Friday, December 16, 2011

Obama may truly be Carter 2.0

As of now there is no crystal ball for the 2012 elections. There are almost no certainties except that Obama will not do better than his 2008 performance. As of now not much has changed from a year ago when I wrote that we are going to have a return to the 2000 electoral map and have another close race.

The only thing that has changed is that I think that there is real chance for a Republican blow-out as happened in 1980. There is so much disapproval of Obama, especially among working-class labor voters (teamsters, laborers, machinists, etc... ) that the loss of this core Democratic block would result in an electoral blow-out.

A generation ago this voting block was called Reagan Democrats. It was nothing like that - it was that construction union members felt estranged from Carter in much the same way their children feel estranged from Obama. The more the Republicans bring up Keystone and Solyndra the more "Reagan Democrats" will be tempted to vote for the Republican candidate. For this to be true the Republican candidate must, in the same way that Reagan did, prove that he is not the evil, brain-dead, dangerous caricature he is made out to be. It may very well be close until the last month before voters move en mass away from Obama.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Rick Perry Comeback?

I'm not a Rick Perry fan (not being a social conservative) but I must say I've been impressed with his latest debating performances. Perry's road to the Whitehouse would have been fairly smooth if not for his numerous debating blunders. It was a major strategic error for him not to have spent months honing his debating skills before announcing his candidacy. As it is his candidacy is on lifesupport and his only chance is for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich to bloody themselves while he resurrects his campaign.

Can Rick Perry do that? Yes, but only if he runs a flawless campaign AND his debating performances improve to the point where he can battle Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney head on. He needs to prove that he will not embarrass himself and his supporters come his debates with Obama next fall.

Right now Mitt Romeny is in a terrible position: social conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Party types do not want him as their nominee. Gingrich is suspect (Health Care, Global Warming, "Right-Wing Social Engineering") but, when on message, says all the right things. If Newt and Romney split the early delegates and Perry catches on strong we may very well have a brokered convention. Perry, as a sitting governor; as a candidate coming on strong; as an establishment favorite would have an excellent shot at walking out with the nomination.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Romney Flip-Flopping

I'm not much of a Romney fan, but I have to say that this Romney campaign flyer from 1994 is quite interesting. Romney may have his flip-flopping issues but it's nothing like Kerry's "I was for it before I was against it" statement.

In this campaign flyer Romney states that he is for lower taxes, against endless government deficits and against federally mandated health care.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You're Going to Need Some Brand New Lines

An excellent video: Obama's Going to Need Some Brand New Lines

Friday, September 2, 2011

Solyndra & Obama: Another Example of Government Picking the Winners

Government can pick the winners say statists of all sorts. And, once again, with the bankruptcy of Soyndra we see the problem of corporatism -- government experts cannot pick the winners. In the 1980s numerous American statists pointed to Japan as the way of the future. Japan, Inc. it was called. Corporatism was the perfect blend of big business and big government.

The future didn't work the way the statists expected; but then it never does. The US government sunk over $500,000,000 in Solyndra only to have it end in bankruptcy.

The California solar panel manufacturer that received a high-profile $535-million Energy Department loan guarantee said it was ceasing operations, laying of 1,100 workers and preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. ...
It was quite a fall from late 2009, when Solyndra received a $535-million federal loan guarantee as part of the $787-billion economic stimulus package. In May 2010, company executives hosted President Obama on a factory tour and said they expected to add employees. ...
Solyndra would become the third such company to file for bankruptcy in recent days. Spectrawatt Inc. of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 19. Evergreen Solar Inc. of Marlboro, Mass., filed for Chapter 11 on Aug. 15.
Solar panel firm Solyndra to cease operations

Global Warming: It's the Suns' Fault

For years now AGW proponents have argued two points: that their models are accurate (and becoming ever more so) and that the debate is settled, namely that all scientists agree that human activity is the cause of the "dramatic" increase in global temperature and CO2 in the atmosphere.

People like me, who question the accuracy of the findings (and are appalled by the politics surrounding the issue) are derided as anti-science, anti-reason boobs.

Now, out comes a research study from CERN, a study long-delayed due to political intereference, which turns the AGW positions on its head. It's findings, if true, completely invalidate the existing climate models. Second, and as important, it once again underscores the fact that AGW is not "settled" science.

The CERN press release states that "it is clear that the treatment of aerosol formation in climate models will need to be substantially revised." The press release concludes with the statement "However, it is premature to conclude that cosmic rays have a significant influence on climate until the additional nucleating vapours have been identified, their ion enhancement measured, and the ultimate effects on clouds have been confirmed."

The concluding statement is a necessary show of scientific humility, one not taken by the AGW zealots.

If you want to hear a presentation made by Jasper Kirkby at a TED conference, here it is:

EDIT: 9/14/2011

For further evidence that the science is not settled note that Nobel Prize Physicists are resigning from the American Physical Society over the position that the debate is settled.

Thank you for your letter inquiring about my membership. I did not renew it because I can not live with the statement below:

Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate....

For further reading see the following from the American Physical Society:

There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.

