Thursday, April 30, 2009

Political Correctness, Guantamo, and Noble Dinosaurs

It used to be said that self-preservation is the first law of nature. But much of what has been happening in recent times in the United States, and in Western civilization in general, suggests that survival is taking a back seat to the shibboleths of political correctness….We have already turned loose dozens of captured terrorists, who have resumed their terrorism. Why? Because they have been given “rights” that exist neither in our laws nor under international law….What Matters More, National Survival or Political Correctness?, Thomas Sowell, National Review, 4/29/09

Sowell, as sharp a commentator as there is, is as appalled as we should be by the naiveté of political correctness. It’s not new, sadly. Those who lived through the quiet riot of the 1970s in urban America remember the cries from liberal Democrats about the poor, helpless anger that motivates crime. It was a topic of jokes among New York gangsters, a very funny leitmotif in the 1956 musical West Side Story, but paralyzed the police force as officials, elected, appointed, and self-appointed (the latter mostly jurists) defined correct police conduct toward criminal suspects as being somewhat similar to a courtier’s behavior before the King of France. What a price we paid in New York City.

You can see a little of that in American Gangster, and a great deal more in the oeuvre of Sidney Lumet, but for those who lived through it, and beyond, really all the way to the middle of Mayor Giuliani’s term of office, it was a daily nightmare. What Giuliani understood, as did those NY cops not corrupted by drug money or other bag work, was that it didn’t matter if Abner X felt bad about how his daddy abandoned him, but that Abner X’s tirades, including use of machine pistols, Glocks, and knives, had to be stopped. The lawyers, juries, and judges could sort out the motive after the crime wave had ended. What mattered, first and foremost, was ending the capacity of young men especially from committing violence upon their fellow citizens in pursuit of gain. Why?

Such leaders and police officers understood that no civil discourse is possible in an atmosphere of mayhem and murder. But, to politicians like John Lindsay or, later, David Dinkins, that perception was unavailable to their ideological interpretation of violent young men. They proceeded as if what everyone in the street knew firsthand was simply a disturbing, popular neurosis, the while the city disintegrated. This is how the Left always operates. It pays no attention to contingency, to observation, to common sense. It would rather die a noble dinosaur than survive as a human being.


100 Days, 100 Mistakes? NY Post List

1. "Obama criticized pork barrel spending in the form of 'earmarks,' urging changes in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals. Then he signed a spending bill that contains nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of Congress. 'Let there be no doubt, this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability,' Obama said."…100 Days, 100 Mistakes, NY Post Op-Ed Editors, 4/29/09

It would be neither fair, nor legal, to post all 100 of these, but you should read this thoughtful list by New York’s rambunctious NY Post. Use the link to read them.


Note to Democrats: Gov. Faubus (Democrat) and Gov. Wallace (Democrat) Are Dead

Today, in Washington, Justice Department lawyers will tell the Supreme Court that the South is still so permeated with racism that it cannot be trusted to run its elections without prior approval — from Justice Department lawyers. On those dubious grounds, they will urge the Court to uphold Section 5 of the LBJ-era Voting Rights Act — a “temporary/emergency” provision that is now 44 years old…SCOTUS Showdown: The Voting Rights Act, Hans A. von Spakovsky, National Review, 4/29/09

This case, now being argued before the court (please read Spakovsky’s fine article at the link), is a paradigm of the modern Democrat party. All of the civil rights fights that culminated after fifty years in the 1960s and 1970s with judicial rulings and legislation were won. We’ve had nearly forty years, almost two generations, of progress. There are Senators, Governors, US Representatives, US Senators, the President of the United States, and thousands of state and local legislators, and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of federal, state and local bureaucrats whose background would have excluded them from election or appointment in 1965. Anyone who works in a private business or at a public agency knows that this is not your Daddy’s world. Black, hispanic, Asian, female, all varieties of gender are not only represented, but are in power.

Now, as Dr. King hoped, we are truly in an age where what matters is the content of character and the experience, qualifications and will to serve in one position or another. Yet, before the Supreme Court, a Democrat administration is arguing that we have to keep the old temporary intrusions in place on elections, that we have to assume that nothing has really changed, that white people are still out there throwing rocks and waving baseball bats. This is not surprising. Why?

A whole lot of people have taken careers in what might be described as “oppression politics.” Lawyers, Senators, Congressional representatives, appointed officials, bureaucrats have built their professional lives on assumptions that don’t obtain any longer. What to do?

Shriek, holler, shout false accusations, roar! Americans, with notoriously short memories, will probably think they’ve suddenly gone back in time.

Wake up.


Chrysler & GM: Americans To Pay For Cars They Don’t Want

GM's new proposal, clearly produced under government duress, is worse than virtually any of the alternatives. It would give GM to the UAW and the U.S. government and make taxpayers pick up the bills. Of course, billions more from government would be drawn down right away. But the UAW could also depend on the Obama administration to keep up the subsidy for years and years to come. Government and Union co-ownership: It would be as ineffective as it is un-American…GM: From Bad to Worse, Mitt Romney, National Review, 4/29/09

As Gov. Romney makes vividly clear in an article you should memorize, what the Obama/GM plan means is that, if you don’t like GM cars, you will still have to pay for them. If you do like GM cars, you will have to pay twice. Why?

Chrysler and GM are part of the Obama Administration's jobs program. You should no longer consider them car companies. The car industry is now largely Japanese, European, Chinese, and Indian. Why?

The management at Chrysler and GM that should have been canned years ago for trashing two great American corporations, that's why. Who else gave away the farm to the UAW? Who else turned out cars that Americans didn't like as well they did the offerings of Honda, Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, and Nissan? Unfortunately, as with Obama's stimulus and mortgage bailout programs, in corporations it isn't success that matters, but that you belong to the right team.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Which Party is The Corporations’ Favorite?

Earlier this month, the United States Chamber of Commerce handed out its annual "Spirit of Enterprise" awards to those members of Congress who voted with the Chamber 70 percent of the time on its most important legislative initiatives of 2008. The only four Republican senators who did not receive the award were Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions, Jim Inhofe and me - four of the most conservative members of the Senate…What were the conservative offenses? We opposed the failed bailouts and stimulus. Which explains why many liberal Democrats scored higher, including Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton….DEMINT: GOP should end affair with corporate elites, Senator Jim Demint (R-SC), 4/29/09

Accusing others of having your own faults is a common human failing. We all know at least one office gossip who accuses his or her colleagues of doing precisely what he or she is doing, whether undermining an associate, trading secrets with the competition, or lying about performance. As Senator DeMint makes vividly clear in an article you should spend a few minutes to read, Republicans have borne the popular accusations that they’re in bed with corporations since the Depression of the 1930s. Look more closely at who sent money to the DNC and the Obama campaign in 2008. It wasn’t just George Soros, although the eccentric financier is a good model. As much money as unions gave the DNC and Obama’s campaign, Fortune 500 companies gave more. Why is that?

The Left is openly contemptuous of the small entrepreneur: the Cuban refugee who rose to own a plumbing business in Miami; the Vietnamese who went from escape on a leaky boat to running a successful used car business in San Diego; the average guy from Dubuque who had the gumption, the will, and the strength to build a small chain of hardware stores. The Left loves organizations that mirror its own perceptions of how things should be – elites controlling the lives of many. Corporate life is all about that. Anyone who has worked in a corporation – GM is actually a very good example – knows that the corporation is happy to employ an awful lot of people who probably couldn’t run a plumbing business, a used car lot, or a hardware store. What they are good at is obeying the hierarchy, doing their jobs, and not causing trouble. This is the very picture of the socialist enterprise. It has a mission statement that promises the greatest good for the greatest number, but internally it’s all about people who can’t, or won’t, manage their own affairs, so they relinquish their autonomy to an elite on the 9th, or the 75th, floor. This is not all bad. A vast proportion of the economic activity of the world depends on this kind of organization, and it is not unfair to say that a substantial majority of working people probably have neither the interest nor the inclination to run a business. Trouble is, of course, that neither corporations nor the Leftist enterprise tolerate competition. And you’ll notice this.

The Obama administration is not bailing out plumbing businesses, used car lots, or hardware stores. It’s bailing out miserably managed, massive corporations like AIG, GM, and Chrysler, companies a rational market would have dismissed out of hand, and companies the Left recognizes as being just like the administration that’s sending the bailout checks: intolerant of debate; ignorant of contingencies; and ready to crush all competition.


Specter: A Parliamentary Whore's Progress

The timing of Specter’s latest political reincarnation was not coincidental. According to his polling data, Specter would have lost Pennsylvania’s Republican primary in 2010, and with it his 29-year career in the Senate. Specter trails primary challenger Pat Toomey by more than 20 percent in recent polls; in 2004, Toomey lost to Specter by just a handful of votes. “I am not prepared to have my 29 year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate,” Specter announced yesterday….The Specter of Sabotage, Gregory Gethard, Frontpage Magazine, 4/29/2009

Sen. Arlen Specter (Dem., PA) is not full of surprises. As Gregory Bethard’s article makes clear, Specter’s career has been a whore’s progress for forty years, from his days on the Warren Commission through his career as a non-Republican Republican in the U.S. Senate. He has consistently voted on major issues with the Democrat conference going back to his first term during the Reagan Administration. As is obvious from the context of Specter’s political sex change, the real worry the old fool had was that he would lose his senior status in the Senate, and all of the perks and pork that implies.

