Sunday, July 26, 2009

Card Check Dead, But Not the Rest (and Worst)

In its original form, the mendaciously misnamed and thoroughly anti-democratic Employee Free Choice Act would strip American workers of the right to conduct secret-ballot elections on the question of whether to organize a union. In place of a traditional one-man/one-vote secret ballot, the EFCA would impose a regime of union-boss thuggery known as “card-check,” wherein labor organizers (who may also be the employees’ supervisors) pressure workers to sign off on a union-organizing petition, a much easier way to reach a serviceable majority. Democrats have now signaled their willingness to remove the card-check provision from EFCA but, as in the case of the cap-and-trade legislation, the marquee proposal is only one poison arrow in a quiver full of venom...The content is pure Kafka. The worst provision — worse, in fact, than the card-check gambit itself — would allow the National Labor Relations Board to impose contracts on businesses that cannot come to an agreement with a union. If a union enters the picture and the owners of a business are unable to negotiate a satisfactory contract, then the NLRB is empowered to impose “binding arbitration,” meaning that the government will write the contract and force the firm to abide by its terms. This amounts to extortion...Card Check is a Trojan Horse, The Editors, National Review, 7/21/2009,

It's worse than extortion. It's a government takeover of the management of a private business. If this is passed, the best thing to do if a union gets a foothold is to close the company and move to China or Mexico. It won't have any major effect; an enforced government "contract" will drive such companies out of business soon enough.


NASA Old Boys: Where's the Imagination, the Daring, the Profitable?

The U.S. investment in the Apollo space program, which landed men on the moon, paid off handsomely, unlike the $100 billion plowed into the International Space Station, Apollo's pioneering astronauts said on Monday..."We opened the door to future of exploration by touching down on another body," Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon, said at a press conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing...NASA is finishing construction of the station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, and plans to retire the shuttle fleet next year. After that, the United States plans to pay Russia to ferry crews to the outpost, which orbits 225 miles (360 km) above Earth..."We've spent a lot of money up there for almost nothing. It's almost a white elephant," Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell said. "Until we can really get a return on our investment on that particular project, then it was money wasted."....Apollo Astronauts Bemoan State of US Space Program, Reuters, 7/20/2009

The 40th anniversary of the first moon landings has come and gone, and with it what has become a depressingly familiar litany by former astronauts: what happened to the adventure, the exploration, the innovation? It seems that on every additional decade's celebration of Apollo 11 we hear the same story. NASA probably doesn't like it. But, what can one say about a project like the ISS that cost $100 billion and will be dumped in seven years?

The original American and Soviet programs, largely canceled or radically transformed in the early 1970s, had detailed plans for permanent lunar bases, Mars missions, and Mars bases by the 1980s. All of that was dropped. No human being has set foot on another planet, or moon, in three decades. In not very long, there won't be any capacity by NASA to put astronauts in space. The organization that put human beings on the moon will be in the same position as any other petitioner for seats on a rocket leaving the earth. "Pretty please?" is a poor substitute for "Tranquility Base Here, the Eagle Has Landed."

The robot missions that explored the planets, Hubble, and the rovers on Mars have been, and continue to be, magnificent missions. Hubble in and of itself has advanced astronomy by a century or more. But, where's the beef with human exploration? For the price of another ISS, we could build a permanent base on the moon, go to Mars, or both. Robert Zubrin has shown the way. So have others. Maybe if NASA can't do it, a consortium of private companies could.


Senator Boxer Discovers Not all African-Americans are Leftists

Barbara Boxer, the far left U.S. Senator from California, was given a stern face-to-face reprimand by the president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Harry Alford, for trying to pit one black group against another instead of addressing issues on their merits. It’s about time...Mr. Alford...believes in free enterprise — something that seems to elude Boxer. “It is all right for black folks to begin building wealth in this country,” Alford once said. “It is not against the law, and it certainly is more enjoyable than poverty.”...In this case, instead of dealing substantively with Mr. Alford’s criticisms of the current Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy bill, Ms. Boxer tried to discredit Alford by pointing out how black groups such as the NAACP and “100 Black Men of Atlanta” were allegedly supporting the bill....Senator Boxer's Race-Baiting Backfires, Joseph Klein, Newsreadblog, 7/21/2009

How long is it going to take the rest of African-Americans to notice an attitude among Democrat leaders that seems more in line with plantation owners than politicians in a republic? Good for Harry Alford, who presented himself exceptionally well on Hannity (ABC Radio) last week. Alford's description of a real energy policy, based on worldwide travels, most recently to Brazil, was a whole lot of fresh air. Develop our own! We have the resources. Wow, it's such a pleasure to hear common sense.


White House Budget Report Delayed: It Depends on What You Mean by Transparency?

With economic recovery nowhere in sight and its fiscal policies increasingly called into question, the Obama administration yesterday revealed that it would not be releasing its expected mid-year budget review until next month. Although the administration insisted this was a mere bureaucratic formality, critics were quick to note that the delay would help bury some politically unpalatable news about the budget, including its projected rise of the 2009 deficit...The CBO wastes little time getting to the bad news, noting that “Under current law, the federal budget is on an unsustainable a result of those deficits, federal debt held by the public will soar from 41 percent of GDP at the end of fiscal year 2008 to 60 percent at the end of fiscal year 2010.”...Burying the Budget, Vasko Kohlmeyer, Front Page, 7/21/2009,

Cabinet appointees who don't pay taxes, taxes that aren't really taxes, stimulus that isn't really stimulus, and now a budget that's not really visible -- it looks like a government from the shadows, more of the Chicago style. When Congress goes on its break, raise hell in your constituent offices.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Republican Health Plan Chart: What Democrats Don't Want You To See

Here it is, folks, the map to your doctor's office -- or maybe the map to your hospital -- no, maybe it's really a road map to the White House picket line, where you can beg for aspirin while you wait for treatment.

