Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Obama To Save Millions of Jobs; Hamas to Save Millions of Israelis

Over at The Minority Report, Mike DeVine says:

Obama first promised to create 2 million jobs in two years, then said he would create or “save” three million. Currently, over 154 million Americans are employed. We do not believe that even the disastrous policies of Obama and the Democrats will force more than 151 million out of work. At the end of 2009 and even 2010, more than three million jobs will have been “saved”.

Similarly, by having such keen grasp of the military arts, the geniuses at Hamas have cleverly avoided hitting very many Israelis with the hundreds of rockets they have fired at Israel. Thus, in a display of unprecedented liberality, they have spared millions of Israelis.

And yet, still I side with Israel.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

I Stand With Israel

American and European liberals are of course complaining about Israel's attempt to root out the terrorists in Gaza. The response is "disproportional", they say.

But while that implicitly acknowledges that Israel is defending itself (being in response to mortar attacks by Palestinians against civilian Israeli targets), it also presupposes that a response must be proportional. Why?

War is not about fairness. War is about defeating the enemy so thoroughly that he gives up and admits he was wrong to attack you in the first place. It's about discrediting him with a giant argumentum ad baculum, the appeal to force, because none of your valid arguments appear to work. Like all such appeals, it must be accompanied by the valid arguments or it will not prevail.

Because while the appeal to force and its direct application in the form of military attack is not a reasoned argument, it is not an invalidating one. That is, the application of force doesn't mean the side using it disproves its point; it simply doesn't prove it.

In practical terms, the use of force will fail as long as the opponent fails to internalize defeat. If reason is on his side, he will fail to be defeated, no matter how badly he's beaten on the battlefield.

The true danger therefor in the use of force is not using enough to win. And when the opponent is using it, not using force is a sign that you don't believe in your own position.

From AoSHQ:

It's been said before but it is worth repeating a thousand times: if Hamas, Hezbollah, and most of the Arab states (and Iran) laid down their weapons tomorrow and forgot about their plans to dissolve Israel, there would be peace in the Middle East. The Israelis could forget about the fences and the Palestinians might one day have something approximating a Western standard of living. On the other hand, if Israel laid down its weapons tomorrow, the country would be utterly annihilated, the Israelis killed to the last man, woman, and child.

- Gabriel Malor

Update (20081229 0848): Dore Gold of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs does a more thorough job of defeating "proportionality":
To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

It'sTwelve Hundred, Why?

When Prompted, Troops Give Obama Time of Day

(This is all over the tubes, but pic comes via Atlas Shrugs)

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Friday, December 26, 2008

I know: let's borrow billions

of dollars, use it to build a train no one will ride, justify it with a problem that doesn't exist and that it won't address, and wait for an earthquake.

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Stupid, Treasonous Puns

In Captain Ed's Redefining Hard Intelligence post, he points to a WaPo article in which an Afghan tribal chief is convinced to help our side when a CIA officer gives him Viagra.

Great, WaPo. Now every tribal leader with whom we meet will be the butt of Viagra jokes, followed soon after by Al Qaeda trafficking in pallets of the stuff, probably on trucks emblazend with a Red Crescent banner. Humanitarian medical aid, it is.

And for a CIA officer to give up this tool of the trade? What a treasonous, or at the very least unethical, moron. While it may be immoral, I don't suppose it's unethical for a CIA man to give Viagra to a tired old polygamist. But it's certainly unethical for him to divulge tactics to a reporter.

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Presidential Balls

As we approach the Inauguration, and President Bush gets the sack, Tommy Christopher at the Political Machine really has the feel of the Presidential balls.

He notes that the size of the balls is important, but the main thing is to have an even number of them.

Barack Obama will be taking a personal interest in the Presidential balls, and Michelle Obama will be, as well. The Obamas, both personal fitness devotees, will doubtless avoid any needlessly sweaty balls. With as many balls needing the pair's attention, things could get quite hairy.

Christopher also proves that President Clinton had more balls than Obama, and you can read his post for the details.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas

Is Christmas about Christ, or is it about reindeer?


Christmas is a celebration of the virgin birth of Jesus the Christ, Yishua the Messiah, in a manger in Bethlehem. It's a tale of wise men (who weren't there) and shepherds (who were).

It's also a celebration of the dead of Winter, a memory of the cold days of the Little Ice Age in Europe and of even colder days past in a real Ice Age. The last warmth of Summer is gone by the time of the solstice, and we have time to gather together in our little hovels and share the fruits of our year's labor with those we love.

And to those who find a dichotomy in the dualism, who see a conflict between magical reindeer and frankincense, I say: quit being humbugs. Sing about Rudolph, enjoy your stocking stuffers, blow your wad at Wal-Mart, and give shelter to needy travelers.

Because Christmas is Christmas, and there's no need to pin it down more than that.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bill Ayers is No Timothy McVeigh

Bob Owens at Pajamas Media publishes an Op Ed from Larry Grathwohl, the FBI agent who penetrated the Weather Underground domestic terrorist group in the 1970s. Grathwohl submitted the piece to the New York Times, which declined to print it.

Ahead of that comes the quote of the day, from Owens:

Bill Ayers would like to use the fog of time to plead his case that he was just another protester against the Vietnam war, a point that the Times is perhaps willing to let him make considering his longtime association with the president-elect they so nakedly support. No amount of inspired fantasy, however, can omit the simple truth that there is only one significant difference between Bill Ayers and Timothy McVeigh.


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It's A Dreadful Life

At Yahoo! (w/t Dan Collins), Barbara Curtis writes about her year downsizing and discovering that happiness is learning to appreciate what you have.

But here is this quote:

For many, 2008 marked the end of our American Dream of home ownership. Faced with houses worth less than we owed, we had to backtrack. No bailout for us, but plenty of lessons to be learned.
The American Dream is not home ownership. That's just one minor, unnecessary part of it. The American Dream is that here we can make of ourselves whatever we desire, whether that is running a fruit stand to make enough money to buy vodka, or rising to become a captain of industry or President. Home ownership is a tangible sign that we are living that life, but it is not the Dream.

The politicians with their lies of ensuring the American Dream have actually stolen the dreams of millions. By giving people stuff, they have robbed their victims of the chance to make it on their own. It's despicable.

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Have a Happy Festivus

As Todd at VC reminds us, today is the traditional celebration of Festivus.

So let the airing of grievances begin. I myself have no grievances, preferring to hold all of my troubles inside and finally melt down one day outside a Kroger.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

FAO Schwarz: Retail Lunactivism

Lunactivism, my faithful readers know, is some protest, statement, or direct action in support of a cause that does the cause more harm than good. Terrorism is an extreme example. The fear-mongering Prop 8 commercial portraying Mormons as home invaders is another.

In a commercial venture, companies have over the last several years begun touting their environmental friendliness. It's thought that appearing green enhances corporate image, which is especially important to retailers and consumer-facing businesses.

Now, hardly anybody or anything has more good will than Santa Claus, and most people have a fixed image of Santa Claus involving, on some level, a red suit.

So F.A.O. Schwarz, struggling retailer, decided that turning Santa's suit green to push a children's book was the right way to go. Lunactivism? I report, you decide.

w/t Debbie Schlussel

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fisking the White House Bailout of GM and Chrysler

President Bush has decided to give some number of billions of dollars of TARP money, which was supposed to be used for financial firms, to two failing car companies.

In doing so, he said ... well, let us fisk, shall we?

Bush said in normal economic circumstances

What are "normal" circumstances? Is there any set of circumstances that we could call "normal" that would cause companies the size of GM and Chrysler to fail, while other companies are not failing? Or would the fact of two of these companies failing be considered evidence that circumstances were not "normal"?

he would not intervene to save the automakers

Intervening is one word, "meddling in private business by Executive fiat to favor two companies over their competitors with an unconstitutional bill of attainder" describes it better. And saving the automakers may be what he says he's doing, but it's really his own image he's worried about. "Something must be done, this is something, therefor this must be done." These steps are neither necessary nor sufficient to save the automakers from anything except a painful, newsworthy Christmas. In these times of pain avoidance, Mr. Bush is just doing the expedient thing: borrowing money to loan to people who have no clear means to pay it back.

but "in the midst of a financial crisis

The financial crisis has very little to do with the automakers problems, except that their problems were caused primarily by the run-up in oil prices, making people unwilling to buy inefficient but high-markup trucks and SUVs that they had previously wanted as toys and status symbols.

