Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Remarks on 'Liberal Elites'

I find all this high dudgeon about 'liberal elites' a little silly.

What would people prefer, that those in question run around in sackcloth and ashes, scourging their own backs as they flail ours? Because, heaven help the country when that sort takes power. The worst excesses of the French Revolution occurred when the pusillanimous Puritan Maximillian Robespierre came to power.

Sure, the arrogance of the self-annointed saints is annoying. Their not-well-disguised (and completely unearned) air of moral superiority is certainly off-putting. But woe to us if the real true believers come to power. Obama is already halfway there; imagine what a full-blown Earth First type would do.

A prancing, grasping gangster type like Rahm Emmanuel is certainly loathsome. But Henry Waxman is far worse. Al Gore is simply ludicrous, a buffoon who destroys his own credibility every time he takes another private jet flight. When something like Cass Sunstein gains high office, you'll know we're in for real trouble.

The one type is self-limiting, since their hypocrisy gets exposed and ridiculed fairly soon. They're the sort who sooner than later usually get found in a hotel with a hooker.

An authentic Claude Frollo — the repressed, self-loathing Archdeacon in Hunchback of Notre Dame — is far more dangerous. Too many are more inclined to forgive their destructive acts because their motives are 'pure'. Frankly, if Frollo had simply headed for the nearest brothel, Esmeralda would have a much easier time of it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Final DBC For Today: Obama's Broken Promises

NRO has posted a lengthy compilation of Obama's broken promises, complete with expiration dates and source links.

My reaction to reading them was: "I'm more worried about the promises he's keeping."

You know, such minor things as bankrupting the coal companies, nationalizing health care, 'stimulating' the economy, and enslaving the financial sector.

Call me a "glass half full (of sputum)" kind of guy.

Another Drive-By Comment: The Recess Appointments

I think conservatives are wrong to complain about Obama making a recess appointment of Gary Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. If he had appointed John Stossel when Congress was in session I would be (almost) equally outraged — since the NLRB is illegitimate to begin with.

Tragically, the descendants of the Wagner Act and other pro-labor legislation continue to pollute the economy. Repeal all of it and we can forget which particular communist happens to head the NLRB at any given moment.

Just say "ix-nay" to all the pragmatic arguments about getting "our kind of guy" to head an unjustified Federal organization. That didn't work out so well with Greenspan at the Fed and it doesn't work anywhere else.

A Drive-By Comment on the Fiscal Scene

Too often these days newspaper editorialists make me laugh, and not in a joyful way. Fred Hiatt penned one for WaPo titled, "Can Obama Avert a Fiscal Catastrophe?" To which my immediate reaction was, "Er, not when he's busy causing one."

If Obama and the Progressives are so eager to pass laws ensuring people "do the right thing," why don't they outlaw this kind of foolishness from the commentariat? After all, a little thing like the First Amendment would never slow them down.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chavez Arrests Final Independent Broadcaster

As reported by Cato,
Today, the Venezuelan government arrested Guillermo Zuloaga, president of Globovision Television, the only remaining television on public airwaves critical of Hugo Chavez.

According to the government, Zuloaga made offensive comments about Chavez (which is against the law in Venezuela) while speaking at a conference of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) in Aruba, where media representatives criticized the Venezuelan regime’s crackdown on freedom of speech.
Anyone who thinks it can't happen here hasn't been paying attention to Canada, whom we lag by perhaps a generation on the slide to socialism, if current trends continue.

I wrote about Venezuela three years ago in an article titled "Venezuela, Your Three Minutes Are Up." The situation has only gotten worse since. "It is becoming a crime to have an opinion,” says Carlos Zuloaga.

Yet, the cretin who rules the country receives smiling handshakes from Obama, while Israel is chastised for building homes in Jerusalem. Past time to reverse the trend, I'd say — in Venezuela and here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Other Pin-Up Girl: Veronique de Rugy

As some of you know, I'm in love with Ann McElhinney, the documentary filmmaker because of her heroic work on environmentalism. (Full disclosure: Ms. McElhinney knows nothing about this!) Well, I openly confess to being a complete cad, because I'm also in love with economist Veronique de Rugy.

Ms. de Rugy works for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and writes regularly for Reason and NRO.

Well, be still my beating heart, she's going to appear tonight on John Stossel's Fox program The Big Ripoff. They'll be discussing Social Security and Medicare.

