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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday/Monday Busy Weekend Linkage

Sorry for the lack of posts. It's been a busy weekend here in Utah.

Pat on Obama's giving slack to the hemisphere's longest running tyranny.

Sandy Levinson at Balkinization on "democratic constitutionalism"

Donald on the complete bloodthirsty frenzy the left is in over the senseless murder of George Tiller, a abortionist who practiced late-term abortions.

The prof on Sotomayor's "Latina woman" crap. "Latina woman" is redundant, by the way.

No Sheeple makes clear that asking the country to sacrifice and then taking your wife out on a trip out of the taxpayer's pocket is kinda hypocritical. Just kinda.

The Other McCain exposes said "Latina woman"'s false poverty biography. Turns out she's less Maria from West Side Story and more the whiny little liberal mallrat you see in major cities.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Consequences of Appeasing North Korea

A few days ago, the North Korean military detonated its second nuclear weapon despite years and years of international talks and sanctions. The second bomb, much more powerful than the first, apparently came as a surprise to the world despite the warning signs. For years, the so-called “international community” has done its best to sate the changing wants and needs of the Hermit Kingdom. The US has promised energy security, food shipments, non-aggression pacts, and many other carrots. The only concession was that North Korea give up its nuclear weapon ambitions. Our generous offers have been taken, then thrown in our face time and time again for two decades. The unpredictable Kim Jong-il has extorted two American presidents, and now he's working on a third. Most disturbingly, North Korea has released itself from the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. An act that may be the beginning of a new conflict on the Korean peninsula.

A Quick History of a Criminal State

Following World War II, the Korean peninsula was split between the Soviet Union, who occupied the north, and the Allies, who occupied the south. When elections were scheduled in 1948, the North refused to participate, no doubt suggested by the Soviet Union. From then on, the Korean peninsula was torn asunder. In 1950, the Korean War began when the North invaded the South to fulfill their claim over the entire area. After three years of war, an armistice was signed between the North, the South and the US-led UN force that protected the South Korean people.

The Juche (self-reliance) ideology, an off-shoot of Marxist-Leninist communism, was created and implemented by North Korea after the war. The basis of Juche is to rely on domestic materials, technology, and innovations instead of becoming dependent upon those from the outside world. Between the end the war and the death of its founder, Kim Il-sung, in 1994, North Korea became the second most industrialized nation in the Far East as well as one of the most militarized states in the entire world. Alas, the command economy prosperity came to end during the 1970s. The nation's massive military budget, its reliance of mineral export funds, its massive debts and the Soviet Union cutting aid down to trinkets because of North Korea's perceived Maoist leanings all brought North Korea to the place it's at today: one of the most famine stricken and economically destitute nations in the world. The North's economy now relies on generous international aid and criminal rackets like drug smuggling, arms dealing and counterfeiting currency.

The first of many aid extortions began in the early 1990s when, after signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1985, North Korea took great pains to slow the implementation of safeguards and inspections. This led to South Korea and the US returning to joint military exercises. The North retaliated by denying the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) entry into two nuclear waste sites, and then threatened to leave the NPT. Two years of talks over the North's nuclear program led to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KPEDO), an agreement that would give the North two light water nuclear reactors if it would give up its nuclear weapons program. The KPEDO agreement didn't do that much, though, since in the years after its unveiling North Korea has tested numerous ballistic missiles, firing many of them over Japan, as well as threatened the South and many other nations with terrorism and war if it did get its way. After the Bush Administration took a tougher stance on nuclear proliferation, it has talked, then threatened, talked, then fired missiles. Worst of all, and what is the number one danger to our nation and others, is that it has been accused (with ample evidence) of a widespread missile and nuclear proliferation, some of its customers being Iran and Syria. All this has been done during nearly two decades of talks, agreements, counter agreements, treaty breaking, threats of war and any other kind of verbal political nonsense you can think of.

The Consequences of Appeasement

The past week has shown that carrots don't work without a stick. Sanctions and UN condemnations are just paper threats that the North knows won't work since they rely on the law, something the North constantly breaks and circumvents (with a supply of nuclear weapons being the evidence, of course). The only true stick in the area has been the tens of thousands of American troops stationed on the border, but those troops are there to prevent a second invasion, not to threaten action over proliferation of nuclear weapon technology and hostile acts with ballistic missiles. The lives of those troops, and that of the residents of Seoul, which is the target of a massive amount of North Korean artillery, are on the forefront of our minds when we talk to the North Koreans. When they threaten war, we back down or try to calm them down with extra goodies because we are responsible for the lives under threat. For nearly twenty years, they have been able to hold the lives of hundreds of thousands over us and reap the benefits of our hearts.

This situation is a very complex and very dangerous one that has no fast and easy answer. This traces back to the knife's edge we had to walk when the Chinese nearly wiped out UN forces and Soviets threatened annihilation if we pushed the North too far back. If we are to keep alive those we are responsible for, we cannot invade and remove the tyrants because they have a massive military ready to massacre anyone who threatens their paradise, including hundreds of thousands of South Korean civilians. We cannot make stable agreements because of the instability of the regime and its demands. We cannot use economic sanctions because the North makes its money through illegal means and stopping it requires a massive military interdiction operation which the North has called a “declaration of war”. But, because of our “cannot”s, the North now has the industry and knowledge to create and test powerful nuclear weapons. This is a game changer that both President Clinton and President Bush idiotically refused to deal with.

President Obama has little choice in dealing with North Korea. He could continue the aid, the talks and endless back and forth agreements that the North has proven it will never adhere to, but that would only put off what already appears to be the endgame for one of the last Stalinist dictatorships on the planet. It will also keep active the WMD black market which North Korea heads. As it is today, the country will not last much longer without major reform. It comes down to a question of do we want it to collapse upon itself through economic disaster or military chaos and risk the lives of millions of brutalized citizens? Or do we want to take control of this situation and guide it the best we can to a resolution that doesn't get near involvement in a horrific conventional (maybe nuclear) war with a crazed militarized state on its last legs?

How we do this? I don't know. I'm not an expert on North Korea and there are very few who can give detail of a nation that prides itself on its secrecy and rock-solid isolation. The clear overall decision, though, is for President Obama to stop the policy of appeasement of North Korea, for that will only guarantee its ability to produce more and more nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapon and ballistic missile technology, and sell it under our noses to our enemies. This would spread the danger from one manic, isolated nation to countless other unstable states that may have little inclination for self-preservation and graft, but are quite ready to set the world on fire to real their ideological goals.

The New Empathetic Corporatist Economy

by Jordan and Michelle S

President Obama has taken his promise to “spread the wealth” for the sake of “fairness” and actually went through with it, much to the dismay of people who want the economy to recover. Since January, Mr. Obama has pretty much nationalized the auto industry, proposed a major increase in government participation in the health care industry and will change the rules of credit card companies so that those with good credit are subsidizing those who had bad credit. Not since the fascistic New Deal has an economy been chopped up and served so willingly to rabid, hungry bureaucrats by the elected representatives of the people. This is what is known as corporatism, and it will not bode well for those who want to prosper in America.

Corporatism and Cartels

Since the Second World War, the American economy has been one of a mix of private business and government intrusion. America's free market ideology went out of style when the anti-capitalist myths of the Great Depression took hold. Unlike World War One, when the socialized/nationalized wartime economy fell apart due to the reluctance of the American people to give their financial future the unsympathizing government, the Progressives of the New Deal ingrained it into the new American generation that the state is your friend, your father, your mother, your eternal watcher and caretaker. The Nanny State that emerged was so powerful that every Republican president up to Reagan refused to take it on.

The National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the War Industries Board (WIB); all the alphabet soup agencies created by FDR did not simply nationalize the economy, though that did occur in some sectors. No, instead of simply taking control of the economy and running it through and through, the agencies regulated the economy into submission to fit the goals of the government. This is what's known as corporatism. It was a major part of early-to-mid century economies of all the major powers: America, the United Kingdom, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Only the Soviet Union, a communist nation, rid itself of major private industry.

The New Deal agencies would use an iron fist to direct the economy. For example, the NRA instituted price controls on everything from dry cleaning to the price of a newspaper on the street. This was in the name of helping the “forgotten man” who supposedly survived on selling products at above-market prices. Businessmen were actually thrown in jail for violating these regulations, the most famous being a dry cleaner who charged five cents lower than the NRA mandated. The fetish with price controls went so far that tons upon tons of food (wheat, pigs, etc) were burned or culled by order of the government so that the prices would stay high for farmers.

