Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fed Stimuli = Electric Shock Therapy

As the title is supposed to suggest, Federal stimulus programs that consist of spending are about as effective as that now-universally discredited method of psychotherapy, and about as insane.

Here's a bit of real world data to keep in mind when you hear Krugmanites tout Federal spending as an economic stimulus:
Big spending is another economy-killer. A recent OECD study noted that for every percentage point increase in spending among the nations studied, per capita GDP fell by 0.3% and investment by as much as 0.4%. So more government "stimulus" cures nothing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why the Economy is Limping

Cypress Semiconductor CEO T. J. Rodgers points out the basic reason the economy is going nowhere, and it has nothing to do with cap and trade.
Cap-and-trade is increasingly seen as the final crushing burden on a business community that wants to hire, wants to expand, wants to expand the economy, yet is frustrated by an administration more concerned with the earth's climate than the business climate, an administration that, as Rodgers says, has "us worried because we do not know what the government is going to do."
Emphasis, most definitely, added.

Google Touts Free Enterprise?

Google finally shows some mild respect for free enterprise when it complains about a lawsuit that substitutes litigation for competition. (MS co-founder Paul Allen is suing practically everybody in Silicon Valley for patent infringements.)
"This lawsuit against some of America's most innovative companies reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace," the Mountain View search giant said in a statement. "Innovation — not litigation — is the way to bring to market the kinds of products and services that benefit millions of people around the world."
True, but more than a little ironic coming from the social democrats at Google who don't seem to remember those words when it comes to things like Net so-called Neutrality, i.e. violation of property rights by government regulation and price controls.

IPCC Climate Science Chief Gets Good Advice, Finally

IPCC Climate Data Fudger-In-Chief Rajendra Pachauri gets a mild spanking from some real scientists, the sort who haven't yet completely lost their scientific integrity.
"Qualitative probabilities should be used to describe the probability of well-defined outcomes only when there is sufficient evidence," said the review group, which was supported by the academies of science from the United States, Netherlands, Britain and other countries.
Good advice (although I'm not altogether sure what a "qualitative" probability would look like). Think he'll take it? Nah, me neither.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

PJM Article: The Fragility of Statist Societies

Another of my articles has been published at Pajamas Media: The Fragility of Statist Societies.

Here's an excerpt:
"The ultimate justification for a free society rests on moral principles. Individuals have inherent rights — to life, liberty, and property — that governments are always wrong to violate, no matter the (temporary) benefits to others. But even on their own terms, the pragmatists who argue that coercion works are mistaken."
Your comments are invited, here and there.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bernanke Promises Action, Run For the Hills

A UK Guardian headline reads: "Ben Bernanke promises to step in as US economy veers back towards recession"

That's enough to give any rational person the willies. Never fear. Ben himself assures us:
The committee will certainly use its tools as needed to maintain price stability – avoiding excessive inflation or further disinflation – and to promote the continuation of the economic recovery.
Well, I feel a whole lot better now, don't you?

I wrote recently that Progressives are immune to evidence and logic. Their indifference to the history of Keynesian-inspired economic policy proves the point once again. That, or Bernanke and his ilk are simple sociopaths; I have a hard time deciding.

Most likely they are, like the leaders of the French Revolution were, in the grip of an ideé fixeé, and nothing will shake them lose from it. At least, I hope that's the explanation. The other is a little too frightening to contemplate.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Techniques Reveal Greek Statues' Original Appearance


A technique called ‘raking light' has been used to analyze art for a long time.

A lamp is positioned carefully enough that the path of the light is almost parallel to the surface of the object. When used on paintings, this makes brushstrokes, grit, and dust obvious. On statues, the effect is more subtle. Brush-strokes are impossible to see, but because different paints wear off at different rates, the stone is raised in some places – protected from erosion by its cap of paint – and lowered in others. Elaborate patterns become visible.

Ultraviolet is also used to discern patterns. ...
Our image of Ancient Greece is inescapably colored, pardon the pun, by having grown up with the austere appearance of its white marble buildings and statues. The technique reveals just how colorful their culture truly was.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chesler Smacks Down Time Magazine

Phyllis Chesler makes an unassailable point about Time's recent essay on the history of American intolerance.
Time magazine does not balance out their history of American intolerance with a history of American tolerance, which included separating the state from religion, reforming religions, instituting a tradition of free speech, fighting a bloody Civil War in order to free the slaves, giving women the vote and educational opportunities, freeing Europe from Nazi fascist rule and waging a Cold war against Soviet totalitarianism.

