Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

Steve Forbes cuts to the heart of the statism of Obama and the Pelosicrats
I have done it myself, but I don't think calling people fascists helps the cause of freedom.  Steve Forbes gives us a model of how to argue against the liberty grab that is going on:
One hesitates to bring up the economics of Benito Mussolini and his ilk because fascism means ugly nationalism and racism, as well as mass murder and aggressive war. So let's label the economic part of that ideology as neosocialist, corporatist, statist or--to be sophisticated and use a French word--dirigiste.
Under the corporatist state, private companies exist but take their direction from government. Competition is seen as wasteful and destructive and therefore must be "managed." There is a basic hostility toward small businesses precisely because there are so many of them, making them harder to regulate and more apt to do things without government permission.

Statism certainly creates a facade of stability...
Next Up T.R. Fehrenbach explains how business is undermined by greedy politicians:
The majority of Americans work and therefore eat and pay taxes because they are involved in some sort of surplus-producing private business, from industry to sales to finance to science and agriculture. Enterprises such as charities, education, and government — non-profits in general — are utterly dependent on profit-making business for funding. You'd think people would grasp this when things get rough.
We are dependent on business, not government, to create wealth
There are many reasons for this. Business is always being undermined by the demons inherent in democracy: greedy politicians and populist programs that gut it. By and large, educators and clergy, who create no wealth, put other callings first.
Bright people are urged not to go into business and make money but to serve their fellow man. The problem is, nobody can serve anybody without the wherewithal. Many people who live off donations and taxes affect to despise the source, much in the manner that clean-handed lords despised their grubbing serfs.
Required Reading:  George Will's Cato Institute Speech
It is too brilliant to excerpt here.  Go read the whole thing

Peter Ferrara offers a quick economic history of the 20th Century.  
He explains how supply-side, pro-growth policies worked not Just for Reagan, but for Kennedy and Harding as well.  Read it, understand it, bookmark it.  This is essential information for those of us who routinely argue with delusional liberals who claim Reagan wrecked the economy.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Unintended Consequences

Government "solutions" create more problems, which require more solutions, which create more problems...

Economist Walter E. Williams explains the Law of Unintended Consequences, using the Federal Government as an example.  His article, Making Americans Sick, is a must read for free-market conservatives.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised, "The U.S. government plans to increase funding to battle obesity and views healthcare reform as an opportunity to encourage better eating habits."

Dr Williams goes on to show how US government sugar subsidies combined with tariffs on foreign sugar has distorted the market and driven up the price of that commodity.  This caused manufacturers to replace sugar with the cheaper high fructose corn syrup in domestically produced food.

This, in turn, has caused more obesity and diabetes among Americans.  It has also driven candy manufacturing out of the country to destinations where sugar is cheaper.

A Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone
In summary, congress caused obesity and increased diabetes by taking political bribes from domestic sugar companies in exchange for protecting them from competition.  Now, the government will blow more money on initiatives to solve the problems their previous laws caused.

I can't wait for the fallout from the obesity initiative...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Rule of Law

The Rule of Law
We’ve lost the original definition of “Rule of Law.” Republicans abused it badly during the Clinton impeachment trials, but both parties bear responsibility for the perversion of this important concept.

Hayek gives us the classical definition:
“Government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand--rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan ones individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge."
He explains that the Rule of Law should not be ad hoc, but it should be “the rules of the game,” predictable and understandable, allowing free people to exercise their rights while refraining from violating the rights of others. No exemptions for government or for special groups. No leeway for arbitrary exercise of power by bureaucratic fiefdoms. The tax code alone violates this principle.

We Are Here
70 years ago, Hayek described what an absence of the rule of law looks like.

...The use of the government’s coercive power will no longer be limited and determined by pre-established rules. The law can ... legalize what to all intents and purposes remains arbitrary action.

If the law says that such a board or authority may do what it pleases, anything that board or authority does is legal--but its actions are certainly not subject to the rule of law.

By giving the government unlimited powers, the most arbitrary rule can be made legal; and in this way a democracy may set up the most complete despotism imaginable
The rule of law is a good and right exercise of the coercive power of government to protect the natural rights of the people. What we have today is a grotesque perversion of that Lockean principle that inspired our founders.

For a short explanation of Hayek’s classical understanding of the rule of law, see Charles W. Baird’s article, Hayek on the Rule of Law and Unions. Substitute “corporation” or “government" for his use of “union” in the article, and his point will still remain the same. A government that hands out favors and disrespects the natural rights of the free citizenry becomes debased, arbitrary and eventually, tyrannical.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


A lack of prudence, combined with an erosion of our natural rights, is killing our culture and our nation
Prudence:  [...]  2. caution with regard to practical matters; discretion. 3. regard for one's own interests. 4.provident care in the management of resources; economy; frugality. (
Anyone who's ever had an arm in a cast knows what happens to the muscles in that arm:  They atrophy from disuse.

Prudence has suffered a similar fate due to the progressive cast our government has encased our lives with.   A dense encrustation of laws that legislate our every activity down to the last iota leave us no discretion to reason things out for ourselves.  Safety nets that turn into hammocks, bailouts, and lawsuits that reward stupidity have practically eliminated the need for prudence.

