Thursday, April 30, 2009

Welcome to the Party, Mr. President

Mr. President, I am thrilled you have noticed the Tea Party movement. I know the day after nearly a million people attended Tea Parties across the nation Mr. Gibbs said you hadn't noticed.

But, yesterday, in St. Louis, you said:
"Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I'm not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security.”
Mr. President, you do have a habit of attacking straw men. We definitely agree - I and think I speak for most of those demonstrating on April 15th - that a serious conversation is needed about all your grandiose plans. We wish we thought you weren't serious, and we're seeing now that you understand we are serious. Heck, even a serious soliloquy on your part would have been appreciated, so an invitation to dialog is a wonderful thing. I'll start.

We need to start our serious conversation by recognizing that we cannot afford to add over $600 billion to spending on health care, as you, Mr. President have proposed. Your good intentions to save money this way are naive, and can only work through rationing. We should take a lesson from other countries where health care is "paid for" by the government and is, perforce, universally rationed. You never mention that when you speak of the "investment."

I agree we must abandon the failed policy of employer subsidized health care ushered in during WWII. General Motors, for one excellent example, offered health care to its workers because the government let them deduct it, and because GM needed some way to attract and keep talented employees under federal wage and price controls. Government fecklessness was the beginning of this mess, and the beginning of the end for GM. We've learned nothing from the 3 obvious lessons above, or at least you haven't. Offering government health care to fix this decades long corporatist problem will just make it worse.

Government already controls over half of all health care expenditures in this country, and that, and the accompanying regulations, are the biggest barriers to the competition that would help reduce costs. If you are successful in taking over health care it will become the single largest reason for doctors to quit being doctors - already an issue.

It is true that even with such massive government intervention there are entrepreneurs proving costs can be dramatically lowered. You propose to stop such innovation and replace it with scarcity managed by bureaucrats.

As to intentions, let's take the instance of the increase in tobacco tax that is intended to fund SCHIP, children's health care. This is a good intention, but the tax disproportionately affects lower income people and it will increase the cost of health care in direct proportion to the improvement in health of the people who live longer because they quit smoking. Better to let them pay for the cigarettes and for the health care entirely on their own.

To fix Social Security we must acknowledge that the general government has been lying and stealing, conducting a ponzi scheme, for decades, and that the reason Social Security is already insolvent is because government could not control its greed. Any private enterprise would be fearful of prosecution under RICO. Even in the face of this fact, your predecessor gave us the largest single entitlements increase in our history. You promise to quadruple his error.

You want to fix education by federalizing it and dumping in more money. By that measure Washington, D.C. should already have the most successful public education system in the United States. It is difficult to grant you the benefit of the doubt here due to your direct involvement in failed experiments in Chicago. To fix education we must turn it back to the States and allow experimentation, in vivid contrast to the recent shameful actions of your administration in canceling a successful vouchers program in Washington, D.C..

Addressing our energy future by doubling down on failed subsidization policies is simply perpetuating the corporate welfare scheme both your predecessors ran on behalf of the ethanol pirates. We should be encouraging private industry to build nuclear plants, and we should do so by repealing unnecessary regulation - which will also save the general government money. We should encourage windmills and solar in the same way, by getting out of the way. If they can't make their way, so be it.

I must say I am happy to hear you'd like to have a serious conversation with the Tea Party movement, because I am really worried there won't be any debate in Congress. As I'm sure you know the Senate Democrats voted yesterday, alone, to pass the outline of your $3.4 trillion budget. They are threatening to invoke reconciliation, which, as I'm certain you know from your many years as Senator, reduces the final vote required to pass a bill to a simple majority and limits debate to 20 hours. Even Senator Byrd finds this outrageous when it involves a budget bill. When that bill involves well over $3 trillion, any serious person must wonder if you even have a clue what that means.

I am disappointed that the world's greatest deliberative body will probably have very little time in which to debate the implications of your unprecedented increase in spending and the effect your policies are likely to have on the quality of health care, the cost of energy, job creation, and the further mediocritization of American education your Faustian bargain with the NEA necessitates. If your plans for massive additional intrusion into the lives of American citizens by the general government come to fruition it will damage this country severely, perhaps irreparably. And that will hurt the whole world.

Mr. President, I heard you say you would prefer not to be forced by circumstances to be in the banking or automobile businesses and that you don't want to expand government. Like many things you say this is quite clever and partially true, but it hides the real point. Why, indeed, would you be satisfied with ownership of a moribund automobile industry and the boring business of finance? After all, these things are small potatoes compared to the health care and energy industries, and are minuscule compared to future dividends promised by the federalization of the indoctrination industry. Sadly, your ambitions are not nearly so small as General Motors or Bank of America.

So, let me know, I'll be there for a substantive discussion at your convenience. Maybe we can even touch on the concept of minority rights if you have time.

Obama's first hundred days

...from page 1 of yesterday's LSJ:
I think he has done a terrific job based on the challenges he has faced. There hasn't been a president who has walked into the job with so many challenges1 to face. He has assembled a team of very capable people2 around him, and I have every confidence that his policies will fix what's wrong3 with America."
-Brian Fredline, president UAW Local 602
Emphasis mine.

Let me just say -

1 Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR.

2 Biden, Clinton, Geithner, Gibbs, Cardela and Napolitano. (Buffoon count only)

3
Too many GM employees and retirees being paid too much.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poll paradox?

