Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It’s tea party not Tea Party



On December 16, 1773 a group of men protested unjust taxes by having a party in Boston. In emulation of this event, Americans across the land have been protesting big government and unjust taxes by having parties. In honor of the original, the moniker tea party is used by the participants in such a protest.

A tea party is an event.

But many, following the lead of the media, have taken to using the term Tea Party to describe the phenomenon as if it were a political party. In some cases this is wishful thinking by the leftist media. They would love to see a 3rd party which would split the vote of those opposing the socialists now in power. But mostly it is just carelessness or ignorance.

The tea party movement is neither a political party, nor a subdivision of a political party. It is rather a protest by citizens of the republic who have had enough of big government, corruption, hypocrisy, looting, and unjust taxation.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The GAAP between Waxman's ears

Megan McCardle, in a futile effort to explain GAAP to Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak.
...when a company experiences what accountants call "a material adverse impact" on its expected future earnings, and those changes affect an item that is already on the balance sheet, the company is required [by Federal law] to record the negative impact...

...now a bunch of companies with generous retiree drug benefits have announced that they are taking large charges to reflect the cost of the change in the tax law [occasioned by Obamacare].

Henry Waxman thinks that's mean, and he's summoning the heads of those companies to Washington to explain themselves. It's not clear what they're supposed to explain. What they did is required by GAAP. And I've watched congressional hearings. There's no chance that four CEO's are going to explain the accounting code to the fine folks in Congress; explaining how to boil water would challenge the format.
It is not the format that's going to be challenged, it's the formatees. They know how to turn up the heat, they just don't comprehend that they are the ones sitting in the soup pot.

I would jump to be the first to say that there should be no subsidies from any government to any corporation; it just encourages the lobbyists, produces graft and corruption, wastes money, stifles innovation and competition, and reduces our freedom. However, when you eliminate a subsidy, you have to expect it will change the financial picture for the corporations that enjoyed the former tax regime. Getting all huffy about that would be beneath most folks. Not necessarily because most folks would be worried about public perception of their honesty, but because they wouldn't want everyone to know they were morons.

Ask yourself why the Feds felt it incumbent upon them to subsidize benefits for retirees belonging to large unions in the first place. Ask yourself if the corporations would have granted such generous benefits without such federal subsidy. That is, ask yourself if corporations would take advantage of government interference intended to encourage opulent benefit programs at your expense.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Extreme fantasy

AT&T and other companies following SEC rules in announcing that they expect Obamacare to raise their health insurance costs have received demands from Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak to justify the numbers. They're going to hold a hearing to get to the bottom of this. I'd prefer they'd hold a listening, but they proven they can't do that, either.

These congressmen write in part:

The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern. They also appear to conflict with independent analyses.
These are the people who gamed the CBO to get a false cost for Obamacare, a bill of which they didn't even know the content. They are the people responsible for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They are the people responsible for the decline in sales of US Treasuries. They are congenitally incapable of balancing a budget. They praise themselves for programs like "Cash for Clunkers." They propose to raise energy costs dramatically through the Cap & Tax bill. These are the people who bribe each other with your money. They run Ponzi schemes known as Social Security and Medicare. They live in a fantasy world, where facts are subject to their intent: "The new law is designed..." They think all they need do is reference their putative intentions. Putative, because, as they demonstrate, it isn't about health care.

This is straight out of Atlas Shrugged.

Bad link fixed, 2:22PM

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Extremism and Health Care

Extremism at AT&T

AT&T will take $1B non-cash charge for health care
AT&T Inc. will take a $1 billion non-cash accounting charge in the first quarter because of the health care overhaul and may cut benefits it offers to current and retired workers.

... AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc., Deere & Co. and Valero Energy announced similar accounting charges, saying the health care law that President Barack Obama signed Tuesday will raise their expenses. ... 3M Co. said it will also take a charge of $85 million to $90 million.

All five are smaller than AT&T, and their combined charges are less than half of the $1 billion that AT&T is planning. The $1 billion is a third of AT&T's most recent quarterly earnings. In the fourth quarter of 2009, the company earned $3 billion on revenue of $30.9 billion.

... the health care overhaul will require them to start paying taxes next year on a subsidy they receive for retiree drug coverage...

AT&T also said Friday that it is looking into changing the health care benefits it offers because of the new law. Analysts say retirees could lose the prescription drug coverage provided by their former employers as a result of the overhaul.
Wonder if Government Motors is getting an exemption? Benefits costs are what got them into trouble in the first place.

Extreme promises.

Claire McCaskill: Hey, maybe we “overpromised” on ObamaCare
As for her claim that the GOP is running around screaming that the sky is falling, well, yes: “The sky is falling” means that we’re now en route to single-payer health care, with a detour to a public option that’ll be passed once enough insurance companies have gone bust because they can’t cope financially with O-Care.
Extreme graft. Extreme Hypocrisy.

After health care vote, Stupak 11 request billions in earmarks

A day after Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and ten other House members compromised on their pro-life position to deliver the necessary yes-votes to pass health care reform, the "Stupak 11" released their fiscal year 2011 earmark requests, which total more than $4.7 billion--an average of $429 million worth of earmark requests for each lawmaker.
Extremism in the UK. The future under Obamacare?