Democrats won't allow Republicans to send this to their constituents. See Drudge today, 7/23/2009


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Destroying the Global Village In Order to Save It?

President Barack Obama is very insistent on the need to “save American jobs.” The spending and the Buy American provisions of his massive stimulus package, approved by Congress in February, were meant to “create or save” millions of U.S. jobs. “Saving jobs” was also the stated goal of his recent pledge to eliminate tax advantages for companies that do business overseas. But instead of saving American jobs, Obama’s new corporate tax is apt to worsen what is already the highest unemployment since 1983 and make America’s companies even less competitive in the global marketplace....Destroying Jobs In Order to Save Them, Veronique de Rugy, Reason, August/September 2009

Reason's writers, such as de Rugy, clearly believe that logical argument makes a difference in the world. And, it does. It would be impossible for a researcher to produce a working vaccine against a virus without following a precise, orderly examination of both the virus and its targets in the human body to see how they interract. Only then could the researcher design a vaccine. It would be impossible for an auto manufacturer to operate in the world without a mix of engineering expertise and execution, a comprehensive understanding of material and labor sourcing, and marketing research to discover if what was to be offered had any likely market.

In looter politics, if I can borrow one of Reason's likely favorite phrases, logic has no place. Reason is what's attacked by the looter as "heartless". We don't need Ayn Rand to tell us, but it bears repeating, because that wasn't a philosophically filtered observation on her part, but a direct observation based on her experience during the Russian revolution and for the first year or two of the Russian civil war. The looters took over, wrecked the old society, and created a 70-year tyranny from which Russia has yet to fully recover.

The only way to counter looter politics is to organize to turn it out of office and drive it from its power centers in bureaucracy and the judiciary. Reason will not help, except for those who are already attuned to what reason has said. You can look to Reason for that, but you'll have to look to presenting the case for ridding our politics of the looting philosophy to get any further, such as candidates, campaigns and office.


The Chicago Style in Democrat Politics

Most people do not understand the sheer magnitude of the executive branch...3 million federal employees, 99 percent of whom are career civil servants over whom the president has virtually no authority. Seventeen states have fewer citizens than the federal government has bureaucrats. There are only a few thousand positions within the federal government that...the president can fill through political is the career civil servants who pull the millions of levers of power, not the few political appointees at the top of every agency. It is very difficult for the appointees to even keep track of the policies being implemented by the career staff, much less change them...This would not be a problem if the career ranks were really filled with nonpartisan individuals...who impartially carried out the policies of the president. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. From the State Department, to the Central Intelligence Agency, to the Department of Justice, and every agency in between, career employees are overwhelmingly partisan liberals...As Richard Perle has eloquently said, when George Bush tried to pull the levers of government, he never realized that they were disconnected from the machinery and the exertion was largely futile. The bureaucracies of these agencies have their own policies and they largely ignored President Bush’s directives and his political appointees, a problem President Obama will not have....In Washington, Conservatives Are Really Never in Power, Hans A. Van Spakovsky, Pajamas Media, 7/15/2009

In Chicago, for generations, it hasn't really mattered if a Mayor was capable of governing. The ward politicians and their hacks had settled the division of the wealth. If someone came in hostile to the vast machine built by the Daley mayoralty, the first one or the current one, they'd be paraded about as if they mattered. Of course they didn't. In Chicago, the ward politician and his or her patronage appointments are the only power worth writing about. Van Spakovsky is one of the first reporters to look at this in Washington, where it's just as rigid a rule: bureaucrats are the real power, in part because there's no mandatory retirement (there are still appointees from Truman, Kennedy and Johnson's Presidencies still working in DC), and in part because Republican Administrations have been unable, or unwilling, to break into the bureaucracies.

One has to suspect that part of the reason is that not many Republicans of any background want to work in a Washington bureaucracy. It is hard to imagine the editors of The Weekly Standard in their shirtsleeves at the State Department. But, the larger part is harder to prove. The writer can give a suggestive anecdote, and is sure that there are hundreds of thousands of similar stories.

One of the writer's grandfathers was a postal worker in a small city west of the Mississippi. For reasons never quite understood by his family, he refused to change party affiliations when Roosevelt was elected. His colleagues at the post office told him that he ought to do it to assure that he'd be considered when it came time to pick an assistant postmaster and, later, a postmaster for the city. He held out for integrity, a good and honorable act, but which led his career at the Post Office to stagnate until Dwight Eisenhhower became President 20 years later, by which time this grandfather's career was within seven years of ending. He did become assistant postmaster, but retired before the next step.

One can't help but think that the same applies on a scale larger than the personal in Washington, that if you don't belong to the ruling party, whether in office, or in the bureaucracy you apply to work in, that you'll never get out of the low level jobs. The ultimate result, of course, is that only one way of thinking obtains in all of the power centers in the nation's capital.

This is only one good reason to bring back the spoils system, which allowed a President and his Cabinet to reappoint the entire executive branch in one fell swoop.