Also missing in the Time magazine article is the fact that Muslim leaders, in the name of Islam, have behaved very badly and for a very long time. Missing is an equal history of Muslim countries which have practiced colonialism, imperialism, forced conversions, slavery (which is still practiced), and a far more barbaric mistreatment of non-Muslims infidels.
But, then, everything she notes is no more than the usual media bias we've come to expect from those who once boasted their task was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Article Published at PJM: Obama's Playbook

Another of my articles has been published at Pajamas Media -- Obama's Playbook: Why He Keeps Saying Dumb Things.

Here's an excerpt:

The key to everything Obama does is that he truly is a committed, 99-44/100ths pure progressive. That fact explains not only the content of his views but why he keeps stumbling over one controversy after the next. As Jonah Goldberg expressed it in Liberal Fascism, progressivism is “a totalitarian political religion,” and Barack Obama is one of its most faithful acolytes. He’s simply acting in accordance with his personal theology.

Unlike even semi-rational philosophies, progressivism is built on sheer fantasy. Other doctrines may make errors, some of them very serious, but most are built on at least some foundation of real-world evidence and logical analysis. Progressivism is one of the few that is actually anti-evidence and anti-logic.

That assertion is not a wild-eyed interpretation by a crazed right-winger. It’s the official view of progressive intellectuals themselves. Merging with its offshoot of postmodernism, progressivism holds that people are unable to grasp evidence first-hand or to be objective about its interpretation.

Postmodern philosophers from Hegel to Dewey to Heidegger, Herbert Marcuse, and Richard Rorty have said so. Their students and followers are just applying what they’ve been taught. Those individuals are the ones who shaped Obama, nurtured his education and careers, and helped get him elected.

Your feedback is invited here and there.


Shlaes on Tax Policy

Amity Shlaes provides real-world data on the effects of tax policy.

Comparing New Hampshire and Maine, two very similar states, she shows why lower taxes tend to lead to a better economy.
The result? Decade in, decade out, New Hampshire’s economy grew faster than Maine’s, so that the Granite State surpassed the Pine Tree State in 1984 and today boasts an output that is 20 percent bigger. Maine’s recessions and double dips were worse than New Hampshire’s.

Eventually New Hampshire also won the population contest, passing Maine, in part thanks to migration. Last month, joblessness was 8.1 percent in Maine, better than Ohio but still bad, and 5.8 percent in New Hampshire.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vintage Advertising

I'm a big fan of advertising from years gone by and I ran across this one recently. I haven't smoked for years, but she's almost enough to make me want to start again. That, or start a revolution. I'm not exactly sure what she's selling, but who cares?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

War Ends With a Yawn

Am I the only who noticed that the Iraq War ended... and nobody cares?

At the end of the European war in May 1945 there were millions cheering in the streets, here and abroad. Ditto when the Japanese surrendered in August. The relief was palpable, worldwide and visible on every street, in every newspaper, on every radio station.

Today, the last of the combat troops pull out of Iraq and there are a few thousand quiet celebrations in the homes of soldiers and a bar here and there that sees some fist bumping.

This is more evidence of my thesis that one major reason the war against the jihadists is being waged so lackluster is the American people are not engaged. Apart from the military families and their friends, it's felt as if it's happening to someone else, as if it were another country fighting the war.

And so it will continue until and unless something wakes up the overwhelming majority of Americans to the very real danger from Islamist-inspired jihad.

I won't be holding my breath on that one.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hell Officially Freezes Over

Barney Frank has declared that Fannie and Freddie "should be abolished."

Good to finally hear from the guy who, more than anyone else, helped keep those zombies alive long enough to sink the American economy. Still, I trust Frank about as far as my wimpy biceps can throw him, so I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop before saying anything more.

[Except this prediction: A week from now he'll advocate explicitly nationalizing the function, abandoning fascism in favor of socialism.]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Journolist: Much Ado About Not Much

Recently, The Daily Caller exposed a number of outrageous comments made by Progressives on Journolist, revealing their attempts to influence events thru slanting the news.

As a member in good standing of the vast right-wing conspiracy, I'd really like to share the outrage. Sadly, I can't. It's too much about not much, and nothing that's in any way new or surprising.

Sure, some of the Journolisters are thuggish, even ghoulish. Sarah Spitz pined for Rush Limbaugh's rush to the hospital to signal a massive heart attack. She was hoping to have the pleasure of watching his eyes bug out. (After getting caught she issued a non-apology apology.) This is news? Comments like that are a dime a gross on Huffington Post.