Hospital wards to shut in secret NHS cuts
Tens of thousands of NHS workers would be sacked, hospital units closed and patients denied treatments under secret plans for £20 billion of health cuts.

The sick would be urged to stay at home and email doctors rather than visit surgeries, while procedures such as hip replacements could be scrapped.

The plans have emerged as health chiefs draw up emergency budgets that cast doubt on pledges by Gordon Brown to protect “front line services” in the NHS.
...and there already seems to be an epidemic water shortage in UK Hospitals.

Neglected by 'lazy' nurses, man, 22, dying of thirst rang the police to beg for water

He died of thirst: NHS accused by widow over care

...and a shortage of resources in general.

Up to 1,200 needless deaths, patients abused, staff bullied to meet targets... yet a secret inquiry into failing hospital says no one's to blame

70 deaths on ward of shame: Patients neglected by lazy nurses in a filthy, blood-spattered casualty unit, says damning report

Extreme ethics.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy: Federal Funding of Abortion Is ‘Not a Question of Morality'

Extreme ignorance.

Dems likely didn’t read the bill before passing and signing it

Obamacare supporters should celebrate while they still don't know what's in the bill.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The View from Dromore - Free Speech in Canada?

A Canadian friend writes regarding unrest occasioned by Ann Coulter's attempt to speak at the University of Ottawa...
Duane,

Sometimes, (quite often, actually) I am completely ashamed to be a Canadian and this is certainly one of those times. The treatment by the administration and student body of the University of Ottawa in the case of Anne Coulter’s speech is unconscionable. I wish I could apologize personally to Ms. Coulter for her treatment (in fact, I would dearly love to apologize to Anne Coulter for absolutely anything – but that’s just a long-dreamt sexual fantasy and I digress).

A bit of history:

The original Canadian Bill of Rights, which came in under Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1960, specifically stated in Section 1 (d) that “freedom of speech” was a Canadian right. However, the Bill of Rights was a federal statute, not a Constitutional document. By the time it morphed into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of the Constitution Act in 1982 under Canada’s most famous Socialist Prime Minister (actually Liberal, but let’s call a spade a spade), Pierre Trudeau (a dabbler in Marxism whose Harvard dissertation was on the subject of Communism and Christianity), the wording became somewhat fuzzified (if that’s a word). Section 2 (b) of the Charter lists “freedom of … expression …”, which one might think would apply to speech. However, all of the basic rights in section 2 are subject to the “reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” of Section 1.

I can’t think of a larger caveat - Canadians have specific rights guaranteed constitutionally as long as whoever may currently be in charge of Parliament interprets those rights as being reasonable – WTF!

Now let’s move on to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (1977) as administered by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (and various provincial laws and commissions). Once again, this is a federal statute, not part of the Constitution, but would appear to be part of the “reasonable limits” described above. Section 13 (1) states that “It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely [my emphasis] to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination”.

It is that one word, “likely”, that is the essential problem. How do you prove or disprove something as being “likely”? I would also point out that this is being adjudicated by a tribunal, not a court, with no rules of evidence – truth is not a valid defense in these kangaroo courts.

The original intent of the Act was to address discriminatory practices in employment through a low-cost non-judicial process, a laudable goal, [maybe, but as questionable as any other government intent, Ed.] but it has mutated into something far more dangerous to freedom as Ms. Coulter is now aware. I am delighted that she is taking the hypocritical left-wing bigots to the very Commission that was ultimately threatening her – beautiful, blond, conservative, intelligent, female, humorous and outspoken – now if there was ever an identifiable group subject to hatred, she should be part of such a group. It’s unfortunate that she also happens to also be “white” and “Christian” – that’s not good – guilty as charged, regardless of the merits.

Alan Borovoy, a renowned Canadian Civil Liberties Association lawyer (the Canadian version of your ACLU) and one of the principle architects of the Canadian Human Right Act has publicly stated that its usage has been perverted into something far beyond what he intended when he helped to design it – namely, the suppression of free speech in Canada.

While we clearly do not have anything as strong as your First Amendment, free speech is probably the most essential of all human rights. Without free speech, all other liberties become both secondary and tenuous.

To get back to the specific case, Fox News should be interviewing Mark Steyn if they want first-hand experience on free speech (or lack thereof) in Canada.

Susan Cole, the one they seem to be interviewing for no reason known to me, is Senior Entertainment Editor ((?) – I don’t find this even remotely entertaining) of NOW Magazine, a free publication in Toronto. NOW magazine has been published since 1981 and was started by (among others) former members of the Socialist League. The fact that the magazine has a history of endorsing New Democratic Party candidates (Canada’s mainstream Socialist Party) should tell you something. It’s the sort of publication that you pick up in case you run out of toilet paper or need to start a bonfire to roast some marshmallows.

As is generally the case in both Canada and the United States, the larger the city, the more likely it is to be of the progressive persuasion. Toronto (Canada’s largest city) has elected both Jack Layton (Member of Parliament for Toronto-Danforth and Leader of the NDP) and his wife, Olivia Chow (MP for Trinity-Spadina). A look at the electoral map will show you that the bulk of NDP MPs come either from urban areas or highly unionized rural areas. They have little support in Canada’s “flyover” zones”. At the risk of being taken to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, could it be that big cities are where you find latte-drinking white liberals at Starbucks, [not carrying, though, Ed.] a large contingency of “poor” people looking for any handout and a huge community of immigrants who all tend to vote progressive? Just a politically incorrect question.

