Archive for October, 2009
27 Oct 2009

Barack Obama is like Brazil

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Charles Krauthammer discusses Barack Obama with the German news magazine Spiegel.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Krauthammer, did the Nobel Commitee in Oslo honor or doom the Obama presidency by awarding him the Peace Prize?

Charles Krauthammer: It is so comical. Absurd. Any prize that goes to Kellogg and Briand, Le Duc Tho and Arafat, and Rigoberta Menchú, and ends up with Obama, tells you all you need to know. For Obama it’s not very good because it reaffirms the stereotypes about him as the empty celebrity.

SPIEGEL: Why does it?

Krauthammer: He is a man of perpetual promise. There used to be a cruel joke that said Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be; Obama is the Brazil of today’s politicians. He has obviously achieved nothing. And in the American context, to be the hero of five Norwegian leftists, is not exactly politically positive. …

SPIEGEL: What major mistakes has Obama made?

Krauthammer: I don’t know whether I should call it a mistake, but it turns out he is a left-liberal, not center-right the way Bill Clinton was. The analogy I give is that in America we play the game between the 40-yard lines, in Europe you go all the way from goal line to goal line. You have communist parties, you have fascist parties, we don’t have that, we have very centrist parties.

So Obama wants to push us to the 30-yard line, which for America is pretty far. Right after he was elected, he gave an address to Congress and promised to basically remake the basic pillars of American society — education , energy and health care. All this would move America toward a social democratic European-style state. It is outside of the norm of America.

SPIEGEL: Yet, he had promised these reforms during the campaign.

Krauthammer: Hardly. He’s now pushing a cap-and-trade energy reform. During the campaign he said that would cause skyrocketing utility rates. On healthcare, the reason he’s had such resistance is because he promised reform, not a radical remaking of the whole system.

SPIEGEL: So he didn’t see the massive resistance coming?

Krauthammer: Obama misread his mandate. He was elected six weeks after a financial collapse unlike any seen in 60 years; after eight years of a presidency which had tired the country; in the middle of two wars that made the country opposed to the Republican government that involved us in the wars; and against a completely inept opponent, John McCain. Nevertheless, Obama still only won by 7 points. But he thought it was a great sweeping mandate and he could implement his social democratic agenda.

27 Oct 2009

Repent! The End is Near

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Lord Stern, British Government Climate Expert and Chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, recently advised the London Times that we all need to stop consuming meat.

People will need to turn vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming.

In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”

Direct emissions of methane from cows and pigs is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas.

Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse

He predicted that people’s attitudes would evolve until meat eating became unacceptable. “I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he said. “I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food.”…

Lord Stern said that Copenhagen presented a unique opportunity for the world to break free from its catastrophic current trajectory. He said that the world needed to agree to halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 25 gigatonnes a year from the current level of 50 gigatonnes.

UN figures suggest that meat production is responsible for about 18 per cent of global carbon emissions, including the destruction of forest land for cattle ranching and the production of animal feeds such as soy.

Lord Stern, who said that he was not a strict vegetarian himself, was speaking on the eve of an all-parliamentary debate on climate change. His remarks provoked anger from the meat industry.

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British poverty journalist Alex Renton, on the other hand, argues that to save the planet from overheating we need to go farther still and give up reproducing. The Red Chinese offer a model of coercive birth control.

The worst thing that you or I can do for the planet is to have children. If they behave as the average person in the rich world does now, they will emit some 11 tonnes of CO² every year of their lives. In their turn, they are likely to have more carbon-emitting children who will make an even bigger mess. If Britain is to meet the government’s target of an 80% reduction in our emissions by 2050, we need to start reversing our rising rate of population growth immediately.

And if that makes sense, why not start cutting population everywhere? Are condoms not the greenest technology of all? …

the richer a country gets, the more pressing the need for it to curb its population. The only nation to have taken steps to do this is China – and the way it went about enforcing the notorious one child policy is one of the reasons the rest of us are so horrified by the notion of state intervention. Yet China now has 300-400 million fewer people. It was certainly the most successful governmental attempt to preserve the world’s resources so far.