As for example the following quote from an APS article, Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) concluded that anthropogenic CO2 emissions probably caused more than half of the “global warming” of the past 50 years and would cause further rapid warming. However, global mean surface temperature has not risen since 1998 and may have fallen since late 2001. The present analysis suggests that the failure of the IPCC’s models to predict this and many other climatic phenomena arises from defects in its evaluation of the three factors whose product is climate sensitivity:

1.Radiative forcing ΔF;
2.The no-feedbacks climate sensitivity parameter κ; and
3.The feedback multiplier ƒ.

Some reasons why the IPCC’s estimates may be excessive and unsafe are explained. More importantly, the conclusion is that, perhaps, there is no “climate crisis”, and that currently-fashionable efforts by governments to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions are pointless, may be ill-conceived, and could even be harmful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Food Stamps Stimulate Jobs

Obama's Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack thinks that food stamps are an economic stimulus. If that's the case then why don't we expand the program? Surely giving everyone food stamps will expand the economy even faster. And why stop there? Why don't we give everyone $1000.00 gift certificates that they can spend at any store? Surely that would stimulate the economy in the same way. Think of all the jobs that would be made designing the gift certificates, putting them into envelopes and mailing them. Think of the jobs created as people use these certificates buying TVs and cars and going out to restaurants.

What a wonderful idea. Why haven't I thought that before? Oh, I did - it's called The Ditch-Digger's Fallacy.

Obama's Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: "Well, obviously, it's putting people to work. Which is why we're going to have some interesting things in the course of the forum this morning. Later this morning, we're going have a press conference with Secretary Mavis and Secretary Chu to announce something that's never happened in this country -- something that we think is exciting in terms of job growth. I should point out, when you talk about the SNAP program or the foot stamp program, you have to recognize that it's also an economic stimulus. Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity. If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It's the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times."

Monday, August 15, 2011

I will work every day to make Washington, DC as inconsquential in your life as I can

I don't yet know what I think about Rick Perry but any elected official that thinks that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme and wants to limit the power of Imperial Washington is, at the very least, saying the right things.

EDIT 8/16/2011

Interesting articles regarding Rick Perry and the 2012 Elections:

Seventeen (17) things that critics are saying about Rick Perry
from Pesky Truth

Romney vs. Perry: How the Numbers (and the Calendar) Stack Up by Sean Trende

The Fall of the Midwest Economic Model by Michael Barone

EDIT 8/17/2011

An excellent review of the "Texas Miracle"

Rick Perry and Texas Job Numbers

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wisconsin Recall Elections - A recap

It looks as if both sides think they did well in the Wisconsin Recall Elections. I think the Tea Party did well. Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos thinks that Progressives did well. That’s a good thing isn’t it, in this period of rancor and distrust? Both sides did well.

The argument, promoted by Progressives, union leaders and the MSM, has been that the Tea Party legislators are backed by a small minority of Americans. The legislators managed to win seats in an off-year election and, when in office, acted irresponsibly and against the will of the majority of the electorate. The Wisconsin electorate, it has been argued, is horrified by the actions of Governor Walker and the State Legislature and are attempting to right a wrong.

This time, it is argued, the people are not caught unawares; this time the people will stand up and remove the hateful ideologues who are plaguing their great state. Millions of dollars were raised as well as tens of millions of dollars worth of volunteer labor from Wisconsin labor and progressives and their supporters in the neighboring states of Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

What was the end result? Democrats managed to recall the elections of just 6 of the19 Republican State Senators. And after millions of dollars were spent only 2 of these Republican State Senators were recalled. On the face of it “taking back” 2 seats is very positive for the Democrats who want to “Take Wisconsin Back.” There are several points that modify this position.

First, when you threaten to destroy your opponent if they don’t stop what they’re doing (ending collective bargaining for government workers) and they continue what they’re doing you better deliver on your threat. The Democrats and the Unions did not deliver.

Second, the reason for the recall was supposed to be about the workers' rights and collective bargaining but these points were not the focal point of the Democrat attack ads. In fact these salient points were not mentioned at all.

Third, reviewing the two seats that the Democrats won show that it is even less of a “moral” victory than first meets the eye. One of the Republicans, Dan Kapanke, was a Republican in a Democrat district and was considered to have little chance of winning, the other was scandal plagued. Randy Hopper left his wife and children and moved in with his mistress. If anything it is surprising that this race was so close (51-49).

Fourth, there is no reason to believe that these elections are part of a trend which will shortly remove the hated Governor Walker and other Tea Party Republicans from office. Each of the Republican State Senators facing recall yesterday were in toss-up districts that went for Obama in 2008 – they were not in deep Red districts in which one would not expect a Democrat to win. Next week two Democrats are themselves facing recall elections and it looks as if Jim Holperin will lose, for much the same reason as Kapanke, the Republican, did. He’s a Democrat in a Republican district. The other Democrat seems to be safe – if he is turned then this adventure by the Democrat Party, President Obama, and public unions is nothing less than a complete repudiation of their basic tenant: that smaller, live-within-your-means-without-higher-taxes government is "extreme" and not mainstream.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wisconsin Recall Elections