We careen about with no care for the consequences because lawyers can justify our behaviors based on fairness and special pleading for special categories, we can escape credit card debt, and serial impregnators inspired by pop culture get off Scott free while taxpayers foot the bill for their prolific breeding.  Predators are coddled by the state while victims get the shaft.

A Gross Injustice
82 year old Robert Wallace shot a thief in the head as the robber and an accomplice were absconding with his lowboy trailer in the dark of night.  The Wheatridge, Colorado man is now up on multiple felony charges to include attempted murder.

The natural right to property includes the right to defend it, even with deadly force.  To say otherwise renders the right invalid.  "Let the cops handle it," some say.  OK.  If they fail to retrieve your property, can you sue them?  No.  So when the state takes away your right to shoot a scumbag who is making off with your property, the state also violates your God-given right to property.

What about the case of an honest mistake?
"What if the thieves were really just two guys picking up a trailer someone offer to loan them, and they got the address wrong?" 

Good question.  Now I have one for you.   Would you just hook up a trailer in the dead of night or in broad daylight without checking with the people in the house first?  As President Bush 41 would say, Wouldn't be prudent.  You make damned sure everything is square before you haul off somebody elses property.

What if it were a prank?  How would you feel if you shot a prankster?  I'd feel pretty bad, but I'd also tell any survivors that stealing other people's property is not a prank, it's a crime.

If federal, state and local governments respected our rights to defend our property, there would be an increase in prudence among honest people, and tragic mistakes would be rare, as would larceny.

We are no longer serious about serious things
We argue over trivialities of pop culture and sports, while we take our eye off the ball when it comes to safeguarding our fundamental rights.  If you cannot defend your life, your liberty and your property, you are not a free man.  You are a slave of the state, and you are subject to the whims of marauding malefactors who respect nothing.

A state that allows failures to pay for their own losses...  A state that recognizes the rights of free people to defend their lives and property...  That is a state that will eventually produce a prudent people.  Darwinism we can believe in.

For an excellent essay on the subject, read Ralph Waldo Emerson's Prudence.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spies, Damn Lies, and WikiLeaks

The WikiLeaks Afghanistan docudrop is generating much more attention than the WaPo splash last week on the Top Secret Military-Intelligence-Industrial Complex...

The Washington Post has done the taxpaying citizens a favor with its big feature on the US Government intelligence and security apparatus, A Hidden World. They gathered their information from open sources, so if they’ve revealed anything, it’s the government’s fault, not the Post’s.

No Government Function Should Be Exempt From Scrutiny 
Shining a light on the bureaucracy and questioning spending and redundancy is a legitimate service to the taxpayer. It is very different from revealing specific methods and programs that end up rendering them useless and putting lives in danger.

Was it sensational? Yes. Was it sometimes inaccurate and wildly speculative? Yes! Did it demonize contractors and corporations? Hell Yes! Regardless, they are doing what the press is supposed to be doing. Now if they would just throw their dragnet over Pelosi, Barney Frank, and their serial affairs with big business, unions, and especially Fannie and Freddie.

The WaPo alleges we have a money wasting intelligence bureaucracy run amok, and that is not good, regardless of its original purpose.

Much of what they finger as malfeasance is actually legitimate activity. These are arcane areas and one-of-a-kind systems that require specialized expertise. It is often more cost-effective to contract it out.

How much fraud, waste and abuse is in there? Is it out of control?

We threw a gob of money at the defense and intelligence communities after 9/11. As anyone who has spent any time in or around government knows, government money is mad money, especially when it comes in gushing torrents.

The WaPo series was unbalanced and unfair, but it contained much verifiable truth as well. 

When Big Government fails serially and the bureaucrats and their liberal defenders cry for more Big Government, conservatives and libertarians rightly stand up in opposition. Well, we can’t give defense and intelligence a free pass.

When it comes to government, be skeptical. Be very skeptical...

Further reading on the WaPo expose:
NRO - The Corner
Salon - Why so little reaction?

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Threat to One Right is a Threat to All Rights

I got into an argument with an old friend and fellow lifetime NRA member over that organization’s support for campaign finance legislation that restricts free speech in exchange for an exemption for itself.

Good on the NRA for defending our Second Amendment rights. Bad on them for squashing the First Amendment in the process.

Things really got heated when I excoriated our NRA for toying with the idea of endorsing Harry Reid. Reid Voted for the Brady Bill, Erik Erikson reminds us.  Politico explains how politics in America makes such bedfellows possible:

First, Reid has a fairly favorable lifetime rating from the NRA. And then there’s the $61 million for the Clark County Shooting Park, earmarked by Reid, which led Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association, to call Reid “a true champion” of the Second Amendment at an event commemorating the opening of the 2,900-acre park in April. (Politico)
So Reid bribed the NRA with $61 million of taxpayer money, and they in return call this petty statist "a true champion." Disgusting.