But let’s be honest. Specter has, in most respects, always been a Democrat. What might be a very useful thing would be for Democrats who have always been closer to Republicans on major issues than to their own conference should follow Specter’s example. The realignment would not, most likely, change the majority status of the Democrats in the Senate, but it would certainly make clear which side everybody is on.


Monday, April 27, 2009

“Truth Commission”: Feinstein’s Dead Horse a Distraction?

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee has called for a full congressional inquiry to move forward on controversial George W. Bush-era interrogation and detention methods…Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, speaking Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," said she hopes that public outrage regarding the memos will soon subside so that Congress can calmly and fully investigate the issue…"We need to find these things out and we need to do it in a way that's calm and deliberative and professional, because I think all of this, on the front burner, before the public, does harm our intelligence gathering, it does harm America's position in the world," she said…Feinstein Seeks Probe Into Bush Detainee Tactics, Sean Lengell, Washington Times, 4/21/2009

What purpose is there in beating a dead horse? Democrats were not only present at the CIA’s presentation of its new interrogation methods in 2001 and 2002, these U.S. Representatives had Congressional authority, established for almost two decades, to stop the CIA. They didn’t. They asked if the measures were extreme enough. Ask Speaker Pelosi. She was there.

Perhaps the reason for beating this dead horse is the extravagant corruption of Senator Feinstein herself. What better way to distract a stupefied public regarding her steering of TARP monies to her husband’s companies than to shriek about the crimes of the former Bush Administration?

Lesson: liars don’t reform; they just tell bigger lies.


Taliban Surprise?

Taliban militants declared their peace deal with the Pakistani government "worthless" on Monday after authorities deployed helicopters and artillery against hide-outs of Islamist guerrillas seeking to extend their grip along the Afghan border….Taliban derides 'worthless' truce with Pakistan, Zara Kahn, AP, 4/27/2009

Mr. President, if this writer can be so bold as to offer an opinion, international life is not the Law Review. Handing the debate off to each viewpoint’s partisan to allow a full airing of an issue is a concept alien to practitioners of jihad.

In this deeply troubling story, in which Kahn details the Taliban’s strategy of stepped efforts to gain appeasement from the “government” in Islamabad, the obvious stands out with painful clarity. If you appease people willing to throw themselves as living bombs into crowds of children, they will joyfully do it again and again and again.

Mr. President, do you really want your legacy to be some future JFK writing a book called While America Slept?


Perhaps Secretary Napolitano is Dyslexic

In a report on domestic terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security warned the American public that the climate is now ripe for a rise in right-wing motivated terrorist. And, specifically, the report told the world to be concerned for people upset about firearms-related legislation as well as returning veterans….The report also said that no evidence exists of any right wing groups planning attacks….Meanwhile, only days later, the FBI added a name to its Most Wanted Terrorists list…Daniel Andreas San Diego, a 31-year-old vegan so driven by the pursuit of animal rights that he allegedly bombed two California office buildings, just one of many acts of domestic terror perpetrated by the extremist left…Extremists tied to the animal and environmental rights movements have participated in a multitude of acts of domestic terrorism (“direct action” in their terminology) through the years. The most well-known groups are the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), loose-knit organizations which have planted bombs and set dozens of fires throughout their existence…AWOL on Animal Rights Terror, Gregory Gethard, Front Page Magazine, 4/27/2009

If this isn’t a paradigm for the culture of corruption, a corruption that lies deep within the intellectual basis of the Left, this writer can’t think of anything that would serve the role better. Massive arson and bombings have been the staple of animal rights extremists for more than a decade. Not one of these groups would associate with a right wing Republican opponent of abortion. Is the FBI the only one paying attention?

Click on the article to get the whole story. You won’t get it from CNN.


The EU Tea Party's Been On For Years

More and more Western Europeans, recognizing the threat to their safety and way of life, have turned their backs on the establishment, which has done little or nothing to address these problems, and begun voting for parties—some relatively new, and all considered right-wing—that have dared to speak up about them. One measure of the dimensions of this shift: owing to the rise in gay-bashings by Muslim youths, Dutch gays—who ten years ago constituted a reliable left-wing voting bloc—now support conservative parties by a nearly two-to-one margin…Europe’s Right Turn, Bruce Bawer, City Journal, 4/27/2009

It happened in Denmark eight years ago, and is sweeping across Europe. Bawer, a sharp commentator, whose brutally hostile views on faith profoundly contradict those held by writers on this site, is nonetheless one of the best reporters on the destruction of Europe’s social contract by the arrival of the pathology of radical Islam. You should read the whole, incisive article. This catastrophe, motivated by Leftist, multicultural ideology and its primary offshoot, massive immigration, is coming here. Want to find out what it’s going to be like? Read Bawer’s piece at the link.


This President's Enemies: Americans?

While the rest of us may be worried about violent Mexican drug gangs on our border, or about terrorists who are going to be released from Guantanamo, the director of homeland security is worried about “right-wing extremists.”..Just who are these right-wing extremists?…According to an official document of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, right-wing extremists include “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.” They also include those “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority.”…If you fit in to any of these categories, you may not have realized that you are considered a threat to national security. But apparently the Obama administration has its eye on you….Are You an ‘Extremist’, Thomas Sowell, National Review, 4/21/2009

Sowell, whose article you should read at the link, shouldn’t be surprised by this. Obama’s predecessor as Democrat in the White House felt that it was more important to kill 86 people in Waco, including dozens of children, than to go after Osama Bin Laden. One cannot argue for wisdom or sanity of the leader of that religious cult, but one can argue that none of those burned to death on Janet Reno's orders were a danger to the United States of America. As for the danger to the children, Attorney General Reno killed them herself to prevent their theorized death at the hands of religious extremists. Like follows like. A man with a pathological hatred of his own background and nation is likely to find its greatest enemies among its citizens.


The President's Best Posture?

Obama needs to get up off his knees. Foreign leaders have already pegged him as the wimpiest metrosexual this side of the men's grooming-products counter at Barney's….Bam’s Latin Lovers: Hugs for Thugs, Ralph Peters, NY Post, 4/21/2009

What former Army Colonel Peters fails to acknowledge is that some prefer to be in the catcher’s position.


We Know about the Aliens, Edgar Mitchell

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, the sixth man ever to walk on the moon, has a message for all citizens of Earth: We are not alone…."We are being visited," the 79-year-old grandfatherly "spacefarer" told 100 or so UFOlogists gathered at a National Press Club conference called by the Paradigm Research Group…"It is now time to put away this embargo of truth about the alien presence," said the astronaut who made the longest moonwalk in history. "I call upon our government to open up ... and become a part of this planetary community that is now trying to take our proper role as a spacefaring civilization…."Astronaut says we are not alone, Joseph Curl, Washington Times, 4/21/2009

Evidently, someone’s been paying attention to the new denizens of Washington, DC. How else to explain the sudden appearance of surrender monkeys in the Senate, Congress and White House?

We are from France indeed.


Senator Feinstein's Real Love

On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband's real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms….Mrs. Feinstein's intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn't a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments - not direct federal dollars….Mrs. Feinstein first offered Oct. 30 to help the FDIC secure money for its effort to stem the rise of home foreclosures. Her letter was sent just days before the agency determined that CB Richard Ellis Group (CBRE) - the commercial real estate firm that her husband Richard Blum heads as board chairman - had won the competitive bidding for a contract to sell foreclosed properties that FDIC had inherited from failed banks….Senator's husband cashes in on crisis, Chuck Neubauer, The Washington Times, 4/21/09

Rahm Emmanuel’s advice to Democrats was to take advantage of the financial crisis. Perhaps you thought that this would take the form of advancing the Leftist cause. Yep, it was, the Leftist cause of getting as much bucks for the bang as possible, which Senator Feinstein, who resigned from the Military Affairs Committee last year because of a scandal in which defense contracts seen through her committee were steered to a defense contractor that her husband happened to have part ownership of. Maybe Senator Feinstein should just resign from the Senate. She is a disgrace to the Senate, the nation, and the constituents who put her in office. Read the rest at the link. It’s one of the finest articles yet on the Democrat Culture of Corruption.

The French say les moines parlent comme l’abbé chante. The chief of this band of outlaws says “yes, we can!”. Apparently, this has been interpreted as a call to arms by every gangster in politics.

Haven’t heard about this? Hey, you’re an American, entitled to a pack of lies from every news program.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obama’s New Foundation: Same Clients as Ford Foundation?

