Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies



Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nostril-damus and the End of Days

The Democrats have found their own little prophet of doom in Henry Waxman, aka Nostrildamus. The world is coming to an end, and if we don’t pass his cap and trade bill, we’re all going to die. The science Hank relies on to reach this conclusion, if indeed he’s relied on science at all, makes the Medieval Nostradamus’s alchemy seem downright modern.

In a related turn in the “Apocalypse Now” scenario, it appears that dissent, which was very popular during the Bush administration, has fallen out of favor following the coronation of the “won”. Now dissenters, especially dissenters to the crap and tax legislation, are compared to holocaust deniers. (Excuse me, but wouldn’t that be BHO’s bud, Ahmadinejad?)

Nostrildamus asserts that opponents to cap and trade are rooting against the country; "And I think in this case they're even rooting against the world, because the world needs to get its act together to stop global warming,” Hank added. So now those of us who believe in real science as opposed to Al Gore’s mumbo-jumbo, are not just global warming “deniers;” now we’re worse than Hitler.

SEPARATED AT BIRTH?batboy-lives

OR, TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

video




Monday, June 29, 2009

Read the Bill Stupid!

Obama told us when he was running for president that in the interest of “transparency” he would ensure that all legislation would be available to the public to read on the internet 5 days before the vote. Apparently Nancy Pelosi didn't get the memo. Or Henry Waxman. Pelosi will not give the public a week to review the final text of a health-care reform bill before it is voted on later this year. And Waxman likewise won’t commit to the 5 day timeframe.

And if past performance is any indication of future behavior, we can assume that legislators won’t deem it necessary to read it before voting either. So why would they think it necessary for you to read it?

How on earth have we come to a point where Congress thinks it’s OK to pass legislation that profoundly effects our lives and the social fabric of the country without so much as reading the damn bill? The House version of Cap and Trade was 1200 pages plus 300 pages of amendments thrown in at the eleventh hour. 1500 pages of legislative BS and not one - I guarantee you - of those Representatives has a clear understanding of what they voted for.

The arrogance of their claim of not having time to read the whole bill reflects a contemptuous attitude towards their job and their constituents. But it provides the cover of implausible deniability later when the crap (as in crap and trade) hits the fan. Like Chris Dodd with the AIG bonuses. “I knew nothing about it, except I voted for it before I voted against it. Or vice-versa.”

Why do we keep voting for these morons? Read my lips: no more incumbents.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Fake Solution for a Fake Problem

What’s the best way to solve a fake problem? With a fake solution, of course. Follow me through the maze of hoaxes foisted on the gullible masses.

HOAX NUMBER 1: MAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING

Man-made Global Warming is simply the largest hoax conceived, ever. Goaded into action by hucksters like Al Gore and his man-made religion of global warming, people swallowed the idiocy of his claims that “The science is indisputable. The consensus is in.” If science were based on consensus, Galileo would not have “discovered” gravity, Einstein would not have “invented” the theory of relativity, and Christopher Columbus would never have sailed the sea of blue. For the last time: SCIENCE DOES NOT BOW TO CONSENSUS: SCIENCE CHALLENGES CONCENSUS. In addition to that inconvenient truth, an even more inconvenient truth is that there’s not even consensus anymore, as well documented by Kimberly Strassel in the WSJ.

First, carbon dioxide is not “causing” global warming and its reduction is not going to cure it. The earth has been cooling steadily now since 2001. Didn’t you get the memo? Oh, that’s right, Al hasn’t issued it yet. Secondly, if these buffoons think they can cure global warming by harnessing the energy of the sun and wind, why on earth don’t they believe that the SUN and SOLAR WIND STORMS might have more to do with heating/cooling the planet than the lame dogma of Dr. Global Warming? I can’t speak for all of them, but I can tell you why Al doesn’t believe the latter: it would queer his gig for selling billions of dollars of carbon credits.

HOAX NUMBER 2: CAP AND TRADE WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM

So we have ginned up a fake crisis, to solve it get the geniuses in Washington to gin up a fake fix - Cap and Trade. Here’s how it works:

First you create something from nothing - “carbon credits”. Second, you create value for them by requiring people to have them. Third, you establish a market for them by making them fungible. That’s the formula in a nutshell: take something with no intrinsic value, have the government give them value, thereby creating a market for them. So simple a moron can do it

Is this beginning to remind you of anything? Subprime mortgage derivatives perhaps? They surely had no value until the government created them by requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to issue sub-prime mortgages: no bank up till then had a business model that said “let’s write mortgages for people we know can’t afford them.” Since Fannie and Freddie knew these were bad loans, they were anxious to bundle them up in a scam package that hid the real risk of the bundled mortgages. Yes, you can fault other banks for jumping on the band wagon, and I do, but don’t forget the genesis of this mortgage, its derivatives and its derivatives market. Squarely at the foot of Congress.

And now again with carbon credits we have Congress creating an intrinsically worthless product that Wall Street will bundle, buy, sell, insure and trade on speculatively. Can you say “carbon credit default swaps?” In fact that’s precisely why Congress is anxious to pass this Obamination. The power to determine who gets (and doesn’t get) credits – through regulatory rules and outright favor mongering – is determined by the men and women elected to the Congress of the United States. They, truly, are the kingmakers.