Nope. What this poll actually demonstrates is that most people are shortsighted, self-absorbed, economic ignoramuses whose "knowledge" of history would improve if they forgot 80% of it.

Just like the President.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tea-trolls

Jan-2004. Click to enlarge.

This is just one of many criticisms of George Bush's wild spending I've made.

This is just one answer to speeches questions like, "Well, (chortle) where were your teabagger (giggle) protests when Boosh was ravaging the economy with his war-mongering spending and lack of (tee-hee) regulation? Huh? Huh? It's his fault. What's this have to do with taxes, teabagger (snicker)?"

These are diatribes questions you can pose only when you insist the words "Hitler" and/or "Chimp" are required to validate criticism of our last President. You also must be willing to believe that if Bush had proposed quintupling his excesses with a carbon tax, nationalization of health care, the banks and the auto industry, that there would have been no objection.

I've been principled, which is far more than the vast majority of Obama supporters can say. I criticized Bush's profligacy, and I criticize Obama's fiscal insanity.

JIC you have not seen it already

I've had a 48 hour internet failure so there are several things backed up. I just had a chance to view this.

I love Liz Cheney for her refusal to let the news-person define the debate and for her command of the facts.

Awesome.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cubs v Dodgers - April 25, 1966

33 years ago today Rick Monday suppressed the "free speech" of a couple of trespassers. Of course, this particular attempt at expression of free speech was not free speech at all. The rest of us are not required to provide the venue, something the left has never understood.

Which is why they want to re-instate the "Fairness" doctrine.

H/T MC

Friday, April 24, 2009

Congressman Rogers' energy plans

It has been over a month since I asked Representative Mike Rogers to take a "no earmarks" pledge. I have heard nothing, not even a form letter. Today, I get this email.
I would like to update you on [sic] regarding my work to promote clean energy and a healthy environment in Michigan and across the globe. I appreciate the opportunity to contact you.

I believe we need to reduce emissions to stem climate change, and even more importantly, I know we can reduce emissions to protect the planet AND create new jobs in Michigan. To do this we must first make sure that we protect the many families who are struggling through difficult times. For example, one in five families are behind on their energy bills. These families are carrying and average balance of $160 on electric bills and $360 for natural gas. In Michigan, this problem is even more intense with one in three families behind on their utility bills. Faced with these terrible facts, I believe we simply cannot raise prices any further on hard-working, struggling families. And unfortunately, Cap and Tax will raise prices. Everyone from Michigan Representative John Dingell who called this plan "a tax, a great big one" to President Obama who has said that cap and tax will cause electric rates to "skyrocket," have acknowledged this fact.

Instead, I believe we must embrace Michigan's best natural resource, our people. By investing in people through incentives instead of mandates, we can harness the creativity and work ethic of our great state to protect our precious environment.

That is why I have worked to pass the law that helped create "Energy Star" computer server rules, dramatically reducing the electricity used by computer server farms, one of the fastest growing electricity users. It is also why I fought the Bush administration to pass auto loan guarantees for auto makers and auto suppliers, so they have the help they need to design and build new, cleaner cars. And it is why I am now working to create a new clean energy plan that will create jobs in clean energy through:

- New investment in wind, solar and hydroelectric power, creating over 200,000 jobs and producing at least 15% of our electricity from totally clean, renewable energy.

- New tax credits so families can afford to install energy efficient windows, insulation and efficient appliances.

- A cash for clunkers program that will get 2 million old cars off the road, and traded in for new, fuel-efficient American-made cars.

These efforts can be successful because they provide us with incentives to invest in clean energy, to save money by using better technology, and to take a job, a "green job," in a new clean energy economy. Again, I appreciate the opportunity to contact you. Should you have any questions or concerns in the future, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Mike Rogers has lost my vote. I won't vote for his opponent either, unless that person calls BS on Congressman Rogers' belief that I'm an idiot. Yes, Mike, Barack Obama is wrong on this and all I ask is that you recognize why; instead of this pandering buy-in to pseudo-science devoid of real solutions.

...


Even before I could proofread and post the above, I got another email from Congressman Rogers:
I would like to update you on my recent efforts to create a clean energy economy in Michigan. I appreciate the opportunity to contact you.

As you may know, Congress is now considering a "Cap and Tax" system that would place a new limit and tax on green house gases like carbon dioxide. I strongly support reducing carbon dioxide emissions through new technology and innovation. Yet, Michigan Congressman John Dingell, who called this plan "a tax, a great big one" to President Obama who has said that cap and tax will cause electric rates to "skyrocket," there is a growing understanding that Cap and Tax will cause energy bills to rise and for manufacturing jobs to disappear. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, a cap and tax could cost Michigan as many as 121,000 jobs by 2030 and increase the price of gasoline as much as 141% and electricity by 177%.

In Michigan we have the opportunity to take another path, and to lead America into a clean energy future. Michigan's best natural resource, her citizens, hold the most potential to lead into a clean energy economy.

That is why I support the following to reduce carbon emissions:

- A cash for clunkers program that will get 2 million old cars off the road, and traded in for new, American made cars. Creating and saving 190,000 American auto industry jobs.

- A new investment in nuclear energy which has zero emissions, creating over 70,000 new, permanent jobs

- New investment in wind, solar and hydroelectric power, creating over 200,000 jobs and producing at least 15% of our electricity from totally clean, renewable energy.