Franklin Roosevelt gave us the New Deal. John Kennedy gave us the New Frontier…Barack Obama promised…a "New Foundation." For those too thick to have noticed this proclamation of a new era in American history, the White House Web site helpfully titled its speech excerpts "A New Foundation."…Obama is not the first to try this slogan. President Jimmy Carter peppered his 1979 State of the Union address with five "New Foundations" (and eight more just naked "foundations"). Like most of Carter's endeavors, this one failed, perhaps because (as I recall it being said at the time) it sounded like the introduction of a new kind of undergarment…Obama offered his New Foundation speech as the complete, contextual, canonical text for the domestic revolution he aims to enact. It had everything we have come to expect from Obama…The Sting: In Four Parts, Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, 4/17/2009

Part of the New Foundation is Congressional authorization of nearly six billion dollars worth of grants-in-aid to community organizations, such as ACORN. This didn’t start with the President, but with the Democrat Congress in 2008.

This week the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 2857, the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, more creatively known as the GIVE Act. If passed and signed into law (It was: ED.), the bill would revise and reauthorize appropriations for numerous community service programs through Fiscal Year 2012. Among the revisions to some of the programs is the addition of four “purposes” to the National and Community Service Act of 1990…The bill goes on to authorize hundreds of millions of dollars for various service programs, including the usual emphasis on reaching out to Indian tribes, “disadvantaged youth,” “underserved communities” and two particular minority groups. In other words, the groups Congress has a habit of over-serving, creating within these communities an unhealthy dependency upon government handouts as a stimulus for civic, educational, cultural and economic improvement…The Proposed GIVE Act: Government Usurpation of Volunteerism, Paul Weyrich, National Ledger, 5/5/2009

The act was signed into law in early April 2009. This act directly aided ACORN and other radical “community organizing” groups. That sounds familiar, and it should. Here’s the Ford Foundation detail on ACORN:

Grant Detail

Return to search results
Grantee Acorn Housing Corporation
Amount $200,000
Period 2008 - 2009
Program Assets
Region New York Office
Field Development Finance & Economic Security
Description To develop a streamlined mortgage foreclosure prevention process with national mortgage servicers…Grant Detail, ACORN Housing Corporation, The Ford Foundation, 4/17/2009

If you don’t know what’s happened to the great foundations set up in the name of one great robber baron or other, you know, the people who built the major industries in the United States, the detail is a good example. By an large, such foundations, like the United Council of Churches, tend to give grants to leftwing organizations and causes or, as Lenin put it succinctly, “capitalists sell us the rope to hang them with.”

Odd that the government should join forces so vigorously with private foundations… Who knows, soon Henry Waxman may design the next Chevrolet!



Back to the 70s: Homeland Security Proves Existence of UFOs

The Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report last week. It’s called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”…The problem with it is that it makes little effort to document or demonstrate its contention that “extremist” groups are resurgent, that they are right-wing, or that they may be formed from the ranks of “disgruntled military veterans.”…Basically, it’s fancy bureaucratese for: We’re guessing bad people will do bad things because the economy is bad and the president is black. But we have no real evidence…The report insists that returning “disgruntled military veterans” from Iraq and Afghanistan are recruitment fodder for extremist and terrorist groups…John Hinderaker of the Powerline…discovered that, according to the FBI, only 19 Iraq or Afghanistan war vets have joined the “extremist movement”…More than half of America’s 1.4 million active-duty military personal have served in Iraq or Afghanistan…Any way you slice it, 19 yahoos amount to statistical noise so faint you would need one of those UFO-hunting dishes to pick it up…(Right) Winging It at the DHS, Jonah Goldberg, National Review, 4/17/2009

Do yourself a favor, click on the link, and read all of Goldberg’s edgy and sometimes funny analysis of Homeland Security’s bizarre report (look, Janet, no statistics to bother with!) about the terrorist threat from American citizens. Though one wonders: if Leonard Nimoy had introduced the report, would people have listened without wondering about the facts?


Tea Party: In Case You Missed It, Here’s Why

When thousands of people in all 50 states assemble to protest government policy, you might suppose that this is news. Not according to the coverage on the front pages of the Washington Post, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal. The “tea party” rallies went unmentioned. In Washington, D.C., despite temperatures in the 40s and a driving rain, about a thousand demonstrators assembled across from the White House on April 15. The front page of the Times the next day found space for a big story with accompanying pictures of public demonstrations in Kabul, Afghanistan, but not a word about the American protestors….CNN Versus the Tea Parties, Mona Charen, National Review, 4/17/2009

Ahh, but of course! Finding yet another reason to attack American and NATO involvement in Afghanistan was more important than anything happening in America itself.
But wait! Somebody did cover one tea party protest.

Susan Roesgen, who “covered” the Chicago tea party for CNN, was downright confrontational with attendees she interviewed, challenging a protestor who referred to Abraham Lincoln with “What does this have to do with taxes?” The man attempted to explain. But the reporter interrupted him. “Did you know that you are eligible for a $400 rebate? Did you know that your state, the state of Lincoln, gets $50 billion from the stimulus? That’s $50 billion for your state.” She then tossed back to the anchor, remarking, “This is clearly not family viewing.”…(CNN Versus the Tea Parties, Charen…(cont’d))

In other words, make like General Motors management: take your bribe and shut up!

Is there anything more predictable than a White House toady working at CNN as a “reporter”? Read the rest of Mona Charen's story at the link.


Mexican Drug Wars & Arms: Blame America First

Mexican authorities arrested a woman guarding an arsenal that included the first anti-aircraft machine gun seized in Mexico, police said Tuesday, as the army announced the capture of an alleged top drug cartel lieutenant…The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has traced many guns seized at scenes of drug violence in Mexico to U.S. commercial sources…The ATF says the grenades are mostly smuggled in through Central America, and have been traced back to the militaries of many countries, from South Korea to Spain and Israel. Some may be leftovers from the Central American civil wars.Mexican detained with anti-aircraft machine gun, E. Eduardo Castillo, Yahoo News, 4/9/2009

Good catch! But, wait!

Meeting…with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, President Obama on Thursday said the U.S. is to blame for much of Mexico's drug violence, and he set up a major congressional gun-control battle by calling on the Senate to ratify a treaty designed to track and cut the flow of guns to other countries…He called for the Senate to ratify a decade-old hemisphere-wide treaty that would require nations to mark all weapons produced in the country and track them to make sure no weapons were exported to countries where they were banned….Obama Blames U.S. for Guns in Mexico, Washington Times, 4/17/09

“Mark all weapons…to make sure no weapons were exported to countries where they were banned….” Don’t be fooled. This sounds an awful lot like a “guarantee-the-evidence” ploy for the Trial Lawyers Association in their ongoing efforts to sue U.S. gun manufacturers for deaths brought about by war or murder.

Or, it could be that the anti-aircraft gun wasn’t from Columbia or Nicaragua, but from a right-wing extremist Iraq war veteran living in Texas and attending meetings of the Lone Star Secession Association. Believe what you like….


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Home Security Report: An Apology You Won't Hear from Obama

Republicans on Wednesday said a Homeland Security Department intelligence assessment unfairly characterizes military veterans as right-wing extremists…House Republican leader John Boehner described the report as offensive and called on the agency to apologize to veterans….The assessment…said that returning military veterans who have difficulties assimilating back into their home communities could be susceptible to extremist recruiters or might engage in lone acts of violence….Republicans criticize reports on right-wing groups, Eileen Sullivan, Google News, 4/20/2009

You’ll note that Google’s headline carefully excluded any obvious reference to Homeland Security’s inflammatory and wholly undocumented warning about returning veterans and right-wing terrorism. At least they refer to it in the story!

Perhaps Mrs. Napalitano learned her methods for this report from the Czar’s secret police, who wrote The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to justify pogroms against “dangerous” Jews.


Sarkozy on Obama: Sour Grapes? Or Disappointment with the Vintage?

Mr Sarkozy is pouring cold water on President Obama's efforts to recast American leadership on the world stage, depicting them as unoriginal, unsubstantial and overrated….The American President's call "to free the world of the menace of a nuclear nightmare" was hot air, Mr Sarkozy's diplomatic staff told him in a report. "It was rhetoric – not a speech on American security policy but an export model aimed at improving the image of the United States"…Most of Mr Obama's proposals had already been made by the Bush administration and Washington was dragging its feet…, the leaked report said.Nicolas Sarkozy puts Barack Obama in the doghouse, Jason Reed, Charles Bremner, Times Online, 4/16/09

Just like the French! You try your damnedest to fit in, go through the Berlitz two-week special in the language, practice with your smart and charming spouse, go to a few wine tastings, study up on the politics of socialism and surrender, and what happens? The Frenchman berates your effort, laughs at your accent, describes your taste in wine as barbaric, and calls you a fake.


Tea Party Lesson Lost on the White House?

