Sunday, November 30, 2008
Rush has a well-thought-out political philosophy, with deep roots in European and American history. He constantly collects real evidence, and is better at explaining it to millions of listeners than anybody else today. Limbaugh has a twenty year track record of sifting truths from lies; that is not an accident, any more than Tiger Woods is an accident. It comes from great talent and lifelong practice.
In the upshot, Rush is a voice for rationality and sanity in a world awash in madness and propaganda. If that's not the proper role of an intellectual, what is?
The words "intellect" and "intellectual" deserve to be rescued from the myth-makers of the Left, which has decided in its amazing arrogance that it really owns those words. But that is just another sign of its narrow-minded cultism. The Left shuts out competing voices, like any other cult, and then becomes outraged when independent thinkers don't agree with its "smelly little orthodoxies" --- as George Orwell famously called them. (Orwell started as a Leftist and then figured out the scam.)
The Complete Article At AMERICAN THINKER
The hypothesis is simple enough, namely that Barack Obama needed substantial help to write his 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, and that this help came from the man who has made "unrepentant" a household word, Bill Ayers.
For simplicity's sake, I refer to the author of Dreams as "Obama." He provided the skeletal narrative and likely maintained executive control. Ayers fleshed that narrative out, imposing, where useful, his vocabulary, his rhythms, his style, his observations, his postmodern perspective, his weary 1960s weltanschauung, and, in some cases, stories from his and other people's lives.
The Complete Article At AMERICAN THINKER
The root of the word jihad, appears 40 times in the Koran and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries -- from the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam, to ordinary people -- meant and means "he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like." As described by the seminal mid-19th century Arabic lexicographer E.W Lane, "Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers." A contemporary definition, relevant to both modern jihadism and its shock troop "mujahideen" was provided at the Fourth International Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research at Al Azhar University, Cairo -- Islam's most important religious educational institution-in 1968, by Muhammad al-Sobki:
The Complete Article At AMERICAN THINKER
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
This morning’s headline article on the Drudge Report is Analyst Predicts Decline and Breakup of the USA. I don’t know where Drudge found this, or whether he wrote the report himself, and have not had a chance to read Professor Panarin’s own words. But it sounds plausible that Drudge’s words reflect the Professor’s own thoughts. Instead of simply dismissing his words with offended pride, let’s examine them and separate his errors from the truth and see what else he may intend.
For all our political platitudes, there is no reason to believe that the USA is metaphysically eternal. For five thousand years of recorded history, there have been a series of greatest world powers, each of which fell from grace in turn. Some by external conquest, others from internal collapse and fragmentation. Some of these former world leaders, such as the British and French Empires continue to survive in attenuated state. Eventually, it will happen to The United States as well. And though I think it will be a world disaster if our fall occurs in the near future, history and politics have never heeded my advice. Hell, my own Senator, a relatively minor politician, ignores my advice. Fact is, many of us, including readers of my columns have been speculating along the same lines in recent months. So don’t be surprised if American experts from other countries also notice and predict the same. And also neither we, nor they should be surprised if they get some of the details right, and others very wrong. After all, they see us from a hazy distance. And a prominent Russian may have special distorting lenses as well. In 1981 Joel Garreau wrote a book The Nine Nations of North America in which he predicted the fragmentation and realignment of the USA and Canada along the lines of their cultural and political differences.
Among the new states Mr. Panarin identifies are “the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise”. While he is correct to note the growing influence of Asians on the West Coast, but I think he errs in emphasizing the Chinese. While many of them are immigrating, there are also increasing numbers of other East Asians, and of South Asians, none of whom will eagerly embrace the Chinese. I think he may also be projecting Russian obsessions with the Chinese in their own Far East. And he underestimates the influx of Mexicans, which outnumber the Chinese, and are also far more aggressive. He assigns the South to Hispanics. Obviously, he is not clear on the cultural differences between Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban-Americans. And he also neglects the importance of Blacks, and the fact that they tend to dislike all the Hispanic groups, strongly. In Los Angeles and other parts of the Southwest, you can see already the foreshadow of ethnic cleansing between Blacks and Mexicans & Salvadorians. If and when we split, I would expect the Mexicans to claim much of the Pacific coast, the inland Southwest, and much of Texas. It is interesting that he notes the rise of separatist sympathies in Texas, however he fails to see that such movements are elsewhere as well. The South would probably become the American Black homeland. Perhaps the Upper Northwest might become an East Asian zone, filled with Chinese moving south from Vancouver and East Asians driven out of California by Mexicans.If Texas succeeds in holding off the Mexicans, it seems likely it would affiliate with fragments of the Old South and the Midwest.
He identifies “the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality;” as a future country, and also “the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong”, by which I think he means New England. I think the Canadians will be surprised, but gratified to learn their “influence is strong” anywhere, but if so, it would certainly be New England, which would also be attracted to his Atlantic Coastal region. I am amused and give Mr. Panarin credit for noticing the “distinct and separate mentality” of the Atlantic coast; many Americans have noted that for years, sometimes resentfully. But they seem quite at one with New England.. I have never noticed much Canadian influence on the Midwestern states from Western Pennsylvania to Minnesota and beyond.
And his comments about the five “poorer central states with their large Native American populations” shows some real confusion, depending on which of them he has in mind. I live in South Dakota, the archetypal example. Yes, we, and some of our neighbors are relatively poorer and do have a relatively higher proportion of American Indians, some of whom are quite poor. And some of our states are also heavily imbued with separatist sympathies, as much as Texas. But some of these Upper Midwest and Western states, such as Minnesota are also technology centers and quite wealthy, and have vast stores of natural and agricultural resources. Probably, the Midwest, would remain as a whole, straddling the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers. We might even become a regional great power, sloughing off the debt and problems of some of the other regions. We would not prove such an easy and supine land for Russians, or others of the Old World to colonize and dominate.
I think this is all very possible, if not in the next couple years as Mr. Panarin seems to expect and hope, then in a more extended time frame. But as I suggested, some new nations might emerge. And the results will not necessarily conform to Mr. Panarin’s hopes. He states that the successor to regulate world markets and power could be either China or Russia.
I do not feel comfortable making authoritative comments upon China. But I have seen reports that the Chinese are having new social problems including growth in unemployment as more youths move to the cities. And the turmoil in the world and particularly American markets have led to a major slowdown in the Chinese industry and markets. It profit you not to destroy your biggest customer. And as the old proverb states, “If I owe you a thousand dollars I am your slave, but if I owe you a trillion dollars you are my slave.”
The prospect for Russia resuming its title as world arbiter is obviously much closer to Mr. Panerin’s heart. Obviously he bears a grudge for the collapse of the Soviet Union and Russia’s subsequent hard times, and he would delight to offer Uncle Sam a cut in our turn. However, what happened to the USSR was as much due to internal failure as well as American action – as will be true this time if America collapses. But that does not promise Russia’s return to glory because they have many of the same problems we do, and quite a few of their own. Russia also has ethnic animosities and separatist sentiments in many of its regions. Russians face a demographic catastrophe as they fail to produce children at a rate sufficient to compensate for their mortality. The population of Russia continues to shrink. And within that population, their Muslim nationalities are reproducing and growing, while the true Slavic Russians fall even further behind. This includes not only the districts bordering Central Asia and in the Caucasus but also the Volga river basin. If the Volga region were to cease to be Russian, were to become an independent Tatarstan, it could effective sever European Russia from Asian Russia and the Far East. This was a major factor behind the Chechen and Tadzhik wars. As for the Russian Far East, it is gradually being resettled and reclaimed by immigrants from China. Russia’s recent prosperity has been based almost entirely on the exploitation of natural resources, particularly oil, and the sale of advanced military weapons. And much of that wealth has been diverted by the new Oligarchs and the Russian Mafia. But now, Russia’s economy has also been terribly damaged by the world economic retreat and a declining market for oil. And the Chinese have stolen and copied their technology and begun to compete with them in the markets for modern weapons, despite violations of licensing agreements. Russia would be better served by taking the opportunity to consolidate and negotiate from a strong position. By seeking to open a new cold war against America, or to become the next sole superpower, they are replicating the same mistake of hubris and overreaching which we made during the last sixteen years, but they are blundering in spades, and have the potential to suffer even more in the long run.
