In his new book, “Barack Obama: The Story,” biographer David Marannis delves into the details of a young Obama and his time in the “Choom Gang” at the Punahou School in Hawaii. The Choom Gang was a group consisting of Obama and some friends, the mission of which was to get high on marijuana as often as possible. As Marannis writes, Obama was already showing his leadership skills in starting a trend called “TA,” or “Total Absorption,” the purpose of which was to not “waste” any of the marijuana smoke by exhaling it, but rather to hold it in the lungs until it was fully absorbed.
Writes Marannis, “When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.” Considering the complete abdication of the press in vetting then-candidate Obama, this may come as a surprise to many Americans, or at least the ones who’ve not read his book “Dreams From My Father,” in which he chronicles the time he spent smoking pot, getting drunk, and occasionally using cocaine.
Undoubtedly, we are all allowed forgiveness for some youthful indiscretions, although it is interesting to note the laser-like focus with which the media covered George Bush’s drinking habits in his younger days, and the virtual blackout that greets Obama’s history of illicit drug use.
AKA “The Only Scandal Conservatives Need”
- 69,000 jobs added (That’s far too weak for even a piddling recovery)
- +.1% unemployment, up to 8.2%
- 12.7 million Americans unemployed
- +.2% to civilian labor force participation, up to 63.8
- 8.1 million Americans employed just part-time for economic reasons
- 2.4 million Americans marginally attached to the labor force
- 830,000 discouraged workers
- March and April job increases revised downwards
- Sure path to Obama’s defeat in November
The May jobs report has just been released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics…and it’s awful. It’s one of the weakest reports all year, and has shown quite clearly that the “Hope N’ Change” policies of President Obama are not working. According to the BLS press release:
Nonfarm payroll employment changed little in May (+69,000), and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 8.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in health care, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale trade but declined in construction. Employment was little changed in most other major industries.
Household Survey Data
Both the number of unemployed persons (12.7 million) and the unemployment rate (8.2 percent) changed little in May. (See table A-1.)
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
The famous line, uttered by our nation’s only Catholic president on a cold January day in 1961, is often used by liberals and conservatives alike as rallying cry for public service…and larger government. Citizens should sacrifice, it is said, for the greater welfare of their nation and fellow countrymen, and the government should be there as a parent to watch over us. The great Milton Friedman wrote in the introduction to his 1962 edition of Capitalism and Freedom (h/t Michael Cannon of Cato):
Bloomberg News tends to be a slightly more left-leaning economic news source. They often mix ‘green energy’, ‘poverty reduction’ and aid for the ‘third world’ into their news pieces. Normally I do not listen too closely, to these liberal Wall Street syndicate news-sayers. Although they have a neat free radio show in the morning, they do not interview enough American investors for my taste. But this last Monday, I was surprised that good news was again being shown.
A roughly half-hour clip, had Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul squaring economic knowledge against a New York Times columnist: big government Kaynesian, Paul Krugman. The moderator left the debate open to its flow, did not meddle with too many specifics and let the Texan politician play with ‘Krusty Krug’ like a voodoo doll. Paul Krugman seemed ill at ease, and frightfully underprepared. Over and again, Krugman tried to drown Paul in bombast, but his facts and claims lacked historical accuracy.
Contender Ron Paul looked sprightly, fresh and well-off to making his best talking points, Krugman couldn’t make him vascillate. One thing that liberals like to do, when talking about economic issues, especially spending and taxation; is set their own agenda. They do this by single-mindedly picking vantage points from the historical record. Revising history and economics for us all, as though what happened before WW2 carries no meaning. Only those out of touch with reality, make the mistake of thinking they could ‘regulate’ the economy, the world, society or anything else.
Let’s say you’ve voted to let the government choose what you’re going to eat for lunch. Would you be happy with that choice? Would other people around you be happy? Would everyone be in harmony or rather trying to brain each other because some fool ordered everyone peant butter and butter sandwiches? (Don’t laugh; my father eats those. I’m serious.)
Just think about it in a group of your friends. Nobody eats the same thing. I couldn’t imagine getting even the United Liberty group to agree on the same meal; George wouldn’t be a fan of alcohol, Doug would be upset if there wasn’t any alcohol, I would would crinkle my nose at anything more than token representations of vegetables, Brian would ask for our meal to just be Shamrock Shakes (and nothing else), Jason would be noting how many carbs everything has, Luthi would have mushrooms out the wazoo*, and…well frankly I have no idea what Tom would eat. Considering he’s from Georgia, probably the governor. Or since he’s a newspaper owner now, his competitor.
Professor Antony Davies from Duquesne University, in this latest video from the Economic Freedom Project, explains why that one scenario precludes the government from ever managing our economy, and the three criteria it would need to meet in order to make a command economy work. (Naturally, it fails three out of three. It wouldn’t even make it to the First Fourm, let alone the actual March Madness tournament.) So if it couldn’t even order lunch for a half-dozen people, why on earth would we think it could run an economy for over 300 million?
(Just for the record, I don’t know what Luthi would actually eat, either. Does he eat? I’m not sure.)
Dr. Seuss’ classic tale, The Lorax, has just recently hit the silver screen as an animated feature, with Ed Helms providing the voice of the Once-ler and Danny DeVito doing the same for the Lorax itself—which might just be the worth the admission price, though the price of concessions would be a tad questionable. I’m not going to give you a review of the movie itself, both because I haven’t seen it, that’s not really the point, and from what I’ve heard, it diverges considerably from the original—and it’s horrible. But that was the Washington Post, so take it with a grain (or thirty) of salt.