Like many…, the Morristown Tea Party was…an ad hoc affair…Still, it drew people from all around the state, generally considered a Democratic stronghold…From the occasional odd demonstration, it has become something of a small-scale national rebellion, driven less by partisanship than by a sense of frustration at the federal government’s spend-thrift ways….There is no small irony in the fact that much of the Tea Parties’ ire is directed at President Obama….his presidential campaign…inspired the idea that a “grassroots movement,” led by a former community organizer, could become a potent force in American politics….Jacob Laksin,, 4/16/2009

When the street theater of Vietnam war protests abruptly included tens, then hundreds, of thousands of middle class parents, it wasn’t theater any longer. It had become, rightly or wrongly, national politics. Instead of a marker for a line in the sand that Lyndon Johnson would not cross, it became a highly inconvenient invasion on his core constituencies. Within a year, his Presidency was in tatters, and Richard Nixon on the way to the White House. Johnson had missed a major political lesson. No matter how many tears were shed for the beneficiaries of your policies, if, as President, you fail to acknowledge your core, what Richard Nixon called “the silent majority,” they will come after you. Why?

Most of us are not much interested in national politics. It’s the nature of the our system, and has been for centuries. Generally, politics takes care of itself. As long as political beneficiaries don’t walk off with the core constituencies’ silverware and family cars, most folks just pay their taxes and get back to the business of earning a living, raising a family, having a little fun, and planning and saving for the future. When that basic lesson in national politics is forgotten, woe to the President with a poor memory, or with such bad teachers.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Obama and His Audience: Quote of the Day

At present the world is watching, probing, and digesting the Obama presidency. But it has already concluded that Obama is nourished by applause and will work to maintain it — not merely for personal gratification, but because he realizes that loud public endorsement is essential to his perpetual candidacy, given its absence of experience and sagacity….President of the World, Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 4/15/2009

The difference between an actor and an amateur who loves the sound of his own voice is that, from the former, you’ll get the authentic presentation of a character, while from the latter you’ll only get an impression of a fraud. Hanson has no doubt about where this will go, and you should use the link to look at the whole essay.

President Obama will get his much-needed praise and adulation abroad, and Americans will finally be somewhat admired for a while. And thereafter, there will be real hell to pay — either abject U.S. appeasement as the world heats up, or some sort of frantic eleventh-hour hyper-response to restore stability and lost deterrence…just watch…(President of the World, Hanson, National Review…(cont’d))

What the amateur doesn't know is that, when the audience requires a real character onstage, they aren't patient. Even in polite theaters in New York, people will walk out on a con job.


Stimulus & Budget: Obama's United Front?

Because the crisis is so dire, Obama explained, “we’ve had no choice but to attack all fronts.” His stimulus package, for instance, attacked the financial crisis — a crisis afflicting the banking sector — on the federal-building-construction front, the state-highway-slush-fund front, the green-energy-boondoggle front, etc….Obama’s Dodge, The Editors, National Review, 4/15/2009

Charisma is a treacherous feature of the successful politician. For reasons that you might want to consult anthropologist Robin Fox about, the electorate will look right through bad behavior, gross incompetence, malfeasance in office, misused and misquoted facts, distorted reasoning, broken logic, even treason to uphold their projection of heroism onto someone whose success may be entirely attributable to good looks, fine delivery of speeches written by someone else, and a voice toned to by genes and by training to mesmerize. Fox, who studied group behavior in apes, was not reluctant to suggest that human beings, as part of our evolutionary heritage, might well behave in similar ways in the face of a dominant individual. Those who are discomfited by such comparisons might observe the next committee meeting they attend. Are you listening because the Boss has taken the stage, or because the Boss has something to say? A trait that can distinguish human beings from apes is the capacity, however difficult to train, to stand back from immediate impressions and ask important questions. The first?

Why do I believe what this person is saying? The second question?

What did this person say? Is it consistent, or does it artfully combine half-truths to give the appearance of facts and certainty? What was the tone of the speech? Were there suggestions of irony, as if the speaker didn’t quite believe what he or she was saying? Are there cited “facts” that match anything documented from some other source?

Reporters are supposed ask such questions before posting a story. It’s arguable that, in these days of good feeling that few do -- the blinded leading the blinded.


Bailout Funds Without Representation

The wise men of Washington keep finding more core beliefs that we have to give up. First it was free markets. Now it’s democracy…Many economists believe that helping financial institutions turn their less liquid assets into hard cash is a key step toward returning them to good footing. The best way to achieve that in a democracy would be for Congress to appropriate the funds to acquire the assets and for Treasury to borrow the money that it needs…But Congress is unwilling to appropriate enough money, so Treasury and the Fed have cooked up a work-around: the Fed buys the assets instead. Since the Fed exists outside of the normal budget process, no permission from elected officials is required….Fed’s Flood May Leave Democracy Needing Bailout, Kevin Bassett, Bloomberg News, 4/14/2009

This is an ignored story, and you should go to Bloomberg News and read the whole thing. Dictatorships, whether by a committee, or by a single colonel with a vision, always work the same way. Their first presumption is that the people are an irritating distraction. Their second assumption is that this presumption about the electorate is the best rationale for overthrowing democratic governments or setting aside democratic process. What do the people know better? is a question common to tyrants and politburos. The justifications never change. We had to act or There wasn’t time to consult Congress, and spoken under the breath they don’t have a clue anyway.

In a perverse way, the Stimulus, where Congress was consulted, might be used in the future to justify even more of this, for who acted more irresponsibly than a band of Democrat Representatives and Senators with a fervent desire to fund every pet project wanted by any constituent willing to foot a campaign bill? It gets uglier.

Should the Fed’s balance sheet climbs to $6 trillion, then its losses might be enormous and threaten to crowd out spending on defense, education and health care. And it would do so without Congress ever voting on the increase in the debt ceiling that would have been required if Treasury were performing the rescue…If the Fed receives the authority to issue debt whenever it wants to, then future bureaucrats can, in principle, play whatever financial games they want. The powerlessness of voters will be codified into law….(Fed’s Flood…, Bassett (cont’d)).

We are sleeping our way to tyranny. Is anybody awake besides those at Tea Parties?


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Homeland Security and the Right: When in Doubt, Build a Straw Man

The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in "rightwing extremist activity," saying the economic recession, the election of America's first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias…A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines "rightwing extremism in the United States" as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority….Federal Agency Warns of Radicals on Right, Audrey Hudson and Eli Lake, Washington Times, 4/14/09

Shades of Janet Reno! This report, released the day before nationwide Tea Party protests are to begin against fabulous federal deficits and horrendous taxes, especially at state and local levels, is a naked political ploy. It's the kind of thing you'd expect from the Czar's secret police in 1903. It says as much about the plans of the Obama administration to refute and defeat the opposition as anything else that the new administration has done. Create a straw man, the spectre of right wing terrorists. Raise the fear level against a legitimate, 1st amendment protest about your policies, protests led by middle class Americans, most of whom had never dreamed of participating in political expression in their lives.

Shades of Lyndon Johnson's response to middle class parents demonstrating against his sending their children to Vietnam! Get out those cameras and enemies lists! But, be honest. It’s not like that ancient peace movement at all. This protest is directed against domestic policy widely perceived as grossly irresponsible, concealed from the public (see the Fed’s refusal to reveal what the money it’s printing is being used for). This is shades of something else altogether.

Shades of Louis XVI….


DC Vouchers: Protecting Sasha and Malia from Poor Children

President Obama has a lot on his mind, but at least his children, Sasha and Malia, are doing well at their new private school, Sidwell Friends. Unfortunately if congressional Democrats get their way the Obama girls will soon lose their low income classmates….Congressional Democrats' War on Science, Robert Moranto,, 4/14/09

We must have become a department in France. In France, hypocrisy is a way of life in politics. One supposes it was inevitable that this would happen here, especially with an administration whose preparation for office was in the clubby atmosphere of academia and of money center banks. In France, not surprisingly, academia and banks are the heart and soul of the Communist Party. There’s a slight contradiction in that, of course, as academics and bankers in France, as here, are a minority much favored by the state. The protections and subsidies they get from Paris are in direct contradiction to their politics.

Oh, incidentally, the science Moranto refers to is a statistical study that shows students in charter schools in the District of Columbia do very, very well, reading well above grade level for instance. Can’t have that – it might suggest that le bourgeoisie has some good ideas.