Toward the end of the essay, Mr. Panerin gives away his game, and reveals his real agenda. In discussing the American breakup, he says “we could claim Alaska - it was only granted on lease, after all.” Now we see Mr. Panerin’s real agenda. Russia has just asserted a claim to the North Polar region and all its natural resources, and now is beginning a campaign to reclaim Alaska and its resources. As a reminder, it was in 1867 that Russia offered to Secretary Seward to sell Alaska for the sum of $7,200,000. At the time neither Russia nor the United States realized any particular value to Alaska and our purchase became known as Seward’s Folly. Not only did nobody know there was oil there, but nobody yet knew what oil might one day be good for. Nor was the Klondike gold strike foreseen either. So we did not take out a “lease” from Russia. We bought it. And during the last 141 years Russia has never tried to claim that the sale was only a lease. Now they want to steal back what they sold. I suggest that you make certain that Uncle Sam is well and truly dead before you begin to rob his grave. Pillaging corpses is dangerous for you might contract a fatal disease. This is a move of incredibly bad judgment and short-sightedness, and not only because it seems to reconfirm the worst suspicions about Russia’s intent. Even worse for Russia is a precedent it might set. The Chinese are still smarting over the 1683 Treaty of Nerchinsk which ceded, not sold, but ceded the entire swath of Northern Asia to Russia. China still speaks of the “Period of Unequal Treaties” and asserts claim to all Russian territory north of China. As I mentioned previously, the Chinese are encouraging vast numbers of their people to cross the borders and settle on Russian turf. The Chinese have also been building up and modernizing their armed forces. So, if America fragments or ceases to be a world power, in what other direction will the Chinese choose to redirect their military might? Mr. Putin, you claim to have become a Christian. So let me remind you that there is a Biblical proverb that if a man digs a pit for another….
This action was taken without warning or formal notice, but after several telephone conversations the picture became clear. Our agreement with Tulsa Connect was for “shared hosting” service. In that type of service, they load many domains on the same computer server. We were told that of the 300 to 600 client domains on that one piece of equipment, Tulsa Today always experienced the highest levels of traffic, but the overwhelming interest in the Obama birth certificate story slowed service to the other clients and rather than consider that reader traffic a peak that would soon recede, Tulsa Connect discontinued Tulsa Today’s public access. They contend that there was no way their equipment could handle such a high volume of traffic.
ImageBy telephone we pleaded for an option. As Tulsa’s original (est. 1996) local live Internet news service, “off-line” is never acceptable. There was no immediate solution or “work-around” offered by Tulsa Connect. The only option they suggested was to move our site to a separate server for a cost increase of about 600 percent. There was no guarantee from Tulsa Connect of when they would be able to return functionality to Tulsa Today.
Fortunately, Tulsa Today found another service and within 8 hours, the site was moved and is available for readers worldwide. Evolution Studios now provides hosting for Tulsa Today at a lower cost than shared service from Tulsa Connect and with no limitation on reader traffic. They are customer service orientated, responsive and pulled Herculean duty to accomplish this task as fast as computers could load our admittedly huge site. Evolution Studios provides 24-hour technical support and they used some of those after-hours to get this transfer done. As a web developer, I have worked with them on other projects in the past and their consistent focus on clear communication with and quality service for their clients has been a blessing in a niche field oddly populated by pinhead techno-bully-nerds with limited interpersonal skills.
ImageThere is no indication that Tulsa Connect limited options or blocked public access to Tulsa Today because of the political content of the story. Any conspiracy theory suggested by anyone at this time is without credible justification. Tulsa is the heartland; we believe in the Constitution of the United States of America and the free speech promised to both the press and to the people. Tulsans of all races, creeds, and both genders have and will fight to defend it.
However, we are rethinking our “buy local” business procedure. Evolution Studios is not based in Tulsa. Come to think about it, we might help them open an office here. They are a national provider of Internet based services apparently and significantly more attentive to client need than many other providers.
Tulsa Connect was provided advance notice of this story and invited to make a statement explaining their actions. None was forthcoming as of this writing. We understand their equipment dilemma, but it was not our responsibility to monitor their server traffic or anticipate and provision for their company's growth. Apparently they prefer clients with small web sites few visit. There is some personal sadness in this change as I began Tulsa Today with the Tulsa Connect folks in 1996 when they were called WebZone.
“The Great Birth Certificate Scandal/Cover-Up of ‘08” continues to see huge readership as it has been linked to major national and international web sites including: World Net Daily (which features an entire page of Obama birth certificate stories), Right Side News, Lucianne and others. One reader wrote most concisely, “Obama has spent over $800,000 and several months fighting to avoid presenting a $10 copy of a long-form birth certificate” begging the ultimate question, why?
ImageCritics have assailed the work both to Tulsa Today and author Joan Swirsky. The piece posited just one speculative idea and the angry Left calls it “packing so many conspiracy theories …” Ya got to love the angry Looney Left, allergic to facts and satisfied to refute them with gratuitous personal insults. We can do that.
Additionally, the “blogosphere is ablaze with stories about it, pro and con,” according to Oklahoma’s own Mike McCarville who notes an e-mail from Bunny Chambers of Oklahoma City, a Republican elector this year saying, “There must be something to hide if BHO won’t release proof, if he has it, that he is a natural born US citizen. He isn’t officially elected until the Electoral College meets on December 15th. I am a member of the 2008 Electoral College. I can’t believe that this is actually happening right before our eyes. We must do something! I’ve worked over 30 years to protect our US Constitution and now it seems that it will have been all for naught."
ImageNo Bunny, as long as we have life there is hope. Hope that citizens will continue to demand honest transparent government, hope that all government service will be conducted at the highest moral and ethical standards, hope that the courts will act according to the Constitution, and hope that media will be the guardians they proclaim … is not dead. Hope thrives as we live. We give hope every day around the kitchen table. I have taught my daughter and she is teaching her children – stand for what is true, just, and right in honor of those before you that have fought and died to guarantee that precious freedom.
“We will granddad,” the kids answer. Thus freedom flourishes despite whatever crisis of the day may come – technical or political – from dark to dawn.
Peter the Great once described Russia as a country in which things that just don't happen, happen. It's true.
Authorities in Novorossiysk, a city near the Black Sea, have declared this week to be a "week without abortion." Doctors won't conduct termination operations except in "the most extreme cases." In addition, at the city's maternity clinic psychologists and gynecologists will work with pregnant women to prepare them for motherhood. More astounding, the city's universities will screen films describing the detrimental effects of abortions. And a representative of the city's government says that "doctors will do everything they can to stop women from doing the irreparable."
