of $500,000 in stimulus funds to every city in Los Angeles County, but had never intended to let cities sell their shares to other cities, board member Richard Katz said.

“That was a misunderstanding on somebody’s part,” Katz said. “It is our intention that all of the stimulus money be for transportation purposes and transportation only.”

In a statement, MTA CEO Roger Snoble said: “Metro is trying to allow some flexibility to the cities, but there is no provision to allow stimulus money to be swapped with general fund money. This is simply not the intent of the Metro board. We will reject anything that is inconsistent with the board’s intent.”

The MTA plans to allocate $215 million in federal stimulus funds to local cities – a number that could rise to $315 million, pending action in the state Legislature.

Board members acknowledged they authorized cities to swap stimulus funds, dollar for dollar, with other cities in exchange for Measure R funds – the county half-cent sales tax hike approved by voters in November to fund transportation projects.

….. “The cities felt the latitude to do this, and Metro frankly was allowing it within the last week,” MTA board member John Fasana said. “But based on the concerns that have been expressed, they decided it might be safer to go back to a strict interpretation. They didn’t want some investigation to put any of the money at risk.”

….. The cities involved in such deals must now come up with shovel-ready projects or swap their stimulus funds for Measure R funds. Sierra Madre officials already have done so, tentatively agreeing to swap their $500,000 share with La Canada Flintridge for an equal $500,000 in Measure R funding.

“Measure R funding” relates to amounts raised in a 0.5% sales tax increase passed last November. Apparently that money is not as restrictive in nature as the money coming from the stimulus package.

This is an early piece of evidence that stimulus money is being passed around like candy with little if any idea of whether it will, or even can, be appropriately spent. It’s likely not the last.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.