I find it particularly egregious that this should have happened at a major Canadian University. One would think such a venue would be a hot-bed of political and social discourse – not a hot-bed of censorship. But it is apparent that the Canadian school system is as dominated by liberal thought as yours. Truly sad.

For what it’s worth, I apologize to all Americans generally and to Ms. Coulter in particular for my f#(ked-up country. I am truly mortified.

In Canada, we are no longer free. Don’t let it happen to you. You’re the world’s last hope.

Don Seim,
Dromore, Ontario
Don, it's become more difficult of late, but we're trying. Thanks for the encouragement.

IAC, I think you may be too hard on Canada. You aren't all "a bunch of girls named Francois." Most aren't, apparently: A CBC (?!) online poll (unscientific, and as of this posting) shows 69% of over 19,000 Canadians answer the question "Should Ann Coulter weigh her words when speaking to a Canadian audience?" with a "No."

29% of your fellow citizens say "Yes." Ignore it. Here that 29% would be the combined membership of the SEIU, ACORN, MoveOn, Obama's administrative staff and Media Matters. Heck, 69% is just a bit more than the percentage of Americans who oppose Obamacare.

Then there are Canadian editorials, here, here and here proving all is not lost.

Finally, there's question period in your House of Commons - something I wish we had here (question period, not Commons), because it produces gems like this (for those who do not know, the Hansard is the ongoing transcript of Canada's Parliamentary proceedings and is like the Congressional Record, but more accurate):

(from the Hansard)

David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the darling of the reform-conservative-republican movement really outdid herself last night in Calgary. By addressing Canadian diversity, Ann Coulter said that diversity is not an advantage to a country like Canada. “It’s not a strength”, she continued. Then she went on to compare diversity to cancer. [Well? Ed.] From organizing speeches to putting on cocktails, the Conservative Party’s dirty little fingerprints are all over her Canadian tour.

Will the Prime Minister immediately and publicly condemn Ann Coulter’s outrageous and intolerant views?
Hon. Jay Hill (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, you and the hon. member would know that his question has absolutely nothing to do with the business of government and should be disallowed.

(…)
The Deputy Speaker:
Order, please. I do not see that that is a business of government administration. I do see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister rising, so I will give him a chance to answer, but I caution members to keep their questions–
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the member has raised a very important question about an American commentator who has come to this country with some outrageous comments: comments supporting the Iraq war, comments supporting the use of torture, and comments referring to Israel as a war criminal.

But enough about the leader of the Liberal [the opposition party, Ed.] Party...
H/T five feet of fury. Click the link to read more.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"a test not of belief but of assent"

I recently received a comment from a person in Roermond, Netherlands regarding a post I made in June of 2007. That post invoked a work by Robert H. Thouless - Straight and Crooked Thinking - an out of print book that I highly recommend. (A later edition - How to Think Straight is also out of print, but has been more available).

The 2007 post showed how, in a 5 minute radio interview, State of Michigan Rep. Andrew Meisner (D-Ferndale) committed 15 of the 38 "dishonest tricks of rhetoric" Dr. Thouless identified in his book. It was fresh in my mind when I read today's edition of Best of the Web Today.

So I write to commend James Taranto for applying the Thouless principles to a polling company and to John Avlon, a left-wing political "analyst" who uses the poll as "evidence" to support an article beginning with this sentence*: "In a disturbing parallel to the Nazi's [sic] kristallnacht, windows are shattering in Democratic offices nationwide." Avlon's intent is the lately common one of discrediting the Tea Party movement as violent racists.

Taranto's debunking is thorough. RTWT


'Wingnuts': An Autobiography?
The curious case of John Avlon and the "scary new GOP poll."

*later removed

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Now you’re all a bunch of girls named Francois

The title of this post is taken from an interview Ann Coulter gave to the Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper that in better times fancied itself Canada's Wall Street Journal, but which has devolved into a politically correct version of the New York Times.

A more complete quote is:
She also took a swipe at Canadians, saying this country has lost its edge.

“You guys used to be so cool. You were smokers. You had epic hockey fights. We had half our comedians from Canada. Now you’re all a bunch of girls named Francois.”
I mention this interview because TOC has written a fair bit in the past about Canada's "hate" speech laws, notably involving Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn.

Coulter was in Ottawa to give a speech at the University of Zero, as she now refers to the institution whose Provost, one Francois Houle, did his best to incite a riot. He succeeded and the speech was canceled.

Mark Steyn had this to say:
Freedom of speech is in grave peril in Canada. In the Coulter fracas, almost all the major societal institutions behaved poorly:

1) François Houle symbolizes a decadent academy that is the very antithesis of honest enquiry and intellectual debate that the university is supposed to represent.

2) The Ottawa Police have declared that there is no equality before the law. If you belong to certain groups, they'll stand by as the mob shuts you down.