- New tax credits so regular families can afford to install energy efficient windows, insulation and efficient appliances.

These efforts can be successful because they provide us all with incentives to invest in clean energy, to save money by using better technology, and to take a job, a "green job," in a new clean energy economy. Please know that I will never stop fighting for Michigan jobs.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to contact you. Should you have any questions or concerns in the future, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
A typo's fixed and some gobbledegook is rearranged. He should have mentioned nuclear in the first place and should not have pretended there is any such thing as a "green job" aside from that guy who used to work for Captain Kangaroo.

Here's the merged summary of Congressman Rogers' energy proposals with comment:
- A cash for clunkers program that will get 2 million old cars off the road, and traded in for new, American made cars. Creating and saving 190,000 American auto industry jobs.
Those would be part of the 4 million jobs Obama's going to create or save, I suppose. And, I further suppose, you can only spend the "cash" on cars the government approves. But why is it the job of the general government to pay me for my old car or tell me what I have to buy with the proceeds? Why should I pay taxes for this program, much less why should people in Wyoming?
- A new investment in nuclear energy which has zero emissions, creating over 70,000 new, permanent jobs
I doubt that's 70,000 jobs in Michigan, but it is the only sensible point Mr. Rogers makes. Where are the earmarks for it, then?
- New investment in wind, solar and hydroelectric power, creating over 200,000 jobs and producing at least 15% of our electricity from totally clean, renewable energy.
Waste of money. Waste of time. Stupid. Kills two jobs for every one it creates. Total. Utter. Rentseeking. Corporatist. Bullshit. When private industry proposes this without asking for a subsidy, then, and only then, will it be ready for prime time. If the general government has to pay for it, put the money into nukes.
- New tax credits so families can afford to install energy efficient windows, insulation and efficient appliances.
Not the general government's job.

See how easy that is, Mike?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Confusing, coercive and corrupt financial contracts

Our President is making a concerted effort to reform credit card issuers. Emphasis mine.

Obama Seeks Reform of Credit Card Firms' Practices
By Michael D. Shear and Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writers

..."So that if somebody gets a credit card, they don't find that their rates go up exponentially on a certain day based on fine print in a contract that no one is ever going to read, [like TARP?] or that we find out that certain fees -- you know, interest is charged, [like on the National Debt?] an interest rate is charged on certain fees involved in a credit card," [press secretary Robert] Gibbs said.

"He's going to outline and go through some principles of what he would like to see and that he believes Congress can get done [Congressman Rangel could pay his taxes?] in order to protect the American people," Gibbs added.
Obama pushing for credit-card reforms
By Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch

...Obama laid out four core principles:
  • Banning unfair rate increases, fees and penalties
  • Providing transparent and easy-to-understand forms and statements [like the IRS?]
  • Providing easy-to-access contract terms [ditto] to enable simplified comparison shopping for consumers
  • Creating more accountability in the system, with stronger monitoring and enforcement [like Secretary Geithner's tax evasion?]
Tough talk at WH for credit card execs
By CAROL E. LEE & EAMON JAVERS

...In Thursday’s meeting, Obama discussed four principles that he’d like to see included in any legislation. According to a White House statement, they included:
  • “Strong and reliable protections for consumers — protections that ban unfair rate increases and forbid abusive fees and penalties.
  • “All the forms and statements that credit card companies send out have to have plain language that is in plain sight. No more fine print, no more confusing terms and conditions.
  • “Requirement that all firms make their contract terms easily accessible and provide consumers with the information they need to go online and do some comparison shopping. It also means requiring firms to offer at least one simple, straightforward credit card that offers the strongest protections along with the simplest terms and prices. [like a flat tax?]
  • “Increased accountability in the system, so that we can hold those responsible who do engage in deceptive practices [Rangel, Geithner and many others] that hurt families and consumers. [like inflation?] This will require beefing up monitoring and enforcement, and also penalties for any violations of the law.” [Not Rangel, Geithner or any other members of the Administration, however.]
If these rules make for better credit card companies, wouldn't they also make for better government? I mean, I'd really like to go online and compare alternatives.

My credit card agreement, for example, is the very model of transparency and simplicity when compared to the tax code. No contest. And I don't remember any stories about Congressmen, Treasury Secretaries, et. al., having difficulty with their credit card payments, just their taxes.

Never mind that this "evil corporations" rhetoric will substantially reduce the availability of consumer credit and damage several recipients of TARP funds - the exact opposite of what TARP is supposed to be doing - the burning question is why can't these same principles be applied to the IRS, an organization intended to be regulated by the general government?

And where's my advance notice and opt-out form from Obama concerning the fact that my tax rates are going to go up "exponentially" (I don't think Mr. Gibbs actually knows the meaning of the word exponential.)?

I am a creditor of the general government and I think we need to rexamine the contract.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guns go South

Anybody wondering why the 2nd Amendment isn't causing uncontrollable violence in Canada like it is said to be in Mexico? I mean if it's US guns and not something else, say prohibition, shouldn't the Canadians be seeing waves of full-automatic .50 cals and grenade launchers on their streets?