And, yes, some of them do work for news outlets and are in a position — however weak — to influence public opinion. But this, too, is hardly new or significant. As Jonah Goldberg points out, the New York Times was burying news of Stalin's murderous escapades (when they weren't busy rationalizing them) as far back as the '30s. That the mainstream media did everything possible to underplay Obama's relationship to Rev. Wright is hardly revelatory.

As Goldberg puts it,

JournoList is a symptom, not the disease. And the disease is not a secret conspiracy but something more like the “open conspiracy” H. G. Wells fantasized about, where the smartest, best people at every institution make their progressive vision for the world their top priority.
Beyond the issue of outrage over vicious comments, there's something more important. I don't really care much one way or the other about the angry rantings of Progressives. I was never in any doubt that — were I not completely unknown to them — they would hate me as much as I loathe them. What I do care about is their ideas and their capacity to shape public opinion.

So far, judging by the available evidence, most of those making the most outrageous statements are super small potatoes in that respect. I'm much more worried about calm Cass Sunstein, in or out of public office, than I'm ever likely to be about hysterical Spencer Ackerman. Moreover, even those with a big platform — like Ezra Klein (founder of Journolist and blogger at WaPo) — are not perceived by anybody on any point of the political compass as unbiased.

It's not chiefly a question of lying or even consciously slanting the truth, though there's plenty of that afoot. After decades of postmodernism's influence, most people with Klein's views are 'convinced' there's no such thing.

I put "convinced" in scare quotes because, strictly speaking, that would imply a process of reasoning. I've long known that Progressives aren't attempting that. Reasoning requires attending to evidence and using logic not to support a preconceived conclusion but to glean the truth. That effort is explicitly contrary to their postmodern code, since it holds there's no such thing as "the truth."

In parallel, it requires an allegiance to objectivity, a concept just about everybody on the compass poo-poos today, like achieving it were as hopeless as Oprah maintaining a steady diet. Most intellectuals these days have swallowed whole postmodernism's view that objectivity is one of those useless old-fashioned ideas, as outdated as an ear horn for the near deaf.

So, if everyone already knows and agrees that nearly all journalists are biased — whether through our recognizing it or their flaunting it — what is the big deal this time around? Forewarned is forearmed.

At the same time, it's hardly a surprise that Progressives will attempt to influence public policy in a Progressive direction. After all, everyone is feverishly attempting to influence public policy in their desired direction (including me). That's the inevitable result of living in a semi-free welfare state. When the Federal government has so much power to direct the income and lives of the citizens, a perpetual clash of interests is unavoidable.

That clash is naturally made worse by the presence of individuals who believe in "positive rights," i.e. robbing Peter to provide Paul with a bandage, a meal, or an all-expense paid vacation to Hawaii to combat his depression over Rush Limbaugh's Arbitron ratings.

But in all this there is absolutely nothing new or surprising. It's been going on with increasing ferocity and destructiveness for a hundred years and led by the same type of thugs then as now. The older generations just combed their hair more neatly.

This latest dustup is akin to those who get worked up over million-dollar Congressional earmarks traded in backrooms when the Feds are spending billions in the open for agriculture subsidies. The shady deals are symbolic of real evil (which largely explains the widespread outrage), but their practical impact is trivial.

Anger over widespread and ongoing major media bias is legitimate. That bias softens the ground from under one of the pillars of a free society. But there's nothing special about this particular instance. Everybody who's been paying attention already knows all this about Progressive journalists (i.e. most of them). Those who haven't aren't going to care.

So, much as I would enjoy it, I can't join all the shouting this time around. Whispering "caveat emptor" is about as excited as I can get on this one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Andy McCarthy Exposes Islam

Andy McCarthy lays out the inherent coercive intolerance of Islam.

He demonstrates clearly that jihad, jizya, coercively enforced religious practices, and much more are not some radical offshoot preached only by al Qaeda, but mainstream Islamic doctrine. He cites several examples — in the U.S. — of the practical consequences.

After reading it, anybody who still doesn't get it, doesn't want to.

Obama Boasts of Progressive 'Success'

In a recent speech to yet another drooling crowd, Obama the Anti brags:
"We have been able to deliver the most progressive legislative agenda — one that helps working families — not just in one generation, maybe two, maybe three."
I look forward to the day when Americans meet this kind of claim with the same sense of revulsion they would hearing a rapist boast of his 'successes'.