If Cap and Trade passes both houses, this bill will have created the perfect Ponzi scheme because it’s legal. Biggest winners? Wall Street – this time to include Al Gore, John Edwards and all their hedge fund cronies. Biggest losers, as usual, the US taxpayer.

HOAX NUMBER 3 : THIS WON’T RESULT IN HIGHER TAXES

I can’t believe there is honestly anyone out there that believes this isn’t going to cost them, but just in case…

This may not be called a “carbon tax”, but it will effectively place a carbon tax on every commodity produced or handled. This includes food, electricity, natural gas, gasoline, cars and all other consumer products. As reported by AP:

Everyone agrees that under this “cap-and-trade” system the cost of energy is expected to increase as electricity producers and industrial plants pay for increased efficiency, move toward greater use of renewable energy, pay for ways to capture carbon emissions or purchase pollution allowances.

They disagree, however, on how much of the added cost would be passed onto consumers. Democrats argue that much of the cost increase could be offset by other provisions in the bill.

Let’s be clear, rule number 1 in business – in order to stay in business – is you pass all costs on to the consumer. It simply does not work any other way. Everyone will be paying a carbon tax, or, if it makes you feel better, a “green dividend” on everything consumed. And remember who you’ll be paying it to: not the utility companies and the manufacturer – they’re just passing the costs on. You’ll be paying it to Al Gore and his new Wall Street buddies.

And to those making less than $200K – you’ll be paying a disproportionate share as your utility and food and gas bills are a much higher percentage of your income. So not only are you going to be charged a carbon tax, it’s a regressive tax. Maybe we should start referring to“Progressive Democrats” as “Regressive Democrats”.

There is a silver lining in all this though. With so much money allocated to ACORN for participation in the upcoming 2010 census they can take petitions with them and get everyone to sign one making it illegal for the utility companies to pass the costs of cap and trade on to anyone making less than $200k. Then, when the utilities file bankruptcy Obama and Rahm can nationalize them too! That should bring us up to par with Hugo and Venezuela.

Oh thank you, glorious leader!

Friday, June 26, 2009

R.I.P. MJ

I wouldn’t comment on Michael Jackson, but for the fact that he is emblematic of our culture of celebrity. I have no comment on his talent, although it was huge, or his depravities, which may -or may not - have been.

My only observation is that his life seemed to be a modern day adaptation (perversion?) of The Picture of Dorian Gray, with his body replacing Dorian’s portrait. His pact with the devil was to keep him forever in the limelight of celebrity, even when disgraced. In return, his “picture” became more and more disfigured and deformed. In the end, he was a mere caricature of himself. Now that's real irony.

Genius lasts longer than beauty.”

chapter 1, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Obama-care Infomercial: Sham. Wow!

How the health care Sham works: restrict access up-front, deny treatment when the disease is so advanced it’s hopeless, or you’re too old, or you’re too great a risk. Costs are cut – because we don’t have to provide any care. Wow!

Here are a few of the basics you need to know:

Obama-care isn’t the only option to fix the “system”. How about tort reform: maybe those huge malpractice payouts actually get passed on to you the healthcare consumer, you think?

How about we do something about immigration reform. Do you honestly think illegals (hereafter referred to as “undocumented visitors”) are denied healthcare in this country? No, you dolts, health insurance is not the same as health coverage. Check out any emergency room in any city. They’re getting plenty of care. They just aren’t paying for it: you are.

And why does this have to be a federal government program? Perhaps the states (you remember them) can determine what kind of public health care they can afford to offer to their citizens that have no insurance. I’m guessing states that have a large number of “undocumented visitors” can afford less.

That’s just for starters.

But let’s look at the numbers driving this “crisis”: of the 45 million uninsured, 20 million(estimated) are “undocumented visitors.” How many more counted as uninsured are on some kind of government assistance (Social Security, Medicaid)? I don’t know, but I know they are not denied care. And how many more could afford health insurance but choose not to because – oh, I don’t know, they want a new car instead? Again, I don’t know, but I know if they are seriously ill, they will be treated (and likely never pay the bill: you will). Then there’s the group that just chooses to pay as they go: a lot of young adults and the Amish for example. Not a wise choice perhaps, but this is America. You are free (for now) to make bad choices.

Please stop believing every stupid thing you hear because it rolls off the lips of the enlightened idiots that populate Washington and New York. (“And by law they could not, and would not, say it if it were not true!”)

Speaking of lies: Did you hear the one about Barry saying he’ll allow you to go to your own Doctors? That’s a thigh slapper. Thanks Barry, I feel better knowing you don’t intend to withdraw my freedom of choice – just yet.

And there’s the one about the single-pay system not driving private insurance companies out of business, and not forcing employers into the socialist health care plan. Right. The socialist healthcare plan is funded by the seemingly unlimited deep pockets of the taxpayers. Employers will be faced with buying private insurance for their employees from a provider that needs to raise capital and make a profit – or getting if free from the government, thus cutting their costs to stay competitive. Tough call.

