Friday, December 30, 2011

The Final Five: December 30, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 30, 2011

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Hospital Staff Caught Storing Caviar in Morgue
Two Russian men planned an exquisite New Year's party, complete with caviar, but apparently lacking any other place to store it, they decided to leave it in the morgue refrigerator at the hospital where they worked, right beside the dead bodies.

Topic One: The Republican Race
Iowa's calendar: Saturday-Sunday-Monday-Tuesday-ReturnToNormalDay. Rasmussen has Romney leading Paul 23-22, with Santorum at 16 and Perry/Gingrich tied at 13. Santorum now appears to be taking his turn as the rising star. The timing might be right, but it might also be a few days too late. Perry is also starting to rise again, and his advantage in organization might get some of the Santorum supporters to switch at the caucuses. The Hill takes a look at what we can expect to see in the final 100 hours.

In Virginia, Newt Gingrich has filed a lawsuit to get on the ballot, joining Rick Perry's suit. Meanwhile, the "loyalty oath" is causing quite a backlash (as it should.) Although I will most likely support whoever becomes the Republican candidate, I would refuse to sign it as a matter of principle, even if it meant I could not vote. Human Events makes the case that the pledge violates Virginia law, because state law permits the pledge, but says it must be in effect 90 days before the primary.

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
(The late night shows are in reruns this week, so we are running some of the best comments of the year.)
"While shopping at Best Buy, out of force of habit, President Obama put everything on layaway. He told the store, "Don't worry about it; the grandkids will pay for it."
-Jay Leno

Topic Two: Capitalism at Work
Verizon Wireless announced a $2 fee for one-time credit or debit card payments made online or over the phone. It is probably a poor move to announce it now, since the recent Verizon data outages have already left customers of "the world's most reliable network" upset. Customers have taken to the internet to voice their frustrations. Verizon should be free to charge whatever fees they want, but customers are also free to switch to other companies. It's capitalism at work, and it makes me glad we live in a nation where our options are more than just the state-controlled service or no cell phone. However, the FCC has decided to get involved in the decision. I do not know the applicable laws, so I will refrain from further comment for the time being. In a related story, CNN's David Goldman calls 2011 "the year of annoying fees." Update: Just before I scheduled this to post, I saw that Verizon has decided to cancel the fee.

Debt Watch:
On Thursday, the government added an additional $693,202,333.11 to the debt, bringing the total national debt to:

Topic Three: The Arab Spring
The "Arab Spring" seems to be having a different result than the people expected. In Egypt, a court has banned virginity tests on female detainees. Something tells me that virginity tests were not what Egyptians wanted when they flooded Tahrir Square last February. There are also reports that police have raided the offices of human rights groups and the government has shut down US election monitors. Egypt appears well on its way to deserving a seat on the UN's Human Rights Council, where it can join other examples of sterling human rights records, such as Cuba, China, Russia, and Gaddafi-controlled Libya.

In other Middle Eastern nations, Syria continues to use force to stop protests, despite the presence of human rights monitors. Meanwhile, the presence of the Arab League monitors has only increased the size of the protests. Finishing with some good news from the Middle East, Libya's largest oil port is ready to begin exports.

Tweets of the Day:
David Freddoso (@freddoso): TSA is a joke -- security theater. Alert passengers are the only thing that's stopped air terror post 9-11. See shoe & undie bomber.

Topic Four: The Global Economy
WSJ ran an excellent six-part series on the history of the Euro crisis. Meanwhile, Spain raised its deficit forecast in a move reminiscent of Greece. Most analysts seem to see this crisis as the breakup of the Euro and a weakening of the EU; I contend that it is just as (if not more) likely that the problems with the Euro will lead to a stronger EU as its government institutes greater controls over the member nations in order to avoid a currency collapse.

On the US economy, The CATO Institute has a great column about California and job creation. It might help explain the explosion of tech industries in the South. Rich Lowry's column for Real Clear Politics discusses Margaret Thatcher and rejection of British decline as a historical parallel for American decline. Laurence Kotlikoff explains at Bloomberg why saving is the way out of American decline. Finally, Paul Krugman's latest column has the same title as his last 27,000 columns (or so it seems.)