Within these agencies, though, were the very men of industry FDR would assail in his speeches and his fireside chats. The steel makers, the arms manufactures, the bankers, the auto makers; all those who found it easier to work with the government than to fight it. These men took it upon themselves to carve out their own little sections of the economy for their respective companies. These economic fiefdoms are called cartels. The military-industrial complex that the left-wing warns us of all the time is one of these cartels, created out of FDR's need to coral industry to suit the purpose of the government. Unwittingly, the left and their crusade to humanize the economy is creating new complexes run by federal paper pushers that will drain the innovation and the dynamic prosperity our still somewhat free markets provide.

Cars, Crutches and Credit

George W. Bush told the American people just before the November 2008 election that it was necessary to abandon the free market in order to save the free market. His position was reminiscent of Herbert Hoover’s in the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash. Bush unveiled the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which allowed the government to essentially become a shareholder in major banks and the auto industry.

Instead of banks and the auto industry taking their lumps and overhauling their business models, top executives ran to the government for help. Upon doing so, the government now has the power to tell these companies how to run their business. This does not bode well for the companies and the American people.

The “Big Three” and “Big Brother”

Recently, President Obama called for the Chief Executive Officer of General Motors to step down. Although, General Motors did not perform well under the leadership of Rick Wagoner, the government should not be making these decisions. In the past, these decisions were made by the company’s shareholders. However, now that the government is a “shareholder,” the President and other bureaucrats otherwise known as “car czars” can use force to implement their agenda. In addition, bureaucrats can tell the auto industry what kind of cars they will make and what type of workers they employ. As a result, the stranglehold the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) has on the car companies will be tighter.

In the end, both the consumer and the company are hurt. The UAW’s mandates have driven labor costs to almost twice the cost of their foreign competitors. The cost is then passed to the consumer who has elected to buy better made foreign cars. If American car companies cannot sell cars, they are forced to lay off workers. Therefore, one must ask what good the UAW had done for America when consumers pay more money for cars that cannot match the quality of their foreign competitors’ products. Unions destroyed the American steel industry in the 1970’s and 80’s, and now the American auto industry is in serious trouble.

To further complicate matters, the Obama Administration has unveiled new fuel efficiency standards that will eventually require vehicles to have a much higher mile-per-gallon rate. One would think a mandate like this would benefit consumers. After all, why not have higher standards? Why not rely less on foreign oil? Why not make cars that are better for the environment? The truth is consumers would not be better off, and these mandates have not reduced our oil consumption in the past.

First off, hybrid vehicles are more expensive, and there is no cost benefit when comparing fuel savings to the higher cost of the vehicle. Second, the demand is simply not there, as Americans prefer bigger cars. Third, the United States is obviously not the sole country that uses oil. Therefore, even if we reduced our oil consumption, which in turn, would lower prices; the overall world demand would NOT decrease. Therefore, increased demand elsewhere in the world would drive prices up. Increased demand from China and India was a key factor in driving up crude oil prices to record levels in 2007.

“Big Brother” offers a “lending” hand

Most of America’s largest banks got in line with the auto industry to ask Uncle Sam for a bailout. As a result, the banks are now under the “brilliant” leadership of Congress. Just as the government tells the auto industry what kind of cars they will make, banks will be told to whom they will lend money. The government will also tell them what kind of financial shape they are in based on bureaucrat derived stress tests. Although government mandates such as the “Community Reinvestment Act” were not the sole cause of the housing bust, these types of mandates created the sub-prime mortgage sector and led to reckless lending practices. These reckless practices caused a surge in demand for housing, which drove the cost of housing up to a level that was disproportionate with inflation.

Through quasi-public institutions, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the Federal Reserve, the government has had its hands in the banking industry since 1913 (the year the FED was born). The very same government that caused one of the biggest financial debacles in decades now wishes to tell banks and lending institutions how and to whom they should extend credit. The government through the Federal Reserve and congressional mandates has created a society that lives on credit. Debt is a way of life for the average American today. Accessibility is what drives demand. Increased demand drives up prices. Remedial economics shows how easy access quickly inflates prices. Have you ever wondered how your grandfather was able to pay cash for his automobiles and even his home? Answer: limited access to credit. The accessibility of credit and the amount of credit people can receive is sole cause of deflating purchasing power. Since our government cannot manage debt either, the value of the U.S. Dollar is declining.

“Big Brother” and “Band-Aids”

Uncle Sam is very generous. Bureaucrats wish to tell us what kind of cars to drive, how much credit we should have, and now they want to provide us with healthcare. The biggest argument that is made against privately-run healthcare is that profits are put ahead of the care of human beings. This hypothesis is severely flawed in the sense that the elimination of “profit” does not eliminate the constant need to control costs. In addition, this conclusion neglects to consider the fact that profits allow reinvestment for better technology and better personnel which directly results in better care for the individual.

The second argument that is made in favor of government run health care centers on the government being a competitor to private sector insurance providers. The sad attempt by politicians to turn the supply-side argument of increased competition leading to lower prices is pure fallacy. This is due to the fact that the government will not merely be a competitor to private insurance companies. The government will impose very strict regulations on private insurance companies by requiring insurers to insure all applicants and place price caps on premiums. In the meantime, the government could borrow from taxpayers and the U.S. Treasury to make up for its shortfalls. The cost of compliance for private insurers would be exorbitant and allow the government to squeeze them out in an effort to MONOPOLIZE the industry. So much for competition…

Healthcare is NOT FREE if the government provides it. People will see tax increases not seen before on both federal and state levels. Employers’ cost of compliance will come at the expense of jobs and growth.

Last but not least, one must ask if they really want a government bureaucrat making their personal decisions when it comes to their own health care and the health care of their loved ones – the very government that has trouble delivering your mail.

Empathy Rewards Mediocrity

Both FDR and Obama made promises of an empathic government. They told the “forgotten man” that he'd be heard. They promised the little man his check would be bigger. They promised the hard worker that selling his labor would not be in vain. They took on the fat cats, the bankers, the traders, the factory bosses, all the name of fairness for the employed and the poor. It's a nice notion, like any other do-gooder idealism, but it’s impractical and inefficient past a certain point (that point being crossed decades ago by FDR). The federal government's economic role is not that of feelings and paternal instinct, but of streamlining and protection of property. No where in the Constitution does it talk about giving the greedy their due or making sure Jimmy the Carpenter can buy his family some new clothes for Christmas. Those powers are left to each state to make on their own time and on their own dime.

The federal government's supposed empathic regulation ends up creating cartels around the powerful chairmans and minions of the economic congressional committees. Decades of federal usurpation and consolidation of economic liberty has fed congressional corruption to the point that trillions upon trillions of dollars have vanished into the crony black hole, never to be seen again, unless you happen to drive by the home of John Murtha's nephew. He received of tens of millions of taxpayers dollars for “warehouse services” for the military, but, ironically, has a skeleton crew watching such sensitive and expensive material. Chris Dodd protected his sweetheart deals with Countrywide while writing up new regulations for banks. Barney Frank kept his mouth shut about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two of his major donors, while beating his chest over freer, less toxic banks. Diane Fienstein received millions upon millions of dollars of bailout money for a company her husband runs. Chuck Schumer cries about credit cards, but last year he publicly leaked confidential letters that sunk a California bank at the same time he defended the solvency of New York banks, which eventually crashed anyway. Empathy, indeed.

Despite our objections to government pseudo-empathy governing economic regulation, we recognize that there is a need for a basic safety net in today's world. Basic welfare for those who truly cannot work, basic unemployment for those who have been recently laid off and cannot find work, medical coverage for the low-income elderly and the low-income disabled, protection of bank accounts under the FDIC; these things are the thin armor of the economy. While it cannot protect everything, it does stop many dangers and allows for flexibility and speed; characteristics essential to the prosperity of our nation. What the President and the Democrats have proposed with the auto industry, health care and credit cards is solid metal plate. It may attempt to protect everyone, but it’s cumbersome and near impossible to move quickly. Granted, it may be able to take some hits, but once it is knocked off balance it'll tumble end over end until it hits bottom.

The light armor and adaptability of the American economy is what has allowed it to prosper for so long and so well during peacetime. The post-war boom cited by many preaching collectivists was actually a confluence of military and economic history. Continental Europe was physically and mentally annihilated by World War II and the Spanish Civil War. The United States sold them everything they needed to rebuild themselves. Since the post-war period, every boom has been heavily driven by the ambition and the innovation of private business, not the empathetic government bureaucrat. Mr. Obama's new economy will destroy that ambition and innovation in favor of “fair” cartel-style redistribution, led by the less than trustworthy leaders of the Congressional committees.

