Thursday, June 11, 2009


The President has shown a fondness for talking about the number of jobs that he has "saved or created" with his stimulus spending, but as William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal observes this construction is at best meaningless and at worst dishonest:

His latest invocation came yesterday, when the president declared that the stimulus had already saved or created at least 150,000 American jobs -- and announced he was ramping up some of the stimulus spending so he could "save or create" an additional 600,000 jobs this summer. These numbers come in the context of an earlier Obama promise that his recovery plan will "save or create three to four million jobs over the next two years."

The reason this is either meaningless or dishonest is that the President surely knows that "the number is pure fiction -- the administration has no way to measure how many jobs are actually being 'saved.' "

Of course, the inability to measure Mr. Obama's jobs formula is part of its attraction. Never mind that no one -- not the Labor Department, not the Treasury, not the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- actually measures "jobs saved." As the New York Times delicately reports, Mr. Obama's jobs claims are "based on macroeconomic estimates, not an actual counting of jobs." Nice work if you can get away with it.

And get away with it he has. However dubious it may be as an economic measure, as a political formula "save or create" allows the president to invoke numbers that convey an illusion of precision. Harvard economist and former Bush economic adviser Greg Mankiw calls it a "non-measurable metric." And on his blog, he acknowledges the political attraction.

"The expression 'create or save,' which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius," writes Mr. Mankiw. "You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus."

Mr. Obama's comments yesterday are a perfect illustration of just such a claim. In the months since Congress approved the stimulus, our economy has lost nearly 1.6 million jobs and unemployment has hit 9.4%. Invoke the magic words, however, and -- presto! -- you have the president claiming he has "saved or created" 150,000 jobs. It all makes for a much nicer spin, and helps you forget this is the same team that only a few months ago promised us that passing the stimulus would prevent unemployment from rising over 8%.

During a March hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Max Baucus challenged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the formula.

"You created a situation where you cannot be wrong," said the Montana Democrat. "If the economy loses two million jobs over the next few years, you can say yes, but it would've lost 5.5 million jobs. If we create a million jobs, you can say, well, it would have lost 2.5 million jobs. You've given yourself complete leverage where you cannot be wrong, because you can take any scenario and make yourself look correct."

Now, something's wrong when the president invokes a formula that makes it impossible for him to be wrong and it goes largely unchallenged. It's true that almost any government spending will create some jobs and save others. But as Milton Friedman once pointed out, that doesn't tell you much: The government, after all, can create jobs by hiring people to dig holes and fill them in.

If the "saved or created" formula looks brilliant, it's only because Mr. Obama and his team are not being called on their claims. And don't expect much to change. So long as the news continues to repeat the administration's line that the stimulus has already "saved or created" 150,000 jobs over a time period when the U.S. economy suffered an overall job loss 10 times that number, the White House would be insane to give up a formula that allows them to spin job losses into jobs saved.

So the President manages to escape media accountability for the loss of 1.6 million jobs since he took office by claiming to have saved or created 150,000 jobs with more on the way, and the fawning media is too busy ogling his abs to ask him how in the world he arrives at that number. As Ed Morrissey has noted, he could as easily boast of having saved all 140 million jobs in this country. How could anyone gainsay the claim?

Are you still working? Thank President Obama.


Silent Sisters

Melissa Clouthier wonders why the sisterhood has been so strangely silent about the egregious Playboy rape list compiled by Neanderthal misogynist Guy Cimbalo targeting conservative women. Oops, did I just inadvertently give the reason?

It is odd - well, maybe not - that hardly any liberal males have condemned this putrid piece of hate speech, and it's even odder that feminists have had so little to say about it.

Clouthier compares their silence to the person who sees an assault on a woman but does nothing to help, the very type of person feminists generally profess to loathe. Here's Clouthier's close:

Meanwhile, besides the women on the list and other conservative women media members (Megyn Kelly, Michelle Malkin, Elizabeth Blakney, the Smart Girls ladies, etc.), who presented the most vociferous defense?