If findings of this magnitude applied to adults in cancer treatments, policy-makers who valued science would never cancel the treatment; rather they would immediately apply it to the control group, in order to save lives. But for disadvantaged children, scientific findings just don't matter…(Congressional Democrats…cont’d)

This is hardly unique in Democrat politics. As referenced below, fantasists who refuse to listen to scientific data, as opposed to politically scientific data, want to blow trillions to cure global warming. Hey, at least they’re consistent.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Dean Harold Koh and American Values

Watching President Obama apologize last week for America's arrogance - before a French audience that owes its freedom to the sacrifices of Americans - helped convince me that he has a deep-seated antipathy toward American values and traditions. His nomination of former Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh to be the State Department's top lawyer constitutes further evidence of his disdain for American values….Let's set aside Koh's disputed comments about the possible application of Sharia law in American jurisprudence. The pick is alarming for more fundamental reasons having to do with national sovereignty and constitutional self-governance….Koh calls himself a "transnationalist." He believes U.S. courts "must look beyond national interest to the mutual interests of all nations in a smoothly functioning international legal regime. ..." He thinks the courts have "a central role to play in domesticating international law into U.S. law" and should "use their interpretive powers to promote the development of a global legal system."…The Elephant in the Room: Obama vs. United States, Rick Santorum, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/10/2009

Did you think this kind of stuff was just a joke? Think about the following scenario. The Supreme Court decides that, in light of the fact that most of the world feels that women should be in a subservient position to men, such matters as equal pay for equal work, or freedom of expression, or freedom of movement and association are irrelevant considerations. The world has decided differently. Who are Americans to disagree?

That’s an extreme case, but what’s the difference between that and accepting the anti-semitic ravings of Islamic courts as appropriate considerations in American law? What exactly is going on here?

Among the deeper hallucinations of the globalist vision is the idea that everybody is more or less the same, that all national yearnings, or cultural affectations, are just manifestations of the same thing. The writer is sorry to disillusion you on this, if you’re a true believer, but such universalist conceptions are fabulist at best, and pathologically cynical at worst. We are not the same.

Slavery ended in the United States and Great Britain because people imagined that they were not the same as the Arab and Spanish slave traders. Women achieved the vote and the right to education and to work for a living in America because people imagined that it was not necessary, as most of the world seemed to think, to waste half the intelligence of the human race on the single skill of motherhood. A stunning technological remaking of the way we earn a living was created in America because it was less important to preserve the past than to build the future. The first industrial age’s ghastly slavery of workers reduced to functions in a mill was held, by American labor unions and by political visionaries, as offensive to our very humanity; and, after a fifty year war, the inevitability of that kind of reduced life was ended. For all of the failures we have experienced in our pursuits of a better world, Americans are different. Our law’s precedents, as our law’s ultimate arbiter, the US Constitution, are a direct reflection of that moral conception of our existence as a nation. Those who deny this are not our sophisticated intelligentsia, yearning to breathe free, but the enemies of freedom itself, the fifth columnists of tyranny.

Stop listening to these sophists. They were lying two hundred years ago and they have not changed their stripes. Justifying the “cultural” norms of a sick society as applicable to our own is no different than believing in the pro-slavery rhetoric of John Calhoun. The pathology of societies that still trade in human flesh, that still believe that women are by fate determined to fulfill only one role, and that still think there are special people who can decide all questions, moral, political, and practical, is only curable with the precedents of our law. To abandon this, as Justice Ginsburg and Dean Koh would do, is to abandon our history and our reason for being.


Holdren’s Global Warming Terror: A New Midwife Toad?

Galileo is held up as a scientific martyr today, because he fiercely defended the Copernican solar system against the Inquisition, which [2] finally ordered him to stop publishing those ideas. Cardinal Bellarmine denounced Copernican theory as “…injuring our holy faith and rendering the Holy Scriptures false.” Today we have a radical role reversal. Climate heretics like Dr. Fred Singer and MIT’s Prof. Richard Lindzen are telling truth to power — and they are bitterly criticized by our science politicians, just as the pope criticized Galileo. Singer and Lindzen are our Galileos…Today we have our own official science czar in the White House. John Holdren is a true believer in the imaginary faith of global warming. We even have an office for the propagation of the faith, spearheaded by NASA’s James Hansen. It is Hansen who goes around saying that the oceans could rise by 20 feet and that heretics…deserve to be [4] put on trial for “high crimes against humanity and nature.” This witch-hunting…passes for normal scientific discourse in Dr. Hansen’s mind….Obama’s Science Czar Channels H.G. Wells on Climate Change, Lifestyle, Money, Politics, Science, Science & Technology, US News, 4/13/09

We’ve laughed at this stuff for ten years. The writer has no doubt that Galileo laughed at the official scolds in the Vatican for as long. It didn’t help. Humor does not defeat irrationality anymore than laughing at a tumor makes a cancer go into remission. Surgery, radiation, chemo, these modalities weren’t developed as a placebo, but as the only available means for fighting an implacable enemy. The same is true of irrational faiths. We spent seventy years and tens of trillions of dollars fighting the derangement of the Soviet Union. When adults believe in a looney idea, it becomes a fight to the death. Believe it. No amount of reasoning, or good humor, is going to convince true believers that they’re wrong.

“Twice in a half-hour interview, Holdren compared global warming to being ‘in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog.’” He forgot to add, “with a hallucinating driver conjuring up imaginary dangers.” But that’s closer to the truth. Our real problem is not the earth or the CO2; it is the human beings who are now in power, fully prepared to scare the daylights out of us to squeeze out more power and more money for themselves…(Obama’s Science Czar…cont’d)

In the dead Soviet Union, Stalin was so convinced that Darwin was wrong that he insisted that the outcome of a scientific experiment should meet a political criterion. (See Arthur Koestler’s Midwife Toad). With the power of a ruthless state and its secret police, Stalin could be confident that no one would dare allow a scientific result that contradicted a political absolute. The result was that biological science in the USSR was set back a hundred years.

America is a lot richer than Stalin’s USSR. Faith healers like Holdren think that spending trillions of dollars to “cure” global warming, even at the risk of destroying our productive capacity as a society, is justified despite the painfully obvious facts, that the evidence is contrary to the political conclusion. What we are seeing here is a deep, political pathology, the kind that cannot be pleasantly argued away in the cloakrooms of the Senate. Even Dennis Miller's corrosive satire cannot help. It will require instead political action in pursuit of the truth, the most dangerous politics of all, for nothing is more willing to victimize, to lie, to cheat, to steal than a political pathology that denies the evidence.

Acceptance of the a priori is the deepest sin in scientific pursuits. How much of this do we have to see before we stand up to be counted?

Real engineering is based on good science, but there is no good science here….That is why climate predictions have to be made for a hundred years from now, because that makes them impossible to disprove….But the money has to be taxed now, to empower science frauds and hype-mongers who promise to save our hides in 2100….“Global warming” is more Scientology than science….All the climate prophets are playing on public ignorance.

The time for jokes is over. These clowns are now in charge. The time has come to act.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dr. Phyllis Chesler: Tom Paine Has a Sister

It is time for feminists, both women and men, of all faiths, and of no faith, to stand together for a woman’s right not to be murdered in the name of family honor. Indeed, we welcome men and women of all faiths, including Islam, to stand with us against female genital mutilation/castration, forced veiling, child marriage, arranged marriage, polygamy, and “honorcide,” and in favor of a woman’s right to live as a westerner in the West without being threatened and beaten for refusing to wear hijab, wanting to have non-Muslim friends, wear makeup, attend college, drive her own car, or end an abusive marriage. Muslim and Sikh women have been honor murdered in North America for all these alleged crimes against their religion and their culture…A Universal Doctrine of Women’s Rights, Phyllis Chesler and Marcia Pappas, Pajamas, 3/24/09

Dr. Chesler, who has taken some serious hits for daring to suggest that white American feminists are hypocrites for falling for the cultural relativist argument regarding the conditions of women in other countries, will most likely take many more for this remarkable manifesto written with NY NOW President Marcia Pappas. It is difficult territory she’s working, though. When a bestselling author from another country tells a local population that they have to start acting human toward all of their citizens, it’s all too easy for a local rabble rouser to start shouting about imperialism. It is hardly disputable that conditions on the ground won’t change until local women take up the cudgel. If they’re quoting Dr. Chesler as they make their speeches and take their actions, don’t be surprised. As a woman who lived in the conditions described in her article, both in her life in an Arab country, and as an Arab’s wife, she’s not writing off the top of her head, but from experience. That has a moral authority rarely granted to authors of theories. Read the rest of the piece; click on the link. You won't regret it.


Oh, Mr. President, Did You Happen to Notice China’s Navy?

The Department of Defense reported recently that the Chinese navy is continuing to modernize at a rapid clip. It is adding guided missile destroyers and nuclear and diesel-electric attack submarines to its fleet, and is developing over-the-horizon radars and next-generation anti-ship cruise missiles, and possibly even the first ever anti-ship ballistic missile. Not only have Chinese ships recently harassed unarmed U.S. naval vessels in the South China Sea, but according to reports emanating from Japan, China will likely complete construction on two conventional aircraft carriers by 2015, and will begin construction on two more nuclear carriers in 2020...China’s Naval Gambit, Michael Mazza, Weekly Standard, 4/8/2009

No doubt the new Chinese fleet will carry only conventional weapons.