In his own way, though, as I wrote not long ago, he's right that he has succeeded in nearly every big goal. That's something for the public to be very, very concerned about even after November. Never underestimate a Mussolini.

Obama the Anti

The essence of an Anti is their opposition to anything positive, good, healthy, beneficial to innocent humans. Obama is almost the perfect representative, since he's invariably on the wrong side of almost every issue.

Scott at Powerline makes a trenchant observation that brings this out clearly: "It's good for Muslims to build the GZM in New York, but not for Jews to build apartments in Jerusalem. Go figure."

Like many, I can't wait for this walking pustule to get popped and the infection cleaned off the face of America. November 2012 can't come soon enough.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"GZM, Rotten Foundation" Article Published at Big Peace

My article discussing the plan to build the Ground Zero Mosque has been published at Big Peace.

Your feedback is invited - pro, con, or otherwise.


GZM Organizer Responds to Greg Gutfield

Greg Gutfield proposes to build a bar catering to homosexuals across from the planned Islamic center. The GZM camp's response shoots the irony meter off the scale:
@greggutfeld You're free to open whatever you like. If you won't consider the sensibilities of Muslims, you're not going to build dialog
Uh, huh. Now I have heard effing everything. "Tone deaf," as the phrase has come to be used, doesn't being to describe the lack of self-awareness represented by this remark. But then, I don't believe the author of that statement really is quite so blind. It's just the usual Progressive tactic of "freedom for me but not for thee."

In any case, there's a deeper error here. Why should the goal be to "build dialog"? This two-word phrase reeks of a pair of standard postmodern mistakes.

It suggests there's no such thing as truth (an essential aspect of postmodernism). There are only "narratives." This is especially so, advocates claim, in ethics. No one can know what's right or wrong because those concepts don't have any objective meaning. So, we should all play nice and the best way to do that is to talk a lot, condemning no one and nothing — including even a barbaric religion whose tenets lead to jihad, jizya, and honor killings.

Notice that, despite believing no one can know anything or prove one thing is better than another, postmodernists never hesitate to suggest their views are correct and their recommendations are to be preferred. Those are the contradictions in any skeptical, subjectivist viewpoint and no amount of clever intellectual gyrations will ever erase them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Dismantling America" by Thomas Sowell

In a brief review of Thomas Sowell's latest book, Dismantling America, Investors Business Daily offers this quote:
"That such an administration could be elected in the first place, headed by a man whose only qualifications to be president of the United States at a dangerous time in the history of the world were rhetoric, style and symbolism — and whose animus against the values and institutions of America had been demonstrated repeatedly over a period of decades beforehand — speaks volumes about the inadequacies of our educational system and the degeneration of our culture."
That sort of passionate, clear-headed, look-beneath-the-surface thinking is one of the main reasons Dr. Sowell continues to be a national treasure. I hope he lives to be 110.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ayn Rand Fan 'Paints' Message Over Entire U.S.

I have no idea how this is actually accomplished (I don't own a GPS device), but it's kind of interesting in a weird way.
One man drove 12,238 miles across 30 states to scrawl a message that can only be viewed using Google Earth. His big shoutout: “Read Ayn Rand.”

Nick Newcomen did a road trip over 30 days that covered stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. First, he identified on a map the route he would need to drive to spell out the message. He put a GPS device in his car to trace the route he would follow. Then, he hit the road.
Ok, that's different. And I would have sworn there was nothing new in advertising.

Obama v America on the Ground Zero Mosque

Debra Burlingame, founder of 9//1 Families for a Safe & Strong America, issued a press release in response to Obama's grotesque statement on the Ground Zero Mosque.*
New York, NY, Aug. 14 — Barack Obama has abandoned America at the place where America’s heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see.

Since that dark day, Americans have been asked to bear the burden of defending those values, again and again and again. Now this president declares that the victims of 9/11 and their families must bear another burden. We must stand silent at the last place in America where 9/11 is still remembered with reverence or risk being called religious bigots.

Muslims have worshiped in New York without incident both before and after the attacks of 9/11. This controversy is not about religious freedom. 9/11 was more than a “deeply traumatic event,” it was an act of war. Building a 15-story mosque at Ground Zero is a deliberately provocative act that will precipitate more bloodshed in the name of Allah. [emphasis added]

Those who continue to target and kill American civilians and U.S. troops will see it as a symbol of their historic progress at the site of their most bloody victory.

