Popular Mechanics on Roads and Bridges

Maui RoadHana Highway Northeast coast of Maui

Being an avid motorcyclist I love this new issue of Popular Mechanics:

Because of these features:

The World’s 18 Strangest Roadways

Some how Deal’s Gap in North Carolina didn’t make the cut.

The World’s 18 Strangest Bridges

Actually, it turns out those features are only on the website. Oh well, this month’s dead tree version looks pretty good so I’ll probably buy it. In fact, I keep buying it on the newstand every month, so I better get a subscription.

Why Smart Politicians Do “Stupid” Things

Even the brilliant Michael Barone will say about some politician who has been in office for a long time that he or she has devoted many years of “public service.” With no disrespect of Michael Barone, he is trying valiantly to be non-partisan, but we all know that public service is what volunteers who pick up trash on the highway do, not politicians. I could even be persuaded that firefighters and the police do public service, at least most of them. A firefighter who rushes into a burning house or a police officer that responds to a domestic violence call is doing public service. A politician who raises our taxes with phony “cap and trade” or votes for state-run heath care to give the government absolute control over every living soul is doing public damage, not public service.

No one understands this better than the great Thomas Sowell. May he live forever.
In a column from November 24th he said:

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems— of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.

Many of the things the government does that may seem stupid are not stupid at all, from the standpoint of the elected officials or bureaucrats who do these things.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

The great economist James Buchanan has given a scholar’s analysis to this thinking, in his Public Choice Theory which holds that polticians and bureaucrats approach everything the same way actors in the private sector do, from their own self interest.

Those Identifying As Democrats Lowest In Four Years

Rassmussen: Just 36% of likely voters now say they are Democrats, down 2 percentage points in November alone and the lowest since December, 2005 when the number was also 36%. This time a year ago 42% of likely voters said they were Democrats.

There are still more Democrats that Republicans in the Nation but the gap has narrowed to 3 percentage points.

The big news is that independents are swinging heavily to the right.

Sixty-Two percent of Americans (62%) say they are opposed to a single-payor health care system. Republicans have an opportunity if they will seize it. This 62% must be shown that any government-run health care that will come out of the Obama administration and/or the Harry Reid/Nancy Pelosi cabal will be a single-payor system, if not immediately then inevitably.

Republicans are famous for missing opportunities. Let’s hope they don’t blow it this time. They need to get beyond the old pattern of Republicans winning only when Democrats screw up. They must start to win elections on their own merits instead of the Democrats’ lack of merit. They need to give voters a reason to vote for Republicans and not just against Democrats.

UPDATE: Quin Hillyer warnes Republicans to not become overconfident. I agree, especially if the big shots continue to diss conservatives and Conservatism. Republicans should wise up and understand that Conservatism has worked fantastically well for them, every time they’ve tried it (i.e., 1980, 1984 and 1994). And every time they have abandoned Conservatism trouble has not been far away (1992, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2008).

Are Democrats Jumping A Sinking Ship?


Michael Barone, dean of American politics, columnist for The Washington Examiner and co-author The Almanac of American Politics, has written two opinion articles in The Washington Examiner lately asking that question. Several House Democrats have announced that will not seek re-election. Of course, the stated reasons they give are never the reason. The real reason is almost always that their re-election chances look bleak.

No one knows politics in America like Michael Barone. There are 4300 or so counties in America and I think Michael Barone knows the Democrat-Republican lineup and the historical voting patterns in every one of them off the top of his head. This enables him to explain with particularity what a given Congressman’s fate in the next election is likely to be. Sure enough, those Democrats who have announced their retirement are facing tough elections next year. Most likely because of their votes in the House for the Democrats’ cap and trade bill and the Democrats’ government-run healthcare bill. The overall decline in Obama’s poll numbers and the disenchantment with Hope and Change is also a factor.

Many districts easily carried by Democrats in 2008 look to be in play for Republicans in 2010. This makes it likely Republicans will post gains in Congress in 2010, and some think Republicans may take over control of one or both houses of Congress.

So is this good news? For Republicans hoping to capture additional seats, it sure is. Of course, it is not good news for you if you favor Democrats generally, and/or the Democrats’ cap and trade and government-run health care. But wait, maybe it is good news for you if you want cap and trade and government-run healthcare to pass. The prospective loss of Democrat seats in Congress could end up making the Democrats’ cap and trade and Democrats’ government-run healthcare more not less, likely to pass yet this year or early next year. How so?