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary."
-Thomas Paine

Topic Five: Obama's Legacy
A great American Thinker article discusses what happens when ZerO comes to office. The Denver Post has a great response to Obama's claim that conservatives want to leave everyone to fend for themselves. The American Spectator argues that Obama is not a friend of the middle class. Even the NY Times has started criticizing Obama, contending that he is too distant from lawmakers. Jeffrey Folkes at American Thinker wishes us an "Unhappy New Year", saying that is the only kind of 2012 we will have with Obama in charge. Finally, the Atlantic writes a (rare) excellent piece on the effects of high joblessness under Obama. Just as applicable today as it was when it was first published in 2010.

Tomorrow in History
December 31, 1879 - In Menlo Park, NJ, Thomas Edison holds a demonstration in which he publicly displays the incandescent light bulb for the first time.

Grab Bag - Interesting Stories to Conclude Your Evening
Karl Rove's political predictions for 2012

Capitalism: Good, Socialism: Bad

Is social media a blessing or a curse?

CCW permit holders tend to be law-abiding citizens

Government Motors, neglecting your safety: Chevy recalls cars for missing brake pads

Replace your incandescent light bulbs with Heatballs!

Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our new e-mail updates (beginning January 2).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Final Five: December 29, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 29, 2011

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Female 'Robin Hood' Doles Out Cash to Kids After Robbing Bank
A bank robber jumped into a cab and offered a big tip if he drove her from bank to bank. The driver dropped her off at a nearby park and then called police. The police arrived to find her giving out the cash to children.

Topic Number 1: The Republican Nomination
It's been a busy day in the presidential race, as the candidates are campaigning across Iowa in an attempt to pull off a surprise finish in next Tuesday's caucuses. We'll catch up with the candidates in a little bit. However, one of the new items to the presidential race is the Super PAC, created in the wake of the 2010 Citizens United decision. These super PACs can collect unlimited contributions from corporations, unions, and individuals, but they cannot coordinate with the candidate campaigns. HuffPo's Dominic Carter wrote an analysis of how super PACs are changing elections. FOX News also provided their own analysis.

In Virginia, things just keep getting more insane. Now, prospective republican voters will have to sign a loyalty pledge, indicating that they will support the eventual nominee. Gingrich blamed his failure to get on the Virginia on one person. Apparently 1500 signatures submitted by this one person were ruled as fraudulent. Maybe he shouldn't have waited until the last minute to collect the signatures. Finally, Perry's request for a judge to halt ballot printing in Virginia failed, although the judge did not rule on the merits of the case.

Moving to the candidates, Michele Bachmann's top advisor, Kent Sorenson, defected to the Ron Paul campaign. Bachmann alleges that there was a payoff for the switch, but Sorenson denies it. Santorum has been gaining in the polls, but does he have enough time? Santorum is making his case to Iowa voters. Perry's new ad attacks some of his opponents for the time they spent in Congress. Strangely, it does not attack Romney. Ron Paul declared his support for the Occupy protests. Romney argued that the individual mandate is "conservative." (That's the only way he can claim that he's always been conservative.) RedState's Daniel Horowitz says there's nothing conservative about him. Another great RedState post contends that Ted Kennedy's 1994 Senate campaign already created enough anti-Romney ads for Obama, should Romney win the nomination.

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
(The late night shows are in reruns this week, so we are running some of the best comments of the year.)
"President Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan, he sent the Navy in to shoot at pirates in the Indian Ocean, and now he's attacking Libya. It's like he took the Nobel Peace Prize as an insult."
-Jimmy Kimmel

Topic Number 2: Obama's Legacy
Hopefully, Obama will leave office at noon on January 21, 2013. What will he leave behind? How will history remember him? An American Thinker article discusses Obama's disconnect from others. "Obama doesn't like people. He likes himself. He appears to have a long-standing pattern of disconnection from others." He also admitted to Barbara Walters that he's lazy. I would contend that it's more apathy than laziness. He's sure not lazy in scheduling his golf outings or vacations. A USA Today poll found that Americans view Obama as a liberal. Dr. Milton Wolf explains why the Obama presidency has been a failure: "He simply does not trust the Americans who entrusted him with the presidency." The Washington Examiner contributor Michael Barone contends that Obama is offering income redistribution, but voters just want economic growth.