3) The dinosaur media are vast lumbering eunuchs too cowed by political correctness to do even elementary research. Fatima Al Dhaher, the poor wee thing traumatized by Ann Coulter's camel joke, turns out to be a Jew-hater who wants to eliminate the State of Israel. But that's too complicated for the media to fit into their Sesame Street narratives.

Between them, the media, the law and the education system are actively shriveling Canada's liberties. It doesn't lead anywhere good: Ghost of a Flea's title - "Fascist Canada" - is no exaggeration. If you say, "Oh, c'mon, if you're not a troublemaker like Coulter or Levant or Guy Earle or Douglas McCue, Canada's very pleasant", well, so were large parts of Mussolini's Italy and Franco's Spain. But they were not free, and few pre-Trudeau Canadians would have entertained trading ancient liberties for soft totalitarianism euphemized as "diversity".

The saddest aspect of this sad day is the number of people who've sent e-mails denouncing the Ottawa bullies but ending with the words "If you print this, please don't mention my name." Don't you realize that that's part of the problem? In a sane world, it would be François Houle and Fatima Al Dhaher and Susan Cole who would be ashamed to have their names mentioned. But they're not. They're proud to nail their colours to the masts of state censorship, Israeli eliminationism, and mob violence - while your support for free speech and other traditional liberties can only be expressed sotto voce and anonymously. That right there tells you how much of Canada you've already lost.
But read the whole thing.

Coulter herself got a good column out of it:
Since arriving in Canada, I've been accused of thought crimes, threatened with criminal prosecution for speeches I hadn't yet given and denounced on the floor of the Parliament (which was nice because that one was on my "bucket list").

Posters advertising my speech have been officially banned, while posters denouncing me are plastered all over the University of Ottawa campus. Elected officials have been prohibited from attending my speeches. Also, the local clothing stores are fresh out of brown shirts.

Welcome to Canada!

The provost of the University of Ottawa, average student IQ: 0, wrote to me – widely disseminating his letter to at least a half-dozen intermediaries before it reached me – in advance of my visit to recommend that I familiarize myself with Canada's criminal laws regarding hate speech.

This marks the first time I've ever gotten hate mail for something I might do in the future.

Apparently, Canadian law forbids "promoting hatred against any identifiable group," which the provost, Francois A. Houle, advised me, "would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."

I was given no specific examples of what words and phrases I couldn't use, but I take it I'm not supposed to say, "F--- you, Francois."
Again, RTWT.

Kathy Shaidle has a series of great posts with lots more info, here's a place to start.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Executive Orders



Constituent: "[Are you saying e]ven though I didn't get what I wanted, I still am going to vote in favor of taxpayer funded abortions?"

Stupak: "Isn't that the way our country works? If the majority of people vote against us, and they want to put it in there..."

Constituent: "But you will still have a chance to vote on behalf of the fact that you have the Michigan Right To Life endorsement and 62% of Americans don't want this, you would vote against the bill at the end of the day."

Stupak: "Oh, I may not. ...If I lose that vote, that doesn't mean I vote against the whole bill."

... [Let's say] we had a chance to run our amendment, and we lost. OK. I voted my conscience, stayed true to my principles, stayed true to the beliefs of this district..."

But he didn't: He ran his amendment and he WON. Then he abandoned his conscience, his principles and his constituents. But I guess he's right, the way our country works is for Democrats to pretend to have principles. Either that, or the surprise was too much for him.

What we now know is that if the two bills had gone to a Senate/House Joint Committee, Stupak would also have voted to accept the Senate language on abortion funding. Same conscience, same principles - one of which is that his constituents' desires matter less to him than Nancy Pelosi's approbation and a photocopy of a note from Barack Obama labeled "Use the Full Force of Law, Luke Bart." Stupak is worse than the other Democrats who voted "Yea" because of his preening for the national cameras about the sanctity of life during the run-up to the vote.

Adding insult to Stupakidy, he isn't even good at being bribed. $700,000 plus is all he got in airport porkulus? John Murtha is laughing in Hell.

Finally, let's hear from one of the greatest proponents of self aggrandizing situational ethics of our age, Stupak's more honest namesake -
Bart Simpson: “He’s going to kill Rod and Todd too! That’s horrible… in principle.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Precedent

The Stamp Act of 1765, of which today is the 245th anniversary, inflamed citizens of the 13 colonies and led directly to the American Revolution of 1776. The government of America was fundamentally changed as a result. That was arguably the last fundamental change until about 1940.

American colonists opposing continuation of Britain's suzerainty amounted to about 40% of the population. Yesterday, our present day government defied the will of about 60% of its people, now to be known as "subjects."

The Stamp Act was repealed on March 18th 1766.

Update: 8:14.

I meant to include this link for a more comprehensive examination of this topic;
Why Tea Parties?

Repeal the Bill

Short roundup on the Health Care "Reform" debacle.

Inside the Pelosi Sausage Factory
KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Wall Street Journal

We’ve Crossed the Rubicon

Victor Davis Hanson
PajamsMedia

It’s NOT a Health Bill, NOT a Medicare Tax and It Can’t Possibly Cost Only $940 Billion

Alan Reynolds
CATO

Crisis, the Health Care Bill, and the Growth of Government

Ilya Somin
The Volokh Conspiracy

And finally, the first of many such efforts.
Fire Pelosi

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Health Care Game has Morphed.