Legislation as a Money-Making Scam
It is bad enough that congress exempts itself from its own laws. It is a truly despotic government that enacts laws threatening our individual liberties in order to sell those rights back to the highest bidder. This is extortion--a sickening theft of our birthright.

Progressive America, Negotiated Rights
Natural Rights are down the toilet. The Kagan hearings confirmed that. Congress can make us eat our veggies and progressive jurists like Kagan will stand aside because they see nothing wrong. And she will be confirmed in a cakewalk.

If government can make a free man play “mother may I” in order to keep firearms, it can also make a free woman ask permission to exercise her God-given right to free speech. Once we open negotiations on our fundamental rights, we’ve already lost. Government ceases to be the protector of our rights and now becomes the gatekeeper, telling us which rights we may exercise, when and where.

Welcome to Progressive America...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Caught Between the Grass Roots and The Establishment

We're screwed. The Colorado GOP has managed to screw up the governor’s race again.

The Democrats are running John Hickenlooper (Colorado's own Barack Obama), an ultra-liberal flyweight who could have been beaten, according to polling. Not anymore. Republicans have shot themselves in both feet.

The Big Money Establishment people threw their cash behind Scott McInnis early, pretty much scaring off other well-known candidates who could have won.

Up from the grass roots grew unknowns Cleve Tidwell and Dan Maes fighting for the independent-minded tea party vote. Maes won it, and the Caucus process produced grassroots candidate Dan Maes vs. establishment man Scott McInnis.

A Colorado Catastrophe

Maes got fined for campaign finance violations, opening up a whole can of worms concerning his past, his business experience, and whether he accurately stated his qualifications to be governor. He is a real estate agent, but claims executive experience. He hoped releasing his tax records would clear everything up, but he only released them to one friendly newspaper, and only for their staff to look at them and write about them. No independent verification, which just makes it all look fishier.

Meanwhile, Scott McInnis is charged with plagiarism over a water rights article he wrote years ago for the Conservative Hasan Foundation.  McInnis perfidiously tried to blame his "research assistant," who was really Rolly Fisher, a well-respected engineer and Colorado Water conservation expert.

Turns out Fisher was not his research assistant, but probably just pushed some documents his way to him to help him out. The McInnis campaign drafted a letter of apology for Mr. Fisher to sign, and he rightly told them to stuff it, publicly, through the press. As if this is not unseemly enough, the press is also sniffing around the fact that the Hasan Foundation paid McInnis $300,000 as a research fellow... For what?

Result:  Another Liberal Governor
So here we are, caught between a grass roots cipher and a plagiarizing establishment schmuck, with Hickenlooper dodging the press (he has his own issues) while he skips gaily along to the Governor’s Mansion, unhindered by a liberal press.

Have We Learned Anything?
I’m done writing now, and I can’t find a moral to this story. I don’t know what they could have done to avoid this. How do you stop backdoor shenanigans by the establishment fat cats?

Anyway, McInnis was a viable candidate before this broke. He was well-known, warts and all, and probably would have beaten Howdy Doody Hickenlooper.

Grass Roots is not always Good
Dan Maes is not a bad guy, but he’s never been tested in political battle and he’s never had to defend his record. Unless we’re talking an Army general or a business-person of Carly Fiorina or Meg Whitman caliber, a party should not stake its gubernatorial fortunes to such an amateur grass-roots candidate.

Professional Politician is not always Bad
All politicians are not bums. Reagan was a two-term Governor of California, and Jim DeMint and Paul Ryan are two seasoned politicians who merit perpetual reelection. Even phenom Sara Palin worked her way up from school board to mayor to state energy board.

We would all do well to drop the hero worship and quick embrace of a candidate. Instead, we should heed the advice of John the Apostle and “Test the spirits.”

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

If you want to understand what's going on in Afghanistan, what is at stake, and what our options are, read this article by Richard Haas.

JornoList destroys the myth of America's "unbiased, mainstream" media

Reporters really are progressive pawns:

IBD - The Smoking Gun with

WSJ - Fred Barnes

Not to say there's a media conspiracy, but at least to note that hundreds of journalists have gotten together, on an online listserv called JournoList, to promote liberalism and liberal politicians at the expense of traditional journalism.

Washington Post defends FOX News!
Howard Kurtz reports that, contrary to liberal myth-making, Fox News did not do in Shirley Sherrod.  They did not report the story until an inexperienced, trigger-happy Obama Administration fired her without first gathering all the facts,

Friday, July 23, 2010

War is Hell

Government will increase PTSD benefits, and that's a good thing

I returned from Panama 20 years ago with post traumatic stress syndrome.  I had been through a lot of violence, had seen people killed, and was almost killed myself on a few occasions.  Four Cuban soldiers dressed as Panamanian policemen jamming AK's into my car windows while shouting at my friends and me is one of my less fond memories.

PTSD is Real
You can't put a finger on it like a messed up back or worn out knees, so assigning disability can be difficult.

Author Sebastian Junger was on Bill Bennett's Morning in America the other day talking about his year embedded with a combat unit in Afghanistan.  He wrote a book about it called “War.”  They were talking about PTSD.  Killing, seeing friends killed, and almost being killed yourself are the most obvious causes.  

