AreYouLiberal.Com
25Apr/12Off

Romney Doing The Job Republican Establishment Just Won’t Do

The actual Republican Establishment –- political consultants, The Wall Street Journal, corporate America, former Bush advisers and television pundits — are exhorting Mitt Romney to flip-flop on his very non-Establishment position on illegal immigration.
Both as governor of Massachusetts and as a presidential candidate, Romney has supported a fence on the border, E-Verify to ensure that employees are legal and allowing state police to arrest illegal aliens. He is the rare Republican who recognizes that in-state tuition, driver’s licenses and amnesty are magnets for more illegal immigration.
These positions are ...

25Apr/12Off

Decline or decadence?

Almost daily we read of America’s “waning power” and “inevitable decline,” as observers argue over the consequences of defense cuts and budget crises.
Yet much of the new American “leading from behind” strategy is a matter of choice, not necessity. Apparently, both left-wing critics of U.S. foreign policy and right-wing Jacksonians are tiring of spending blood and treasure on seemingly ungrateful Middle Easterners — after two Gulf wars, the decade in Afghanistan, and various interventions in Lebanon and Libya.
We certainly have plenty of planes and bombs with which to pound Syria’s ...

25Apr/12Off

If Mormonism Is Fair Game, so Is Jeremiah Wright

A well-regarded Republican strategist at a private gathering recently warned, “And just wait until they play that Mormon card.” By “they,” he meant the Obama campaign and its complicit media cheerleaders.
Lawrence O’Donnell, only days later, gave his viewers a historical tutorial on the Mormon religion, darkly suggesting that we all should be afraid, very afraid. The Democratic governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, called Mitt Romney’s grandfather a “polygamist.”
This is actually good news for the Romney campaign.
By making Romney’s Mormonism an issue, the Obama campaign has, as trial lawyers like to ...

25Apr/12Off

The war is over?

“The war on terror is over,” or so claims an unnamed senior State Department official, as reported by National Journal’s Michael Hirsh in his recent article “The Post al-Qaida Era.”
Really? Well, if the war is over, I must have missed the peace treaty signing ceremony. I also haven’t noticed a decline in incendiary rhetoric, or the disarmament — or at least laying down of arms — that usually accompanies the end of war. Does this mean we can do away with full-body scanners and TSA pat-downs?
Those who believe the war ...

25Apr/12Off

How To Build a Tuition Trap

This week, President Barack Obama has been warning students that without his intervention, interest rates for a federal student loan program will double to 6.8 percent July 1.
In the process, he’s been misquoting a Republican congresswoman. On Tuesday, he told students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that she has “very little tolerance for people who (say) they graduate with debt, because there’s no reason for that.”
And: “She said students who rack up student loan debt are just sitting on their butts, having opportunity ‘dumped in your ...

25Apr/12Off

Shrinking Problem: Illegal Immigration From Mexico

The illegal immigration problem is going away.
That’s the conclusion I draw from the latest report of the Pew Hispanic Center on Mexican immigration to the United States.
Pew’s demographers have carefully combed through statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Homeland Security and the Mexican government, and have come up with estimates of the flow of migrants from and back to Mexico. Their work seems to be as close to definitive as possible.
They conclude that from 2005 to 2010 some 1.39 million people came from Mexico to the ...

25Apr/12Off

The War Is Over?

"The war on terror is over," or so claims an unnamed senior State Department official, as reported by National Journal's Michael Hirsh in his recent article "The Post al-Qaida Era."

Really? Well, if the war is over,...

25Apr/12Off

Indoctrination 101: Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan Approves of Schools Teaching Protesting Techniques (EAGnews.org Exclusive Part 3)

On Tuesday, EAGnews.org brought you footage of Black Star Project community organizer Phillip Jackson teaching students in Chicago Public Schools' Jones College Prep the finer points of non-violent protesting. He was...

25Apr/12Off

If Mormonism Is Fair Game, so Is Jeremiah Wright

A well-regarded Republican strategist at a private gathering recently warned, "And just wait until they play that Mormon card." By "they," he meant the Obama campaign and its complicit media...

25Apr/12Off

Preparing For Rain

Monday night, my husband came home around 8:30 and was surprised to find me painting my office. Early that morning, as I lay in bed, unable to sleep, I decided to paint my office. The deadline was driven by a Tuesday...

25Apr/12Off

The 2nd Annual 20 Worst People, Places, and Things on the Internet for 2001

(The Pre-Worst Rant which was written to explain why I had put off writing this article for a few days…)
Morality and Updating the Page: I was planning to update with the 2nd Annual “Worst People, Places, And Things On The Net” article today but I decided that would be morally wrong.
In a world with so much trouble, so much anguish, so much suffering, would it be right for me to make fun of AOL? When India and Pakistan are on the verge of nuclear war is it right for me to ...

25Apr/12Off

An Inteview With John Hawkins

Ben Murnane wrote an article based on an email interview he did with me for a print zine in Ireland called “Totally Fushed”. Unfortunately, the internet edition of the mag is defunct, so I don’t have a way to link to Murnane’s article. However, I do have a copy of the original interview and I decided to put that up instead. Do keep in mind that this interview was conducted BEFORE the war in Iraq. The delay was because “Totally Fushed” is published bi-monthly and I told Ben I wouldn’t put ...

25Apr/12Off

Lawyer for Anti-Illegal Immigrant Group Gets SWAT Raid for Son’s Graffiti, But He’s Still Not Worried About Law Enforcement Excess

Via
Cato @ Liberty
comes this Washington Post story about
attorney Michael M. Hethmon, who is general counsel for
Immigration Reform Law Institute and who is a supporters of the
various tough on illegal immigrant bills seen in Alabama, Georgia,
and of course
Arizona
. According to the Post, Hethmon is one of the
two important architects of the idea that local and state
governments can take immigrant law into their own hands, ideally
making illegal
immigrants feel so constricted that they "self-deport":

Judges have blocked some
of the legislation
, resulting in a pile of legal bills for the
governments they helped, and on Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court
will hear arguments about the law
in Arizona
 that has become the centerpiece achievement of
the self-
deportation movement.

Supporters say the idea would never have advanced this far
without [law professor Kris] Kobach and Hethmon, who have been
editors, advisers, ghostwriters and legal defenders for politicians
nationwide.

“They’re the wizards behind the curtain,” said Oklahoma
state Rep. Randy
Terrill 
(R), whose bill they rewrote. “They were the face
and the muscle behind the effort that really synthesized it into a
movement. Do I think it would have happened without them? Most
certainly it would not have.”

One of the most worrying aspects of these laws, and one which
seems like it will
likely be upheld
by the Supreme Court, is the one that tells
police to check the immigration status of drivers that they pull
over. But worries over racism or xenophobia aside, it's clear that
Hethmon is an equal-opportunity fan of police power; if his
reaction to a recent SWAT raid on his home is any yardstick, that
is:

Hethmon had an up-close and unpleasant experience with the same
kind of local police he had done so much to empower.

The problem began with graffiti on a highway overpass in Bowie.
Police there suspected that Hethmon’s teenage son might be involved
and obtained a search warrant. They arrived at 7 a.m. on March 9
with a heavily armed team of county officers.

“Come in with masks, guns, screaming. You know, knocking
everybody down,” Hethmon recalled. “I tried to explain to them, you
know: ‘Look, I’m a lawyer, this is outrageous.’ [The reply was:]
‘Shut up and lie down on the floor.’ ”

Police said they found 2.5 grams of marijuana in the house. They
filed charges against Hethmon, his son and his wife — all for the
same drugs. The charges against Hethmon will be dropped,
prosecutors said last week.

Hethmon said the experience has not changed his work.

“The fact that a law is legitimate and serving a purpose doesn’t
mean that it can’t be abused,” he said. “Human beings are flawed
people.”

And so, for the lesser-known of this duo, there has been a
personal test. After he did so much to place greater trust in local
police officers nationwide, police in Prince George’s County sent a
SWAT team to his house to look for . . . spray paint.

“It’s ironic, you know,” Hethmon said.

Long-time readers of Reason might remember that

Prince George's County
also was the location of the infamous
raid/puppycide on the home of Berwyn Heights,
Maryland Mayor Cheye Caylvo.

It's hard to know what's creepier about this story, Hethmon's
devotion to the cause of making life miserable for immigrants, the
status quo of the drug war, the use of SWAT for spray
paint
, or just the unnerving fact that Hethmon seems just as
unconcerned about injustices when they happen to his own family as
when they happen to poor immigrants. At least Hethmon isn't a
hypocrite? 

Reason on the
militarization of police
and
immigration


25Apr/12Off

Video: Push Button to Add Drama

I just had one of these drama buttons installed on our web server.


25Apr/12Off

Hysterity! Global Panic about “Austere” 9 Percent Spending Hike

Uncle Sam's more fit because he spends more money. America’s economic boom is the latest
evidence for anti-austerity arguments.

Measured according to the strict two-quarters-of-GDP
macroeconomic standard, the United Kingdom is now back in a
recession. According to this same standard, the United States is
not in a technical recession. 

At Business Insider,
Joe Weisenthal cites the UK recession
to continue a theme
advanced by BI founder Henry Blodget yesterday.

"Basically we have a life test of a country that wants to do
what conservatives in the US want to do: reduce national debt,"
Weisenthal writes. "Doing so is a growth disaster."

Sounds like the contrast between the judicious Keynesianism of
President Barack Obama and the small-government extremism of Prime
Minister David Cameron is pretty stark, right?


According to the OECD
, British deficit spending as a percentage
of GDP is 0.6 percent lower than our own, and projected to be a
full percentage point lower in 2013. (The ghost of First Baron
Keynes can rest easy in the knowledge that the deficit/GDP
percentage in both nations is still more than twice what it was in
2007; that’s an almost-Keynesian public response if you slightly
edit Keynes’ advice that you’re actually supposed to run
surpluses during a boom.) 

So what does the Sceptre’d Isle’s budget look like under the
tyranny of extreme austerity? Here’s the lowdown
from Her Majesty’s Treasury
[pdf]. 

We lose money on every transaction, but we make it all up on one year's capital annually managed expenditure.

Leave aside the violence you need to commit against our two
great nations’ shared language to define "austerity" as a "five
straight years of increases in outlays." There’s a bigger problem,

noted yesterday by powerhouse commenter R C Dean
, with citing
GDP to determine the economic  effects of deficit
spending.

"Any time you balance a budget or start paying down
debt, you will, by definition, cause GDP to go down. That's a
failure in Keynesian terms," R C wrote. "So what [Blodget is]
saying is that the only way to succeed under Keynes is to
continually run deficits and borrow more and more and more.
Forever. Because we know that you can borrow infinite amounts of
money and nobody will ever stop loaning it to you or expecting
repayment in real terms, right?"

I like posting pictures of pretty ladies in fancy-schmancy dresses. I admit it! This is the openly hidden truth
of the continental austerity argument. The EU push for
budget-balancing (which, just to be clear, has been
all talk and no action
) didn’t come about in a vacuum but
because the European countries are out of money and nobody wants to
lend to them anymore. The Uniteds Kingdom and States may have
slightly more leeway because their central banks are so willing to
buy government debt, but last-year’s
downgrade of the U.S. credit rating
suggests that excessive
debt really does have consequences. 

The important question is not whether destruction of the
nation’s currency and finances solves the recession, but whether it
helps people get through the recession, as proponents claim, by
keeping them employed. 

We already know the answer for the United States. American
unemployment peaked at 10.2 percent in 2009, during the first part
of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus payouts.
The rate went back up to almost 10 percent in the fall of 2010,
during the high-water mark of ARRA stimulus. It has since declined
and is now 8.2 percent – still higher than the rate the Obama brain
trust in the beginning of 2009 argued it would have been without
the stimulus. Just to repeat that, because it doesn’t seem to get
much attention from
totally objective
media: In
every quarter since the beginning of the 2009, unemployment has
been at least half a percentage point higher than it would have
been if there had been no stimulus at all

How does that stack up against the faux-sterity of
Dear Old Blighty
? The Bureau of Labor Statistics helpfully
compares
U-3 unemployment
with unemployment in a handful of other
developed countries, including the UK. Over the same period, UK
unemployment has not come close to 9 percent. After rising to 8.4
percent earlier this year, it’s going back down and is now at
8.3 percent
within the margin of error of the current US unemployment
rate. 

Pro-stimulists could argue that ARRA funds didn’t stimulate job
growth because they were mostly
used to plug holes in state budgets
– notably in payouts of
extended unemployment benefits (which would have had the effect of
raising the rate of U-3 unemployment). But that still wouldn’t
provide any support for the idea that Bush/Obama deficit spending
supported the economy, or that Cameron and Clegg’s token efforts at
deficit reduction slowed the UK economy down. If you’re going to
argue that deficit spending stimulated the economy, a decent
respect to the opinions of mankind requires that you explain
how. 

In U.S. News and World Report (and really, how bad can
a recession be when U.S. Snooze is still in business?),
Rick Newman
says the long-term benefits
of budget discipline could outweigh
the current political risks to Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and other
politicians: 

Some skeptics feel that sharp spending cuts and other austerity
measures are deepening the European downturn and making it more
likely that economies like Greece's will shrink so much that
leaving the euro zone becomes irresistible. Going it alone would
probably be chaotic and risky, but it would allow such nations a
chance to devalue their own currencies--boosting exports--and to
rely on inflation to shrink debt and artificially pump up
paychecks, keeping voter revolt in check.

But austerity might work. David Zervos of investing firm
Jefferies argues that rolling back fixed wages, subsidized jobs and
other sinecures in southern Europe will make those economies more
vibrant, if they're able to stick with it. "This European austerity
is a move to free market capitalism," he wrote to clients recently.
The United States went through something similar in the 1980s, he
says, after Ronald Reagan fired striking air-traffic controllers
and ushered in a new era of "laissez-faire labor," which coincided
with a 25-year economic boom.

But for austerity alarmists, as for Keynes himself, there is no
long term. I've been watching the development of the austerity
panic
 for a while, and I can tell you: These guys don't
let facts get in the way of a good mania. It will be interesting to
track the trajectories of unemployment rates on both sides of the
Atlantic over the next year. But to do a comparison of profligacy
and austerity, you need to have some actual austerity. 


25Apr/12Off

Photo of the Day: Minivan-Sized Flaming Meteor Entering the Atmosphere

A meteor in the sky above Reno, Nevada, April 22, 2012 • Click to enlarge • Image credit: Lisa Warren

NASA has posted this amazing photo of a minivan-sized meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere last Sunday morning, visible from central/northern California to Nevada: NASA - Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It?

Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., estimates the object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds (70 metric tons) and at the time of disintegration released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion.

"Most meteors you see in the night's sky are the size of tiny stones or even grains of sand and their trail lasts all of a second or two," said Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Fireballs you can see relatively easily in the daytime and are many times that size – anywhere from a baseball-sized object to something as big as a minivan."

Elizabeth Silber of the Meteor Group at the Western University of Canada, Ontario, estimates the location of its explosion in the upper atmosphere above California’s Central Valley.

Eyewitnesses of this fireball join a relatively exclusive club. "An event of this size might happen about once a year," said Yeomans. "But most of them occur over the ocean or an uninhabited area, so getting to see one is something special."