Like other cities in Russia, Novorossiysk is desperate to reduce abortions and boost the birth rate. Indeed, the number of abortions in Russia is among the world's highest. In Russia, nearly 70 percent of pregnancies are terminated. According to the country's national center of gynecology and midwifery, between 10 percent and 15 percent of abortions in Russia have complications that leave between 7 percent and 8 percent of Russian women sterile. In Western Europe, the UN reports that each year there are 12 abortions per 1,000 women. In Russia, it's 54 per 1,000.
As a result, Russia's population is dropping so fast that by 2050 the country's population will actually be smaller than the population of, say, Yemen -- which has a high birth rate. Yemen is fairly small; Russia covers nearly one-sixth of the earth's surface. As its population implodes, it won't be possible to sustain the country's economy or even defend its vast borders. While Putin and his hand-picked poodle Medvedev blather on about the growing importance of Russia to the world's economy and gin up all the trouble they can -- in Georgia, with Venezuela and with Iran -- in fact Russia is beginning to evaporate.
Good for the local officials of Novorossiysk, and for other cities that are struggling to turn things around. You can read more about their efforts here
"The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it."
-- H. L. Mencken
Thursday, November 27, 2008
DETROIT, MI (November 25th, 2008) - The billboard, located just south of Luna Pier Rd. on the south bound side of the Detroit-Toledo Expressway, states “Sharia Law Threatens America”. Sharia Law is a legal system recognized in many Islamic countries such as the former Taliban regime of Afghanistan, and currently Saudi Arabia, and is a legal system which dictates beheadings, stonings, and other punishments for what are listed as crimes under Sharia such as homosexuality and adultery, and according to critics views women as inferior granting them little rights. Days after the billboard went up, emails from angry Muslim residents began coming in to the offices of the United American Committee, the organization behind the billboard. “Muslims are the biggest victims of Sharia Law in the world.” remarked Tom Trento, a spokesperson for the UAC. Trento continued “We hope this message inspires the Muslims of America who came to this country to escape Sharia, to stand up against it.”
If one goes to the website listed on the board they will find a video of Wafa Sultan, a Syrian Muslim who escaped from the middle-east and has become an outspoken critic of Sharia Law. “At times, it feels to me, that Sharia is following me to the United States” Sultan says in the video, referring to Islamic charities and organizations in America who have pushed for support for Sharia Law in parts of America. Sultan also points out that in Great Britain and France, Sharia Law is being enforced in various ways in certain communities. Most recently Great Britain has officially sanctioned the establishment of Sharia courts for civil matters among Muslims. “Our constitution is not compatible with Sharia” Sultan states, a view shared by many in America.
The United American Committee is a leading non-profit educational group dedicated to awakening the nation to the threats of radical Islam and works to educate Americans on the nature of Islamic extremism. Its mission is to fight the ideological aspects of the War on Terror to counter elements of radical Islam in America.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So this is really nothing new. This history revisionism is not something that's been going on since outcome based education. It's been going on for quite a while. The supposed true story of Thanksgiving can be summed up very quickly. The Pilgrims came from England to escape oppression. They arrived in a new land and were immediately overwhelmed with their own incompetence as human beings. They couldn't grow food. They couldn't feed themselves. They couldn't protect themselves. They had no clue what to do. The Indians, who greeted them with friendly leis and bouquets upon their arrival said, "Oh, we're the Indians, we're glad you're here," fed the Pilgrims and taught them how to grow corn and how to hunt and basically taught them how to live.
And that's what the first Thanksgiving was, and then of course the Pilgrims continued to populate and propagate, and eventually killed all the Indians and took over their country and that was the thanks the Indians got for their niceties in feeding the Pilgrims and keeping them alive -- and, hence, the evil white European tradition was born. That's all poppycock. That is all absolute BS with a capital B and a capital S. It's almost the exact opposite of that, in fact, the truth of the real Thanksgiving, and I'm going to have that. I've researched it and published it in this book and it's a tradition on the day before Thanksgiving to read from those few pages of the book. It starts on page 66 in the hard cover edition of See, I Told You So, if you want to grab your copy when we do this. Maybe read along, or read it in advance and be prepared for what's coming.
It's time for the real story of Thanksgiving and the George Washington 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation. The real story of Thanksgiving in my second book, See, I Told You So. It's in the chapter that begins on page 66, and the title of that chapter is "Dead White Guys Or What Your History Books Never Told You." Now, as is so often the case with much of what has happened on this program, the details of this story are now all over the Internet under other people's names and bylines, which is fine with me. I'm like Ronald Reagan: I don't care how the truth gets out. I don't care who gets the credit for it, as long as it gets out. The more people that get it out, the more people that understand it, spread it, the better. But this book goes back to 1994 or '93, actually, and the true story of Thanksgiving prior to that time, I didn't see it anywhere. Like I was telling you at the beginning of the program, I'm like everybody else.
When I was going to grade school and it was time to teach us about Thanksgiving, the basic synopsis of what I was told was the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, a bunch of destitute white people. When they arrived; they had no clue what to do, didn't know how to grow corn, didn't know how to hunt, basically didn't know how to do anything. And if it weren't for the Injuns who befriended them and gave them coats and skins and taught them how to fish and shared their food and corn with them, the Pilgrims wouldn't have survived and the Pilgrims thanked them by killing them and taking over the country and bringing with them syphilis, environmental destruction, racism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia.
That's basically the Thanksgiving story we were all raised with. The latter part of that has been recently added as part of the politically correct multicultural curriculum. But basically the story of Thanksgiving that we all had was that the Pilgrims arrived, were basically inept, incompetent white people, the Indians were very compassionate and nice and shared everything that they had with them and for their thanks, the Pilgrims wiped them out, created the cavalry and basically took over the country, stole it from them, and then amen -- and so we all grew up thinking that that's what happened. The Indians were great people but now they live on reservations and how did this happen since they were so nice to us way back when. That's not anywhere near the truth. It really is nowhere near the truth. I have the real story in the book.
Here now, the real story of Thanksgiving from the book, See, I Told You So, by me. It starts on page 69. The chapter this is contained in begins on page 66 of the hard cover edition:
"Well, folks, let's allow our real undoctored American history lesson to unfold further. If our schools and the media have twisted the historical record when it comes to Columbus, they have obliterated the contributions of America's earliest permanent settlers, the Pilgrims. Why? Because they were a people inspired by profound religious beliefs to overcome incredible odds. Today, public schools are simply not teaching how important the religious dimension was in shaping our history and our nation's character. Whether teachers are just uncomfortable with this material or whether there's been a concerted effort to cover up the truth, the results are the same. Kids are no longer learning enough to understand and appreciate how and why America was created.
"The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century (that's the 1600s for those of you in Rio Linda, California). The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community. After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible.
"The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford's own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper!
"This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives.
"He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work! Surprise, surprise, huh? What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future."
Now, I'm going to cease and desist at this point because I don't want to get started and have to interrupt myself for a commercial break with the passage from Bradford in his journal about the decision to scrap socialism, this common share business, and he turned everybody loose, and this new social experiment, forerunner to capitalism, is profoundly detailed in his journal, but I don't want to, as I say, interrupt myself in the process. So we'll get to that and the rest of the story after the commercial break. We are going to post the George Washington 1789 Thanksgiving proclamation at Rush Limbaugh.com, and I haven't decided yet, folks, but I might make the reading here of the first story of Christmas an MP 3 file so you can download it, and take it with you to Thanksgiving dinner, and if you start getting some grief from liberals, just say, "Here, I got something I want you to listen to and make them listen to it. Ask them as a favor on Thanksgiving."