If the Democrats only win 2 tonight they are hurting, not only in Wisconsin Politics but how it affects the 2012 election in a million little ways. It emboldens Tea Party activists, gives strength to squishy legislators and depresses government paycheck workers. Wow. What a change in this country in only 3 years.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Those Evil Republicans and Tea Party Types

The NYTs has an article, Looking for a Pool and Coming Up Dry as Cities Shave Budgets, bemoaning the fact that pools around the nation are closed due to budgetary issues. As usual the entertainment (and the horror) comes from reading the comments:

Said one person:
Why not keep the pools all closed? And the rec centers too! That way we can breed even more criminals and the Republicans can be happy keeping American prisons the busiest in the world.
Said another:
Capitalism has devolved into buying and selling companies (and often leaving them weak, like Mitt Romney did at Bain), rather than creation of real wealth and lasting enterprise. Rewarding the stripmining of our economy hardly constitutes rewarding effort, as libertarians would have use believe.
And yet another:
just another reason why republicans are like vacuum cleaners.
And yet another:
The wealthy often own ocean/lakefront property, just as they have their private swimming pools. Based on the Koch mentality, low- and middle-class people have no right to believe that they should have access to a luxury such as a public pool.
And yet another:
Well, closing pools because of insufficient public funds illustrates how the Tea Party (etc) approach to "starving the beast" (cutting taxes as a matter of course) is really about starving the middle class and the poor.
And yet another:
The credo of the Tea Party and Republicans: let's get rid of the common good.
And yet another:
But as long as Americans continue to elect people who advocate for anti-tax corporatists, things like shuttered pools will be the new normal.

Of course it never enters anyone's mind that perhaps you can have pools and beaches without lifeguards. Here's a suggestion - swim at your own risk. Just say no to the lawsuits and say yes to individual freedom and individual responsibility.

Don't blame taxpayers for wanting to curtail spending - blame our tort laws that require lifeguards.

The Minnesota Government Shutdown

How far will Republican lawmakers go to protect millionaires? Those who think a default on the federal government’s credit seems implausible should take a sobering look at the “closed” signs dotting Minnesota. The Republican Party there readily shut down the state’s government on Friday by refusing to raise taxes on the 7,700 Minnesotans who make more than $1 million a year.

Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, campaigned for office last year promising to raise taxes on high earners, so it was no surprise when he proposed a tax increase on families making more than $150,000 a year to help close a $5 billion budget gap. In negotiations with the Republican majority in the Legislature, he compromised and reduced the increase to those making $1 million or more, but Republicans are refusing to consider any income tax increase.

Antitax Extremism in Minnesota

It’s truly sad that the above paragraphs make sense to some. Let’s look at this in closer detail. The NYT editorial board thinks that the budget can be closed by taxing the wealthy. This is a common disease among the left. They think that problems can be solved simply by “taxing the rich.” Well – let’s look at this shall we. According to the NYTs there are 7,700 Minnesotans who make more than $1 million a year. Let’s assume that’s true. Governor Dayton was willing to cut two billion in services provided those making over a million would pay for the rest? How much would you have to raise taxes to collect three billion off those 7,700 families? Assuming the average earning of these millionaires is 1.5 million (it’s probably much less than that) their total income per year would be 11.5 billion. To close the gap from these millionaires you would have to take another 25% of their earnings.[See Footnote] The current tax rate is 7.85% for those making over 74,651. To meet Governor Dayton’s goal their state tax rate would quadruple to over 34%.

Any guesses on how many of these millionaires would leave Minnesota? Any guesses on the difficulty on attracting businesses and wealthy people to relocate to Minnesota? Funny how those questions never cross people's minds.

One of the reasons China is doing so well is that they have learned (as too many socialists, umm progressives, urr, make that liberals have not) that redistribution of income hinders wealth creation. I’m not suggesting that we go the China route – only that one of the reasons China is doing so well is that they understand that the massive redistribution of wealth, as espoused by Minnesota’s Governor Dayton and the NYT's editorial board, doesn’t work IF you are trying to build wealth.


11,500,000.00 (7,700 * 1.5 million)
3,001,500.00 (desired extra 3 billion in revenue)
0.261 (tax rate required to raise revenue)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Maybe Keynes Wasn't Right

"We don't have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting," Bernanke said. He said the weak housing market and problems in the banking system might be "more persistent than we thought."
Bernanke: Drags on economy may last into next year

Here's some ideas for you - central planning doesn't work; the free market isn't an idle pipe dream; Keynes was wrong.

Obama Health Care - Let's Give a Waiver to the Entire Country

They [the administration] began with the claim that there was no difference between activity and inactivity, since both involved decisions, and thus could be reached under the commerce power. Having largely abandoned this unwinnable argument, they now claim that the mandate does not really compel individuals to buy insurance, but merely regulates their inevitable future health-care consumption.

But because the future consumption of nearly all existing goods and services is inevitable across the entire population, this argument means that Americans can then be compelled to purchase an infinite variety of goods and services chosen by Washington. Far from limiting what government can do, this is the ultimate enabling principle. Even Soviet apparatchiks, who told producers what to make, did not dare tell people what to buy.