I'll be tuning in because, as I said about Ann, I just can't resist a woman with big brains and Veronique's are ginormous.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hayek on the Values That Sustain Freedom

In The Road to Serfdom Friedrick Hayek makes an insightful observation about the fate of Britain, circa 1944.
“It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel.

The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people, excepting only a few of the smaller nations, like the Swiss and the Dutch, were independence and self-reliance, individual initiative and local responsibility, the successful reliance on voluntary activity, noninterference with one’s neighbor and tolerance of the different and queer, respect for custom and tradition, and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.” [emphasis added]
Clearly, a great many Americans have also lost interest in these values the past two generations. With the recent growth of the pro-liberty movement, perhaps they'll once again come to the foreground.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Surveying The Progressive Fantasy World

The Progressive's capacity for living in a fantasy world never ceases to amaze me. Blog comment sections are burning with trolls proclaiming their joy that "now anyone who needs medical care can get it."

Who knew? All we had to do was pass a big, unconstitutional law and suddenly every medical care provider in America will willingly bend over for a Federal rectal exam prior to dispensing one for free. All that was needed is to raise taxes on a few thousand evil rich guys, who have more trinkets than they deserve anyway.

Demand can increase by 30 million individuals who, almost by definition, have had much less medical care to date and nothing whatsoever will happen to the supply, cost, or quality of that care. Thanks, rich guys (and compassionate Congressmen, indifferent to their constitutional rights)!

In another idiotic arena, Progressive soul-killers are cheerful about the prospect of Republican candidates running on the plank of repeal. Such creatures imagine Democratic ads depicting children dying of cancer while the heartless Republican promises to eliminate her 'free' care. Never mind that, in the real world ten years from now, that child will die waiting to see a specialist (if there are any left). But, oops, I forgot. To suggest such a future is just so much right-wing fearmongering. My bad.

(Sadly, some spineless Republicans like John Cornyn of Texas are already intimidated enough by this line of attack to scale back any effort at repeal of HR3590.)

Who knew all we had to do was pass a law to make care magically appear? If only I could get Congress to pass a law mandating that heretofore free women were required to service me on demand, and for much less than it has cost me to date. Surely, there should be no reason whatever to expect a decrease in the supply of willing females, no? Why should any of them resent being ordered to do so when, after all, it's to satisfy someone's desperate need?

Sure, some of these commenters — perhaps most — are just paid attack dogs of OFA and other left wing organizations. But, having followed them for months, it seems that some actually believe their fantasy.

I wonder if I could interest them in supporting a bill to establish a Bureau of Prostitution inside the HHS? It's worth looking into, anyway. I mean, David Frum keeps telling me I should make nice with Progressives. This is one goal I feel sure we can both, so to speak, get behind. Hey, they have their fantasy, I'm entitled to mine.

President James Monroe on Public Spending

Unlike the current occupant of the Oval Office, Monroe understood the nature of the Federal Government and its Constitution.
If then, the right to raise and appropriate the public money is not restricted to the expenditures under the other specific grants, according to a strict construction of their powers respectively, is there no limitation to it?

Have Congress a right to raise and appropriate the public money to any and to every purpose, according to their will and pleasure? They certainly have not. The government of the United States is a limited government, instituted for great national purposes, and for those only. Other interests are committed to the states, whose duty it is to provide for them.

Each government should look to the great and essential purposes for which it was instituted, and confine itself to those purposes. A state government will rarely, if ever, apply money to national purposes, without making it a charge to the nation. The people of the state would not permit it. Nor will Congress be apt to apply money in aid of the state administrations, for purposes strictly local, in which the nation at large has no interest, although the states should desire it.

The people of the other states would condemn it. They would declare that Congress had no right to tax them for such a purpose, and dismiss, at the next election, such of their representatives as had voted for the measure, especially if it should be severely felt. I do not think that in offices of this kind there is much danger of the two governments mistaking their interests or their duties. I rather expect that they would soon have a clear and distinct understanding of them, and move on in great harmony.

[From "The Lives of James Madison and James Monroe, Fourth and Fifth Presidents of the United States" by John Quincy Adams]
Soon, the American public at large will understand it better than they have in decades. Thirty-three states are preparing legal action against HR 3590, the tyrannical 'health care' bill just passed.