Here now, in its entirety, the William Bradford journal, what he wrote about the social experiment after abandoning what essentially was socialism shortly after the Pilgrims had arrived in the United States or in the new world:
"'The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote. 'For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice.' Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They un-harnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products.'"
Not just use themselves and not just send to a common store but they could market. They could grow as much, they could sell it for what they could get for it, and the incentive was clear to do as much as possible on both sides. "And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' Bradford doesn't sound like much of a Clintonite, does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph's suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the 'seven years of plenty' and the 'Earth brought forth in heaps.' (Gen. 41:47) In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.' Now, let me ask you: Have you read this history before? Is this lesson being taught to your children today? If not, why not? Can you think of a more important lesson one could derive from the Pilgrim experience?
"Guess what? There's even more that is being deliberately withheld from our modern textbooks. For example, one of those attracted to the new world by the success of Plymouth was Thomas Hooker. Thomas Hooker established his own community in Connecticut, the first full-fledged constitutional community, perhaps the most free society the world had ever known. Hooker's community was governed by the fundamental orders of Connecticut, which established strict limits on the powers of government. So revolutionary and successful was this idea that Massachusetts was inspired to adopt its body of liberties. The body of liberties included ninety-eight separate protections of individual rights, including no taxation without representation, due process of law, trial by a jury of peers, and prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. Now, those no doubt sound familiar to you and they should because these are ideas and concepts that led directly to the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights."
"Nevertheless, the Pilgrims and the Puritans of early New England are often vilified today as witch burners and portrayed as simpletons. But to the contrary, it was their commitment to pluralism and free worship that led to these ideals being incorporated into American history, and our history books purposely conceal the fact that these notions were developed by communities of devout Christians who studied the Bible and found that it prescribes limited representative government and free enterprise as the best political and economic systems. Now, there's only one word for this, folks. It's censorship. There was a time when every schoolchild did learn these basic lessons of the American culture. Now these truths are being and have been systematically expunged from history books in favor of liberal social studies clap trap," and the chapter goes on. "This brings us to our Founding Fathers, the geniuses who crafted the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
"These were men who shook up the entire world by proclaiming the idea that people had certain God-given freedoms and rights and that the government's only reason to exist was to protect those freedoms and rights from both internal and external forces -- and that simple, yet brilliant, insight has been all but lost today in liberalism's relentless march toward bigger, more powerful, more intrusive government," and that's why I wanted to add to the reading today the George Washington First Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. Thanksgiving was about thanking God for bounty and freedom and opportunity and blessings. Thanksgiving is a time we celebrate the Pilgrims realizing the best way to enjoy prosperity in a new world that was foreign to them. Yes, there was cooperation with the Indians and, yes, the Indians did extend the handshake of freedom when we arrived by teaching the Pilgrims how to farm and so forth, but after that, all the bounty that was created by the first settlers were shared with the Indians.
There was no wiping them out. There was no infiltration. There was no introduction of various diseases and -isms like environmental wackoism or sexism or racism or any of this, as have been attached in recent multicultural curricula to the so-called white Europeans who invaded this pristine land and destroyed the goodness and the oneness that the Indians enjoyed with this land. That's what's being taught today. What is not being taught today is the devotion to God that these people had, but the failure of a socialist compact to adequately provide for the residents of the first colony and how William Bradford himself saw it was failing almost from the outset and devised a new compact which was basically capitalism and unfettered competition, and incentive, and then it was Katie bar the door. All of these things are part of the original Thanksgiving, and even when I go back and remember my days in school, I was not taught this. I was not taught the involvement and the references to God.
I was not taught that the Pilgrims had all this bounty after awhile and shared it with the Indians. It was quite the opposite. The purpose of teaching Thanksgiving when I was a kid was to tell all of us just how wonderful the Indians were and how well they treated us when we arrived because we were basically inept and incompetent. I enjoy passing this story along every Thanksgiving because we've been doing it here since I published and wrote the book, and the book is actually 1993. It came out in November of '93. By the end of the year, it had sold two million copies, and since then, I guess this is our 11th year now of reading the real story of Thanksgiving, and it always reaches new people. Every year we do it, people who have never heard it before are amazed. Now, if I was able to find it and get the true story, it's out there, but it's not in conventional history textbooks that you'll find in many of the public schools.
Rush Limbaugh: The greatest communicator of conservative thought since Sir Winston Churchill.
This is a bit late, I know, since the show is in the middle of its fourth year, and tonight is the finale of the seventh season. (The show airs two "seasons" per year, in the fall and in the spring.) The finale of the current season is on ABC from 8:00-10:00 pm Eastern time tonight, though they usually air a one-hour recap at 8:00 on Tuesday night.
Like I said, this is overdue. I don't think I will be introducing anyone to the show, which has been an enormous hit, but I do want to provide some context on why it is important.
I find that television as a medium is generally in a relatively healthy state—particularly compared to high-brow "serious" culture—and there are many good shows out there, which I will write about some time in the future. But "Dancing with the Stars" is particularly interesting because it resurrects a whole style of music and dance that had been, if not totally dead, at least sequestered in a nursing home, waiting to die out as its elderly audience passed away.
For those who have been living under a rock (or, like me, who don't get much time to watch TV), the show is essentially a pro-am ballroom dancing competition. "Stars" from various fields—singers, athletes, models, actors—are paired with professional ballroom dancers who teach them various styles of dance (foxtrot, tango, mambo, cha-cha, etc.). Every week the couples perform their routines on a live broadcast and get feedback from professional ballroom judges. The viewers then call in to vote for their favorite couple. A combination of the judges' scores and the viewers' votes determines who stays in the competition each week. This is why, if you haven't seen the show, the finale isn't a bad place to start. The stars have had a chance to learn a lot about dancing—and all of the incorrigible "two left feet" types have been voted off.
This format fits into a wider trend I've seen in the past decade: the revival of an old genre, the musical-variety show, but in a variation that is currently fashionable: a "reality TV" competition. See, for example, "America Idol" or "So You Think You Can Dance."
What makes this show different from the other versions of reality-TV-competition-cum-musical-variety-show is that it focuses on a style of music and dance that had largely been lost in the culture. The hippie "counter-culture" revolution of the 1960s was an usually sharp break in the culture; the products of the new counter-culture rapidly took over popular culture, and the leftovers of the old culture were simply expunged. One of the things that was expunged was big band music and its counterpart: ballroom dancing. The music was too melodic, the style of dance was too formal; it involved elegance and romance and dressing in a suit and tie; the whole thing was just too darned civilized for barefoot hippies and stringy-haired counter-culture types to coexist with.
Yes, I am old enough to remember the 1970s, and no, I do not have fond memories of the style and sense of life of that miserable era.
So big band was replaced by rock and roll and ballroom was replaced by the new modern "dance" style of jumping around wildly to a loud beat. (Rock and roll music has its merits, and I have my favorite songs and groups, but as far as I'm concerned, most contemporary rock has a beat and you can't dance to it.) Once it was fully embraced by the nihilistic counter-culture, whose goal was to overthrow and destroy every civilized value from the previous era, rock and roll was quickly pushed, by the late 1980s and early 1990s, to its dead ends: "hip-hop" and "gangster rap" (for urban blacks) and "grunge" music (for suburban whites).
Meanwhile, despite these trends—or perhaps in reaction against them—big band and ballroom have been making a slow revival. Dancing with the Stars is a culmination of that trend.