To the extent that the financial crisis is a cause of the GM and Chrysler problems, it's because they have continued to make ever-more-expensive vehicles believing that people would continue to buy them on credit. When people suddenly became credit-wary, realizing the foolishness of taking a loan against a depreciating asset, the car makers were sunk.

But now that people have realized that it's foolish to pay interest on something which is losing value, no amount of Federal credit assistance is going to rescue the car companies.

"and a recession,

Again, would there ever be a car maker failure during some other economic phase?

"allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse

The collapse bogeyman, too big to fail, etc. If these companies cannot make it, they should be allowed to fail now before we dump huge amounts of money we don't have into propping them up. We will be paying the interest on the debt we incur propping up the failing companies long after they go under anyway.

"is not a responsible course of action."

Saying it doesn't make it so. The responsible thing is to let people face the consequences of their actions. Call it compassion, call it anything else, but responsible it is not.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bring Back Global Warming, Please!

As Indur Goklany points out, deaths from extreme cold are much more common than deaths from extreme heat. In fact, extreme cold causes more deaths than all other weather-related causes combined.

It's much easier for a homeless person to escape the heat (with shade and water) than the cold.

Considering also the well-known health problems that come up every winter (the "cold and flu season"), it would be better for all of us if this season were shortened.

So I think we should be dumping as much CO2 into the air as we can.

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I've Got a Fever, and the Only Cure is More Iowahawk

Dave Burge has a way with satire:

"After the 1982 strike SantaCorp offered the UET a generous pension plan promising free lifetime candy canes and unicorns," explained Kessler. "It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the company accountants forgot to factor in elf immortality."

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Busy Week At the Salt Mines

Got no time for living, yeah, I'm working all the time. -- Rush

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Limited Government and Social Conservatives

Over at Power and Control, M. Simon asks:

How do you enforce traditional values and at the same time promote limited government? Until Republicans resolve that question neither the traditional values people nor the limited government people are going to trust the party.

I reply:

The question presupposes that traditional values (a term I will use without scrutiny) need to be enforced, and that social conservatives by their nature want government to enforce their values.

However, most social conservatives want merely not to have laws which are opposed to those values, and possibly for the government to advocate traditional values, as opposed to advocating non-traditional ones.

That is what Prop 8 was all about, I thought. It's not that we care what other people do, really, it's that we don't want the government actively supporting, with legal protection, nontraditional values. That's very different from saying we don't want anyone doing nontraditional things.

It's true that on some level we don't want anyone doing nontraditional things, but since of course we recognize tolerance and pluralism and limited government as higher Enlightenment principles, it's best to keep government away from that area. [I add here that for "tolerance" to have any meaning as a Virtue, we must be forced to make some sacrifice to obtain a worthy goal. The sacrifice we make is to allow something we dislike in order to obtain permission for our own faulty behavior, for no one is perfect. Those who deny wanting to control the behavior 0f others thereby turn tolerance into a nonce.]

So the answer is that we should all oppose government action which would change social mores, rather than supporting government action enforcing them.

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A Sudden Discovery of the Obvious

While Dan Collins doesn't say it, a study showing that people incompetent in some area believe themselves highly skilled while the truly skilled think themselves less so shows two things.

  1. Cognitive psychologists tend to overestimate the importance of their findings

  2. Cognitive psychologists have proved that self-esteem is overrated
In war, as in chess, he who underestimates his enemy overestimates his life expectancy.

In addition to the foregoing, I feel compelled to note that this is a classic case of the difficulty of determining cause and effect. Do the unskilled overestimate their ability, or do people who think their skills are pretty good feel no need to improve them? Perhaps it's both.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Governor Blagojevice Has No Reason To Resign

What will resigning now get him?

If he's not found guilty of Federal corruption charges, he can still have a career in politics, on some level.

If he's found guilty, he can resign in protest, or simply wait to be impeached.

If he's impeached and tried, he can resign at any time during the process.

As Dave at Political Machine puts it:

It's quite apparent that no one has anything on Blago or is willing to offer him anything to resign. Quite the reverse. Blago probably knows where enough bodies are buried to make taking him out a risky project, and he has nothing to lose by staying where he is until he gets the right offer. The most valuable thing he now owns is the ability to resign. He's not going to give that away for bleeping nothing right?

I disagree with Dave on one thing: Blago has more leverage than just the ability to resign. If he's impeached and goes on trial, he can take a whole bunch of people down with him, probably to include a former Senator or two.

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A Mindset Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Josh Marshall, for whom I've a bit of a troll crush lately, writes at TPM about a Senate Republican memo concerning the UAW giveaway. Ever the conspiracy-seeking projectionist, Marshal asserts that it is "very revealing -- though hardly surprising."

I think it's hardly revealing or surprising, excepting the headline which Marshall takes out of context from the memo (via MSLSDBC):

From: [redacted]

Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:12 AM

To: [redacted]

Subject: Action Alert -- Auto Bailout

Today at noon, Senators Ensign, Shelby, Coburn and DeMint will hold a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery. They would appreciate our support through messaging and attending the press conference, if possible. The message they want us to deliver is:

1. This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.

2. This rush to judgment is the same thing that happened with the TARP. Members did not have an opportunity to read or digest the legislation and therefore could not understand the consequences of it. We should not rush to pass this because Detroit says the sky is falling.

The sooner you can have press releases and documents like this in the hands of members and the press, the better. Please contact me if you need additional information. Again, the hardest thing for the democrats to do is get 60 votes. If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this.

Notice that the context of "taking their first shot" is within the auto bailout fight, not in politics generally. Thus the memo doesn't reveal a grand strategy to take down organized labor, but simply encourages Republicans to be on offense, not defense, as regards a forthcoming attack from labor.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

TPM Watch: Josh Marshall is half right

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo writes that Democrats may use their majority to do away with the filibuster in the Senate. I agree with Marshall that they should not do that, that having a minority with some power to act is good for the republic.

But then, there is this:

Finally, this issue now goes well beyond the fate of the American automakers. Senate Republicans are following this course for three key reasons -- first is payback against a major industrial union; second is payback against states like Michigan and Ohio who have been moving away from the GOP; third is the desire to advantage Japanese auto manufacturers who disproportionately do business in their southern states.

What even the White House can see at this point is that having one or more of these companies go under right now will rapidly accelerate the economic crisis, and in unpredictable ways.

I don't think Josh understands Republicans at all, or perhaps prefers his narratives to be untarnished with the stain of reality. There is no "payback" involved, either against a labor union or especially against the voters of any State. That's just stupid. Payback?

This is about Republican Senators standing up for capitalism and against socialism. If you want to be cynical, they're establishing their conservative cred -- pandering to the base, you would say.

And the last paragraph is a repeat of the false dilemma: the choice is bailout versus Chapter 11 restructuring, not going under.

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Capitalist Victory Over Unions, Obama, Bush, Detroit, Democrats and Media on Bailout

Despite strong support among Democrats in Congress and the media, Republicans led by Senators Corker and Shelby won a key vote Thursday evening, with support for capitalism showing renewed strength in the against the socialist forces led by lame duck President George Bush, former Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Senate.

Both the United Auto Workers (UAW) labor union and the Detroit auto makers supported a plan by Mr. Bush and the Democrats to loan approximately $15 billion to the failing Detroit auto industry. The plan would have called for bankruptcy-like changes for the troubled companies, as well as the appointment of a government ombudsman or "car tzar" to approve all major decisions for the companies accepting the money.

Negotiations failed when the labor union, whose workers receive over $70 per hour in benefits, refused to take a pay cut to allow the plan to go forward.