Of course, in 2005 the claim was that gun crime in Canada was the fault of the US. Still is, but it's lost top billing to Mexico. Poor Mayor Miller.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mexican firepower

Late last week President Obama repeated the canard that 90% of the guns used in Mexican drug violence come from "various sources" in the United States. No less a liberal standard then the Los Angeles Times has debunked this.

Though the precise numbers are the subject of some uncertainty, the most generous reasonable interpretation is that 34% of the guns seized may be of American origin.

The 90% figure comes from the guns sent to the BATF for tracing after Mexican authorities have determined they are likely to have come from the US. The question ought to be, "Why isn't that 99%?"

In any case, no one seems to be wondering what the makeup of this armament is. There are two significant questions. 1- Are full automatic weapons and armaments such as grenades, both illegal for civilian sale in the US already, a significant portion of the arms seized and subsequently identified as US in origin? 2- What, if any, proportion of these weapons are stolen from, sold by or otherwise traceable to Mexican law enforcement or military agencies who legally imported them as part of US aid to combat illegal drugs?

I have asked the BATF for a breakdown in a letter mailed today.

April 20th, 2009

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
99 New York Ave. NE
Mail Stop 5S144
Washington, DC 20226


To whom it may concern,

I am writing regarding the issue of firearms entering Mexico from the United States.

I understand that 90% of the firearms seized by Mexican authorities in 2007 and 2008, and which are then also submitted to ATF for tracing, have been traced to "various sources" in the United States.

Can you please tell me what those various sources are and what number of firearms are in each “various source” category?

I realize some of these numbers may be imprecise, but I am particularly interested in those which should be very clear. Have any of these weapons been traced to aid provided to Mexico by the United States through official channels? That is, which, if any, of these firearms were legally imported by Mexico from United States law enforcement or military sources, or any other government departments or programs?

I assume that transfers from any programs officially sanctioned by the United States will have been precisely documented.

In addition, can you provide an overall breakdown by type of weapon, sanctioned or not? A breakdown by handguns vs long guns and the number of semi-automatic, automatic and any other types ATF may classify would be extremely helpful.


Thank you in advance,
etc.
I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why Tea Parties?

This is a long post. It could have been much longer, since it does not touch on connections between economic freedom and political freedom made by modern economic theorists such as Bastiat, von Mises, Hayek or Freidman. That's for another post. This is background and history. I will note that the links below will all repay a full reading.

I write it because I think the Tea Party movement needs to recognize that while its impetus: Disgust with astronomical spending that mandates huge tax increases and implies massive inflation (another tax) - may be necessary, it is not sufficient. A clear explanation is required of what such spending portends for liberty in general. Arguing against Medicare drug entitlements, porkulus, earmarks, and feel good policies such as the carbon tax, universal health care and "high-speed rail” is not enough. Without a tie to history, principle and philosophy – without expounding ideas and heritage – Tea Parties may result in little change. We must not miss the opportunity.

The Tea Parties, for me, have a much broader point than protesting taxes, just as did the original. Today these protests are objections to the acceleration of the growth of government under George Bush II and the acceleration of that acceleration under our current President. Taxes are only a symptom, and the left would like us to focus on that instead of the principles.

On April 15th, we were treated to this example:




The CNN “reporter” simply cannot help herself. She must tell her interviewee that he's doing it wrong, that her question isn't being answered in the “correct,” and limited, context constructed to distract us from the real issues. Her rudeness is commensurate with her disdain.

What I want to take from this, however, is not the in-your-face bias, but the foundation of that bias. Susan Roesgen asks, “What does this have to do with taxes? What does this have to do with your taxes? Do you realize that you're eligible for a $400 ... Did you know that the State of Lincoln gets (looking into the camera to emphasize how dumb this guy is) $50 billion out of the stimulus?” The unbridled condescension exhibited here is symptomatic of the decline of journalism. As such, it serves as an admirable illustration.

Susan Roesgen is a victim of the statist talking points currently being manufactured by Democrats, though certainly not their exclusive preserve. She does not think, she parrots. She does not understand the connection between taxes and spending. She is unaware of the connection between economic freedom and political freedom, a point the interviewee was trying to make. She is unable to imagine that someone might refuse to be bribed with their own money the money of their progeny in perpetuity. The MSM narrative is that last week's Tea Parties were attended by deluded apparatchiks who gathered at the behest of Fox News and "the vast right wing conspiracy" in order to complain about perfectly just taxes on the rich. These protesters are therefore too stupid to recognize where their own interest lies.

Ironically, this same misapprehension regarding taxation can be seen in English Parliamentarians of the mid-18th Century and in their Monarch, George III.

By the time of the Boston Tea Party - December 16th, 1773 - British subjects in America had already raised serious objections to lack of representation in the British Parliament. In 1765 Parliament had passed The Stamp Act, over the objections of American colonists who had sent a petition protesting the Act. A motion to read that petition in Parliament before the Stamp Act vote was denied. The colonists were not granted even the illusion of representation. Before it could be enforced, because rioting in the colonies resulted in no person being willing to collect it, the Act was rescinded.

Why was The Stamp Act seen as necessary by the British? Government debt. When the Seven Years War (usually called the French and Indian War by Americans) ended in 1763, the British had gained world-wide commercial supremacy, but the victory had come at great cost. The Crown's debt, as a result of the war, had reached more than 129 million pounds, nearly double what it had been in 1755. British citizens were being taxed so heavily that revolution in Britain was a real possibility. More revenue was required nonetheless, so The Stamp Act was extended to the colonies.

