Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What the President wants

On the President's proposed budget...

As soon as the government provides health care, whatever level of care they provide will become the standard. Whatever floor they put on costs will suddenly [be] the minimum cost. They will of course try to control costs by putting a ceiling on them as well. There are a few possible outcomes for that. One possible outcome is that some services will no longer be available. The other, more likely, is that some services will only be available on a cash basis and will not be covered by any insurance.

Does anyone believe that any insurance provider will cover something the government won’t?

It is not difficult to predict where this will end up. Insurance will be decreasingly available as a part of employment, which means the number of people on the government plan will increase. That $1 trillion price tag won’t remain that low for long.

Eventually most of the people in this country will be on their plan. Then they will need to cut costs. Measures that extend the life of the very old and save the lives of the very young will be deemed to[o] costly to continue. My father, who barely survived the ministrations of HMO-style health care a year ago when he had a triple bypass would most likely be dead under a government program, if they had even bothered to do the surgery in the first place. He was 81 then, which is probably old enough to be allowed to die.

If it isn’t yet, it will be if we get government health care.

I never thought my Federal government would be actively working to diminish the quality of life of all citizens--and I never thought the U.S. citizens would let such a thing happen--but that's what we've got going right now: the 3,000-pound gorilla of government smashing irreplaceable things in the china shop of the U.S. free enterprise system.

Links and despair.

The antidote?--

...the GOP must also come to appreciate the need to drop some of its tactics and approaches that may have served in the past but won't do so going forward. You cannot be a party arguing against the failure and expense of a Federal War on Poverty, yet support the just as failed, if somewhat less expensive, Federal War on Drugs.

You cannot be the party of individual freedom while advocating sweeping federal approaches like a national ban on abortion and Constitutional Amendments against any type of so-called marriage without portraying yourself as a party of no real principle at all, but simply one with a willingness to exploit issues even if it means embracing the type of Big Government you claim to oppose.

That doesn't mean casting off those values or visions, it means respecting the Constitution while informing voters your approach argues for them to be resolved democratically, more often than not through State ballots and elections. As that approach is significantly closer to the people who would be ruled by any legislation, it will always prove to be the most democratic means of resolving complex issues the Federal government should have had no hand in resolving in the first place....

I believe an approach based upon a more genuine appreciation for individual freedom and consistent with a truer conglomeration of conservative, libertarian, and classically liberal thinking could [work].

Via Maggie's Farm.

Another antidote? The New American Tea Party

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Help the Texas deputies patrol the international border

...with your computer, from the comfort of your home, office, or local Starbucks. As Neal Boortz says, if you're bored and sitting around in front of your computer, why not protect our border?

File this under "Life in these United States," "Ain't technology great?," and "Citizens involved in public service."


Monday, February 23, 2009

California here I go

California is leading the way to decline, stagnation, and bankruptcy, and the pain and dehumanization that result. Many California residents understand this and are fleeing.

It breaks my heart to see my once-favorite place to live in the U.S.A., the formerly Golden State, become a basket case of unintended consequences, ignorance, apathy, neglect, corruption, and unheeded warnings. My husband and I (part of the fleeing middle-class, then yuppies) left in 1983 (not long after California Governor Ronald Reagan got kicked upstairs to Washington). We left because even in 1983 it was evident that for us, as for our siblings, job opportunities, standards of living and quality of life, real estate prices, and communities for raising kids were clearly (though sadly) better elsewhere. Our future was elsewhere. We could no longer afford to buy into the neighborhoods we had grown up in--and the neighborhoods themselves were no longer the same. I guess a lot of other people came to the same conclusion, despite the lifelong siren-allure of having once lived, loved, and laughed in Paradise.

Being able to afford a nice home with land and amenities in a very good school district in a fiscally conservative municipality--all affordable on a one-income budget--can take a lot of the sting out of being homesick for La Dolce Vida. After all, you can still visit La Dolce Vida on vacation, and strictly limit its chance to fleece you. So it was goodbye to the palm trees and the eucalyptus and the sunsets and the ocean views--and goodbye to the earthquakes and the anti-capitalist, environmentalist and no-growth extremists and the lack of political representation by realistic, reasonable leaders, and goodbye to the addicts and the mentally impaired people living on the street corners and the beaches, too.)

Our four remaining living relatives in California are retired, three dead ones are at rest in a lovely cemetery, and the rest of the younger and older generations have fled. Those of us who got the heck out of Dodge now dread hearing the kind of stories like the one told by our elderly California loved one who, having had a stroke, had to spend the night on a gurney in the hallway off the emergency room of the sole remaining hospital in that area. The sole remaining hospital there is overwhelmed with people it can't accommodate or take care of properly. You wouldn't believe it of that beautiful town, if you were just a tourist strolling its beaches or its shops.

Once there were three hospitals in that California town (a famous and beautiful town whose name you would recognize), but the other two hospitals, including the Catholic-run one, long ago went out of business and shut their doors. Too much governmental red tape. Too much litigation. Too many risks and costs for too little reimbursement. It's nothing personal, only business. People can't afford to lose money indefinitely, not even the most dedicated and compassionate doctors, nurses, and administrators. They have to have paychecks because they have their own families to feed. (Do liberals understand this, I often wonder?)