Two television shows constitute the bookends of the death and re-birth of this part of the culture. I am just old enough to remember "The Lawrence Welk Show" when it was still on the air—again, this was during the 1970s. Lawrence Welk was the last, poor leftover of big band and ballroom on their way out. A bandleader of no great artistic repute, Welk played enervated "easy listening" versions of familiar old songs. It was billed as "champagne music," because the arrangements were "light and bubbly"—hence the famous bubble machine—but it was more accurately described as "the squarest music this side of Euclid." Lawrence Welk became a synonym for making big band and ballroom seem cheesy, tired, and dull.
The whole effect is summed up by a clip of the show that I happened to see recently, in which the camera panned across the studio audience—and there wasn't a single person there under the age of 50. My grandparents and Sherri's grandparents were both regular viewers, and they were the target audience. The show was only able to stir viewers by providing them a nostalgic reminder of the music of their youths. There wasn't enough of value to spark the interest of anyone too young to associate it with old times.
No, Lawrence Welk did not kill big band and ballroom by associating them with something tired and imitative. Rather, this part of the culture was already dead, and Welk set out to preserve the remains by embalming them in a thick layer of schmaltz.
That's why I find "Dancing with the Stars" so refreshing. It has the style, not of a nostalgic preservation, but of an invigorating re-discovery. It is based on another television show from an earlier era: a British series called "Come Dancing," a pro-am ballroom competition show which had a long run on British television from 1949 to 1998. It was revived in 2004, under the title "Strictly Come Dancing," with the idea of having celebrities as the amateur competitors. The show was promptly exported to America as "Dancing with the Stars," which became an overnight sensation. And if you count its various international incarnations, it is now apparently the most popular show in the word, with local versions ranking in the top ten television shows in 17 countries.
The value that is restored by the revival of ballroom dance is a greater sense of romance and elegance, rooted in a sense of self-respect that had been wiped out by the whole counter-culture revolution. The message of the "hippie" style (and its many lingering after-effects) is that you are a slob—slouching, unshaven, and incapable of taking the effort to comb your hair or iron your shirts—and it's wrong to ever aspire to be anything but a slob. Ballroom's rejection of this mentality begins with the one thing that the "Dancing with the Stars" contestants usually find hardest: posture. Ballroom dance requires a straight, elegant, self-confident posture, and it goes on to require a self-conscious control of the feet, the arms and hands, the rise and fall of the knees, and so on. It is a refutation of the idea that training, technique, and self-control are the opposite of emotional expression—fierce pride in the paso doble, sensuality in the rumba, exuberant joy in the jive, and so on. But this is a style of dance that is incapable of expressing the self-loathing angst of the "grunge" types or the thuggish menace of the gangster rappers.
In watching the show—I came in somewhere in the third or fourth season, I think—I have noticed an inchoate sense among many of the competitors that it captures something powerfully good that has been missing. When he was voted off, actor Steve Gutenberg (who was, alas, a terrible dancer) said that the show "makes the world a better place," and participation in the contest even seems to have touched those whose whole careers are based on cynicism, people like Jerry Springer and Adam Corolla.
Having names the values that I think this show brings back into the culture, I should also mention that it is not always fully true to those values. There are occasionally lapses in taste and unwelcome intrusions from the modern counter-culture (even, briefly and forgettably this season, from the "hip-hop" culture). But this merely adds to what makes the show important: big band and ballroom are now a living part of the culture, which means that they are interacting with the other parts of the culture, good and bad.
It is not often that a part of the culture that had been lost is restored to us, at least partially. It offers hope that the same can be done with other values and ideas that have also been lost and are also desperately needed.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
We would like to reward all our loyal old customers and reward our many new customers by offering a free steak lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday until the Government goes bankrupt sometime next spring.
*All customers will receive a high quality 50 oz. steak cooked to perfection by Alice
*Side orders include salad, baked potato, green beans, carrots and black eyed peas
*Deserts include ice cream, apple pie and our world famous “LSD Alice Cake”
Anarchist Arlo Guthrie will provide entertainment and song!
Alice's Restaurant is now located on Babcock Street and NASA Blvd. in beautiful Melbourne, Florida across from Hooter's
At a panel discussion sponsored by The Politico, several top Republican officials were debating the cause of their loss in the 2006 congressional elections. There was a surprising amount of whining and buck-passing, but the award for evasion went to former Senator Rick Santorum, who explained his defeat in 2006 by declaring that he was undone by that year's downturn in the Iraq War. Republicans in Congress were not responsible for this, he explained, because they had done everything they could to "support the president," but the Bush administration had let them down. Congressional Republicans were—and this is an exact quote—"victims of circumstance."
Do you see the mind-set behind this statement? Santorum's attitude is: I am not required to know or learn anything about war, or to exercise independent judgment regarding the administration's policies. After all, I'm just a senator. My only job is to show political loyalty to the president—and outsource to him all of the decisions regarding the management of the war. It is a total abdication of Santorum's responsibility as an elected official.
To be sure, it is not a senator's job to micromanage the fighting of a war, nor should we welcome the prospect of 535 self-appointed generals in Washington trying to tell the troops in the field what to do. But it is still a senator's responsibility to monitor the progress of the war, to criticize its execution when it is failing, and to advocate any policy that will lead to a swifter victory. Think, for example, of John McCain's early support for the surge, even while the administration was still resisting it.
I thought of all of this recently when I saw a much worse example of this same attitude, not from a senator, but from the president himself. At the international economic summit, President Bush told reporters, "I'm a free-market person, until you're told that if you don't take decisive measures then it's conceivable that our country could go into a depression greater than the Great Depression."
This explains the events of the past two months. A panicked Treasury Secretary barged into the Oval Office to tell the president that the sky was falling—and Bush did not believe it was his responsibility to know or learn anything about finance, or to exercise independent judgment regarding Paulson's advice. Instead, he simply put the Treasury Secretary in charge (which is increasingly looking like a bad decision) and handed to reins of the economy over to him.
The modern politician is essentially second-hand in his method of thinking and making decisions. There are exceptions, on an issue where a leader is personally engaged and willing to regard it as non-negotiably real. (One such exception, for example, is President Bush's decision to order the surge against the advice of the top Pentagon brass.) But for the most part, they are afraid to act on their own judgment and instead look for a conventional consensus to stick with, in the hope that if they swim with the general current, no one can single them out for blame when things go wrong.
If you think Obama is any better, consider the main condition he put on the proposed bailout of the Detroit automakers.
My hope is that over the course of the next week, between the White House and Congress, the discussions are shaped around providing assistance, but making sure that that assistance is conditioned on labor, management, suppliers, lenders—all the stakeholders coming together with a plan.
In other words, Barack Obama's plan is to have a plan. Or rather, his plan is that someone else will somehow come up with a plan to make the Big Three profitable. But what if all of the "stakeholders" get together to create this plan, and it doesn't work? This is inevitable, actually, given that the primary drain on GM is the first of the "stakeholders" listed by Obama: labor, i.e., the UAW. So what happens when the plan fails and GM ends up being permanently dependent on ever-larger grafts of government funding?
No doubt Obama will proclaim that he supported the Big Three and they let him down—but that he can't be blamed because he was a victim of circumstance.
Monday, November 24, 2008
One wants to ask the Wall Street wizards who comprise the talent pool for the incoming administration, "If you so smart, how come you ain't rich no more?"
Manhattan's toniest private schools, harder to get into than Harvard, quietly are looking for full-tuition pupils now that the children of sacked Wall Street bankers are departing for public schools in cheaper suburbs. Harvard University president Drew Faust has warned of budget cuts to come due to "unprecedented losses" to its US$39 billion endowment.