During ABC’s infomercial, Charles Gibson told Obama that “some have expressed concern” that private insurance companies wouldn’t be operating on a level playing field with the government plan. Obama rebuffed the concern, (in that snotty way he has when he doesn’t like the question) arguing that "we can set up a public option where they're collecting premiums just like any private insurer and doctors can collect rates," but because the public plan will have lower administrative costs "we can keep them [private insurance companies] honest." Name one public plan that has lower administrative costs than its private counterpart. Maybe the Post Office?No, they are talking about cutting service to 5 days to stem the losses they’re running. If you absolutely, positively have to have it the next day, you’re not going to trust the US Post Office. Why would you trust the government with your life?

A closing point, before dashing off to worry about Crap and Tax: if this is such a damn fine plan, why does the bill as drafted exempt members of Congress? So how good is Obama-care? It's not good enough for Barry. Or Michelle. Or the girls, or the dog. But it's good enough for you.

And Speaking of Klaven…

Here he is on liberty and the Nanny State. It’s required homework before celebrating the 4th of July. OK, if you’re reading this you likely don’t need to do the homework, but pass it on to someone who does. Recent college graduates perhaps?

 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Tragedy of Culture

Andrew Klavan wrote in Monday’s WSJ about The Stoning of Soraya M, a documentary about the “… brutal 1986 judicial murder of a woman falsely accused of adultery in the Islamic slave state of Iran…in accordance with Shariah law.” He found the movie haunting, although not a story based on the usual tragedy of individual character. He called it a tragedy of culture, a tragedy of bad ideas:

The tragedy of bad ideas unfolds from a moral flaw in a worldview or philosophy as inevitably as classical tragedy unfolds from a flaw in individual character. Tragedies of bad ideas are the most common, pervasive and destructive man-made mass disasters. Yet our thinking class has become powerless to oppose them or even recognize them for what they are.

The reason they are powerless is because they are themselves caught up in the “bad idea” of multiculturalism:

…the notion that no system or government is inherently better than any other, that the rules of morality are just a doctrine written by history's winners. Thus there are no enduring human truths, only "narratives" by which almost any beastliness can be explained away if committed by a people with a claim to having been victimized by a dominant culture.

He explains how this bad idea resulted in the “mealy-mouthed strategic dithering” from Obama, when the leader of the free world should be spearheading the demand for liberty, democracy and the right to protest a totalitarian theocracy.

How mealy-mouthed was the President’s dithering? Representative Thaddeus McCotter, R-Michigan, has it nicely summarized in an an address on the floor of the House yesterday:

Regrettably, our president’s “post-American” foreign policy presumes talk can thaw the murderous mullahs’ hearts and attain a “grand bargain” for peace in our time; consequently, while Iranians demanded their freedom from a barbarous regime, the president vapidly opined: “It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be… We respect Iranian sovereignty.”

Then, as the crisis escalated, the president optimistically noted:

“You've seen in Iran some initial reaction from the supreme leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election… And my hope is – is that the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices, to express their aspirations.”…Next, on June 20th, the president stated, “The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.” It was painfully evident just how far behind them he stood: “The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States.”

With these contradictory statements of support and appeasement, the president returned to square one: “The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.”


Yesterday, Obama finally joined Sarkozy’s and Merkel’s harsh condemnation of Iran by stating that he was “appalled and outraged” by the threats and violent confrontations in the streets of Tehran. He then went on to do his Clinton lip-biting equivalent by empathetically responding to a question about the murder of Neda Agha Soltan with a prepared sound bite.

We are clearly witnessing a tragedy. Is it of culture, or individual character?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

D.C.’s Demolition Derby

After slogging through pages of information on the “Cash for Clunkers” legislation passed by both houses of Congress (Now sitting on Obama’s desk, waiting for his lefty signature) I can reach only one of two conclusions: legislators are either idiots or morons. Choose wisely in the next election.

Would you trade this old GM classic…

57_chevy_1

in on this new G(overnment) M(otors) clunker?

2009ChevroletAveoFront400

I’ll keep my old Chevy, you keep the change.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Star Wars in the Age of Aquarius

There was a huge outcry from the Left to cut military spending after the collapse of the Iron Curtain. The general gist of the argument was:

“We no longer have to worry about nuclear devastation because now the Russians are just all cute and cuddly, and China’s just busy making cheap crap for us, and buying up our real estate and companies, so they’re really no threat. So let’s cut back on military spending and scrap any crazy ideas about a national missile defense system. ‘Star Wars’ is crazy - and we sure don’t need such an elaborate, sophisticated, expensive system now that we’ve entered the Age of Aquarius. Let’s spend the “ peace dividend” on social programs (which can never be big enough, or inclusive enough).”

What kind of naiveté would lead you to believe that the economic collapse of one dictatorial regime would preclude another from doubling down? How ignorant of the human condition does one have to be to think that the entire history of mankind was reversed by the crumbling of one economically bereft totalitarian government?

This is what astounds me about progressive’s slogan-strewn political “thinking”: If they wish it to be so, they assume it can, and will be so. Regardless of all evidence to the contrary. Quick Quiz: When in the annuls of recorded history has there not been a war, or wars, going on? This includes, civil wars, tribal wars, religious wars, national wars, international wars. I will exclude the war on drugs, although there are signs that it, too, could evolve into a real war. Well anyway, get back to me when you have the answer.