Robbing the Productive: The Democrat Looter's Paradigm

Ponder a simple fact: The Obama administration is dispersing income lavishly to those who do not pay taxes and it will have to be paid for by those who do. For all the talk of that awful percentile who make over $200,000, this administration has not distinguished the hyper-rich 1% that make untold money (e.g., the Buffets, Soroses, Turners, Gateses, Kerrys, Gores, etc), from the much more demonized, larger 5% of the population whose income does not come from investments and insider influence and deal-making, but rather from providing more tangible goods and services — the family doctor, the plumbing contractor, the small lumber company owner, the car dealer, the local family-held insurance company, the airline pilot, the car-leasing firm, the patent attorney, etc...Last fall we heard that this percentile was unpatriotic, did not wish to spread the wealth around, and had made off like bandits under Bush. But the fact is, to quote Mayor Gavin Newsome’s “like it or not,” they are precisely those who decide most dynamically whether to hire, fire, expand, contract, buy/sell goods, etc...And the results of the Obama war against them are threefold: 1) in major key states, the productive minority’s state income taxes will near or exceed 10%; their federal rates will go to 40%; the abolition of caps on FICA will ensure 15% plus of most of their income will go for new Medicare and Social Security bites; and they may well be eligible for a newly proposed punitive health-care surcharge tax of 4-6%....The War Against the Producers, Victor Davis Hanson, 7/15/2009

Read all of Hanson's post. He combines a sharp awareness of contemporary facts and figures with a classical background in history and literature that combine to make him a formidable commentator. If what he describes sounds a little like Atlas Shrugged, be assured that Ayn Rand was not just expressing philosophy in that book. It remains a riveting critique of the devolution of productive society into a socialist quagmire. The difference between Rand's philosophical fiction and Hanson's contemporary narrative is uncomplicated. What Hanson's describes is what's happening now.


Private Enterprise and Space: Success or another Target for Democrat Looters?

A small Malaysian satellite was delivered to orbit late Monday night from the tiny atoll of Kwajalein far off in the Pacific Ocean and thousands of miles from the U.S. mainland...Forty years after the first moon landing and over half a century after Sputnik, the launch of small satellites has become routine. But this one was special — or rather, its launcher was. Launched two days before the fortieth anniversary of the launch of Apollo XI (the anniversary of the moon landing itself will be on Monday, July 20), it was the first satellite delivered by a privately funded liquid rocket...The event may have been a significant nail in the coffin of what many view as NASA’s current flawed plans for a return to the moon in the coming decade...It was delivered by a Falcon 1, the first rocket developed by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California...A Giant Leap for Commercial Space Flight, Rand Simberg, Pajamas Media, 7/15/2009

This is a remarkable accomplishment reported by Rand Simberg in Pajamas Media, but one can't help but wonder how long it will be before the California Legislature passes a law regarding a heavy penalty for rocket emissions, or a new section is included in Cap-and-Cronyism that bars private developers who don't pay a billion dollar license fee to NASA.


The Only Businessperson to Decide Going Galt is Better? Don't Count On It

As a small businessperson, I -- unlike the current administration -- recognize that hope is not a business plan. I must look to the future and determine what is best for my company. I must make decisions now that reflect what my business will look like in six months and beyond. Based on proposed legislation and the current climate in Washington, and our inability to get the attention of our representatives, it is apparent that my future business opportunities lie elsewhere. The crystal ball is clouded only in more taxes, the potential of forced heath care payments for employees, excessive costs and lost business through the proposed cap and trade and a general disgust for the small businesses that provide 70% of the nation's GDP...I've been screaming, but nobody's listening. My last employee has been laid off. If the proposed cap and trade legislation is passed, it will be the death knell for me. As the great lady named Capitalism passes, so too shall my endeavor. We shall pass together, both wondering how a great nation allowed this to occur on our watch....Decline and Fall, D.L. Hammack, American Thinker, 7/15/2009

To those in Washington who think that they've got a perfect solution to keep people in business from crossing borders, they should look to Mexico, the Philippines, Singapore, Eastern Europe, Brazil. They're ready and waiting. China already does most of the world's consumer products work. If the golden egg and the hen that hatches it move away, the dollar will be worth so little than a trillion of them won't buy a bottle of aspirin. Perhaps Obama should consider offering a trillion printed dollars to every American. Just make sure mine is in cash.


Back to the 70s: Trashing the CIA to Bail Out Speaker Pelosi

Democrat Jan Schakowsky of Illinois proved last week why President Barack Obama was right to threaten to veto a bill that could give more politicians access to classified briefings about covert CIA operations...Schakowsky took to the airwaves to accuse the CIA of misleading Congress on the orders of former Vice President Dick Cheney. According to Schakowsky and a handful of other Democrats, CIA director Leon Panetta told them at a classified briefing last month that the agency had practiced "systematic deception" for years. She demanded an investigation and suggested that charges could be brought against CIA officials...But the CIA denied Panetta had made any such admission -- and even Schakowsky had to allow that Panetta's briefing concerned "one occasion." That occasion was a program, conceived in 2001 but never implemented, to track and target Al-Qaeda terrorists around the world...Protecting Pelosi, Not America, Joel Pollak, American Thinker, 7/15/2009

Excuse us if we're wrong, but didn't the current President spend a great deal of rhetorical wind upon the failure of the Bush Administration to target Al Qaeda?

Speaker Pelosi, in a well-documented lie, claimed she had never been briefed on water-boarding. Of course, she had been. She was embarrassed. Her power was threatened in the House. So, now, she and her colleagues have come up with a 1970s style show trial proposition to deal with that and, not so incidentally, put at risk any CIA operation against Al Qaeda, not to mention the agents and assets in play for such a purpose. Democrats have pulled this before, as in the hearings in the 1970s that ended with the CIA severely crippled in its intelligence-gathering capacity, a traitor (Agee) as a bestselling author, and national security undercut such that an 8th century regime in Iran was able to hold off American "power" for over a year.

Actions have consequences, Speaker Pelosi, a truism lost apparently in California, as much in its national representatives as in its state legislature.


Russian Navy Sinking? And is that good?

