Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bad communism (as opposed to the good kind)

There's a profile of left wing kook Naomi Klein in the current Weekly Standard. She's quoted as saying that she rejects "authoritarian communism". What a great phrase for someone needing an example of the word 'redundant'. An even better one would be "totalitarian communism''.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Power and Vanity

The truism that the book is always better than the movie is especially true for Tom Wolfe's novel, "The Bonfire of the Vanities."
One of the defining moments in the book occurs when a Bronx Assistant DA confronts a rich socialite with evidence of her complicity in a hit and run incident. The socialite seems outwardly composed until he's finished. Then she swallows and just from that small reaction, the DA knows that she's been intimidated. He's suddenly struck by the realization of the power he holds. I would've liked to reproduce the entire segment here, but that would involve lots of typing and I'm also not quite sure about copyright laws. In my edition of the book (Picador, 1st ed.) the segment is found on pages 609-612.
Wolfe's achievement here is his vivid literary depiction of the controlling authority of the state as personified by the DA "...the power of the government over the freedom of its subjects." The DA becomes intoxicated by the newfound understanding of his power, "...the poet has never sung of that ecstasy or even dreamed of it..." He "...now understood what gave him a momentary lift each morning as he saw the island fortress (the Bronx County Courthouse) rise at the crest of the Grand Concourse from the gloom of the Bronx." He no longer feels inferior to his former law classmates who had taken positions with Wall Street firms earning much higher salaries. His own compensation includes "...my control of your destiny and your helplessness in the face of the Power." Even the rich and famous must bow before his authority.
(This brief description doesn't do justice to Wolfe's masterful writing. The entire excerpt has to be read to be appreciated. Or better yet, read the whole marvelous book).
The Wolfe scenario brings to mind any pompous, officious Congressional committee member castigating a private industrialist for alleged exploitation of society's downtrodden. You can just sense Barney Frank's narcissistic satisfaction as he sits peering down at and lecturing all those rich and powerful, yet relative to him, lesser beings.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Civil Liberty Hysteria

One reason I started this blog was to have an avenue to react and respond to inaccurate, misleading or just plain noxious statements made by leftist commentators and writers.
I noticed a particularly egregious example of such a comment in a letter to the WSJ yesterday. The letter writer (some ACLU bigshot, naturally) was responding to an editorial appearing in the WSJ (March 18). The editorial pointed out and praised President Obama's adherence to the national security policies set up and pursued by his predecessor, (e.g. - terrorist surveillance, detention of suspected terrorists, Guantanamo tribunals). The writer agreed with the editorial that, with a few exceptions, Obama is following the same path as Bush, but of course bitterly lamented this. He then writes, Through bold, smart policies, the Obama administration must make a clean break from the failed national security regime of the past eight years...
"the failed national security regime" Really? In what way has it failed? By preventing not only a repeat of 9/11 but even a relatively minor terrorist attack on our homeland? By preventing terrorist attacks on American civilian targets overseas, attacks that were prevelant throughout the 90s? The writer, no doubt, believes failure to mean a breakdown in our standards of justice. He's wrong there too. Another major attack would force the imposition of much more stringent restrictions on our civil liberties than we've had thus far. In this way, prevention of such an attack protects those liberties. Leftists (and a few on the right) deny, ignore or don't realize this but, we are fighting a war. The effects on the civil liberties of our citizens from the measures we've taken to protect ourselves has been infinitesimal. They certainly pale in comparison to the measures put in place by Lincoln during the Civil War, Wilson during World War 1 and FDR in World War 2.
Of Bush's achievements, two were exceptional - The liberation of Iraq and its transformation from an oppressed, war making, terrorist (and terrorized) nation into a non-threatening, budding democracy, friendly to the U.S. and a beacon of hope to Muslims rejecting violent jihad, medievalism and theocracy; And,
The extraordinary success of his national security policies, policies which, if maintained by his successors, will markedly improve our chances of remaining safe from a catastrophic terrorist attack.
The greatness of these achievements is obscured because they achieve negative outcomes. Iraq has been prevented from developing WMDs. Terrorists have been prevented from causing death and destruction. Given time and the inevitable dissipation of BDS, people will realize these things and George W. Bush will be granted the credit that he deserves.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where is John Galt? (when we need him)