Demolishing a building that was damaged by wreckage from one of the hijacked planes in order to build a mosque and Islamic Center will further energize those who regard it as a ratification of their violent and divinely ordered mission: the spread of shariah law and its subjugation of all free people, including secular Muslims who come to this country fleeing that medieval ideology, which destroys lives and crushes the human spirit.

We are stunned by the president’s willingness to disregard what Americans should be proud of: our enduring generosity to others on 9/11–a day when human decency triumphed over human depravity.

On that day, when 3,000 of our fellow human beings were killed in barbaric act of raw religious intolerance unlike this country had ever seen, Americans did not turn outward with hatred or violence, we turned to each other, armed with nothing more than American flags and countless acts of kindness.

In a breathtakingly inappropriate setting, the president has chosen to declare our memories of 9/11 obsolete and the sanctity of Ground Zero finished. No one who has lived this history and felt the sting of our country’s loss that day can truly believe that putting our families through more wrenching heartache can be an act of peace.

We will honor the memory of our loved ones. We will protect our children, whose lives will never be the same. We will not stand silent.

While I don't agree with every sentence, Ms. Burlingame makes an impassioned statement Obama would do well to heed. Weasling that, "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there." won't cut it.

*But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.

This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.
Note that he wasn't so fond of the Founders' writ when he said:
But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn't that radical.

It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties.

It says what the states can't do to you, it says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.
Lying hypocrite is the most generous interpretation possible here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Choice: Parasitism vs Self-Responsibility

In discussing Rep. Paul Ryan's Roadmap, a WSJ editorial quotes Obama:
The main liberal policy objection, to the extent a serious one exists, is that the roadmap would "cut working folks loose so they've got to fend for themselves," as President Obama described the supposed Republican economic philosophy at a Chicago fundraiser last week.
Yes, that's exactly right. Working folks — and everyone else — would ultimately have to fend for themselves, and no longer be in a position to suck off the teat of the State forever. (Actually, Ryan's Roadmap does no such thing, unfortunately, but that's fodder for a different post.)

For all his many vices, Obama understands — if only instinctively — the basic moral issue so much better than most conservatives it isn't funny. He knows the choice we face today — and the debate underlying most contemporary political hot-button issues: independence or State control, self-reliance or welfare, coerced Comtean altruism or Madisonian freedom.

In short, we can continue down the road believing — as Obama has so much as said on many occasions — it's moral to force Americans to be their brother's keeper, or we can turn once again to liberty. Arguments over the details of the economic impact of tax rates, vouchers, and the like do more to obscure than enlighten that debate.

It's Progressivism or individual rights, parasitism or fending for ourselves. The belief that we can continue for another two generations down the middle way is just a delusion.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Howard Pyle, Illustrator

The work of Howard Pyle (1853-1911) is a reminder of a time when even such 'lowly' art as book illustration was fine.

The Mermaid, 1910.

[Hat tip to novelist Edward Cline, who mentions Pyle in his recently released novel, We Three Kings.]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patricia Neal, Supernovae

Patricia Neal, classic-cinema era actress, has died at 84.

She made very few good movies, but even in the bad ones she was terrific. Her debut in John Loves Mary, a pleasant but forgettable outing with Ronald Reagan, showed what usually goes by the term "promise." The 1949 production of The Fountainhead showed what she was promising: vibrance, dynamism, and intelligent sex appeal. Poor choices by Warner Bros. executives, a rare misstep where a major talent was concerned, caused that promise to be squandered.

She wandered through various mediocre to bad films — The Hasty Heart, Bright Leaf, a couple of others — until being cast in what was expected to be a not-much sci-fi flick: The Day the Earth Stood Still. It turned out to be a classic that holds up well today, despite a lot of ribbing about some unfortunate alien dialogue. She was marvelous throughout — tense, determined, and an anchor of sanity in a paranoid world.

Then it was back to mostly so-so productions for a few more years. (An exception: the surprisingly good Washington Story, a love story set against a background of D.C. politics with more than usual depth.) Finally, she landed the superlative A Face in the Crowd. Her semi-cynical, semi-idealist offset to Andy Griffith's loathsome Lonesome Rhodes was a tour de force.

Even so, despite good reviews, great roles never materialized after that. Her small part in Breakfast at Tiffany's was another stunning piece of work, showing her considerable range, but the movie is mostly silly, worthwhile chiefly for the outstanding cast.