The new socialized corporatist economy will take a nation driven to the top by exceptionalism and bring it low by rewarding mediocrity and blocking economic progress.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Between Essays Hyperlink Storm

The vast amount of small posts are due to Michelle and I hacking away at an article on the Obama economy. I'm also working on an article about North Korea and the decades of appeasement to its international extortion while Michelle will come out with a spot on analysis of the so-called "millionaires" tax.

In the meantime, read these. All from today's news. Prop 8 staying, North Korea calling for war, Obama's new empathy judge's huge love of identity politics, and NRO's great takedown of said judge.

Split Decision on Prop. 8
North Korea Threatens Military Strike, End to 1953 Armistice
What's Wrong With North Bronx?
Advice on Consent

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember... doesn't matter why they put on the uniform, but that they put it on in the first place.

Thank you to all the fighting men and women of the US military.

And to the Canadian military, who fights fiercely, side by side with the US, while other nations refuse.

North Korea Says Feed Me with Nuclear Weapon

Leaders around the world strongly condemned North Korea's announcement that it conducted a nuclear test on Monday, with President Barack Obama calling it a matter of grave concern to all nations and Japan demanding action by the U.N. Security Council.
This has been going on for near twenty years now. They do something insane. We bribe them. They kill their own. They run out of resources because Communism sucks. They do something insane.

President "Evil Fascist Warmonger" Bush bribed them. I can only image President Obama's gift list.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

ACORN and the Housing Crash

My good friend Kimberly Morin has an excellent article on ACORN's promotion of the so-called "predatory" loans.

Here's a taste:
Many of the subprime mortgages were given without checking consumers’ credit scores, allowing no down payments and allowing non-traditional income to be counted as income, in other words, people who were being paid under-the-table (not paying taxes on this) were allowed to count this income when applying for a mortgage. Furthermore there were many ‘exotic’ mortgages as they are referred to in the industry, such as paying interest only for a certain number of years which builds no equity for the consumer and does not pay down the principle of the loan. On top of this it does not provide the consumer with the reality of what the payments will be when the principle payments actually kick in. This is just one type of loan that caused a lot of people to have their homes foreclosed upon; they simply could not afford the principle payments once they finally came to be.

Through the direct actions of ACORN Housing, banks were giving people who were not ‘normally’ creditworthy loans that had low interest rates at first but were adjustable. When the rates were adjusted up, the consumers simply could not afford the higher payments. The forcing of banks by groups like ACORN using the Community Reinvestment Act to give loans to people otherwise not able to receive them is a huge cause of the housing bubble and why so many have been forced into foreclosure. ACORN receives millions of dollars of taxpayer money to help people every year yet they are hurting these very people by aiding them in getting the subprime or exotic loans that have caused nothing but problems for the consumers, the banking industry and the economy overall and responsible taxpayers may now be included in this list.

The non-partisan Consumers Rights League did an extensive in-depth investigation into ACORN Housing and their mortgage practices in 2008 which they submitted to Congress recommending at the very least that Congress investigate ACORN Housing’s mortgage practices. I implore you to read their full report here: To date there has been no investigation into ACORN Housing. Maybe now that Obama is seeking to prosecute all organizations that were involved with these practices, he will read the Consumers Rights League investigation and actually have the Department of Justice perform a further investigation? Maybe someone in Congress will actually think twice before giving more money to ACORN for housing activities? Actually Michelle Bachmann(R-MN) amended the Housing Bill to disallow any groups that have been indicted for voter registration fraud from receiving any money but Barney Frank(D-MA) changed that. I think ACORN Housing being involved in the mortgage crisis would have proven a bit more substantial as a reason to disallow more funds to be steered their way.
Read the whole thing here!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Plan Terrorism, Get 2.5 Years

Canadian justice. Served cold with a pound of unicorn farts.
A man convicted of terrorist offences following the high-profile takedown of a homegrown terror cell bent on wreaking havoc in Canada was sentenced Friday to 2 1/2 years in prison and walked free just hours later based on time already served.

The man, who cannot be named, was the first member of the so-called Toronto 18 found guilty in the plot, though his lawyer said his role was minimal at best.

"He's somebody who's essentially found guilty of shoplifting, somebody who went to a second (training) camp that was essentially benign," Mitchell Chernovsky said outside the court.

"He's somebody who's young, has no prior record, has a positive pre-sentence report.

"Maximum sentence for the offence is only 10 years."

The man was released from jail and was back home Friday after being sentenced. The release was based on credit for time served in custody before trial.

"He's very happy that it's over," Chernovsky said. "He's relieved to be out of jail."

In the summer of 2006, an extensive investigation involving Canada's spy agency and the RCMP ended with the arrests of 18 people in the Toronto area and the seizure of apparent bomb-making materials.

Police alleged the suspects planned to buy weapons and set off truck bombs using three tonnes of ammonium nitrate after holding two training camps in rural Ontario.

The case took a stunning turn when allegations surfaced that the ringleaders had talked about plans to storm Parliament, take MPs hostage and behead the prime minister.

The man sentenced Friday became the first of the group to be convicted after Ontario Superior Court Justice John Sproat found him guilty in September of helping and taking part in a terrorist organization - the first verdict under Canada's new anti-terrorism laws.
The lawyer says, "He's just a kid. He was playing terrorist."

The government says, "Planning terrorism isn't THAT bad."

The media says, "Poor boy. He was hit once, and he had a hard time learning English. Boo hoo."

I'm sure Mark Steyn would be please to hear he had more hate and vitriol thrown at him for a book on demographics than this kid did for being part of a plot to wipe out Canadians, including the Prime Minister.

Saturday Night Listening to SIRIUS Linkage

No Sheeple profiles angry Kos Kids crying over Obama's lack of surrender credentials.

Legal Insurrection says Harry Reid plus English equals nothing good.

Donald reviews Arrrrnold's request for federal money.

Robert Stacey ponders the loveliness of guilt by association.

Don't forget Not One Red Cent. A protest against the National Republican Senatoral Committee endorsing RINO Florida Gov. Crist for the Senate a full year before the election. AND at the expense of a more conservative candidate.

Pat exposes the geniuses at Huffington Post and their defense of sending trained Uighur terrorists to the US.

Althouse says the reason women are sad is because they care too much about being happy.

Balkanization wants you to support your local bigot (and his right to free speech).

That's all for now, folks. And remember, credit cards are a right, not a privilege!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Credit Card Reform: Populism vs. Practicality

The recent bill designed to cap credit card interest rate hikes and excessive fees that had an overwhelming amount of bipartisan support in the Senate is a perfect example of how our elected officials put politics ahead of doing what is prudent. Angry constituents have demanded that the government crack down on the credit card industry for charging them outrageous interest rates and fees. As a result, Congress responded to the populist outcry as elections in 2010 are quickly approaching. Lawmakers have completely ignored the fact that the last time the government attempted to meddle with interest rates (almost three decades ago), the results were not what lawmakers intended, which is indicative of most demand-side policies. However, it’s safe to say that no politician on Capitol Hill would recall that incident or be brave enough to put policy ahead of their political career to make the following points:

Credit card interest rates are OPTIONAL:

How many people realize that money can be borrowed free of interest for the duration of the grace period? If people pay off their balance when the bill comes, then they have had the benefit of borrowing money interest free for 25 days – the typical grace period. Instead, most people abuse credit cards and borrow more than they can afford to repay. Senator Chris Dodd D-Conn says "This is a victory for every American consumer who has ever suffered at the hands of a credit card company.”(1) Senator Dodd’s logic is perplexing. How is it that the consumer has suffered when consumers have the ability to decide how much or if they would like to borrow any money on a credit card?

Interest rate caps restrict the flow of credit:

This actually might be a good thing as the lending industry is not entirely innocent. Although it is clear that people have abused credit, the lending industry is equally guilty of extending too much credit to consumers. However, it is best that this problem be solved without government intervention seeing how well the government’s involvement went with the housing sector. High interest rates will curb borrowing, which is necessary in certain phases of an economic cycle; however, government overreach during a recession can place too much of a restriction on credit flow. Since the beginning of the “economic crisis,” the term “frozen credit markets” has been frequently discussed. If this economic crisis is as serious as politicians have made it out to be, then why pass a measure that will further restrict the flow of credit, which according to them, will make things worse?