Interest in Ayn Rand's economic philosophy has seen a resurgence recently with sales of her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged", hitting new highs. This is understandable, seeing how eerily prescient A.S. was in describing our current economic mess and its origins. Specifically, the government, in its attempts to "do good", forces its citizens to subsidize those unable (or unwilling) to pay for what are deemed "entitlements". The "entitlement" which caused the most damage today is, of course, "affordable housing". In both Rand's America and ours currently, this inevitably leads to economic calamity. Following its initial error, the government compounds it by expanding its role even more, discouraging the most productive and innovative sectors of society. In the novel, government bullying eventually compels the entrepreneurial class to go on strike causing a collapse of society.
There are terabytes of commentary out there on Ayn Rand so there's probably nothing new I can add, but here are a few observations anyway.
She was a lousy writer of fiction. Her dialogue sometimes sounds like what you'd expect a middle school student to write. The characters are generally one-dimensional, almost cartoonish. Her plots are inventive but they're burdened by her oppressive didacticism. (A speech that continues for more than a hundred pages?!) She is best at depicting heroism - Howard Roark and Dagny Taggart are inspiring characters.
For those not willing to slog through the combined 2000 pages of "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged", watch the final summation spoken by Howard Roark (played by the miscast Gary Cooper) at his trial in the movie version of the former. It's the most concise description of Rand's philosophy you could fit into five minutes.
When it comes to government's role in a free society, Rand was an absolutist. She believed that the only role of government is protection of its citizens by the police, the armed forces and the courts. Two other anti-statists, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman were not so extreme. To the government functions Rand endorsed, Smith added the creation and maintainence of certain public works and institutions that would never be profitable to carry out privately. Friedman went along with Smith's list and added yet another, the care and protection of those unable to care for and protect themselves.
Rand believed in the primacy of individual freedom and of restricting the power of the state to co-opt the individual for its own purposes. That self-sacrifice - having a group of people, supporting, living for another group is not only wrong but perverse and destructive. That the state has no inherent right to the products of an individual's mind, time or labor. Only by providing the individual with a mutually agreed upon compensation may society have access to what he produces. That it's not only fair for a person to profit from his work but honorable and desirable. Implicit in this ideology is that the productive individual can allocate (spend) his resources much more wisely than a bunch of disinterested bureaucrats.
Rand believed in the importance of self-esteem, placing it with purpose and reason as the most valuable assets in life. That self esteem was not to be dispensed indiscriminately as it is by teachers and psychologists, but earned through accomplishment.
Since humans are inherently and primarily (exclusively?) motivated by self interest, it is best to utilize this characteristic by fairly valuing what it produces. This the basis of capitalism. And capitalism has proven by far to be the surest path to happiness and prosperity the world has known.
Rand believed in the positive impact of capitalism on areas other than economics. I found this statement in a compendium of her thoughts, "The Ayn Rand Lexicon".
"Let those who are actually concerned with peace observe that capitalism gave mankind the longest period of peace in history - a period during which there were no wars involving the entire civilized world - from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914."
When I first read this, I thought it was completely off the wall. Maybe there were no wars involving the "entire civilized world" but there were wars, including the most destructive war in U.S. history. However, in "Free to Choose", Milton Friedman makes the same point and explains that while there were 'minor' wars (Crimean, Franco-Prussian, etc.), they were greatly limited in scope. The one biggie, the U.S. Civil War, is presented as the struggle to undo the restriction of economic (and political) freedom as manifested in slavery. The relevant idea is that the surest way to world peace is through free market capitalism. That is probably true.
Rand's take on Marx's creed, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs", as the worst form of evil imaginable, is refreshing in its rejection of the notion that the collectivist state is a benign entity. The worst atrocities in history have been perpetrated or set in motion by powerful, collectivist, tyrannical governments. Some of these have used the soothing rhetoric of "progressivism" - advancing the "general good" - to attract popular support. Especially now, we should guard against this misleading and seductive ploy utilized by politicians seeking to expand their influence.
Mike Wallace interviewed Ayn Rand in 1959. It's on YouTube (in three parts) and it's fascinating to watch. Rand's eyes are constantly flitting around birdlike and she speaks with a heavy Russian accent. (A funny little detail I noticed is that she has her purse with her which she keeps on the floor next to her chair during the interview. I guess she didn't trust the CBS staff to watch it.) Surprisingly, Wallace did a good job challenging a few of Rand's assertions. Her responses were equally effective.
Finally, here's an excerpt from the book "Objectively Speaking - Ayn Rand Interviewed".
"[T]he worst phenomenon of a mixed economy: a combination of private interests -- private favorites, in effect -- and political power. This is what I call 'the aristocracy of pull'. A private group acquires the advantage of a government-granted monopoly and government funding, in order to exercise a degree of power with which no strictly private entrepreneur can compete. The only protection we have is that any endeavor organized by pressure groups attracts mediocrities, and the organization collapses through the weight of its own incompetence."
This is precisely what happened with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Unfortunately, the collapse rippled through the entire economy, causing severe damage.