A recent analysis by the authoritative Moscow-based weekly, the Independent Military Review (NVO), entitled "BMF RF (Naval Military Fleet of the Russian Federation) on Foreign Warships" states that the Russian Navy is currently in a situation of irreversible collapse...The analysis piece states the chief cause is the state of the Russian shipbuilding industry, which is incapable "of producing warships in either the quantity or at the level of quality that the navy customer requires" for the future. According to those interviewed, the Russian Navy's leadership "understands that this is a hopeless situation and are looking for a way out by considering the purchase of naval vessels from abroad."....The Fleet That Has To Die, Weekly Standard, 7/15/2009

Before the anti-Russian bloc starts to cheer, think a little. The less Russia is able to defend her frontiers and few open sea lanes, the more likely Russia will resort to much more dangerous force, including nuclear arms. This has in fact been a grave risk since the end of the Cold War.

And theirs isn't the only Navy in decline. American ships on patrol are less than half of what they were in 1988, in case you wondered why teenagers with rusty Kalashnikovs are stealing container ships off Somalia. Somebody's going to fill the gap. You don't need to look far beyond Russia's eastern border.


Governor Palin on Cap-and-Tax

I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage...American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy...There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!...Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs...In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan....The Cap-And-Tax Dead End, Governor Palin, Washington Post, 7/13/2009

Gee, where's the nuance, the subtlety, the sophistication? A hardhat, gun-totin' Alaskan has anything to say?

Yep, sure does. Maybe if she quoted Hayek and Von Mises more often (hint-hint), people would pay more attention.


Immigration Law Enforcement & National Health Care

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has insisted the Senate will deal with immigration and health reform separately. And Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) told the Dallas Morning News in May, “We’re not going to cover undocumented aliens, undocumented workers. That’s too politically explosive.”...But it’s hard to envision how health reform can avoid tripping the immigration booby trap. Approximately 15–22 percent of the 46 million residents of the United States without health coverage are illegal aliens. That’s about 9 or 10 million people. More generally, a third of the foreign-born are uninsured, Census data analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies show. That means something like 12.6 million people, or more than a fourth of the total uninsured, are immigrants, both legal and illegal. Since 1989, immigration is responsible for 71 percent of the rise in those without health insurance. The fact is, the problem of the uninsured would be a more manageable one if the U.S. were not admitting millions of uninsured immigrants....Importing the Uninsured, James Edwards, Jr., National Review, 7/15/2009

Edwards has a big story by the tail. After the California court decision that decided that illegal immigrants were entitled to the same state benefits as citizens, a case not overturned by the Supreme Court, it seems very unlikely that any bill, federal or state, could have a proviso denying care benefits to the undocumented immigrant. In some parts of the country, New York, California, Detroit, Florida, Seattle, as you waited in line for your assigned physician in the government clinic, you'd have half the population of Mexico and Cuba in front of you. In Spokane and Seattle, all of those, and you, would be standing behind recent arrivals from China.


Justice Bader Ginzberg And Eugenics

ere’s what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine: “Frankly I had thought that at the time [Roe v. Wade] was decided...there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”...The comment, which bizarrely elicited no follow-up from Bazelon [the interviewer - ED] or any...other major news outlet — was in the context of Medicaid funding for abortion. Ginsburg was surprised when the Supreme Court in 1980 barred taxpayer support for abortions for poor women. After all, if poverty partly described the population you had “too many of,” you would want to subsidize it in order to expedite the reduction of unwanted populations...Left unclear is whether Ginsburg endorses the eugenic motivation she ascribed to the passage of Roe v. Wade or whether she was merely objectively describing it. One senses that if Antonin Scalia had offered such a comment, a Times interviewer would have sought more clarity, particularly on the racial characteristics of these supposedly unwanted populations....Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a Question of Ethics, Jonah Goldberg, National Review, 7/15/2009

Those who know the history of contraception advocacy in the early 20th century know that the Leftist saint, Margaret Sanger was unabashed in her desire that birth control be a means to limit minority populations, especially blacks and eastern Europeans. George Bernard Shaw, another founding socialist (or Fabian) in Great Britain, said very nearly the same thing, suggesting a more than casual relationship between socialism and the national socialism of Hitler. One hopes that a century later that a Supreme Court Justice, in expressing a similar sentiment, was only reflecting a serious illness, not her judicial opinion.


Medicare/Medicaid: Bernie Madoff Was an Amateur

Every year, criminals and cheats pilfer over $100 billion — that’s $40 billion more than Bernie Madoff scammed off his investors [in twenty years: ED.] — in federal benefits to which they are not legally entitled. Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, refundable tax credits, and many other programs are targets for looting....Bigger Than Madoff, Chris Edwards & Tad DeHaven, National Review, 7/15/2009

Medicare, Medicaid are two medical programs in effect for more than thirty years. Has the government cleaned them up? If this is the result of government care for the elderly and the infirm, what can we expect from a national health-care-for-all program?

It is curious, considering how many headlines, TV stories, and blog entries have been devoted to genuine documentation of fraud in government medical care that Congress and the President are being allowed to take over the whole system. Lemmings follow the leader over a cliff. Since when has that been the case with Americans?


Republican Health Plan Chart: What Democrats Don't Want You To See

Here it is, folks, the map to your doctor's office -- or maybe the map to your hospital -- no, maybe it's really a road map to the White House picket line, where you can beg for aspirin while you wait for treatment.

Democrats won't allow Republicans to send this to their constituents. See Drudge today, 7/23/2009


Back to the 70s: NY Times: Sulzbergers Unload Classical Radio

The New York Times is unloading its classical radio station, WQXR-FM...The deal with Univision Communications and public radio broadcaster WNYC calls for WQXR to move from 96.3 FM to a weaker signal higher up the dial at 105.9 FM...Univision's Spanish-language station, WCAA, will become 96.3 FM and have a better spot in the middle of the FM band with which to serve its growing Hispanic audience in exchange for $33.5 million... The Fat Lady Sings, Holly Sanders Ware, NY Post, 7/15/2009

In the 1970s, New York's best-known conservative family, the Buckleys (William F., Jr., Senator James, etc), unloaded New York's best classical station, WNCN. NCN had always been the classical station with the weightier programming. WQXR competed 24 hours a day, but with a much lighter content. Despite public protests over the sale, the Buckleys' agent tossed NCN's classical collection into dumpsters within six months, the station becoming all-country (it has since disappeared). A similar fate met New York's only commercial jazz station, WRVR, at about the same time. Its enormous collection was also thrown into the trash and the station became all-disco (it too has long disappeared).