What Our Friends in Teheran and Beijing Are Up To: Last Hurray for Morgenthau

The Manhattan district attorney's office has smashed a sinister plot to smuggle nuclear weapons materials to Iran through unwitting New York banks…Officials plan to unseal a 118-count indictment…accusing a Chinese national of setting up a handful of fake companies to hide that he was selling millions of dollars in potential nuclear materials to Tehran….Iranian Nuke Plot Vaporized in the City, Melissa Grace, NY Daily News, 4/7/2009

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau is retiring with this case – going out with a bang. A Democrat, one wonders what his parting thoughts might be on what’s happened to his party since he became DA in 1972. As a contribution to the President’s no-nukes pledge, this case is a marvel. As a warning of how deluded the leading Democrats have become since 1972, it’s a perfect case.


No Nukes Again: Quote of the Day

Rarely has a Presidential speech been so immediately and transparently divorced from reality as Mr. Obama's in Prague. The President delivered a stirring call to banish nuclear weapons at the very moment that North Korea and Iran are bidding to trigger the greatest proliferation breakout in the nuclear age. Mr. Obama also proposed an elaborate new arms-control regime to reduce nuclear weapons, even as both Pyongyang and Tehran are proving that the world's great powers lack the will to enforce current arms-control treaties….The Nuclear Illusionist: Obama’s ‘Moral Authority’ Won’t Deter Teheran or Pyongyang, Editors, The Wall Street Journal, 4/7/2009

Repetition of old saws about this kind of thing apparently don’t help. The President and his princes and princesses don’t hear them.


Minnesota Judiciary: Preparing the Legal Standard for Senator Franken

The three-judge election contest court in Minnesota…emphasized: "the facts presented thus far do not show a wholesale disenfranchisement of absentee voters in the 2008 general election." Accordingly, without any discussion of those facts, the court refused to review several groups of absentee ballots including many rejected ballots from military members. It likewise concluded, again without discussion, that there was no violation of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), the federal law designed to protect absentee military voters….Minnesota’s Shame: The Disenfranchisement of Absentee Military Voters, Eric Eversole,, 4/7/2009

One hopes that surprise is not one of the emotions felt by readers of that story. You should read it all. Click on the link to do so.


No Nukes Dupe

The president of the United States wants America to disarm: “Countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament.”…It is hard to imagine a more destructive goal…There is nothing moral, let alone realistic, about this goal….Imagine that the mayor of a large American city announced that it was his goal to have all the citizens of his city disarm…most people would regard this idea as...useless. There would be no way to ensure that bad people would disarm; and if the police disarmed, only bad people would have weapons….Naif in Chief, Dennis Prager,, 4/7/2009

In Gordon Brown’s bankrupt, not-so-Great Britain, over the last decade of Labor Party rule it has become essentially illegal for a citizen to defend against a criminal. There have been countless cases of people who, surprised by a burglar coming through a window, and defending themselves with a cricket bat or – heaven forefend – a pistol, have ended up serving terms nearly equal to that meted out to the thug. The writer is familiar with this philosophy in New York, where self-defense is regarded as virtually criminal as well.

In the 1920s, the wise men (few women had any say in negotiations) of Europe, Britain, and Asia negotiated an assortment of disarmament treaties, essentially stripping their home countries of the means to defend themselves against a rogue nation that decided to arm itself for its own ends. By the late thirties, all of the negotiating parties were at war defending themselves against the rogue governments of Japan and Germany. The only real impact of the disarmament treaties was to considerably advance the art of concealing a far more powerful weapon in a form that met treaty obligations -- obligations that neglected to consider a) the possibility that even a signatory nation might ignore the treaty, and b) the likelihood that technology would rapidly outstrip the assumptions of a given treaty. Nothing better illustrated this than the conversion of the Japanese Navy to a fleet centered on the aircraft carrier.

Obliviousness to consequences of actions seems to typify this young administration, which has, in its three scant months, debased the currency; run up a two trillion dollar deficit over and above that left behind G W Bush; watered every pet-peeve garden in the Lefty paradise with the stimulus; promulgated an unconstitutional bill of attainder in Congress; is chatting amiably about negotiating with pirates from Somalia (who hold an American flagged merchant ship’s captain), with Iran (which is currently holding two American reporters hostage); and is going to saddle American industry (and its consumers) with the largest con game (cap and trade) in world history. Throwing in a few months’ work playing at the role of Neville Chamberlain is all of a piece, one supposes. The brilliant Thomas Sowell (anathema to Obama’s administration) sums it up well: “Barack Obama seems determined to repeat every disastrous mistake of the 1930s, at home and abroad. He has already repeated Herbert Hoover’s policy of raising taxes on high income earners, FDR’s policy of trying to micro-manage the economy, and Neville Chamberlain’s policy of seeking dialogues with hostile nations while downplaying the dangers they represent….moving steadily in the direction of a society where no one is responsible for what he himself did but we are all responsible for what somebody else did, either in the present or in the past….Musings on the Age of Obama, Thomas Sowell, National Review, 4/7/09

Word is that there’s a sale on deck chairs at a furniture store in the District. Better get yours now, or a lifejacket.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Stimulus of a Different Kind: Tom Paine Visits America in 2009

This speech about America, its prospects, and some ideas on what might be done, has been viewed over two million times. It's rabble-rousing at its finest, with considerable indebtedness in style to Tom Paine of the American Revolution.

Obama's Impresson of Neville Chamberlain in Turkey?

“We will convey,” said Barack Obama to the Turkish Parliament Monday, “our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country”…Were there Muslims along Paul Revere’s ride, or standing next to Patrick Henry when he proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death”? Were there Muslims among the framers or signers of the Declaration of Independence, which states that all men – not just Muslims, as Islamic law would have it – are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…Were there Muslims among those who drafted the Constitution and…enumerated the Bill of Rights, which guarantees – again in contradiction to the tenets of Islamic law – that there should be no established national religion, and that the freedom of speech should not be infringed?…Did Muslims play a role in the great struggle over slavery that defined so much of our contemporary understandings of the nature of this republic and of the rights of the individual within it? They did not…Obama: Islam Has Shaped the U.S.A., Robert Spencer, Front Page, 4/7/2009

In Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, there’s a photo of the late Senator Hubert Humphrey shouting from a podium to a crowd. The caption? “Yes, my friends, I used to be a Jew….” The caption is obviously made up by the author Thompson, but, as an illumination of the craven in politics, the cartoon more than made its point about a kind of politics that enlists people solely on the basis of their membership in a given ethnic group. The resulting “coalition” is a confabulation of competing minor interests. Their “representatives” can satisfy them all with lip service to each group's agenda instead of with action.

Such craven behavior on an international stage, however, is an act based on blind ignorance. Muslims in the Middle East, or elsewhere, are not constituents to be bribed, or otherwise won, in a Chicago election district. Such oratory is an effort to bridge the gap between the world as it is, a hotbed of local conflicts, sometimes between major powers, and a world as it is fantasized about by bureaucrats in Brussels and Washington, D.C. The President was addressing Muslims as if they were an ignored constituency in a universal nation, as if he were the Emperor of the Earth.

Such hubris is not greeted kindly. Such hubris suggests a speaker who considers his own delusions more important than the reality of his audience. Semper tyrannis.…


Congress and Administration Taking Lessons from Al Sharpton?

AIG employees have been crudely vilified, they have been targets of death threats, a U.S. senator has urged them to kill themselves, protestors “tour” their homes, they have had to hire security guards and AIG has removed its name from the front of its Manhattan offices…This mass hysteria is being fueled by the government…The House passed an extraordinary piece of punitive – and unconstitutional – legislation to tax away…the bonus money. New York’s attorney general, abetted by the threat of making their names public, has gotten many of the recipients to “voluntarily” return their bonuses. Perversely, the rights of captured Islamic jihadists generate greater concern in Washington… All these actions are tantamount to rule by mob action….driven by rampant emotionalism, with no concern for facts….Mob Rule in D.C., Peter Schwartz, Front Page Magazine, 4/7/2009

In New York, we’re familiar with this kind of thing. Someone gets wind of a potentially inflammatory case being handled by the DA’s office. A rabble rowser appears on the courthouse steps, raising one the spectre of one –ism or another. The tabloids print two-inch-high headlines, presuming the guilt of the accused before there’s even been an indictment. Later, as with Rev. Al Sharpton’s infamous libel against an upstate attorney in the Tawana Brawley case, torts suits are filed, settlements made to the aggrieved party, and all that’s really happened is the very expensive, not to mention treacherous, creation of a popular fiction. In some cases, as in the conflict that arose between the Hasidim and African-Americans in Brooklyn a dozen years ago, the careless rousing of hatreds can cause bloodshed and death.

People like Al Sharpton get their power from the same place that the current government in Washington achieved its dominance, through the thoughtless hysteria of voters and readers. The saddest part of this is that this route to power has become so dependable in 21st century America. It is not, however, very new. One only has to briefly survey the hysteria in the southern states during Reconstruction, which led to the foundation of the night-riding, lynching Klan and to Jim Crow laws. Come forward a little bit to the dementia that informed anti-union politics for a century, as if every union member was a Red. This led to violent suppression and to a number of deaths. Come forward a little more to the 1960 election which was decided on the basis of a wholly fictitious issue, the missile gap between the now-defunct USSR and the USA. The sensational manipulation of media during the Vietnam war and during the 1970s brought down two Presidents who, whatever serious and minor faults they had, did nothing that their predecessors hadn’t done on many occasions. Come forward to the 8-year trashing of the Bush administration, which still goes on. It’s a periodic witch trial and burning, an American tradition as ancient as America itself.