I hope, pray, that enought people have woken up; that the 2010 elections were for real; that the anger at big government liberalism and disgust at entitlement programs remains - even as a voter's "own" entitlement program gets cut.

If the above is true then Obama Care is toast come 2012 and we can go to the next step - a revival of respect for the 10th Amendment
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

and the concept of "States Rights" and "Laboratories of the States".

And then finally have it remembered that the locus of sovereignty resides in the people; that government has no power that was not delegated to it.

"That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them."

Virginia Declaration of Rights

Maybe then we can start pushing back against the Counter-Enlightenment (Marxism and contemporary liberalism) and return to the Enlightenment ideals of individualism, liberty and reason.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Farrakan takes on Obama over Libya

Besides the obvious about any Farrakan speach - what's going on with his Christian preaching? I know that a few years ago he claimed that he was both a Christian and a Muslim but I must say that I found his continual use of Christian imagry to be surprising.

How much does this speach indicate a softening of support for Obama in the Black community? Will Black turnout for Obama decrease by 1%, 2%, 5%?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Libya Action not Covered by the War Power Act

How is it possible that people can still be disgusted with Bush and not with Obama? Whether one thinks that Iraq made sense or not - it was approved by Congress and it followed numerous UN resolutions. I would not have started the Iraq War but once started it needed to be finished. That said - does anybody think for one second that actions such as exist in Libya aren't covered by the War Powers Act?

According to the White House the “U.S. operations [in Libya] do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops", therefore this operation does not require the Obama Administration to ask for Congressional approval under the War Powers Act. I have not parsed the War Powers Act but if the sinking of the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were considered acts of war by the US then isn't understood that launching missles are also acts of war?

And, if it can be argued that the Libyan actions do not contravene the War Powers Act as flying sorties does not equal introducing American forces into hostilities and that the examples of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are irrelevant to the argument then at least, isn't it interesting that the whole argument comes down to original intent? Listen to what Mr. Harold Koh, the State Department legal advisor, said:

"We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own,” said Mr. Koh, a former Yale Law School dean and outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s expansive theories of executive power. “We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

Sounds like an original intent argument to me. Isn't it delicious to hear Democrats and fellow-travellers arguing over original intent? My understanding of the "original intent" of the War Powers Act was that Presidents couldn't unilaterally take us into war; that such actions required Congressional approval. If this action in Libya is not covered by the War Powers Act then we must amend and update the act to include such actions.

The quotes come from a New York Times article: White House Defends Continuing U.S. Role in Libya Operation

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On the Killing of Osama Bin Laden

If Guantanamo means more terrorists; if the Iraq War means more recruitment for Al Qaeda then won't killing OBL mean more terrorists and even better reqruitment?

The Arab Spring and the Womens Liberation Movement

There’s been so much to discuss over the last month – and I simply haven’t had enough time to finalize my posts. One thing that I’ve been very interested in has been the “Arab Spring.” Namely are we truly seeing the Arabic peoples rejecting despots and leaning towards a form of democracy? Are we seeing Muslims, particularly Arab Muslims, adjusting to the “shock” that the West had surpassed them in learning and technology; have they rejected all the “5-Year Plans” (to mix metaphors) employed over the last 150 years in order for them to regain their rightful place in the world? Have they gotten past their colonial experience? Are they willing to try a new means to superiority, something besides socialism (tried by their grandparents) or Salafist purity (a return to the pure and Golden Age of Muhammad) which has been ever more dominant over the last 30 years?

If we are to compare to Western History then this would be the 17th C when people, horrified and exhausted by the previous decades of civil war, decided to wage war no longer. One cannot make too close a comparison between the eras as it simply doesn’t hold. However, what I’m looking for is an Arabic world that looks to take care of itself economically and politically rather than one which states: “If all were pure as in the days of the prophet and there were no infidels then everything would be good and wonderful. Bread and dates in every home.”

We see what looks like “green shoots” all over, and in the strangest of fashions – I thought that Sila Sahin was a sign of the times. Here’s a quote from an article:

A Muslim beauty who bared all for Playboy may well be the next victim of an honor killing in Germany, if orthodox Muslims get their way.
When Şahin threw down the g-string, Islam was not amused. Şahin, apparently, grew up in a strict Muslim household. “What I want to say with these photos is, ‘Girls, we don’t have to live according to the rules imposed upon us,’” she told Playboy magazine. “For years I subordinated myself to various societal constraints. The Playboy photo shoot was a total act of liberation.”

Liberation for women isn’t exactly a top item on the Muslim man’s agenda. According to the New York Daily News, “Commenters [on the Internet] spewed that Şahin was ‘shaming Muslim womanhood’ and ‘prostituting herself for money,’ while others warned that she ‘needs to be very careful.’ ”
Muslim Playboy Model Sila Sahin May Lose More Than Clothes
Now, the response of “kill her,” “beat her” are expected. What is not expected is that she posed and that she said that she did so as an “act of liberation.” The women’s movement in the West is missing a big opportunity here, further proof – in case you needed it – that they are more socialist than they are for women’s liberation. I’m a big fan of the women’s liberation movement – not the socialist part; not the nanny state; not the “why can’t boys act more like girls” mentality; not the PC cowardice that is their contribution to the present day Progressive Movement – no, my appreciation for the Women’s Movement is in its individualistic roots where they are argued for women’s right to vote, to drive, to drink, to smoke, to play sports … to be free people.