The Stamp Act required an official impression stamped into almost any piece of printed paper, from legal documents to newspapers to playing cards. Americans for the first time were faced with a direct, internal tax. From history.org:
What made the law so offensive to the colonists was not so much its immediate cost but the standard it seemed to set. In the past, taxes and duties on colonial trade had always been viewed as measures to regulate commerce, not to raise money. The Stamp Act, however, was viewed as a direct attempt by England to raise money in the colonies without the approval of the colonial legislatures. If this new tax were allowed to pass without resistance, the colonists reasoned, the door would be open for far more troublesome taxation in the future.

Few colonists believed that they could do anything more than grumble and buy the stamps until the Virginia House of Burgesses adopted Patrick Henry's Stamp Act Resolves. These resolves declared that Americans possessed the same rights as the English, especially the right to be taxed only by their own representatives; that Virginians should pay no taxes except those voted by the Virginia House of Burgesses; and that anyone supporting the right of Parliament to tax Virginians should be considered an enemy of the colony. The House of Burgesses defeated the most extreme of Henry's resolutions, but four of the resolutions were adopted. Virginia Governor Fauquier did not approve of the resolutions, and he dissolved the House of Burgesses in response to their passage.
The colonists were experiencing an economic philosophy called mercantilism,
an economic system developing during the decay of feudalism to unify and increase the power and especially the monetary wealth of a nation by a strict governmental regulation of the entire national economy usually through policies designed to secure an accumulation of bullion, a favorable balance of trade, the development of agriculture and manufactures, and the establishment of foreign trading monopolies
Mercantilists believed that if one nation hoped grow it had do so at the expense some other nation. Wealth was a zero-sum game, so they could not even conceive of free trade. Mercantilism required state control over citizens behavior. Mercantilist policies came to be designed to benefit government-commercial partnerships. Today we might call it corporate welfare or corporatism. Mussolini called a similar system fascism.

It is not an accident that Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations appeared in 1776. If the British Crown could have adopted Smith's free market ideas, the United States might be a Commonwealth nation today. From openmarket.org:
Those who say we tried the free market and it failed should research the history of the Boston Tea Party a little. We didn’t even have a free market in the 18th century, a period referred to in British history as The Whig Supremacy. Here’s the background; and to prove that there is nothing new under the sun, it involves company rent-seeking, market distortion, bailouts and stealth taxes.

As early as 1698, the English Parliament awarded the East India Company the monopoly on tea importation into England. In return the Company paid Parliament a 25% ad valorem tax on the tea imported. Now, at this stage the Company was not allowed to import tea to the American colonies, so it sold the tea it had imported into England on to other merchants, who sold it in the colonies. So even at this stage, government was distorting the tea market, by granting a monopoly to a rent-seeking company in return for revenue.

...Dutch merchants, paying no tax, were able to undercut the East India Company by exporting tea directly from Holland. This meant smugglers made a fortune importing the cheaper tea into the colonies and England as well. The result was that the rentseeker actually suffered... [and]

The East India Company faced ruin - it needed a bailout!

Then as now, the correct bailout solution would have been to remove the government-imposed barriers to business, and let the East India Company sells its teas competitively (and this was what the Company asked for). ...

[T]he Boston Tea Party was a protest against British usurpation of American liberties, not high taxes (as they had been reduced by the Tea Act 1773). Yet it was all the result of unnecessary government intervention in the market because some bright spark thought that it would be good for a company to have an income stream guaranteed by government.
The parallels to today are obvious. Still, there's the objection that today we are represented in our general government's tax legislation process. Really?

Do feel as if you were represented when our national legislators reached an agreement to spend nearly a trillion dollars without having read the bill authorizing that expenditure or considering how you would pay for it? Did you feel represented when the provisions of that same bill favored Wall Street rogues, spend-thrifts in other States, powerful unions, anti-capitalist environmentalists and the very legislators who voted for it? Did you feel represented by a Chief Executive who called the pork in a $400 billion spending bill “last year's business,” thereby breaking his oath to stop such spending? Did you feel represented when quasi-Federal agencies like Fannie Mae failed after you were angrily assured they were doing fine by the “representative” in charge? Did you feel represented when you were called a racist, by that same “representative,” for even daring to ask the question? Do you believe the Constitution grants the general government the authority to fund a tattoo removal program in Los Angeles? Do you feel represented when the Chief Executive claims he is unaware of nearly 700,000 people gathering in all 50 States to protest all of the above?

Let's assume you can answer all those questions, “Yes.” If so, you need to consider this:

Fed’s Flood May Leave Democracy Needing Bailout: Kevin Hassett
April 13 (Bloomberg) -- The wise men of Washington keep finding more core beliefs that we have to give up. First it was free markets. Now it’s democracy.

The financial rescue may be the least popular big-ticket government program in history. If the U.S. Treasury decides it needs more money to keep the bailout going, it is anybody’s guess whether Congress would provide it...

Many economists believe that helping financial institutions turn their less liquid assets into hard cash is a key step toward returning them to good footing. The best way to achieve that in a democracy would be for Congress to appropriate the funds to acquire the assets and for Treasury to borrow the money that it needs.

But Congress is unwilling to appropriate enough money, so Treasury and the Fed have cooked up a work-around: the Fed buys the assets instead. Since the Fed exists outside of the normal budget process, no permission from elected officials is required...