[Hat Tip: The Federalist Blog]

Monday, March 22, 2010

The UNDO T-Shirt

Sometimes a logo says it all.

As the vendor explains, "This line of logo apparel sends the message that it's time to UNDO the federal leviathan."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.

We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
The House of Representatives voted today to nationalize American health care, 219-212.

What comes next? Independence.

Dr. Cui's Amazing Battery, Take 2

Dr. Yi Cui of Stanford, inventor of a paper battery, is creating more breathtaking scientific breakthroughs.

As reported in Technology Review (which, unlike Popular Science, doesn't normally tout mere-pie-in-the-sky research),
[B]y using lithium sulfide, a non-metallic form of lithium, instead of a lithium metal, the researchers have overcome a key safety issue that has plagued lithium-metal batteries.

During normal battery use, lithium metal can grow branchlike structures that can penetrate a thin polymer layer that separates the battery's two electrodes. When this occurs, the battery can short-circuit and potentially explode. With lithium sulfide, the branching does not occur.
By combining the new cathode with the previously developed silicon anode, the team created a battery with an initial discharge of 630 watt-hours per kilogram of active ingredients. This represents an approximately 80 percent increase in the energy density over commercially available lithium-ion batteries...
As evidence of TR's greater reliability, they put in this caveat.
The new battery still has significant issues, particularly in maintaining capacity. After just five discharge and recharge cycles, the cells lost one-third of their initial energy storage capacity and ceased to function after 40 to 50 cycles.
To be competitive with lithium-ion batteries, the batteries developed at Stanford would have to operate for 300 to 500 charge cycles for consumer electronics applications and as many as 1,000 cycles for vehicle use, according to Cui.
Even so, bravo Dr. Cui!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rare Orchid Thought Extinct Returns

More than two decades after being thought extinct, a rare wild orchid has been spotted once again.
"It's the hardest British flower to see," he said. "It looks extraordinary. It produces these flowers without chlorophyll which in the dim light look like ghosts, and if you shine a torch beam on them they appear to be translucent white in the pitch darkness, almost like a photographic negative."
Without chlorophyll. Amazing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Might Have Been Wrong

And, if so, boy would I be the happiest guy around.

I wrote recently that there would likely be no mass civil disobedience to the unconstitutional 'health care' legislation near to enactment. I'm very happy to see at least one initial sign that I might have been wrong. I hope to see many more.

I urge you to join the Facebook "I Will Not Comply" group.

[Hat tip, Jonah Goldberg at NRO.]

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Birthday Tribute to James Madison

On a day when Congress stands ready to rape the Constitution yet again, it's apropos to remember and celebrate James Madison's birthday, March 16th, 1751.

It's true that over the past century the superb plan he helped create and argue for is nearly in tatters. But the few freedoms we still enjoy today by right and not merely by historical inertia owe much to his thought and effort.

Thank you, Mr. Madison, and my sincere apology for those alleged Americans who have done so much over the decades to besmirch and butcher your extraordinary work.

[For an excellent compendium of the thought of the Father of the Constitution, see the Library of America volume: James Madison, Writings 1772-1836.]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Totalitarian Quote of the Day

“The American people want to know if it’s still possible for Washington to look out for their interests. For their future. So what they’re looking for is some courage. They’re waiting for us to act. They’re waiting for us to lead.

They don’t want us putting our finger out to the wind. They don’t want us reading polls. They want us to look and see what is the best thing for America and then, do what’s right.” Barack Obama, at a rally for 'health care reform' in Ohio.
Utterly, utterly devoid of the least impulse to recognize individual freedom.

If anything short of massive civil disobedience - almost guaranteed not to materialize - will stop all this, I sincerely want to know.

[Hat tip Philip Klein, American Spectator.]

Obama to Push For Climate Change Legislation

As I predicted.

Unswayed by... well, by anything really, Obama is pressing forward on the next phase of enslaving the country. Even before the ink has been applied to the so-called health care reform bill, the Administration is gearing up for environmental legislation that will make that debacle look like the Bill of Rights.

Never before have I wanted so much to be wrong. Gird your loins, folks.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Andy McCarthy, National Treasure

Andy McCarthy - prosecutor of the Blind Sheik and others for the 1993 attack on the WTC - continues to prove his bona fides as one of the country's most valuable voices.