Debt Watch:
On Wednesday, the government was able to reduce the debt by $5,377,558,430.82, bringing the total debt to:

Topic Number 3: Iran
Iran states the obvious. (Just another idle Obama administration threat) WaPo contends that Iran would pay a price by closing the strait. Max Boot says it would be suicide. However, Victor Davis Hanson explores the possibility that Iran thinks Obama is bluffing, given his empty deadlines on nuclear development. Meanwhile, the US and Israel are discussing triggers for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, while the US continues to discourage a unilateral attack by Israel.

Tweets of the Day:
Todd Herman (@toddeherman): Latest meme against checking I.D. of voters: "people don't bomb polling places." Sadly, from an apparently gifted man

Topic Number 4: SOPA
GoDaddy's support of the SOPA legislation is leading to an exodus of its customers. I have never used them, but I certainly would not now. It is not surprising that the government wants to barge in and control the internet: it is one of the last bastions of true freedom available. Bloggers are concerned that SOPA will spell the end of blogging. Meanwhile, WND takes a look at what is being illegally downloaded by Congress and its staff.

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Perhaps myself the first, at some expence of popularity, to unfold the true character of Jefferson, it is too late for me to become his apologist. Nor can I have any disposition to do it. I admit that his politics are tinctured with fanaticism, that he is too much in earnest in his democracy, that he has been a mischevous enemy to the principle measures of our past administration, that he is crafty & persevering in his objects, that he is not scrupulous about the means of success, nor very mindful of truth, and that he is a contemptible hypocrite."
-Alexander Hamilton

Topic Number 5: ObamaCare
Paul Rahe explains what is wrong with the individual mandate: "Raising taxes to reward free riders ... does not in and of itself narrow in any significant fashion the sphere of our liberty. It is a question of the proper use of the public purse. The individual mandate sets a new precedent. It extends government control to the private purse." Paul Starr analyzes Obama's miscalculation on the individual mandate. Jonathan Cohn disagrees with Starr. Meanwhile, Oregon is having trouble setting up its insurance exchange.

Tomorrow in History
December 30, 1853 - A small portion of land now part of Arizona and New Mexico is purchased from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase. This purchase facilitated the building of a southern route for the transcontinental railroad.

Grab Bag - Interesting Stories to Conclude Your Evening
NY Times tells people the subscriptions they don't have are expiring

Chavez claims US is behind his cancer.

Russia, a bastion of human rights, slams US human rights record

Marine cited for carrying American flag

The missing day: Samoa and Tokelau to skip December 30

Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our new e-mail updates (beginning January 2).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Final Five: December 28, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 28, 2011

A Couple Items:
Tonight, I'm experimenting with a new format for The Final Five. Instead of five articles, it will cover five topics, giving some of my insight along with several links for each topic. It will be a merging of the News of Note with the Final Five. The News of Note section is being replaced with "Grab Bag", the items that don't fit anywhere else. I am considering switching to this format permanently in the new year, so please let me know what you think. Also, if you are currently subscribed to receive the e-mail updates, please remember that you must click the confirmation link (sent last night) in order to receive updates beginning January 2. If you did not receive a confirmation link, please see below for how to subscribe.

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Fruitcake From 1941 Sells for $525 in Ohio
Fruitcake anyone? A 1941 fruitcake that was still unopened sold for $525 at an online auction.