The Fed’s balance sheet is closing in on $2 trillion and stands ready to skyrocket above that. Last month, for example, the Fed committed to buy more than $1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities...

Should the Fed’s balance sheet climbs [sic] to $6 trillion, then its losses might be enormous and threaten to crowd out spending on defense, education and health care. And it would do so without Congress ever voting on the increase in the debt ceiling that would have been required if Treasury were performing the rescue.

If the Fed receives the authority to issue debt whenever it wants to, then future bureaucrats can, in principle, play whatever financial games they want. The powerlessness of voters will be codified into law.
Read the whole thing.

Americans did not rebel against Britain because of high taxes, they rebelled because they were not being represented, or respected, by their government. They were fed up with the abuses of that government on moral, rational, philosophical, legal and natural rights bases. They became convinced that their government no longer cared about their well being.

American rebels were not complaining that the tax on tea was too high. They were complaining that their status as free men was being trampled. That is the parallel to today's Tea Parties.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

13 and II

Check out the flag in the picture at Michigan Taxes Too Much. Click to enlarge.

I like it. Apparently that makes me a CNN hating, family unfriendly, gun clinging, racist, right wing extremist.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The 5,000 - Michigan Tea Party

Updated and bumped. The LSJ reports 5,000 in its headline.

The Michigan State Police estimate that there were four thousand nearly five thousand people at today's Tea Party in Lansing. At noon. On a work day.

I was impressed by the energy - USA! USA! USA! - and heartened by the diversity of thought expressed in signs people carried. Runaway spending was the symptom criticized most often, but many recognize that expansion of the general government is the real problem.

I've got more to say about this movement and what I hope will come from it, but for now, here are a few pictures:

Yes, Read and Uphold our Constitution.


Taken from the 5th story of a parking structure
a block away on the widest angle setting of my camera.
I couldn't get the whole crowd in even then.



Nice costume.


I'm buried in the crowd. There were just so many people.


Enjoying the day.


For more, check out Right Michigan, Michigan Taxes Too Much and OutsideLansing. The proprietors all were there. I'm certain they'll have more pictures and some thoughts worth reading.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

OoRah!

Official: US sea captain freed in swift firefight

Now, what about the surviving Somalian of a maritime looting persuasion?

April 15th - Lansing, Michigan Tea Party. Why?

For pictures from the 15th Tea Party click here.

April 15, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Michigan State Capitol
100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing


What is being protested on April 15th? Here's my answer: People are waking up to the consequences of statist social engineering and the resulting erosion of the rule of law. I'm particularly fed up with the assault on 1st Amendment protections of political speech, the continuing attempt to parse the plain meaning of the 2nd Amendment into meaninglessness and the practiced, willfull ignorance of the 9th and 10th Amendments. YMMV

I am tired of the resulting metastasis of the general government. I'm furious about the elite cadre of entrenched looters, in government and among its corporatist fellow travelers, who steal the fruits of our labor and then use the spoils to chip away at our liberty. It must stop.

This is not a partisan protest. Republicans and Democrats are both culpable. If Tea Parties represent a nascent revolution, they do so in a bipartisan manner that neither the current "great uniter" nor the previous one could grasp.

It's time to end the recycling of the tiresome "progressive" ideas of Woodrow Wilson, et. al., that call the Constitution passé.

See you at the Tea Party. Your grandchildren's freedom and prosperity are on the line.

PS
Rumors are afloat that some far-left organizations plan to "infiltrate" Tea Parties on April 15th. They would pretend to support the protest. Therefore, if you are asked to sign anything at the rally be certain to read the entire document. That's just Common Sense. It wouldn't hurt to get the name and address, and a picture of anyone asking for your signature.


Update 4:12PM

Friday, April 10, 2009

Barack Gawk Down

"It wasn't a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he's taller than King Abdullah," said an Obama aide.



Well, who's taller, Queen Elizabeth or King Abdullah? Bad enough to have bowed to the King. Worse to put out such an obvious lie as an excuse.

See Gawk (noun)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Imagine there's no nukes

Our President appears to be taking his cues on foreign policy from a John Lennon song. So, for a moment, let's not imagine, let's go to the Not-So-Wayback machine and look up North Korea. Emphasis mine.
UN Resolution 1540 (April 28, 2004)
Resolution 1540 affirms that “proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security.” The Security Council urges all States to take additional effective measures to prevent proliferation, including nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery.

UN Resolution 1695 (July 15, 2006)
In this resolution, the Security Council explicitly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear weapons program. While calling for a diplomatic solution to the situation, the Council demands that the DPRK cuts back its missile launches, which jeopardize peace and security in the region. In addition, the 1695 resolution bans all member states from transactions with North Korean involving material, technology or financial resources transfer connected to DPRK’s missiles or weapons of mass destruction programs.

Wrong Path on North Korea
The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 6, 2006; Page A15
By Donald Gregg and Don Oberdorfer
The Bush administration is preparing to implement a new set of comprehensive sanctions against North Korea in response to its recent ballistic missile tests. This would be a grave mistake, likely to lift the already dangerous situation on the Korean Peninsula to a new level of tension. Imposing such sanctions at this time could bring about more of the very actions the United States opposes. They should be reconsidered before lasting damage is done.