The point is, no matter how badly you wish it to be otherwise, human beings are a pugnacious bunch, given to fighting both with outsiders and ourselves. Furthermore (note to Barry) you can count on diplomatic solutions breaking down: either when one party doesn’t get everything they want, or – even if they do- suddenly thinking of something else they want. For the foreseeable future the seven deadly sins can be counted on to generate monsters in our midst. Sorry if this offends your sensitivities, but if it were not so, we would not have prisons stuffed with sociopaths who have committed heinous crimes against their fellow humans.

So had we listened to the “give peace a chance” crowd and passed entirely -instead of just cutting way back - on the development of a national missile defense system, many Americans would be sleeping less well than they already do. Let’s count the maniacal dictators that have or want a nuclear arsenal. There’s everyone’s favorite little pot-bellied pig, Kim Jong Il of NoKo. Then there’s Iran’s Ahmadinejad, or whoever the Mullahs decide to put in power. Their desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth is well documented. And then they will discover they want more. There’s also a rumor that Syria may have had a desire to build nukes, before Israel bombed their rumored site. Now they have to work with Iran. We also have Pakistan, our ally by a thin thread, and currently home to al Qaeda – who would love to"strike at the head of the snake" with Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal . And we would be fools to ignore Hugo Chavez. He has the dictatorship, the oil money and the desire to be one of the big boys. It’s nice to know we have some defense system in place should any of them decide to send their message of peace inside our borders.

But then I see we’re still not all that concerned. On June 17 Democrats blocked $1.2 billion for missile defense systems while almost simultaneously inserting a $1 billion “cash for clunkers” amendment into an emergency military funding bill. To boost auto sales because I guess we didn’t do enough for them with the bailouts. Or maybe it’s to “green” the environment. Whatever.

Just shoot me. Now.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Bail

This administration does not like capitalism, free markets or competition. You need only examine their actions - and damages done -  to AIG, GM and Chrysler to figure that out. The proposed “fix” from the boy genius Tim Geithner (who, if we are to believe his implausible story of how he came to not pay his taxes, couldn’t even figure out how to use TurboTax) demonstrates more disdain for our economic system.

This Wall Street Journal article describes how this new government meddling will kill competition and in the process set up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac style entities in every segment of the financial system.

His plan, if adopted, will fundamentally change the nature of our financial system and economy. The underlying concerns and assumptions are clear, and they are made clearer by considering other ways that his administration has dealt with the consequences of competition -- particularly the faux bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler and the impending change in antitrust policy. Although the president said in his speech that he supports free markets, these initiatives confirm that the administration fears the "creative destruction" that free markets produce, preferring stability over innovation, competition and change.

 

The Dems plan to push through this banking overhaul quickly, since it’s another crisis in need of a legislative agenda. And we all remember that a good crisis combined with a bias for action is a slam-dunk way to the dustbin of history.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Defeat Is Within Our Grasp: Winners Remorse ?

The only thing worse than a poor loser is a poor winner. The Democrats qualify on both fronts. They spent 8 years hating  everybody and everything affiliated with George W. Bush. They unleashed their attack dogs on Bush, Cheney, Rove, the WAR, the evils of torture,  lack of WMD, inability to connect the dots, the end of liberty(in an effort to connect the dots) and GWB’s reckless and needless attack on the Axis of Evil (that’s not looking so stupid now, is it?).

Now they appear committed to spending however many years they are in power – surprise - attacking Republicans. So far GWB is blamed at least twice weekly for something evil, dark and perverted. Rush Limbaugh is maligned at least as often, and Sarah Palin continues to be the Left’s go-to target for venomous spittle. I’m not sure why, maybe they just don’t like Tina Fey.

So what happened to all that bipartisan hopey-changey crap we heard about before the election?

Here’s what passes for bipartisan in D.C.:

Stimulus Bill of 2009: The granddaddy of all Porkulus.  The 1,073-page monstrosity included the biggest spending increase since World War II, but more important, it expanded the role of the federal government across the breadth of American business, health care, energy and welfare policy. So critical,  it had to be passed before anybody in either house of Congress had time to read it. The Dems effectively cut off all debate and called a roll call vote on the floor because President Obama said it was URGENT and needed to be put in place IMMEDIATELY, before the WEEKEND!  He said that just before he flew off for a very special Valentine’s date night with Lady M in Chicago.  Congress passed it on Friday, as instructed. He got around to signing it the following Tuesday.   

Not that it mattered, since Joe Biden acknowledged last Sunday that the stimulus package isn't really working anyway.

Yesterday we saw the same punk-play pulled on the 2009 appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice and Science. House Democrats whacked the debate on 3 amendments proposed by Republicans, despite having provided assurances that there would be time for debate. But wait. The winners changed their minds. No time to debate the value of cutting funding for ACORN,  an allegedly non-partisan organization accused of fevered campaigning for Obama and Obama’s initiatives in direct violation of it’s non-profit status. Just for the record, ACORN is currently under investigation for voter fraud in 14 states, and has admitted to fraud in several others. No need to exclude a group like that from taking part in the collection of census data. Data that will be used to re-district and re-apportion voting districts. Nope, no problem there. By the way, ACORN registered 1,315,000 voters last year alone. Good work! Because drug addicts and schizophrenics – dead or alive - have a right to vote too.