Too many people who couldn't pay their own way in California but were willing to abuse and take from the system were nevertheless welcomed, encouraged, incentivized, coddled, and embraced by a State government that demanded little responsibility or accountability from them. It was a State government (along with many local governments) that didn't or couldn't understand the natural laws of fiscal reality. California embraced too many to support too lavishly while not understanding how to maintain or grow an economy. Perhaps they did it out of ignorance, fantasy-ridden leftist idealogy, or for votes and political power. For whatever motivation, their actions have swallowed up and swamped the resources for everyone.

Now they are dragging all people--old and young, rich and poor, the vulnerable and the strong--down the final vortex in the name of good intentions and compassion, without understanding economics or incentives or reality or cause and effect. Those who flee, can. Those who for whatever reasons can't leave, will suffer as one. The leftist ideal will have been reached.

California is leading the way and serving as a stark example of what not to do. And if you haven't noticed, our Federal government under President Obama and the Democrats are heading us into the same vortex on a national level. The spiral has begun--and the tax base of cash-cows (in the eyes of the same sort of economically ignorant/cynical/greedy/leftist "leaders") is fleeing.

P.S. Priorities in California's water allocations: all wrong. Scarcity of resources will continue to get worse unless leaders get better. Economics 101, folks.

P.S. California could balance its budget now by reclaiming its natural resources. Offshore oil drilling with new, low-impact technology would also help our nation achieve energy independence from foreign oil suppliers. But anti-capitalist environmentalist activists have had a stranglehold on the state economy for decades. They seems to care more for trees and animals than they do for their human neighbors.

UPDATE: A piercing summary of California, body and soul, by Victor Davis Hanson (via American Digest).

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Washington's Birthday

The older I get, the more I love and venerate George Washington. Power Line has a nice tribute to him posted today.


Frivolously tormenting people on the government's dime

Some of you may remember that I was quite taken up by writer Mark Steyn's persecution by the various Canadian so-called "Human Rights" Commissions last year, and by how his bravery in fighting back struck such an admirable blow for free speech rights against political correctness and fascist, idealogical activist-bullies all over the Western world.

Here is a transcript of Steyn's Feb. 9th testimony before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, via Atlas Shrugs.

Steyn is an amazing and brilliant man--our own era's Patrick Henry (at least). I love his most inspired saying:

"Free societies should not be in the business of criminalizing opinion."

I also enjoyed this little excerpt:

Mr. Mark Steyn: Yes. Let me just talk about this " hateful words" business. This is again the sham of this Human Rights Tribunal, in that it does not treat all hate equally.

You claim, for example, to be interested in women's rights. We have honour killings; we have arranged marriages against the wishes of the brides in this province. The Human Rights Tribunal is silent about that. The Human Rights Tribunal accepts implicitly the two-tier sisterhood whereby if you are a western woman and you're fired from the strip joint in Mississauga and you want to kick up a big fuss, they'll take up your case because you're tormenting some hapless white, male strip joint owner. But if you're 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez and you get killed in an honour killing, they accept implicitly that that's a two-tier sisterhood with multicultural sensitivities.


Ms. Cheri DiNovo: No, that's simply not true.

Mr. Mark Steyn: No, no. You brought this up, madam. At the time my case came into the news, there was a fellow in Toronto who went on the Internet and explicitly urged the killing of a minister of the crown and Canadian troops, and nobody bothers to investigate him for hate speech.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: No more questions.

The dazzling and courageous Mark Steyn and people like him, willing to stand up for individual rights and freedoms, provide something to hang onto as we go forward in this era of being bulldozed by Hope and Change.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another reason why I don't like to use the name "African-American"

I wrote about my aversion to using this nouveau and inaccurate nomiker a while back. Now I came across this passage by Professor Shelby Steele, who argues so much more aptly that I:

I think the most recent example of black pride-as-denial is the campaign (which seems to have been launched by a committee) to add yet another name to the litany of names that blacks have given themselves over the past century. Now we are to be African-Americans instead of, or in conjunction with, being black Americans. This self-conscious reaching for pride through nomenclature suggests nothing so much as a despair over the possibility of gaining the less conspicuous pride that follows real advancement. In its invocation of the glories of a remote African past and its wistful suggestion of homeland, this name denies the doubt black Americans have about their contemporary situation in America. There is no element of self-confrontation in it, no facing of real racial vulnerabilities, as there was with the name "black." I think "black" easily became the name of preference in the sixties, precisely because it was not a denial but a confrontation of inferiority anxiety, with the shame associated with the color black. There was honest self-acceptance in this name, and I think it diffused much of our vulnerability to the same of color. Even between blacks, "black" is hardly the drop-dead fighting word it was when I was a child. Possibly we are ready now for a new name, but I think "black" has been our most powerful name yet because it so frankly called out our shame and doubt and helped us (and others) to accept ourselves. In the name "African-American" there is too much false neutralization of doubt, too much looking away from the caldron of our own experience. It is a euphemistic name that hides us even from ourselves.

Page 47, The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America by Shelby Steele--talking courageously about race in America since 1990.


How to combat ignorance

Most people just keep beating on trying to change hearts and minds through discussion, lectures, books, visual aids, propaganda, manipulation, or force. All those methods can work to some extent.