Of course, it was never about Health Care and it was never about Reform, but “Health Care Reform” has recently morphed into something very much larger than its already large beginnings. “Health Care Reform” was always about two things: government power and political power. If the government can control a person and his family’s access to health care, it can control the person to an unprecedented (in this country) extent. And if the people employed by the health care industry (⅙ of the economy) think and vote like union employees, the Democrats will enjoy enhanced political power.

Hence its importance.

But the utterly incredible unfolding of the struggle by those in power to achieve this dual prize have resulted in “Health Care Reform” now being about two other very big things: corruption and rule of law.

Corruption is always present in government, and the U.S. has been no exception. But the American people’s tolerance for corruption has always been low. And thus the level of corruption has been restrained. The 18th president, Grant, was one of the best presidents in our history. But corruption by people in his 2nd term administration was tied around his neck by the press to such an extent that the common perception of his presidency is mediocre or worse. Other presidents have paid a price for corruption among their ranks even when personally innocent. Jimmy Carter for Bert Lance, LBJ for Bobby Baker, Warren Harding for Teapot Dome, Clinton for Whitewater, and so forth. And when corruption reached the oval office itself, Nixon was forced from office. The American people have not tolerated corruption and the press as a whole has been largely vigilant in reporting it.

Rule of law likewise has broad support among Americans. It is considered fundamental to our identity as a nation. Every president and every member of Congress takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. In the case of Congress, the Constitution is the only matter covered by the oath. Presidents are allowed to disagree with the Constitution, as famously did Woodrow Wilson, but they must obey it. When presidents have tried to get around it, like FDR when he attempted to pack the Supreme Court, they have been slapped down. Nixon and Clinton were slapped even harder.

The level of corruption evidenced in the efforts by President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid to buy votes is stunning. The Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the Connecticut hospital, the North Dakota bank, the Florida medicare exemption, union handouts, and other vote buying tactics are only the beginning. Federal judgeships and other jobs are being handed out. Members are receiving threats of ethics investigations or worse.
And imagine that there is much that we do not even yet know about. Will the press step up? Or will they ignore the means, because they believe in the ends?

But even more sinister is the disregard for the rule of law. Senate rules have been trampled, but that is nothing compared to what is going on in the House. Article I, Section VII of the Constitution has been willfully shredded. It is bad enough that our representatives pass laws without reading them. Now they are about to pass a law without writing it. No one can know what is in the Health Care Reform law because it won’t be written for weeks or months after it becomes “law”. Members have not read the bill, they have not written the bill, but as if that is not bad enough, the Democrats are proposing that it will become law without the House even voting on it.

All this to force into “law” an extremely unpopular grab for power. “Health Care Reform” is now about four things: 1) Government Power, 2) Political Power, 3) Corruption, and 4) Rule of Law.

Nothing less than the future of our children and grandchildren is at stake.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Inflationary Pressure

The great free market economist who foresaw the great depression, Ludwig von Mises:

The real problem is that we have a quantity of money in most countries, including the United States, a quantity that is continually increasing. And the effect of this increase is that prices of commodities and services are going up and people are asking for higher wages. And the government says this is “an inflationary pressure.” I see this word a hundred times everyday in the newspapers, but I don’t know what “an inflationary pressure” is. There is no such thing as “an inflationary pressure.” Nothing is inflationary except an increase in the quantity of money. Either there is an increase in the quantity of money, or there is no increase in the quantity of money.



Friday, March 12, 2010

The Parliament of Mad


Mark Steyn spoke at Hillsdale College last night and I was lucky enough to be there.

Hillsdale was the first American college to prohibit in its charter all discrimination based on race, religion, or sex, but is probably most well known for its refusal of government funding. Steyn is a regular speaker at Hillsdale.

Steyn's "text" as Mark Twain would say, arose from the poem Locksley Hall, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Tennyson wrote the poem when he was 26, in 1835. In it, he describes a utopian vision.
For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law.
Last night, Steyn spoke eloquently and humorously about the threat of such a "world federation of universal law based on the common sense of most." Warning that pursuing Tennyson's vision is the road to totalitarianism, he gave examples of the IAEA, the IPCC, the UN; and, paradoxically, Western democratic governments: "Watching China, India and Russia save the world from the economic disaster western nations intended to foist upon themselves at the recent Copenhagen conference, one can only be grateful." (I paraphrase.)

Another example, Steyn says, is that it is no surprise that after 2 generations of Americans have marinated in educational institutions designed to emphasize cultural relativism that the Army Chief of Staff could say, “It would be a shame — as great a tragedy as this was — it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well,” after 14 Americans died in the Fort Hood massacre: "When the Chief of Staff of your Army sounds like a San Francisco school superintendent, you're in trouble."

Steyn's remarks will appear in Imprimis. Look for it.

In writing this I looked for a site to allow copy and paste of that portion of Tennyson's poem Steyn quoted yesterday. As a result, I became aware that Tennyson revisited Locksley Hall in 1886 with the poem Locksley Hall Sixty Years After (1886).