Lately, he's been exposing the questionable status of several Gitmo al Qaeda defense attorneys now employed by the Department of Justice. (Lawyers whom the DoJ refuses to name.) Here, he shreds an appallingly biased LA Times 'news story' on Justice Clarence Thomas's wife - who had the shameless audacity to start a Tea Party-affiliated organization.
So let me make sure I have this straight. If you're a "progressive" lawyer who volunteers to represent America's enemies for free in offensive lawsuits brought against the American people during wartime, and then you are placed in a policy-making position in the Justice Department, we're not allowed even to suggest that you be identified, much less to infer that the sympathies that impelled you to donate your talents to al Qaeda might affect your decision-making at DOJ.
But if you are the wife of a Supreme Court justice — not the Supreme Court justice himself, mind you, but the justice's wife — and you dare to have your own career and further dare to be a public conservative who defends core American principles of individual liberty against the Leftist onslaught, we are supposed to assume that the impartiality of the Supreme Court (on which the wife of the justice does not sit) has been compromised.

That's the upshot of the Los Angeles Times hit job this morning by Kathleen Hennessey on Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas. It's an unmitigated disgrace.
When will those silly white women married to black Supreme Court justices learn to stay barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen where they belong!

McCarthy's entire post will more than repay the short time it takes to read it. Intellectual ammunition of the first order.

[Update: Ed Morrisey of HotAir notes:
When Bill Clinton ran for President, the media scolded people who began questioning whether Hillary Clinton would use her influence to shape policy in the White House. Counter-critics called it a form of gender discrimination, and Hillary famously responded to it by defiantly noting that “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas,” but decided to have her own career in law and politics.
But then, the hypocrisy of Progressive journalists was always the least of their sins.]

[Update 2: P.S. This particular Progressive journalist is so incompetent, she can't even get the basis of her smear correct:
The issue in the Citizens United case was concerned with a documentary about Hillary Clinton. It was not a flattering documentary. Citizens United wanted to show the documentary on cable television but it would be shown within 60 days of a primary.

The FEC said “no” and they used the grounds that Citizens United had been funded in a minuscule way by a corporation. SCOTUS was concerned about freedom of speech. The judgment actually went against Citizens United on a number of issues. However, it was the freedom of speech aspect, and the penalty that was provided by the FEC if Citizens United went against their ruling.

Please keep in mind that it was the penalty mandate that perturbed the SCOTUS. This was the reason that s144(b) was struck down.

The decision does not give permission for corporations to spend lots of money. What it does is give equality to types of corporations – the media are corporations but they were exempted from McCain-Feingold.

It gave the media an unfettered ability to misrepresent the facts, as well as the ability to damage candidates in any election, as well as damaging corporations such as Merck (example only folks). By striking down the section the corporations have the right to place an advertisement putting their side of the story without threat of fines by the FEC.]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

George Will Tries On the Progressive Burqa

...and seems to enjoy the fit.

Like Charles Krauthammer's, George Will's work is a mixed bag. But Will often writes more knowledgeably, and with greater depth of understanding. So, it pains me to see dopey things like this come from his 'pen':
"John McCain had the correct prescription for health care during the 2008 campaign. He proposed serious change — taxing employer-provided health care as what it indisputably is, compensation, and giving tax credits, including refundable ones, for individuals to purchase insurance."
Being for individual liberty one day, then social engineering via tax policy the next is not the mark of a man who has a firm grasp on the principles underlying the Constitution.

I hope for better things tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Constitution Destroyer

Thomas Bowden offers a superb essay in The Objective Standard on Oliver Wendell Holmes' 1905 dissent in Lochner v New York and its legal aftermath.

Sound like a snooze fest? Far from it. For anyone interested in one of the major steps that led to the modern Court's abandoning the Constitution, it's a must read. Twice. At over 11,000 words of careful prose, that's no small effort, but it will be well rewarded.

Bowden discusses the details of the case and why the Court decided as it did, including the reasons for Holmes' dissent. That mere 617 word legal dissent [pdf warning], as much as the case itself, influences the law even today and stands as a clear historical marker in the Progressive destruction of objective law and the Constitution.

What Bowden doesn't discuss — it's not his purpose — is how Holmes' view grows out of his general adoption of Pragmatism. In many ways, Holmes anticipated James and Dewey, and injected that deadly philosophy into mainstream legal thought.