No one since would have ever guessed that the liberal bastion of American culture, the last place in New York for rational discussion (of fiction, one supposes), would sell off the last surviving semi-commercial classical station in the United States. But, they have, trashing an institution with 65 years on the air, much as the Obama administration is trashing America's future for immediate political payoffs to constituents.

It occurs to the writer, not for the first time, that trashing the future for immediate gain is what the Left has done best since the late 1960s. And there is no better representative of the Left in New York than the nearly bankrupt NY Times. For the better part of thirty-five years, the newspaper of record (perhaps of the Upper West Side of Manhattan) has presented politically slanted trade fiction as objective news. As a consequence, declining circulation and the recession have put them in the position where they can't fill their newspaper with adequate advertising pages to pick up the tab. To maintain membership in that special club of New York's elite which the Times has had a large role in inventing and sustaining, they're selling off their assets, sacrificing the future for dubious present gain.

We may expect this to go much further than selling off New York's last commercial outlet for classical music. Already in Congress is consideration for bankrolling distressed newspapers like the Times, provided the editors don't advocate for or against any policy or individual in politics, while at the same time siccing the FCC on Internet blogs that offend the Left's presumptions about itself. Silencing the lambs of different views (or music), whether over the air, or on the Web, is the Left's most enduring legacy.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

North Korean Cyberattack Topples Numerous Sites

Quick note which I would have sent to you earlier--except that I couldn't get through to Blogger.

In case some of you didn't notice, portions of the Internet were a disaster today through roughly 1:30 PM EDT by my reckoning. Specifically, I myself had a hell of a time accessing any kind of software that provided stock market quotes. And my Internet broker was absolutely unavailable from about 10:30 AM EDT until roughly 1:30 PM.

The likely cause: an ongoing cyberattack, more than likely from our close friends in North Korea and/or their fellow travelers in South Korea. A massive, bot-driven attack, the network carnage started--surprise--on the 4th of July holiday weekend in South Korea, overwhelming several South Korean government sites and eventually attacking over here, including the Pentagon, the White House, NSA, and, surprise, Homeland Security, portions of whose site were disabled as late as this afternoon. (I checked.) They also went after banks and the NYSE with varying degrees of success.

My friends on the left will say, oh, you have no proof. The hell I don't. According to numerous government sources, this ain't the first time these 5-star agressors have done this stuff. And just because you don't have an immediate smoking gun is no reason not to gear up to go after these criminals in some way, shape, or form.

But to be honest, the worst perps in this were the increasingly disgusting and uselesss MSM. I only became aware of this ongoing, rolling attack this morning when, after being unable to trade not long after the market open, I lost several thousand dollars because I couldn't hedge a few of my positions. If I'd known what was going on, I might not have put on the positions to begin with.

But the MSM, enmeshed in wall-to-wall suckup coverage of Michael Jackson (ratings, anyone?) never bothered to tell me or anyone else what had already been discovered in some quarters. And it took me quite a few web searches this morning to track down the likely difficulty.

The press loves to extol its virtues as our savior and protector against the Predators who run the Republican Party. But if they'd been doing our job, most of us would have known about this major cyberattack as early as Friday night or Saturday morning of last week--and we might have been able to act accordingly.

But no. The MSM--which of course, de facto, is better than you and me--spent nearly the entire weekend of valuable airtime with nonstop coverage of someone who, for all his obvious talent and weirdness--will never hold a candle to the heart surgeon in your local hospital.

Furthermore, aside from an anonymous dispatch or two from AP--never seemingly picked up by anyone--we all remained in the dark as our government sustained a massive cyberattack which today moved to damage the already damaged retirement portfolios of folks like you and me.

Small wonder these clowns are on their way out. They've turned into reliable media shills who trumpet the latest crap from New York and Hollywood. That's why the rest of us have to rely on the web and the blogosphere for our information. When the Dear Leader isn't taking it down, anyway.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Leave the Dollar Out of Trade? India Joins Japan and China

Suresh Tendulkar, an economic adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said in a July 3 interview that he is urging his nation to diversify its foreign holdings away from the dollar.
The challenge to the dollar, a linchpin of world finance and trade since 1945, underlines the shift in relative economic power toward emerging markets and away from the developed nations that spawned the global crisis...Russia, India Question Dollar Reliance..., Mark Deen & Simon Kennedy, Bloomberg News, July 6, 2009

A major diplomatic effort from the State Department in the last ten years was to turn India away from China and Russia, regarded as a huge and peaceful success story. One of the consequences of the first five and a half months of the new administration's fiscal policies may undo a decade's hard work and turn India's perception of, and relationship to, the United States upside down.

A classic blunder for an inexperienced administration is to be blind to context, to fail to see the overall effect of a given policy action. It's also a standard tactic of the Left to disregard the consequences of their actions, a perfect match between ideology and a White House proceeding with almost breathtaking ignorance abroad. When all that matters is power, who cares if it wrecks international initiatives? In this instance, however, the international initiative was to help counter the rising probability that Pakistan will turn into an outpost of Islamic fascism. India wanted this relationship too, maybe even more for self-protection, but if it can't afford it and has to turn north again, you'll know who to thank. A lesson the White House needs to learn is that in international politics, economic well-being comes before security issues. People can't fight if they haven't eaten.


