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August 5, 2014

The Left Bashes, then Copies, Center-Right Institutions

There’s a bit of a brouhaha the last couple of days about the discovery of a closed Google group that Left-leaning journalists and activists use to coordinate their messaging.

Which really is of no interest to me whatsoever. I assume many such sorts of coordination and communication among political activists and journalists, which is why I wasn’t at all overwrought a few years ago over the JournoList saga.

But buried in the story is something that I DO find interesting. The progressive Left has this funny habit of denouncing and bashing the institutions of the center-right while at the same time, copying them. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

June 17, 2014

Export-Import Bank loaning money to drug cartels

In an op/ed published Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News I argue that Republicans should let the Export-Import Bank expire instead of reauthorizing it.

In the piece, I mention a charge that the Export-Import Bank may have loaned money to Mexican drug cartels.

Of course, you can't put hyperlinks or footnotes in op/eds. So here's the source of that little factoid from 2007, compliments of the Wayback Machine.

DALLAS - A News 8 investigation has found that a little known government agency may have unwittingly wasted taxpayers money on top of using the funds to support criminal activity.

The probe originally revealed that small business loans sponsored by the Export-Import Bank of the United States were made to non-existing companies for equipment that wasn't even real.

Now, New 8 has discovered that some of the people who got the Ex-Im Bank loans may have drug connections. The $243 million worth of bad loans were originally made to help trade with Mexico.

The loans have been linked to the Juarez drug cartel, which is known for its brutal murders. The cartel killed one dozen people and buried them in a suburban backyard across the border fro El Paso.

Another loan was linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel, whose business is smuggling heroin into the United States.

The federally funded Ex-Im Bank apparently backed loans to people affiliated with both cartels and the Mexican drug trade.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, News 8 asked for all documentation related to defaulted small business loans made to Mexico from 2002 to 2005. Although there were nearly 200 bad loans, so far, information on only 34 cases has been turned over.

But the bank did give a list of the defaulted loans and the names and addresses of the people who got them in Mexico.

"They have drug connections, which is very disheartening to think that the U.S. government is lending money to documented traffickers in the drug trade that are tied into the cartels in Mexico," said Phil Jordan, the former head of the El Paso Intelligence Center for the DEA and Border Patrol in El Paso.

Jordan ran background checks of the borrowers with two federal sources and found borrowers from Juarez and Sinaloa with criminal ties to money laundering, organized crime or drugs in Mexico. Jordan said he was surprised to find that the Ex-Im Bank didn't do similar checks before guaranteeing the loans. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

April 13, 2014

Video of Tom Giovanetti Speaking on the U.S. Relinquishing Control of Internet Root Zone Functions

ICAC IANA CSPAN 1I was honored to speak at a panel discussion on Friday sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee on whether transferring control of the Internet root zone functions from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce to some yet-to-be-determined multistakeholder organization is a good thing.

The briefing was televised on CSPAN, and the archive video can be seen here. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 7, 2014

A Sad State of Affairs

House Speaker John Boehner has pretty much said that immigration reform is dead, and the main reason seems to be that the Republican Conference has no confidence that the President would faithfully execute the law that resulted from whatever legislative compromise that might arise in Congress.

Congress might require certain border security tests to be met, for instance, before allowing immigrants with legal status to begin applying for citizenship, for example. But the President might just blow off the border security requirements, as he has blown off any number of legal requirements during his term.

So here's where we are: Our President only selectively upholds the laws passed by the Congress. The normal response in our system to such an abrogation of the office of the Presidency would be impeachment, but since there is no will in the Congress for impeachment, we have reached the point where Congress cannot legislate because it doesn't have confidence that the President will faithfully execute the laws it passes.

This is a sad state of affairs.

All legislation is the result of trade offs and compromises. But if we know in advance that the President will pick and choose elements of the law to enforce or ignore, compromise becomes impossible.

The other normal response in our system would be for Congress to simply refuse to fund the Executive Branch until it begins to comply with the laws Congress passes. But there is no will in Congress to do that, either.