Well, the most leverage we sane people have over Democrat politicians is the specter that if they follow their leader Nancy Pelosi on Democrat cap and trade and Democrat government-run healthcare they will lose the next election given how unpopular both Democrat proposals are with the American people. But if they are not running for re-election the threat of losing their seat is gone. They’ve already decided to give it up anyway. They have little reason to care what the voters in their district want (Democrats seldom care about such things anyway except as it serves their own interest).

Republicans can be hopefully jubilant that many Democrats are announcing their retirement in the face of voter opposition to their radical ideas. While that may make it easier for Republicans to gain seats next year, it may also mean the Democrats’ radical ideas have an even greater chance of being enacted into law as a going-away thumb stick in the eye to the American people.

Michael Barone’s excellent and highly recommended further reading are here:

Are Democrats Exiting a Sinking Ship–Part I

Are Democrats Exiting a Sinking Ship–Part II

UPDATE: Paul Mirengoff at Powerlineblog appears to agree with me that Democrats who foresee poor prospects for their re-election in 2010 because of their support for the radical Democrat agenda may think they have nothing more to lose and may as well vote for all aspects of that agenda, making it more likely that some or all of it will be enacted despite its unpopularity among the electorate. Mirengoff first notes that Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln is trailing badly behind all of her potential Republican challengers and says:

Lincoln’s vote on the actual legislation — as opposed to whether to debate it — should tell us how she reads the situation back home. If Lincoln votes against the bill, it probably means she thinks she can win next year, not an outrageous assumption if she is only trailing by six percentage points now. If Lincoln votes “yes,” it probably means she is resigned to not being in the Senate after 2010, and has been promised a desirable post by the Obama administration.

Astute political analysis I think. You heard it here first.

Free Market Health Care Costs Are Lower

Image from Carpe Diem

Lasik is free market health care. You pay, not insurance. And unlike all other forms of health care, the cost has declined. All other except cosmetic surgery which is also free market, has increased in price over the same period. Usually by a lot. A heck of a lot.

Dick Morris Predicts Republican Sweep

Dick Morris predicts Republicans will take both houses of Congress next year:

In the Senate, the Republicans are likely to hold all their vacant seats with the possible exception of New Hampshire. Incumbent Democrats Dodd (Ct), Specter (Pa), Lincoln (Ark), Reid (Nev), and Bennett (Col) are the low hanging fruit. Among the open seats, Delaware seems ripe for the Republicans. Add to these six seats, two more if Rudy Giuliani challenges Kristin Gillibrand in New York and if North Dakota governor Hoeven takes on Dorgan. Mark Kirk could the ninth pickup in Illinois. And, in a Republican sweep, you have to respect GOP chances in California and New Jersey.

A deluge swamps all boats.

Well, Morris is right…sometimes.

Video of Morris making his prediction on Hannity tonight is at Freedoms Lighthouse.

Defeat For Gay Marriage in New York

Thanks for supporting my bill

When you are a New York State Senator (Thomas Duane) and one of your colleagues (Sen. Ruth Hassel-Thompson) supports your bill you have to show your gratitude…I guess.

But the bill to establish gay marriage in New York went down in flames by a 38-24 vote. For the foreseeable future it’s dead. Story in The New York Times.

Gay Marriage has been defeated by voters in over 30 states. New York becomes one of the few states where it has been defeated by the legislature. If you can’t get this through the New York State Senate I don’t where you could.

It’s also a defeat for Governor Paterson who lobbied hard for it.

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More on Obama’s Speech

Der Spiegel is more blunt than any domestic publication:

Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America’s new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric — and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.

The inestimable Paul Rahe, professor of Hillsdale College also has a take on Obama’s speech. After quoting at length from Der Spiegel Professor Rahe says:

To this one can add that President Obama has given his adversaries — both within his party and outside it — plenty of rope with which to hang him. It is most unlikely that the US military can accomplish the end that he seeks within the timetable that he lays out. If they fail to do so by 2011, mark my words: everyone will pile on.

Please be sure to read all of Professor Rahe’s excellent analysis at Powerline.