It is best to let the private industry work with their customers who are having a hard time paying their bills. There are many services available to customers from their lenders that surprisingly exist without “big government” passing laws. It is in the best interest of the lenders to recoup some of the cost when a customer is unable to repay, which is why lenders often do reduce borrowing rates. Both the lending industry and consumers will have to pay for their mistakes, and it is best for the government to move aside to allow for private negotiation.

Credit card lending is a risky business:

Why are interest rates on credit cards so much higher than the rates for home or automobile loans? Are these types of lenders greedier? One could think the answer to the latter question is yes after hearing all of the talk on Capitol Hill. The truth is interest rates on credit cards are higher due to the fact that money is being loaned to consumers with NO COLLETERAL. When people buy a home, the bank can repossess the house if the borrower is unable to repay – the house is collateral. The same holds true for automobiles. However, when banks issue credit cards to consumers, the bank has no recourse if the borrower is unable to repay. Therefore, interest rates are determined by RISK factor and overall demand for credit.

It is most unfortunate that politicians have focused on the fact that they do not wish to appear insensitive to people struggling to pay their bills with the hope that voters will remember this bill when it comes time for the 2010 elections. Even more disturbing is the Republican Party, a supposed “conservative alternative,” voting for a measure that expands the powers of the federal government. Chairman Michael Steele need not look any further than this bill to see why less than 25 percent of voters identify themselves as members of the Grand Old Party.(2) Eight years of George Bush’s big government fiscal liberalism has done considerable damage to the party’s reputation. If the Republican Party has any chance of growing in size, it must take itself off the path of the last eight years and become the party that stands for small government, individualism, freedom, self-responsibility and put practicality ahead of populism.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yes, There Are Still Terrorists

4 Accused of Bombing Plot at Bronx Synagogues

The hits (and lack of) just keep on coming today!

Habeas Corpus: The Law vs The Left

The Constitution says:
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.
The Democratic left says:
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of political expediency, but not when the public safety may require it.
Until today, that is...

H/T: The Wilkow Majority 5/20/09

Oh, So NOW They're Terrorists

Democrats Block Move to Close Guantanamo

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Creating a Big Tent for Conservatives

Gov. Jon Huntsman is off to the Far East to tackle China and there's been some glee from those who have deemed him a Republican In Name Only (RINO), a moderate, a liberal Republican. While my former governor does have some centrist views on social policy and environmentalism, he supports guns rights, he proposed a market-based solutions to the increased health care costs and he backed school voucher program, to name a few conservative minded ideas. I was kind of surprised at the reaction to his departure, but then again, with the GOP trying to find it's way and the conservative movement setting giant bonfires to direct it, there's going to be some disagreement to who exactly is part of the new Republicans.

In my book, Gov. Huntsman is not a moderate as Collins, Schwarzenegger, Specter and Snowe are moderates. The four latter Republicans are not conservatives, but are either populist or centrist liberals who have more in common with Republicans than Democrats, or who use the party to advance their career. Things like supporting the largest government power grab since the New Deal or giving in to your state's corrupt Democratic leadership on everything from union dues, gun control and insane environmental standards don't really add to your conservative credentials. These moderates, along with voters who call themselves moderates, usually try to straddle the fence on issues. They assume they can play the bi-partisan card, the peacemaker card, like Senator McCain is so famous for. Their beliefs are that the middle is always the best course to take. They hate ideology (or so they say), but they say they stand for principles. Usually, the extent of a moderate's principles is the length of the fence pole they're sitting on.

Now, conservatives that are centrist on some issues are not moderates. The conservative movement that propelled Ronald Reagan to the White House wasn't made up of a single ideological movement, but by the collection and fusion of several different schools of conservative thought. Libertarians, social traditionalists, religious conservatives, classical liberals, national security hawks, free marketers; they all came together to elected a man they believed would further their goals. If we are to see blowouts like 1980 and 1984, we cannot shed the muscle that is the fusion of conservatism while trying to rid ourselves of the fat that is moderate waffling.

Conservatism needs to very publicly draw a line that says, “On this side, you are conservative. On the other side, you are not.” This line should be drawn from the core beliefs on conservatism: individualism, federalism, free markets and a strong national security. Social issues, while very important, cannot be the only indicator of a conservative.

Pundits like talking about the Republican Party's need to move to the center to have a big tent. I say nay, not just to the center! The party must extent its tent to the right as well. Everything up to where center meets left should be Republican territory. The Republican Party does need to shed the useless waffles and find its core values, but we can't simply force it to a singular conservative image because, honestly, there isn't one and there wasn't never was one. Conservatism has been, and always will be, a collection of Americans fighting for what they believe.

Related Posts:
Why Should Republicans Take Advice From John Weaver?

Appeasement Doesn't Work, Not Even in Nepal

We never learn. Key points in bold.
So the chairman of Nepal's Maoist radicals brags that he and his fellow-travellers tricked United Nations officials and admits that the 2006 peace deal was a sham - and gets caught on videotape doing it. The video of the recently resigned Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, was shot in January 2008 and just surfaced.

Revealingly, he instructs his fellow communists not to be fooled by the compromises struck with Nepal's democratic government. Seizing total power, he makes clear, remains the communist goal.

The latest crisis in Nepal is a useful case study in communist duplicity and instructive for those who believe that the path to peace with guerillas is cutting deals with them. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) joined Nepal's government after a decade-long insurgency that left more than 12,000 dead. Under terms of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Maoists agreed, among other things, to cut the size of their force in half, place their weapons under U.N. supervision and participate peacefully in the political process. In the 2008 elections, the Maoists emerged as the largest party in parliament with 30 percent of the vote, and Prachanda was named prime minister.

But the communists didn't consider the war really ended. The Maoists steadily maneuvered to increase their power with a view toward implementing their revolutionary agenda.

The latest step was an attempt to remove Nepal Army chief Gen. Rookmangud Katawal, who had resisted Maoist demands to integrate their guerrilla army into the national force. He maintained that the "former" guerrillas are brainwashed fanatics seeking to seize control of the army. He's got a point.

Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav blocked Prachanda's move to sack Gen. Katawal. Prachandra resigned in protest. Nepal's supreme court now has the case.

Prachanda says it is a question of civilian control of the military. That's rich. Meanwhile communist thugs are taking to the streets in coordinated demonstrations calling for further intervention from the U.N.

The video of a relaxed Prachanda addressing his party faithful exposed the Maoists' cynical manipulation of the political system. In true communist spirit, Prachanda said that the compromises struck with the government were only tactical expediencies, and that the "bidroha," or rebellion, was still on. He joked about how they duped the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) into thinking they had 35,000 fighters when in fact they only had 7,000 to 8,000, which allowed them to swell their ranks to 20,000 while claiming to be demilitarizing. And he confirmed Gen. Katawal's suspicions by saying it would take only a small number of his guerrillas to establish "complete Maoist control" of the Nepal Army.

He added that they had not turned over their weapons as required and that relief money earmarked for the victims of the civil war would be diverted to party coffers. "You and I know the truth," he slyly told his comrades, "but why should we tell it to others?"

In an unguarded moment, Prachanda revealed he is still a terrorist at heart and those who make deals with him are dupes. "Why would we abide by [the peace deal] after we win?" he said on the tape. "Why would we follow it when we have the upper hand?"

The situation in Nepal and Pakistan's Swat Valley illustrate the risks in bargaining with extremists, who do not change their goals, only their methods. The lesson is important when contrasted to Sri Lanka and Colombia, where we have seen the value of taking the fight to insurgents. U.S. deal makers should understand that there is more than one way to lose a guerrilla war. Sometimes it happens with the stroke of a pen.

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman To Accept Exile UPDATED!

Actually, the word is he's going to be named ambassador to China, but I consider it the same thing as exile since Huntsman has been a name thrown around for 2012.

From CNN:
President Obama has selected Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to be his ambassador to China, sources tell CNN.

An official announcement is expected soon.

Huntsman, who speaks Mandarin Chinese and has adopted a daughter from China, had been tipped as a potential rival to Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

Huntsman, 49, is a former deputy U.S. trade representative and ambassador to Singapore. A Mormon, he did missionary work in Taiwan, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

David Plouffe, Obama's 2008 campaign manager, described Huntsman as "the one person in that (Republican) party who might be a potential presidential candidate," U.S. News and World Report reported earlier in May.
I didn't know much about Gov. Huntsman when I moved to Utah, but I read up on him during the 2008 election cycle. He's for market-based solutions to health care and a more moderate (read: less socially conservative, but not extremist liberal) social policy. Also, despite the economy's downturn Utah has done well under his watch.