Cooling New York

Here are the top ten coolest and wettest
junes on record since 1869 for central park ny:

coolest wettest
avg. temp. year inches precip. year
64.2 1903 10.27 2003
65.2 1881 10.06 2009
65.7 1916 9.78 1903
66.8 1926/1902 9.30 1972
67.2 1958 8.79 1989
67.3 1927 8.55 2006
67.4 1928 7.76 1887
67.5 2009/1897 7.58 1975
67.7 1878 7.13 1938
67.8 1924 7.05 1871

Interesting facts to note:

This june is tied for the 8th coolest on record. The average
temperature was 67.5...3.7 degrees below normal...which also
occurred in 1897.Public Information Statement, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July 6, 2009

It is unlikely that the Anthropogenic Climate Change disciples of NASA wack job James Hansen and Anti-Development-Pope Al Gore will quote that statement from the NOAA. The writer lives in New York, and it has been cool spring and summer. We have had one day of 90, and that was in April. Usually, by this time of the year, we've had dozens of days in the high 80s and 90s, with some occasionally in the 100s. Of course, what's the matter of actual evidence compared to the beauty of an all-encompassing theory?

Wait! Isn't that what Intelligent Design people say?

And here we thought the White House was bringing “science” back into the poltical debate. It was religion all along!


England is NoticingOur Debt Too

The US economy is lurching towards crisis with long-term interest rates on course to double, crippling the country’s ability to pay its debts and potentially plunging it into another recession, according to a study by the US’s own central bank.. Thomas Laubach, the US Federal Reserve’s senior economist, calculated the impact on long-term interest rates of rising fiscal deficits and soaring national debt. Applying his assumptions to the recent spike in the US fiscal deficit and national debt, long-term interests rates will double from their current 3.5%...The impact would be devastating by making it punitively expensive to finance national borrowings and leading to what Tim Congdon, founder of Lombard Street Research, called a “debt explosion”. Mr Laubach’s study has implications for the UK, too, as public debt is soaring. A US crisis would have implications for the rest of the world, in any case. ..US Lurching Toward Long-Term 'Debt Explosion'...,Philip Aldrick, Banking Editor, UK Telegraph, July 6, 2009

Even before the debt explosion overwhelms rational markets, the super-deficit funding of Federal programs like health care “reform”, bailouts, and cap-and-cronyism will steal a huge proportion of investment capital from the private sector, and make what's left prohibitively expensive for US private firms to recover, never mind expand. Why the Democrats are doing this may be a question whose answer has a graver consequence than a debt explosion.

The chief political objective of socialism, wherever it has been tried, is for the state to totally dominate the economy regardless of the impact this might have on the nation and its people. In France, for example, decades of socialism has led to decades of double-digit unemployment and to a crass neglect of the old and disabled (see prior post on "real debate on medical care") that is appalling.

Women in the workforce might take notice of this as well. As wonderful as socialized medicine and other liberal programs may sound for working women,especially those with children, it is worth noting that the dramatic expansion of the U.S. economy from 1983 onwards formed the primary support for the expansion of jobs. Without that expansion, the explosive new opportunities for women might never have happened. When the state dominates in a socialist program, it is not very supportive of revolutionary changes. Indeed, socialism may be said to be a kind of pathological conservatism, where nothing changes except your range of movement and your freedom of expression. This may be why the Left is so fond of Islamic fascism. And, thanks to Phyllis Chesler and other students of that political pathology, we know what that group thinks of women.


California Budget Bust: The Nightmare Scenario for Democrats?

With California mired in a budget crisis,...a political impasse that makes spending cuts and tax increases impossible, Controller John Chiang said the state planned to issue $3.3 billion in IOU’s in July alone. Instead of cash, those who do business with California will get slips of paper...The California morass has Democrats in Washington trembling...If Obama’s health-care plan passes, then we may well end up paying for it with federal slips of paper worth less than California’s...The publicity surrounding the California debt fiasco almost assures his resounding defeat...It takes years and years to make a mess as terrible as the California debacle, but the recipe is simple. All that you need is two political parties that are always willing to offer easy government solutions for every need of the voters, but never willing to make the tough decisions necessary to finance the government largess that results...California has engaged in an orgy of spending, but, compared with our federal government, its legislators should feel chaste. The California deficit this year is now north of $26 billion. The U.S. federal deficit will be, according to the latest numbers, almost 70 times larger...Kevin Hassett, Bloomberg News, July 6, 2009

Is Hassett's doomsday view wishful thinking? If you've watched California over the last decade, a sequence of legislatures and governors suggests that Hassett is wrong, that, at least in the life-is-a-beach state, there is no longer any check on out-of-balance accounts. Indeed, detailed examination suggests that the legislature's in-house political encyclopedia doesn't include the phrases fiscal responsibility, balanced budget, or rational planning. A Federal bailout is more likely, I think, with the White House encouraging the Fed to simply buy the bonds issued to pay taxes that Californians showed in their votes on a recent public initiative that they are unwilling to bear. And bailout is what the one-party government in Washington views as the basic solution to all our problems. The doom, it seems, will be for you and me, as we see a dollar shrink in value as our taxes (and tax-related prices – see cap-and-cronyism) go up.

However, look at what's happening. If the White House and Congress decide to monetize the debt (print the money), whether for their ill-considered programs, or for federal debt, some previously happy consumers of American government bonds may decide that it's not worth the trouble. While China is still buying, signs are good that Japan and other major creditors are slowing their purchases down. If the Feds can't sell American bonds overseas, and domestic investors think the rate of return is worthless, that will put grave inflationary pressure on the dollar.

