“I will not allow America to become New Jersey.”

That’s a good idea in so many ways, but this specifically refers to not allowing government to grow wildly as has happened in the so-called Garden State:

Think of it as our gift to the nation. Other states offer promising experiments in areas such as Medicaid, taxes, education and regulatory reform. In contrast, the People’s Republic of New Jersey offers America something truly unique: the perfect bad example.

As harmful as this has been for our own prosperity, our example could be invaluable for President-elect Obama. That’s especially true given that his team appears to be considering some of the same things that have long been popular in Trenton. For years, the solons in our state capital have operated on the assumption that you can have high taxes everywhere — on income, on property, on business — without suffering any consequences.

Thomas Sowell’s Random Thoughts

People who are impressed by how many of Barack Obama’s advisors have Ivy League degrees seem not to remember how many people with Ivy League degrees mismanaged the Vietnam war and how many people with Ivy League degrees mismanaged economic policy during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The fact that sales at Starbucks are going down, while sales at McDonald’s are going up, shows that people are adjusting to economic adversity by cutting back their spending. Only in Congress do people adjust to economic adversity and growing deficits by spending more money.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke seems to be pretty popular thus far. My own preference is for Federal Reserve chairmen who are unpopular. When Paul Volcker was chairman of the Fed back in the 1980s, he was hated like poison, but his policies finally broke the back of the inflation that had been out of control for years– not without some painful costs, but few benefits can be gotten without costs.

It is fascinating to see that politicians whose interventions in mortgage lending have created a disaster in financial institutions are now moving on to intervene in the automobile industry.

Wal-Mart has done more for poor people than any ten liberals, at least nine of whom are almost guaranteed to hate Wal-Mart.

Ronald Reagan had a vision of America. Barack Obama has a vision of Barack Obama.

One of the signs of how easily we are bullied by small and vocal groups is how many universities, among other institutions, dare not even refer to the Christmas vacation but instead refer to “the winter holiday.”

As American incomes have risen over the years, liberals have kept changing the definition of “poverty.” Otherwise, the dwindling numbers of people who could be called “poor” would take away the liberals’ main claim to influence and power.

An e-mail from a reader whose job requires him to take urine tests, to make sure he is drug-free, wonders why he is taxed to provide money to people on welfare who are also on drugs. He thinks they should have to take urine tests too, before they get his money.

Recent covers on Time magazine and Newsweek– as well as the stories inside– suggest that these magazines are as giddy as teenagers are over some rock stars, when it comes to Barack Obama.

Always worth reading. (Read the Whole article)

Blagojevich Selling Obama’s Senate Seat?

From the criminal complaint against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (source):

By law, after the President-elect’s resignation of his position as a U.S. Senator, which was effective on November 16, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has sole authority to appoint his replacement for the two years remaining of the President-elect’s Senate term. During the course of this investigation, agents have intercepted a series of communications regarding the efforts of ROD BLAGOJEVICH, JOHN HARRIS, and others to misuse this power to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, for ROD BLAGOJEVICH and his family. In particular, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has been intercepted conspiring to trade the senate seat for particular positions that the President-elect has the power to appoint (e.g. the Secretary of Health and Human Services). ROD BLAGOJEVICH has also been intercepted conspiring to sell the Senate seat in exchange for his wife’s placement on paid corporate boards or ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s placement at a private foundation in a significant position with a substantial salary. ROD BLAGOJEVICH has also been intercepted conspiring to sell the Senate seat in exchange for millions of dollars in funding for a non-profit organization that he would start and that would employ him at a substantial salary after he left the governorship.

Emphasis added.

If this is accurate, wouldn’t the bolded part implicate Obama in this conspiracy as well, or am I misunderstanding something? After all, only the President has the authority to nominate Cabinet officers. Am I missing something?

UPDATE (10:22 AM):

The AP seems to confirm that the Governor (no way am I trying to type that last name) did indeed attempt to use Obama’s seat for personal gain:

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

The affidavit said Blagojevich discussed getting a substantial salary for himself at a nonprofit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.

It said that Blagojevich also talked about getting his wife placed on corporate boards where she might get $150,000 a year in director’s fees.

He also allegedly discussed getting campaign funds for himself or possibly a post in the president’s cabinet or an ambassadorship once he left the governor’s office.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a statement that “the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering.”