The public was overall against the plan, despite intense support from the news media. Media reports portrayed the total collapse of the American automotive industry as the alternative to this plan.

Former Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D-Chicago), who resigned last month amid the corruption scandal which has so far resulted in an indictment against his close allies Antoin "Tony" Rezko and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Chicago) was not directly involved in the negotiations.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Senate Democrats Micromanaging Illinois Politics

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wrote a letter, co-signed by the entire Democratic Senate delegation, asking indicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to resign and not name a Senator to replace Barack Obama, who was also forced to resign last month due to Constitutional conflicts.

The Senate has no authority over the Illinois Governor, however, and no formal input into Blagojevich's choice to replace the embattled Obama.

Blagojevich, currently free on bond, has so far refused to resign.

The indictment naming Blagojevich, a Chicago Democrat with close ties to former Senator Obama, did not name Obama specifically as a target of the corruption probe, which is ongoing. To protect their case, prosecutors are typically reluctant to disclose publicly the targets of ongoing investigations.

The letter's co-signers included Illinois Senator Richard ("Dick") Durbin. Durbin, reelected last month on what some call a more conservative appeal to rural downstate voters, recently asked President Bush to commute the sentence in the felony corruption conviction of former Governor George Ryan. Durbin also made headlines last month when urging Blagojevich not to appoint another African-American to the Senate.

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And They Say Liberals Are Humorless Curmudgeons

There is an ongoing series of posts at Talking Points Memo about which State is the leader in the important Government Corruption category.

Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada -- all of these are nicely corrupt little places, it's true. But one State towers over the others as a jackal stands among mere rats:

Look, if you want, the New Orleans bloggers can put together a comprehensive file for you. But you need to know it will be thick.

In the many categories that people argue for (cash involved, historical entrenchment, recent scandal, profile, fed/state/local), each of your wannabe states points out that the category they happen to be strongest in really matters the most. And that's why they're wannabes...they need special consideration.

Louisiana will let any state in the union pick the turf and the time. You want state level corruption? Local? Bring it. Historical tradition? Game on. Recent scandal? Easy money. You name the category, any category, and we'll have a big dog in that fight. And that is why Louisiana is the all time champ.

Speaking for the citizens of Illinois: we are not worthy.

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Lying, like smoking, is a hard habit to break.

A liar is tripped up by inconsistency. I have come to believe that this inconsistency is of two different kinds, internal and external. When the liar's version of the tale conflicts with itself, we have an internal conflict; when it is inconsistent with known, objective reality it is in external conflict or is externally inconsistent.

Politicians lie a lot. Barack Obama, for instance, seems personally incapable of telling the truth.

For instance, when asked whether he had any conversation with Governor Blagojevich about his replacement in the Senate, Obama said, "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening."

And yet, there are photographs of the two men together, with mutually acknowledged plans to discuss the Senate vacancy.

What he could have said was "My conversations with the Governor stopped because I, uh, didn't like the direction they were taking."

But the fact is, he didn't say that, and it's too late to say it now. Perhaps there is an alternative explanation, something involving national security. Barring that, either Barack Obama was willing to suborn unethical conduct from the Governor, or is an habitual liar incapable of telling the truth even when it will benefit him.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shocker: Obama Not Completely Candid

Clicky linky to go to Gateway Pundit's story.

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Throwing My Wreath Into the Ring

I would like to take this time to announce my intention to explore my options to seek the opportunity to decide if the necessary conditions are right to declare candidacy for the United States Senate from the State of Illinois, to complete the term vacated when Barack Obama was forced to resign.

I have resided in the State of Illinois for over twenty years, since my Honorable Discharge from the United States Marine Corps. I'm a graduate of the University of Illinois, and can complain about Illini sports with the best of them.

I currently have a pulse and love to run my mouth, which with the forgoing should more than adequately establish my qualifications for the job.

I hereby challenge opponents to a debate. The site and length of the debate are negotiable. Any blog or other online venue will do.

Feel free to read my other posts here, and donate in multiples of $5, $10, or $50,000 to my PayPal account.

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In her 2006 bid to unseat John Murtha, Diana Irey said,

I want a tall fence with a wide gate.
That line resonated for me, and still does.

Because I want to believe in America as the beacon of hope, the shining city on a hill.

But there are two parts to that phrase: the shining city and the hill on which it sits. The hill, from time immemorial, was the place to build a city if you wanted to defend it from attack. The hill made entering the city marginally more difficult to approach for peaceful commerce, but a great deal more difficult to invade.

The hill also makes the shining city more visible, and more attractive as real estate for other reasons. Who doesn't like a nice view? Who doesn't appreciate good munipal use of hydrodynamics?

I want to know that everyone who lives in the United States is a citizen. I want no underclass, barred by reason of citizenship from engaging in any but the duties of their assigned caste, herded about under the watchful eye of some Congressional committee.

America must call for immigrants to come. We must demand that they be allowed to come. If necessary, we must plead with them to come, to see what they can do here.

We must not adopt the zero-sum belief that limited resources imply limited population. Our population is our greatest resource.

And likewise, we must not allow them to be enticed by governmental handouts, which are indeed limited, despite the current tendency to spend money we don't have.

Instead, we must fight tooth and nail against the notion that people -- and corporations -- who are able to support themselves deserve support from the government to retain a specific lifestyle. Restore the image of America as a place where only diligence and discipline are rewarded, and sloth is discouraged.

We must build a tall fence, and watch it with an eagle's eye. We must deport anyone found here without legal reason. We must punish those who lure people here in denial of our laws.

And then we must with just as much vigor beg immigrants to come in through the wide gate, to pledge with us to defend our nation with their calloused hands, vibrant minds, and sacred honor.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Help Wanted

Seeking Junior Senator for Major Midwestern State

Major Midwestern State seeks loyal political partisan to join our team in Washington. Duties include voting "present" on legislation, taking credit for the work of other Senators, and running for higher office. Position is traditionally a career destination, not a stepping stone, though recent turnover rates may signal a change. Other duties include:

  • Steering Federal spending to the State
  • Raising diversity of Senate
  • Getting coffee for the Senior Senator (black, two sugars)


  • Pulse

Contact: that's a little in flux right now.

The U.S. Government is an Equal Opportunity Employer. No experience necessary. Will train. U.S. Citizens only need apply. Proof of U.S. Citizenship optional.

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Governor Pat Quinn

I just wanted to be the first to say it.

After the Illinois General Assembly impeaches the current non-occupant of the Governor's mansion, we'll have a nice upgrade.

Pat Quinn is a populist refomer. He drives his own State vehicle, and travels the State without entourage.

He'll be a welcome change over Blago, who liked to use the Governor's jet to commute between Chicago and Springfield. In fact, he's just what we need right now.

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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Chicago) Frog-Marched

He should have hid in Springfield. No one would ever have found him.

I was formulating a post on his idiotic insistence that the State of Illinois would not do business with Bank of America unless the Bank of America paid off one of his unions, but it appears I don't have to worry about posting that.

The corruption in Illinois is systemic and pervasive. Will it ever be cleaned up? Only when the citizens of this State decide that they're tired of it.

Which implies that they first become tired of it, which may be a long time coming.

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This is Not The Governor Rod Blajojevich (D-Chicago) I Knew

The problem: protect Barack Obama from the stink of Illinois politics.

The answer: claim that Barack Obama helped put Rod Blagojevich away.

Nice, neat, tidy, and like everything else Obama, a half truth.

Obama knew these guys were dirty (pdf), and used their dirtiness to further his own advancement, without doing anything to bring them to justice until he'd already been elected President. At that point, they became a liability.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Post Which Roils

One of the blogs I troll is called In Socrates' Wake, written by teachers about teaching, especially the teaching of philosophy. I'm not a teacher, except by the abhorrent personal habit of forcing my wisdom on others, unfettered by their acceptance or appreciation of same.

Usually, ISW is instructive, even enlightening, and always thoughtful.

This post, while instructive and enlightening, just made me want to scream.