But this is practical advice: Captain Capitalism sez: make bets with people. In other words, invite them to invest their own money and self-interest in paying closer attention to the indisputable facts of reality. Offer a voluntary opportunity for them to have a stake and a potential payoff in discovering proof and evidence for their beliefs. If they are ignorant, they lose; if they are knowledgeable and smart, they win.

It's ingenious--and it reflects how many economists know the real world works. Economists often (but not always) remember that human society is all about incentives, and that the best, most productive and satisfying human societies work smoothest when most interactions are voluntary and seen as mutually beneficial trade. Of course, without results that include both winner and losers, there is no real freedom--there is only manipulation, and lots of ignorance, perpetuated and magnified.

Sounds to me like a glimmer of an idea for a plan to restimulate the economy, perhaps? Shouldn't we be rewarding people who make good choices with their own money, and letting the losers learn from their mistakes to pay more attention and play again, but smarter, another day?


Some central planners are better than others? And your point is...?

It's cold, apologist comfort being offered by David Brooks, our nation's "reasonable" right-wing pundit (via Instapundit):

Personally, I hate the idea of 10 guys sitting around in the White House trying to redesign huge swaths of the U.S. economy on legal pads.

But at least they seem to be driven by a spirit of moderation and restraint. They seem to be trying to keep as many market structures in place as possible so things can return to normal relatively smoothly.

And they seem to understand the big thing. The nation’s economy is not just the sum of its individuals. It is an interwoven context that we all share. To stabilize that communal landscape, sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent. The greedy idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen. And at some level, we’re all in this together. If their lives don’t stabilize, then our lives don’t stabilize.

I think I understand his argument. I would just like to have some examples of when vast sums of taxpayer money showered upon idiots has actually stabilized their lives and saved our country before. Is Brooks' confidence in central planners based on faith, or evidence?

I think it's pretty clear that FDR's policies of showering other people's money on the economy from centrally planned bureaucracies did little to better the Great Depression (in fact, many economists contend FDR's policies worsened and lengthened the Great Depression), while LBJ's Great Society policies of showering money on "poverty" created an explosion of broken families, unwed single mothers, and welfare-dependent generations.

Where is or wherever has been this vaunted "stabilization" Brooks is talking about--outside of the Soviet Union or Cuba--and when moderate and restrained central planners with legal pads are involved, how long does "stabilization" last before prosperity returns?

Recommended reading: The Price of Everything by Russell Roberts

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Some good responses to Eric Holder's "cowards" slur

In a speech meant to commemorate Black History Month, our new Obama-appointed Attorney General, Eric Holder (a black man) recently called us a "nation of cowards" because in his view average Americans do not talk with each other enough about race. He also maintained that Justice Department employees have a special responsibility to advance racial understanding throughout the country. (Since when? And how is this monitored and measured?)

I inserted the appellation "(a black man)" in the paragraph above in honor of Mr. Cantor's urging us to talk more about race. Otherwise, I wouldn't have mentioned it, for I usually take people at their word and judge them by their deeds, not their skin color. I agree with the poster at Maggie's Farm who noted:

I always thought the goal was color-blindness - to deal with individuals, not skin colors. It's not hard to do that, because there seem to be about a thousand different skin tones in the US.

I think we ought to speak - and think - less about race. It's a stupid subject.

Hear, hear.

Jonah Goldberg points out some problems with Mr. Holder's analysis and sums up:

...calling views you disagree with “extreme” and accusing those who hold them of having dishonorable motives is just a clever way of saying that you don’t want an “honest conversation” at all.

A Corner reader points out the dangers of talking about race in a litigious society (say, like one where the Justice Department 'has a special responsibility to advance racial understanding'?).

Andy McCarthy points out Mr. Holder's cowardly hypocrisy.

Victor Davis Hanson rebuts Mr. Holder's arguments. What a quaintly old-fashioned thing to do.

And this video is hilarious--blacks re-evaluate the n-word. Way to talk about race and celebrate Black History Month!

UPDATE: From Victor Davis Hanson again, channeling "The Battered American"--

“And another thing. Mr. Holder, I’ve never said or done a racist thing in my life, not one. Always supported equal opportunity, always will. So don’t call me a “coward” or my countrymen “cowards,” not when you’re my Attorney General. You are The Attorney General of the United States of America, so please, no more playing Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, leveling the latest shake-down charge on television. That’s not really in your job description to call your own countrymen “cowards.” When I was in high school I was taught that name-calling like that might be what they said was “projection.” So maybe, just maybe, you have been cowardly—and arrogant too—but not those whom you accused of all that. At least if someone asked me to help pardon a fugitive on the FBI’s most wanted list, I would have said “no.” Always, no exceptions, period! Anything else? That would be cowardly.”

Hear, hear.

It is obvious we are now being led in Washington by far too many rank and classless amateurs.


Quotes of the day/bailing out the losers

Disgraced Democrat Sen. John Edwards was right about one thing: There are two Americas. One America is full of moochers, big and small, corporate and individual, trampling over themselves with their hands out demanding endless bailouts. The other America is full of disgusted, hard-working citizens getting sick of getting played for chumps and punished for practicing personal responsibility.