Conservative men. That's right. Conservative men wrote ardently [in defense of] the attacked women. Ed Driscoll, John Hawkins, Ed Morrissey, Caleb Howe, Allahpundit, Jim Treacher. One liberal man likely lost his job for decrying Playboy's misogynistic actions.

The feminist women remain silent. I don't expect them to find their voices anytime soon. These are the same women who defended Bill Clinton's sexual harassment and blamed the victims. These are the same women who savaged Sarah Palin based on her hair, her clothes, and her choice to have a special needs child. And now, these are the women who stand by and watch other women get attacked because they are beautiful and believe differently. The feminists say nothing.

If you haven't been following this sordid tale, click on the link. The original Cimbalo article has been taken down, but Clouthier provides enough details to give you an idea of what's been going on.

UPDATE: Just as I prepared to post this I learned that the National Organization of Women has chastised David Letterman for his klunky "jokes" about Sarah Palin and her daughter. That's good news.


Tasteless and Cowardly

So, David Letterman calls Sarah Palin "slutty-looking" and cracks a humorless joke about her daughter being raped at a baseball game, and his audience, comprised mostly of New York, liberal-minded, compassionate people roars at the hilarity of it all.

Now imagine that it was not David Letterman, but rather some conservative radio talker like Rush Limbaugh who made these remarks to a conservative audience. Imagine, though, that it wasn't Sarah Palin that he called "slutty" but rather Michelle Obama, and suppose it wasn't Willow Palin who was the object of the humiliating and completely stupid comment but one of the Obamas' daughters. Suppose further that the conservative audience howled with laughter. What do you suppose would be the response? What was the response when Don Imus said something similar about the Rutger's girls basketball team?

Liberals would go ballistic, and properly so, at the sheer tastelessness and cruelty of it. They would excoriate Limbaugh and hound him from the airwaves. Conservatives would never live down the embarrassment of having one of their premier spokespersons say such a disgusting thing and having their brethren caught on tape laughing and applauding.

But David Letterman says it about the Palin family, liberals laugh themselves to tears, and no one on the left seems to think that anything unusual has happened. Few on the left seem to worry about what such behavior says about the kind of people they are. Some on the left are so blinded by their own hatreds and self-righteousness that they can't even see that what they would find despicable if done by conservatives is completely acceptable when done by one of their own.


Meanwhile, on show after show last night liberals tried to tie the Holocaust Museum shooter to conservatism in order to discredit "the right," but they failed to notice that conservatives were among the man's primary targets. He hated Fox News, The Weekly Standard, and neo-cons in general. His anti-semitism is much more agreeable with the sort of thing that emerges in left-wing discourse than anything that is heard on the right.

Unable to actually trace this man's derangements to conservativism, they simply assert that he was a "right-winger" because, well, he just has to be. It fits their stereotype.

Unlike the play the Holocaust Memorial murder is getting, when a few weeks back a black muslim terrorist shot and killed a young white soldier in Arkansas the story simply evaporated like morning fog. There was no public investigation into this man's background, his hatreds, and mental disorders. There was no soul-searching about the nature of Islam, black racism, and the anti-military mindset which infects the American left and which may well have incited this attack. Why not?

Anyway, Letterman says that making jokes about people in the news is what he does. Very well. Let's see how long it takes him to say something as tasteless and coarse about Michelle Obama and her daughters as he was "courageous" enough to say about Palin and her's.


Go South Old Man

Mark Steyn sends a shiver down our spines with a little anecdote about how nationalized health care works in Canada:

In the Province of Quebec, patients suffering from serious incontinence - i.e., they have to aller aux toilettes jusqu'� 12 fois par nuit (that's 12 times a night) - have to wait three years for a half-hour operation. That's 3 years times 365 nights times 12 trips to the bathroom.

There are only two urologists in the province who perform the operation, in part because hospital budgets are so tight they decline to buy the necessary "neurostimulator".