Topic Number 1: Congress
WaPo's Aaron Blake contends people hate Congress because it is getting richer while the rest of America has struggled. Perhaps the legal insider trading Congress is allowed to do has something to do with Congress's wealth increase. As one comment on the second article stated, "This explains how most of them enter congress as 99%ers and leave as 1%er's." Since they make the laws, they can write them so that the laws benefit themselves at the expense of others. HuffPo's Darren Hutchinson has some additional insight on other factors that may also affect Congress's wealth.

Meanwhile, Congress is also meeting pro forma twice each week in order to prevent Obama recess appointments. One of the areas in need of appointments is the NRLB, but it seems that Obama does not want to send members who can actually be approved. With one of Obama's recess appointments last year about to be forced off without Senate approval, this will leave only two of the five seats filled, which means the board will be unable to meet a quorum. This will greatly upset the union bosses, and it may lead to an attempt to squeeze in an appointment early next year between the pro forma sessions. This could result in a court battle over the definition of a recess and whether the appointment is valid.

A WaPo reoprt by Lori Montgomery says that despite all the drama, Congress has been unable to accomplish much regarding the debt. While I understand the argument and share in some of the frustration, there have been some accomplishments. First, the Republican House made the debt and deficits one of the top issues. Second, they established a precedent that a debt ceiling increase must also cut spending. No longer will a President simply ask for and receive a no-strings-attached increase of the debt ceiling.

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
(The late night shows are in reruns this week, so we are running some of the best comments of the year.)
"Finding bin Laden was like finding a needle in a country that swore it didn't have needles."
-Stephen Colbert

Topic Number 2: Economy
European banks are holding on to their money rather than investing it, believing that the Euro--despite its weaknesses--is the safest investment. America already saw this happening during TARP. The Daily Beast argues that indecision is the main problem facing Europe. It is not the main problem (the biggest problems are the welfare society and the debt issues it causes), but decisions delayed will only result in bigger problems and the need for bigger austerity measures in the future. European stocks are dropping as investors realize that the crisis is far from over.

On the domestic economy, consumer confidence is rising but the housing slump is still hurting jobs. WSJ reports that workers are preferring to stay near their current homes rather than take a job that would require selling their homes at a loss. J.T. Young (Washington Times) contends that the government has reached the limit of its ability to improve the economy. Finally, Obama is prepared to ask for the third phase of the debt limit increase approved in August. Only a two-thirds override from both houses can stop this from taking effect. Meanwhile, the government continues to support worthwhile projects such as this.

Debt Watch:
During the weekend (including Monday's federal holiday), the government spent an additional $2,010,072,504.34, bringing the total debt at the end of business on Tuesday to:

Topic Number 3: Republican Primary
We're now within a week of the Iowa caucuses. PPP shows Paul 24, Romney 20, Gingrich 13. Strangely enough, PPP's latest poll is in line with the other polls. The latest trend in the campaign is to appeal to religion. Maybe Perry's 'Strong' ad was just a little ahead of the trend. Occupy is planning to protest at the caucuses. What's new?

In candidate news, Ron Paul's lead has resulted in him becoming the latest "punching bag." Mitt Romney continued his attacks on Newt, using a line from 'I Love Lucy.' Finally, HuffPo's Jeffrey Shaffer says that if Perry drops out of the race, he might be starring in a new version of The Beverly Hillbillies.

The Virginia primary situation is headed to the courts, as Rick Perry is officially filing a suit for ballot access. The real question is whether he will have enough time to get it through the courts before the ballots have to be printed. Moe Lane at RedState contended that Virginia changed their ballot access rules one month before the deadline. Another diarist at RedState provides some analysis that may help Perry's case: According to Virginia law, the signature requirement technically 50, not 10,000. I do not know if there is another statute elsewhere that might affect the Presidential outcome, but if there is not, then his analysis could drastically change the outlook of the race. My personal opinion is that the Virginia ballot rules should be changed to allow write-in candidates, at least for presidential candidates. If they are going to establish one of the strictest access rules in the nation, then they should also make it so that candidates who do not qualify for the ballot can still mount campaigns there.

Tweets of the Day:
Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight): There are 3 tickets out of Iowa, but one of them in a middle seat between two morbidly obese passengers holding screaming babies.