His Pragmatism is shown clearly by such statements as: “General propositions do not decide concrete cases,” and “Every opinion tends to become a law,” and the reshaping of law is the “natural outcome of a dominant opinion.” It's made even more obvious by his view that, as Bowden puts it, "a proper constitution averts disaster by providing an orderly mechanism for embodying in law the constantly shifting, subjective opinions of political majorities."

Given the ultimate success of that view, it's not surprising that Holmes could say with impunity later in life: “All my life I have sneered at the natural rights of man.”

All this may sound remote from the day-to-day onslaught of statism we're currently battling. But consider that HR 3200 (the 'Health Care' bill), Cap and Trade (which will come back alive after that issue is settled), and many similar Congressional rapes would not likely have gotten as far as they have if Congress knew SCOTUS would strike them down at once.

Consider, too, that relationship between basic ideas and the law the next time you hear some Progressive argue, in essence, "anything goes if the majority favor it." That's the ghost of Holmes talking*.

The view that there are no unchanging basic principles, and therefore no basic inviolate rights — and therefore any decision democratically arrived at to usurp them is perfectly fair — is Pragmatism applied to the law.

Given how thoroughly Pragmatist the Court in the past century has become, it isn't hard now to see the effects of abstract legal philosophy on daily life. The Court's Kelo decision to do nothing in response to her home being stolen for the 'good of the community' is just one recent example.

We have Oliver Wendell Holmes to thank for much of that.

*"[Pierce, James, Dewey, and Holmes] helped put an end to the idea that the universe is an idea, that beyond the mundane business of making our way as best we can in a world shot through with contingency, there exists some order, invisible to us, whose logic we transgress at our peril." Louis Menand, in his book, The Metaphysical Club

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Future Cultural Effects of ObamaCare

Dr. Milton Wolf, Obama's second cousin, offers an editorial in which he pleads "First, Do No Harm" with respect to ObamaCare. His essay revolves around issues of cost and makes some good points. He says,
Already, 42 percent of doctors have chosen that route [refusing to accept Medicare patients because it's too costly], and it will get worse. Your mother’s shiny government-issued Medicare health card is meaningless without doctors who will accept it.
True, but there is a more fundamental issue at work. What he doesn't say is that the next step toward totalitarianism is clear.

First, Congress will violate your constitutional rights by requiring you to purchase insurance. Then, they will close the loophole by coercing doctors to treat any and all patients, on pain of losing their license, being fined, or going to jail.

Once the principle is established that someone's need justifies coercing someone else to meet it, there is no limit to the practical implementation. The precedent has already been established, after all. In every state, emergency rooms are required to treat anyone who walks in and many get their health care needs met there for free.

Only the inertia of past culture - a tradition of independence and legal protections of liberty - will slow it down. But that can't last forever. Under legislation of the sort proposed - and the continuing intellectual onslaught of Progressivism that is rapidly eroding support for and even the memory of those traditions - America will become Sweden, and soon thereafter Venezuela, and eventually far worse.

So long as that pernicious moral principle stands, the result is inevitable.

Fortunately, when it comes to moral principles, nothing is inevitable. It requires only careful thought, clear arguments, and the courage to stand against those who accept that idea to make it historical detritus, like so many other bad ones long abandoned.

[Hat tip HotAir.]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Tea Party Express Tour

I don't know who these folks are but their message sounds pretty good.

The Tea Party Express III: Just Vote Them Out! Tour

Join us for the biggest Tea Party Express national tour to date.

Starting March 27, 2010 with a Mega Rally in Searchlight, NV (hometown to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) we will take this message across the nation all the way to the White House in Washington, D.C. on April 15th:

“You, the politicians in Washington, have failed We The People with your bailouts, out-of-control deficit spending, government takeovers of sectors of the economy, Cap & Trade, government-run health care, and higher taxes! If you thought we were just going to quietly go away, or that this tea party movement would be just a passing fad, you were mistaken. We’re taking our country back!”

Join us from March 27th to April 15th, 2010 as we tell Congress and the White House: “Enough!”
I hope they attract five million people. That's about what it will take to make any serious reversal of momentum in the actions of the current Federal Government.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tea Party Falling Short? Hardly

A truly idiotic 'news' report in Politico tries to insinuate that the Tea Party movement is dead before it even gets rolling.
In Tuesday’s Texas GOP primary, tea party-inspired contenders found themselves blown out in races across the state. Gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, who closely aligned herself with the grass-roots conservative movement, picked up just 19 percent of the vote.
Wow, fancy that. Already a whole year old and only picked up 19 percent of the vote in a state that has been dominated historically by the well-funded, century-and-a-half old Republican Party. Maybe we should all just pick up and go home, adjusting to living peacefully — or at least passively — under the yoke of our statist masters.