Some people call Huntsman a moderate (usually liberals who want another John McCain), but Huntsman is a conservative. His stances should be taken up by the GOP in my opinion.

But, I honestly can't think of why Obama would pick him for any other reason than to get him out of the country and out of the spotlight. Plouffe said it himself, the guy is a threat. And I have no idea why Gov. Huntsman would take the position. He's a very popular leader in Utah and a rising star in the GOP. It's like being promoted to dog catcher after just being elected mayor.

I dare say this may be the worst decision of Jon Huntsman's career, if it's true.

UPDATE: Liberal blog All Spin Zone calls me sane. Horray. Though some posters at the TigerDroppings seem to take me way out of context. Apparently, the only saw the parts that make this a "hack job". So, I'll clarify.

Jon Huntsman is very qualified to be ambassador to China. His decades of experience in the Far East is top notch. BUT, as I said before, he is a popular name for the 2012 and to take this job will not help that. I want this guy to be president!

As for the reason why Obama picked him. Our President is a very, very smart politician. He got the Democratic nomination by being far left. He got the presidency by being centrist. That's pretty hard to do in an age when every word you make in public is recorded and played 24-hours a day. I give Mr. Obama props on that. Alas, you don't survive Chicago politics by allowing your potential enemies to gain momentum. It's logical for Obama to give this position to Gov. Hunstman in that Huntsman is qualified and that it gets him out of the way.

But, as MStreetTiger says on TigerDroppings:
"Perhaps he's doing what most interests him. Perhaps strange in this day and age, but still admirable."
I agree. I may not like that Huntsman could be taking the China post, but it's an admirable thing for him to accept a duty given to him by our President. No matter which party you're in, that should always been an honor.

UPDATE II: Ramesh Ponnuru on Huntsman:
I've now read a few articles and blog posts either lauding the Utah governor as a moderate or denouncing him as same. Huntsman has signed pro-life bills, voucher bills, and tax cuts. Yes, he is open to some kind of civil union for gay couples and wants Republicans to make more of an effort on environmental issues. But if that's all it takes for a Republican politician to get an image both inside and outside the party as a "moderate" these days, that's a pretty good thing, isn't it?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Utahn #9: Moving On Up

I work for somebody. Most of us work for somebody. There are those of us that have our own business in one way or another. We work to pay the bills, to live in an apartment or a house, to have a social life, to accumulate possessions,etc. We are free to work or free to not work in our country. The former preferable, but the latter is sometimes unavoidable. In the wake of a time of great economic distress and unemployment, our government decided to maximize our entitlements as working Americans. Over the years, it has grown and grown and grown so that now that these programs have become part of our culture, part of our national identity. Today, the common question is “What can government do for you?”. People say they want the American Dream. The response we should be giving is, “Nothing, thank you.”

The America Dream is always portrayed as having a big house, a big car, money, possessions, two-point-five kids, a dog and a big backyard. Suburbia is the ideal, or so we're told by advocates and detractors. The advocates are right that it's pretty good looking. I've been through many neighborhoods that were gorgeous and clean, most of them in Los Angeles, where you could find green lawns in front of million dollar homes a mile from the less-than-appealing sidewalks of where I lived in Hollywood. Once, a few weeks before moving to Utah, during a lull in work, I found myself parked in one of these neighborhood. The calming smell of cut grass and flowers was a fine change to the usual fragrances of exhaust and smoke that the more crowded areas of Los Angeles were prone to expel. These homes I saw were expensive beyond reason. For the same amount of floor space in Niagara Falls, you could by three or four homes for the price of one of these beautiful habitats in Los Angeles. The people who lived there were well-off, indeed. The people who lived there worked to get there. Those who inherited lived much farther away, or in the homes that rested upon the Hollywood Hills.

Getting homes like that in Los Angeles is no easy task. The cost of living in that area is astronomical. For my tiny, damaged apartment (with a very aloof manager, no less), I paid $1200. I had two other people living with me, both working full time at least one job (my future wife worked two). I worked twelve hours a day, minimum for 5 to 6 days a week, depending on what weekend shift the Dr. Phil show had assigned me. I made around $700 to $800 a week. If I had chosen to save that money up from the start and not spend it like a kid who'd just escaped his parent's house (which I had), I could of bought myself a new big car or something in that category. I worked my ass off for a year in the city where dreams come true Then, I picked up and moved to a state whose population is one 1/5 the size of Los Angeles County, where 80% of that population lives in a 50 miles stretch, where there are some very odd liquor laws and where a religion is said to run the affairs. “A backwater”, a fellow debater told me one day when I challenged him. And to top it all off, I told everyone I was moving up the ladder.

Fast forward to today. I work at a truck depot as a security guard. My ears are getting blasted by air breaks. The air is full of smog and truck fumes. Being a mile from the Great Salt Lake and and a dump has created a pretty awful smell at night. The drivers aren't always the friendliest. And, during winter the depot gets freezing winds and heavy snow from the lake, for which our company jackets have no cover for.

I love it. All day I can look at either of the mountain ranges encompassing the Salt Lake Valley. Traffic is flowing steady on my way to, and on my way home from, work. Unlike Hollywood, there are no buzzing helicopters every night nor is there the sound of wailing sirens every few hours. There is quite, unless the neighbor's kids are causing trouble in the next apartment. Our apartment, while small, is carpeted, while the one in Los Angeles was hardwood with nails that wouldn't stay down. We now have heat and air conditioning, two things Hollywood didn't have. The apartment complex is taken care of and, unlike Hollywood, doesn't have the constant smell of stale bum urine (not kidding, go to the corner of Sunset and Highland and try not to smell it). My bi-weekly pay check totals what I made at Dr. Phil in a week, but along with my wife working, we profit a handsome sum every pay day, which we are saving. Our income is not that high. In fact, I believe that before my wife got her current job we were near the so-called poverty line. We only have one car. We do not have cable. We didn't even have a television until earlier this year as we did not have one in Los Angeles. And yet, we are not poor, not in the least.

According to a study done on people who are apparently poverty-stricken, they have more than we have currently, and yet we do not ask for handouts nor do we wish our current President to expand them. I'd rather have the extra few dollars I have in my paycheck taken back and applied to the national debt. I'd rather have Mr. Obama open opportunities instead of squash them with cap-n-trade, a tax haven crusade or ideological anti-trust suits.

Our ability to advance ourselves should take precedent in any economic plan. It's a proven fact that people do better when allows to do what they do best. Welders weld. Drivers haul. Guards secure. Bankers bank. Traders trade. Big Oil drills. Big Pharma saves lives. Intel makes chips. Microsoft makes Windows (and bugs, but I digress).

Mr. Obama's talk about fairness isn't what got me to move. I moved because I wanted to change my circumstances. Not everyone has that ability, especially those in heavily regulated industries like banking, car making, and other new federal projects. People can whine and cry about CEOs, but like the welder and the guard, people work for those CEOs, and those people are just like you and me, despite the social stigma of their employment. They have as much right to climb the latter as you do, if they (or you) want to.

As self-interested individuals, we have every reason and every right to promote ourselves and advance ourselves above our current situations and above others. People who can't have no reason or right to stop us. To keep yourself down because of that is akin to a lifeguard drowning himself he couldn't save a distressed victim.

Our individual advancement, times three hundred million, is our collective advancement as a nation. The government's ability for empathy is secondary.

Huntsman's Aide: Palin/Rush Won't Win Elections

From the Washington Examiner:
The Republican strategist who helped Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman prepare for a possible presidential run says the Republican party is in for a devastating defeat if its guiding lights are Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney. "If it's 2012 and our party is defined by Palin and Limbaugh and Cheney, then we're headed for a blowout," says strategist John Weaver, who advised Huntsman and was for years a close adviser to Sen. John McCain. "That's just the truth."
I think he's right.

As I posted on Tax Day, we need a new image based on detailing our views (with emphasis on American history, economics and national security). As much as I appreciate Rush's show, Palin's folksy hometown personality and Cheney's stalwart defense of the Bush Administration, they are not future picks in my opinion. The new GOP needs to be able to circumvent pigeonholes the Democrats and leftists try to push conservatives in to. While Rush, Gov. Palin and the former VP represent their respective parts of the GOP, we need others, like the socially moderate, free market advocating Huntsman, to also speak up. Statist Republicans, on the other hand, should kindly not speak.

The future of conservatism rests on our ability to create a new fusion as we did in the wake of the statist reforming of the United States under FDR. We can make America great again, but only if we include all the voices of limited government.