Look for the same, “hey, we won so shut up” poor-winner sportsmanship when far more important legislation appears on Capital Hill: universal health care , climate change/cap and trade, and rules to make it easier to form unions – also known innocuously as “card check”.  All of which will be  followed closely by proposals to fund the guaranteed “shortfall” of funding for all of the above. Expect VAT to be mentioned, and not as a replacement for existing income taxes but in addition to. These initiatives will be rammed through with equal grace as the Dems push to maximize the take-away from all of these “crises”.

Since Republicans earned their way into the minority dungeon, they have no power to stop anything the Democratic majority supports. Let’s hope at least some of the Dems like being poor winners better than being poor losers and start paying attention to what their own constituents really want out of this Congress. When they voted for hope and change, I think they hoped to keep some of their change.

Lord of the Flies

An allegory about an allegory?

The Lord is dead, long live the Lord! Stay tuned for further updates regarding the future of civilization.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hammer Time

If Dr. Sanity has given up, what hope is there for the rest of us? To be fair, she’s probably been fighting against nationalized healthcare much longer than most of us - who’ve only recently discovered that this nightmare is real. Never-the-less, it’s sad to see someone as astute as the Doc announce that she’s done fighting and will hang up her shingle if Obama-care is enforced.

For those of you unfamiliar, Dr. Sanity is a board certified psychiatrist. In addition to an M.D. she holds an M.S. in biochemistry, is a former NASA flight surgeon, has taught at UCLA and is currently on the clinical faculty at the University of Michigan (In Ann Arbor - often described as 10 square miles surrounded by reality.) This is in addition to being in private practice and blogging prolifically.

So if Dr. Sanity is tired of fighting, who can blame her? Time for the rest of us to take up the fight. Unless of course you can think of one system or program run by the government that is run efficiently and/or effectively. Let’s think: Medicare? Medicaid? Social Security? Welfare? Post Office? Fannie Mae, Fannie Mac? Education (don’t get me started)? IRS- well they are good at collecting tax dollars - albeit after the fact in the case of tax cheats who want an appointment in the Obama administration. How about VA hospitals? They are an outright disgrace to this nation.

So you see, we have no choice but to fight. The medical system is hard enough to navigate now, imagine what it will be like if the government bureaucrats have it in their grasps? For you people out there that don’t live in northern boarder states: where do you think Canadians go for medical care if there life depends upon it – and it often does. Answer: the USA, stupid. Not Britain, Sweden, France or Cuba.

Yes, there are serious problems with some aspects of our healthcare. Vincent Miller and Jarrett Wollstein have done an informative pamphlet on several of the issues which drive the cost of medical care through the roof: no incentives for economy, government interference and bureaucracy, and litigation. They also present six ways to remedy the current mess , plus a cautionary tale with respect to looking to the government for a “solution”.

Dr. Sanity reminds us that “to a hammer everything looks like a nail, and relents that “psychiatrists are the mental health profession's hammer; and drugs are the nail.” To Obama’s liberal administration, every social problem is a nail, and the government is the ultimate hammer.

Most serious problems require a bit more analysis than a hammer can bring to bear. Remember, we have the best health care on earth: from research to surgery (unless you count Cuba). If you take the hammer to it, it will shatter. In a free market with free men, I’d like to think we can resolve the major issues as we always have: with ingenuity, incentive and entrepreneurial drive. Take away the free enterprise component to solving seemingly insurmountable problems and you’ve created another government behemoth that sucks not only our wallets but our souls dry.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Rhetoric of Moral Equivalency

Since I was unable to provide analysis on BHO’s historic Cairo speech to the Muslim world beyond this rudimentary observation, I decided to let the always articulate Charles Krauthammer do it far more eloquently.

He begins with a comment on Obama’s European tour de force:

"acting the philosopher-king who hovers above the fray mediating" between America and the world.

This is a skill Obama developed on the campaign trail. He grew accustomed to standing on stage above his minions, looking down at them, looking back at him.

MSM believers reiterate his observation, only in earnest:

Now that Obama has returned from his "Muslim world" pilgrimage, even the left agrees. "Obama's standing above the country, above -- above the world. He's sort of God," Newsweek's Evan Thomas said to a concurring Chris Matthews, reflecting on Obama's lofty perception of himself as the great transcender

The rest of Krauthammer’s column consists of pointing out that the balance of the speech amounts to taking shots at America and invoking cultural sensitivity and moral equivalency in applying the rules of relativism to the rest of the world.

That's the problem with Obama's transcultural evenhandedness. It gives the veneer of professorial sophistication to the most simple-minded observation: Of course there are rights and wrongs in all human affairs. Our species is a fallen one. But that doesn't mean that these rights and wrongs are of equal weight.