UN Resolution 1718 (October 14, 2006)

The Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, unanimously imposed sanctions on North Korea, in reaction of Pyongyang’s nuclear test. After arduous negotiations, this softer version establishes an embargo on military and technological materials, as well as luxury goods, but does not include reference to military intervention as the US proposed initially. Furthermore, the resolution demands the freezing of North Korea’s financial assets with the exception of funds necessary to meet basic needs.

U.S. Offers North Korea Aid for Dropping Nuclear Plans
The New York Times
By HELENE COOPER and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: December 6, 2006

...The incentives package also includes a pledge by the United States to work with North Korea toward finding a way to end the financial restrictions placed last year on a Macao bank, Banco Delta Asia, that was a main hub of the North’s international financial transactions. The Bush administration accused Banco Delta Asia of helping North Korea to launder money from drug smuggling and other illicit activities and to pass counterfeit $100 bills manufactured by the North’s government.

While the United States remains unwilling to lift the sanctions until the counterfeiting issue is resolved, a senior administration official said American officials had told the North Koreans they would work with them on the issue. “We would help them to help themselves,” the official said. “We would expect them to come forward with what they know, and we’d work through the problem.”

Describing the North Koreans’ response to the entire package of incentives and demands, the official, who was in the room during the exchanges in Beijing, said: “They listened intently. They were clearly in a listening and probing mode, and they said they were glad to be hearing this from us.”
In their position, I'd be glad to hear the kindly tone of diplomacy, too. And the words "fuel oil" and "food." LOL

Now, we're up to the present - where we are assured words matter.

Obama Seizes on Missile Launch in Seeking Nuclear Cuts
The New York Times
By HELENE COOPER and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: April 5, 2009

“Rules must be binding,” he [Obama] said. “Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” Those words were added to the end of a long-planned arms control speech hours before, after the president was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, with news of North Korea’s defiance.

...The diplomatic challenge was underscored again while North Korea was preparing its latest missile test. In London last week, Mr. Obama raised the imminent test with President Hu Jintao of China, whom the United States has relied on to influence the North. A senior administration official, briefing reporters, said he believed the Chinese had expressed concerns to the North, urging it to halt the flight.
That "seizes" in the headline can be read with more than one meaning, of course.

So can "Rules must be binding." For example, Obama doesn't think rules matter in the case of contracts regarding retention bonuses. And "Words must mean something," must be getting really hard for even the Obamanation to assimilate.

North Korea announced this launch several weeks ago, so one would think the UN Security Council has had lots of time to decide what they would do, and that Ambassador Susan Rice would have been on top of this. What is the UN doing? Nothing. What will they do? Prepare a watered down, copy-and-paste version of resolutions they've already passed and persistently fail to enforce. Like Obama, the UN is nothing if not persistent.

While this jaw-jawing charade is unfolding at the UN what is Our President doing? Cutting the missile defense program. Imagine. Just imagine.

Maybe if Our President could come to regard Kim Jong-Il as a surrogate for Rick Wagoner we'd be better off.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Two long articles on Oweligarchy

You should read them both in full.

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.
H/T Canada's John Galt

Follow reading that by reading this:

Iceland’s de facto bankruptcy—its currency (the krona) is kaput, its debt is 850 percent of G.D.P., its people are hoarding food and cash and blowing up their new Range Rovers for the insurance—resulted from a stunning collective madness. What led a tiny fishing nation, population 300,000, to decide, around 2003, to re-invent itself as a global financial power? In Reykjavík, where men are men, and the women seem to have completely given up on them, the author follows the peculiarly Icelandic logic behind the meltdown.
H/T Lex Libertas

It may be time to consider these lessons in some detail.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

They said Bush was inarticulate

President Obama is not inarticulate, he's incomprehensible. He strings words together between the pauses, but there is no meaning.



If content divided by quantity of words is any measure, Bush was profound in comparison.

Annotated transcript here. :-[]

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The 17% solution

The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S.
The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S.

What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, "is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S."

But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

"Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

...In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced -- and of those, 90 percent -- 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover -- were found to have come from the U.S.

But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.

In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.

...But Tom Diaz, senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, called the "90 percent" issue a red herring and said that it should not detract from the effort to stop gun trafficking into Mexico.

"Let's do what we can with what we know," he said. "We know that one hell of a lot of firearms come from the United States because our gun market is wide open.
Existing laws already give the United States all the power required to stop any guns from crossing the border into Mexico. All that's needed is to enforce them, i.e., secure the border. If that's too hard for Mexico, what difference could some new US gun laws make?

More here.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Of cabbages and queens


Obama gave the Queen of England a used iPod.

She already has one, but this one came pre-loaded with:
  • Photos from the Queen's 2007 White House State Visit
  • Photos from the Queen's 2007 Jamestown, Va., Visit
  • Photos from the Queen's 2007 Richmond, Va., Visit
  • Video from the Queen's 1957 Jamestown Visit
  • Video from the Queen's 2007 Jamestown Visit
  • Video from the Queen's 2007 Richmond Visit
  • Photos from President Obama's Inauguration
  • Audio of then-state senator Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention
  • Audio of President Obama 2009 Inauguration Address
Apparently he thinks she's as self-absorbed as he is.

Can we just keep him away from any UK leader for a while? Say four more years?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Environmentalism as religion

And as taught in our government schools. Recounted by a conservative teacher.