Topic Number 4: Iran
Iran is threatening to put an American on trial for spying. It is certainly not the first time Iran has done this. That time, it ended in bail ("ransom") payments of $500,000 and $1 million. Iran probably figures that they might as well try again for another nice cash delivery.

Meanwhile, Iran is threatening to blo ck oil shipments if sanctions are imposed. WaPo says that Iran has threatened this for years but has never done it. Now they certainly will not go through with it: a US official has said that any disruption 'will not be tolerated.' That's great! Threaten them with...nothing? It's not the first embarrassing statement the administration has made about Iran: remember the begging of "Please give us our drone back" earlier this year?

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."
-John Adams

Topic Number 5: Education
There were some interesting articles on education published today. HuffPo discussed how digital learning may improve performance for low-income students. The conclusion was right on: "Digital learning won't close the achievement gap, but it will lift the floor." On a similar note, the President of the UK's Girls' School Association says that smartphones may replace textbooks.

Another HuffPo article examines the pros and cons of holding school year-round. While it would minimize the summer learning loss, increasing the number of days school is in session would also increase costs. Some proposals call for small breaks instead of one large one, but school would still be in session during the hottest months and it would make employment with the school system even less enticing than it is (no summer break to work a second job.) Meanwhile, UK has come up with an "innovative" solution to the problem of poor performance: fire headteachers (what we would call principals) whose schools do not perform.

Finally, Greg Voakes debunks the "education is important for success" theory by listing 8 entrepreneurs who never completed a Master's degree.

Tomorrow in History
December 29, 1851 - The first American YMCA opens its doors to the residents of Boston, Massachusetts.

Grab Bag - Interesting Stories to Conclude Your Evening
The year in Obama scandals

Kim Kardashian irks liberals

Obama admits he lies, but only for good reasons

Need to return a gift? Here are some stores' return policies

iPad app for running the United Kingdom? It's coming soon

Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our new e-mail updates (beginning January 2).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Final Five: December 27, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 27, 2011

News of Note:

- Nancy "I-support-the-99%" Pelosi stays in $10,000 per night hotel

- Lawmakers question tax-free AARP profits

- The struggles of the solar-energy sector

- Will payroll tax conference be second supercommittee?

- Hacker group Anonymous releases revolution survival guide

- Ron Paul's record: 482 bills, 1 passed

- Google gets involved in your travel

- Newark TSA employee suspended after security breach

- 80% of all phones vulnerable to hacking

- Obama to ask for another debt ceiling increase

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Bus Passengers Stranded in England as Driver Gets Locked in Bathroom
Passengers on a UK bus were stranded for an hour after their driver was locked inside the bathroom.

The Final Five: Number 5
The Turn of China
American Thinker's Rick Moran explains why hopes for a China bailout have been dashed. "The financial and credit crisis can now be considered truly global. China has joined the list of nations whose banks and thus, government are in trouble. ... Now it's China's turn to kick the can down the road hoping against hope that a solution will present itself in the future."

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a speech urging Arab leaders to enact real reforms. Halfway through the speech, Arab leaders looked at each other and asked, 'Why is a woman talking?"
-Conan O'Brien

The Final Five: Number 4
In Praise of the House
Yuval Levin explains for The Weekly Standard the ways that the Republican-controlled House have pulled Washington to the right. "But, given the fact that they controlled only one house of Congress while Democrats held the other and the presidency, Boehner and his members have a lot to be proud of. They showed that it is not always true that “it is the president who sets the agenda for our government.” Confronted with a very liberal but weak and ineffective president, House Republicans managed to play an outsized role in setting that agenda, and in helping the public to see why electing a new president should top the agenda for 2012."