“They allege that Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States senator,” Fitzgerald said.

Wow.

Why the “Team of Rivals” was neither a team nor rivals

An interesting perspective that makes sense to me (with the disclaimer that I am not really up on my Civil War or the antebellum periods of America History). An excerpt:

For the previous sixty years, presidential Cabinets had been expanding in power and influence, to the point in the 1850s where some Cabinet secretaries (like John B. Floyd, the secretary of war under the helpless James Buchanan) actually overshadowed the presidents they were supposed to serve. Lincoln, by contrast, ruled his cabinet with an iron hand, treating Cabinet secretaries as little more than executors of decisions he had already made, rather than involving them in deliberations as semi-independent players. At the infrequent moments when Seward or Chase did challenge him, Lincoln slapped them back vigorously. In this way, Lincoln reversed the trend toward ever-more-mighty Cabinet secretaries, and established the pattern we have lived with ever since, of Cabinet subservience to presidential decision-making. By inviting real-time “rivals” into his Cabinet, Mr. Obama may find that the resemblance he conjures up may not be that of Lincoln, but James Buchanan.

I generally don’t approve of post-election sniping…

but this is priceless:

“I saw Frank Luntz,” said McInturff, “who is a moron — I want to make sure this is clearly on the record — he was talking to Republican governors, making fun of John for not being able to use a BlackBerry. The man can’t do it because he is much more disabled than people can imagine… I would like to take a hammer and start breaking bones in Frank’s arms.”

First, it’s hilarious how blunt he is. (I have no opinion on Frank Luntz. I only know that he’s a pollster.)

Second, you’ve got to love the fact that not only is he willing to put his name on the record (unlike those cowards anonymously attack Sarah Palin after the election), but that he goes out of his way to emphasize that he wants to be on the record.

Good show.

Socialism is already here

George Will layeth the smacketh down:

The seepage of government into everywhere is, we are assured, to be temporary and nonpolitical. Well.

Probably as temporary as New York City’s rent controls, which were born as emergency responses to the Second World War and are still distorting the city’s housing market. The Depression, which FDR failed to end but which Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor did end, was the excuse for agriculture subsidies that have lived past three score years and 10.

The distribution of a trillion dollars by a political institution — the federal government — will be nonpolitical? How could it be? Either markets allocate resources, or government — meaning politics — allocates them. Now that distrust of markets is high, Americans are supposed to believe that the institution they trust least — Congress — will pony up $1 trillion and then passively recede, never putting its 10 thumbs, like a manic Jack Horner, into the pie? Surely Congress will direct the executive branch to show compassion for this, that and the other industry. And it will mandate “socially responsible” spending — an infinitely elastic term — by the favored companies.

In America, socialism is un-American. Instead, Americans merely do rent-seeking — bending government for the benefit of private factions. The difference is in degree, including the degree of candor. The rehabilitation of conservatism cannot begin until conservatives are candid about their complicity in what government has become.

As for the president-elect, he promises to change Washington. He will, by making matters worse. He will intensify rent-seeking by finding new ways — this will not be easy — to expand, even more than the current administration has, government’s influence on spreading the wealth around.

Will does a great job showing the failures of both parties in expanding socialism; Democrats (rightly) get more blame for it, but the GOP is far from innocent on this count.

Great interview with Bob Novak

In your memoir, you describe an early meeting in the Oval Office with Reagan in which he quoted a couple of obscure 19th-century British free-trade advocates and some little-known modern Austrian economists. How underrated intellectually do you think Reagan was?

He was extremely underrated, particularly by the press. The press was very derisive. They were derisive of Eisenhower, too—they thought he was just another army officer—but the attacks on Reagan were harsher. He was portrayed as stupid, uneducated, out of his element. I think he was very well educated and understood a lot of things. He was also very flexible in his policies—too flexible for my taste.

How do you feel about Dick Cheney?

I think he’s the most forceful, effective vice president in history.

I like some of the things he’s done. I think he was instrumental in getting the tax cuts through, which I approve of. I’m at odds with his aggressive military policy, but he’s put a new dimension on the vice presidency that I don’t think will be continued and maybe shouldn’t be continued.

Read the whole thing

Hat Tip: The Club for Growth