But lowering birth rate need not be so draconian. Experience shows it is most effectively done by ensuring women’s equality and improving their education, while providing cheap contraception. Birth rate, gender equality, education and poverty are inextricably linked.

But how do you reduce population in countries where women’s rights are already achieved and birth-control methods are freely available? Could children perhaps become part of an adult’s personal carbon allowance? Could you offer rewards: have one child only and you may fly to Florida once a year?

After all, based on current emissions and life expectancy, one less British child would permit some 30 women in sub-Saharan Africa to have a baby and still leave the planet a cleaner place.

If you have faith in the rich world’s ability to achieve those 80% cuts in emissions in a mere 40 years, you need not concern yourself too much about population. But if you are sceptical, you should be worried. A lot.

Some scientists, the German chancellor’s adviser, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber among them, say that if the cuts are not achieved, we will end up with a planet with a “carrying capacity” of just 1bn humans. If so, we need to start cutting back population now with methods that offer a humane choice – before it happens the hard way

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It would be so much easier and more agreeable to stop paying attention to the ravings of crazy people who have embraced apocalyptic fantasies.

They had these sorts of zanies proclaiming the world would be destroyed shortly unless everyone repented and did all sorts of ridiculous and inconvenient things back in the Middle Ages, too, but fortunately the Inquisition usually came along and eliminated these pernicious heretics.

26 Oct 2009

Center-Right Nation

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Gallup finds that conservatives continue to outnumber liberals and moderates, and that growing numbers of Americans agree with conservative positions on many specific issues.

Get ready for 2010. We will be taking the country back.

Conservatives continue to outnumber moderates and liberals in the American populace in 2009, confirming a finding that Gallup first noted in June. Forty percent of Americans describe their political views as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 20% as liberal. This marks a shift from 2005 through 2008, when moderates were tied with conservatives as the most prevalent group.
The 2009 data are based on 16 separate Gallup surveys conducted from January through September, encompassing more than 5,000 national adults per quarter.
Conservatives have been the dominant ideological group each quarter, with between 39% and 41% of Americans identifying themselves as either “very conservative” or “conservative.” Between 35% and 37% of Americans call themselves “moderate,” while the percentage calling themselves “very liberal” or “liberal” has consistently registered between 20% and 21% — making liberals the smallest of the three groups.

26 Oct 2009

Labour Ministers Conspired to Change the Population of Britain

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Andrew Neather, a former speechwriter for Tony Blair, Jack Straw, and other Labour panjandrums, revealed recently, in a column in the Evening Standard defending Labour immigration policies, that Labour ministers encouraged massive Third World immigration out of a desire to change the character of the British nation, as well as in order to insult the political right while enlarging its own constituency. Labour’s policy was deliberately concealed from its own supporters, because it was recognized that many core Labour voters would not approve.

SkyNews:

Labour ministers deliberately encouraged mass immigration to diversify Britain over the past decade, a former Downing Street adviser has claimed.

Andrew Neather said the mass influx of migrant workers seen in recent years was not the result of a mistake or miscalculation but rather a policy the party preferred not to reveal to its core voters.

He said the strategy was intended to fill gaps in the labour market and make the UK more multicultural, at the same time as scoring political points against the Opposition.

Mr Neather worked as a speechwriter for Tony Blair and in the Home Office for Jack Straw and David Blunkett.

“Mass migration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural,” he wrote in in the London Evening Standard.

“I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if it wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.”

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The Telegraph:

The “deliberate policy”, from late 2000 until “at least February last year”, when the new points based system was introduced, was to open up the UK to mass migration, he said.

Some 2.3 million migrants have been added to the population since then, according to Whitehall estimates quietly slipped out last month.

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It is difficult to read all this, which is obviously perfectly true, and grasp that changes in fashionable opinion mysteriously came to pass resulting in our living in a time in which it is only too probable that the people able to rise to the top leadership positions in Western societies are highly likely to have a deeply negative view of their own country’s history and institutions, and even of their own people. So negative a view that they would be committed not to the preservation of their own country’s values, institutions, and character, but to their elimination.

26 Oct 2009

Climate Change Bedtime Story Revised

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A recent ACT ON C02 1:00 television commercial depicting a father reading a bedtime story to a little girl featuring a doggie drowning as the result of Anthropogenic climate change provoked a good deal of criticism.

The best kind of criticism, of course, is mockery.

1:10 video

Hat tip to the Barrister.

25 Oct 2009

Visiting the American Nanny State

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Jeremy Clarkson, of the British television program Top Gear, visited the United States back in 2006. He didn’t like a lot of the same things about this country that I don’t like.

Step out of the loop, do something unusual and you’ll encounter a wall of low-paid, low-intellect workers whose sole job is to prevent their bosses from being sued. As a result, you never hear anyone say: “Oh I’m sure it’ll be all right.” …

You know the Stig. The all-white racing driver we use on Top Gear. Well, we were filming him walking through the Mojave desert when lo and behold a lorry full of soldiers rocked up and arrested him. He was unusual. He wasn’t fat. He must therefore be a Muslim.

It gets worse. I needed money to play a little blackjack in Vegas but because I was unable to provide the cashier with an American zip code he was unable to help. It’s the same story at the petrol pumps. Americans can punch their address into the key pad and replenish their tank. Europeans have to prove they’re not terrorists before being allowed to start pumping.

I seem to recall a television advertisement in which George W Bush himself urged us all to go over there for our holidays. But what’s the point when you can’t buy anything? Or do anything. Or walk across the desert in a white suit without being arrested.

The main problem I suspect is a complete lack of knowledge about the world. I asked people in the streets of Vegas to name two European countries. The very first woman I spoke to said: “Oh yes. What’s that one with kangaroos?”

Then you’ve got New Orleans, which, nearly a year after Katrina, is still utterly smashed and ruined. Now I’m sorry but insects can build shelter on their own. Birds can build nests without a state handout. So why are the people of Louisiana sitting around waiting for someone else to do the repairs? …

Among the things I don’t like is the way everyone over 15 stone now moves about in a wheelchair. As a result, it takes half an hour to get through even the widest door. And I really don’t like the way that every small town looks exactly the same as every other small town. Palmdale in California and Biloxi in Mississippi are nigh on identical. They have the same horrible restaurants. The same mall. The same interstate drone. Live in either for more than a week and you’d be stabbing your own eyes with knitting needles.

But it’s the idiocracy that really gets me down. The constant coaxing you have to do to get anything done. “No” is the default setting whether you want to change lanes on a motorway or get a drink on a Sunday. It’s like trying to negotiate with a donkey. Once, I urged a cop in Pensacola, Florida, to use his common sense and let me load a van in the no loading zone, since the airport was shut and it would make no difference. “Sir,” he said, “you don’t need common sense when you’ve got laws.”

25 Oct 2009

Turning the Tables

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James Lewis has read Saul Alinsky‘s Rules for Radicals, and proposes that Americans apply Alinsky’s tactics for “community organizing” to stopping Barack Obama’s radical leftwing agenda.

According to Alinsky, you want to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Don’t be deceived by the honeyed baritone voice and big smile. Bluffs, bully plays, and head fakes are the means by which President Obama tries to get his way. He learned the technique from Saul Alinsky.

The best answer is to use Alinsky against them. We know their rule book, and we can use their rules just as well as they can. The aggressor sets the rules.

Obama constantly uses Alinsky’s principle of head-faking: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” For Obama, “the enemy” is us, the American people. We have to understand — that’s the way they use the language. Read Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals if you don’t believe it. We are the enemy.

Obama is head-faking us all the time. He is a big bully. He will use Styrofoam Greek columns, speeches in Berlin, ridiculous Nobel PC Prizes, whatever piece of political opera he thinks he can get away with. You have to remember that Obama always starts out acting a part. Any relationship he has to reality is purely coincidental.

But when he runs into real resistance, as with Putin, Ahmadinejad, or Israel, he backs off. He’s running constant bully plays. He’s like a third-rate basketball player who is just trying to fake out the other to cover up his lack of athletic talent.

Conservatives are firmly based in reality. Liberals start out from fantasy. This president has learned to play out a bully fantasy to sucker his liberal voters in Chicago — but then he runs into a brick wall and gets a bloody nose. Like a professional actor he can also drop the act. He’ll be very hurt and insulted if we believe him for what he is, but that for the next sucker play.

We have to make him drop all the head fakes. The only way is to do that is to firmly resist his head-fake, and to head-fake him back.

25 Oct 2009

Rightwing Rap

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Larry Elder produced this 7:33 music video which delivers a conservative rap on the politics of race.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

24 Oct 2009

“A Dangerous, Potentially Thuggish Administration”

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What kind of people are running the Executive Branch and conducting American policy? Paul Mirengoff points out a revelation in Dick Cheney’s speech that a cursory reading could easily have missed, and points out how much this particular political exchange reveals about the ethics and character of Barack Obama and his administration.

In his speech last night to the Center for Security Policy, former vice president Cheney blew the whistle on some egregious dishonesty by the Obama administration:

    Recently, President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.
    In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it. Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced . . .

In short, the Obama administration falsely claimed that the Bush administration had done no planning or analysis regarding the worsening situation in Afghanistan, even though it (1) knew this was false, (2) had asked the Bush administration not to disclose its work, and (3) relied in part on the same work it claimed the Bush administration had not performed. …

(W)hat Cheney described last night goes well beyond lack of class… (T)he rank, opportunistic dishonesty described by Cheney demonstrates an affirmatively bad character. And an administration craven enough to engage in it is a dangerous, potentially thuggish administration.

24 Oct 2009

34% Pregnant Sailors at Some Stations

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Spook86 discusses the impact of egalitarianism-at-all-costs on the Navy presently. Just wait until Obama makes his move and abolishes Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell for even more unintended consequences.

As the Navy brass prepares for a “co-ed” submarine force, they might consider the impact of human biology on other elements of the service.

Navy Times reports that some shore commands in Norfolk, Virginia are heavily staffed by pregnant sailors, and some commanders are complaining about the lack of proper manning to carry out their missions.

The problem–and leadership complaints–resulted in an investigation by the Navy IG. According to the IG report, some of shore-based organizations in the Norfolk area have pregnant sailors in up to 34% of their billets. And due to restrictions associated with their medical condition, the sailors (in many cases) cannot perform all of their assigned duties, placing an added strain on shore commands. …

Talk to Navy officers and senior NCOs and you’ll get a real earful on the effects of this problem. While acknowledging that many female sailors are simply trying to balance a naval career against their desire to start a family, others are gaming the system, they say. In some cases, they say female sailors become pregnant to avoid a projected deployment, or get out of an assignment they don’t like.

Years ago, sailors who became pregnant while on active duty were immediately dismissed from the service. By comparison, today’s family-friendly Navy goes to great lengths to accommodate pregnant sailors, and there’s not much a Captain or Master Chief can do except grit their teeth and suck it up.

You’d think the IG report would offer a cautionary tale for the submarine force and its plan for mixed-gender crews. Running an attack boat or a boomer takes an exceptionally well-trained, cohesive team of officers and enlisted members. Simply stated, the silent service can’t afford the kind of turnover caused by pregnancies in other Navy organizations.

But such concerns are being ignored in the rush to break down one last bastion of male service.

24 Oct 2009

Obama’s Chicago Way Stops at the Water’s Edge

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Mark Steyn
discusses the Obama-style of presidential leadership: Chicago tough on domestic media opponents, boot-licking to foreign adversaries.

If you’re going to attack the press, you need a lightness of touch, not a ham-fisted crowbar such as the White House wielded Thursday, attempting to ban Fox from the pool interviews with the “pay czar.” Another bit of venerable Disraelian insouciance, on the scribblers of Fleet Street: “Today they blacken your character, tomorrow they blacken your boots.” For two years, the U.S. media have been polishing Obama’s boots, mostly with their drool, to a degree unprecedented in American public life. But now it’s time for the handful of holdouts to make with the Kiwi – or else.

At a superficial level, this looks tough. A famously fair-minded centrist told me the other day that he’d been taken aback by some of the near parodic examples of Leftie radicalism discovered in the White House in recent weeks. I don’t know why he’d be surprised. When a man has spent his entire adult life in the “community organized” precincts of Chicago, it should hardly be news that much of his Rolodex is made up of either loons or thugs. The trick is identifying who falls into which category. Anita Dunn, the Communications Director commending Mao Zedong as a role model to graduating high school students, would seem an obvious loon. But the point about Mao, as Charles Krauthammer noted, is that he was the most ruthless imposer of mass conformity in modern history: In Mao’s China, everyone wore the same clothes. So when Communications Commissar Mao Ze Dunn starts berating Fox News for not getting into the same Maosketeer costumes as the rest of the press corps, you begin to see why the Chairman might appeal to her as a favorite “political philosopher”.

So the troika of Dunn, Emanuel and Axelrod were dispatched to the Sunday talk shows to lay down the law. We all know the lines from “The Untouchables” – “the Chicago way,” don’t bring a knife to a gunfight – and, given the pay czar’s instant contract-gutting of executive compensation and the demonization of the health insurers and much else, it’s easy to look on the 44th president as an old-style Cook County operator: You wanna do business in this town, you gotta do it through me. You can take the community organizer out of Chicago, but you can’t take the Chicago out of the community organizer.

The trouble is it isn’t tough, not where toughness counts. Who are the real “Untouchables” here? In Moscow, it’s Putin and his gang, contemptuously mocking U.S. officials even when (as with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) they’re still on Russian soil. In Tehran, it’s Ahmadinejad and the mullahs openly nuclearizing as ever feebler warnings and woozier deadlines from the Great Powers come and go. Even Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is an exquisite act of condescension from the Norwegians, a dog biscuit and a pat on the head to the American hyperpower for agreeing to spay itself into a hyperpoodle. We were told that Obama would use “soft power” and “smart diplomacy” to get his way. Russia and Iran are big players with global ambitions, but Obama’s soft power is so soft it doesn’t even work its magic on a client regime in Kabul whose leaders’ very lives are dependent on Western troops. If Obama’s “smart diplomacy” is so smart that even Hamid Karzai ignores it with impunity, why should anyone else pay attention?

The strange disparity between the heavy-handed community organization at home and the ever cockier untouchables abroad risks making the commander in chief look like a weenie – like “President Pantywaist,” as Britain’s Daily Telegraph has taken to calling him.

The Chicago way? Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight? In Iran, this administration won’t bring a knife to a nuke fight. In Eastern Europe, it won’t bring missile defense to a nuke fight. In Sudan, it won’t bring a knife to a machete fight.

But, if you’re doing the overnight show on WZZZ-AM, Mister Tough Guy’s got your number.

24 Oct 2009

First Time Happenstance, Second Time Coincidence

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The third time is enemy action, asserts the old Intelligence Community saying.

The Mirror:

A British nuclear expert taking part in disarmament talks with Iran has died in mysterious circumstances at a UN building in Austria.

Timothy Hampton, 47, plunged to his death from the 17th floor and was found in a stairwell just hours before high-level discussions were due to resume in Vienna.

Investigators said they have not ruled out murder or suicide, but local sources said no suicide note was found.

Police are also investigating the death of another Brit who fell from the same building four months ago.

The third such incident will be very hard to take for just another accident.

23 Oct 2009

Golden Eagle Killing Reindeer

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Here is a short 0:53 video from Finland showing a Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) attacking and killing a reindeer calf (Rangifer tarandus).

BBC:

A BBC natural history film crew gathered the extraordinary footage along a reindeer migration route in northern Finland.

It finally proves this eagle species does occasionally hunt reindeer, something suggested by forensic evidence and the local Sami people.

The crew filmed the behaviour while capturing footage of the reindeer migration for the BBC natural history series Life, though the images were shot at too far a distance to be included in the final cut of the high definition programme.