Debt Watch:
On Friday, December 23, the government added $4,844,832,010.40 to the debt. (Figures for yesterday were unavailable.) The national debt currently stands at:

The Final Five: Number 3
What Did I Get for Christmas? More Taxes!
The Huffington Post's Gene Marks describes the new or increased taxes that will be taking effect in the coming years. "Will this all happen? Right now, it's the law. Sure, there's an election year coming up. If there's a new President there may be some changes. But the mood in Washington now is that the money to pay down our huge deficits has to come from somewhere. So it's likely to come in the form of new taxes. Many business owners are preparing for that fact right now. They're accelerating income where they can, so that they can pay less taxes now than pay higher rates later. And they're spending a little quality time with their accountants this holiday season."

Tweets of the Day:
Aaron Blake (@FixAaron): Alan Grayson just sent an e-mail urging people not to reject Romney because he's a Mormon. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Final Five: Number 2
Obama's Poverty Politics
Ed Lasky at American Thinker describes the politics of poverty that Obama will use in next year's campaign. "Barack Obama's manifold failures over the last three years have left him in a political tough spot as we enter 2012. He will have a challenging time running on a record that has resulted in massive unemployment, stagnant income growth, a record number of people on food stamps, and a gargantuan level of debt that Americans will be paying off for decades after Obama has retired to the golf courses of Hawaii. As was clear from his recent speech calling forth the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt, he will campaign on the idea that he will bring "fairness" to struggling Americans. Of course, as was true of Obama's 2008 "hope and change" campaign, "fairness" has the political virtue of meaning whatever one wishes it to mean. However, there is plenty of evidence about what it means to Barack Obama: taking money from one group of Americans and giving it to another on a scale never before seen in America."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own."
-James Madison

The Final Five: Number 1
Job Creation Is Price for New U.S. Health Law
Bloomberg contributor Andrew Puzder describes why the (Un)Affordable Care Act is stifling job creation. "Our company, CKE Restaurants Inc., employs about 21,000 people (our franchisees employ 49,000 more) in Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants. For months, we have been working with Mercer Health & Benefits LLC, our health-care consultant, to identify Obamacare’s potential financial impact on CKE. Mercer estimated that when the law is fully implemented our health-care costs will increase about $18 million a year. That would put our total health-care costs at $29.8 million, a 150 percent increase from the roughly $12 million we spent last year. ... To offset higher health-care expenses, we will have to cut spending on new restaurant construction, one of our largest discretionary spending areas. But building new restaurants is how we create jobs. An $18 million increase in our costs would more than consume the $8.8 million we spent on new restaurant construction last year, leaving nothing for growth. We will also need to reduce our general capital spending, which also creates jobs and allows us to improve our infrastructure and maintain our business. In summary, our ability to create new jobs could vanish."

Tomorrow in History
December 28, 1945 - The Pledge of Allegiance is officially recognized by the U.S. Congress

Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our new e-mail updates (beginning January 2).

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Final Five: December 26, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 26, 2011

News of Note:

- Cupcake=Security Threat

- Justice department reverses course on online gambling

- Alabama county reaches bankruptcy

- Banks planning for Euro's demise

- Reid's "millionaires don't create jobs" claim debunked

- Congress still can't agree on FAA authorization

- Privacy group sues over DHS social media monitoring

- American cities creating and losing the most jobs

- We know more about Jesus's birth than Obama's

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Service with a Smile: FedEx Worker Caught on Tape Tossing Package Over Fence
A man opened his new monitor, only to discover that it was broken. Even worse, the home's security camera uncovered how it broke: the FedEx delivery man threw the package over the fence instead of taking it to the door. See the video at The Blaze.

The Final Five: Number 5
Demonizing Wal-Mart
Michael Kinsley analyzes the invalidity of the criticism of Walmart for the LA Times. "Big companies make fat targets, but a more deserving target might be small companies. Instead, we have the ever-inflating myth of small business. Small businesses come and go, creating and eliminating jobs along the way. Yes, they are an important part of the economy, and often they come with inspiring tales of hard-working immigrants and so on. But they're in it to make a profit, just like Wal-Mart. And I doubt that many offer healthcare to people working less than 24 hours a week. A successful small-business person is more likely to be in the notorious 1% than is an employee (or even a stockholder) of a big corporation. They don't need to be coddled with special tax breaks. Alice Walton could have put her museum in New York, where this sort of thing belongs. Most of us don't get to Bentonville as often as we'd like. Or she could have decided not to build it at all, for fear that journalists would start comparing her to Marie Antoinette. Would that have been better?"