There is a pessimism and disappointment evident in this poem; and what amounts to an extended rebuke to the young, perhaps even to the young Tennyson. The utopian longing remains, but it seems that lack of progress toward this goal has taken a toll on the older Tennyson.
Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos! once again the sickening game;
Freedom, free to slay herself, and dying while they shout her
name.
...

Bring the old dark ages back without the faith, without the hope,
Break the State, the Church, the Throne, and roll their ruins down
the slope.
Given the dire consequences we experience today from the politically correct poppycock Tennyson foreshadowed in 1835, perhaps it is fair to read these excerpts as second thoughts.

I would be remiss here if I did not thank Mike for a tour of the campus. Impressive. Especially the Mossey Library Heritage Room.

P.S. I sometimes think of Mark Steyn as a fusion of H. L. Mencken and P. J. O'Rourke. If you don't already know his stuff, you should really check it out.

America Alone
is essential reading.

Passing Parade
is certainly the best compendium of obituaries ever written. No, that's wrong, it's a compendium of the best obituaries ever written - with humor and affection. Highly recommended.

There's lots more Steyn at the opening link.

Update 13-March 11:50AM: Welcome to visitors from SteynOnline. And here is a podcast of Mark talking to Elliot Gaiser at Hillsdale.

The terms Instalanche and Slashdotted come to mind. If there is such a term for SteynOnline I don't know it. Steynstampede?

It's just March

...but this may be the quote of the year. Maybe the decade.
Democratic leaders should be asking themselves just how they have gotten to the point that their strategy is to amend a law that doesn’t exist yet by passing a bill without voting on it.
By November, we may be adding to that - "and thereby committing electoral suicide."

If this "bill" "passes," the litmus test going forward should be signing a pledge to repeal it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sorry, Charlie

The blogprof notes a speech by Charlie Crist wherein Crist assails Marco Rubio because Rubio may have gotten his back waxed.

No. Really. Crist actually says this. My immediate thought was that Crist needs to order a big enough tub of wax for a full body soak. Right up past his mouth.

The Fox News crawl in 2 different shots of Crist's diatribe has the following: "Rubio campaign is greatest fraud ever perpetrated," and "Rubio's detachment from reality is stunning to me."

Governor Crist should read the transcripts of his own speeches for real examples of fraud and detachment.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Liars and fools

From the Wall Street Journal: Democrats Voice Health-Bill Doubts

RTWT.
Some House Democrats wavering over whether to back a health-care overhaul questioned whether it would effectively curb the country's health costs, highlighting a difficult issue that the White House and congressional leaders must address in the final negotiations on the measure.
Either BS or lunacy. The issue is not difficult. If there are any who believe Federal control of health care will reduce costs for health care, they are either liars or fools. Or both.

When these Dems say they "need a much clearer picture," they are saying "I'll accept whatever Obama eventually says and I will then claim it controls costs."

They've been saying this for a year already.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

What kind of doctor?

It is a question often asked casually in small-talk with students who have stated they wish to become a doctor. But perhaps it is now a question we all should be asking in a context of considerably more gravity.

"Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man who's life they have throttled. It is not safe if he is the sort of man who resents it - and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't."

- Dr. Hendricks - Atlas Shrugged 1957



Friday, March 05, 2010

Canadian Safety Net

On a Florida beach last evening I struck up a conversation with a fifty something retired Ontario teacher; let's call him Ian. He shared with me that he likes to pass the winters playing tennis in the sunshine state. The unusually chilly weather prompted him to ask if I knew what the "ice box" of the U.S was? Without waiting for a reply, he informed me that it was International Falls, MN. Turns out he had recently been there.

Seems that in late October, just a few weeks before leaving the frozen tundra, Ian tore a meniscus in his knee. No more tennis until it was repaired. When his doctor informed him that there was a 4-6 month wait, he pleaded that he did not want to miss a whole winter of Florida tennis. No problem says the doc, we can get you into a U.S. hospital right away. Enter International Falls. Our protagonist had his meniscus repaired the very next week in the "ice box" of the U.S. And, according to Ian, the Canadian taxpayers not only paid 100% of the bill, they also picked up the bill for his gas and hotel room.

This Canadian safety net is in danger. Where will Ian go for fast medical service once Obamacare becomes law?

For that matter, where will we go; Cuba?


The Cold War: An American Imperialist Conspiracy?

In a recent email exchange I mentioned the Cold War as a credible example of why our foreign policy options must include a strong military, one able to project force. The response to that email invited me to read this article:

Ron Paul vs. Big-Government Conservatives

By Jacob Hornberger

In this supposedly Libertarian critique of Jeffrey Kuhner's Washington Times article, Mr. Hornberger manages to argue that the Cold War was an American imperialist conspiracy designed to perpetuate the boogey-man of Communism.

I am not surprised that some disagree about the magnitude of the threat we faced during the Cold War, there are still people actively defending Communism as benign, after all. I am somewhat surprised at the contention the Cold War was an American imperialist conspiracy: If the Soviet Union and Communist China had not existed we would have been forced to invent them?

Those of Mr. Hornberger's remarks I found particularly puzzling follow in italics, with my comments after each.