Teaching Feminist and Race Theory: problematic assumptions and positive transformations

I teach feminist and race theory to five students, four of whom are white, none of whom are female. Yet, for all their lack of diversity, they understand the philosophical relevance of gender and race. Critical theory for them, however, was remarkably new when they began. While they began their studies with me in order to broaden their perspective in social and political philosophy, none of them had ever reflected on some of the contemporary social structures and implicit patterns of thought that are implicitly sexist and/or racist. None of the students were sexist or racist when they entered the course, and they would have been quite defensive about being labeled as such. Yet, on campus, and in other classes, this was the challenge they faced.

I dare you to read it all.

Instead of screaming, I wrote this:
The most interesting aspect of this is how self-absorbed and myopic is the entire field of feminist and race theory. I am critical both of your methods and your goals, either of which you may accept or reject.

Because while you complain to young learners how difficult life is for someone who is not white and male, millions of non-white non-males are out in the world ignoring, sidestepping, or overcoming the hurdles placed in front of all of us, striving, excelling, and winning.

With the assumption of systemic "oppression", you doom all who buy into your world view to a life of learned helplessness. All of their hopes and dreams must go into cheating the system which they have been told oppresses them, or into the ballot box, which is cheating by official means.

Because individuals are not bound by the nature or the common limitations of the groups to which they belong. It is profoundly racist or sexist to say that they do.

I was struck by your statement that the students coming in had a remarkable lack of diversity, listing as your only evidence that four of them were open-minded white males. That displays an amazing lack of introspection, even hypocrisy. Because I'm sure you would agree that people are not defined by their skin or gender.

On another level, by stating a priori that there is "systemic oppression", you as the authority in the classroom establish that principle as an inarguable tenet of the class. This puts the student on the defensive. That's great for establishing the power of the teacher in the classroom, but not great for actually learning anything other than that racism and sexism are bad, which your students already seem to have known coming in.

Further, it makes the students feel guilty for being who they are. If that is your goal, you're nothing but a jerk with a lectern.

So I will assume it is not your goal. But it appears to be your major accomplishment.

As I said, it's one of the blogs I troll.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008


Victory happens when your former enemy agrees that you were right all along.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

The Trouble with the Base

Reading this Corner piece from the great Ramesh Ponnuru, two things struck me.

First, I noticed a trend: people are picking apart the Republican party and the conservative movement into constituent groups -- Married Anglo-Saxon Protestants, conservative Catholics, et al. Seeing a lack of physical diversity, they then prescribe as remedy the abandonment of foundational ideology.

The troubles with that line of thinking are legion, but the main thing about it is the continual confusion of the Republican Party with the conservative movement.

The Republican Party is a liberal organization. It was founded in the liberal furnace of Abolition, tempered by war with the truly conservative forces of Southern aristocracy, and had its new car smell become malodorous with the stench of Reconstruction. It was the party of the intellectual, of noblesse oblige, and of the black voters they freed from bondage.

Nowadays, the Republican Party exists as a vehicle to win elections, based primarily around the popularity of laissez faire economics. That social conservatives largely identify with it is because A) social conservatives are largely free-market types, as well, and B) they have nowhere else to go.

Modern Conservatism, forged by Buckley, Goldwater, and Reagan, is an alloy of the conservative notion of not fixing what is not broken with the ideas of Enlightenment and classical liberalism. It attempts to keep America fixed in its foundational form. It's a bit of a coincidence that conservative in America means classical liberal.

This unification of the Republican Party and conservatism is a holdover from Ronald Reagan, so forged by the power of his ideas and his steadfast support of them. People are naturally wont to label themselves, and to adopt the ideas of those peers and leaders with whom they largely agree. This, too, welds the Republican Party and conservatism.

But even with the difference between the Republican Party and the conservative movement, it must be recognized that the people who make up these groups are motivated by a set of beliefs. Almost all Republicans have as a core belief that people are better off when they can fend for themselves economically. Government, in this mindset, exists to defend us from each other and from outsiders. As Reagan said, government is not the solution, but the problem.

Another core Republican belief is that all men are created equal. We do not want discrimination, even if it is intended to remedy earlier discrimination in some other direction.

And it is these ideas which fundamentally bind us together, and these ideas we seek to further.

We cannot therefore reach out to other "groups" without recoiling in horror at the thought of dividing mankind up into groups. It stinks of the corpse of that war we fought in our youth, and it is not our way.

We believe our ideas are of universal appeal, and do not need to be packaged to pander to people based on their personal place in the nation's demography.

The second thing that struck me is that Ramesh Ponnuru is for some reason still reading Kathleen Parker.

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What Bothers Me About The Bailouts

I do not care about the ripple effect of automobile maker failure, bankruptcy, or other harm.

I do not care about my 401k, Midwest tax revenues, or any other alleged effect that even the total loss of GM would engender.

What I care about is our economic system, which is being destroyed by socialism, to the crocodile tears of the supposed capitalists on Wall Street and in Detroit. They are selling their souls for the sake of a temporary respite, and we will all suffer for it.

From where is this $34 Billion going to come? We’re going to borrow it, at interest. How is that interest going to be paid? By borrowing at interest. And so it would continue, ad infinitum, until the money supply is so inflated that it will take an illegal dump truck to carry enough money to the illegal gas station to illegally fill it up.

We’re worrying about ripples from spitballs while dropping boulders into the pond.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Transcript From U.N. Chat Room

NDA: UR terist!1!!
Pak: UR infidL!!1!
NDA: UR unclen etr of ded things
Pak: mmm - tasT cows! LOL!!1!
NDA: unclen h8tr
Pak: U wash w/ p00
NDA: UR 3d world country liv in hut
Pak: will pwn U w/ nuke
NDA: from fish boat, terist?
Pak: from sutcas, infidL!!1!
NDA: 3d world country: no sutcas!1!! use fish boat!1!!
Pak: 1st world country w/ nuk 4 U!!1!
Pak: U ansr fon 4 joos & wash w/ p00
NDA: have job, not liv n hut lyk U
Pak: liv n city & eat tasT cows LOL!!1!
NDA: not aftr nuk on grass roof LOL!1!!
Pak: ur bom ki11 r cows 2 LOL!!1!
NDA: betr ded than smel ur stink
Pak: U stink !
NDA: O good 1 dum455!1!!
Pak: Dingaling oo! git fon iz joos!
NDA: LOL hear dat? iz osama? nope fon not ring cuz no fon in hut LOL!1!!
Pak: 3G ifon w/apps & not smel lyk p00
NDA: tru dat lyk on fish boat!1!! nuke on way kwik hide LOL put on burka!1!!

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

  • For each new law enacted by Congress, a law must be repealed.

  • For each new item of spending or increase to an existing item, an identical amount must be cut elsewhere in the budget.

  • The Cabinet must contain at least one but at most ten members.

  • All government documents, except Treaties and Agreements with foreign powers, must be printed only in English.

  • Congress shall make no law to favor one business over another, nor to acquire any ownership in a business.

  • In questions arising over the classification of people, Congress shall make no law to applying to one group but not others, except to distinguish citizens from non-citizens.

  • In this Constitution, the terms "ex post facto" and "Bill of Attainder" apply to laws that either favor or punish.

  • "Interstate commerce" shall mean an exchange of value between separate Persons in two or more States.

  • Senators and Congressmen shall serve no more than two consecutive terms.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Detroit CEOs: Beatings to Continue Until Morale Improves

These guys should not be in Washington, asking for money. They should be in Detroit, making it.

Actually, they should be standing in front of a judge, asking for Chapter 11 protection from the unions bankrupting them. They plan to do some of that, according to this unreliable source, but not enough.

General Motors Corp., Ford and Chrysler LLC said they would refinance their companies’ debt, cut executive pay, seek concessions from workers and find other ways of reviving their staggering companies.
The only thing they need to be asking Congress to do is to drop the stupid CAFE standards and let the naturally rising gas prices influence which kind of cars people buy.