Sheesh. The transparent attempt here to depress those striving for freedom is pathetic.

David Brooks Reaches A New Gray

David Brooks' reasoning powers have long been pretty much kaput. But now he has really outdone himself.

After noting several stark differences between the hippies of New Left of the 60s and the Tea Party movement activists, such as "One was on the left, the other is on the right. One was bohemian, the other is bourgeois. One was motivated by war, and the other is motivated by runaway federal spending. One went to Woodstock, the other is more likely to go to Wal-Mart." he immediately turns around and says "But the similarities are more striking than the differences."

Uh, it would be hard to find a starker difference than 'one favors liberty, the other collective slavery.'

His reasons only make his position look more ridiculous. Scattered among lesser gems is this 40 carat whopper:
"The core commonality is this: Members of both movements believe in what you might call mass innocence.

Both movements are built on the assumption that the people are pure and virtuous and that evil is introduced into society by corrupt elites and rotten authority structures."

"Because of this assumption, members of both movements go in big for conspiracy theories."
Right. It's just a conspiracy theory that Federal spending is out of control far beyond already horrendous historical norms. It's just a wacky theory that the Feds have already nationalized two-thirds of the auto industry. It's delusional to believe they already corrupted the financial markets with bailouts, stimuli, and interfering in executive compensation issues. A person is mentally askew if he believes they're trying to complete their control over all health care and insurance.

Still, set all that aside. What's most interesting here is that his brain is so awash with pragmatic, middle-of-the-road mush he would simply wash away the clear black-and-white differences between the 60's New Left and the '10s New Right to declare the Tea Party movement morally suspect.

And why? Because the latter wants radical change (in this case in the direction of freedom), just like the New Left did in the '60s (in the direction of statism). In short, what they have in common is a passionate – and more or less consistent — attachment to a philosophy. To a Pragmatist, such a thing is anathema regardless of the actual content of the philosophy.

And how does he defend this position? By invoking an all-too-common conservative notion that is both misanthropic and inherently self-contradictory:
Conservatism is built on the idea of original sin — on the assumption of human fallibility and uncertainty. To remedy our fallen condition, conservatives believe in civilization — in social structures, permanent institutions and just authorities, which embody the accumulated wisdom of the ages...
The doctrine of original sin is not equivalent to a belief that humans are fallible or lack omniscience. It's the belief that we are innately evil, or (in weaker versions) that humans have an in-built tendency toward evil.

The concept of "sin" (actions which violate a moral law) is closely related to that of "evil." But the concepts of good and evil can only be meaningful when one has a choice. Alleging we are born evil, therefore, entails a contradiction.

So, basing one's advocacy of "permanent institutions and just authorities, which embody the accumulated wisdom of the ages" is illogical (not to mention ahistorical, considering how often that alleged wisdom has been wrong).

Folks, this is the inevitable mental and moral dead end of living by the philosophy of Pragmatism. It makes you dumb.

Andy Stern Reveals His True Self

Andy Stern, head of the largest gang in America SEIU and recent appointee to the Budget Deficit Committee, has recently exposed his inner Marxist.
We now have a new metric, you know, the president says he wants to judge the new economy whether it increases the number of people in the middle class, whether we have shared prosperity not just whether we have growth which is a fundamental different philosophy than we have seen in our country up to date and clearly government has a major opportunity to distribute wealth through the EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit], through tax policies, through minimum wages, through living wages.

The government has a role in redistributing wealth or social benefits like Medicare, Medicaid, children's health insurance.
Ok, maybe that's not surprising after all.

Unions — despite their occasional lip service — have always been opposed to the free market. By nature and practice, they are collectivist organizations where a few senior thugs speak for everyone and control the incomes of millions. Still, it's helpful to have one of the thuggiest of late make his view so plain.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grade Obama's First Year

You can grade Obama's first-year performance at an informal CBS poll.

Among the categories are The Economy, on which he received a grade of D from over 19% and F from more than 70% of respondents. Foreign Policy measured in at D = 29% and F = 60.63%. On Health Care, over 82% gave him an F. Overall, nearly 26% gave him a D and 63.60% an F.