That’s the Women’s Movement we need to see again.

EDIT: 5/9/2011

Take a look at this video. Is a change really happening in the Muslim world? Or am I being overly optimistic?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why is the MSM ignoring the Republican Candidate for President?

Why is it that the man who has actually announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president does not received any press attention while potential candidates like Donald Trump are mentioned every day?

Is this the MSM doing their job? And, if so, what is their job? Is it to sensationalize the issues? Is it to avoid topics and be snarky? Whatever their job is - it is not to hold a light up to the stories of the day and to give a rational, objective analysis of the facts at hand. The entire Obama Birther issue, for example, is due to the press not doing their job in 2008.

Again, why doesn't the MSM cover the man who has ACTUALLY announced his candidacy? Gary Johnson, is the ex two-term Governor of New Mexico who wants to introduce school vouchers, thinks that Gay Marriage ought to be legal and wants to legalize marihuana. Aren't education, gay marriage and the drug war topics worthy of discussion? Aren't Johnson's opinions different than what you would expect from a Republican candidate? Surely this ex-Governor should be able to break into the news cycle.

Why are this man ignored? Is it because he doesn't fit into the established narrative? Is it that we can't have people knowing that some Republicans want to legalize drugs or gay marriage?

EDIT: When I first wrote this post an hour ago I was under the impression that Herman Cain had announced his candidacy. I edited this post and removed my comments on Herman Cain.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Justin Amash, Freshman Congressman from Michigan

Thank you to the NYTs for introducing me to Justin Amash, a 30 year old attorney who is the grandson of Palestinian Christian immigrants and is now a freshman Congressman from Michigan. I hadn't heard of him before and am pleasantly surprised to find another legislator who seems to truly be in favor of limited government and is acting on his beliefs.

Representative Justin Amash does not believe the government should subsidize public broadcasting, vehemently opposes abortion rights and thinks Democrats are wrong about spending. Yet he has voted against every Republican measure that conforms to those views. ...

He has even voted against the routine matter of approving the journal of the previous day’s proceedings, because, he says, there is not enough time to read it. (This is a bit like not clicking “I Agree” on a hotel Wi-Fi agreement because you don’t have time to read the fine print.) ...

“I follow a set of principles, I follow the Constitution,” said Mr. Amash, who keeps a picture of the seating chart for his constitutional law class from the University of Michigan on his office wall. “And that’s what I base my votes on. Limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty.”
In Class of Colorful Freshmen, Meet the Most Contrarian

He explains his votes on his Facebook Page and I was delighted to see that he quoted Hayek as to why he did not vote for a particular bill.

"By 'law' we mean the general rules that apply equally to everybody . . . As a true law should not name any particulars, so it should especially not single out any specific persons or group of persons." —F.A. Hayek

Maybe the United States has a chance after all. When gadflys become commonplace we may yet have a chance of not falling down the socialist rathole.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nickeled and Dimed to Death

When you are being nickeled and dimed to death there is no big solution. The solution is nickels and dimes. Any and all items on a budget will have fervent supporters. It is, after all, their job on the line. Most of the opposition will not feel as passionate about its removal which explains why, once a bureaucracy is created, it assumes a life of its own. And, as all life, will fight to protect itself.

There are many approaches to cutting government spending. Mine focuses first on what is the role of government – should it be participating in this particular activity in the first place. If the action is not specified in the constitution then we must place the activity on the TBD (To Be Determined) list. Second I would go for low-hanging fruit. There will be much anger and tribulation over cutting anything. Not only will those directly affected be passionate in its defense but so too will all those who think that government should distribute the wealth of society.

The first entity cut will be the most difficult as all who see their little fiefdom threatened will take the approach of UNITED WE STAND and DIVIDED WE FALL. They will fight fervently for keeping even the most inane agency; the most constitutionally irrelevant spending in place. They will argue that the cause is noble and ignore the constitutional limit on government; will argue that it provides jobs (see The Ditch-Digger’s Fallacy) and will argue that without government sponsorship society will suffer the loss of an important entity – and, after all – we’re only talking about a few dollars.

They’ll break down a hundred million dollar expenditure to “It's only 33 cents / year per person. Isn’t this activity worth 33 cents?” The proper response to the last remark is that if you think it’s worth 33 cents then stand up, act as a free man, act as a citizen of a great society and not as a serf and support this important entity.


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has vowed to bring the Senate to a standstill unless congressional leaders agree to allocate $40,000 for a federal study on deepening the Port of Charleston.