Now Ford is promising to boost fuel economy across its fleet by 14% this year. But they can't keep that promise, because it again depends on which cars people buy. For Ford to make the effort means that they are pursuing something other than the long-term viability of their company, which will inevitably lead to a suboptimal result.

Further, the car companies are expected to put a moratorium on incentive pay for salaried workers. Rather than reward success, the companies are going to punish failure.

And by selling airplanes, restructuring operations, and undergoing other cost-saving changes, they are simply nibbling along the edges of their problem, which is that because of their high labor and tax costs, they can't make money selling fuel-efficient cars..

Selling 14% more of something is not a recipe for success when you lose money selling each one.

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For Want of a Nail..

Some things never change. The tiniest of errors often do, under the fog of war, lead to the greatest disasters.

And so it is with Mumbai. Who knew that, for lack of a simple memo, hundreds of people had to die?

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Michael Rubin Nails Islamism

Writing at The Corner, Michael Rubin takes on what is so troubling with the Western response to Islamic terrorism. Are terrorists good Muslims? Who cares! Read the whole thing, as it's only a couple of paragraphs. The money (my emphasis):

While it’s fashionable to argue that terrorists in Mumbai do not act out of religion, but are simply misguided, the fact of the matter is that they justify their actions in Islam. For the purposes of policy and security, religion should be what its practitioners believe it to be rather than what academics or outside commentators say it is. It is much more important to determine how terrorists are brainwashed in madrasas, then passing judgment on whether what they believe conforms to what academics believe Muslims should believe.
All the talk about whether Al Qaeda practices Islam, or whether we should avoid a backlash against Muslims, misses the point. There should be a backlash against anyone, regardless of their religious affiliation, who excuses or condones terrorism.

Further, as Rubin says, forget the question of whether it's based in religion or not. Because terrorism catches hold somewhere in the maturation of these devils, and it is foolish to cast aside a potential source as politically incorrect.

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Congressman: Bailout Dwarfs Income Tax

From Beyond Bailouts:

...Over the Thanksgiving break, [Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX)] noted Congress had given the Treasury Secretary the authority to spend $1.7 trillion of your tax dollars (although the bailout has cost far more than that). That number is greater than the $1.21 trillion the federal government will receive in income tax this year. So what's Gohmert's plan? He wants to revoke the Treasury Secretary's authority to buy assets and instead suspend the income tax for a year.

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Why is the Bailout Unconstitutional?

The Paulson Bailout fiasco is unconstitutional not merely because there is nowhere listed in the Constitutional a Federal authority to bail out commercial enterprises.

The Bailout is an ex post facto bill of attainder, both of which are of course forbidden by the Constitution.

An Ex Post Facto law is one which is written after the fact to address some problem.

A Bill of Attainder is trial by legislation.

And that is what we have in the Paulson Bailout.

-------- Update --------
I ran this past a lawyer friend, who said that actually, Congress can and does single out individuals for special benefit all the time. It can even name them, but the reason it doesn't usually do so is political, rather than legal.

It seems illogical, to me, because how does one draw the line between a punishment and a benefit? If Congress singles out Acme, Inc. for special benefits coupled with special labor rules, for instance, that may be on balance a positive or a negative thing for Acme. It seems to me that there is a spectrum or range from outlawing a company's existence to giving them too-big-to-fail money.

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The Coming Incorrect Response to the Wrong Problem

In all likelihood, when the Electoral College of the United States meets in December, Barack Hussein Obama will be elected President. Despite his unproven eligibility, Obama is very good at behind-the-scenes political arm-twisting and race-baiting, and will probably garner enough votes push aside his closest competitors.

But leaving aside how we got to this point, Obama will live in the White House.

So what is he going to do? He's going to respond to the economic "crisis" as FDR responded to the depression of 1929: spend like mad, in an effort to get reelected. But as Yid With Lid puts it, that won't help us recover:

As late as 1938, nine years into the depression, almost one out of five workers remained unemployed. What the government gave with one hand, through increased spending, it took away with the other, through increased taxation, and the increased power of labor. But that was not an even trade-off. As the root cause of a great deal of mismanagement and inefficiency, government was responsible for a lost decade of economic growth.
And this is not the depression of 1929, or even 1932. It's a crisis in credit confidence brought on by years of systemic government over-regulation and intervention.

Companies have been burdened with reporting requirements that cost them millions in accounting charges, for little tangible benefit. Compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley rules alone costs a business about a million dollars a year, and for the small-to-medium businesses that are the backbone of the economy -- where the jobs are -- that's a serious hurdle. And it's for nothing more than paperwork.

After forcing banks to make loans to people who couldn't afford them, Congress and the Obama-led forces of political correctness are now going to double down to keep people in the homes they still can't afford, in the name of pain avoidance. It will lead to the same place it did before: default and crash.

Now as each new company deemed too big to fail teeters on the brink of failure, rather than allowing them to fail and trusting that the system which has worked for hundreds of years will continue to work, we assume that we are smarter than our forbears. We can succeed in directing from Mount Etna the affairs of men. Yes, we can.

So rather than admit the failure of the Community Reinvestment and Sarbanes-Oxley Acts, we expand government without care or concern as to what the long-term effect of doing so may be.

It's a crisis!
We must to something!
This is something!
This must be done!

In reality we are not addressing the same problem they were faced with in 1929 or 1932. Even if we were faced with the Great Depression, imitating Hoover and Roosevelt would not solve it. The only answer is to first stop doing, with excessive intervention and regulation, the damage we are doing, and allow the natural wonder that is the American economy again to display its awesome powers.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Ineligible Appointing the Ineligible

Despite mounting concern over his own eligibility to assume the United States Presidency, former Senator Barack H. Obama (D-IL) is expected to nominate an ineligible person to be Secretary of State.

Obama, who has yet to provide legal proof of native birth, resigned from the Senate in November amid questions and lawsuits charging that he lacks the necessary qualifications to become President. Compounding his troubles was the Constitutional requirement that he could not hold both Executive and Legislative office at the same time.

But experts say that the same Constitutional Section (Article I, Section 6) requiring him to step down also precludes the appointment of a sitting Senator to a Cabinet post during the Senate term in which the post has had its pay increased. If as expected he nominates Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), she would be unable to serve.

However others say that the Constitution may not be binding on the Obama Administration.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

There are Four Kinds of Politicians

Ross Douthat has a chart.

  • Jackson - Realist tending toward isolationism
  • Jefferson - Idealist isolationist
  • Wilson - Idealist tending toward interventionism
  • Hamilton - Realist interventionist
I think President Bush came to office as a Jackson/Jeffersonian mix, but after 9/11 became solidly Wilsonian.

Barack Obama is all things to all people, and sold himself early as a Jeffersonian. But I think he's going to be whatever gets him the most votes.

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When in Doubt, Blame Bush

Prediction: even though the stock market lost over 20% of its value, from 9600 to 7600, in the 16 days following Barack Obama's election, what will be reported is the big run up it will make getting back to 9600. It will be the Obama Bull Market.

You watch.

But when anything bad happens, it will be blamed on President Bush.

After the idiocy of the bailout mania under Bush and Paulson, I'm not sure I'll even disagree.

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Why Can't the Government Do Something?

"Why can't the government do something about the American auto industry?"

They can do something about it.

"Why don't they fix it, then?"

They can't do that.

"But you said they could!"

No, I said they could do something about it. They can outlaw it, they can subsidize it some more, and they and even take it over. But none of those things would fix it.

"'Take it over'?"

Yes, they could easily buy a controlling interest in the car companies.

"Why don't they do that?"

There is nothing in our Constitution about that.

"Exactly my point! Why don't they just buy the auto makers?"

Our government doesn't do that kind of thing. And it wouldn't fix the problem. It would only make the government more interested in funding them further.

"But you said they could."

Republicans would never stand for it.

"But they were voted out of power."

Ah. Just so.

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Google Shrugs

World Net Daily reports on Google's alleged sandboxing of Atlas Shrugs for its groundbreaking coverage of the Obama birth certificate fakery:

On July 4, Geller featured a story about a board-certified forensic expert who declared Obama's online birth certificate a "forgery" and an "obvious fake." She attributes most of her problems with Google to that report.