Shares of Citibank, the current firm of Bill Clinton's treasury secretary Robert Rubin, last week traded at less than a tenth of their year-earlier market price and may require yet another federal bailout. [Citigroup will have more than $300 billion of troubled mortgages and other assets guaranteed by the US government under a federal plan to stabilize the lender after its stock fell 60% last week, Bloomberg reported today, November 24. Citigroup also will get a $20 billion cash infusion from the Treasury Department, adding to the $25 billion the bank received last month under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In return for the cash and guarantees, the government will get $27 billion of preferred shares paying an 8% dividend.]
Rubin, a transition advisor to president-elect Barack Obama, was mentor to Treasury secretary designate Timothy Geithner. Even Goldman Sachs, the thoroughbred trading machine that gave us Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson as well as Rubin, is trading at a fifth of its peak value.
These facts came to mind while reading David Brooks' November 21 New York Times panegyric to Obama's prospective cabinet, which gushes, "Its members are twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them, three times if you include the columnists." Brooks added, "... as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons ... I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition."
Has Brooks checked the markets? The cleverest people in the United States, the Ivy-pedigreed investment bankers, have fouled their own nests as well as their own net worth, and persuaded the taxpayers to bail them out. If these are the best and the brightest of 2008, America is in very deep trouble.
The one-trick wizards of Wall Street had one idea, which was to ride the trend and pile on as much leverage as credulous investors and crony regulators would allow. It has gone pear-shaped, and those who didn't cash out early along with the cynics are poor. Fortunately for them, Obama will let them play with the budget of the US federal government for the next four years.
Failed financiers run the Obama transition team. It used to be that the heads of great industrial companies got the top Cabinet posts. Now it is the one-trick wizards. After George W Bush fired former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who had run Alcoa, the last survivor of the species was Vice President Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton. Obama's bevy of talent comes from finance. American industrialists have become figures of ridicule, like the pathetic chief executive of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, begging for a government loan.
Stocks rallied on November 22 on reports that Obama would give the Treasury post to Geithner, the New York Federal Reserve Bank president and the architect of the biggest bailout in history. He doubled the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet to more than $2 trillion, through the purchase of such risky assets as the commercial paper of near-bankrupt American auto companies. That is in addition to the Treasury's $700 billion bailout plan. Investors like the idea of trillion-dollar transfers from public funds to private companies.
Former Treasury secretary Rubin "was an architect of the [Citibank's] strategy," the New York Times reported on November 23. "In 2005, as Citigroup began its effort to expand from within, Mr Rubin peppered his colleagues with questions as they formulated the plan. According to current and former colleagues, he believed that Citigroup was falling behind rivals like Morgan Stanley and Goldman, and he pushed to bulk up the bank's high-growth fixed-income trading, including the [structured credit] business. Former colleagues said Mr Rubin also encouraged [former Citibank CEO Charles] Prince to broaden the bank's appetite for risk, provided that it also upgraded oversight - though the Federal Reserve later would conclude that the bank's oversight remained inadequate."
A case in point is the reported implosion of the Harvard and Yale endowments. For years, these giant funds were held up as proof that superior intelligence was the ticket to excess returns. During the 10 years through 2007, Harvard and Yale produced compound annual returns of 15% and 17.8% respectively, far better than the market, the average endowment or the average hedge funds - only to blow up in 2008 by frightful proportions not yet released.
According to a recent study, the "super endowments" sailed past their peers by loading up real estate, commodities, and "private equity", precisely the sectors that underwent necrosis this year. Private equity is the subprime version of corporate finance, acquiring non-public companies with a minimum down payment and the maximum of debt.
David Swenson, the legendary manager of the Yale Endowment, learned one trick: buy on dips in the equity market with all the borrowed money he could get. The alumni network on Wall Street made sure that the university endowments were first in line for the hottest deals. That worked until 2008. We do not know how far the private equity holdings of Harvard and Yale have fallen, but the traded equity price of the Blackstone Group, a leading private equity firm, is a fair gauge. It is down from its $35 initial offering last year to only $4.65 today, a drop of 87%. Commodities, meanwhile, have fallen by half.
For a quarter of a century, the inbred products of the Ivy League puppy mills have known nothing but a rising trend in asset prices. About the origin of this trend, they were incurious. The Reagan administration had encountered a stock market in 1981 trading 50% below its the long-term trend. Reagan restored the equity market to trend by cutting taxes, suppressing inflation and easing some regulations. The private equity sharps were fleas traveling on Reagan's dog. They simply rode the trend with the maximum of leverage.
Now that the stock market has collapsed, the private equity strategies cannot repay their debt, and their returns have evaporated. Note that equity investors spent a decade in the cold, from 1973 to 1983; it may be even worse this time. The maturities on debt issued to finance private equity deals will come due long before the recovery.
Over the long term, we know that the average investment cannot grow faster than the economy, for investments ultimately are valued according to cash flows, and cash flows stem from economic growth. Real American gross domestic product grew by 2% a year on average between 1929 and 2007. Whence came the enormous returns to the Ivy League? Some of them surely came from betting on the right horses, but most came from privileged access to leverage.
One recalls Ferdinand I of Austria (1793-1875), deposed for incompetence after the 1848 Revolution, who apocryphally shot an eagle, and said: "It's got to be an eagle, but it's only got one head!" Ferdinand thought the two-headed bird of his family crest was the norm, just as the pink-shirted, suspender-wearing Ivy Leaguers thought that two-digit returns were the norm for their investments.
The same privileged access to leverage allowed the investment banks to produce return on equity in excess of 20% year in, year out, by selling structured products, as I explained in a recent essay (Lehman and the end of the era of leverage, Asia Times Online, September 16, 2008). For the 10 years through 2007, American homeowners joined the party, with returns in excess of 20% of their home equity (10% home price appreciation more than doubles with leverage).
Investment banks were levered long the leverage, so to speak. The more leverage the world demanded, the more Wall Street could charge for ever-more-arcane methods of packaging leverage, and the higher the returns to leverage providers.
That explains how a Washington political operative like Rahm Emanuel, now Obama's chief of staff, who studied ballet rather than balance sheets, could earn a reported $16.2 million in two-and-a-half years at Wasserstein Perella, the mergers and acquisitions boutique. At the height of the bubble, Bruce Wasserstein's firm sold out to Germany's Dresdner Bank for the fairy-tale sum of $1.6 billion. Even the crumbs from Wasserstein's loaf could make a Chicago politician rich.
Without leverage, the clever folk around Barack Obama are fleas without a dog. None of them invented anything, introduced an important new product, opened a new market, or did anything that reached into the lives of ordinary people. They wore expensive cufflinks, read balance sheets, exercised regularly, sat on philanthropic boards, and assumed that their flea's ride on the Reagan dog would last forever.
All they knew was leverage, and now that the world is de-levering, they are trying to put leverage back into the system. One almost can hear Mortimer Duke, Don Ameche's charcter in Trading Places, shouting, "Now, you listen to me! I want trading reopened right now. Get those brokers back in here! Turn those machines back on!"
Of course, nothing excludes the possibility that Obama's team will come up with something constructive. But there is no reason to expect a drastic change from the crisis response of the same sort of people (starting with Treasury Secretary Paulson) in the Bush administration. They will bail out incompetent, failing firms and drop money from helicopters and call it a stimulus package. And it will turn out no better than it did for the humiliated Republicans.
Fucking Al Qaeda!
They called The Boss Nigger a "House Negro!"
This is absolute bullshit!
Only Americans get to call The Boss Nigger Obama, "a House Negro" or an "Uncle Tom!"