Graham says one out of five jobs in South Carolina stem from trade through Charleston’s busy port, and he warns the entire state economy will suffer unless the port is overhauled.
Graham vows to bring Senate to standstill over $40K for project

Good. Then if it's so important let the people of SC pay for it. The population of South Carolina is over 4.5 million. That's less than one penny per person. If it's that important South Carolina will raise the money.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Atlas Shrugged, The Movie

I just saw the Atlas Shrugged movie trailer and must say I was a little disappointed: the dialogue seemed stilted and I wasn't "sold" on the characters. I did like the fact that the story takes place in the NOW; I did like the fact that it shows politicians as anti-business and anti-individual. I have hope that the movie will focus upon the downward, corrupting, death spiral that is socialism and spotlight the need for a revival of, and the respect for, the role of individual freedom in society.

The second time I saw the trailer I liked it better. Here is an interview with the producer.

Some lamebrains on the left will call this a "conservative" movie. There is nothing "conservative" about Ayn Rand. If you have any questions about how conservatives have felt about Ayn Rand then read what Whittaker Chambers and other conservatives have written about her. Ayn Rand is an atheist who ridicules the concept of God and revealed knowledge of any sort. How then can she possible be considered a conservative?

If you see that "conservatives" are now promoting Ayn Rand - then you, the intelligent liberal that you are, need to acknowledge that the concept conservatism has changed - and, in fact, should start realizing that the word "conservative", along with "liberal", are ones not properly defined. After all, Ayn Rand could legitimately be called a liberal as she promotes individual liberty as opposed to government control; rational, non-religious discourse as opposed to revealed truth; and capitalism (the free exchange of goods and services) as opposed to socialism (distribution of goods and services by government fiat).

Do you think that I'm crazy for thinking that? If so then I'm in good company. Here's Milton Friedman on the subject

"I never characterize myself as a conservative economist. As I understand the English language, conservative means conserving, keeping things as they are. I don't want to keep things as they are. The true conservatives today are the people who are in favor of ever bigger government. The people who call themselves liberals today -- the New Dealers -- they are the true conservatives, because they want to keep going on the same path we're going on. I would like to dismantle that. I call myself a liberal in the true sense of liberal, in the sense in which it means of and pertaining to freedom."

If you're interested here is an interesting review of the movie written by Frank Beckmann writing for The Detroit News:
'Atlas Shrugged' makes it to screen

After viewing a preview copy of "Atlas Shrugged-Part 1," I can attest to its success in following the Rand story line with several exceptions, including its setting in 2016.

But the changes don't alter the book's message that an over-reaching government will destroy American capitalism and innovation much as critics of Obama administration policies believe is happening today.

Years ago I put out "Who is John Galt" stickers on NYC streets and the subways. Perhaps it's time to do it again.

The Republican Freshman

As with everyone else hoping that "change" would come to Washington I was worried about how the new freshman would behave once they came to Washington. If the New York Times in the article: Close-Knit, New to the House, and Resistant to Blending In, is correct then perhaps there is hope afterall.

Even by the standards of Capitol Hill, where the bonds of friendship form quickly and endure, the four Republican freshmen from South Carolina stand out.

If the four South Carolina freshmen are any indication, though, the new members are doing just the opposite — turning to one another for mutual reinforcement and support, creating a ballast wall against the business-as-usual climate that tends to homogenize elected officials. And there are signs that their fellow freshmen from states like Arkansas, Florida and Illinois are standing together as well.

Here's hoping they keep fighting the good fight.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Obama Administration and the Fourth Amendment

And you thought Bush was Evil? There have been many evil ideas put forth by the US Government but view as detrimental to the health of the US than the Obama Administrations argument that data which is NOT on your computer is not protected by the 4th Amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I am less opposed to the Patriot Act then what is now coming out of the Obama Whitehouse. The Patriot Act, for all the vitriol hurled its way, appears to be nothing more than consolidating hundreds of different law enforcement techniques and then placing them in the hands of counter-terrorist officials. From what I understand -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- the only new provisions of the Patriot Act have to do with tracing money transfers.

In particular the US Government has, in at least one prosecution, invoked the 1986 Stored Communications Act which held that any email stored on a server for 6 months were to be considered abandoned and could be viewed by the government without a subpeana. This bill was enacted at a time when e-mail wasn’t stored on servers for a long time. They were held on the servers for a short time until downloaded to the recipient’s inbox.

See Wired Magazine:

Thankfully a group of ISPs, computer corporations and organizations have combined to fight this, Digital Due Process

The only reasonable course of action is to consider that any information held in an account is to be under the protection of the 4th Amendment.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Media and Statistics - why is the MSM so poor at reporting the news?

I was watching NY1, a local news channel in NYC, and heard the following report. [NY1: City Lags in Bike Commuting]

A new study finds other cities are leaving New York in the dust when it comes to bicycling to work.

OK, I think, that's interesting as I've noticed a big increase in New Yorkers bicycling. Other cities must have really stepped up their game. Then comes the next statement:

Researchers at Rutgers and Virginia Tech found the percentage of New Yorkers commuting on two wheels barely changed from 1990 through 2009, from 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.