In the politics of hysteria, real issues, such as the imminent and terrifying proliferation of nuclear weapons to North Korea and Iran, or the radical devaluation of the dollar implemented with such irresponsible Congressional acts as TARP, the stimulus, and the 2009-2010 federal budget, are wholly ignored. This is the price of ignorance for voters and for America. For the leadership in Washington, it’s the ticket to success. Schwartz suggests that this is akin to fascism. It is, but who these days really knows what that kind of politics was?


Friday, April 03, 2009

Navy SNAFU: Some Things Don’t Change

Protecting American interests around the globe, the U.S. Navy faces a myriad of threats. From terrorists and anti-ship rockets, to mines, torpedoes and even ballistic missiles…But here at home, one naval installation has discovered a new menace…We’re referring to the common tree squirrel, and last Saturday night, one of these furry rodents disrupted phone service at Virginia’s Yorktown Naval Weapons Station. Four days later, “land line” phones at the base still aren’t working….Squirrel Leaves Navy Base Incommunicado, Nate Hale, The Examiner, 4/2/09

For most who’ve served in the military, the opinion of veterans regarding the competence of government to run operations large and small is usually lower than that of the general population’s. Ask anyone who served, whether in World War II, in Vietnam, or in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you’ll get variations on the same theme. We were doing fine in Kabul (Baghdad; Khe Sahn; Hoertgen Forest) until Big Army showed up. Big Army, of course, is that highly regulated and brassed crew whose officers go by the official Federal Big Blue Book of Bureaucracy. Big Army, as some like the intrepid reporter Robert Kaplan have argued (see Imperial Grunts), nearly lost us the war in Iraq, has fumbled the ball in Afghanistan in allowing the Taliban to stand up again, completely screwed the pooch in Vietnam, and nearly lost an airborne division in a pointless battle in the woods before the Bulge distracted enough attention from the important officers and allowed the regulars to fight the war again.

What is it that government can’t see? Well, at the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, they couldn’t see the squirrel running between the legs of a terrorist scenario. Similar things happen in other programs. For instance, about a decade ago, the Clinton Administration, with such good buddies as they could find among bankers (Robert Rubin, and other Citibankers especially), thought it would be just fabulous if those too poor to afford mortgage payments could get mortgages to pay anyway. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would buy this questionable paper, mix it in with the good stuff, securitize it, and all would be wonderful. Even the half-assed speculator buying startup houses in a swamp could benefit. You could ask Barney Frank about the wisdom of that (Former President Bush did, time and again). Funny thing. It was true for a while, but then – oops! somebody forgot to pay for the program. And, oh, oops! Somebody forgot to pay attention to those wild guys selling credit default swaps. And, oh, oops! There went Citibank. There went Lehman Brothers. There went AIG. There went Merrill-Lynch.

Even the French don’t believe that throwing another trillion of stimulus at this mess is a good idea. And France is the country that thought it was worth its national budget in the 1930s to block a mobile army with fixed fortifications (See Maginot Line). Even crazy people think that blowing more trillions on this kind of stimulus, and that kind of bailout, is a mad idea. What will become of the dollar, the euro, any currency of participants in this kind of madness?

Big Government, though, personified these days by President Obama, Senator Reid, Speaker Pelosi, and Representative Frank, believes that it’s just hunky dory, a swell idea, a marvelous intrusion in everybody else's life.

Oh, SNAFU, we can hear you coming.


G20 Europe: The Obama Surprise

Obama’s multiracial, nontraditional heritage seemed sophisticated and cosmopolitan in a European way that Bush’s Texas accent and Christian fundamentalism most definitely were not…Despite Bush’s efforts…to work closely with the Europeans, and the emergence of conservative governments in France, Germany, and Italy, Old Europe for the most part was all too happy to see him go….But will Europe always be happy with the Obama it wished for?…Mirek Topolánek, prime minister of the Czech Republic…, just blasted the Obama administration’s stimulus plans as “a way to hell.”…German chancellor Angela Merkel sniffed: “We must look at the causes of this crisis. It happened because we were living beyond our means. . . .”And just when President Obama announced the dispatch of…more troops to Afghanistan, many European leaders confirmed they will withdraw their own…over the next two years….Europe Got Obama -- Now What?, Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 4/2/09

Different strokes for different folks? It is amazing, though. For the better part of three decades, spurred on by the remarkable success of the Reagan miracle in reviving an inflation-plagued, low growth, high unemployment welfare state, Europeans have been hammered by American leaders for their laggard, socialist ways. Now, as we approach the second decade of the 21st century, America and Europe are going in opposite directions again, America toward an inflated Great Society torrent of entitlements, bailouts and socialist takeover of medical care and the financial services business, while large segments of the EU strip taxes and entitlements for competitive action in the marketplace.

The difference between now and then, however, is that America is coming off a decade-long celebration of its success, has a terrible hangover (mountains of dubious credit, both private and public), a real distaste for the Las Vegas atmosphere that characterized banks and brokerages for years, and an unsurprising rebellion among the generation now entering their twenties against the material acquisitiveness of their Boomer parents. There is also a mini baby boom going on here, just beginning to be reported. The writer certainly sees it in Brooklyn, where every couple under 40 seems to have at least one new infant in a stroller and another on the way.

That Las Vegas atmosphere is a fine, middle-aged capstone to the Boomer’s own rebellion of forty years ago, when we want it now exploded over the rampagers who’d been shouting for justice. We want it now became the motto of a generation whose most representative President was William Jefferson Clinton (Nero to Bush’s Claudius?). What Boomers wanted, however, became less about justice than about more entitlements, now! now! now! That kind of thinking is a poor foundation for a rising generation worried about prospects for itself and for its children. One would expect, as the writer did, though he didn’t vote for the new President, that a new leader, held up as a great hope by the younger Americans, would step up. Has he?

Among the tsunamai of entitlement money in the stimulus, or in the current budget outline passed by Congress, is there a sign of investing in the future? Or is it more we want it now? The writer’s vote is on the latter.


Estate Tax: Cutting Off One’s Nose…

President Barack Obama has proposed prolonging the federal estate tax rather than ending it in 2010, as is scheduled under current law. The president's plan would extend this year's $3.5 million exemption level and the 45% top rate. But will this really help America recover from recession and reduce our growing deficits?…Advocates of the estate tax argue that such a tax will reduce the concentrations of wealth in a few families, but there is little evidence to suggest that the estate tax has much, if any, impact on the distribution of wealth…Indeed, from a societal standpoint, inheritance is an unmitigated good. Passing on to successive generations greater health, wealth and wisdom is what society in general, and America specifically, is all about…In its most basic form, it's about as silly an idea as can be imagined that America…can increase the standards of living of future generations by taxing individual Americans for passing on higher standards of living to future generations of Americans of their choice…Study after study finds that the estate tax significantly reduces the size of estates and, as an added consequence, reduces the nation's capital stock and income…documented…in the 2006 U.S. Joint Economic Committee Report on the Costs and Consequences of the Federal Estate Tax. The Joint Economic Committee estimates that the estate tax has reduced the capital stock by approximately $850 billion because it reduces incentives to save and invest…Today in America you can take your after-tax income and go to Las Vegas and carouse, gamble, drink and smoke, and as far as our government is concerned that's just fine. But if you take that same after-tax income and leave it to your children and grandchildren, the government will tax that after-tax income one additional time at rates up to 55%….Spend It in Vegas or Die Paying Taxes, Arthur Laffer, National Review, 4/2/2009

The late actor, notable rake, and fabulously wealthy Erroll Flynn told friends that he planned to leave nothing behind at his death but enough to pay for his funeral. The alternative was to hand it over to the federal government. At the time of his death in the 1950s, the tax rates in the United States were nearly 90% at Flynn’s income level both as a working actor, and in collecting royalties from past work. He did as he said he would; what little was left behind, such as his sailboat, was taken by creditors or the IRS.

That is the model that the President is proposing as a rational alternative to letting people leave their money to whom they choose. That shouldn’t be surprising, though.

The President’s budget is a spend-it-now, for-tomorrow-we-may-die approach to the future. With the presumption that money will be available in coming decades to pay off the debt his administration intends to incur, the federal budget for next year presumes the current generation’s right to steal the earnings of its children. One can imagine the rationale that what has posterity ever done for me?

It’s a rationale that typifies the politics of the Left, of which the President is the leading exponent in office. The future is not our problem. We created the wealth. We get to blow it all, including whatever our children and grandchildren might inherit from us. It is startling in its primitive assumptions, as startling as a hunting band in the 50th century BC might be to us as it consumed every animal it had hunted down in a single night’s feast, having less sense than a squirrel does in burying nuts for the lean winter months. At least the ancient band would have had the excuse that it didn’t have a freezer. Is it a French thing?