My Personal Experience Fighting the Worship of Earth Hour

Volunteer... or else

Every Michigan Congressman, except Peter Hoekstra, voted in favor of increasing the number of AmeriCorps type, federally paid "volunteers" from 75,000 to 250,000 via H.R. 1388: the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act. The link above is nice since votes can be sorted by state, party, district or name.

That vote count comes from GovTrack.us, which I recommend and which I have added to the blogroll. You should also know about OpenCongress.org, where you can find the text of these bills and comment on them.

HR 1388 at one point contemplated mandatory federal service, but the people in charge must have realized that compulsory volunteerism is a step too far into the realm of the oxymoronic. One bit of generational robbery at a time, please.

As TOC noted last November, the idea of "compulsory volunteerism" is Obama's. HR 1388 is the setup for HR 1444, the Congressional Commission on Civic Service Act, which includes the following provision:
6) Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.
So, we're going to ask a panel of Democrats whether they can come up with a "reasonable" way to draft young people as community organizers? Why bother. Of course they can.

If you don't like slavery, you shouldn't like the idea they'll even study this.

In the post linked above you'll find the concept came straight from Obama's campaign. He warned us all, everybody is going to get their turn at community organizing and end up with résumés like this.

These efforts to make people "volunteer" are a part of the forever-plot to increase dependency on government. Another prong in that fork is Obama's budget proposal to reduce the deductibility of charitable donations. The talking points followed quickly after Obama decided he knows better which charities are most deserving, and that government should get credit for his perspicacity. The ultra-left Center for American Progress takes up the cause and tells us why charities should approve of Obama's plan: Higher tax rates combined with lower deductions should encourage higher donations so as to achieve the same level of tax saving. That's as well as I can explain it. Here it is from the horse's mouth:
The charities opposing the Obama proposal, however, are probably not worried about good or bad tax policy. They’re worried that they might see reduced donations. But if these charities are opposed to lowering the size of the tax break for donations by the wealthy, it stands to reason that they should be enthusiastic supporters of higher tax rates on the wealthy. Why? Because if they believe that the smaller subsidy of high-end charitable deductions reduces donations, then higher tax rates with the resulting higher subsidy should result in higher levels charitable giving—which should make them very happy indeed.

Presumably, when President Clinton raised the top tax rate to 39.6 percent from 31 percent in 1993, charities should have been overjoyed. After all, their wealthy benefactors saw the value of their tax deductions go from 31 cents on the dollar up to 39.6 cents on the dollar. And they must have been dismayed when George W. Bush cut the top tax rate to 35 percent, and the capital gains top rate to 15 percent. Now, they should be thrilled that Obama’s plan is to let the Bush top rates expire.
The entire argument can be read at the link above. I am not recommending that, I'm just proving it really exists.

The CfAP also tells us that even if a reduction in charitable giving results from Obama's proposal, that would be a small price to pay for "health care reform." This is just another way to say that individuals should not have the freedom to direct their own philanthropy, Government knows how to use that money better than they do. The CfAP is of the opinion that no matter what you do to people producing wealth, they have to continue to produce the same amount, they don't get to volunteer to produce it.

Just as government knows high school and college students would be better off as volunteers working for ACORN in $15,000 paid internships than they would be ...well doing whatever they want... whether it's playing World of Warcraft, taking an entrepreneurial risk, twittering each other about how cool Obama is or actually volunteering at a homeless shelter. This is yet another attempt to redefine the meaning of a common English word to fit a political agenda. You cannot volunteer under compulsion or as a result of bribery. What life lesson do you draw, what personal sense of accomplishment, what connection with others do you derive from compulsory service?

When we come to depend on government to decide how to distribute charity we give up, to faceless bureaucrats, the right to favor one cause over another, eroding the sense that what we do as individuals matters. We come to think it's government's job and since we've already paid our taxes, we need not be further concerned. That's exactly what Barack Obama and the Center for American Progress would prefer.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

An Earth Hour followup

I would have included a link to this in my March 28th post if I had known about it then.

The Real Meaning of Earth Hour

...Politicians and environmentalists, including those behind Earth Hour, are not calling on people just to change a few light bulbs, they are calling for a truly massive reduction in carbon emissions--as much as 80 percent below 1990 levels. Because our energy is overwhelmingly carbon-based (fossil fuels provide more than 80 percent of world energy), and because the claims of abundant “green energy” from breezes and sunbeams are a myth--this necessarily means a massive reduction in our energy use.

People don’t have a clear view of what this would mean in practice. We, in the industrialized world, take our abundant energy for granted and don’t consider just how much we benefit from its use in every minute of every day. Driving our cars to work and school, sitting in our lighted, heated homes and offices, powering our computers and countless other labor-saving appliances, we count on the indispensable values that industrial energy makes possible: hospitals and grocery stores, factories and farms, international travel and global telecommunications. It is hard for us to project the degree of sacrifice and harm that proposed climate policies would force upon us.
Read the whole thing.

We are intended to feel guilty because we are not starving in flimsy huts, because there are some humans who think the Earth contains too many human beings for the comfort of spotted owls, because WE are causing global warming climate change. I wonder how the people actually starving in flimsy huts feel about the Western environmentalists' insistence that they continue to starve in those huts?

It is vital that when you support the environment you do not support these promoters of poverty, misery and death.