We should all probably know the basic story of The Lorax. Basically, a guy shows up in a forest, cuts down all the trees to make his invention, while being chastised by a little orange furry creature, though he doesn’t listen, and at the end of it there’s no more trees and everyone is happy and gosh darn it, we should be taking better care of our planet. The message at the core of this story is environmentalism, pure and simple.
Now, let me pull a Kinsella, and as he did to Avatar, I shall do to The Lorax.
The Lorax illustrates a very important economic concept that eludes most people: the tragedy of the commons. It is when no one owns the things there, said things are usually destroyed because no one has an incentive to take care of them. On the flip side, if one does own the land and the resources there, one usually puts forward more effort to actually take care of it, and allowing it to grow and prosper. As the Econ Library which I just linked to says:
Rick Santorum’s defeats in Michigan and Arizona—and possible defeats in tomorrow’s Super Tuesdays contests—come as the Republican Party appears to be regaining some amount of common sense. Although at one time appealing, numerous individuals have pointed out the candidate’s flaws—including many libertarians, who have pointed out that the guy really isn’t a friend to individual liberty and is just another big government statist.
And then, of course, there are those who simply think he is downright crazy.
I was reminded of the old adage, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Many libertarians have lobbed granite boulders at Santorum (and Gingrich, and Romney…and even Paul), but as I was thinking about it, we really aren’t all that good and pure ourselves. We have our own problems to clean up, our own areas that we need to fix.
I was doing some cleaning of my apartment, getting ready for a move, when I found my copy of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism & Freedom. Unable to help myself, I took a look at the tables of contents, and flipped to Chapter 2: “The Role of Government in a Free Society”.
It is absolutely beautiful.
Hanging around most libertarians in the DC area, I hear a lot about Hayek and Mises and this thinker or that guy, but Milton Friedman is surprisingly not all that bandied about. I think its a shame, as he has some great things to say.
From the afore-mentioned Chapter Two, let me excerpt a paragraph or three from his conclusion (pg. 34):
A government which maintained law and order, served as a means whereby we could modify property rights and other rules of the economic game, adjudicated disputes about the interpretation of the rules, enforced contracts, promoted competition, provided a monetary framework, engaged in activities to counter technical [i.e., natural] monopolies and to overcome neighborhood effects [i.e., externalities] widely regarded as sufficiently important to justify government intervention, and which supplemented private charity and the private family in protecting the irresponsible, whether madman or child—such a government would clearly have important functions to perform. The consistent liberal [libertarian] is not an anarchist.
Our U.S. Constitution is a remarkably efficient document. It is our only founding charter. Many times changed, rendered, adumbrated. But it’s essence is unshakable. Written in Thomas Jefferson’s handwriting, edited against his will, pored over, discussed, hushed about, while it lay about some small wooden tables in independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Americans believe, that the Constitution is the link between our government and our lives. Congress and the Executive, can not overstep the harmony that exists, by each American following his path of liberty. Unfortunately, too many harmful minds, want too much power in this country. Power never vested in the Constitution. Power never meant to be handled by bureaucrats or officials or committees. We need to change all this. The oath of office should be sworn on the Constitution. In the Capital Rotunda. Among the historicity of remains from past great ages of the United States.
Drones in our night skies. Unelected lawyers interpreting the U.S. Constition. Surveillance. Internet spying. Blackouts and Stasi-like encroachements. Torturing. Deaths and internment of American citizens. Socialization of medicare for the elderly, and healthcare for those in mid-age. Food stamps and deductibles for people who do not work. Taxation over representation. Data-accumulation. Groping at airports. Fumbling and nefarious Justice Department officials. Cronies. Welfare abuses. War and destruction as an industry, like Hollywood and Corporate America! Blame-games. Undermining of basic civil rights. Monetarism-mongering! Unaccountability and state-sponsored fear. Campaigns of division. Solutions disguised for self-created problems.
Republican voters are being put through the pincers. We are back to 2008. Heaps of strong candidates, but no consensus. Great speeches, but no substance. PAC money spent by the millions, but no conclusive results. GOP candidates are even welcoming Democratic voters, to smear each other, to add to their victories, or to just plainly embitter each other. The Republican race is not going to get any more civil. Once, we see these subterfuges, we can ask the real questions: what will it take to unseat Obama in November, and who can best do this?
In America the conservative movement has been changing. Neo-conservatives, who had for roughly two decades (1980-2000) held the strongarm of the party, are gone with the Bush Administration’s doctrine of “pre-emptive strike” and the PATRIOT ACT. We are in the midst of the dregs. Still trying to find out which direction this country will spill it’s spirit of changelessness.
For all his grandeur, Mitt Romney just has not taken his campaign to the next level. Rick Santorum has peaked, but more likely will not hold his miniscule leads. Newt Gingrinch’s populism and Ron Paul’s constitutionalism, so similar to each other, are self-negating. None is in charge. Marginal candidates can’t win delegates, nor the RNC party’s nomination. Mitt Romney, the ever-chameleon like business mogul, can’t strike a human touch to save his life and political prospects.
If Mitt Romney is the front runner of the wolves, ready to flay Obama; what is his version of the American Dream? How does he see this country, through which prism? Is it a legalistic, rigidly technocratic, institutional approach? It seems, his advantage is not his base, his character, anything as much as his warchest. He won’t run out of steam. Even if the delegate count gets close in Tampa, FL this spring; he’ll be able to resurrect himself, make the necessary promises and sail away with the nomination.