Perhaps we've lagged behind but it's not as if the percentage barely changed - the percentage of New Yorkers cycling to work has doubled in 20 years (0.3 - 0.6). And, since NY's population has increased from 7.3 million to 8.3 million, from 1990 to 2009, one can clearly say that the population of New Yorkers commuting to work by bicycle has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

Furthermore as NY is a walking based city and we have a lot more combined commercial/residential areas than we had 20 years ago I would bet that the population walking to walk has increased as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nuclear Power is Safe

I’ve never been a fan of nuclear power for a whole slew of reasons. These reasons often times boils down to the fact that nuclear power is uneconomical as it relies on government subsidies to survive: for example the transportation and long-term storage of waste and the limited liability in the case of an accident. Safety, as regards the long-term storage of waste, was also a major concern and the immediate safety of the nuclear power plants was for me, as for a lot of people, a nagging concern. I think that the Japanese experience has put that particular concern to rest.

In this case a 40-year old nuclear reactor built with what would now be considered a primitive design gets hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake; slammed with a resulting tsunami which knocked out the back-up generators; followed by an explosion due to the buildup of hydrogen gas; and yet the core remains intact and contained. I still have the aforementioned problems with nuclear power but I think we can say that the plants themselves can take a beating and remain safe.

Even if there are further problems with the reactors I would think them safe. Why? Because there are many areas in the world where 9.0 earthquakes simply don't happen (often enough). In the Japanese case the nuclear reactor handled a major earthquake. It appears that all the resulting problems are due from the back-up generator going down. Would placing the generator up on a 20 or 30 foot platform have solved the problem?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Can Imagine the Uproar if Palin Said This:

"We have three branches of government. We have a House. We have a Senate. We have a President. And all three of us will have to come together ..."

Senator Charles Schumer
CNN’s State of the Union
January 30, 2011

I disagree with Senator Schumer on just about everything. I don't doubt that, in the proper context, Senator Schumer would list the three branches of government correctly. However just imagine the late night jokes if George Bush or Sarah Palin had said this.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Data Privacy and the 4th Amendment

Piggybacking off the previous post (the need for data privacy) the way we conceive of the 4th Amendment needs to be reviewed. In the 18th Century your papers and other vital information were stored in your house and government officials would have to enter your house and physically seize the papers.

Today your vital papers are stored at your bank(s), your credit card companies, your employer, doctor's offices, internet service providers and numerous others. The government having access to this information should be as difficult to get as the permission to enter your house and take the information from your office.

Amendment 28 to the US Constitution

I just saw something terrific on slashdot. In a response to the US government creating an internet "kill switch" (similar to what's happening in Egypt) one person proposed that we augment the 1st Amendment with the following:


"The right of the people to receive and provide information services without tracking, interception, or interruption thereof shall not be violated by the Government or agent thereof except by judicial warrant naming persons, data, and services to affected."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guns Equal Death Therefore We Ought to Ban Them

While the gun crazies are telling us that ever more Americans need to be walking around armed, we should keep in mind that more than a million people have died from gun violence — in murders, accidents and suicides — since Dr. King was shot to death in 1968.

We need fewer homicides, fewer accidental deaths and fewer suicides. That means fewer guns. That means stricter licensing and registration, more vigorous background checks and a ban on assault weapons. Start with that. Don’t tell me it’s too hard to achieve. Just get started.
How Many Deaths Are Enough? by Bob Herbert

Wow. What a horror! One million people have died from gun violence in 40+ years: that's approximately 25,000 a year. More American civilians have died since Martin Luther King was assassinated than American soldiers in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the Iraq War and Afghanistan combined! Bob, you're so right - we need to stop this epidemic of violence.

Or is Bob Herbert mistaken? Certainly we need fewer homicides but clearly if all guns were illegal (or magically removed) we would still have homicides wouldn't we? Therefore we can't blame ALL homicides on guns. Let's say that all accidental gun deaths would be eliminated if guns were illegal. That's not entirely true as professionals still make mistakes as well as illegal gun owners. Finally, is it just to blame guns for suicides? Certainly that ought to be removed from the equation as drugs, cars, windows and bridges would remain giving people intent on suicide numerous alternatives.

A quick look at the US Statistical Abstract shows that, on average, about 650 Americans die by accidental gun deaths. At the same time approximately 3,200 Americans drown; 19,000 die from falls and 48,000 from car, boat, airplane and other "transport" accidents. Since safety is the primary concern perhaps we ought to ban swimming, driving, flying and other dangerous activities as well.

Clearly as tragic as the 650 deaths are it is not a reason to outlaw guns. First of all not all these deaths are children accidently playing with their parents guns, some are gun-owner accidents; others are hunting accidents. We don't stop skiing because approximately 40 people die per year skiing; or sky diving because about 30 people a year die from them; or scuba diving, hiking, mountain climbing or other such activities.

Regarding suicides: approximately 34,000 people per year commit suicide in this country and about half (a little bit more than half) use guns. Certainly we cannot blame guns, in any way, for the suicides. The suicide rate in Japan is more than twice ours and they have some of the most stringent gun control laws in the world.

Let's review Bob Herbert's contribution to the debate:

We need fewer homicides, fewer accidental deaths and fewer suicides. That means fewer guns.

That means stricter licensing and registration, more vigorous background checks and a ban on assault weapons. Start with that. Don’t tell me it’s too hard to achieve. Just get started.