What some people are doing to protest the Democrats counter-productive policies.

What some people are saying as the market continues to tank.

All courtesy of Michelle Malkin.

And this quote from Roger L. Simon:

My own personal survey says a lot of people are fed up with many, if not all, aspects of the President’s astoundingly ad hoc economic plans. This man is making me nostalgic for Clinton and Bush and managed to do it in a matter of weeks. Even most of my liberal friends are now panicked for their futures.

Some advice to President Obama from American Digest: are harshing the mellow every time you open your mouth.....

Every time you speak of the future it gets grimmer.

Lately it seems that all you have to do is glance away from the teleprompter and hesitate and, boom!, there goes another 100 point drop in the Dow. And then, when you find the next sentence and say it, whap! there's goes another 100 points. I'm not sure if the Dow can sink beneath absolute zero, but I'm not curious to find out. Maybe that sort of "experimentation" seems far out and groovy to you, but I'm not into smoking PCP myself so just put "the idea of the day" down and step away from the policy....

Bonus: What would Grandpa say about all of this? -- by Victor Davis Hanson

ANOTHER QUOTE from Captain Capitalism:

Again, the vast majority of my 20 something friends at my bar believe Obama is their savior and will solve this problem. But it is an interesting expression to see on their faces when their savior promises $1.2 trillion of their money to bail out the deadbeats of the US. ...

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stimulus in a nutshell

The Obama-Democrat "government growth" bill passed last night. No one who voted on it has read it. Here's some of what's in it. Here's some of what else is in it. With the help of only three so-called Republican Senators (Snowe, Collins, and Specter), the only Republicans in Congress to cross the aisle, our children are now saddled with paying off the (underestimated) debt.

Here's a first swipe at the silver lining.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.

UPDATE: Economist Robert Barro discusses the stimulus package (via The Corner)

UPDATE: "Putting politics over the economy in a time of national emergency: that's a pretty serious indictment. But no one who is familiar with what is in the Democrats' porkfest bill doubts that it is true." About a week later, both consumer confidence and investor confidence are at all-time lows.


Friday, February 13, 2009

All Obama, no Lincoln

I thought it worth noting that my children heard nothing at all at their respective middle school and high school yesterday about it being Abraham Lincoln's birthday, let alone his 200th birthday.

This makes an odd contrast to their schools going all out to make an unprecedented fuss over Barack Obama's inauguration, including, for the first time in the ten years our family has lived in this neighborhood, televising the Presidential Inauguration live in the schools.

As my daughter said, at school the buzz is all about "Obama Day"--i.e. Presidents' Day, coming up on Monday.

And so clearly at our public schools it's not about education, it's not about historical significance--it's about politics.

For those so inclined to remember the better man, Power Line has an extensive series of timely postings on Lincoln. There is also a new biography out (as I learned from Michael Medved's radio show yesterday) that sounds like a must-read: A. Lincoln by Ron White.

P.S. Enjoy your Federal three-day holiday weekend remembering John Tyler. I'll stick to my own tradition of commemorating our greatest and most worthy Presidents, Abraham Lincoln on February 12th and George Washington on February 22nd.


Turning the corner toward socialism. . .

and away from capitalism, freedom, prosperity, equity, balanced budgets, cutting spending, and smaller government.

Does anybody care or know enough to protest?

Ronald Reagan would have protested, as per this video of a Reagan-Obama debate.

Tax Cheat and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangel doesn't care how it works or if it works; he wants the money.

No one knows anything” about the trillion-dollar stimulus plan. Now that’s scary.

Which camp do you fall into?

Both videos via Instapundit.

UPDATE: Betsy points out that no one has read this bill that is being rushed into law today. "No one in the White House will probably have read the entire thing by Monday when Obama has his fancy signing celebration." So much for Obama's promises about transparency in government and giving the people a chance to read and comment on new legislation.

Maybe it's appropriate that the biggest spending monstrosity in our nation's history (that will provide little "stimulus" and generations of debt) is about to be rammed through Congress and turned against the American people on a Friday the 13th.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

President Obama's first three weeks

Evaluations and summaries by Melanie Phillips (via Atlas Shrugs, who notes his plunging popularity ratings), Randall Hoven, and J.R. Dunn (via Bookworm Room, who says "Read it and weep").

Also, Ace points out and expresses exactly what I thought, too: the plunging stock market yesterday couldn't have ALL been due to Geithner's speech--yet that's how the mainstream media is going to spin it. Fortunately the mainstream media does not yet have a monopoly on news and commentary. (Power Line points out that nevertheless Geithner's speech was bad news and investors knew it.)

I also have a suggestion: I suggest that Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee throw Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins out of the Republican Party. It's time for a divorce, and surely the party affiliation is supposed to be a two-way, mutually agreeable street? It's kind of like supporting the United Nations--what the heck are we getting for our money anyway? Isn't it time to rethink that social contract after a good cost-benefits analysis? If you are going to be RINOs, why should the Party continue to support you, over other candidates who better understand and fight for the Party platform and issues?


Why I agreed with the emergency banking system bailout (TARP)

. . . but still think the current "economic spending stimulus" bill in Congress is a boondoggle. They are two very different things (both with inconceivable price tags). Here's the backstory on the day the banks had an electronic run on them and we came whisper-close to losing everything. The Democrats and Obama, however, are now engineering a similar crisis on many fronts, with such linchpins as the stealth porkulus Democrat job patronage bill turning the screws.