Foreigners...especially Camel Jockey Sand Nigger Al Qaeda Terrorist Scum shall be executed on sight for disrespecting The High Lord Messiah Magic Negro BOSS NIGGER President For Life Obama!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Apparently, Zelig has now been elected president. Barack Obama's chameleon-like transformation into an inside-the-beltway conformist continues as he drops his campaign promise to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military.
He doesn't say that, exactly. What he says is stuff like this: "Repealing the ban was an Obama campaign promise. However, Mr. Obama first wants to confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his new political appointees at the Pentagon to reach a consensus and then present legislation to Congress, the advisers said." Translating this from Washington-speak to Hollywood-speak, it means: don't call us, we'll call you.
But the far left still hasn't noticed—or rather, it hasn't dared to notice, for fear of realizing how much of the energy it poured into Obama has been wasted. The quiet unease on the left is catalogued here.
But again I have to warn: be as un-reassured as you have the wits to be. Obama has backtracked on dozens of campaign promises, but not on some of the most important ones, including socialized medicine and "cap-and-trade" energy rationing.
Speaking of hypocrisy, and of global warming, journalist Claudia Rosett has a wonderful piece in Forbes reporting on life among the greenwashed glitterati, the wealthy and powerful who attend a green-themed black-tie fund-raiser.
Among high-society power brokers, going "green" has become the retort to all vices and ticket to all virtues. What that actually means depends on whom you talk to. But increasingly it entails a mix of earth-tone-themed high-ticket events and plans for international bureaucrats in cahoots with big business to regulate the entire economy of the planet.
The comic highlight of the evening is a recorded message broadcast to the event from a UN bureaucrat who has advocated "a global meat-free day each week." Rosett wryly notes, "apparently, with ginger-marinated French-cut breast of chicken on the dinner menu, this wasn't one of them."
Of course, there are people who take the green creed a little more seriously—not that you have to take them seriously. Forbes also carries an unintentionally amusing article on people who not only spend thousands of dollars to convert their hybrid cars into full electric plug-ins, but who go so far as to drastically alter their driving habits in an attempt to get even better mileage. Here is part of the description.
Get behind the wheel of a Prius with Bradlee Fons in the front passenger seat, and you get a new take on traffic laws. Stop signs? Waste of gas, he jokes. Red light ahead? Slow down to a crawl until it turns green. On hills, apply only a tiny burst of battery power followed by a long, listless drift before another jolt is applied. From the backseat a fellow student says, "Intellectually this makes a lot of sense, but emotionally it's wrecking me."
As I rode gravity down 23rd St. in hilly San Francisco, an impatient Honda honked and angrily peeled out around me with a snort of rubber from its tires. Does my carbon footprint include that wasted energy? The voice in the backseat, now weak and shaky, says, "We need an orange triangle. Like the Amish."
If you think this is absurd, you are missing the point. To a normal person, an automobile is a tool to serve our convenience. To the environmentalists, the whole purpose is for us to inconvenience ourselves as much as possible, as a form of religious devotion.
Here is how one of them puts it: "You hear when the gas engine comes on and become more mindful of things like soft tires or books in the trunk that are cutting your efficiency. You're constantly thinking about how to improve your mileage."
All of this worrying is directed at trying to prevent or avoid the best thing about this fascinating modern age we live in: the enormous amount of energy that is at our disposal, and all of the worry and effort that our machines are meant to spare us.
a In that vein, I wanted to pass along a recommendation from a reader. Rolf Penner sent me a link to a YouTube clip of a very funny late-night talk show segment with a comedian who points to the absurdity that "everything's amazing and nobody's happy." He actually takes as his theme the extraordinary technological advances of the modern world, and our ingratitude for them.
Maybe someday we will all be able to look back and laugh at the global warming hysteria, too.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
1. "Always and Everywhere a False God" It has been two months since Hank Paulson launched his efforts to stimulate the economy through massive government intervention. But the more stimulants Doctor Paulson prescribes, the more depressed the patient seems to get.
The net result of Paulson's effort to shore up the financial markets is that the Dow has collapsed, wiping out six years of wealth creation. The net result of his effort to revive home lending is that new home construction has dropped to a 50-year low. And the net result of his effort to support failing banks is that the share prices of banks have collapsed even farther than the market in general.
The obvious conclusion, drawn by John Tamny in the article linked to below, is that it is precisely Paulson's belief in the necessity of government intervention that has caused economic failure everywhere he has intervened. This leads Tamny to conclude, in a very appropriate phrase, that "government intervention in the private economy is always and everywhere a false God."
"Bank Share Collapse Points to the Failure of TARP," John Tamny, RealClearMarkets, November 20 When Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced last month that he would use TARP funds to directly buy shares of banking firms, many on the left and right rejoiced. With an alleged run on the banks in progress, federal dollars borrowed from a private sector already short on risk capital would supposedly lead to a revivification of the banking system.
To its proponents, Paulson's plan surely sounded nice amid frightened markets, but so far the results have shown yet again that government intervention in the private economy is always and everywhere a false God. Since mid-October the shares of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are respectively down 45, 51 and 60 percent. Many would note that this past month has been a difficult one for stocks generally, but over that same timeframe, the S&P 500 has fallen a relatively pedestrian 11 percent. It's also notable that the shares of San Antonio based Frost Bank, a banking concern that refused TARP funds, are down a scant 4 percent.
None of this should surprise us. By definition, federal money invested in private companies can only weaken them. Money supplied absent the sometimes rough hand of market discipline allows its unlucky recipients to delay the changes that brought them to the brink of collapse to begin with, all the while allowing the architects of those same mistakes to remain in place. It can't be stressed enough that companies don't so much fail due to lack of money as they collapse because investors lose faith in the executives in charge.
But even more problematic is that despite Paulson's protests otherwise, there is no such thing as a government handout that doesn't come with strings attached…. Treasury has made it clear that banks must aggressively lend in order to lift the economy out of the ditch. That being the case, it's very apparent that to the degree banks comply, more non-economic lending will materialize such that the seeds of the next financial crisis are being planted right now.
2. Why Bubbles Burst I am generally skeptical about dismissing periods of economic enthusiasm—and even economic speculation—as a "bubble." It is too often used by statists as a way of dismissing the productive achievements of the free market as false or illusory, while dodging responsibility for their own role in putting an end to that period of economic growth.
The attitude I am against is the one expressed in the comments field of the main article I link to in item #3 below: "That dream of eternal appreciation of real estate was the only thing that gave the US economic cadaver the appearance of life for the past 10 years."
Ten years of economic growth and production was an illusion, masking the fact that the economy was really dead? It is an utterly implausible idea.
What is far more plausible is that most "bubbles"—while they may include speculative excesses, particularly in certain markets—are really economic boom times driven for the most part by genuine fundamentals. What, then, causes this so-called "bubble" to burst? My own view is that the primary factor is a change in the fundamentals—typically in the form of new government action that undermines the sources of the previous prosperity.
The 1929 market crash, for example, coincided with the legislative progress of the infamous Smoot-Hawley tariff act, which practically shut down international trade and launched the Great Depression. Is this what the crash was anticipating? And will we see our own equivalent of Smoot-Hawley in this financial crisis?
An article at RealClearPolitics ponders a potential shift by Obama and congressional Democrats toward an assault on free trade. But then again, given his reversals on virtually every issue, who knows what Obama will actually do?
But I think the bigger threat is cap-and-trade. If there is to be a new recession, cap-and-trade will be its Smoot-Hawley, the point at which Congress recklessly—or in this case, deliberately—destroys a key factor behind America's prosperity.