Other PTSD Factors
Junger went on to mention other factors I had never thought of, but they rang true.  In a war zone there is a sense of urgency and an immediacy of purpose you rarely find anywhere else.  Everything is “in the now.”   

You will never bond with others the way you did under such extreme circumstances.  You're doing an immensely important duty in a very stressful environment.  Lives are literally on the line.  It is an extreme adrenaline high.  Ironically, returning home can be a letdown.

Returning from Panama, it took me months to decompress.  Everything had moved so fast and suddenly I was thrown back into happy, peaceful America. 

I had nightmares for awhile, but they slowly went away.  The heartbreak of seeing that country and its people I had loved so much come to such violence was probably worst of all, but that slowly healed as they put it all back together.  I went about my Air Force duties, played in a Country-Rock band, and although it permanently changed me, I have no lasting negative effects.  What I remember now is all the fun I had before the trouble started.

War is A Life Changing Experience
I didn't have PTSD coming back from my year in the Middle East, just tinnitus.  I did have a hard time ramping down after working non-stop 90+ hour weeks and deploying all over the place installing and repairing communications vital to convoy security, perimeter defense and air-to-ground missions.  It was important, fast-paced work and lives were at stake.  

The picture on the left was taken at the Air Force camp at Baghdad Airport.  When I e-mailed the picture home, my wife remarked how happy I looked.  Well, I was literally having the time of my life.  Those guys with me in the picture were like my sons. I cried when they returned home...

Reuniting with my family was awesome.  Our youngest was three and she didn’t know me, so it took her awhile to warm up to me.  Although I came back with no trauma, life for me had changed forever.  So I can only imagine the hell a returning combat troop must go through.

My experience with PTSD is vastly different than the horrors experienced by our young combat troops coming home today.  I just want my fellow conservatives to know that it is real.  It also afflicts people here in the US who have witnessed violence or experienced a tragedy.

Blood and treasure are not the only costs of war
Couples divorce, families are irretrievably broken, lives are changed forever.  People who have survived combat will never be the same again.  Children will lose parents; spouses will lose their beloved; siblings and parents will be left with nothing but memories.  War wrecks lives and produces a cohort of walking wounded.  For this reason, military action should never be taken lightly.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Immigration: Is The West Waking Up?


For the doctrines of anti-racism and multiculturalism have not ended intolerance, prejudice or discrimination. They have instead institutionalised reverse discrimination and up-ended truth, morality and justice. -- Melanie Phillips 

Australian Liberals Rethink Immigration

Melanie Phillips writes about Australia’s new Labor Party Prime Minister.
Here is a politician with a solid pedigree on the ‘anti-racist’ Left rejecting former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s call for a ‘Big Australia’ formed by continuing large-scale immigration.

Instead, Gillard has said she understands the anxieties of folk in western Sydney, western Melbourne or the Gold Coast growth corridor in Queensland.

As for the boats of asylum-seekers, Gillard has made clear she wants to be even more effective in stopping them in order to protect ‘our sanctuary’ and ‘the Australian way’.
Great Britain is also opening its eyes...
A similar political convulsion is occurring in Britain. The Conservative Home Secretary, Theresa May, has promised to put a cap on immigration, a pledge that was in the Conservative manifesto but rarely mentioned during the election campaign.

Now that our Western cousins have broken the global taboo, can we open up a few topics of conversation here in the US as well?

Can we point out that fundamentalist Islam and its Sharia law is incompatible with our Constitution and our God-given freedoms?  And that it is diametrically opposed to the fundamental values our country was founded upon?

Can we ask why Muslim “refugees” must take refuge in a Western country? Why can’t they instead go to a country hospitable to their beliefs, like another Muslim country? Saudi Arabia, home of Mecca, would be a great destination.

Of course, refugees who repudiate the 7th Centrury obscurantism and misogyny of fundamentalist Islam and embrace our values, like Aayan Hirsi Ali, are always welcome.

Can we now proudly stand for our culture and our values without being called racist? Muslims do it, why can’t we?

Can we also say that we have nothing against Mexicans and other Latin Americans, but that we just want them to enter our country legally and learn English so they can participate fully in the American dream?

Borders, Language, Culture
Progressives don’t want to hear it because it comes from Doc Savage, but it really is about “Borders, Language and Culture.” That is what defines a people. Break them down and you destroy a nation.

Sharia in The West is like urine in a water hole; any amount is too much.
-- Pat Condell

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Agony and the Arrogance

Our government doesn't know what it's doing, but it keeps doing it anyway...

Here’s a bit of wisdom from that infamous economy wrecker, Senator Chris Dodd (D-Wall Street), upon passage of the Banking “Reform” Bill:

"It will take the next economic crisis, as certainly it will come, to determine whether or not the provisions of this bill will actually provide this generation or the next generation of regulators with the tools necessary to minimize the effects of that crisis." (Fox News)

Reminds me of Pelosi saying we’d have to pass health care so we can see what’s in it.  So they create hundreds of thousands of pages of red tape and tens of thousand of new bureaucratic overlords, and they don’t even know if it will work or not.   It wouldn’t be so bad if they were they were funding this progressive alchemy with their own money, on their own progressive commune out of sight of decent society...