"I think that it's the birth certificate story," Geller said. "All of the sudden, my numbers were down by 10,000."

She has also featured reports on Obama's support of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and cases of alleged campaign finance fraud involving his campaign. Geller believes Google is censoring her stories because it objects to their content.

Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs trots out the free speech canard. No one is stopping you from speaking, Ms. Geller. Google is not the government but a private company, though I find it increasing difficult to fault people for not seeing the difference.

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Bailout Mania

More banks are being bailed out, with the government becoming a bank holding company.

Where is that in the Constitution? Nowhere.

It's as criminal as it is ineffective.

Writing at Cato,

A Pew Research poll conducted more than a week ago found that 57 percent of Americans are terrified by Bailout Mania 2008. That was several days, and many billions of dollars, before Bloomberg reported that U.S. taxpayers are now on the hook for $7.7 trillion in bailout bucks — half of the nation’s entire GDP for the past year. At this point, not even Carl Sagan could get a handle on the numbers we’re talking about.

Ya think?

But I maintain that the economy grinding to a halt is on balance good. There will be pain, and real people will have difficult times. But that pain is unavoidable. Better for it to happen now, before the government spends trillions trying to fix it, than afterward when all those trillions will need also to be repaid.

What's that you say? It's already happening? Even so, even so.

We have become a nation with an economy driven by debt. That is unsustainable, as we are seeing. Our chickens, as they say, are coming home to roost, and there's nothing we can do to avoid it.

But we can make it worse. We can have the government buy shares in banks, buy up bad loans, dictate maximum interest rates, and take any other stopgap measure aimed at avoiding the short-term pain. All any of that will do at best is stave off the pain to a later date; it will not avoid it. At worst? I think we may be seeing it.

The way to avoid this kind of situation is to encourage saving, not spending, both for the government and for individuals and businesses.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I started out to write about Pilgrims and Indians, Mayflowers and Compacts, and how we really ought to be thankful for their courage, their cooperation, and above all, for their faith. But I realized that's been done, and overdone, and deconstructed, and reconstructed already. I mean, we've had Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, and this very year, it seems every blogger and pundit has some kind of message today.

For instance, Ken Taylor does a fine work writing at The Minority Report.

And it occurs to me why there is so much blogging about this holiday: despite its origins as a government-approved religious observance, everybody likes Thanksgiving.

Even angry vegetarian Pagans can grit their strident, protesting teeth and get behind the idea of a feast at the end of a harvest. Usually in North America the summer grain crops are all but totally harvested by now, though this year cool, wet weather has delayed that in some areas.

But it would be very difficult to plan the start of the Christmas marketing season if we had to wait until the crops were actually brought in before we were to give thanks. Cynicism aside, Thanksgiving itself remains remarkably uncommercialized. Only the NFL, Macy's, and Ocean Spray have had any real success with it, though the people who make turkey friers are giving it a push.

The politically incorrect holiday is Christmas, with its parallel traditions of Christian Virgin Birth on the one hand and elvin, reindeerish images evoking the diversity-challenged Northern Europe of the Little Ice Age on the other.

On Thanksgiving, everyone seems to take a step back, reflect, and exhale a bit. We see siblings, or not, gorge on big, slow birds, or not, and watch the Detroit Lions lose a football game, or not. The Lions will lose, that is, but not everyone will force themselves to watch them do it.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Barack Obama, Christian Heretic or Unbeliever?

Hot Air:

Obama: There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell.

Falsani: You don’t believe that?

Obama: I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That’s just not part of my religious makeup.

Faith alone, Christ alone.

"Surely the Lord your God knows you will not die."

It's a hard thing, Mr. Obama. And yet, it's what Jesus said.

You may reject Jesus, but don't claim Him as something less than He is.

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Roger Simon: Logic-challenged

At Politico:

I do not understand why some people are opposed to a $25 billion government bailout of the U.S. auto industry.

The price is cheap. That $25 billion represents less than three months of the cost of the Iraq war.

I oppose the bailout because unlike national defense, propping up certain industries is not an area in which the government should involve itself.

By analogy, Mr. Simon suggests that because a couple buys a car with a payment of $300/month, neither partner should object to using a home equity line of credit to buy $900 worth of crack cocaine.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Paulson Playing Whackamole With Economy

Michelle calls it "Borrow. Spend. Panic. Repeat."

There is no clear policy, and seemingly no rhyme nor reason to the decision over which institutions are bailed out, which ones are forced into sale, and which ones are left to their own resources.

In the absence of a clear policy, or even a murky policy, or even a vague pattern of behavior, people (meaning the banks) are putting their money in the proverbial sock drawer, holding on to it until such a time as conditions are more stable.

And that's a good thing. When borrowing individuals, families, companies, or governmental units realize themselves vulnerable to debt risk, the prudent thing for them is to pay down that debt, not to incur more. Similarly, when lenders realize that they are vulnerable to too much of the wrong kind of debt, the prudent thing is not to lend. The signs are that most people are working to limit the amount of debt they have.

It should be remembered that all of this Nanny State pain avoidance is being done with money we don't have.

And by bailing out companies in this erratic fashion, no one knows which companies are at risk and which ones are safe. The current practice merely prolongs the inevitable pain.

Paulson's borrow-and-loan game is killing the credit market in the short term, and by ballooning government debt it will destroy the economy in the long run.

And nowhere does this kind of power appear in the Constitution.

I would call for Henry Paulson to resign, effective immediately, but his clever boss appears to be even more clueless as to the danger his actions pose to the economy, and the republic itself.

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Hillary Clinton is Not Eligible To Be Secretary of State

And it's not even really a debatable point.

Article I, § 6.2 of the United States Constitution:

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
"Emoluments" is deadwhiteguyese for "pay". The point being to keep Congresscritters from creating cushy jobs in the bureaucracy and having themselves appointed thereto.

President Bush, in keeping with the cost of living increases lavished for no particular reason on government officials, raised the emoluments of the Secretary of State in January, 2008, which is during the current Senate term of Hillary Clinton.

The good and wise Professor Volokh (w/t) thinks that it would be enough to lower the pay for the secretarial job back to January, 2007 levels.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

What Year Is It

in your world?

According to Jonah Goldberg, the geniuses and mere honorees who think they are geniuses on the left are now changing their tune. Instead of calling for a new New Deal now that evidence is piling up that it made the Great Depression worse instead of better, they're saying we need another World War II.

There are at least two problems with that line of thinking.

First, World War II was caused by Hitler's ascent, which was caused by -- wait for it -- The Great Depression. If we're in an economic crisis of that magnitude, then a solution will present itself forthwith.

Or, if we listen to those who say that terrorist Islamicism is caused by economic conditions in the Middle East, perhaps a solution already has presented itself in the form of commercial jets colliding with New York skyscrapers.

Secondly, doesn't the left constantly complain about the amount of money spent on the war in Iraq? Or perhaps the problem is merely that they didn't get the money.

Just because a solution presented itself for the Great Depression, that doesn't mean it was the only possible solution, or that a solution would require government action. We had an economy before the Depression, and it's quite possible that we could have had an economy again without resorting to all-out war.

Simulating a war, as implied by a WWII without the fighting, implies that we don't have an enemy worth fighting right now.

Finally, the point I set out to make: the conditions now are not the same as in 1929, nor even 1941. We lack excess capacity of resources such as oil and steel. The resources we have are largely tied up productively, except where environmental laws keep them out of production. In particular, many of the "green" technologies the left hopes to create will require recycling items that currently have value, destroying that value (taking it out of the economy).

For example, if the government forces everyone to use electric vehicles, or if it becomes prohibitively expensive to operate or maintain them, that will mean that a lot of value on consumer balance sheets will simply disappear.

The economy is not as bad as the news says it is. We're in a healthy cycle of renewal, in which some people are finding that they lose money, or that their investments in 401Ks and houses aren't worth as much for a while. It's normal, and no government action is needed.