All via the Anchoress, as well as this:

Stocks Tumbling: As the Senate passes a bill to end America as we know it. Well, Michelle Obama did say her husband would “never let us go back to the way we were.” Is anyone surprised - by any of this? James Pethokokous writes: Geithner goes from Indispensable to Indecipherable, Unfortunately, it’s not a joke. 12:55 PM

Is it time to revisit the Misery Index?

UPDATE: "What we have here is the poisonous fruit of a leftist takeover of our public education system."

UPDATE: This IS Stimulating--an alternative Economic Recovery and Middle-Class Relief Act that will REALLY work, and work fast, to restore us on the road to prosperity by using what we know about economics instead of what politicians know about pay-for-play political games. I say add in passagae of the Fair Tax Act of 2009 (including abolishing the IRS) and we're in business doing business again which, in case any of you have forgotten, employs Americans and rewards the shareholders, investors, workers, and consumers.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"It is like sitting there watching my house ransacked by a bunch of thugs."

That's how it feels, all right.

I spent this morning volunteering at my son's high school library, and when I was through helping out, I caught sight of CNN playing muted on one of the TVs in the A-V room, with the caption that the Senate had passed the stimulus spending bill. Well, that's over then, I thought.

Outside, as I walked to my car, the sun was shining, and it was one of those surprisingly warm, almost balmy, springlike days we've been having recently, after such a long run of cold winter weather. Soon there would be buds on the trees again. A day like this makes you think of happier, warmer times coming. So welcome and so reassuring. It makes you want to forget weighty matters and go soak up some sun.

But all I could think of was to mark the date:

February 10th, 2009.

This is the day the diaspora begins. I think today is the day Atlas starts to shrug.

We'll recognize it someday when we all look back. In imperceptible little ways, Americans--staunch, generations-bred, patriotic Americans--will begin leaving, mentally and then physically, their once-great, still beloved country, because today it had demonstrably fallen into the hands of rapacious thieves. Thieves who were bent on choking the life out of the best and most successful parts of it, in the name of helping the needy, aided and abetted by ignorant and greedy people. They've all gotten their hands on the power to throttle and literally kill. What else can we do but flee toward freedom? (New Zealand perhaps?)

Where will the doctors go, the doctors soon to be slaves to a government system of edicts? The older ones can just retire and bow out, although they may worry about their younger family members. The younger ones--will they give it a go, working under governmental mandates even more dictatorial, capricious, and restrictive, and more anti-patient than even the mandates of the Medicare entitlement and the health insurance industries? Where will the dentists go? Where will the vets go who must close up shop because people can no longer afford to take care of pets? Where will the sick people go to get health care not deemed appropriate by the government? Where will my kids go to find an affordable, reputable, obstetrician when they want to have their own children? Where will Canadians go for brain surgery or MRIs--and where will Americans go when our own country is no longer the Last, Best Hope?

Where will my children go to escape the crushing burden of debt/inflation/restrictions the Congress is set to impose upon them for decades to come? With our own pension fund reduced by a huge fraction from the crashing stock market, and more taxes, inflation, restrictions, and mandates imposed by government on the way, how can I hope to help my kids and their kids carry on when the opportunities and affluence of these past few decades are nothing but a fond memory?

“I think about the stimulus as an economist but I feel it as a father. Barack Obama is destroying my daughters future. It is like sitting there watching my house ransacked by a gang of thugs. That’s how I feel, now back to how I think.”

People will still seek to act in their own self-interest, to protect themselves and their children in any way they can. Unfortunately our country, which once prided itself on making that easy and seeing that as the sure and right way to economic success for the many, has now divorced itself from respecting and encouraging self-interest, self-reliance, and autonomy. Unless, of course, you are a self-interested politician or politically favored special interest group with your hand on the neck of the taxpayers.

Today we see the start of the diaspora of individuals and individualism from an America that no longer recognizes them as anything other than a cash cow. First our country's ill-advised and uncompetitive tax policies caused the outsourcing of American jobs to the rest of the eager globe; now even more stupid and uncompetitive and unrewarding policies will outsource Americans.

As Captain Capitalism said recently to the rest of the world:

why don't you take advantage of the greatest opportunity in the world and pilfer from the United States all their productive and talented citizens?

I wonder who will recognize and profit from the opportunity to take America's best and brightest in as they begin to vote with their feet. All I know is, it'll be a voluntary, mutually-beneficial arrangement. Unlike what's being perpetrated in Washington, D.C. today.

UPDATE: I am not the only one who feels this significant and tragic turning point.

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Nationalizing health care--snuck into the stimulus spending bill

You won't get to decide about your health--your government will--thanks to the Democrats' porkulus spending stimulus omnibus bill.

Via Maggie's Farm, who sez: "Politicizing the economy caused the crash. Deeply true, and the economy is fully-politicized now. It's as if people wanted to imagine that the gummint can control the economy. Who believes that the bozos in politics are smarter than markets? History shows the gummint can only damage it."

That's what it's bent on doing, and in a rush, so nobody else wises up before it's done.