I've been out of touch for a few days, with limited access to the internet. I came back today to read Mark Steyn's latest column on NRO. http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Y2UwYjY5YTVkNzVkYjFmZDU5ODVmNTIxOWQxYzE2YWM= He is typically on spot about the faux outrage...OUTRAGE!!! over the AIG bonuses. Great stuff.

John Derbyshire made a comment during the campaign about Obama, saying that if elected he would tour the world with a giant "Kick Me" sign on his back. Well, the Prez didn't disappoint, recently sending a grovelling message to the supreme Iranian thug, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, who promptly gave him a swift verbal boot in the rear.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Steele on Race

Liberals like to believe that they hold the moral high ground when it comes to race (and a host of other issues). So you get people like CNN's Jack Cafferty claiming that the only reason for the contest between McCain and Obama to be close (on September 16) was because of (white) racism. (The most despicable comment of the campaign). And of course there was Rosalynn Carter's notorious, nasty explanation of Ronald Reagan's popularity, "...he makes us feel comfortable with our prejudices."
Shelby Steele exposes this pompous arrogance in an op-ed in the WSJ yesterday (3/16) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123716282469235861.html Steele, with typical eloquence, explains that intentions being paramount, actual results become irrelevant - the primary intention being redemption from white America's past sins (slavery, segregation, discrimination). Despite the damage that liberal racial policies have had on the black community*, the appearance of trying to "do something" is much more politically potent than the "invisible hand" of individual freedom that conservatism promises. It is this more than anything, according to Steele, that hurts the GOP's image among blacks. And white liberals get to feel good about themselves.
Steele then makes a personal point.

What drew me to conservatism years ago was the fact that it gave discipline a slightly higher status than virtue. This meant it could not be subverted by passing notions of the good. It could be above moral vanity. And so it made no special promises to me as a minority. It neglected me in every way except as a human being who wanted freedom. Until my encounter with conservatism I had only known the racial determinism of segregation on the one hand and of white liberalism on the other -- two varieties of white supremacy in which I could only be dependent and inferior.
The appeal of conservatism is the mutuality it asserts between individual and political freedom, its beautiful idea of a free man in a free society. And it offers minorities the one thing they can never get from liberalism: human rather than racial dignity. I always secretly loved Malcolm X more than Martin Luther King Jr. because Malcolm wanted a fuller human dignity for blacks -- one independent of white moral wrestling. In a liberalism that wants to redeem the nation of its past, minorities can only be ciphers in white struggles of conscience.

This should be the argument that Republicans make to minorities.

*Illegitamacy rates among blacks were around 19% at the outset of WW 2. By 1965 it was in the high 20s and by 1991 it had reached 68%, with inner city levels exceeding 80%. This despite Roe v. Wade in 1973. Such was the human cost of Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society". (Not to mention the hundreds of billions in actual monetary cost).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obama's Enemies and Taxes (Again)