As with many no-longer very young actresses of the period, good roles were increasingly fewer and farther between. So, it was off to TV for a forgettable string of parts that paid the bills until the postmodern Hud. Her reputation rose considerably now, not surprisingly since this is one of the Anti(s) all-time favorites. (Depressed, empty people placed in a hopeless world always get that crowd excited, since that's how they see life.)

Next came In Harm's Way with John Wayne, an interesting character-driven war film made too long after the war to be great, and one in which Neal had too little to do. But what she does wows, particularly in the steamy, but underplayed, love scene.

With her next starring vehicle, The Subject Was Roses, another depressing piece of trash the Anti(s) drool over, her reputation as an actress was assured. In part, her comeback after a stroke was partly responsible. Anti(s) love it when someone beautiful and clean suffers, and everyone loves it when an individual finds the fortitude to overcome such a tragedy.

Every Golden Era Hollywood actress appeared in films that were less than stellar, but it was Patricia Neal's lot to suffer that rollercoaster more than most. Still, she always shone brightly, whether the material was poor or excellent.

Part of that was, no doubt, the result of her amazing resilience, that traditional American "never say die" grit. For giving us those few hours of a vision that reflects that spirit, Patricia Neal deserves all the praise she'll get.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rep. Ryan Gets It

In responding to Paul Krugman's lunatic attack on his Roadmap, Congressman Ryan went beyond shredding Krugman on utilitarian points. He proved that he understands the underlying values and principles that are at stake.
While Ryan focused on the nitty-gritty policy aspects of his Roadmap this afternoon, he suggested that the underlying argument is about principles, not facts. “At the core of this is a big ideological fight between those who believe in the Founding principles and the sense of limited government—the American idea—and those who believe in the progressivist welfare state,” Ryan said.

Ryan has said his kids are too young for him to run for President in 2012. Fair enough. Then maybe Boehner will have the decency to step aside this January and put Rep. Ryan up for Speaker of the House. He might do more good there than in the White House anyway.

"Fascising the Auto Industry" Published at Pajamas Media

Another of my articles has been published at Pajamas Media — The GM Volt: Fascism Strikes the Auto Industry.

Here's an excerpt:
Whether the American taxpayers get their money’s worth out of the investment, which they won’t, is beside the point. The precedent has been set for a massive public-private partnership in the auto industry, which can easily spread to other industries (and already has).

Granted, Chrysler gets partial credit for that precedent, owing to its $1.5 billion loan in 1980. Giving credit where it’s due, Chrysler’s loan did get paid back. But several things are different now that raise the Volt fiasco to a new level.
Your comments are invited, here and there.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

On Gay Marriage: Please, Everyone Just Shut Up

I share David Harsanyi's view on gay marriage. (Summarizing, that it's best just to get the State entirely out of the marriage business at all; restrict them to recording and protecting contracts.)

I have zero interest in anyone's love life other than my own, provided consenting adults are involved. Mormons can marry a hundred wives and Amazons can marry a hundred men for all I care. Ditto, only stronger, their sex lives. Who puts what genitals where is simply none of my — or anyone else's — business.

Frankly, I wish everyone would just shut up about the whole thing. The topic is boring, usually trivial in impact on anyone (homosexuals and heterosexuals alike), and we have much, much larger issues to deal with as a society. (Yes, I know I'm not going to get my wish.)

Frankly again, my biggest complaint here is the co-opting of an irreplaceable English word: gay. There simply is no short, sharp, euphonious substitute for that feeling of lighthearted carefree joy felt on a sunny Sunday afternoon when one's article has been accepted for publication. How else could one describe in one word the feeling experienced watching Fred Astaire dance on a piano?

All that said, I cheered at this Michael Ramirez cartoon, because of its reference to the Constitution and the Founders:

I think that's consistent with Mr. Harsanyi's — and my — view.

And, now, following my own advice, I'm going to shut up about the subject.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

GM's Alfred Sloan Refused Slavery

From an article in The Freeman by Dr. Burton Folsom, author of New Deal or Raw Deal?:
Alfred Sloan, the [long-time] chairman of General Motors, framed the question this way: “Is American business in the future as in the past to be conducted as a competitive system?

He answered: “General Motors . . . will not participate voluntarily in what stands out crystal clear at the end of the road: a regimented economy.”
My, how things have changed.

[Note: the article topic is What Ended the Great Depression? Well worth a read.]

Friday, August 6, 2010

Obama, The Teflon King

A meme is building to the effect that Obama is failing. Would that it were true. It is true that his poll numbers are sliding (yet, not that much from a historical perspective) and even liberals are beginning to bark at him. But that tells only a small part of the tale.