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What's going on with the census?

President Obama's first press conference

I tuned in last night to see how Mr. Obama would "take his message to the people" (a la Reagan?) to help get his gargantuan spending bill passed. His appearance turned out to be a stemwinder (I kept looking at my watch--in fact, I took my watch off and waved it around idly in the air to help pass the final minutes of the near-hour). I was relieved when Mr. Obama finally left and I could vividly imagine him turning the corner out of sight and then slumping inside his suit in huge relief to be relatively out of the nation's headlights (a new emotion for him?)

But I think that was a masterfully crafted performance by our current Great Communicator. Most people (like, say, those bitter clingers in rural Pennsylvania and Elkhart, Indiana) would've tuned in at 8 p.m. out of respect and curiosity (and Hope), confirmed that Mr. Obama was acting and looking suitably Presidential in the cast role they'd gifted him with, and then most people probably tuned in to something more satisfying than policy wonkism (best left to the elites) and a well-modulated drone--something even involving beer, religion, or guns, perhaps, and another TV channel, certainly. Good play, Democrats!

I stuck it out because I was actually trying to listen to what Presidential Obama was saying (an esoteric pastime, I know). Dang it if Power Line blog didn't also pick up on the two most outstanding subjects that caught my ear:

1. According to President Obama, most Republicans evidently don't want to help save the country, or even the decent people of Elkhart, Indiana, even after President Obama himself extended the hand of friendship and understanding to many of them, including going so far as to appoint 3 or 4 Republicans to 'his' top leadership roles, which is "unprecedented"! How extremely churlish of them! Why some of them even don't want to do anything at all to rescue the nation!

As President Obama summed up:

One thing that I think is important is to recognize that, because all these -- all these items that you listed are hard, that people have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we've been carrying around for too long. And let me give you a prime example.

When it comes to how we approach the issue of fiscal responsibility, again, it's a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they've presided over a doubling of the national debt. I'm not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

Granted, that. But aren't you just about to double or triple it all over again?

Having said that, I think there are a lot of Republicans who are sincere in recognizing that, unless we deal with entitlements in a serious way, the problems we have with this year's deficit and next year's deficit pale in comparison to what we're going to be seeing 10 or 15 years or 20 years down the road.

Granted that, too. Do you know any Democrats who care about dealing with that? They just booted it away when Bush tried to deal with it.

Both Democrats and Republicans are going to have to think differently in order to come together and solve that problem. I think there are areas like education where some in my party have been too resistant to reform and have argued only money makes a difference.

And there have been others on the Republican side or the conservative side who said, "No matter how much money you spend, nothing makes a difference, so let's just blow up the public school systems."

Really? Can you name names?

And I think that both sides are going to have to acknowledge we're going to need more money for new science labs, to pay teachers more effectively, but we're also going to need more reform, which means that we've got to train teachers more effectively, bad teachers need to be fired after being given the opportunity to train effectively, that we should experiment with things like charter schools that are innovating in the classroom, that we should have high standards.

So my whole goal over the next four years is to make sure that, whatever arguments are persuasive and backed up by evidence and facts and proof that they can work, that we are pulling people together around that kind of pragmatic agenda.

Okay, so where are the facts and proof that the spending bill will actually work?

And I think that there was an opportunity to do this with this recovery package, because, as I said, although there are some politicians who are arguing that we don't need a stimulus, there are very few economists who are making that argument.

No, there are quite a few, actually. Just none you are listening to.

I mean, you've got economists who were advising [Sen.] John McCain [2008 Republican presidential candidate], economists who were advisers to George Bush, one and two, all suggesting that we actually needed a serious recovery package.

Said serious recovery package may not include your porkulus spending abomination.

And so when I hear people just saying, "Ah, we don't need to do anything," "This is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill," without acknowledging that, by definition, part of any stimulus package would include spending -- that's the point -- then what I get a sense of is, is that there's some ideological blockage there that needs to be cleared up.

Yeah: your ideological blockage!

2. The second striking revelation: Iran has been unhelpful.

I was struck speechless--for about two seconds. Then I began yelling at the television.

Jules Crittenden had a more constructive response (via Power Line).

Sigh. On one hand it is discouraging to have such ideologies reigning in power right now, capable of inflicting so much damage on our country. On the other hand, I was encouraged to hear that President Obama has actually heard of the fact that many people are questioning the very efficacy of his own policies, even as he fails to answer them honestly. Even as he rejects such criticism out of hand. Good play, conservatives. Keep it up. More people than just President Obama and his idealogical blockage cronies are listening.

UPDATE: Liberals are confused (via Neal Boortz); conservatives are happy? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

As I said, a lot of economists do not agree with this "stimulus" bill. The best economists, actually. That's just more "Obama spin."

UPDATE: RightWingSparkle caught Obama's lies, too. Tony Blankley says:

President Barack Obama's first presidential news conference was performed feebly by the once-ferocious White House press corps and shrewdly -- if deceptively -- by the president. In the six years I did communications on former President Ronald Reagan's White House staff, I don't recall a single news conference in which there were no follow-up questions, no challenges to anything the president had said recently, no assertions of fact that the president was challenged to deal with. In fact, I don't remember former President Bill Clinton, either, ever getting a full 45-minute prime-time news conference pass....