Here-in is the danger of rhetorical speech: it sounds wise and even-handeded, but put to the scrutiny of logic, it appears painfully sophistic. Relativism relies on such fallacious thinking:

Obama offered Muslims a careful admonition about women's rights, noting how denying women education impoverishes a country -- balanced, of course, with this: "Issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam." Example? "The struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life."

Well, yes. On the one hand, there certainly is some American university where the women's softball team has received insufficient Title IX funds -- while, on the other hand, Saudi women showing ankle are beaten in the street, Afghan school girls have acid thrown in their faces, and Iranian women are publicly stoned to death for adultery. (Gays, as well -- but then again we have Prop 8.) We all have our shortcomings, our national foibles. Who's to judge?

Indeed, who is to judge? Surely not us: the colonialists, the imperialists - the great Satan of the West.

Krauthammer concludes:

Obama undoubtedly thinks he is demonstrating historical magnanimity with all these moral equivalencies and self-flagellating apologetics. On the contrary. He's showing cheap condescension, an unseemly hunger for applause and a willingness to distort history for political effect.

Distorting history is not truth-telling but the telling of soft lies. Creating false equivalencies is not moral leadership but moral abdication. And hovering above it all, above country and history, is a sign not of transcendence but of a disturbing ambivalence toward one's own country.

I don’t know what’s worse - to assume Obama’s pandering, or assume he’s sincere. Either way, I don’t see the upside.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pennies Are Still Good for Something

Other than this, they’re really pretty useless. Hat tip to 10000pennies.

 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

GM’s New Boss: Edward E. Whitacre

Here’s his claim to fame: He knows nothing about cars!

Having worked at the executive level in business  (not auto) for many years, I’ve concluded that there are two things that will destroy your company. The first is a “bias for action” and the second is the belief that if you’re smart enough, you can do anything. Had Enough Therapy? pretty much covers the later. Don’t read it if you want to maintain a semblance of hope for GM’s future.

I’d like to address the former corporate malady. A “bias for action” was a buzz phrase du jour that popped up sometime in the late 80’s with the popularity of Tom Peter’s In Search of Excellence. Here’s a definition:

“Propensity to act or decide without customary analysis or sufficient information 'just do it' and contemplate later. Popularized by Tom Peters as a distinguishing feature of agile firms.”

Don’t misunderstand: a bias for business-as-usual is equally deadly to an organization. But the enthusiasm with which the action bias was adopted became carte blanche for sloppiness in all aspects of business discipline – from purchasing decisions to  critical financial analysis.

In the years of easy credit and fast tracked IPO’s, you nearly couldn’t grow your business fast enough. Wall Street demanded quarter to quarter growth at a pace that was,  frankly, unsustainable. In order to generate that kind of growth many companies grew through mergers and acquisitions. Some employed dicey accounting. Some, like Enron, did both. But  if you weren’t on track to make next quarter’s numbers, well, a bias for action might persuade you that an acquisition that makes no economic sense in a world that isn’t quite as biased, had the potential for a tremendous return on investment. You just had to assume a few things, and figure out how to make them happen later.

Until recently, the one thing we could depend on was that Washington did not have a bias for action. That was about the only good thing that you could say about Government bureaucracy. That, and a balance of power,  generally prevented Congress from moving quickly.

Now, that’s not true. Not only do we have no check and balance system in play, we have a very naive Chief Executive dictating  a very determined agenda with a most severe bias for action.   Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel made his “let no good crisis go to waste” mentality perfectly clear.

So we have now endured the “urgency” of  bailing out the financial sector (thanks GWB) and effectively nationalizing some of the largest banks in the country, passing the Porkulus Stimulus bill that has thus far had no positive impact on any sector of the economy, and addressing the emergency need to push Chrysler and GM into bankruptcy and Government control – after wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to bail them out. All this with nary a whimper from our fawning Congress or a serious question from the even more fawning media.

And now we’re told that we have little time left to save the healthcare “system” of this country by nationalizing that as well. And even less time to implement new tax schemes to fund it: we have to start with taxing the rich more, but we need to move swiftly to adopt a Value Added Tax as well. And lest we forget the urgency of saving the planet, there are all these green initiatives that require instant implementation (all of which will add dollars to the resulting product you will have to buy). And last but not least: there’s the granddaddy of them all: Crap and Tax. Everything has to be done by the end of the year, or the world will end. So get to work. Oh, and we need Sotomayor on the bench by October. Trust me. She’s the best Latina for the job.

My old company? Long gone, the victim of it’s own bias for action. It was consumed in a “merger of equals” if by “merger” you mean “take over” and by “equals” you mean “loser.”

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I got a bit carried away yesterday in my “signs of intelligent life” post. Apparently the Supreme Court does not see any property rights issues related to the  shotgun Chrysler-Fiat marriage. We shouldn’t be surprised. This alarming, illegal plan of the Obama administration to effectively give Chrysler to the UAW while cheating other pension plans and ripping off taxpayers is pathetic. Not only is it trampling all over private ownership rights and running roughshod over established law, but it is forcing a deal with a company that is said to have Enron style accounting and corporate governance issues. A regular bankruptcy will turn out to have been a better choice.