To make his case, Kuhner goes back to World War II -- the so-called "good war," pointing out that "old isolationist conservatives were prepared to abandon Europe to Hitler's Germany."

Indeed, they were. There were quite a few famous and/or powerful and/or privileged Nazi sympathizers in America: William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Kennedy (JFK's father), Charles Lindbergh, John Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon and a General Motors Vice President named Graeme K. Howard to name a few.

Mr. Howard even wrote a book titled America and a New World Order, (1940) wherein he advised that America cooperate with German ambitions: Ambitions which had become all too apparent by September 1939, a month before President Roosevelt announced the US would remain neutral in the European War.

Apparently, Mr. Howard was not only not ready to take what Hitler had written in Mein Kampf seriously, he was pretty sure Hitler would prove to be a good business partner.

Mr. Howard's book was the stuff of isolationist propaganda which must have comforted Neville Chamberlain. If Chamberlain had combined a rabid commitment to corporatism with even less foreign policy acumen than he demonstrated just prior to the blitzkrieg visited upon Poland in September 1939, he could have written it.

Despite the business opportunities, however, even Mr. Howard and his fellow corporatists lost their enthusiasm at the point where Hitler declared war on the United States.

WWII was a predictable consequence of how WWI ended - as a confused exercise in Wilsonian moral vituperation. The prediction was realized because of Allied military unpreparedness, unwillingness to enforce sanctions of the Treaty of Versailles and general British foreign policy dilettantism (including a treaty of mutual assistance Britain belatedly, and without the ability to deliver said assistance, signed with Poland in August 1939); items Mr. Hornberger should have acknowledged because they bear directly on his thesis.

Many Americans did oppose entering WWII: Right up until we were attacked by Japan. After that, not so much. Mr. Hornberger skips over December 7th, 1941, and the change in American opinion resulting from the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack was the declaration of war, "So solly, Japan not Republic. More bad for you."

Kuhner also denies that the U.S. government "imperialist" policies in the Middle East produced the September 11 attacks. The attacks, he claims, are because the Jihadists "seek to restore a medieval Islamic caliphate" and that "America's support for Israel or foreign aid to Egypt is simply a rationalization for their revolutionary aims."

Mr. Hornberger frequently uses the terms "imperial" and "empire" in regard to American foreign policy, so I cannot tell here why he puts quotation marks around "imperialist." True, those quotes were in the article he criticizes, but Mr. Kuhner was merely reflecting what bounces around the echo chamber of Representative Ron Paul's more unhinged supporters and the relatively pithy, if less overwrought, commenters at Firedoglake.

Moreover, Hornberger seems to agree with Paul on this term, so the quotation marks are odd. In this context they are often referred as "scare quotes," an indication that this is a term of art not to be taken quite seriously. Like when Reuters writes "terrorist."

Confusing punctuation aside, principled arguments against the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan can be made. An American imperialist conspiracy carried over from the Cold War, however, is not among them.

IAC, the restoration of the medieval caliphate is the avowed intention of Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One must assume that if the United States adopted sharia and coerced Americans to convert to Islam, Messrs bin Laden and Ahmadinejad would be mollified. In reality, though, they can easily recognize the United States as a barrier to their idea of a fundamentalist, homophobic, misogynist world religious state.

What to do about it? Complain about Israel. Bomb Marines in Lebanon and blow up the Kobar Towers. Hit the USS Cole. Etc., etc.. Fly a couple of airliners into the World Trade Center. Complain about Israel. Complain about American troops invited into Saudi Arabia to protect the Kingdom from its progeny. Whine, hide, bomb civilians. Especially Jews. Threaten to behead cartoonists who draw Mohammed. Complain about Israel.

To jihadis, support for Israel is a symptom, the disease is liberal democracy.

From the end of World War II through the fall of the Berlin Wall, conservatives advocated Big Government in the form of a massive Cold War military machine and an ever-expanding military-industrial complex, along with the ever-increasing spending, debts, taxes, and inflation that accompanied them. During that entire time, the big official enemy -- the justification that conservatives used for maintaining Big Government -- was communism.

Communism, necessarily as an ideology, and absolutely as practiced by the Soviets and the Chicoms, was clear and present justification for a "massive military machine." Did Khrushchev say "We will bury you," as an insider joke?

I can't figure out what Mr. Hornberger's smaller military machine actually means in the context of the wealth in America. Mr. Hornberger apparently assumes preventing the seizure of that wealth requires defense only of the edges. Maybe he's never played Risk.

I do not know if (or how) our large military expenditures in Germany and Japan after WWII can be quantitatively proven to be an economic benefit to us, but I can't see how the security benefit could be questioned. Mr. Hornberger doesn't either. He commends our aid to West Germany by criticizing our failure to preserve East Germany from the Soviets.

Soviet and Chinese Communism were, and may still be, existential threats to Western civilization. How much a threat is revealed in The Black Book of Communism and Last Exit to Utopia. A hundred million people died at the hands of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Ceausescu and Mengistu Haile Mariam - to name major executioners. Robert Mugabe and Kim Jung-il are keeping this legacy alive even today.