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Protest the porkulus bill

If you are going to be in Washington D.C. on Monday or Tuesday--or, better yet, if you feel strongly enough to GO to Washington D.C. on Monday or Tuesday--conservatives are leading a protest against the porkulus spending bill.

For all the reasons to protest this legislation, scroll down among my earlier posts.

This news of the upcoming protest in Washington just made my day, after reading so many things like this (including the comments).

Don't forget to make your feelings known to your Senators and their staffs.

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Obama's slow response to a 'Katrina in Kentucky'

He rode his new toy, Air Force 1, to a spa near Williamsburg, but hasn't yet visited the devastated (predominantly white) people going without power from ice storms in Kentucky that began on January 27th. Do the news media pull a Bush attack avalanche on President Obama? Ha! Are angry white Kentuckians rioting, looting, and excoriating the Feds' and the Presidents' lack of attention in front of gaping TV cameras or a teary Geraldo Rivera? I hear crickets.

Instead, here's the kind of practical, fair-minded, and clever rumination the libertarian-right proposes (via Instapundit). We have all the good, big-picture arguments and sound, realistic, and moral thinking on our side, but when it comes to elections and government, we tend to lose the propaganda war for hearts and minds. Why is that and how can it be changed?

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Stimulate this

I prefer Senator John Thune's proposal for stimulating economic recovery (if, indeed, the government should or can do anything to help besides shrinking its tentacles and getting out of the way of the American people): a $10,286 tax rebate for every middle class family.

"Ask the average American family—would you prefer Congress spend tens of millions on STD prevention and fish pathways—or sent you a check for $10,286?"

But Congress won't ask. They think they know what's best for us and our money, taken from us by force.

UPDATE: A good question:

What I want to know is, Why Obama and, I suppose, other Democrats aren't furious at the Dems who insist on these projects at the expense of the nation? The Democrats' logic works like this: We need a stimulus bill at all costs. We can't get a stimulus bill without paying $150 million for livestock insurance and other forms of non-stimulative special interests payoffs. Therefore the bad guys are the people who want the pork out, not the guys who put the pork in.

That makes no sense to me. The bad guys are the ones willing to hold up the whole process for their own interests.

There's been plenty of criticism of "the Democrats," of Obama and even the Democratic leadership. But I want names. I want to know who is putting the country at risk of total catastrophe — at least according to Barack Obama and the Democrats' own standards — in order to get their little pet-projects in this bill because they're afraid to go through the normal process. Isn't that a good job for the press? Shouldn't these shadowy, self-interested, scoundrels be held to account?

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Will the real Obama please sit down

More and more people are discovering the true size of the little man in the big suit whose actual identity was obvious to so many people well before the election.

Obama's conception of "stimulus." It's all about redistribution of wealth and transfer payments to Democratic interest groups. Remember Joe the Plumber's original question for Obama on the campaign trail? Now who's surprised? Not Bookworm:

When Obama got elected, all of us worried about the fact that a Marxist economist had entered the White House. It may be worse than that. With his statements about the necessity for spending just to spend, Obama may have gone one step beyond the foolishness of Marxist economics, and entered the realm of out and out stupidity. Perhaps he needs to sit down for a good elementary school level lecture about the nature of money, government, and initiative.

Obama dissed by Iran

Obama, with a stroke of the pen, tramples on the hopes of military families for justice (via Ace of Spades HQ):

President Obama: Do you know how much it hurts to see you drop the charges against our sons killers? First the Dictator of Yemen freed our son's killers. And now you sir. We had hoped for some justice here in our own country. But now it appears that politics are more important than justice and the truth.

Another military mother of a slain soldier says, "He may be President, but he's wrong." (via Hot Air)

Obama the liar:

Obama's actions now show just how deceptive he was then. On the campaign trail, Obama repeatedly lied to the American people about his economic plans. He lied about his commitment to clean, transparent government. He lied about his willingness to work in a bipartisan fashion. Obama is not even pretending he meant what he said then.

In only three weeks, Obama has managed to undermine many of the central tenets of his claim to represent hope and change. He has gone from promising to bring "an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas..." to using arguments like "I won," and the worn-out campaign rhetoric he threw to the Democrats last night.

"So much for the promise to banish the money changers and influence peddlers from the temple" as Charles Krauthammer puts it (via Maggie's Farm). "Hard-working Americans are going to pay for this hopey-changey scam for a long time, and they are not going to like it."

Only two weeks in office and President Obama is already plunging downward in the polls for disappointing many, and for embarrassing himself and our country. Even many of his grassroots supporters have turned off (via Hot Air).

"The Trojan Horse of Hope and Change crashed into the guardrail of reality, revealing an army of ideologues and activists inside."

It's going to be a long, tortuous four years, I'm afraid. But the upside will be the opportunity for the diffuse but loyal opposition to the damaging and dangerous leftist-Democrat world view to rediscover their principles, come together, and refine some winning strategies.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Good political reads

"The Impending Obama Meltdown" by Victor Davis Hanson and "Hypocrites on Paying Taxes" by Jonah Goldberg (via Bookworm Room)

"50 De-Stimulating Facts" about the Democrats' "stimulus" bill--see for yourself what you'll be buying with your tax dollars (via Power Line, who also asks "Whats the Rush?" in passing this monstrosity. but as our eloquent, outreaching President Obama said, "The time for talk is over").