In the last 100 yards it went into a low powerful glide and hit the back of a calf

Television producer Dr Ted Oakes, cameraman Mr Barrie Britton and scientist Mr Harri Norberg set out to film the hunt along the northern edge of Finland.

For his PhD thesis Mr Norberg has spent the past few years studying how predators interact with the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), which are known as caribou in North America.

Mr Norberg would tag calves, then search out those that had stopped moving to find out what had killed them.

By examining the bodies and the size and shape of claw, bite or talon marks, he ascertained that the majority of reindeer calves killed in the region had been attacked by eagles. …

More often than not the golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) appeared to attack white calves, rather than tan or brown ones, though the crew did not know why.

According to Mr Norberg, it is usually immature golden eagles that kill the calves.

However, he also believes the birds occasionally hunt adult reindeer.

Another larger species of eagle lives in the region, the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), but this bird is less aggressive than the golden eagle, and will often be chased off a reindeer carcass by its smaller relative.

The Sami people that live in the area say they have seen white-tailed eagles also killing reindeer, but this behaviour has yet to be scientifically documented.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

23 Oct 2009

Wall Street Groaning Under the Czar

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The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday: The U.S. pay czar will cut in half the average compensation for 175 employees at firms receiving large sums of government aid, with the vast majority of salaries coming in under $500,000, according to people familiar with the government’s plans.

As expected, the biggest cut will be to salaries, which will drop by 90% on average. Kenneth Feinberg, the Treasury Department’s special master for compensation, is expected to issue his determinations today.

Professor Bainbridge explains just how outrageous, unconstitutional, and violative of fundamental principles of law the Obama Administration’s business decrees are.

There really ought to be more outrage about this proposal. As a letter to the editor in today’s WSJ (Wednesday, 10/21 — the Journal does not archive Letters to the Editor, so Professor Bainbridge was remiss in failing to credit Peter Kirchman of Bay City, Michigan for this excellent contribution to the debate – DZ) aptly observed:

    To those who would defend the government’s ability, justification and right to negate Ken Lewis’s contract and hijack his pay (“The Fall Guy,” Review & Outlook, Oct. 2), I offer a John Adams quote found in David McCullough’s book “John Adams.” Adams stopped at a tavern for lodging. He happened to overhear several locals discussing British actions regarding taxation. One man says to the rest, “. . . if Parliament can take away Mr. Hancock’s wharf and Mr. Row’s wharf, they can take away your barn and my house.”

    Mr. Lewis might already be considered rich, as was Mr. Hancock, and the amount of severance may seem to be outrageous, but to you supporters of this confiscation I ask: If you grant the federal government’s pay czar the power to confiscate or alter the pay of 175 Americans today, whose barn or house is next?

The point is exceptionally well taken. The Obama administration has shown a shocking disregard for the rule of law when contract rights interfere with the administration’s ability to reorder the American economy as it sees fit.

As Todd Zywicki observed when Obama threw Chrysler lenders under the bus:

    The rule of law, not of men — an ideal tracing back to the ancient Greeks and well-known to our Founding Fathers — is the animating principle of the American experiment. While the rest of the world in 1787 was governed by the whims of kings and dukes, the U.S. Constitution was established to circumscribe arbitrary government power. It would do so by establishing clear rules, equally applied to the powerful and the weak.

    Fleecing lenders to pay off politically powerful interests, or governmental threats to reputation and business from a failure to toe a political line? We might expect this behavior from a Hugo Chávez. But it would never happen here, right?

    Until Chrysler. …

    The Obama administration’s behavior in the Chrysler bankruptcy is a profound challenge to the rule of law. Secured creditors — entitled to first priority payment under the “absolute priority rule” — have been browbeaten by an American president into accepting only 30 cents on the dollar of their claims. Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers union, holding junior creditor claims, will get about 50 cents on the dollar.

And then Obama bullied GM’s bondholders to the extent that even the Obamabots on the Washington Post‘s editorial board were moved to protest that “the Obama administration is coming dangerously close to engaging in financial engineering that ignores basic principles of fairness and economic realities to further political goals.

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