Here’s a short history of the sorry place we have arrived at with respect to private property rights: First, we had the 2005 Kelo decision, in which SCOTUS determined that private property rights are not as important as the government’s right to give your property to someone who has plans to generate more (tax) revenue than you do. Now comes the Supremes decision that there’s no need to hear the case in the Chrysler bankruptcy filing. The issue here is that the secured bond holders – until now known as first secured debt holders because by law they are paid off first in any bankruptcy filing - were forced to accept 29 cents on the dollar in order for the UAW – non-secured creditors – to secure a 55% ownership (plus seats on the Board.) Pure political payoff for the union’s staunch support of Democrats in general and Obama in specific.

What are we to conclude from this?  The founders of this nation knew that private property rights were not just fundamental to prosperity, but to freedom itself. That’s why they ensured that private property rights were guaranteed  (primarily through the Fifth Amendment’s Takings or Just Compensation Clause) in the Constitution. We can no longer be assured that these rights will be unquestionably upheld by the Supreme Court of the land. I guess this will make it a lot easier to spread the wealth around. If there’s any left to spread after Congress addresses the other imminent crises of health care and global warming.

At a minimum, you’ll not see any investors lining up to buy secured corporate bonds, previously one of the safest investment vehicles for pension funds and 401-k’s. Debt will be more expensive for all businesses, which they will pass along to their customers along with any VAT’s and all of the costs for everything else that Cap and Trade will impose. And we thought Carter was the master of hyper-inflation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Signs of Intelligent Life

After months of nothing but seemingly bad news, here are three small indications that there might be re-emerging signs of  intelligent life on the planet.

First: A decided shift to the Right in European parliamentary elections. Left wing parties in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Denmark, and Britain were worked over rather thoroughly. This despite a serious “crisis of capitalism”. Perhaps real people can ascertain the difference between a crisis of the financial system and the underlying system of capitalism better than their leaders can. 

Second: The Lebanese parliamentary elections went to the U.S.-backed coalition despite predictions that terrorist supported Hezbollah would easily capture a majority. While the victory seemed to surprise everyone, the New York Times  was quick to credit Obama for the results, citing his speech on U.S – Muslim relations.  So be it, but I don’t think he took the opportunity to even mention the upcoming Lebancese elections in his world famous “I am a Muslim” speech (no doubt patterned on JFK’s “Eich bein ein Berliner!”speech). It’s just as likely that the election results were  due to  gaffe-a-minute Joe Biden’s comments in late May, as relayed by the NYT article:

When Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. visited Lebanon in late May, and appeared to threaten withdrawal of financial aid if the opposition won, that was widely derided as a kiss of death. But now, some political analysts believe the vice president may have helped by crystallizing for voters their choice: alliance with the United States, France and the regional allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia; or with Iran and Syria and their allies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

As the old saying goes: even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Third: SCOTUS stays the execution of Chrysler. At least for a day. Ruth Bader-Ginsberg - no less - has issued the order. We can only hope that the Court will take up the appeal on this government-backed unconstitutional bankruptcy proceeding ( as I previously posted here.)

We take our signs of hope anywhere we can. Perhaps there’s once again a whiff of change in the air. And I don’t mean the hopey-changey variety.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Reflections on the Third World Apology Tour

Lest “Date Night” overtake  the D-Day memorial, here’s a link that poignantly points out to Europe, and our President, why no more apologies for our arrogance are required.

20 reasons America needn't apologize for our "arrogance".

May they rest in peace.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Split the Baby

I’m traveling today so have time only for a brief synopsis of the President’s speech on the Middle East:

The judgment of Solomon; the wisdom of Neville Chamberlain.

Robin’s New Roost

Remember Robin? The recovering liberal therapist from Berkley? Apparently she's back with a gig at American Thinker, with more tales from the dark side.

Her take on an old Maude episode is worth the read alone:

The Left has become way too serious and sanctimonious for my tastes. But it wasn't always that way. I recently rented the first season of Maude, a show I enjoyed in my youth. I was astonished at how Maude, the white liberal, is affectionately teased throughout for her preachy white guilt. When she goes shopping for a "maid" (that's what they called them then), she insists on hiring a black one to "help" some needy person. When the confident Florida shows up, Maude is so condescending that Florida quits. Florida explains, "I'd rather work for a racist than a white liberal because at least racists won't try to change me." They reconcile, of course, and Florida is a major player on the show, reflecting back to Maude her patronizing ways. The lesson back then to whites: lighten up and laugh at yourself. And be very careful that your crusade for social justice isn't just another form of white arrogance.

 

Some of the comments are also fun:

Aren't most conservatives former liberals to some extent? All children are liberals. They are naive, selfish, and believe the world works the way they want it to work. They throw tantrums and blame everything on someone else. They think being a kid is cool and adults are uncool. However, many of them gain wisdom and humility later in life and begin to realize how the world really works. Then they become conservatives and move on.

 

And some gut-wrenchingly true:

…Why so strict on my kids? I knew what the real world was like because I lived inside of it everyday and I understood that the world owed you nothing. If I didn't teach self reliance and self discipline to my kids who would? The liberals?