Question: If this fixes “Too Big To Fail,” why does the bill include a huge fund for bailing out or dismantling banks that become too big to fail?

A Surplus of Government Arrogance, A Deficit of Humility
Amity Shlaes, as usual, provides a searchlight of reason that cuts through the progressive fog:
Good policy is what might be calledhumble policy. It starts with admitting what we don’t know. Thatincludes who will lead growth in 2011 or 2012, where that personlives, and how he or she will get capital. 

Humble policy thengoes on to concentrate on trying to let our economy become thatbroad space that future businesses and industries still unknown,might find inviting. 

Her steps to humility start with cutting taxes and regulation, "including the new health-care mandate."  This puts money in the hands of employers and removes uncertainty that this bureaucratic behemoth has created.  It puts more money and personal decision-making back where it belongs:  to the individual.
The next humble step would be to set policy to benefit theoverall economy, not any specific group.

The third humble policy is demanding a serious commitmentfrom lawmakers to abandon fiscal stimulus.

The fourth humble move is up to voters. It is to reduceexpectations about entitlements. 
Progressives lack the humility to acknowledge what Thomas Sowell has learned through a lifetime of study.  Each human being has a fundamental right to order his or her own life:

Freedom is not simply the right of intellectuals to circulate their merchandise. It is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their 'betters.'" -- Dr. Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions
A free and orderly marketplace arrives at better decisions than any government program ever has.
"Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace.

No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for those are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history." -- Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed, p. 112

For more on the topic of Government Hubris, I highly recommend George Will’s excellent column, The High Price of American Hubris

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another day, another cheap political shot from our demagogic president

President Obama and Representative Pete Hoekstra both attended a ribbon cutting for a battery manufacturing plant in West Michigan last week

Holland, Michigan (CNN) - Is it bad form to attend a ribbon cutting celebration when you voted against paying for the project? Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, sat smiling in the front row today as President Obama marked the groundbreaking of a new stimulus-funded project in Holland, Michigan. (CNN)

Liberal toadie CNN reports the truth... Just not all of it. They omitted The President’s money quote:
But during his remarks, President Obama made an un-presidential remark towards Hoekstra, saying: 
"Some made the political calculation that it's better to obstruct than to lend a hand. Now that doesn't stop them from being at ribbon cuttings, but that's OK." (Hoekstra Press Release) (RCP - President’s Remarks)
Just what we’ve come to expect from the Community Agitator in Chief.  The new business is in Pete Hoekstra’s district, he’s running for governor, and he’s a politician, so of course he attended the groundbreaking.

Being against the stimulus is not being anti-jobs. In this case, it’s just the opposite.

Picking Winners and Losers

Here is part of Hoekstra’s response:
"Welcome to Holland, Michigan," Hoekstra said. "If you take a look around, you will see companies that were built by individuals and families. They have never received a government stimulus package. They built it with their own creativity and hard work.

Remember that for every dollar that we give to one business, there is whole group of other businesses that have provided the money to subsidize and invest in the business that the government has chosen." (Hoekstra Press Release)
Exactly. Michigan is a high tax, high regulation state, which is why their unemployment rate is well above even the dismal national average. It’s not the workers, it's the government and the failed liberal policies.

Playing Favorites, Spreadin' it Around

To get LG to build that plant in West Michigan, the federal government provided $151 million in stimulus money, and the state of Michigan exempted the business from much of it’s onerous tax laws and regulations. The total incentive package is worth over $300 million, which is a little under $1 million per job. That’s playing favorites with tax money extracted from taxpayers, and perversely, businesses that must compete with this government-favored company. (

Hoekstra has a better plan:

"Wouldn't it be more appropriate if we gave a better tax climate to all of our businesses all across the country, all across West Michigan, so that we can see and realize the creativity of all Americans? Not just the ones that are chosen by government," Hoekstra continued.
The very fact that government must suspend their rules and regulations in order to create jobs is itself an indictment of its policies. If we had a good jobs environment, with the right balance of rules and regulation in place, the government would not need to provide incentives.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bank Reform: The Wall Street Casino is Still Open

...  And taxpayers continue to foot the bill

They watered down the Volker Rule and came up with some really creepy language that could be right out of a Glenn Beck Parody...

May a Council of Regulators Infest Your Bank Vault!
when banks grow “too big to fail,” a 10-person “council of regulators,” with the Treasury secretary at the helm, can opt to crack down on them (Daily Beast - Wall Street Outsmarts Congress)

Let the Gambling Continue!
The big fight centered around the Volcker Rule, named for Obama’s lanky Wall Street adviser, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who pushed for a complete ban on proprietary, or “prop,” trading

This is the money a bank gambles for its own gain, often using customers’ deposits as the seed bet, borrowing wantonly above that to keep things extra interesting.
The basic math encourages crazy risk: Hit it big, and bankers get a monster bonus; crap out, and the taxpayers sit on the hook for a bailout.