But the action we're going to get -- these huge bailouts and economic "stimulus" packages -- are going to deepen the crisis of confidence into a really bad time.

And now that Obama has been elected, there doesn't appear to be anything anyone can do about it.

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Bailout Bank Boycott

I intend not to do business with any of these people.

w/t BeyondBailouts

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Trillion is the New Billion

"A billion here, a billion there..."

See A Little Reality: $7.4 Trilion for a list of what 7.4 trillion can get you.

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Texas Prosecutor and Judge Seem Not To Be In Complete Harmony

The Texas judge assigned the corruption case against Vice President Dick Cheney signalled that he may wish to try the case before agreeing with District Attorney Juan Guerra on the Vice President's guilt. The judge's position follows State of Texas tradition that no one, not even those in power outside of the State's jurisdiction, should be presumed guilty before their case is argued.

The judge actually went so far as to entertain motions from the defense, a decision about which Guerra hinted a certain lack of enthusiasm. Guerra also appeared to dissent over being removed as prosecutor from the indictments in the case for which he is also a victim, even though Texas allows pro se legal represention:

And now all of a sudden, there is urgency. 18 months we kept this indictment, past my election. And I asked this court [to say if it would be] dismissed on a technicality. You already decided! You refused.

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Why Is It So Hot?

And why are we in this handbasket?

The government response to the credit crisis is going to destroy our economy. It may unravel the nation itself.

These companies should have been allowed to fail. It's not PC to say I don't care about the people involved losing their jobs, but I don't care about the people involved losing their jobs.

I've lost jobs before. Sometimes you find another, sometimes you declare personal bankruptcy, sometimes you start your own business. You never die from it, and you are always better for it.

We have lost the freedom to fail. Without failure, there is no success -- just a lifelong muddling. We're to be a civilization of muddlers.

But the direct consequences are to be just as bad. In order to fight the specter of deflation, the government is pumping money into the economy right off the printing press -- except without even the need to actually mint anything. They're pretending that they have the money.

Eventually, someone is going to demand that they show it. When that happens, they'll lose their credit rating, and the ability to borrow along with it.

Without the ability to borrow, the US Government goes bankrupt.

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Government is the Devil's Evil Twin

Over at Power and Control, Simon says:

The government IS the Devil. Not metaphorically. Really.

Everything you get from government will have a price much larger than the value of the object gained. Some times the price will not be extracted from you. Sometimes it will be from your children, your grand children, or ten generations hence. But the full price the government wants will be extracted at compound interest.

We are still paying the price for trying to be a free people while holding slaves. My great great grand parents lived on another continent when all that went on. And yet the price is being extracted from me.

I think I blogged a generalization of this a while back, but maybe I just thought of it and never did. Ah, found it, in that link.

Government creeps. Given power in one area, it will keep that power as leverage to extend its reach into another.

You cannot deficit spend without an eventual tax increase -- or the lack of an otherwise obvious decrease.

You cannot say that drunk driving (without actually harming anyone or breaking any traffic laws) is illegal without eventually losing the right to take any other risky action.

You cannot have Roe v Wade and not later get Kelo.

And you cannot grow a bureaucracy big enough to manage the health care system without surrendering your right to criticize the government. You watch.

At least the devil lets you enjoy the crap you sold your soul for. Government doesn't even give you that.

Government is not the Devil -- it's the Devil's evil twin.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bush Forces Congress to Fail, Teases Them About It

Having once again outmaneuvered Speaker-In-Law Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), President Bush then took Congress to task for having been outmaneuvered.

Daniel Ikenson gives the backstory on the failure of the automaker bailout, describing how the Democrats are split between the trade unionists and the greenies, led by Henry Waxman (D-CA):

First, Treasury secretary Henry Paulson claimed he was unauthorized to allocate any of the $700 billion to the automakers under the TARP law. Congress didn’t challenge that interpretation too vehemently, and set out to rewrite the law to specifically authorize $25 billion for Detroit. But the White House indicated it wouldn’t sign that legislation, but that it would go along with a bill to redirect the $25 billion already authorized under the energy bill for Detroit to “retool” its plants to produce higher-mileage vehicles. This seemed the more workable political solution, until the Waxman faction objected and mobilized. Prospects for a deal went south after that.
Now the President, in his weekly radio address, chides Pelosi and Reid for failing to bail out Detroit:
The funds in question were originally limited to helping the carmakers develop energy efficient vehicles. The plan Bush favored would have removed those restrictions and instead provided the money as a straight loan to the auto manufacturers.

“This proposal earned support from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, the leadership in Congress adjourned without even allowing this measure to come up for a vote,” Bush said.

Pelosi and Reid wanted to give part of the $700 billion Paulson bailout to the companies employing the United Auto Workers, a key Democrat constituency. President Bush had Paulson decline. The hapless legislators tried to rewrite the bailout, but the President let them know he'd veto it. But he'd be happy to let them take the environmental strings off money they'd already promised the car companies.

But the auto makers shot themselves in the foot by showing, with their decision to fly three individual private jets to Washington, that they weren't doing all they could to help themselves. With that publicity, there was no way Congress would give them a handout, even one they'd already promised. President Bush knows how to swing a wedge.

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Keeping the Tigers Away

Man: Hey, little fella, why are you banging those sticks together?
Boy: To keep the tigers away.
Man: There are no tigers around here!
Boy: Works, don't it.

Writing at Cato, Jim Harper notes that the airport security behavioral profiling program is a failure on multiple levels:

According to this story in USA Today, interviewing or patting down 160,000 people with (unreported) indicia of suspicion at airports has resulted in 1,266 arrests. It has failed to find wrongdoing 99.3% of the time. Occassionally, investigations based on behavioral profiling have turned up such things as drug possession and the use of fake identification.

Behavioral profiling has never turned up someone planning harm to aviation security. It has never turned up a person with weapons, guns, bombs, or any other implement that would cause a flight to be delayed, much less brought down.

A 0.7% success rate in finding crime is not relevant. Behavioral profiling has a 0% success rate in finding threats to aviation. Behavioral profiling does not have a proximate relationship to securing against harm coming to commercial aviation.

Works, don't it.

Behavioral profiling, as used by the the Department of Homeland Security, violates the principles of good criminal profiling: DHS is not validating a suspect against a list of known qualifiers in a particular case; they are searching with a broad net, and advertising that they're doing so. It's an improper use of profiling.

The purpose is not to find anyone; the purpose is to keep the bad guys from trying to fly.

Works, don't it.

It may work, but at a tremendous cost. We passengers lose our liberty and personal dignity, while the bad guys are forced merely to choose another vector of attack. And the point of the joke about keeping the tigers away is of course that we don't know if the terrorists would ever again plan to use the air system to carry out an attack.

What DHS has done is to assert governmental authority to inspect our persons, papers, and effects without probable cause, while ensuring that fewer people can effectively use the airways for legitimate purposes.

Works, don't it.

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Hilllary Abandons Senate for Secretarial Position

Hillary Rodham Clinton, former star in the Democratic Party, is leaving the Senate after what some say is little accomplished except a failed attempt to capture her Party's nomination for President. Clinton will accept a job as Secretary in the administration of the very candidate that Party bosses selected over her.

The move gives Ms. Rodham Clinton a chance to gain executive experience. Previously, political opponents pointed to her lack of executive experience.

Saddled with campaign debt, Clinton is leaving the Congress to join the Executive Branch. Clinton accepted millions in loans from her New York-based charitable foundation to finance her White House bid. While foreign citizens are forbidden to make campaign donations to Presidential candidates, donations to her charitable foundation can come from anywhere.

Clinton won't be forced to work on a day-to-day basis in the White House, which she occupied in her youth with her husband Bill Clinton, but in the State Department. As an older woman, she no longer has children at home, and so is free to travel.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

We Already Subsidize The Auto Industry

By subsidizing roads, bridges, and streets, we subsidize the auto industry.