On the contrary, Obama — with a lot of help from Congress and the major media outlets, of course — has yet to lose any big battle. The KSM trial was moved from Manhattan under public pressure, but that is small potatoes by comparison to what he's muscled through Congress.

Anywhere you look, he's gotten almost everything he wanted. The huge Stimulus bill, ObamaCare, the Dodd Fin-Reg bill, and a dozen other smaller issues all attest to that sad fact. He's about to get another $26 billion to buy off local police and teacher unions.

His policies may be opposed by a plurality or more of Americans, but Congress is ignoring that. When Congress does stall, as they have on Cap and Trade, Obama simply ignores the separation of powers and uses Executive orders to achieve the same result, as he did with EPA regulation of CO2.

He wanted Berwick as head of Medicare so he bypassed Congress and made a recess appointment. He wanted Sonia Sotomayer on the Supreme Court. It happened, despite her lying to Congress about her legal philosophy. He wanted Elena Kagan on SCOTUS and he'll get that soon, too, despite her total lack of qualifications.

Sure, Van Jones was forced to resign and Anita Dunn has to hide in the closet while still giving him advice, but those are minor skirmishes. There's a block long line of clones to replace them. And, it's true he was chastised in a minor way for his comments about the Cambridge police handling of Henry Gates. He turned the incident into a photo-op and that was the end of that.

They used to say Reagan was the Teflon President. If so, then Obama is coated with that spray Johnny Carson demonstrated on the Tonight Show decades ago. It decreased friction so much no one could stand on the floor without falling down.

If Reagan could get into a mud puddle and emerge clean, Obama can stay in the pig pen and still make farmers everywhere his slaves with the stroke of a pen. Obama took heat for his sloppy handling of the BP oil spill. Yet, even after losing two legal challenges to his Interior Secretary's moratorium, drilling rigs are still leaving the Gulf for Africa and elsewhere. Don't expect drilling to resume anytime soon.

Obama may be getting less popular personally as time goes on, but it's having little effect so far on his ability to get the things he wants. Why should it? Except for the minor detail of getting elected, he never cared what the American people, or anyone else, thought anyway. With a Democratic Congress who shares his attitude solidly with him, there's no reason to expect any slowdown in statism until at least November.

The coming election could help, certainly. Still, even if — as many are confidently predicting — Republicans gain a majority in the House, (and possibly even the Senate), it will not spell the end of Obama's victories. As with the Gulf oil moratoria, the EPA rulings, and the semi-nationalization of the auto companies, he's shown a clear willingness to skirt the law to achieve his desires.

The largely forgotten Constitution won't stop him until or unless the Supreme Court starts knocking down his decisions. Unfortunately, don't hold your breath; history is not on our side here. The men in black uphold the 2nd Amendment one week and ignore the 5th the next. (See, Henry Mark Holzer's Sweet Land of Liberty for 100 more examples from the past century.)

Even with increased Republican resistance after November the trend is likely to continue, sad to say. Republican politicians are still morally weak when it comes to the vulnerability Democrats are expert at exploiting: politicians' faux concern for the welfare of 'the little guy'. Unless the Tea Party sentiments come to dominate the country, men like Boehner and McConnell will always cave in the clutch. They don't have the will or the background to consistently make a principled stand for the rights to private property, voluntary trade, or individual liberty.

I take a back seat to no one in my loathing for Obama's philosophy and actions, and in the desire to see him truly fail (everywhere but Afghanistan). But it does no good to pretend or minimize the danger. It will take extraordinary efforts to stiffen the spines of the Republicans in Congress. Unless something changes, Obama will remain unstoppable until Jan, 2013, and two and a half years is a long time to do damage.

Fortunately, something is changing: the growth rate of the Tea Party movement. If the attention and public protests grow large enough, the mainstream press will no longer be able to vilify or ignore them. Will that happen? That is up to all of us.

Keynes on the Power of Ideas

I've finally found something on which to agree with John Maynard Keynes.

“[T]he power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Bollinger Advocates Fascist Media" Published at Big Journalism

My article discussing Columbia President Lee Bollinger's advocacy of blending public and private media has just been published at Breitbart's Big Journalism.