The Black Book is a statement of facts about Communism written after the release of documents from the archives of the former Soviet Union. It is a devastating compilation, if long and dry. I think those who claim the Cold War demonstrates American imperialism must answer this in detail, but I would recommend reading Last Exit before Black Book. Last Exit talks about what happened to the authors of Black Book and makes a clear, concise and compelling case that Communism was evil and rapacious. It is surprisingly entertaining.

During the entire Cold War, did conservatives ever exclaim against the jihadists, the Muslims, the terrorists, the Islamofascists, or the Koran extremists?

Some did, Daniel Pipes for example, but since the jihadists weren't building the Berlin Wall or moving nuclear missiles into Cuba, the relative urgency of the threat might be described as "low." Mr. Hornberger argues that failing to appreciate threats from Islam until after 9/11 is a philosophical failure. Such a claim runs counter to his preferred narrative regarding Americans' unwillingness to confront Tojo and Hitler until after Pearl Harbor. Everything changed, why wouldn't Americans?

Then the big shock came. The Berlin Wall fell. The communist threat disappeared (although for years many conservatives were claiming that it was all part of an elaborate communist plot to conquer the West). The Cold War ended.

Mr. Hornberger treats the Wall as if it were some established fact of the Universe, pre-existing, unrelated to international politics. It just fell. The issue he needs to address here, however, is not the fall of the Berlin Wall (arguably a vindication of Cold War policies), but the building of that wall - and the airlift into Berlin which would have been impossible except for a "massive military machine." While he's at it, he might want to explain what he would have done about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to identify the actual imperialist nations involved.

What Kuhner obviously doesn't feel too comfortable talking about is that while World War II saved Eastern Europe from the Nazis, the Eastern Europeans were delivered into the hands of America's communist partner in WW II, the Soviet Union. And so were the East Germans. Yes, the same communists who conservatives then used as the official enemy to justify Big Government for the next 45 years!

Let me get this straight, in order to secure the foil of a long term enemy, the US intentionally delivered Eastern Europeans into the hands of the Soviet Union? Even if we grant the perverse notion that failure to immediately stop Communism in Eastern Europe was an imperial act, we must certainly acknowledge stopping it would have required a war. Mr. Hornberger's objection to the building of the Iron Curtain therefore seems at odds with his thesis. Surely he would consider an attack on the Soviet Union to have been an imperialist act.

Are you seeing why Kuhner stops his analysis of World War II so abruptly? When Great Britain and France declared war on Germany (it wasn't the other way around), it was ostensibly to save the Poles and Czechs from the clutches of Nazi totalitarianism.

Are you seeing why Hornberger starts his analysis of the Cold War with the fall of the Berlin Wall? Can you see why he tells us about declarations of war by France and England (after Chamberlain's debasing appeasement failed, the Germans overran Poland and France's military proved insufficiently massive), while ignoring the fact that the US did not declare war on either Japan or Germany until after they had declared war on us?

He does not mention, either, that Germany raped Poland without benefit of a declaration of war. Can you figure out why Mr. Hornberger stops his analysis at the point where Poles and Czechs are still groaning under the boot of the Soviets, rather than after their freedom had been achieved?

They killed even more Iraqis with the no-fly zones that had been authorized by neither Congress nor the UN.

What?! The commanders on the ground had no authority to enforce the sanctions passed by the UN or the US? They were to allow air attacks by Saddam Hussein on his own people? They got to continue this illegal action for years without rebuke? Please.

Yet, Kuhner steadfastly maintains that none of this had anything to do with why people in the Middle East have gotten so angry at the United States. Perhaps he's unfamiliar with the angry tirade by Ramzi Yousef, the convicted terrorist in the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, who specifically cited U.S. foreign policy as the reason for his anger.

Let us admit that our troops are on the ground in Saudi Arabia at the request of the Saudis and that a coalition including Islamic troops was part of Gulf War I. Let's acknowledge that if our troops were all fundamental Islamists, the "foreign policy" issues would essentially disappear. Let us not extrapolate the comments of a single fanatic, for whose comments we provided the public platform, into a foreign policy.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

They know not what they do

As Democrats move toward violating the intent and purpose of Senate rules regarding 'reconciliation' in order to pass a health care bill a large majority of Americans reject, it is useful to see what they have said about it in the recent past:

Obama ‘American Agenda’ Flashback: Dems Should Not Pass Healthcare With a 50-Plus-1 Strategy

Obama & Dems in ‘05: 51 Vote ‘Nuclear Option’ Is ‘Arrogant’ Power Grab Against the Founders’ Intent

Hypocrites. If they think people are angry now, they have no idea what's coming if they do this.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Learning from Canada

We can learn that government controlled health care is problematic. We can learn that slavish devotion to multi-culturalism is suicidal. We can learn that gun registries don't work and follow the path of government cost overruns in general (estimate $2 Million, actual $2 Billion).

These are examples of what not to do. Here is a shining example of what TO do.

Due North: Canada’s Marvelous Mortgage and Banking System

There were some significant differences between Canada and the United States during the recent financial crisis. In general, Canada’s banking system proved more prudent, more resilient, and much less prone to excesses. Taking a closer look at these differences might tell us how the United States got into the mess it is in, and illuminate some ideas for future reforms.
RTWT. In our defense, they don't have Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.

Oh, and congratulations to Canada's Olympic hockey teams.