The central point about socialized medicine is that restricting access is the only means of controlling costs. And, when comparisons of health "costs" between nations are made, the time you spend in the bathroom each night and the subsequent impact on your work performance the following day are not factored in.

Of course, if you get sick of the three-year wait, you can always drive a couple of hours south, with frequent rest stops, to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Vermont or Dartmouth-Hitchcock in New Hampshire, and write a check. For the moment. Once the U.S. system has been "reformed" so that its wait lists are up to Euro-Canadian standards, poor incontinent Quebeckers will have to drive to Costa Rica. And that's a lot more rest stops.

Two urologists in the entire province? When the government is paying the bill for health care the government decides what equipment to invest in and what procedures are urgent, and the government cares not a tittle how many times you have to go to the bathroom every night.

If President Obama continues on the road to Euro-Canadian socialism, including a nationalized health care structure, I suspect a lot of people, both Canadians and Americans, will start moving to Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and folks there don't have to spend the entire night in the bathroom.


California Dreamin'

It may be hard for young people to believe, but it wasn't long ago that California was seen as the land of milk and honey. People flocked to the state to take advantage of the opportunities it offered. California was perhaps the most prosperous state in the country and it was a great place to live and raise a family. Today, however, California is a different place, an economic basket case on the brink of bankruptcy. What happened? Representative Tom McClintock tells the story:

A generation ago, California exemplified its nickname, the Golden State. State spending was less than half per capita, inflation-adjusted, what it is today. Its debt-service ratio was less than a third.

Californians enjoyed one of the finest highway systems in the world and one of the finest public education systems in the country. Water and electricity were so cheap many communities didn't meter consumption.

Only a few decades have passed, yet California is a dramatically altered place. The tax burden is one of the heaviest in the nation. State government consumes the largest portion of personal earnings of any time in its history and yet can no longer maintain its basic infrastructure. The once legendary California quality of life has declined precipitously and produced a historic first: More people are moving out of California than are moving in.

One thing - and one thing only - has changed in those years: public policy. The political left gradually gained dominance over California's government and imposed a disastrous agenda of policy changes that now are being replicated at the federal level.

There's much more to this sad tale at the link. McClintock explains how deficit spending, high taxes, onerous regulations on business, unions, and centralized, bureaucratic government have combined to destroy the west coast nirvana that was once one of the best places to live in the world. He closes by reminding us that the policies which have reduced California to its current low estate are precisely the policies that a Democratic congress and administration are now foisting on the rest of the nation. Just as California's best days may well be behind it, so, too, are those of the rest of us unless in 2010 and 2012 we vote to reverse the folly.

UPDATE: As if to add an exclamation point to McClintock's eulogy for his state McClatchy has a piece that says that California is considering ending its welfare program because it can no longer afford it. I doubt this will happen, but the fact that it's even being talked about is indicative of the gravity of California's crisis.


A Pair of Bigots

Two anti-semitic bigots are in the news today. The first is the deranged elderly white supremicist named James Von Brunn who shot and killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum yesterday. The left is playing this tragedy as a crime of "the right" even though there's nothing about Brunn that suggests he was a "right-winger." The tragedy is also getting round the clock coverage on the news outlets even though there are dozens of similar shootings in Washington everyday, shootings motivated by hatred, that no one seems to care much about.

The second bigot is Jeremiah Wright who was asked recently if he had spoken to the president, Wright replied that: "Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me."

It's not comforting to know that the President's spiritual mentor is an anti-semite. Can you imagine what the media reaction would be had a pastor of former President Bush said such a thing? The media would be, rightly, drawing all sorts of conclusions about the character of the president from the fact that he was willing to subject himself and his family to such a man's teaching for twenty years.

Reverend Wright and Mr. Von Brunn are two peas in a pod. They're both haters - one incites hatred and the other acted on it. One, we'll probably be told over the days and weeks ahead, reveals something dark and ugly in the soul of white, conservative America. The other, who may reveal something dark and ugly in the soul of our president, we won't be hearing much about at all.