Here's an excerpt:
In short, he prefers yet another “public-private partnership,” the now-familiar progressive corporatist model that met with such success in Italy in the 1920s. Odd, how the “private” party in that arrangement always turns out to be the junior partner. And yet he maintains that “state support does not translate into official control.” He seems not to have learned the popular phrase: he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Your comments are invited, here and there.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gov. Gregoire Pulls an Obama

Gov. Gregoire of Washington didn't like what she saw when the state legislature took up a climate change bill. They weren't rushing headlong to plunge the state even deeper into the economic abyss. So, she decided to write an Executive order achieving the same goal.

Fortunately, there are still some sensible people here and they've decided to sue the dictatorial bitch.
“We believe Gov. Gregoire’s climate change executive order is an unconstitutional order,” said Michael Reitz, director of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s Constitutional Law Center, who represents the taxpayers in this case.

“We have democratic process for a reason. The people of this state expect their lawmakers and elected officials to follow the law just like anyone else. The governor shouldn’t bypass the Legislature, regardless of her objectives.


“Gov. Gregoire violated the doctrine of separation of powers by snatching a failed bill out of the legislative process and issuing it in the form of an executive order. If the governor wants to pass laws, she’s in the wrong branch of government.

Massive kudos to Michale Reitz and the Freedom Foundation's Constitutional Law Center. Now if they could only get her impeached.

Maxine Waters' Ethics Charges

So, they finally got around to outing the old crone... about 40 years too late.

The story is particularly amusing because right on time it's labeled "a distraction." Naturally. Anything that slows the Democrats' rush to turn the country into Sweden (as, ironically, Sweden itself turns a hairs-width to more freedom) is "a distraction."

Of course, if it were Paul Ryan or Michelle Bachmann in the docket the action would, I am dead certain, be labeled something quite different.

Press, thy name is hypocrisy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Article "Waging War" Published at Big Peace

Another of my articles has been published, this one at Breitbart's Big Peace.

As always, I beg invite you to read, comment, and pass the link onto friends and contacts. When I get rich and famous I'll shower you all with expensive gifts, or at least pro-rated gratitude.


P.S. Don't blame me for the accompanying photo of Obama. Personally, I would have preferred an F-22 strafing an al Qaeda camp.

More Tea Party Smears

An editorial at the Seattle Post Intelligencer titled A Mad Hatters' Tea Party? begins thus:
A year after it turned Congress' August town meetings into battle zones, the Tea Party movement is battling for power -- in the Republican Party, and the nation -- in the 2010 mid-term elections.
Note the subtle allusion to a non-incident in which a single individual (ill-advisedly but legally, mind you) carried a gun to a townhall meeting. The story doesn't mention, of course, that his behavior was roundly condemned in Tea Party circles.

It's mostly downhill from there.

In outlining the Tea Party's views (as if there were such a thing as the Tea Party), the penultimate paragraph states:

ROUGH JUSTICE: "How many of you have watched the movie Lonesome Dove? What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd? He got hung. And that's what I want to do with Patty Murray." -- a speaker, name never disclosed, at Asotin Fairbrounds Tea Party rally.
This could have been said by a plant, by a journalist, by a lone whacko, by anybody. The author doesn't know, and probably doesn't care.

And people say objective journalism is dead.

There are a few quotes mixed in that actually convey a flavor of real Tea Party sentiments, though the author obviously intends them to be damning. For example,

NEW DEAL: On Franklin D. Roosevelt: "His policies stripped the free market system and actually prolonged the Depression." Glenn Beck.
Careful, there, Mr. Connelly. You might encourage someone to look into this and find it's perfectly true.

Most interesting, though, is what's missing from this list of 18 items: there's absolutely no mention of the essentials that characterize nearly every Tea Party organization around the country: the desire for more liberty, an advocacy of limited government constrained by the Constitution, and keeping the government more out of citizen's pocketbooks. As usual, it's what Progressive journalists refuse to talk about that's the most important.

No, it wouldn't do for them to recognize that the Tea Party's leaders are not people, but a set of ideas. If they must reach for leaders, they might look to long-dead men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Those are the leaders whose ideas are driving the Tea Party movement, as is plainly evident by many of the signs carried at actual rallies where Joel Connelly would almost certainly not be caught dead. (That, after all, would require actual investigative journalism.)

Well, one thing is clear. Progressives are running more scared than I've seen them in my entire life. Reagan during his candidacy didn't get this kind of low-life distortions (though some statements were close). You'd have to go back to the Big Lie about Goldwater's wanting to nuke the world to reach this depth.

The author does state at the end one true thing: "Will these folks populate the corridors of power? We'll know in November."

Indeed we will. As Shakespeare said in Hamlet, "Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished."