"Don't hurt people and don't take their stuff" - Matt Kibbe


What the State Tax Debate is All About

Dan Mitchell explains a complicated issue in easy to understand language. If you want to know why we need to keep (and expand) tax competition between states and countries you should spend the eleven minutes it takes to watch this video. If you don't have eleven minutes, well, you might never really understand the issue.


Turning My Back On My Readers

My best side
Many of our regular readers may have wondered why there has been an irregular posting schedule lately. I'm not really turning my back on you. I'm just not around.

I've been posting from different places and the Internet connection has been as unpredictable as my personal schedule.

While we have been in Florida, our house-sitters - two guys with hair trigger temperaments and an ugly ass dog with no sense of humor -  are reporting that the weather up north is warmer than it is down here. We seem to have escaped from a winter that never happened.

I'm hoping you have missed the articles. I'll do my best to catch up as I can. Things should be back to a more normal pace in about a week.

As always, thanks for reading What We Think and Why.


Obama - Caught in the Dragnet

You might have to be a person of a certain age (really old) to remember this hugely popular TV show from the 50s and early 60s. But it's funny, no matter what age or political persuasion you happen to be.
That's because it's clever. At least I think so.

Hat tip to Dale for sending this gem.


Why Is the Obama Administration Trying to Undermine Educational Opportunities for Black Children?

The question is asked by Thomas Sowell. The commentary is provided by Dan Mitchell. The posting was done by me.
Many thanks to Dan for his ongoing permission to re-publish his posts on this blog. It allows me to go play golf today. Every day you don't read the posts at his fine blog, International Liberty, is a day lost to learning something you probably didn't know.

If you care about helping the less fortunate succeed, I’m commenting today on a Thomas Sowell column that will make you sad and angry. It is a story about how powerless and disadvantaged people are being hurt to advance the political interests of some elitists.
Here is the clever way he starts the column. I particularly like the reference to Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, which reminds me of this cartoon.
There have been many frauds of historic proportions — for example, the financial pyramid scheme for which Charles Ponzi was sent to prison in the 1920s, and for which Franklin D. Roosevelt was praised in the 1930s, when he called it Social Security. In our own times, Bernie Madoff’s hoax has made headlines. But the biggest hoax of the past two generations is still going strong — namely, the hoax that statistical differences in outcomes for different groups are due to the way other people treat those groups.
Then he gets to the meat of his topic.
The latest example of this hoax is the joint crusade of the Department of Education and the Department of Justice against schools that discipline black males more often than other students. According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, this disparity in punishment violates the “promise” of “equity.” Just who made this promise remains unclear, and why equity should mean equal outcomes despite differences in behavior is even more unclear. This crusade by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is only the latest in a long line of fraudulent arguments based on statistics. If black males get punished more often than Asian American females, does that mean that it is somebody else’s fault? That it is impossible that black males are behaving differently from Asian American females? Nobody in his right mind believes that. But that is the unspoken premise, without which the punishment statistics prove nothing about “equity.”
Professor Sowell contemplates the motive for this Obama Administration initiative.
What is the purpose or effect of this whole exercise by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice? To help black students or to secure the black vote in an election year by seeming to be coming to the rescue of blacks from white oppression? Among the many serious problems of ghetto schools is the legal difficulty of getting rid of disruptive hoodlums, a mere handful of whom can be enough to destroy the education of a far larger number of other black students — and with it destroy their chances for a better life.
Sowell elaborates further, pulling no punches.
Secretary Duncan and Attorney General Holder want to play the race card in an election year, at the expense of the education of black students. Make no mistake about it, the black students who go to school to get an education are the main victims of the classroom disrupters whom Duncan and Holder are trying to protect. What they are more fundamentally trying to protect are the black votes which are essential for Democrats. For that, blacks must be constantly depicted as under siege from whites, so that Democrats can be seen as their rescuers. Promoting paranoia translates into votes. It is a very cynical political game, despite all the lofty rhetoric used to disguise it. Whether the current generation of black students get a decent education is infinitely more important than whether the current generation of Democratic politicians hang on to their jobs. Very powerful stuff. And it should be disturbing as well.
I’ve already commented on the implicit racism in the minimum wage law and thereprehensible decision by leftists to put the interests of teacher union ahead of the interests of black students.
Now we can add something else to the list.
If you like Professor Sowell’s insights, I’ve highlighted more of his work here,hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, and here. And you can see him in action here. A truly gifted public intellectual and a (thankfully) prolific writer.


The Moribund Constitution and What Comes Next

The progress of the constitutional "death by a thousand cuts" has been irregular over the generations but recently the executioners have become impatient to finish the job.

The list of body parts that have already been sliced off is too long to include here, but I'll mention a few just to give you a sense of how quickly the torture of the document is progressing.

In just the past few years the first amendment was cut off by the "McCain-Feingold" legislation. The fifth amendment (and the property rights described there) was excised by the "Kelo v The City of New London" decision of the Supreme Court. And it's hard to count how many were lopped off by the ill-named "Patriot Act" and the crown jewel of the current king's "accomplishments", "The Affordable Health Care Act."

This article would be too long if it focused on the details of these unconstitutional slices, and I'm afraid it wouldn't matter anyway since no one seems to care even when it's explained to them. You couldn't find a handful of people on the street, (or God forbid on the campus of some institution of so called "higher learning") who have any usable knowledge or even awareness of these events.

If you think that Jay Leno or John Stossel get some blank expressions when they ask people on the street  who the Vice President is, just try asking the same folks what they think about any of the above listed successful constitutional assaults. (They do  know plenty about is who should pay for contraception pills and Rush Limbaugh's name calling of a political activist on that issue though.)

Which brings us to the last two very recent developments in the execution of the constitution:

One of those events was yesterday's news story that the Attorney General of the US, Eric Holder, explained (in a speech at Northwestern University) that any US citizen can be assassinated by the execution branch, er..executive branch of the government, without due process, as long as they are out of the country and the President suspects them of being part of a terrorist group. The explanation was new, but not the concept, since the President already had at least one guy "offed" by an unmanned drone. I'm not sure if that makes it different in their minds, but it doesn't in mine.

The other event was today's news story that another one of  "all the President's men", Leon Panetta, Secretary of Offense, er..Defense, testified before congress that he only needed the permission of groups like NATO and the UN to commit an act of war on another country (this time Syria), but not the permission of congress as is expressly called for in the US Constitution.

So what comes next for the almost dead constitution? (and the rest of us by extension)

Well, just ask yourself what the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is talking about nowadays and see if these issues make the list. Last I checked it was who was calling whom names among Newt, Rick and Ron.

In my mind it may be too long to wait for an election in November. These clowns should be impeached today. But they won't be, particularly since it seems I'm the only one calling for it.

It's starting to look like no matter who is elected between Barack and (presumably) Mitt the death sentence will be fully carried out in the next four years.

Breaking News

Since finishing this piece and posting it about an hour ago, this news story showed up on Fox News. It seems the right of free speech in the form of peaceable protest without violating anyone else's rights is now becoming a thing of the past as well. If this story doesn't alarm you, you might be un-alarmable.


How Fat Loudmouths Get Into Trouble

Well, sometimes I do.
No, I'm not referring to myself, or even that rich leftist slob who makes anti-american movies. I'm talking about the boor who sits behind a microphone and insults his political opponents day after day instead of sitting behind a keyboard and doing the same thing, like I do. It seems that Rush has become more than a little rash lately in his rant against the entitlement society.

Putting aside about a hundred million bucks and fifteen million followers a week, the differences between "El Rushbo" and me are more about what issues we address and the medium we use to address them and less about popularity. After all, both of us try to illuminate our issues with passion and still be entertaining while doing it.

But enough about the comparisons between me and the other fat commentator. It's not fair to Rush. How could the poor guy hope to shine while standing next to the Bhagwan of bloggers?

This commentary is about how we go wrong and what the consequences are. Rush screws up and he loses listeners and advertising sponsors. I screw up and I might lose both of my readers and all of my advertisers. (Oh, I got lost in my fantasy and forgot I don't have any.)

For my part, I do my best to stick more to ideas and concepts and less to people and events. But I fail miserably on a regular basis. Let's just admit that it's way more fun to poke at others with an extra long stick than to try to get people interested in why economics and government policy matter.

The problem for commentators who are trying to make a point: if you are going to criticize positions you disagree with by using people in the news, you better keep it general or you might drown in your own vitriolic juices. Rush broke that rule. But then again, he got famous by breaking the rules.

Rush personalized the attack, and he did it with crude, obnoxious and possibly sexist language. It looked like he was personally attacking the morals of a woman he didn't even know because she was lobbying the government for free stuff. It looked that way because it was that way.

If he had kept the rant general, rather than personal, it wouldn't have caused a blip on the radio radar. He says more outrageous stuff than that about his general targets on every broadcast and no one bats an ear. But if you walk the edge of the cliff to get ratings often enough, eventually you fall off the edge.

The difference between the girl he targeted and an "Occupy" person is merely a matter of who bathes, has an actual place of residence, and the audience addressed, than the substance of what their message is. At least on this issue, they both want "free" stuff from the pockets of the taxpayers so they can use their own dough to buy the things they want.

The girl isn't a slut, she's just a mooch, at least on this issue. I dare say that some of her other issues (and since it seems she is a semi-full time activist, she has many) are excellent, at least in my opinion. According to Wikipedia, her biggest issue is: "she worked on issues that involved domestic violence and human trafficking."  These are huge issues and input and activism from all sides is desirable. I think that they are very important, even if I don't have enough information to agree or disagree with her approach.

As far as the Limbaugh controversy is concerned, like most things today, it's political. The network news shows know a winning issue when they see one. Here's how I see the reason for their 24/7 coverage of this brouhaha:

Obama = defends the lady's honor = good .
Rush = misogynist = anti birth control = bad = conservative = Republican = GOP Presidential candidates.

It is (like most things) obvious to me. But then again, most things seem obvious to me. And that's one of the things that gets fat loudmouths into trouble.