Read the Memos!

The former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration takes "torture" critics to task.

Key sections in bold:
In the mid-1980s, when I supervised the legality of apprehending terrorists to stand trial, I relied on a decades-old Supreme Court standard: Our capture and treatment could not "shock the conscience" of the court. The OLC lawyers, however, were not asked what treatment was legal to preserve a prosecution. They were asked what treatment was legal for a detainee who they were told had knowledge of future attacks on Americans.

The 1994 law was passed pursuant to an international treaty, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. The law's definition of torture is circular. Torture under that law means "severe physical or mental pain or suffering," which in turn means "prolonged mental harm," which must be caused by one of four prohibited acts. The only relevant one to the CIA inquiry was threatening or inflicting "severe physical pain or suffering." What is "prolonged mental suffering"? The term appears nowhere else in the U.S. Code.

Congress required, in order for there to be a violation of the law, that an interrogator specifically intend that the detainee suffer prolonged physical or mental suffering as a result of the prohibited conduct. Just knowing a person could be injured from the interrogation method is not a violation under Supreme Court rulings interpreting "specific intent" in other criminal statutes.

In the summer of 2002, the CIA outlined 10 interrogation methods that would be used only on Abu Zubaydah, who it told the lawyers was "one of the highest ranking members of" al Qaeda, serving as "Usama Bin Laden's senior lieutenant." According to the CIA, Zubaydah had "been involved in every major" al Qaeda terrorist operation including 9/11, and was "planning future terrorist attacks" against U.S. interests.

Most importantly, the lawyers were told that Zubaydah -- who was well-versed in American interrogation techniques, having written al Qaeda's manual on the subject -- "displays no signs of willingness" to provide information and "has come to expect that no physical harm will be done to him." When the usual interrogation methods were used, he had maintained his "unabated desire to kill Americans and Jews."

The CIA and Department of Justice lawyers had two options: continue questioning Zubaydah by a process that had not worked or escalate the interrogation techniques in compliance with U.S. law. They chose the latter.


The U.N. treaty defined torture as "severe pain and suffering." The Justice Department witness for the Senate treaty hearings testified that "[t]orture is understood to be barbaric cruelty . . . the mere mention of which sends chills down one's spine." He gave examples of "the needle under the fingernail, the application of electrical shock to the genital area, the piercing of eyeballs. . . ." Mental torture was an act "designed to damage and destroy the human personality."

The treaty had a specific provision stating that nothing, not even war, justifies torture. Congress removed that provision when drafting the 1994 law against torture, thereby permitting someone accused of violating the statute to invoke the long-established defense of necessity.


Then there is Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who declared that "waterboarding will almost certainly be deemed illegal if put under judicial scrutiny," depending on which "of several possibly applicable legal standards" apply. Does he know the Senate rejected a bill in 2006 to make waterboarding illegal? That fact alone negates criminalization of the act. So quick to condemn, Mr. Robinson later replied to a TV interview question that he did not know how long sleep deprivation could go before it was "immoral." It is "a nuance," he said.

Yet the CIA asked those OLC lawyers to figure out exactly where that nuance stopped in the context of preventing another attack. There should be a rule that all persons proposing investigation, prosecution or disbarment must read the two memos and all underlying documents and then draft a dissenting analysis.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Last Stand of a True Horror

A deep blow to those protesters who illegally shut down the Gardiner Expressway last week:
The Sri Lankan president has declared a military victory over the Tamil Tigers after 26 years of bloody civil war.

Speaking on a visit to Jordan, Mahinda Rajapakse said he would return home to a nation totally free from the "barbaric acts" of the rebel group.

However, senior officials told the BBC fighting rages on in a tiny area of the north-east where the Tigers' leadership is said to be cornered.

More than 70,000 people have died in the bitter war for a Tamil homeland.


There are now concerns that the Tamil Tiger leadership is preparing for a last stand, our correspondent says.

The Tigers' leadership has said repeatedly that they will not surrender, and are thought to be keeping thousands of civilians as human shields.

There have also been reports that the Tigers are preparing a mass suicide in the face of a military defeat.
In their war against Sri Lanka, the Tigers killed two world leaders, tens of thousands of civilians, used child soldiers and perfected the use of individual suicide bombing before the Arab and Islamist groups even tried it.

UPDATE: It's offical. The Tigers are defeated. May Sri Lanka now live free and without fear.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Defending Pelosi and Failing

Oh, I do love me some justification. From ThinkProgress:
While it remains unclear what Pelosi knew and when she knew it, it should not be forgotten that Pelosi did not write the memos authorizing the use of torture or carry that torture out; the Bush administration did. Further, the CIA briefed Pelosi without staff, told her their practices were legal, and forbade her from discussing the meeting with colleagues. As such, Pelosi could not work to “outlaw the practices.” Marc Ambinder notes that the only way Pelosi could have registered her objections at that time was to “walk out of the briefing, telling those CIA officials who came that what she just heard did not constitute a formal briefing.” The result? The CIA would have simply tried to re-brief her at a later date, but the Bush administration would have continued to carry out torture anyways.
The scandal that's brewing isn't just over what she knew and when she knew it, but it's also about the fact she's lied about what she knew (from "I wasn't told" to "I was just briefed") and if she supported enhanced interrogation before being against it. Also, the legality of "torture" (read: waterboarding) is still up in the air. To bemoan that the CIA told her it was legal means absolutely nothing.

Democratic PACs at their best. Which doesn't say much.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Morning Feeling Like Afternoon Already Linkage

Althouse on the talk about some kind of diversity quota on SCOTUS, as well as one of Obama's suspected picks quoting Justice Kennedy as of he was an actual conservative.

American Power warning us about taking Marxism seriously. But, we shouldn't, 'cause your know that socialism isn't about killing people! It's about love and puppies and clever slogans.

Pat's justified rant on the ignorance of people and how that's kinda the fault of the people whose job it is to supply the information.

Betsy's Page, for some reason, thinks you should be worried about a $58 billion raise in the budget. It's no biggie.

Critical Narrative takes on the folks who assume that because the American reporter is released the Persian Menace is no so much a menace anymore.

The Professor translates the Speaker's recent press conference where she not only denied the CIA, but also denied her savior. Thrice!

No Sheeples points out that those crazy islanders creating an Islam Day in their state and slipping it by you that it DOESN'T land on the founding day of Islam, but lands on September 11, 2009... on the Julian calendar.

RRR has more on Pelosi's lies.

The Conservative Comeback has a shirtless child inciting riots in Boston.

And, finally, the man with the plan to monopolize every Google search has the story of two women that are hated just because of their beliefs.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Denouncing Terrorist Group Is A Hate Crime In Canada

Un-effing-believable. I knew there was a good reason I left!
While thousands of Tamil-Canadians protested at Queen's Park on Wednesday, a separate group of demonstrators, speaking out against the Tamil Tigers, gathered on a pedestrian overpass across the Don Valley Parkway.

Approximately 40 people stood on the overpass, just north of Gerrard, with signs saying "Protect Canada, stop the Tamil Tigers."

The sentiment of these protesters was also seen earlier as a plane, carrying the same message, flew over the Tamil demonstrators at Queen's Park.

Police will be investigating the airplane message as a possible hate crime.
From the Canadian blog The Strong Conservative:
To say "protect Canada, stop the Tamil Tigers" is entirely consistent with Canadian values. And even if it wasn't, and indeed there was hate, there should be no reason why someone can't spout all the hate they want so long as they do not advocate violence. That is the key point. Are we so afraid of making a counter argument to stupidity and ignorance that we must criminalize certain thoughts? Are we that intellectually lazy?

Meanwhile the "protesters" are doing this: "Signs reading "LTTE is our sole representatives" and "LTTE fights for Tamils' right in Sri Lanka," referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – widely recognized as a terrorist organization – are prominent across the front lawn of the legislature. Protesters chanted: "What do we want? Permanent cease-fire. When do we want it? Now."

Are they being investigated too?
When people talk about the decline of Western civilization, they aren't talking about rampant commercialism or George W. Bush, but our ability to blind ourselves to natural truths because we use unnatural ideas like the "all cultures are equal, except for western culture" multicultural theory so many Western states have adopted.

When told that "one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter", a friend of mine said "Yeah, but he's still a terrorist."