Sorry, French shoppers can still get fresh produce from small family farms, wine from small vintners, and so on down the line of French delicacies. French taxes -- this is a socialist country, mind you -- are designed to preserve small businesses providing the heirs to them are willing to continue operations. In America, if you're a farmer, the only break you get on inheritance is that the tax is spread over twenty years. For a small business? No such luck. There's no future planned for a small shop, whether a hardware store or someone who makes small lots of personally designed clothing. The demands of now from Washington and from the several states preclude such thinking. The American shriek for now is fairly recent, in historical terms, but we can't deny the impact.

Now, those who don’t have time for children abort them. Now, those who don’t have time to save from what they earn can take it from someone else, through welfare payments or bailouts. Now, those who can’t bother to learn lessons in class can demand comparable wages with someone who has learned how to do a job. Now, in fact, is the most common complaint in American, and especially American Left, politics. We don’t have it now; we want it now; we won’t take no for an answer now — there's something oddly familiar from an entirely different quarter in this kind of rhetoric, the sound of a prison riot, or the shouting of parasites, liars and thieves.

How long are Americans, in a diminishing majority still the most forward-looking people in the world, going to listen to this? How long are we going to fall for it? How bankrupt do we have to be, how captive to foreign powers, how enslaved by creditors? Now demands are the ticks on a healthy person’s neck. After a while, even the strongest one, bled to fainting, will fall.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Obama Energy Policy: Head On With a Truck? Don’t Touch the Brakes! Speed Up

Obama’s singular focus on renewable energy and introducing a cap-and-trade regime runs counter to both economic rationality and current energy trends to the point of guaranteeing its inevitable failure to the huge economic detriment of the country. For the fact is that as the president starts imposing his green agenda on America, the renewable energy bubbles of the Left have burst, even as the world witnesses the astounding comeback of the kind of energy Mr. Obama scrupulously avoids mentioning – nuclear power….Green Bubbles Burst, Jamie Glazov with Alex Alexiev, Hudson Institute Fellow, 3/31/09

You didn’t hear it here first. Even deep ecology types acknowledge that nuclear reactors of modern design a) can’t melt down, b) don’t produce any greenhouse gases, and c) make a lot of otherwise impossible dreams, such as smart highways and all-electric vehicles, possible. Why is it then, like a five-foot-six guard attempting to go up with Shaquille O’Neal, the President keeps trying to block a shot that everybody knows should go through the hoop? Why indeed?

Jim Cramer, the CNBC commentator whose madcap prognostications have gotten him into hot water, made a very perceptive remark about the President a few weeks back. He said that, contrary to his own hopes as an Obama supporter, the country had elected a Lenin. What could that parallel possibly illuminate other than Cramer's penchant for theater?

Obama is clearly not a dictator in the sense that Lenin was. In Lenin’s first year, the Chekha, secret police for the Bolsheviks, were killing forty thousand people a month. But the President does share a dominant trait of Lenin’s, one noted by many writers, from Hannah Arendt to a succession of biographers. Lenin had a hieratic mind, one solely dependent for its judgments and actions on close reading of texts. Experience, facts as plain as the nose on his face, was not allowed to intervene in his decisions. Choices were made solely on the textbook analysis of Engels and Marx, whose primary subject was a radically different kind of industrial society. Lenin presumed these texts, not the consequences of Bolsheviks acts, had universal import because the writing was sound. Contradictory experience was an unfortunate contradiction, to be done away with more murders by the secret police. In other words, he was not capable of assessing the real world. His actions took place on an entirely literary plane, as if the world were a work of art and he a painter on its canvas.

Denying the contingent, as the twentieth century histories of Germany, the USSR, and Japan demonstrate, is the surest route to national suicide. The consequence of Lenin was Stalin, who killed twenty to thirty million Russians before World War II even started. A leadership that cannot acknowledge the practical consequences of its actions, that works solely from abstractions and theories, will inevitably lead its constituencies into disaster. This is the ultimate danger in politics, especially in mob politics (discussed in the Imperial Dream entry below). The mob's leader is the personification of the crowd; they aren't interested in contradictions with their mass assumptions. They expect the leader to liquidate differences of opinion to satisfy their own desire for the fulfillment of a fantasy or an abstract belief.
And we have witnessed this time and again from leaders, some of whom, in their private lives, were fairly decent men.

Alexiev sums up his fears for our own apocalypse evenly:

Worse may be in store. If Obama’s dubious energy agenda is rammed through Congress, as seems likely, not only are Americans going to be saddled with a crushing tax burden, courtesy of the bogus cap-and-trade scheme, but the country’s economic competitiveness could suffer a lasting if not irreparable damage. Such are the wages of our renewable delusions…(Green Bubbles Burst, Alexiev & Glazov, FrontPage Magazine…(cont’d)

Glazov and Alexiev, both survivors of the worst nightmare of the 20th century in the USSR, know of what they speak. Do you?


Education: Britain’s New Equality

Clever children are saving themselves from being branded swots at school by dumbing down and deliberately falling behind, a study has shown…Schoolchildren regarded as boffins may be attacked and shunned by their peers, according to Becky Francis, professor of education at Roehampton University, who carried out a study of academically gifted 12- and 13-year-olds in nine state secondary schools…Boys risk being assaulted in some schools for being high-achievers. To conform and escape alienation, clever boys told researchers they may "try to fall behind" or "dumb down"….Clever Boys Dumb Down To Avoid Bullying in School, The Observer, 3/30/2009

Among socialism’s malignant gifts to societies it infects, the notion of absolute equality ranks as the worst. The closer a society gets to absolute equality, the more it begins to resemble previous nightmares in the defunct Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. As citizens begin to perceive themselves and others as absolutely identical, they begin to fall into the cogs-in-a-machine mentality of totalitarianism, the hallmark of fascism. Resistance, disagreement, debate, individual opinion all go by the wayside. It starts, as it started in many urban schools in the United States twenty years ago, with the relentless bullying of exceptional students.

Workplaces that go in that direction begin with much the same methodology. Enforcers, often with little more subtlety than street corner bullies waiting to run errands for the wise guys, are put into authority, with the right to scorn official policy (which might discourage such behavior), and administrative encouragement to go after anyone who might have an alternate opinion of how things should work in an office or in a factory. Their ignorance, and their tendency toward abusiveness and lying, which are severe restrictions on doing any job well, are employed to dumb down their colleagues, and especially to drive out talented people who might threaten the boss’s assumption of absolute authority. Adults can fight this if they choose too. We have little choice but to engage.

When this happens in a school, however, whole classes of children fall under the sway of thugs devoted to the idea that ignorance trumps education, and violence trumps intelligence. In their adulthood in Britain, one supposes that they’ll join the Labor Party. One can’t presume any superiority on this side of the Atlantic, though. This kind of social leveling is pedagogically correct in American public schools, the righteous cause of the NEA, as such the official education policy of the Obama Administration. Call it Preparation 101 for a gang of Chicago bullies taking over the U.S. government.


Federal Budget Madness: Even Budget Director Osrszag Thinks It’s Unsustainable

GREGORY (Meet the Press): Let’s move on to the budget and the deficit picture that you referenced just a moment ago. The Washington Examiner reported this this week: “Last week in a little-noticed conference call featuring Budget Director Peter Orszag. … [Orszag was asked:] Are those deficits sustainable? Relenting, Orszag said such deficits, in the range of 5 percent of the gross domestic product, “would lead to rising debt-to-GDP ratios in a manner that would ultimately not be sustainable.”…., Obama’s Budget, Embracing Our Inner ‘No’, Jennifer Rubin, Pajamas Media, 3/30/2009

This is a little like buying a $50,000 car on credit, then immediately telling the bank that you don’t think that you can sustain the payments schedule. With a banker, this means eating a car loan, taking a car that has already depreciated ten percent by just leaving the showroom, and then having to re-sell it to someone who can make the payments. Actually, what it’s most like is how bankers handled NINJA loans (no income, no job or assets), strongly encouraged by relentless enforcement of diversity loan demands authorized by Congress under the Community Reinvestment Act. You know very well what happened there. Special people don’t have to pay their creditors back, special people in a range from a speculator who walks away from an underwater mortgage on a house he never lived in to the politicians, regulators, and bankers who handed our financial system over to con artists. If even the President’s Budget Director thinks the transformation is unaffordable, what are they trying to prove?

We’re not on the best of terms with the Chinese. It is fair to say that Red leaders in the People’s Republic might have certain biases. However, even the top Red in Beijing knows what’s going on. The deficits are going to be a tool to encourage the printing of enough dollars to devalue the vast debt held by the Federal government. We have other concerns than a few pissed off investors in the U.S. There are some people who might consider the devaluation of what had been promised as good paper as a cassus belli. Want to fight a world war to save Citibank? Does the President even know what's at stake?