Apparently, Obama's self-ranking of a B+ is somewhat out of alignment with a number of the voters who read CBS News, not exactly a bastion of right-wingism. But then, self-delusion and an increasing distance from reality are two of the hallmarks of the ex-junior senator from Illinois.

Will Fisks Reich on This Week

In a discussion on "This Week" George Will gives Robert Reich a well deserved fisking.
Berkeley professor Robert Reich falsely claimed health insurance companies are exhibiting huge profits: "That is money directly out of the pockets of Americans."

Will countered, "[C]onfiscate all the profits of all the health insurance companies, with those profits you could finance our healthcare for 48 hours."

Reich arrogantly responded, "[R]ecipients of health insurance don't know what they are buying very often. Until there are common standards, minimal standards, then people are going to be taken."

This nicely set Will up to drive the ball out of the park, "There you have the premise of this legislation and the core of today's liberalism: the American people are such dopes they can't be counted upon to buy their own insurance"
Granted, fisking one of the dumbest liberal intellectuals in America is not terribly hard, but it is satisfying to watch.

The Newsbusters report then goes on to rank the 2008 profit percentages of a few dozen sectors, noting that Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care rolls in at number 35 with 2.2%. I.e., they made just over 2 cents for every dollar of revenue. And that's the average, meaning some make less, some more. Useful information, but it contains a premise that needs to be examined.

If the health insurance companies were at the top of the list they would be entitled to every penny - in a free market. That market is now so distorted by regulations it's impossible to know whether they would make more or less than they do now.

One thing is certain, however. Controlling them violates the rights of everyone involved - investors, employees, and customers alike. The only moral solution is to free the market - and every other business in America.

That, of course, is the last thing Reich and his ilk would ever want - regardless of the effect on prices and quality. They are no more interested in "helping the poor/uninsured/lame/halt/downtrodden/'oppressed'/fill-in-the-blank" than is Castro, Chavez, or any other sundry dictator. But they do want what those others have - control of the choices of others.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Alcántara Bridge

Modern bridges are often things of beauty and awe. The Milau Bridge in southern France is a wonder. The Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam is rightly nicknamed "the Swan," while the Ling Tie is just stunning.

But ancient bridges started it all and many Roman ones taught the world first how to build them. The Alcántara Bridge near the border of Portugal and Spain is an excellent example.

This elegant wonder arching over the Tagus River was completed in 106 AD and — amazingly — is still in use. It has several times been damaged by wars (particularly during the Napoleonic Era), but never completely destroyed. Made of granite, it spans over 190 meters (640 feet) and rises more than 70 meters high.

It's something of a pity that Julius Caesar is better known than Caius Julius Lacer, the bridge's designer, but it has always been thus. Conquerors invariably get more attention from historians than creators. Maybe someday that will change. In the meantime, enjoy the view.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Friends of Liberty, Real and Apparent

I've said in the past that columnist Charles Krauthammer is a mixed bag, and here's more evidence.
Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is now a disciple of Edmund Burke of Bristol, England who famously spoke about whether the job of a representative is to represent or to be a delegate — to reflect the views of the constituents or to act in what he perceives as the common the good or what we call today the national interest. I'm glad that her view is the Burkean view that it should be the national interest.

I think Republicans ought to be careful about just attacking the [health-care] bills on the basis of its low standing in the public opinion polls. That ought to be an element. Even Burke had said that the opinion of the constituents ought to inform your view, but it shouldn't dictate it.

I think the argument ought to be on the merits, and they ought to cite Warren Buffett who said the bill is not a good one because it doesn't contain costs.

He does add — which I believe — that we have an obligation to insure the uninsured. However, if the system is insolvent and you don't fix it, you are not going to help the uninsured. In fact, you're going to end uninsuring the insured because those who depend on Medicare and Medicaid are going to be left with a system that is broke.
Where to begin?

Sliding past the grotesque nonsense about "the national interest," the health care bill(s) are not bad chiefly because they're too costly. That's true, but far from fundamental. They're bad because they restrict liberty, they violate rights — to freedom, property, and voluntary trade.

They do so on the ever-useful excuse that it's morally mandatory to "help the poor obtain medical care," which is not merely false, but pernicious. We are no more obligated to "insure the uninsured" than we are to provide food, housing, sex, or anything else to those who can't afford them.

