Archive for October, 2009

Something tells me this won’t make the greens happy

So much for China being worried about carbon emissions? GM agrees to sell its Hummer brand to a Chinese company.

This line from the Washington Post story on the deal is just sad:

In a twist that reflects changes in the U.S. and Chinese economies, the deal transfers the Hummer brand from an American company owned by the U.S. government to a Chinese company that is private.

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Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize: An award to politely decline

There’s little point in describing all the reasons President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is absurd. There’s little point in scoffing that the Nobel Committee jumped the shark years ago. There’s obviously little point in trying to shame the Nobel Committee by listing all the deserving candidates who are snubbed annually even though many of them risk life and limb in their work (as some absolutely brilliant editorial writer did for The Wall Street Journal back when Al Gore won the prize).

What I want to know is what this means going forward.

Will the president feel constrained in any way by this award when it comes to the difficult and far from black-and-white dilemmas he faces on Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Guantanamo inmates, terrorist detentions and prosecutions, to name a few?

Almost as important, will the president feel any embarrassment about this award? Show any sign that he knows it’s ludicrous that he was nominated for it less than two weeks after taking office …

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Pension woes will haunt Atlanta’s next mayor

A $100 million problem, one time, is bad. A $100 million problem every year, for years on end, is a crisis — the crisis that awaits Atlanta’s next mayor, in the form of astounding pension liabilities.

In recent years, Atlanta has spent nine-digit sums annually to fill a $1.2 billion hole in its retirement funds for police, firefighters and other city workers. These payments represent one of every six dollars that City Hall spends.

Taxes have little chance of moving lower, or the quality of services higher, while this is the case. High-profile crimes get more attention, but unfunded pensions will haunt the next administration like nothing else.

Howard Shook, chairman of the City Council’s finance committee, jokes that the winner of the Nov. 3 mayoral election “is probably going to be asking for a recount” once he or she realizes the extent of the problem.

The candidates’ solutions so far suggest they don’t fully grasp it, or haven’t thought enough about how to …

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How to fix Congress: Make it bigger

Well, specifically, make the House of Representatives’ membership bigger. It’s an interesting idea from NRO’s Jonah Goldberg. The premise is that the Founders did not intend for members of the House to represent so many people as they do now — about 700,000 apiece, on average. Ergo, we need more representatives so that they will better represent the people. (Nothing would change about the Senate’s two-members-per-state arrangement, though numerous people have argued that repealing the 17th Amendment’s direct election of senators would also bring Congress closer to the people.)

Goldberg argues that effectively watering down the House would accomplish what term-limit supporters seek to do, without depriving voters of the right to elect whomever they choose:

The trick is to swamp Congress with new blood and new ideas. Want more minorities in Congress? Done. Want more libertarians? More socialists? More blue-collar workers? Done, done, done.

In free-speech debates, it’s often …

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Health care: Which is the real party of no?

The biggest lie, falsehood, misinformation — whatever you want to call it — in our health-care debate has been that the Democrats are the only side that’s contributing ideas. Yes, the Republicans had several years in power this decade in which they could have pushed for reform but didn’t. But conservatives, including some Republican politicians, have for years produced numerous ideas for improving our health system and expanding access, some of which I’ve detailed on this blog.

These ideas are not, however, getting the kind of traction with Democrats that President Obama suggested in his speech to Congress last month, when he said “we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you [conservatives] may have.” At National Review Online, Deroy Murdock describes a host of GOP amendments to the Senate Finance Committee’s health bill — allegedly the most bipartisan of the Democrats’ bills, and the one said to resemble most closely the ideas Obama outlined in his speech — …

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I’m back; the Olympics are not

Apologies for going on blogging hiatus last week, but I was ill and out of commission. All’s fine now — to your relief or dismay, as the case may be.

The most interesting story to me while I was out was the awarding of the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, not Chicago. Finally, the world’s embrace of President Obama does us some good! I’m not trying to be snide — Reason’s Steve Chapman, among others, explains why hosting the Olympics can be a bad thing, financially. And anyone who thinks that taxpayers the federal government wouldn’t have chipped in an Olympic-sized “stimulus” or some such for Chicago, in what could have been the valedictory for Obama’s potential second term, hasn’t been paying attention the last nine months.

So, finally, a sign that the world truly does wish Americans well now that we were so smart as to elect Obama.

Oh, wait. Never mind — it seems this was George Bush’s fault after …

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