Much of this is the fault of letting the Executive Branch grow too large and have too much power. In a limited government as envisioned by our Founders, you could defund the Executive Branch for 3 months and people would hardly notice. But when you've given the Executive Branch such extensive control over the economy, defunding it means virtually shutting down the government. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 5, 2014

The Government Class Makes A Startling Admission

In case it wasn't clear enough that the Government Class is in the business of using government power to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers, this idiot spelled it all out for you:

“These transactions are the largest opportunities for people to make money off of government, and so we want to make sure that everybody is included,” Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, said. “It’s a lot of money. It’s enough for everybody. Folks should make sure everybody is included.”

If you don't think corrupt management and Government Class self-enrichment can't turn Chicago into another Detroit, you're kidding yourself. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

January 29, 2014

An Exercise in Misdirection

Last night's State of the Union address, which even many among the Talking Left seemed to agree was a pointless execise, struck me as an exercise in misdirection.

The President started off talking about teachers spending extra time with students, autoworkers working hard, farmers, doctors, fathers and mothers and soldiers. The theme seemed to be "the real state of our union is in our hearts," and it was an attempt to divert attention away from real, empirical measurements of how well we're doing, which is pretty awful.

Consider: Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

January 2, 2014

Why Raising the Minimum Wage Is a Bad Idea

On the subject of the minimum wage, people seem almost immune to objective, empirical arguments, but one has to state them anyway, if almost only for the record:

Wages are the price of labor. Higher skilled labor is worth a higher price. Lower skilled labor is worth a lower price.

When you set a legal price control on labor, which is what a minimum wage is, you make it illegal for low skill workers to sell their labor. It's as simple as that.

People generally seem to understand that prices reflect value, except when it comes to labor.

What if we made a law that said fast food hamburgers could cost no less than $20? People would be outraged, and would (correctly) argue that this made it impossible for low-income folks to afford fast food hamburgers.

Well, if you pass a law that says people who work in fast food places can make no less than $20, you make it impossible for low-skill workers to sell their labor to the fast food place. The owner of the business must respond to the price control, just like the consumer must respond to price controls. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

December 14, 2013

On Outside Pressure Groups And Political Influence

One thing a lot of people seem to be missing is that this past week's new, stubborn determination on the part of elected Republicans in the House to follow their own strategy calculation and to not cave in to outside pressure groups is a direct result of the disastrous experience House Republicans had the last time they caved into pressure from these groups in the effort to shutdown the government in order to fail at defunding Obamacare.

Leadership knew there was no chance that effort would succeed. It didn't take much smarts to game that out. But a sufficient number of members were intimidated by a small number of outside groups and felt they had no choice but to go down that road and crash into that wall.

Predictably the effort failed, not for lack of principles or courage, but because of obvious political reality that anyone with any sense already knew ahead of time. Elected members got burned by caving in to unwise and flawed strategic pressure from the outside groups.

The strategic mistake here was a small number of outside groups taking a predictably flawed strategic position and then intimidating elected officials into following that flawed strategy. It was a mistake, and the repercussion is that their influence going forward is diminished. Read More >>

Comments

October 17, 2013

The Next Battle

Okay, so the good guys lost this battle. On to the next one.

With “this battle,” of course, I’m referring to the government shutdown over . . . what was it over again? Defunding Obamacare? Delaying the individual mandate? It seems like it was over three or four things before it was . . . over.

Look, you don’t win every battle. This one, we lost. We tried to take a hill, and we failed. You pick yourself up, you address your wounds, you assimilate the lessons, and you move on.

Some argued that we should not have charged this hill—that we knew there was little to no chance of success, and that we should not lead our troops into a battle without at least a decent chance of winning. Others argued that the fight was a noble one, the cause a just one, and that it should be taken on regardless of the chances of success, which turned out to be a kamikaze strategy. Regardless, it was a debate over strategy and tactics, not principle. A tactic or two was tried, they failed, and now we hopefully learn from it and move on without shooting too many of our own in the process. Because they’ll be needed for the next battle. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

October 3, 2013

So Which Country Is in a Place to Laugh at the U.S. Shutdown?