Apart from all the other arguments that might be made, one has to wonder why altruists refuse to make any distinction between those who deserve assistance — even privately — and those who do not. All 'poor people' are somehow presumed to be that solely through no failure of their own.

But that, too, is not essential. Even those who find themselves in need of medical care they can't afford after trying their utmost have no moral or legal claim on the public coffers.

“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” — Thomas Jefferson

“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” — James Madison in a letter to James Robertson

and, to repeat one of my favorites,

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” — James Madison, 4 Annals of Congress 179, 1794

However, even attending to the current costs alone should give Mr. Krauthammer pause before advising we accept a moral obligation to "insure the uninsured."

In sharp contrast to the pragmatic and altruistic Mr. Krauthammer, we have the mighty Veronique de Rugy, who understands at least that Federal altruism is exactly what's driving us toward the cliff.
Our problem, obviously, is mandatory spending, which makes up about two-thirds of the nation’s federal expenditures each year. There is no question that reforming it is necessary to making sure this country’s fiscal health is sustainable over the long-term.

According to the CBO,
Under current law, CBO projects that the budget deficit this year, will be about $1.3 trillion, or more than 9 percent of the country’s total output. Looking beyond this year, the budget outlook is daunting: Under current law, CBO projects that the deficit will drop to about 3 percent of GDP by 2013 but remain in that neighborhood through 2020. By that point, interest payments alone would cost more than $700 billion per year.
The situation is scheduled to get worse.

So, when it comes time to listen to advice, I recommend tuning into Ms. de Rugy, and tuning out Mr. Krauthammer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Peruvian Law Forbids 'Socially Harmful' Children's Names

Just to illustrate how obviously absurd statism is, consider the following BBC news story.
Names like Cut-throat and Conflict are now out of bounds in Peru. Peruvians are having to choose names for their children more carefully from this week, after a controversial new law banned the use of names considered ridiculous, offensive, or contrary to religious beliefs.

Parents also cannot give their child more than two names, because the Peruvian government says it causes problems in their computer records.

The law also bans parents from giving children names of the opposite sex.

Civil registry officials will decide which names are prohibited.

Opposition politicians and church leaders say the legislation deprives parents of freedom of choice.

"It is wrong that civil registry officials be allowed to determine what names parents can give their children," said opposition Congressman Henry Gustavo Manuel Serapio Pease.

But the Peruvian government says the new law will protect children from the psychological damage caused by such recent names as the Spanish words for Cutthroat, Cuckold and Circumcision.

"People are giving their children names like H2O (the symbol for water) and Ebullicion ('Boiling' in Spanish) and this is going to hurt the child," said Justice Minister Alfredo Quispe.
Of course! We must eliminate freedom 'for the sake of the children'. Never mind that it reduces parents to children and puts the State in the role of parent.

Statism is evil, to be sure. But that doesn't stop it from being silly, as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ruminations on Independence

Well, Obama and his minions have decided post-Summit to pursue their plans to beat the health care sector the way the oil companies got it for years. Only worse. It reminded me of a song I love.

I'm the least hip person I know. That I wrote "least hip" instead of "unhippest" should alone give you a clue. Here are others: Just as with films, I rarely consume any music produced after 1965. I grew up listening mostly to classical. (Though, being raised in a near-musicless blue collar home, I was aware of pop and hard rock and indulged from time to time). Now, it's almost 100% Big Band and '50s Swing.

Still, once in a while I venture out. Today I listened to Martina McBride's "Independence Day."

The lyrics have nothing to do with anything you'll find featured on the Sean Hannity show. In the accompanying video an abused wife and mother finally decides to declare her own independence — and in a way I personally find very satisfying. (Though, I wished she'd left the house before torching it.)

Even absent that link, the song strikes a chord with those who understand there's much more to advocating liberty than talking about political philosophy. And, considering the tenacious lust to control that D.C. exhibits these days, it's getting dangerously close to deserving the match. These guys better learn soon to curb their irrational impulses or they're gonna find a lot of very pissed-off battered spouses on their front lawns. What comes next won't be pretty.

Anyway, if you're in the mood to declare your independence, you might want a rousing theme song to go with it. Here's Martina McBride's video, followed by a duet of the same tune, performed in concert with the legendary Pat Benatar.