As expected, Obama supporters have been attacking anyone with the temerity to oppose their anointed savior. Rush Limbaugh is an obvious target and it's been pointed out that going after him was a strategic ploy to deflect attention from Obama's gaffes. Other less likely targets include Jim Cramer, the CNBC manic commentator and Rick Santelli, CNBC's bond guy. Cramer's sin was to opine that Obama's budget "is the greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a President." Santelli went on a populist rant one day at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. With the bond traders on the floor cheering him on, he challenged Obama's morally hazardous mortgage bailout plan. Both Cramer, who is (was?) an Obama supporter, and Santelli became fodder for Jon Stewart's lame humor. Stewart skewered Cramer's lousy stock picks, using the F word a couple of times along the way. Anyone who seriously takes Cramer's financial advice deserves to lose money though he does pick stocks better than he picks Presidents. Cramer appeared on Joe Scarborough's show and tried to excuse Stewart's attacks by saying that he's only a comedian. Scarborough would have none of it. He said that Stewart is an ideologue whose claim to speak truth to power is a sham. When Bush was President, Stewart went after him relentlessly, spoofing every one of his miscues. When Obama screws up, his critics get the business. The way Stewart works, claimed Scarborough, is to have a staff of about 100 scour the web and other news sources and find snippets of information that could be used against those he disagrees with. Then he goes on the air, presents the material, makes a face, and his audience howls.
Santelli was targeted by Stewart, Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Chris Matthews. Matthews, of course, has to defend the honor of Boyfriend Barack. He interviewed Santelli who forcefully and effectively advocated the importance of personal responsibility and the inviolability of contracts. Matthews asked who Santelli voted for, which I've noticed is a standard argumentative technique used by liberals. Aha, you're one of them - case closed. Santelli said he voted for McCain, which for Matthews, invalidated any point Santelli might make. (On the other hand, Matthews is just a neutral observer). Matthews then railed against predatory lenders (the Frank - Dodd endorsed GSEs perhaps?) and accused Santelli of taking the "Ebenezer Scrooge position".
(Expletive deleted), Chris. The government coerces Americans (particularly hard working, high achieving, high income Americans) to pay (and pay and pay) for mortgages taken out by people who couldn't afford them and who would walk away from them. In turn these deadbeats get to stay in their unearned abodes. If you don't like that - well you're just a cheap lowlife. Hey Chris, my 401K is way down. I didn't know investments could decrease in value. I'm a victim. Why don't you (and all your generous liberal buddies) contribute to my Retirement Recovery Fund? Don't want to? Tough. It's jail if you don't.

Here's an entry from The Free Republic website, 1/7/2003.

Starting in 1991, Washington levied a 10 percent tax on cars valued above $30,000, boats above $100,000, jewelry and furs above $10,000 and private planes above $250,000. Democrats like Ted Kennedy and then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell crowed publicly about how the rich would finally be paying their fair share and privately about convincing President George H.W. Bush to renounce his 'no new taxes' pledge," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"But it wasn't long before even those die-hard class warriors noticed they'd badly missed their mark. The taxes took in $97 million less in their first year than had been projected — for the simple reason that people were buying a lot fewer of these goods. Boat building, a key industry in Messrs. Mitchell and Kennedy's home states of Maine and Massachusetts, was particularly hard hit. Yacht retailers reported a 77 percent drop in sales that year, while boat builders estimated layoffs at 25,000. With bipartisan support, all but the car tax was repealed in 1993, and in 1996 Congress voted to phase that out too. January 1 (2003) was disappearance day.

An easy lesson to learn. Raise taxes, slow growth, lose jobs, reduce revenue. Lower taxes, stimulate growth, create jobs, increase revenue. The luxury tax was the embodiment of leftist economic philosophy. Get the rich to pay their "fair share" and transfer the wealth to the masses. And it failed miserably.

A followup note on my daughter's government project that I mentioned a couple of days ago. She had a substitute teacher for her class the next day. When he looked at what she (and I) had written, he immediately went to his computer trying to find evidence of plagarism. (There was none to find). At least he didn't accuse her of being a Nazi, Fascist, Zionist, Imperialist, Racist, Sexist, Homophobic Neo-Con stooge.

Friday, March 13, 2009

NR and WSJ Miscellany

I just received the latest issue of National Review, (3/23/09), the one with socialist icon Obama on the cover. As a special treat, there are two pieces each by Mark Steyn and Rob Long. A conservative looking for a persuasive argument against Obama's Europeanization of America could do no better than Steyn's on page 22. Let a "progressive" you love read it and learn what we're progressing towards.
For comic relief there's Long's brief, hilarious take on Joe Biden. As I've written before, there is an upside to having these clowns in office.

Embedded in Long's piece is the best description of the 'stimulus' package I've seen.
The stimulus package is a big, greasy pile of industrial sausage — chock full of wasteful nonsense, hilarious left-wing 1970s retreads, graft, payola, foolish wish-fulfillment, and pointless grandiosity. It’s not a bill; it’s a smash-and-grab. It stimulates nothing except contempt.