Not in Canada, he ain't.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Altruism and Government Health Care

Like death and taxes, the other eternal constant is the liberal idea that the best way to fix the problems of the nation is to increase the power of the federal government. From the question of gay marriage, to the problem of inner city crime, to economic downturns, the left never talks about anything else other than more power, more regulation, more public fixes for private problems. The consequences of federal government involvement involvement, ironically, tend to defeat the very goal of the Left. Liberals love to criticize conservatism “hands off” approach as cold and heartless, but then they lament when people, driven by their self-interest and self-worth, screw with the system they made. Before their involvement, you didn't matter to government because they weren't involved and therefore had no reason to listen to you. Your problems were that of the localities and the states. After their involvement, you didn't matter to government because you've been shoved out of the way by the more affluent. The rich private citizens willing to manipulate the public trust to create a positive outcome for themselves beat you to the punch.

Altruism and Self-Interest

Pure altruism is a myth. No matter how you fancy it up, recognize it at dinners or write about it in books. No one is ever purely selfless in their actions, no matter the extend of benefit of it. People donate to their causes because they have a interest in seeing it succeed, may it be that their kid is autistic, their friend has breast cancer or they want to feel good about curing muscular dystrophy. Altruistic actions are not bad because of this self-interest, of course. In fact, without self-interest these causes would never see the light of day.

It's human nature to have self-interest. We all have our own thoughts, hobbies, goals, wants, needs, etc. No two human beings are the same no matter how close genetically they are. Parents and children bicker, siblings argue, even identical twins fight. Hell, you clone someone, their clone will have a different web of experience from which to shape their personality because they aren't the original. We are all different and because of that there is a plethoras of different requirements for our comfort and needs, and that directs our actions.

The base of all human action is our self-interest in performing the action. How does this benefit me? How does this make my life better? Does this action aid my goal? These are the questions that we go through consciously or unconsciously when we perform our actions. There is no way you can detach the self from what you do. Even the most egalitarian of activists will have self-centered reasons for their charity or their aid, may it be to sate a moral view or to make up for some past wrong the activist believes he/she must pay penance for. And the center of it all is the self. The self will always be there.

Self-interest plays a major role in determining one's self-worth. Your self-worth determines the extent of your self-interest in the actions you make. Your worth in the eyes of others determines the extent they are willing to sacrifice for you. People who run for president have a high view of self-worth. Simply running for president puts these people in a position of high worth in the eyes of the people. Even before anyone has won the federal government will pay for the most strict protection of these people, if they ask for it. Mayors, state senators, governors don't get such protection. And, of course, neither will the common citizen.

Not everyone can be presidents or governors or state senators or mayors. Most of us will never hold public office or a private sector equivalent. Most of us will have just our family, our friends, our co-workers and, maybe, a small business. Our self-worth is very important when the extent of people who consider us worthy is very small. Unlike public officials, who have their private lives to fall back on, if we lose face within our small group we could lose years upon years of hard work. Friends, family, livelihoods; all can vanish so quickly for those not buoyed by the taxpayer. It's this reason why individual economic choice relates to the quality of living for individuals because people who have self-worth are more likely to choose the proper products and services required to keep them at their level of worth.

The Left have a hard time getting that the government is not separate from the people who run it. Its pretty naïve to think that self-interest goes away when one enters government. When leftist talk about government regulation, government nationalization, government charity and so on, they talk as if people like Chris Dodd, Maxine Waters, Ted Stevens and John Murtha don't exist. They talk as if the government's interest in the people is different than the interest these fine examples of American leadership have. They are wrong. The government's interest is the self-interest of the individuals within it. There is no pure altruistic reason for Congress to pass laws just like there is no pure altruistic reason for individuals to act. Everything, no matter the collective benefit, is always done with self-interest at the center. As evidence by the ever expanding federal web, self-interest amplifies when given the tools like the feds have, and its rarely ever in the absolute best interests of the people. Not to mention the individuals who lobby the government for their own self-interest because government has claimed the economic cookie jar.

Self-Interest and Health Care

As I noted a few days ago, the health care debate is being centered around the idea that a government option to private health insurance (and by that, private health care overall) will be a more altruistic option compared to the evil, cold private health care industry. The problem with creating a government health insurance option is that 1) we already have several government insurance options, which points me to the conclusion that this new push is a first step to absolute state control of health care, and 2) the self-interest of government will inevitably pervert the program and that will conflict with the self-interest (and self-preservation) of the individuals in the program.

There is little doubt that there are problems with our current health care system, which I believe have a lot to do with the monopolization of certain markets by the federal government, but there is still the ability for consumers to pick and choose their coverage, if they wish to have coverage (which many have chosen NOT to have). The ability to choose allows the individual to fulfill its health requirements as it deems necessary. If the feds choose to nationalize health care then choice becomes history and the ability for the individual to get what it needs for its health become the decision of someone who doesn't have a vested self interest in the individual, but in the self-interest of the government, which, I repeat, is just the self-interest of individuals who have a greater collective worth to the nation than you have. If it becomes too costly for you to live, the government will ax your treatment. Its already happened in the UK with cancer treatments.

Everyone Is Out For Themselves

The irony of the health care debate, like most debates between the left and right, comes back to moral philosophy. In the torture debate, the argument is against utilitarian justifications for harsh interrogation. The discomfort or pain of one terrorist isn't worth the moral rot utilitarianism spreads on the people, so they say. But when it comes to health care, no matter how they fancy it up about giving everyone access (which everyone already has through private companies and public programs), a single payer government run health care system will absolutely take the utilitarian view in that there is no way the government can sate the health requirements of over 300 million people and remain economically solvent. The cost to give everyone what they need (or want) medically would bankrupt the nation faster than you can imagine.

The ability for the individual to choose, and the opportunity to choose that private industry gives, allows for a more satisfying and more efficient system of access to health care for the common man than a single, bloated, micromanaged government system that will always be looking out for the government's interests (and the intersts of its friends) and not that of the common individual.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Vice Taxes

It appears that the current Democratic-led Congress can't tax people enough for their vices. The cigarette tax went up to pay for the ex-low income children protection, now middle class handout health program known as SCHIP. Now, it appears that soda will be taxed to raise funds for the government's very unfair entry into the health insurance market. There is quite the uproar over the Feds passing vice taxes, some of which are class warfare (Dems taxing poor people who smoke), some of which are on moral grounds. I have issues with federal vice taxes, though I don't necessarily believe they are inherently bad things.

The idea of federal vice taxes in America go back to its founding. The Whiskey Rebellion of 1797 was over a tax passed by Congress on distilleries. In an early version of corporatism and cartel creation, the tax was designed so that big businesses could take advantage of a flat fee while the smaller businesses had to pay per gallon no matter what. This set off a insurrection in which President Washington used the federal military to subdue a citizen's revolt. It's rumored that when Washington was asked about the immorality of the tax, as some said it was, he responded by saying that the rebels voted in the representatives that passed the tax, and said they had to get over it until they could vote them out, though I am paraphrasing.

While I agree with Washington's rumored words on the way government works, I believe federal vice taxes are both inefficient and a slight, albeit legal slight, against federalism. Vices taxes are a tariff on products or services deemed immoral or outside the realm of individual moderation, and the hope of the tax (so it is said) is to discourage the use of the product or service. While not every vice tax is actually made to prevent action, some are a very simple way to suck more income from the already over-taxed American public, the very idea of taxing something that is socially unacceptable puts the tax itself in the realm of the state or federal powers question.

As a staunch federalist, I believe that any social question that isn't already answered by the constitution (like the ability for blacks to reap the rewards of being American citizens) should be answered by the individual states. Social policy is not part of the responsibilities of the federal government. We've seen quite clearly what exactly the federal government does when it finds a breach in federalism's wall: it invades, Roe v. Wade being the most famous of federal usurpations of a state's power to regulate the social sphere. In my own lovely Utah, the question of alcohol and alcohol consumption are state matters, amongst other things like gay marriage, drug enforcement, morality laws and so forth. I don't necessarily agree with every social law Utah's legislature passes or laws Utahns vote for through propositions, I can always sigh a sigh of relief that the federal government has little say in any of it.

The federal government shouldn't be in the business of regulating the social sphere. The reason we have states in the first place is for self-rule. If our vices are to become an ever increasing interest to the federal government, we really don't have any other refuge to escape the iron fist of Congressional micromanagement.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Some Things Just Aren't Funny

And I'd like to put Wanda Sykes entire skit in that column.

Honestly. The President's basketball game? Then, a novel that spits venom at Rush, Gov. Palin and the rest of the current targets of the liberal/leftist hit list.