And here the signs are very ominous. Congressional Democrats have replaced pro-automobile Michigan congressman John Dingell with pro-environmentalist congressman Henry Waxman as the chairman of a crucial House committee. It is a move intended to clear the way for cap-and-trade energy rationing.
And Obama is now openly endorsing this kind of legislation and promising to provide energized new leadership in promoting it.
"Obama Promises 'New Chapter' in Climate Leadership," Eoin O'Carroll, Christian Science Monitor, November 19 Barack Obama delivered a brief video message Wednesday to the Governors' Global Climate Summit in Beverly Hills, Calif., in which he unequivocally affirmed the scientific basis of climate change and vowed to take action on cutting carbon emissions, in spite of the troubled global economy….
For Obama, "the science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear." The president-elect promised a federal cap-and-trade system that would mandate that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, and then reduced an additional 80 percent by 2050….
Environmentalists welcomed Obama's commitment, which is only the second major policy announcement made by the president-elect.
3. Bold and Persistent Experimentation FDR famously promised to fight the Great Depression with "bold, persistent experimentation." The result was ten more years of economic destruction—precisely because of FDR's bold and persistent experimentation, in which he experimented with everything except leaving individuals free to make their own economic decisions.
Unfortunately, this has also been the effect of Hank Paulson's ever-shifting plans for the TARP bailout money. In a New York Post column, Jonah Goldberg very succinctly states the result of Paulson's fevered activity: "A main reason there's all of this 'money on the sidelines' out there among private investors is that Wall Street doesn't know what the government will do next."
Most ominously, Barack Obama is getting a lot of advice these days telling him to act like an even bolder and more vigorous FDR. See the truly appalling Richard Cohen column below, which is all the more appalling because he admits that none of this experimentation worked and that after nearly a decade in office, FDR had failed to end the Great Depression.
Will Obama listen to Cohen's advice? Goldberg provides a chilling quote from a recent Obama appearance: "What you see in FDR that I hope my team can emulate is not always getting it right, but projecting a sense of confidence and a willingness to try things and experiment in order to get people working again." Now that prospect ought to make your blood run cold.
"Finding His Inner FDR," Richard Cohen, Washington Post, November 18 Enough Lincoln. More FDR. This is my shorthand advice to Barack Obama, who in several interviews has talked about wanting to emulate Abraham Lincoln….
[T]he one quality Roosevelt had that Lincoln, at least in his popular portrayal, did not is sheer exuberance…. It was his jaunty enthusiasm and his willingness to try almost anything to break the back of the Great Depression that mattered most. It had to—after all, in the end, nothing worked.
The revisionist take on Roosevelt is contained in Amity Shlaes's book "The Forgotten Man." She argues that New Deal programs not only failed to lift the country out of the Depression, they made things worse. Shlaes has been criticized on this point, but her overall argument is beyond dispute: The New Deal did not end the Depression. World War II did….
The solution is out there...somewhere. [Ellipses in original.] But it will take time and trial to find it. Obama knows this. It was one of the things he mentioned on "60 Minutes." But what he might not appreciate is that among his many gifts, the one that might matter most is how close he can come to Rooseveltian enthusiasm—that optimism, that capacity for empathy that made so many ordinary people love this rich man and stick with him.
4. The End of the Road In yesterday's article, I mentioned how our economic downturn is causing even worse problems for dictators like Hugo Chavez. I also came across an in-depth article with observations on the situation in Venezuela, which describes the general view of decent folk in Caracas: "The overwhelming sentiment is that Chavez is doing so much damage to himself and the economy that he will self-destruct."
But the Venezuelans should not be so complacent, and neither should we. The evidence shows that when a nation embarks on the road to serfdom, there is no disaster that will dissuade socialism's hard-core supporters from pursuing their nihilistic ideal.
They won't stop until they achieve total collapse and total misery. And no, I am not exaggerating. If you want to see the end of the socialist road, witness the starvation and mass death in Zimbabwe. I caution, however, that the stories of life (and death) in an artificial famine can make for pretty brutal reading.
Zimbabwe is only a few steps further down the road Venezuela is traveling—and on which we have just taken our first steps. Read the article below, and be as un-reassured as you have the wits to be.
"Hungry in Zimbabwe: 'If You Rest, You Starve'," AP via MSNBC, November 19 Katy Phiri, who is in her 70s, picks up single corn kernels spilled from trucks that ferry the harvest to market. She says she hasn't eaten for three days.
Rebecca Chipika, a child of 9, prods a stick into a termite mound to draw out insects. She sweeps them into a bag for her family's evening meal.
These scenes from a food catastrophe are unfolding in Doma, a district of rural Zimbabwe where journalists rarely venture. It's a stronghold of President Robert Mugabe's party and his enforcers and informants are everywhere….
Shingirayi Chiyamite is a trader from Harare who brings household goods to the countryside to barter for crops. He says a 12-inch bar of laundry soap exchanges for 22 pounds of corn. He crisscrosses the land in search of the few villages that have corn to spare, hauls his purchases to the highway and hitchhikes back to the city. Some of the corn will feed his family, the rest he sells. He is constantly on the move.
"If you rest, you starve," he says….
Mhangura, a town of about 3,000 people, has had no running water for months. Power outages happen daily because of a lack of cash to maintain utilities. People walk about three miles to a dam to fill pails or gasoline cans….
"There's nothing here. People are dying of illness and hunger. Burial parties are going out every day," said Michael Zava, a trader in Mhangura….
The food crisis began after 2000, when Mugabe launched an often violent campaign to seize white-owned farms and give them to veterans of his guerrilla war against white rule over the former British colony….
Jackals, baboons and goats compete with villagers for roots and wild fruits.
5. Will Mr. Rearden Do Something? What will save us from becoming Zimbabwe—aside from the pro-liberty efforts of the better politicians and intellectuals—is what has always kept the world afloat. To borrow a phrase from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Mr. Rearden will do something. The great achievers in the realm of technology and business will continue to create the advances that keep us moving forward and prevent a collapse into a new Dark Age.
Here's another example: scientists have made another enormous step forward to being able to create whole replacement organs from scratch, grown from the patient's own stem cells. It is a major step forward in mankind's quest for immortality: the ability to simply replace damaged body parts.
"British Doctors Help Perform World's First Transplant of a Whole Organ Grown in Lab," Kate Devlin, Daily Telegraph, November 19 Surgeons replaced the damaged windpipe of Claudia Castillo, a 30-year-old mother of two, with one created from stem cells grown in a laboratory at Bristol University.
Because the new windpipe was made from cells taken from Ms. Castillo's own body, using a process called "tissue engineering", she has not needed powerful drugs to prevent her body rejecting the organ.
Avoiding the use of these drugs means she will not be at an increased risk of cancer and other diseases unlike other transplant patients—another significant advance….
Scientists hailed the procedure as a breakthrough and predicted surgeons could be regularly replacing hearts with laboratory-grown organs within 20 years….
Every year more than 1,000 patients in Britain die on transplant waiting lists, prompting scientists to consider other ways to produce organs. Ms Castillo's operation required a section of windpipe from an organ donor as a "scaffold" for the stem cells—meaning the technique will not immediately solve the shortage of donor organs. However, it is hoped that eventually artificial scaffolds can be made which would avoid the need for donor organs completely.
Without the operation, surgeons would have had to remove one of Ms Castillo's lungs, which would have reduced her life expectancy dramatically, said Professor Paolo Macchiarini, who performed the surgery at the Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, in June.