Bob Herbert is correct. There would probably be less homicides if we had stricter gun laws as about 2/3rds of the homicides are by guns. Still, if Mr. Herbert was interested in fewer gun homicides he would support increased penalties for using guns in crimes and doubling down on these increased penalties when it comes to gang crime. This would decrease gang violence and make poor neighborhoods safer. How about this: rather than banning the "assault" weapons for everyone (true assault weapons are outlawed) how about increasing the penalties for using these "assault" weapons in a criminal manner. Let's start penalizing criminal behavior and not gun ownership. Let's start with that. It's not too hard to achieve.

Somehow I don't think Bob Herbert would go for that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Civility in Public Discourse and the Arizona Shooting

Obama is asking that we return civility to the public discourse. "We" are all to blame for the heated rhetoric that led to the Arizona shooting. There are two things wrong in the media reaction to Obama's speech. One: "we" are not responsible for the shooting, nor is any of the political speech from either the left or right. Second, Obama and the left are willing participants in the politics of destruction. Look at the civil way the left and the media has handled their disagreements with George Bush and Sarah Palin.

The heated rhetoric is from both sides, and I dare say, that if - and hopefully when - Obama care is defunded, declared unconstitutional, and repealled in every way that we will see even more violent rhetoric from the left than we do now. I wouldn't be surprised by violence similar to that in the anti-World Bank / G7 riots we see the world over. By the way those riots you've seen on your TV screens are coming from the left not the free-market right.

The frauds at MSNBC and the NYTs choose not to cover or sensationalize activities that don't promote their narrative. Example an anti-illegal immigration sherrif in Arizona was hung in effigy; pinata with his name was beaten until the head fell off and then the head held up to the jeering crowd. Now, I have little problem with this display, but imagine if the person beaten in effigy was on the left? That video, with its accompaniment of head-shaking actors pretending to be objective newscasters, would be played for days on end; with these same objective newscasters tut-tuting sadly; bemoaning the "extremism" on the right; and "fearing" for the future of our great republic.

Back to Obama: some of Obama's speech is very, very good:

As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.
Obama Urges Civility at Tucson Memorial

So, Obama, does anything in the above paragraph apply to you in how you view the world and your political adversaries? Will you criticize your staff and the media when they simply point fingers and irrationally assign blame? Will you review your rhetoric and your allies rhetoric regarding the Arizona immigration law? Or healthcare? Or gay rights?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Krugman and the Arizona Shooting

What is it about small, constitutionally limited government which terrifies so many people? What is it that scares them so much that they equate the love of individual freedom with tyranny, oppression and collectivist evils of all sorts (racism, fascism)?

When Major Hasan killed 13 people at Fort Hood commentators said not to rush to judgement. Even after it became clear that he had communication with "radicalized" imans the media still refused to make a connection between the shooting and islamo-fascists.

Now a deranged man whose belief systems have nothing in common with the Tea Party becomes a poster boy representating those who are in favor of limited government. What happened to not rushing to judgment? Read Krugman's blog post. The connections Krugman draws are not based in reality. It is one big smear. He writes: "We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was." Sure, as was the Time Square bombing attempt and the lunatic who flew his plane into that building in Austin earlier last year. In both those earlier incidents blame the Tea Party accusations were building up until it became clear that no possible connection could be made.

There is no connection this time either. What this is, what Krugman and others are doing, is stiffling debate. After all, they are insinuating that only kooks could possibly want a backwards, anti-progressive agenda such as a constitutionally limited government. By portraying the Tea Party in such a way they are saying to people: "You aren't a kook are you? Therefore you can't be for these wacko Tea Party types." This method, I hate to say it, works. I held off from tying myself to the Tea Party for months as I wasn't sure who, or what they were. Maybe they were the small-town, 3-tooth, inbred, brain-dead, racist fools that the media made them out to be.

The racist meme was tried and that didn't work for long. Now we have the climate-of-hate meme coming from people wearing Che t-shirts. Oh, the irony of it all. But now we see how scared and insignificant Krugman and his cronies are. Look at this update by Krugman:

Update: I see that Sarah Palin has called the shooting “tragic”. OK, a bit of history: right-wingers went wild over anyone who called 9/11 a tragedy, insisting that it wasn’t a tragedy, it was an atrocity.

9/11 was not a tragedy. It was a calculated act of war executed by 19 individuals who had material, financial, technological, and logistical help from dozens if not hundreds more. A tragedy is an act of nature or the random act of a madman. The shooting of John Lennon was a tragedy. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was not. The assassination of William McKinley was a tragedy. The firing of Washington by the British in 1814 was not.

Krugman and other small-minded people are going to call Palin a hypocrite for describing the shooting as "tragic." What's tragic is the left's refusal to consider any dissent from the party line. I'm pro-choice and respect the pro-life position. But to many on the left one cannot be pro-life and be rational at the same time. I'm pro gay-marriage and yet too many on the left cannot realize that WE (the pro-gay rights crowd) are attempting to change centuries of tradition in less than a life time. The animosity coming from the "multi-cultural" left to those with a different belief system, to those from another culture, is nothing short of, dare-I-say-it: reactionary.