There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Members of Congress will still get paid if there's a shutdown. So it will be just like it is now. We'll be paying them to do nothing."
-Jay Leno

The Final Five: Number 4
The Danger of a New Medical Care 'Bioethics'
Jerome Arnett, Jr. MD and John Dale Dunn, MD analyze the ethical dilemmas that will be created by the Affordable Care Act. "Embedded in PPACA is a system of mandates and incentives derivative of guidelines for efficient patient care that means some rationing. An example most often raising objections in the public discussion of PPACA is the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a part of the bill intended to address "end of life" resource utilization, but other entities created by the PPACA, such as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), will promote care guidelines intended to reduce resource utilization or withhold care for patients based on guidelines composed for promoting resource efficiency. ... Repeal of PPACA prevents the loss of ethical, individually focused medical care, the final step to creating socialized medicine that Ronald Reagan warned against as the step that would make America a socialist society. Ethical, individually focused medical care in a free-market system is still a viable alternative."

Debt Watch:
The government was closed on Friday to observe the Christmas Eve holiday. Although it's difficult to imagine the government not spending money, there is no updated figure available from the treasury. As of Thursday, December 22, the national debt stands at:

The Final Five: Number 3
A Country In Denial About Its Fiscal Future
Robert Samuelson explains our true political problem for Real Clear Markets. "There are moments when our political system, whose essential job is to mediate conflicts in broadly acceptable and desirable ways, is simply not up to the task. It fails. This may be one of those moments. What we learned in 2011 is that the frustrating and confusing budget debate may never reach a workable conclusion. It may continue indefinitely until it's abruptly ended by a severe economic or financial crisis that wrenches control from elected leaders. We are shifting from "giveaway politics" to "takeaway politics." Since World War II, presidents and Congresses have been in the enviable position of distributing more benefits to more people without requiring ever-steeper taxes. Now this governing formula no longer works, and politicians face the opposite: taking away - reducing benefits or raising taxes significantly - to prevent government deficits from destabilizing the economy."

Tweets of the Day:
Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh): Even if Ron Paul didn't write/read his newsletters, did no one in his life say "Hey friend, what is that filth going out in your name?"

The Final Five: Number 2
Obama's Post Recession Job Record in Historical Context
American Thinker's Yossi Gestetner analyzes Obama's campaign spin about jobs. "Yes, President Obama can argue that he had a steep and long recession, but so did Reagan, yet he produced 285,517 jobs per month in the same period that Obama produced only 41,896 jobs per month. More shocking: President Ford created 171,368 jobs per month in the nineteen months after the long 1974-1975 recession through October of 1976; the month before he lost reelection. An argument can be made that the steeper the contraction, the stronger the roar back needs to be. Yet, Obama's post-recession monthly average on jobs is less than half the 89,103 monthly average jobs produced in the 29 months following the short recession that ended in March 1991..."

Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary."
-Thomas Paine

The Final Five: Number 1
The Way The World - And Free-Market Economics - Works
Forbes' Peter Ferrara analyzes how the economy should work, and why it is not working the way it should. "Obama is locked in an antediluvian, unreconstructed, sophomoric, Keynesian mindset stuck in the delusion that runaway government spending, deficits and debt are the foundation of economic growth and prosperity. That is what he says in his Kansas speech, and what he has been saying since he was elected. But the truth is just the opposite. Minimizing government spending, deficits and debt to the essentials is what maximizes economic growth and prosperity. These pro-growth, free market economic policies are the opposite of trickle down economics. They all involve decentralized markets, with prosperity welling up from the people to create a rich and prosperous nation."

Tomorrow in History
December 27, 1932 - New York City's Radio City Music Hall opens its doors for the first time.

Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night. Simply send an e-mail to with "Subscribe" in the subject line.