I'll ignore the cost of defending oil shipping lanes, wars in the Middle East, ethanol subsidies, and other things that are arguably not subsidies for automobiles, but for general energy production. Ethanol is subsidized for the farm vote, not for Detroit.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, States spent over $100 Billion in 2006 on transportation. almost all of which was on roads. A third of that came from the Federal government.

A hundred billion dollars, ach and every year.

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Big Three Bailout Options

Mary Katherine Ham follows the usual logic of the false dilemma as she writes:

For the auto industry to completely collapse would be a disaster in this kind of environment, not just for individual families but the repercussions across the economy would be dire. So it's my belief that we need to provide assistance to the auto industry. But I think that it can't be a blank check.
Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection allows a company to continue its operations under some framework approved or managed by a court. It should be distinguished from Chapter 7, which forces a company to dissolve (or in Ham's phrasing, to completely collapse). Chapter 11 forces a business to admit the failure of its business model, restructuring it to become a going concern.

In particular, GM needs to renegotiate its labor contracts.

It would be very helpful if GM could decide what kind of cars to make, as well. But that won't happen, since it can't renegotiate the CAFE standards with Congress.

I've predicted that if GM were to get bailout money, there would be nothing stopping them from entering bankruptcy protection anyway. That's right, Madam Speaker-In-Law, they could take the money you want to give to your union thug pals and declare a fat dividend followed by bankruptcy. In fact, the board would be fiduciarily remiss not to do so.

But in the NY Times, Harvard economist Edward L. Glaeser has another suggestion.
There is a middle path between bailout billions and car company catastrophe: the possibility of limited government aid after automobile companies have entered Chapter 11.
I don't think he's right. There is no need for a bailout, and if one comes it will worsen the losses.

But if we have to accept one, it would sure be nice if GM could admit the failure of its business model before getting it.

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Unions Throw People Out of Work and Keep Them There

The UAW has succeeded in limiting how many people the automotive industry has been able to hire, by forcing it to pay too much to those it does.

And now, the threat is that because of its outrageous labor costs, GM may go out of business. If it does, all of those union jobs will go away.

So, the title.

The minimum wage works the same way. The more money a business has to pay per worker, the fewer workers it can hire. Those it can't hire will just have to keep looking. If the business can't cut wages in response to tough times, its employees will have those nice minimum wage jobs right up until the moment they don't.

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When I grow up, I want to be Iowahawk

Because of gems like this ad for Congressional Motors car of 2012:

Even with increased performance we didn't skimp on safety. With 11-point passenger racing harnesses, 15-way airbags, and mandatory hockey helmet, you'll have the security knowing that you could survive a 45 MPH collision even if the GTxi SS/Rt were capable of that kind of illegal speed.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008


What you get when government takes ownership in companies to "save" them.

w/t FrankJ

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Sent to EPA

Via StopEPA:

EPA’s plan to regulate greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act is unneeded. The Earth is not warming, and if it were warming, THAT WOULD BE A GOOD THING.

Climate scientists have predicted continued warming with an increase in atmospheric CO2, methane, and water vapor, but this has not happened. There is something wrong, therefore, with the reasoning that led to the conclusion that it would happen.

What is wrong with the reasoning is one of two things, and possibly both: 1) that the Earth's climate is an intensely complicated mechanism, with built-in mechanisms that keep it stable and 2) the greenhouse gas effect is a lot smaller than previously thought.

More study is needed to determine what is in fact happening to the Earth's climate. Even if it turns out that the Earth is warming but that carbon dioxide is not at fault, having jumped on CO2 as the culprit we will not be able to respond to the true cause when it is discovered.

Throughout human history, we have struggled in cold climates and thrived in warm ones. Today there are vast areas of the world shut off from agriculture by the cold.

Climate activists have used scare tactics about sudden harm such as floods and violent weather to arouse the public in furtherance of their agenda. EPA may choose to ally with these activists to safeguard and expand its institutional power base, but this course would be costly and destructive to the rest of American society.

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Bring On the Show Trials

TPM is reporting that Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is set to replace John Dingell (D-MI) as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Waxman's main contribution in Congress is the production of public hearings at which he excoriates people for some alleged mistake they've made. And what kind of show trials should we expect? The Hill says:

Waxman is considered more liberal on issues like climate change, energy and business regulation, and potentially more aggressive on healthcare. Dingell, the longest-serving House lawmaker, is close to the auto industry and autoworkers.

This means we can't even watch C-SPAN for the next two years without seeing his finger-sized nostrils.

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Health Care Is Not A Right

If health care is a right, then anyone who knows you lack perfect health is obligated, on some level, to provide you with care.

Bad personal hygiene, grooming, and sexual repression are all negative health factors.

So if you need a haircut, manicure, or sex, any person who is skilled in the work of caring for you in that area is obligated to provide you with service.

"But", you say, "it's our right to health care, not that stuff you mentioned."

OK, so you know a doctor, and he knows you are sick. If health care is a right, he is obligated to provide it, for free. He is your health care slave.

"But no", you say, "he deserves to be paid".

How much? Minimum wage?

"Well, clearly, at least minimum wage."

Suppose he wants more, say, to care for your annoying case of tuberculosis than for my pleasant tinnitis.

"Why should he get more?", you ask.

Well, I suppose if health care is a right, he should be required to charge all patients the same.

So if he wants more than minimum wage, what are his options?

"He can petition the government for more money."

And if he finds he can make more delivering pizzas, should he do that?

"Well, I suppose he could do that."

But health care is your right, which he would be violating.

"Yes, he must be a doctor, and not a pizza man."

Suppose he wishes to sleep. You said he should get minimum wage, so should he also not have an 8-hour day, or 40-hour week?

"Yes, clearly."

What if a patient becomes ill and our doctor has worked his 8 hours. Should he treat the patient?

"Of course. The patient has rights."

What if he's worked 80 hours in a week already. Should he go home to bed?

"Not if there are patients to serve."

In that case, I think we must repeal the 13th Amendment.

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The $700 Billion Paulson Scam

The $700 Billion Henry Paulson claimed he needed to rescue the financial sector wasn't necessary. As proof, I point out that it hasn't been used.

This governmental manhandling of the economy is going to lead to nowhere good.

I agree with Maggie Gallagher: No More Bailouts.

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Teachers Union Stifles Obama Critics

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten told that no one should criticize the decision of President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to send their children to private school.

According to

Democratic Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack echoed Weingarten’s comments at the conference, telling that “it’s a very personal decision” that the president-elect and his wife need to make and the issue “should not be subject to criticism or comment.”

Weingarten said that since Obama loved his children, his choice was beyond criticism: "He loves those two children, and he’s going to make sure that they are properly educated."

Parents who send their children to the public schools in Washington, DC, do not love their children enough to see them educated properly.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Murtha Attorney: Congressman Above The Law

Legal counsel for aged Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) claimed in open court that his client is immune from laws which limit ordinary citizens.

Murtha is being sued for saying that Marines involved in an incident at Haditha, Iraq, were "murderers" guilty of "war crimes".

From the via Malkin:

Assistant U.S Attorney Darrell Valdez, who represents Murtha, argued that a member of Congress is “absolutely immune” from a defamation suit because there’s no circumstance in which speaking to the media is not within the scope of a lawmaker’s employment.

That is, a lawyer representing the United States Government asserted that his client is above the law.

It's not clear from the claims if the Congressman claims immunity for all defamation, or only that against members of the Armed Services in time of war. In particular, the question of whether members of Congress are free to say that government lawyers are guilty of malpractice will have to go unanswered.

Clearly, according to the United States Government lawyer, Murtha would be free to allege that the lawyer in question were guilty of murder and crimes against humanity, but alleging malpractice and incompetence may be a line even a Congressman must not cross.

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The Irrepressible Iowahawk Snipes at Bailouts and the Bailing Bailers Who Bail Them


It is hot here in camp today but we cant swim because of the latreen blowed up from a big masterious fierworks exsplosion and contamonated the lake. That is why the camp is sending you a bill for $106.57 even it was not my fault.

Read, as they say, the whole thing. But don't drink anything first, or you'll need another keyboard.

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