And here is a helpful list of earmarks in the porkulus bill (via Betsy's Page).

I'm voting for Congress doing nothing. Or better yet, I'd vote for Congress to enact a corporate tax rate of zero percent, abolish the IRS and enact the Fair Tax. This would solve two problems--making taxes much easier to understand and deal with for confused Democrat nominees (and all other more law-abiding Americans) AND really stimulating the economy instead of just pretending to.

Washington politics as usual behind the delayed conversion to digital TV transmissions? You bet. Politicians always need to stick their big noses in and mess things up whenever they can claim that "the most vulnerable Americans are exposed" as cover for secretly giving payback to their biggest lobbyists and screwing the littler company:

One company actively opposing the delay was Qualcomm Inc, which paid about $550 million to use the vacated spectrum to extend a roll-out of its mobile video service.
Oh well. Blame Bush.

Nothing new, according to Joel Brinkley's book, Defining Vision.

Meanwhile, I'm finally reading Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions, and highly recommend it as a must-read for anyone who thinks about politics, philosophy, history, society, civilization, or human nature. In this most seminal book, Sowell proposes that "the fundamental difference between the policies of the left and the right derive from their respective views of human nature." It is quite astonishing how it does seem to uncannily describe the most foundational differences in views between my conservative friends and my liberal friends. You can also go here for a collection of Thomas Sowell interviews on video. Dr. Sowell is a national treasure.

UPDATE: Big Hollywood points to an essay that explains how the delay to digital television conversion hurts targeted companies:

The digital TV delay would limit access to the analog spectrum until June, and Qualcomm will be the hardest hit. Qualcomm planned to use their new bandwidth immediately to significantly expand their MediaFLO technology, which provides streaming video/television to mobile devices branded through Verizon’s VCAST and AT&T’s Mobile TV platforms. Already in 65 markets nationally, MediaFLO was slated to add an additional 40 markets within days of the original digital TV transition date of Feb. 17. These new markets included majors cities such as Boston, Houston, Miami, San Francisco, and Qualcomm had built over 100 new transmitters in preparation.

Now that rollout is dead in the water, though, Qualcomm is claiming the delay will cost it tens of millions of dollars in idle equipment and licensing fees and will unfairly penalize the company for being prepared to hit the market immediately after the original transition date....

Verizon and AT&T are also impacted, but to a lesser extent. Both plan to use the analog spectrum for their next generation LTE (“Long Term Evolution” also known as “4G”) cellular networks, but on longer timeframes than Qualcomm. Verizon’s network was slated for a late 2009 release while AT&T was scheduled for 2011. This difference could explain why Verizon initially opposed the delay while AT&T supported it. Verizon would have had a significant first-to-market advantage with their 4G network out in late 2009, and the digital TV delay may give AT&T time to catch up. Verizon eventually came around and supported the delay “as long as it’s short,” said Verizon CEO Ivan Seiderberg, likely assuming the four months wouldn’t cede AT&T enough time to gain ground. If AT&T’s choppy 3G service serves as a guide, he’s probably right.

The question is, which senators are pushing for the delay and what is their connection to AT&T?

I question why the government should supply anybody with funds to get TV programs anyway.

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Drinking booze in America

I stumbled across an interesting set of articles at the New York Times website under the heading "Alcohol and American Life."

This man, Paul Clarke, explains the sophisticated pleasures of a good, adult beverage and why he feels he models moderate, responsible drinking for his children. He feels he is following in the footsteps of his parents' model to him.

And this man, Jim Atkinson, explains how he got sober after becoming an alcoholic.

Can the twain ever meet outside of an AA meeting, before great damage is done?

Seems obvious to me that the second man has a far deeper understanding of the first man than vice-versa--akin to a sadder-but-wiser 50-year-old pondering the unscathed experience, conceptual universe, and rationalizations of an untried but self-righteous 21-year-old. In fact, I would guess the first man is close to no real or recovering alcoholics (or is, at best, insulated by a lot more denial than he himself recognizes). He certainly doesn't understand alcoholism, beyond snobby observations of falling-down drunks in party cities. Whereas any recovering alcoholic recognizes the first man's response: "I can't be that bad, look at everybody else who's so much worse!" After all, who wouldn't want to drink moderately and responsibly, especially after alcohol starts creating big problems in one's life--and for one's children? The irony, of course, is that the alcoholic is always the last to know.

I wish for all moderate, responsible drinkers that they and everyone they love--especially their own children--will never fall prey to alcoholism, so that none of them need grapple with all the hurt and destruction that entails. But we know that's not how it works.

The first man offers and models a good goal, and with luck and favorable genes, he will not be derailed from or by his life of moderate drinking. I pray his children will have similar luck and genes, given his well-intentioned model. But to some individuals alcohol is like an insidious, mind-eating, soul-stealing poison, and they will never be able to drink it moderately no matter what their parents model or provide. The second man is wiser and models hope, empathy, understanding, and information to those drinkers whose luck has run out.

Which man is the better model for the upcoming generation? Can either help change the destructive ways America drinks, or deals with its drinkers?