Mr. Colbert's ballsy and hilarious roast of President Bush spared nothing. Colbert could be a out-of-his-mind communist, I'd still think what he said was great. I have to say that Colbert is one of the best satirists of the right wing.

The whole point of the dinner is for journalists to pat themselves on the back and for comedians to roast the President to his face. If that's gone out of the window for our new President, as it seems everything else has including mustard choice, I think I'd rather endure a rendition of Cats, in bad Gaelic translated from Chinese by Japanese game programmers, as performed by Code Pink. Naked.

Not Everyone In Canada is Sorry...

...just those who find political opportunism in terrorist supporters:
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he will continue to press the Harper Conservatives on the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka but is distancing the party from a Tamil-Canadian protest that shut down a Toronto highway.

The thousands of people who flooded onto the Gardiner Expressway on Sunday left only after receiving assurances that the Liberals would raise their plight in Parliament.

Monday, Ignatieff issued a statement urging that future protests be lawful and stressing that Liberal MPs took no part in the protest.

Premier Dalton McGuinty also assailed the tactics of the protesters who shut down the highway, saying the bloodshed in Sri Lanka does not justify such action.

Some protesters chanted their support for the Tamil Tigers - considered a terrorist group by the Canadian government - and Ignatieff says the Liberals unequivocally condemn the group.
The Tamil Tigers are defeated in Sri Lanka. This "plight" is simply an attempt to get Western nations to fool themselves into saving a group that has long terrorized Sri Lanka and India, and who also pioneered the suicide bomber.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Of Course It's Unprincipled When You Rig The Fight

There's audio being passed around the radio shows and the blogs of Rep. Jan Schakowsky proclaiming
“I know many of you here today are single payer advocates and so am I … and those of us who are pushing for a public health insurance don’t disagree with this goal. This is not a principled fight. This is a fight about strategy for getting there and I believe we will.”
SIRIUS radio host Andrew Wilkow has done excellent analysis on why single payer socialized health care will become bloated and corrupt; his main point: when you make a commercial product a right, it becomes someone else's responsibility to provide it, and that is economic slavery.

Those on the left who are big advocates of single payer nationalization now have the arguement that the right, those smarmy free-market advocates, don't like competition. The new parroted theory is that the free-marketers are now becoming monopolists because they don't want the government getting in the health care business. Of course, this makes sense to them, but it falls flat on its face when you actually take time to think about it (as usual).

A couple of things to ponder when you debate a single payer advocate...

First. The government is already in the health care business with Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP. Nearly 50% of all health care costs in the US are paid for by the US government. This creeping monopoly began with low-income, high-risk individuals who actually needed help, but like any other government program since the New Deal, government assistance has become government dependency. Programs like SCHIP, designed to help low-income children, has ballooned to cover middle class kiddos who get scrapped playing in their cul-du-sacs. There is no way the left can talk about a lack of competition from the government.

Second. A government option in the market is not akin to the private sector. Unlike the private companies, a federal government health insurance option would be backed by the full force of the federal government, the most powerful player in the United States. No single private insurer could ever compete with the federal government because, unlike the insurer who has to lobby the federal government to favor it, the federal government can do whatever it pleases (as it has shown with decades of corrupt and unconstitutional wealth redistribution) with no input by the insurers it will affect. When the government becomes a player, it will want to win the game. Pure and simple.

I lived in Canada for over half my life and I've had a few bad experiences with the single payer system there, but this fight won't be won on anecdotes alone. The loss of a competitive and entrepreneurial health care market to an overbearing and singularly self-interested government will bring down the innovation infrastructure our private health firms have spent trillions on.

The very idea that there is no US government option in health care today is so ludicrous as to be a admissible evidence in a case of loss of metal faculties against the advocate in question. The very idea that a government run health care system, insurance included, would be more efficient and effective than private means begs the question: why even have private business at all? If the government can run things better, let's just nationalize the entire economy and get it over with.

The single payer advocate would then call you a loony conservative or a paranoid right-wing nut. Not for your objections, though, but believing that they'd go that far, even though itls the logical end to their beliefs.

UPDATE: Yup. Government is totally a fair competitor in the health care market.
President Barack Obama's plan to provide medical insurance for all Americans took a big step toward becoming reality Sunday after leaders of the health care industry offered $2 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years to help pay for the program.
This, my friends, is what you call a bribe. This basically says, "Please don't nationalize us. Please, we'll do anything." It goes by the official term of corporatism. When the government, under the auspices of the common good, manipulate the free market into cartels so it may better redistribute goods without having to nationalize outright.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Everything Means Nothing: My Existentialist Journey

Critical Narrative has started a exploration of the much touted, but rarely understood philosophy of existentialism. Being a former disciple of existentialism for many years, though one who really had no deep understanding of it, I thought I'd tell my story about it, though unlike Yukio's series, I can pretty much tell mine in one post of moderate length.

The first time I got wind of existentialism was in the audio commentary of Joss Whedon's excellent space western Firefly. In the episode "Objects in Space", Joss gives a superficial view of existentialism through the character of Jubal Early, a bounty hunter, and River Tam, his eccentric target. The episode starts with River walking through the ship Serenity, observing the crew and, from what we're supposed to understand, see the "truth" of their words and interactions. At the end of her walk, she finds herself in the cargobay and it's covered in leaves with a stick in the center. She picks up the stick and says, "It's just an object. Doesn't mean what you think." Suddenly, the real world returns and she is holding a gun. Throughout the episode, the other existentialist, Early, talks about objects and their meaning. He questions if River's bedroom is still a room if she isn't in it. The episode goes so far as to have River "become" the ship, which takes Jubal's view into absurd territory (though, of course, River never actually became the ship).

In the commentary for the episode, Joss talks about his existentialist and absurdist views and recites his philosophical history. According to Joss, after having some kind of epiphany during a viewing of the special edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in which he realized that "real life was happening" and that he began to think about things and their meaning. Telling this to a friend, the friend gave him Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. The book, Whedon says, pretty much described exactly what he was thinking about. After hearing this, I went out and borrowed the book from the library. I read it, but unlike Whedon I had a prejudged view in my head divorced from actual teachings of the book, and that played much into how my first reading never really implanted into my head.

What did stick from my reading of Nausea, and from countless hours of reading websites and borrowing other books on Sartre and his views, was the idea that reality is simply our perception, that humanity imbued reality with its views. This was a major influence in my views on the world and was integral to my views as an anarchist. What better way to justify the tearing down of the world than the idea that the world meant nothing, other than the actions of those who participate? The idea that everything meant nothing and that what we do means everything was propaganda of the deed in its purest form. Later on, as an anarcho-primitivist, the base theory would become a full ideology for me. The realization that this philosophically and socially justified nihilism wasn't all it was cracked up to be wouldn't dawn on me until years later.

Out of all the things that I became during my existentialist times, a pseudo-intellectual was the most prominent. I would buy philosophy books, mostly ones by Sartre, but never really read them. As Yukio points out, it became a religion. I didn't really have to know it to believe in it. I didn't really have to read it to advocate it. Simply having the books on my shelf meant I was smarter than you, or so I thought. I would spend too much money on books I would never read. I actually still have those books, but they're now stuffed away in a storage closet with extra pillows, blankets and objects my wife and I never use anymore.

Existentialism is an attractive philosophy for the young because it says you can pretty much do anything you want because the world has no meaning and anything you do imbues meaning, and therefore good. While that is a superficial summary of the entire existentialist system, its what I keep coming across from those who do believe in it and those who promote it without knowing it. Like the politics of meaning that drives the left, the ability to find meaning in a world drives many, and blinds them to the dangers of such thought. A meaningless world is a world that can be molded to any form. The flaw in that judgment is that it excludes human nature, which had given us natural emotional meaning to things we see, hear, feel and do.

I am an atheist, but I do not hold that the world is without meaning because I do not believe in a supernatural power. As stated, our human nature gives us inherent emotional meaning to things and actions. Before civilization, our ancestors gave meaning to family, to children, to home, to territory, way before the thoughts progressed into much more complex things like citizen or nation. We have in ourselves a common ability to extract meaning from the world, and as much as an existentialist would protest that it's still a subjective matter, I would contend that the amount of common meaning we put into things and actions cannot be stripped down to subective-ness alone. There is a deeper, more natural (more scientific) reason for why most adore small animals, or a single flower on a spring day, or the stars in the night.

I know Yukio will corrected me on some of my views on existentialism, and I welcome it, since I ended my journey with existentialism with pretty much the knowledge as I had when I went in.