Also in this month's NR is a profile of John Negroponte, the diplomat who has worked with leaders of both parties. Interviewed by Jay Nordlinger, this is what he has to say about George W. Bush : Bush himself acknowledged that “he wasn’t as good with words as he might have been,” Negroponte continues. And one thing this problem did was “mask a great intelligence.” He is “a very smart man.”

I was happy to see (in a WSJ op-ed today by Rasmussen pollsters) that Obama's favorability numbers continue to fall, now at 56%. Significantly, one-third of respondents strongly disapprove of his performance. He has a lower approval rating than G. W. Bush did at the same point in his first term. Polls are very volatile, of course, but these numbers along with those of some upcoming Congressional races at least provide some hope that the Age of Obama may be very short indeed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Will on Obama

A couple of funny and astute observations about Obama and his policy prescriptions by George Will,

Growth supposedly will cut the deficit in half -- growth and the $1.6 trillion "saved" by first assuming, and then "canceling," a 10-year continuation of the surge in Iraq. Why, one wonders, not "save" $5 trillion by proposing to spend that amount to cover the moon with yogurt, and then canceling the proposal?

The first president whose campaign was his qualification for office continues to campaign. And he is overexposed. His schedulers should remember what a contemporary said of Thomas Babington Macaulay, a prodigiously articulate but oppressively constant talker: "He has occasional flashes of silence that make his conversation perfectly delightful."

Obama's Class War

It occcurred to me while reading Daniel Henninger's column today in the WSJ, "The Obama Rosetta Stone", that at least some of Obama's animus toward those earning high incomes is based on the sleazy character of his well off acquaintances. Obama's rich buddies include the crooked Tony Rezko, the hateful (and crooked) Jeremiah Wright and the undeserving and ungrateful Michelle Obama.
Of course much of his attitude is just standard left wing ideology. Henninger quotes from Obama's latest book, "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise. The President's Budget and Fiscal Preview".

"While middle-class families have been playing by the rules, living up to their responsibilities as neighbors and citizens, those at the commanding heights of our economy have not."

This is a remarkable statement, accusing high achievers, the very engine of our economy, of not only not deserving their wealth but somehow cheating to get it. Speaking of not living up to their responsibilities, how about those middle (and lower) class citizens who walked away from mortgages they agreed to and couldn't afford?
And this,

"Prudent investments in education, clean energy, health care and infrastructure were sacrificed for huge tax cuts for the wealthy and well-connected."

To repeat, tax cuts result in increased revenue. Revenue hit record levels under President Bush. There was plenty of money available for extravagant government spending.
Also, this,

"There's nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted so far in the favor of so few. . . . It's a legacy of irresponsibility, and it is our duty to change it."

I suppose having the top 1% of income earners pay only half of all income taxes is "tilting the playing field" in their favor. Hard working, talented people who are rewarded for their efforts are considered irresponsible in Obama's eyes. We must change the rules to make it harder for them to achieve success.

A separate note. I helped out my daughter, a high school senior, with the homework for her government class tonight. Her assignment? Pretend that you're the POTUS. State and defend your position on three issues.
Heh, heh, heh.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Madness accurately describes the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the lawsuit filed against the drug company Wyeth. One of Wyeth’s products, Phenergan, caused a woman to develop gangrene in an arm, which then had to be amputated. The drug was improperly administered by a hospital physician’s assistant, contrary to the clear, large warning on the label, INADVERTENT INTRA-ARTERIAL INJECTION CAN RESULT IN GANGRENE OF THE AFFECTED EXTREMITY.
The question a reasonable person should ask is, how was Wyeth negligent? Specifically, what should it have done otherwise than what it had already done, which, incidentally, was exactly what the FDA had required it to do by law in order to produce and sell its drug? Should Wyeth arrange to send one of their representatives to a site whenever Phenergan is being administered and have him make sure the drug is being used correctly? That would be cost effective. Or, of course, they could just take the drug off the market. That will be the ultimate effect of this moronic judgment. Less life extending, pain reducing drugs – not as many useful products - less risk taking - less innovation - a lower standard of living.
The Supreme Court vote was 6-3, meaning that one of the normally sane justices voted with the majority. Maybe insanity is contagious.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hot Air Addendum

A few additional comments on "global warming".
Why is it always assumed that GW will necessarily cause more severe weather? Richard Lindzen, noted M.I.T. atmospheric professor and climate change skeptic, points out in "The Great Global Warming Swindle" that the CO2 theory of GW predicts a shrinking temperature difference between the poles and the equator. All meteorologists are taught, according to Prof. Lindzen, that such a scenario should lead to less severe weather.
It was difficult to do, but when Newsweek ran a story a few months ago on GW "deniers", I forced myself to skim through it. I noticed an assertion that these "deniers" were claiming that the troposphere is not heating up. They are not making this claim! What they do say is that the troposphere is not warming faster than the earth's surface and this contradicts the CO2 theory of GW. This sort of misleading propaganda is typical of climate change activism.
Around the time of the mid 1970s, the scientific "consensus" was that we were in the midst of a global cooling period with soon to be realized disastrous consequences. A story appearing in Newsweek (4/28/1975, page 64) warned of catastrophic famines if immediate action wasn't taken to compensate for GC's impact. Less than twenty years later, the "consensus" had completely reversed itself and we were told that drastic steps needed to be taken, soon!, to combat global warming. What this means (besides showing that these guys have no clue) is that sometime between those two extreme periods, maybe it was 1982 or 1983, we were experiencing optimal climate. Who knew?
Carbon is the major product of modern civilization. A nation’s level of carbon production is a primary indicator of the health, prosperity and happiness of its citizenry. Attempts to limit carbon emissions will necessarily lower our standard of living. Someday, this may not be true. Technological advancements in the use of nuclear, solar, wind and biofuels may make those sources equal or superior to coal, oil and natural gas in terms of efficiency. We should invest in research that would make this possible, but until that research yields viable technology, we have no choice but to stick with what works. To do otherwise is foolishly self-defeating.

Again, I highly recommend watching the BBC documentary, "The Great Global Warming Swindle" (if you can find it, of course). It provides evidence that CO2 is not a major cause of GW; It discusses the overlooked beneficial aspects of GW; It explains how politicians, scientists and journalists profit by promoting climate change hysteria; And it shows that efforts at reducing carbon emissions are causing great harm, especially to the world's poor.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Unasked Questions

A couple of questions that the mainstream media seems totally disinterested in asking :

1. What would the situation in Iraq and the mideast and the world be today if we had not invaded and liberated that country? If we had just slinked out of Kuwait leaving behind Saddam and his even more murderous sons in charge along with their ambitions to develop, produce and use WMDs? Leaving behind the heinous al-Queda operative Abu Musab al Zarqawi with access to Saddam's WMDs?

2. Exactly who was it that forged that fake memo concerning Bush's National Guard service, attempting to influence the outcome of the 2004 Presidential election? Maybe a Democrat who may now be a member of Obama's staff? Some MSNBC "journalist"? Bill Moyers? Anyone interested?

No, I guess not. It's much more important to investigate Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy or Joe the Plumber's driving record.

Say What?

I admit that I’m just totally perplexed by President Obama’s ongoing popularity (though it has dropped somewhat, to ~60% approval). What seems obvious to me (and others, though not enough others, apparently) is that the current administration is leading us to economic ruin, a depression, which could be avoided by utilizing a program of aggressive tax cutting, targeted spending and incentives for investments and risk taking.
Anyway, I noticed this letter to the editor in the 3/6 WSJ and I think it reveals the ignorance and muddled thinking that characterizes Obama supporters.

I am one Journal reader who applauds our returning adults to the White House and rational policy making to our country. Under the previous Republican administration our total national debt went from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. Now economies all over the world are choking on our mortgage and corporate debt and sinking into an economic abyss. Adults pay their debts. President Obama, to his credit, proposes raising taxes so that we can begin to pay off our accumulated debts. Mr. Obama proposes investing in the American people and our infrastructure so that we can dig ourselves out of the hole the last administration put us in. I say: Welcome, President Obama, and not a moment too soon.

Wow, where to start? The writer complains about too much debt then supports programs that will grow our debt exponentially - far beyond $10 trillion. These programs are not “investments”. They’re huge shopping sprees designed to pay back those constituencies that helped get Obama elected (ACORN, teachers unions, etc). Only a small fraction of the so-called stimulus bill is for improving infrastructure. And about three quarters of the total bill will be spent after this year – too late to stimulate the economy. The money, our money - mine and yours, representing our time, labor and intellect, (and even more so, that of our descendents) will go into the vast, bloated, inefficient federal bureaucracy. I suppose the writer believes that the magic bullet of raising taxes will miraculously pay down our debt. It, emphatically!, will not. It will retard economic growth and cause a drop in revenue. (Revenue increased significantly, to record levels, after the 2003 Bush tax cuts). So along with substantially higher expenditures, we’ll have less money to pay for them. There isn’t an earth mover in the world big enough to get us out of the hole that the Democrats are digging.

In his most recent column, (the indispensable) Charles Krauthammer neatly debunks Obama's ridiculous and disingenuous explanation of how we got into the current mess and how to fix it. (BTW, has ever a word more perfectly fit a person than disingenuous fits Obama?) Obama's analysis? We're in a deep recession now because we failed in three areas : not enough federal spending for 'green' energy, health care and education. The remedy? Massive federal subsidies for all three. Then Krauthammer analyzes Obama's analysis :

As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people...

...At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system. One can come up with a host of causes: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed by Washington (and greed) into improvident loans, corrupted bond-ratings agencies, insufficient regulation of new and exotic debt instruments, the easy money policy of Alan Greenspan's Fed, irresponsible bankers pushing (and then unloading in packaged loan instruments) highly dubious mortgages, greedy house-flippers, deceitful homebuyers.
The list is long. But the list of causes of the collapse of the financial system does not include the absence of universal health care, let alone of computerized medical records. Nor the absence of an industry-killing cap-and-trade carbon levy. Nor the lack of college graduates. Indeed, one could perversely make the case that, if anything, the proliferation of overeducated, Gucci-wearing, smart-ass MBAs inventing ever more sophisticated and opaque mathematical models and debt instruments helped get us into this credit catastrophe in the first place.

Thank you Charles!

Alongside that asinine WSJ letter I posted above was another one (wisely) addressing the same subject. The writer cites Milton and Rose Friedman's book "Free to Choose", which quotes Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1928.

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

This is a lesson that Obamaniacs would do well to learn.

On the lighter side – a very funny piece in the March 9 issue of National Review. Rob Long speculates on what really was written into the largely unread ‘stimulus’ bill by the Congressional interns charged with putting it together.

Monday, March 2, 2009

First Do No Harm

Consider a person who leads a healthy lifestyle - low fat diet, exercise, no smoking, moderate drinking, sufficient sleep, etc., and yet still develops cancer. That person would be foolish to give up his good habits because they didn't seem to do any good. He'd be ignoring the possibility that there were other factors that could have (and probably did) cause his cancer such as genetic predisposition, or exposure to radon or other carcinogens. He would be blaming behavior that not only didn't make him sick but could help him overcome his disease.

This is what Obama (and other Dems) do when they repeatedly use the canard, "we can't go back to the failed policies of the past" in an attempt to justify absurd levels of spending on just about anything that suits their fancy in the name of "stimulus".

Of course, there's more to the analogy. The cancer victim did not follow a perfectly healthy lifestyle. He managed to slip in a couple of Big Macs and cinnamon rolls with his salad every day and he skipped too many days of exercise while lounging around on the couch watching TV. This is what our government's been doing, so to speak, as it indulged in profligate spending the past several years. (Yes, Bush and the Republicans deserve their portion of blame for this too). So Obama wants to ratchet up these bad habits, while disdaining the good ones - low taxes, incentives for investment and risk taking, fiscal restraint and free trade. How perverted and disingenuous. Typical Obama.

Representative Paul Ryan, the up and coming GOP congressman from Wisconsin, has the right prescription for our economic malady.He describes it in an op-ed piece in today's WSJ. The key points are - lower the top marginal income tax rate to 25% from 35% (soon to be 39.6% if Obama has his way); create a flat rate of 10% for all income below $100,000; lower the corporate tax rate to 25% from a near worldwide high of 35%; eliminate the capital gains tax, preasently 15% (Obama wants to raise it to at least 20%); stand back and watch prosperity happen.
Instead we get to watch despair happen. The S&P 500 closed today right at 700, down more than 30% from the last day it was above 1000, November 4, 2008, Election Day. The day hope died.