Yes, Our Scott Brown...
A strict Volcker Rule would have fixed that, and Wall Street shuddered accordingly. But after new Republican Senator Scott Brown extracted a watered-down version—banks will be allowed to risk 3 percent of their capital via prop trading and own up to 3 percent of hedge funds and private equity funds—Wall Street did what it’s best at: creating complicated solutions to exploit loopholes.

So Let The (Taxpayer Funded) Games Continue!
First, most banks are already content to bet tens of billions, given the leverage available, while sitting under the 3 percent threshold. For them, it’s business as usual.

Similarly, even once banks rub up against the 3 percent, they’ve already concocted another evasive maneuver: Keep the game, change the name. Specifically, Dodd-Frank allows banks to take the other side of a bet that a customer wants to make. “You could say, ‘Hey, I’m doing this for my clients,’” one sales trader explained to me. Voila! Prop trading, under a new guise.
Pay for Play Government 
All Congress had to do was remove the safety nets and tell the gamblers disguised as bankers that if they fail they are on their own.  Instead, the shell game continues, as Wall Street money flows into the pockets of Democrat politicians.

This is a bipartisan raping of the US taxpayer
More insidious, is it a congressional bribery scheme:   They craft complex laws no one understands, then extract money from those harmed by the law in exchange for advantageous carve-outs and exemptions.

The right points to government malfeasance, the left points to crony capitalists.  If everyone could see that both are true, the taxpayer-funded big government-big business orgy would be over.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why Progressivism?

You can’t argue against it if you don’t understand it...

Michael Barone, America’ preeminent political scholar, explores the roots of progressivism, that un-American and statist doctrine spawned at the dawn of the 20th century.

Progressivism’s Premise
The Progressives explicitly repudiated the Founders’ vision of limited government. They argued that government needed to redistribute property, to take money from one group of citizens to help others, and to regulate economic activity in ways previously considered unconstitutional.
More importantly, says Barone, “They feared revolution.”  Even “good” countries experienced such upheavals back in the late 1800’s.  People of the early 1900’s looked up to central-planning strong men as the wave of the future, if not out of fear of central-planning communists.  You see, fascism, communism and progressivism were not opposing ideologies, they were competing for the support of the same group of people!

The teeming hordes of city dwellers who manned America’s factories became a particular concern of progressives:
Most city residents rented rather than owned their homes; they cashed their paychecks for cash rather than have bank accounts; they depended on charity if they became disabled or widowed.
It was the America of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie—a very hard America (as I used the term in my 2004 book, Hard America, Soft America), an America with plenty of competition and accountability, but which could be very unforgiving of mistakes and misfortunes. Millions made their way upwards, but most never accumulated significant wealth.
Progressivism was sprung from a sense of condescending paternal benevolence, urged along by a will to order.
The Progressives and their progeny, the New Dealers—whether acting out of benevolence, hunger for power, or fear—were paternalistic; but they were also precautionary.
Give the masses work relief, Social Security, deposit insurance, a floor on wages and prices, they thought, and the masses will not revolt or be attracted to the totalitarian faiths advancing in the Old World—the Communism that many intellectuals championed, the fascism that Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote was “the wave of the future.”
The irony here, is that the US government, insulating itself from socialist totalitarian ideologies, itself became more totalitarian and more socialist.
The Progressives argued that economic freedoms were unimportant because ordinary people, lacking property, didn’t really have much economic freedom anyway.
As such, property rights must be subordinated to human rights. It was better to guarantee people education, healthcare, food, housing—the domestic programs that Franklin Roosevelt advanced as victory in World War II neared in 1944 and 1945
It’s always for the good of society, security, equality, social justice...  As The State increases, the individual decreases. 

It is helpful to recall that Benjamin Franklin quote progressives were so fond of spouting in the days after 9/11:

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." -- Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

I'm spending more time with my kids now, so that means shorter posts.  Especially on Saturdays.  I need to teach them to think and shoot.  Happy reading!

Climategate “Investigations”

Of course, the Climategate "investigations" in England were a joke.  They were bought and paid for by East Anglia University, which makes millions off of keeping this scam alive.

How Big Government Botched the Oil Spill
How do I hate big government?  Let me count the ways.  This is the most complete and concise catalog of government incompetence concerning the Gulf oil spill.  Read it and ponder that this is the government that is taking over health care and banking...

Stupak and the “Pro-Life Democrat” Myth
Bart Stupak:  Bought and paid for by Obama and the Pelosicrats. We now have US Government funded abortions for the first time. Thanks Bart! You done The Knights of Columbus proud!

Have a happy weekend!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Good News from Afghanistan!

Only two weeks on the ground and General Petraeus is already making things happen! 
KABUL, Afghanistan — After intensive discussions with NATO military commanders, the Afghan government on Wednesday approved a program to establish local defense forces around the country, with the potential to help remote areas thwart attacks by Taliban insurgents. 