Certainly not in Berkley.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Role Model to the Holocaust

In an interview with the BBC yesterday, Obama again demonstrated his firm grasp of the liberal principals of relativism and multiculturalism:

But he said while there were "obviously" human rights issues to address in some Middle Eastern countries, the job of the US was not to lecture but to encourage what he said were "universal principles" that those countries could "embrace and affirm as part of their national identity".

Instead, the president said that the most important thing for the US was to "serve as a role model".

 

We, as well as Britain, and much of the rest of Europe served as exemplary role models throughout the 1930’s and 40’s. Unfortunately, that was not enough to persuade Hitler not to exterminate 6 million Jews.

Just When You Think There’s Nothing Left That Can Outrage You

There’s this:  Department of Justice has barred Georgia from requiring proof of citizenship in order to register to vote.

Below are portions of the statement issued by Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel following the U.S. Department of Justice’s denial of preclearance of Georgia’s voter verification process.

“The decision by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to deny preclearance of Georgia’s already implemented citizenship verification process shows a shocking disregard for the integrity of our elections. With this decision, DOJ has now barred Georgia from continuing the citizenship verification program that DOJ lawyers helped to craft. DOJ’s decision also nullifies the orders of two federal courts directing Georgia to implement the procedure for the 2008 general election. The decision comes seven months after Georgia requested an expedited review of the preclearance submission.

“DOJ has thrown open the door for activist organizations such as ACORN to register non-citizens to vote in Georgia’s elections, and the state has no ability to verify an applicant’s citizenship status or whether the individual even exists. DOJ completely disregarded Georgia’s obvious and direct interest in preventing non-citizens from voting, instead siding with the ACLU and MALDEF. Clearly, politics took priority over common sense and good public policy.

“This process is critical to protecting the integrity of our elections. We have evidence that non-citizens have voted in past Georgia elections and that more than 2,100 individuals have attempted to register, yet still have questions regarding their citizenship. Further, the Inspector General’s office is investigating more than 30 cases of non-citizens casting ballots in Georgia elections, including the case of a Henry County non-citizen who registered to vote and cast ballots in 2004 and 2006.

 

Somehow the DOJ has determined this practice to be discriminatory. How arcane to discriminate against non-citizens in the voting booth. The good news is that Georgia’s ACORN contingent probably won’t have to resort to employing Black Panther thugs to intimidate voters as they do elsewhere.

I suppose this means we’ll no longer need to prove citizenship to get a passport or a social security number. Remind me again, what benefits does US citizenship grant? Oh yeah, the right to bear taxes.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dr. Chu and the Great Whitewash Caper

Dr. Steven Chu, our new Energy Secretary, thinks we should all paint our roofs white to combat global warming.

Please don’t be cowed because this guy’s got a Nobel laureate in physics. After all, Al Gore and Yasser Arafat each have one in peace. And I think Al Gore won his for proving that the sun had nothing to do with global warming.

I’m willing to admit that Mr. Chu isn’t an idiot, but I’d also acknowledge that just because you know how to capture atoms doesn’t make you an expert on anthropogenic global warming. Even Einstein – who I think we can all agree was a decent theoretical physicist – didn’t profess to know why the earth moved back and forth through ice ages.

Anyway, the Energy Secretary wants to paint the roofs of the world white to save the equivalent of 11 years of driving per the UK Telegraph:

If you look at all the buildings and if you make the roofs white and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of colour rather than a black type of colour and if you do that uniformally, that would be the equivalent of... reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years – just taking them off the road for 11 years," he said.

Huh? You’re going to need a few good theoretical equations to make that one fly. And then there’s this comment from Dr. Chu in an address at the 2008 National Clean Energy Summit:

Consider this. There’s about a 50 percent chance, the climate experts tell us, that in this century we will go up in temperature by three degrees Centigrade. Now, three degrees Centigrade doesn’t seem a lot to you, that’s 11° F. Chicago changes by 30° F in half a day. But 5° C means that … it’s the difference between where we are today and where we were in the last ice age. What did that mean? Canada, the United States down to Ohio and Pennsylvania, was covered in ice year round.

So OK, he’s a Nobel laureate. But seriously, 3 degrees centigrade doesn’t convert to 11 degrees Farenheit. More like 5.4. But what do I know? I’m not a Nobel laureate.

Additionally, data gathered from land, sea and atmosphere has not shown any global warming since 1998. That’s 11 years, Doc, with no warming - despite the fact that CO2 has increased slightly in that same time frame. I guess that’s why we’re being coached to refer to it as “climate change” now instead of global warming. But tell me again why we should paint our roofs white?

I’ll admit that “theoretical physicist” sounds impressive, and I’m willing to give Dr. Chu points since his asinine proposal at least acknowledges that the sun might have something to do with the earth’s temperature. But if GWB’s Secretary of Energy suggested we all paint our roofs white, Keith Olberman wouldn’t just be peeing his pants, he’d be splitting them with laughter.

Dr. Chu has stepped out of the murky territory of theoretical quantum physics into the much murkier realm of politics. Here there’s no need for hypotheses or proofs. All the facts are in. The debate is over. We have consensus, people. We don’t need no more stinkin’ facts.