In the 1970s, when a similar policy was used to pick up the tab left behind by Johnson and the “veto-proof” majorities of Democrats in Congress for the Vietnam War and the Great Society, the cost, in a shrinking dollar and higher taxes, was borne mostly by Americans. As expensive as those bills were to pay, in terms of lost value to the dollar, they were modest compared to what irresponsible governments are expecting bondholders to absorb this time, whether the governments of New York, California, or that in Washington, DC. Explosive inflation, 10, 20, 30 percent a year, is political dynamite. Even 12% during Carter's Presidency overturned the government, bringing Reagan and a rightist thirty-year domination of politics. That carried us through the wealthiest era in American history, a good thing, but such a result is hardly guaranteed. You could look it up in histories of Germany and Argentina.

As such, Republicans shouldn't act like Democrats, and pray for an inflation disaster, because inflation after a certain level favors no party. When inflation in Germany exploded, it brought a fascist government that nearly wrecked the civilized world. When inflation in Argentina exploded in the 1950s, it brought a fascist dictator to power. Dictators are no better for business than the socialists. Argentina has never recovered from Peron.


Health Care Democrat-Style: No Reform At All? Samuelson

Uncontrolled health spending is almost single-handedly determining national priorities. It's reducing discretionary income, raising taxes, widening budget deficits and squeezing other government programs. Worse, much medical spending is wasted...It doesn't improve Americans' health...The Obama administration's response is to talk endlessly about restraining health spending...The president summoned the heads of major health-care groups representing doctors, hospitals, drug companies and medical device firms...All pledged to bend the curve...Does anyone believe the American Medical Association can control the nation's 800,000 doctors or that the American Hospital Association can command the 5,700 hospitals?...The central cause of runaway health spending is clear. Hospitals and doctors are paid mostly on a fee-for-service basis and reimbursed by insurance, either private or governmental. The open-ended payment system encourages doctors and hospitals to provide more services -- and patients to expect them. It also favors new medical technologies, which are made profitable by heavy use. Unfortunately, what pleases providers and patients individually hurts the nation as a whole....Wrong Way on Health Care 'Reform', Robert Samuelson, Washington Post, July 6, 2009

What's interesting about economist Samuelson's view is that it reflects some private opinions by the President, that a good model would be the Mayo Clinic, which does not operate on the fee-for-service plan. Everybody at Mayo, including all of the doctors, is an employee. Malpractice insurance is held by a group instead of by an individual. There's no motivation to go the unnecessary, unneeded, or inappropriate mile in surgery or treatment to improve one's bank account.

One thing is clear, not only from Samuelson's article, but from hundreds of studies, essays, and reports on the Democrat plan to pick up the tab for the “uninsured.” The uninsured already get health care; it's subsidized by patients with insurance, and by physician and hospital write-offs. The Democrat plan will raise the cost for providing care to this group, a third of which is made up of illegal immigrants, to far higher than we're already paying now. What this looks like is another variety of cronyism, or of rent-seeking for Democrat constituents.


Obama's Love Affair with Dictators

How strange that our rather nondescript, sober friends abroad do not garner attention from the current administration, yet overt enemies in Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Venezuela, and the West Bank most certainly do. Is there some covert code of conduct known to these dictators that allows them to win a pass from supposedly liberal Americans, who profess to value human rights, religious tolerance, and consensual government?...A Thug's Primer, Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, July 6, 2007

You might want to read Hanson's darkly funny primer for dictators. Being angry about the White House pampering of tyrants is a good motivation, especially as we get close to the 2010 Congressional elections, but a dose of satirical humor may ease the pain.


GM & Chrysler Sales Drops: Conservatively Political Car Buying?

"Government Motors" is driving Americans away...There is a groundswell of disdain for the federal bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler, even as polls show that a growing "Buy American" sentiment is boosting sales for the only Detroit automaker that avoided bankruptcy and federal rescue – Ford...Conservatives thunder that the country has taken a socialist route with President Obama at the wheel..."I won't buy a socialist car," columnist and radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt thundered last month..."Over the years, we have mostly been a General Motors family. Since GM has become Government Motors, we will never again buy a GM product," said William Crowley of Spicewood, Texas....GM, Chrysler Sales Suffer after Bailout, William Ehart, Washington Times, 7/6/2009

There are other political reasons to be wary of GM and Chrysler. Both management and the UAW know that at these two automakers, politics means more than quality. The bailouts, which illegally trashed first tier creditors in favor of the UAW, were unabashed political payoffs. It's basic math. The UAW contributed many millions to the Democrats, perhaps as much as $40 million, during the 2008 Presidential and Congressional campaigns. They get a huge part of the ownership of two car companies in return. The all-Democrat government has “invested” a hundred billion dollars in these two losers. Who knows if best what the government will do if things don't work out? What if it takes another hundred billion? Two hundred?

If you buy a GM or Chrysler car, in other words, you'll pay for it twice: purchase; and taxes for the bailouts. Even those who buy Fords are helping to pay for Chevies and Dodges. Socialism and its grim sister, crony capitalism, always costs more than they generate. Fred Barnes at Weekly Standard agrees.

Delphi, the auto parts manufacturer once owned by GM and still its biggest supplier, has been in bankruptcy for four years. To acquire its assets and run the company, Delphi and Obama's Auto Task Force picked an affiliate of the private equity firm Platinum Equity. There was no auction or competitive bidding...Why Platinum? The UAW favored it, sources said...There's a name for all this: crony capitalism...usually identified with Third World despots, like Hugo Chávez, who reward their friends and allies in the business and financial communities...the chief characteristic of crony capitalism is favoritism for some companies or organizations (unions, for example)--in loans, grants, giveaways, and specific policies...Obama isn't merely rewarding a few cronies, he's seeking more and more favored groups to reward...through his energy, health care, and other policies, which would boost certain companies and industries over others. Another way is by providing cheap capital, which gives firms an advantage over competitors who must acquire capital at higher interest rates in private markets...The effect of Obama's approach to business has been enormous. In less than six months, he's changed the relationship between the private sector and Washington. Companies increasingly "compete for government favoritism, not for consumer choice or preferences," says Republican representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin...The Triumph of Crony Capitalism, Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard, July 6, 2009

With the UAW is doing it for the President, not for the consumer, the least likely car this writer would buy would come from Chrysler or General Motors.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Wonker Reveals Secret Identity

It's Independence Day weekend. What better time for Wonker to reveal at last his secret identity? In reality, I am and have been the freelance/contract writer/journalist known, to Washingtonians at least, as T L Ponick--Terry to my friends.