The NATO-backed program, which will be supervised by the Interior Ministry, will pay salaries to the members of these new forces, an inducement that could generate widespread recruitment. (NY Times)

Afghanistan Awakening

General Petraeus is adapting the successful Iraqi Awakening concept and applying it to Afghanistan.  Karzai is suspicious (probably because he and his cronies can't make money off of it), but NATO is pressing on.
The program is similar in some respects to the Sunni Awakening movement in Iraq — although it is not expected to include insurgents who have switched sides. 
I'm waiting to hear what Army veteran and military commentator Ralph Peters has to say.  He is one of my go-to experts on this kind of stuff.  It falls in line with what Peters has suggested to try and salvage some kind of win from this sagging effort.

Nationalization could take decades, making a regional approach the way to go.  You can call it bribery, you can call it making friends with "the enemy," but it worked in Iraq, and such an approach fits the cultural landscape.

Incentivizing local chieftains and their tribes to reject the Al Qaida foreigners is a good idea and it could work.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gay Rights, States Rights

The Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is in trouble. A federal judge ruled last week that Massachusetts law trump federal law in this case
“This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status,” Judge Tauro wrote in the case brought by Ms. Coakley. “The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state.” (NY Times)
I agree. The US Constitution is silent concerning marriage. It has always been a state issue. Besides being a victory for gay rights, it is also a victory for states rights.

Religious conservatives are not happy
Chris Gacek, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, a leading conservative group, said he was disappointed by the decision.

“The idea that a court can say that this definition of marriage that’s been around forever is irrational is mind-boggling,” Mr. Gacek said. “It’s a bad decision.”
I agree with Gacek, but he is on very thin constitutional ice. 

In a related article, The Times goes a gathering opinions from Tea Party Americans. They come away disappointed. Everyone they talked to said hooray for states rights while expressing no support for gay marriage. Nuance from neanderthals... Who’d a thunk it?

Here are the issues going forward:
Now that the right of a state to set it’s own marriage laws has been reaffirmed, will a good conservative state like Utah be allowed to ban gay marriage? No way. A very good case can be made that this is a civil rights issue.

Even if a state were to fend off such lawsuits, Article 4 Section 1 of the US Constitution would force one state to accept another state’s marriage license.

Could the government eventually compel a church to perform gay marriages? Could a church be prosecuted via US Code or face a discrimination lawsuit for refusing?

A Semantic Criticism 
Many believe the term “marriage” should be reserved for traditional man-woman relationships, since that is the historical meaning of the word. I would like to see the states get out of “marriage” altogether and instead focus on administering civil partnerships and sorting out the rights therein.  Leave marriage to churches and synagogues.

Elton John agrees:

“What is wrong with Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off, the word marriage… I don’t want to be married. I’m very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership… You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships.” -- Elton John  (Big Hollywood)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Progressivism: A Vapid and Hollow Charade

GOP senators should filibuster the Kagan nomination.  I know, they’d lose.  But they would hopefully awaken somnolent American citizens to the loss of their natural rights.

In a rare blip of actual substance, Kagan revealed she would not move to overturn a law mandating every citizen eat a congressionally-prescribed amount of vegetable every day.  If Congress can tell us what to eat under threat of prosecution, what can they not do?  (See George Will’s questions for Elena Kagan here and here)

Prosecute Kagan for Lying to Congress
Kagan also professed ignorance of the term “Judicial Progressivism.”  This and her her studied agnosticism on natural rights (upon which our nation was founded), are enough to indict her for lying to Congress.

She was dean of Harvard Law School and she knows nothing of these issues?  Either Harvard got ripped off big time, or she’s a liar.

If a Man Can Grant it to You, A Man can Take it Away
Jacob Sullum, in his excellent Reason article explains the importance of natural rights:
Constitutional interpretation aside, Kagan's reluctance to endorse the concept of pre-existing rights was troubling because without it we cannot draw moral distinctions between legal regimes.

How can we condemn a dictator for legally authorized oppression, or say that our own Constitution is better now that it bans slavery than it was when it tacitly approved the practice?

The traditional American answer is that people have certain rights by virtue of being human, regardless of what the law says.
I include the two George Will articles because they are good thought pieces that help us ordinary folks think through constitutional concepts with concrete, real-world questions.

* - Kagan years ago called Supreme Court nomination hearings, "Vapid and hollow charades."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mile High Miscarriage of Justice

If this don’t make your blood boil, I don’t know what will...
WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. - Admitted thieves are going free, while an elderly Wheat Ridge man is facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars, all, he says, for trying to defend his property and his life. (Fox 31 - Denver)
Two illegal immigrants (who had been arrested and released various times in Denver) tried to steal an 82 year-old man’s flatbed trailer and he shot one of the slimeballs as they were getting away. What did the Jefferson County DA do? He let the immigrants go and charged the armed citizen with four counts of attempted murder. 

This is no surprise to Coloradans. We are a fairly libertarian state suffering a liberal red rash running from Denver, through the People’s Republic of Boulder and up to Fort Collins.