The latest “wisdom” about the government shutdown is that the impasse is making the U.S. a laughing stock around the world. If there is any country laughing at the U.S., it’s either a hypocrite or it hasn’t looked at its own financial situation—or that of many other countries.  Read More >>

Posted by Merrill Matthews | Comments

October 2, 2013

Does President Obama Understand Congress At All?

Late yesterday, after House leaders said that their strategy will be to send separate appropriations bills to the Senate, President Obama derided the strategy as a "piecemeal approach" that he would veto as inadequate. Instead, he demanded a "clean CR" (continuing resolution) to fund the federal government.

This is truly stunning. The "piecemeal approach" President Obama dissed is regular order in Congress. The way Congress is supposed to operate is for thirteen separate appropriations bills to be debated, passed, and sent on to the other body. These thirteen separate bills fund the various departments of the federal government. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

September 5, 2013

Observations and some conclusions on the proposed Syria intervention

When President George W. Bush took America into Iraq to invade the country, overthrow its government and install a new one more to our liking, he provoked a major crisis on the center-right regarding foreign policy; i.e., what should be our governing principles for such military intervention. Bush’s policies were, undeniably, a departure from any recent past calculus by Republican presidents.

[It’s important to note that Bush’s attack on Afghanistan did not cause consternation on the Right. We were attacked by a foe being provided safe harbor and resources by Afghanistan. All of the wealth and treasure that should have been directed at the Taliban and al-Queda in Afghanistan were misdirected at Iraq in the opinions of many conservatives.]

Conservatives like principles by which to make our decisions. We’re uncomfortable making emotional decisions, and we’re uncomfortable simply defending whatever “our guy in the White House” wants to do or, for that matter, we’re uncomfortable simply opposing whatever “their guy in the White House” wants to do. We value principles, intellectual consistency, and putting country above party. We know that, ultimately, military involvement overseas is always going to be a judgment call, but we want to feel good about how the judgment was made.

But such principles have been hard to come by in recent practice. For better or worse, the crisis in Syria and the opportunity for congressional debate has created a chance for conservatives to think through how such decisions ought to be made. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 19, 2013

IPI's response to Senator Durbin

The story so far, told through a series of links in chronological order:

  1. Senator Durbin's letter of intimidation to IPI
  2. Wall Street Journal editorial on Durbin's letter
  3. Chicago Tribune editorial on Durbin's letter
  4. Cato Institute's reply to Senator Durbin
  5. IPI blog entry on the Durbin episode
  6. IPI letter replying to Senator Durbin

Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 12, 2013

Told you so! (on the sequester)

So IPI went out on a limb on the sequester. We wrote a paper praising the sequester and explaining that the sequester represented the mildest down payment on the kind of spending restraint that is necessary if we have any hope of setting our fiscal house in order. We created charts to explain just how small the sequester restraints were. We blogged and gave speeches and did TV and went on the radio to sell the sequester. We got coverage in print media. We did our part--we more than did our part.

And we were right.

Check out Steve Moore's piece in today's Wall Street Journal.

The $150 billion budget decline of 4% is the first time federal expenditures have fallen for two consecutive years since the end of the Korean War. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 10, 2013

Here's what political intimidation looks like

If you want to know what political intimidation looks like, this link will take you to a PDF of the letter sent to IPI (and allegedly over 300 organizations) about their support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

I'm not going to excerpt any language from the letter in this blog entry, because you just have to read the entire thing.

Durbin's office probably made a major mistake sending this letter to think tanks like IPI (and the Cato Institute), because we don't cow to things like this--in fact, we see them as opportunities to point out political intimidation. The letter was reallly designed for corporations who are members of ALEC, to make the occupants of the executive suite call up their government affairs office and ask what the heck Company X is doing with this organization that generated a letter from a U.S. senator. It's subtle but strategic intimidation of free speech and freedom of association, and IPI intends to respond along these lines. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

 

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