When Luther and I started this blog, we both felt it critically important to keep our names secret--not out of cowardice but out of common sense. In my case, until recently, I'd been working as a government contractor. Simple discretion dictated that I not inadvertently cause harm to my Federal customers. Luther was (and is) similarly constrained but for completely different reasons.

Since I'm no longer contracting to the Feds, however, there's no longer a reason to keep my own identity secret--which is great, since the blogosphere these days seems to trust real names more than pen names.

My background? Although I have a Ph.D. in American Lit, I opted out of a professorial career years ago and navigated into the private sector rather than risk a decade in the wilderness as a gypsy scholar in search of virtually nonexistent tenure track positions. (A scandal that persists to this day for thousands of young scholars.)

That fateful choice proved interesting indeed--and increasingly lucrative--leading me to multiple career tracks. These included stints as an insurance agent, a stockbroker, a technical writer (hardware and software); and, in a late-inning surprise, two separate gigs as a contractor, writing and editing science policy documentation for a White House sub-agency under two administrations. So when I write about this kind of stuff, I actually do know what I'm talking about.

But wait, there's more. As a sideline, I used to review community theater for smaller newspapers which actually led to a better part-time job at the Washington Times, America's Newspaper for those on the right-side of the aisle. After the departure of their music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1994, I auditioned for his slot, and actually got the job, sort of. In what's now the wave of the future for an increasing number of newspapers, the paper picked me up part-time, not as a staffer.

I'm still there today, writing primarily on classical music in the DC Metro area with occasional pieces on jazz, popular culture, politics and music, and theater when the theater critic is out of town. Recently, the recession has caused some shrinkage in my coverage and column inches of course--just like every other newspaper--almost all of which, I suspect, will wind up exclusively on the Web in the fairly near future.

By now, I've penned literally thousands of words for the Times. If you're curious or don't believe me, just Google the name I gave you above and you'll find plenty of my stuff still linked online.

As for my dayjob luck? That ran out last summer as the economy tanked. But I've been able to re-deploy my investing acumen to keep things together while I look for something else. Or maybe I'll just go into semi-retirement. I've occasionally chronicled my personal economic fun here in this blog, just so you know that your own situation is not hopeless--just as long as the socialists who currently control the government don't screw things up worse than they already have. A big "if," eh?

Anyhow, Happy Independence Day! I'm sure enjoying mine. But on Monday, back to the battlements!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sarah Palin's Independence Day

It's no big secret now that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has resigned from office and will leave her position as of the end of this month rather than gear up for a re-election campaign.

This isn't a surprise in a way, even though the media portrays it that way. They've been trashing her nonstop since the day McCain selected her as his running mate in 2008. Her political enemies both within Alaska and within the RINO (Republicans In Name Only) precincts have been jumping on the jampile with disgusting--and completely untrue--allegations about her family. And 15 (yes 15) "investigations" for impropriety have been mounted against her in her own state, with 13 of them by now adjudged unfounded but with two more to go. Never wealthy, her family has by now incurred an estimated $500,000 in legal bills and there's only so much of this crap that a normal human being can take. Which her well-funded opponents are well aware of.

What we've been seeing here, for those who have been watching as opposed to indulging in it, is a 24/7 vilification campaign that makes even the left's trashing of Dick Nixon look like amateur hour. Palin is a fresh political voice who genuinely represents a major political point-of-view in flyover country (read 75% of the America you never see in the media). Dangerous stuff for the tax-and-spend left currently in power. The East and Left Coasties in the media and entertainment business as well as the permanent political classes in New York and DC needed to get rid of her quick before, like Andrew Jackson, she wins the White House and has a bunch of uncouth supporters invading the White House and putting their muddy boots on the expensive chairs. And they've done so. For now.

If you wonder today why good, honest people won't run for office, you have no further to look than to this disgusting treatment. Hugh Hewitt, cited by a guest columnist in his own Townhall blog, sums the whole spectacle up pretty well:
As Hugh said on the air the other day while talking to Jim Geraghty, “everything she is is the antithesis of everything that liberal urban elites are, so it's not just enough to say, 'I disagree with you,'; she has to be repudiated and crushed."
You had a taste of this during the second term of Dick Nixon. The blows rarely landed on Ronald Reagan. (But they landed tellingly on the heads of Judges Bork and Thomas during their hearings.)

The technique Hugh cites was perfected during the Clinton Administration which honed it to a fine art--you didn't merely refute your opponents. You beat them into the gutter and then stomped on them so they could never get up again.

Who knows why Governor Palin is really quitting? Is there a REAL scandal ready to come out of the closet. Some like to think so. But only time will tell. I personally think she's looking for a way to change the rules of the ball game and turn the tables on her critics. At some point. Maybe not now.

They don't call her Sarah Barracuda for nothing.

We wish her the best of luck.

Fireworks Safety Warning Video--Happy Independence Day!

Before it gets pulled from the Web by the PC Thought Police, we thought that this scurrilous but creative Dutch TV spot, urging fireworks safety, might be fun to run on our own 4th of July holiday. The terrorists' names have been expunged to protect the innocent.

Have a happy and safe 4th!