ICE agents arrested both illegal scumbags and are holding them on a $100,000 bond!  Kudos to local morning talk jock Peter Boyles.  Rumor has it Bill O'Reilly may pick up the story.  All that's left is for Jefferson County DA Scott Storey to climb down and admit what a gross injustice his office has inflicted on the 82 year old Robert Wallace.  
"Even if we want to, we can't just go shoot someone in our front yard"

That's what the nattering nanny says on the 9 News video.  I say Bull!  Notice the progressive use of "we can't just..."  Who says?  Defending one's property is a natural right of free people.  If more scumbag robbers were shot, there would be less robberies.     

Denver has been a de facto sanctuary city for years

When Governor Bill Ritter was DA, he routinely caught and released illegal immigrant criminals, freeing them up to drive drunk, rape and kill. When confronted with the death and destruction he had caused, he reached for the liberal playbook and blamed “the system.”

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, “The Looper,” denies the sanctuary city charge, but ask anyone who lives there, where East Colfax now looks like Little Jalisco. The Looper wants to be our next governor, but the little Howdy Doody got caught gushing over Van Jones like a lovesick teen...

Earth to Little Looper!  Colorado is an energy industry state!

Monday, July 12, 2010

“Silent” Immigration Raids

The Obama Administration is cracking down on illegal immigration by punishing those who hire them

The New York Times is boo hooing big bleeding heart tears over the now-unemployed illegal aliens, but I congratulate the Obama administration for having the courage to do this, and for doing it in the right way:

BREWSTER, Wash. — The Obama administration has replaced immigration raids at factories and farms with a quieter enforcement strategy: sending federal agents to scour companies’ records for illegal immigrant workers.   
These  “silent raids” have resulted in...

... audits of employee files at more than 2,900 companies. The agency has levied a record $3 million in civil fines so far this year on businesses that hired unauthorized immigrants, according to official figures. Thousands of those workers have been fired, immigrant groups estimate.
Obama does something right for a change
This is the right approach befitting a humane, freedom loving nation.  It rightly places the punishment on unscrupulous employers while short-circuiting the hooting lefties who love shouting "NAZI!" every time an immigration enforcement officer does his job.       

“Instead of hundreds of agents going after one company, now one agent can go after hundreds of companies,” said Mark K. Reed, president of Border Management Strategies, a consulting firm in Tucson that advises companies across the country on immigration law. “And there is no drama, no trauma, no families being torn apart, no handcuffs.”       
Take away the jobs and the illegal aliens will eventually self-deport.  Meanwhile, raided businesses are now doing things the right way, filling out the forms and bringing in legal guest workers from Mexico and Jamaica.

I love this quote from one of the illegals who was bounced from her job:
“They are bringing people from outside,” Ms. Cervantes said, perplexed. “What will happen to those of us who are already here?”       
Thousands of American trades people and unskilled workers have been asking the same question for years, Ms. Cervantes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Education and the Whining of America

You mean some college degrees are worth more than others?

Another day, another whiny story from the New York Times...

First it was the girl who got a degree in womens lesbian comparative religion literature studies. She’s upset because she’s $100,000 in debt and working a dead-end job for $22 an hour in high cost San Fran Sicko. As one reader commented, “She got the job she’s qualified for.”

Next, the New York Times reports on a spoiled young graduate who just can’t find a job worthy of his grossly overinflated sense of self. He’s living with mommy and daddy.
After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder. ( NY Times - A New Generation)
Good choice, Skippy! Why stoop to Abraham Lincoln’s level by working your way up? So this pampered prince continues sponging off his parents. But he worries to the reporter that the folks won’t be too pleased to hear he turned down a job. This after his grandparents paid for all his college expenses.

He’s had to work for absolutely nothing, and pay for absolutely nothing, so he values nothing. If this is the face of the new generation, our country is in big trouble.

For two-thirds of us, college is a waste of time

The 22 year old baby still living at home actually got a useful degree, unlike the first person in this article. She may have been better off learning the trade of photography. Educator Patrick Welsh says...
Over the past five years, I have seen students who didn't have the skills one would expect of a ninth-grader going off to four-year colleges where fewer than 30% of entering freshman graduate.

That means that 70% of the freshman class is likely to end up not with a diploma but a pile of debt. (USA Today - Is College Overrated?)
He goes on to point out that two-thirds of high school graduates do not need a degree anyway:
Arnold Packer, co-director of the landmark study "Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21st Century," points out that in 2018 — as is the case today — two of three jobs in America will not require either a bachelor's degree from a four-year college or an associate degree from a community college.
We’re sending people off to college who really shouldn’t be there, and the drop out rate reflects that. Worse, colleges are graduating students who lack basic job skills, which ends up cheapening the value of a bachelors degree.

So what should the other two-thirds do?

Vocational training and professional licensing. Non-college credentials are gaining currency in the professional world of work. Unlike a degree, a license or certification proves to an employer that the holder has passed a comprehensive test proving she has the necessary job skills.

Welsh observes...
Jobs in health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, retail trade and so-called middle-skill jobs such as plumbers, electricians, legal assistants and police officers will require job specific licenses or certificates from community colleges or technical institutes, and/or on the job training.

In fact, many graduates of four-year colleges are now enrolled in community colleges to get the specific training and licensure for jobs for which college did not prepare them.