Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Failure of the Liberal Economic Experiment?

The Failure of the Liberal Economic Experiment?:

The liberals were quick to declare "the end of capitalism" after the '08 election. It now appears that their declaration was far premature. I like this quote ... the whole article is excellent. This quote refers to an old observation on government spending -- typically, the "seen" are some more government jobs, some public works projects, maybe even a new building or bridge; the "unseen" is effectively "the bill", the higher taxes and the misallocated resources that result in a lower standard of living for all; since the "seen" is immediate, and the "unseen" tends to be less so, often even wildly off the mark government spending can be a political asset. Apparently, thankfully, not this time!!

"Because of these policies, the “unseen” became “seen” in a fashion devastating to the politicians supporting them. Americans judged that the party in power intends the radical expansion of the size of government in perpetuity. That expansion will have to be paid for. There is no reason to expect very much good from the future if you are the sort of person who generates income and creates jobs. Your “permanent income” is going to decline, and your gut response will be to husband your resources."

All the ways to Kill an Economy

Our Macroeconomic Fetish - Forbes.com:

One of they liberal problems is that they never know "when to say when". Everything they want calls for more, more, more ... more stimulus, more taxes, more entitlements, more regulation, but they have zero concept of "enough". They are addicted to government in the same way as a heroin addict is addicted to their drug of choice.

Now the semi-thoughtful liberal will say "conservatives are just the same with money, they want more, more, more money for the rich, and there is never such a thing as enough".

To which I'd reply, spending and making are NOT the same thing! Bill Gates is fabulously wealthy because he was the best at putting personal computers on everyone's desk. Warren Buffett is fabulously wealthy because he is the best allocator or scarce economic resources in the world. Putting limits on either of these guys limits us all -- not just them. Taking both their fortunes and spending them buying votes from unions doesn't grow a thing (other than more government bureaucracy when the same crooks get elected).

Great article, read it. A sample on the lack of limits:

"The situation is only worse because while our Keynesian disciplines preach the need for more stimulus now, they offer no explanation as to how much stimulus is too much. The law of diminishing returns applies to every known human activity, including government decisions to prime the pump. Yet both Tyson and Krugman give us no hint about when to quit or why."
Basically, there is more than one way to kill an economy, and BO and company are coming close to finding them all.
It is possible to tell a similar tale of woe in virtually any other sector that comes to mind: health care, energy, environment, banking and money, securities regulation, corporate policy, intellectual property. At every stage we see a populist frenzy to support new layers of regulation, each of which in its own way kills jobs and chokes off economic growth.

In sum, there is more than one way to kill an economy. Ours is dying a death of a thousand cuts, which no stimulus program can cure.

Government Pay, Upside Down

Government Pay: Now For The Really Bad News - Forbes.com

Not only are we getting fleeced, we are paying them make our lives even worse while we pay them more to do it!!!

By now, most Americans are familiar with the newly revealed statistics concerning federal pay. As we slept, as it were, our federal minders awarded themselves impressive pay/benefits increases that average out to $123,000 per year, compared with $61,000 in the private sector.
Not only are we fleeced to cover the rising pay and gold-plated benefits of federal workers, we're essentially paying them to make our lives more difficult. The more they're able to do so, the more they advance.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Pray He is Right!

Hugh Hewitt: Seventy percent of Americans know they've been conned | Washington Examiner

Super column, concise, just READ IT! Something solidly over 50% ought to be good enough, please oh please make it so!

Two years into what had been sold as a new politics and a new approach, the 70 percent are fully aware that they have been conned, suckered, and taken to the cleaners by a hyper-ideological amalgam of leftist public intellectuals, snarling bloggers, career politicians with limited abilities who are often corrupt, and a president wholly inexperienced in the management of complex problems who is in way over his head and prisoner to slogans and schemes that make for great campus debates -- but for disaster in the real world.
Actually, it is more like 4 ... the Dimocrats took over congress in '07 and the slide got a good start ... but for two years, they have had no excuses whatsoever. 

Let the end of their disastrous rule be limited to just the two years of hell we have already been through!

BO On Bike

Ah yes, remember the days when a dorky picture of W would be plastered all over? Wonder how far and wide this gem will get to go? Maybe the worship has finally slipped a bit, this seems like a gem.

Remember Europe?

Op-Ed Columnist - The Parent Model - NYTimes.com

Back when W was President, any contrary opinion from Europe was automatically worthy of a lot of study -- and to pay a lot of attention to it was "arrogant". Naturally, with the advent of BO, the MSM is now of a completely different mind -- when Europe has a different opinion from BO, they must be wrong, as is everyone else that disagrees with the brilliant failed community organizer.

Now, we have some emerging results. Germany spends 1.5% of GDP, trims labor costs, increases employment flexibility and enjoys a 9% GDP growth. We spent 6% of GDP, give a bunch of kickbacks to unions/threaten future unionization ("Card Check"), pass a bunch of new laws to make employing people more expensive and restrictive and the result is 1.6% growth.

Is this absolute proof that Germany is completely right and we are completely wrong? **NO!! ... it is INFORMATION, just like when Europe would have some anti-Bush thing to say. We get smarter by looking at data and results, we get stupider when we let ideology be our ONLY guide ... which is the left-primary view.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Oikophobia - WSJ.com

The Ground Zero mosque is an affront to the sensibilities of ordinary Americans. "The center's association with 9/11 is intentional and its location is no geographic coincidence," as theAssociated Press has reported. That Americans would find this offensive is a matter of simple common sense. The liberal elites cannot comprehend common sense, and, incredibly, they think that's a virtue. After all, common sense is so common.

The British philosopher Roger Scruton has coined a term to describe this attitude: oikophobia. Xenophobia is fear of the alien; oikophobia is fear of the familiar: "the disposition, in any conflict, to side with 'them' against 'us', and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably 'ours.' " What a perfect description of the pro-mosque left.

By jove, I think he has got it! It takes no other sense than "common sense" to identify a Victory Mosque opening on 9/11/11 as an abomination, and common sense is the the sort that Oiks oppose most vehemently!

Yet the oiks' vision of themselves as an intellectual aristocracy violates the first American principle ever articulated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . ."

This cannot be reconciled with the elitist notion that most men are economically insecure bitter clinging intolerant bigots who need to be governed by an educated elite. Marxism Lite is not only false; it is, according to the American creed, self-evidently false. That is why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting.

Ok, I'm SURE that he has it! This is EXACTLY what we have going on, and BO is the "Uber-Oik"!

Telling Us How to Think

CNN Compares Ground Zero Protestors to Nazi Sympathizers | NewsBusters.org

Any questions how we ought to think about protesting the mosque if you are a "CNN believer"?

See any mild difference in CNN treatment of Muslims, compared to say "the Religious Right"??

 Remember, the positions of the farthest out of the "Religious Right" on gays, treatment of women, freedom of expression, etc are LIBERAL in comparison to even "moderate" Muslims. The only significant reason that I can see for supporting Muslims over the imaginary "Religious Right"  is that the percentage of Muslims that hate America is WAY higher. I'm still waiting for the left to come up with another reason --- "you are a racist if you don't support it" is name calling, not a reason.

Live Free or Die

Obama Misreads Message of ‘Live Free or Die’: Amity Shlaes - Bloomberg

The founders wanted states to be the "labratories" that allowed Americans to test various government policies to see what worked, and to allow people to choose between different approaches, yet remain American. Shales does a good comparison between Maine and New Hampshire (thus the "Live Free or Die" ... state motto). As should surprise nobody, larger government loses.

This jury has been in forever, the only problem is that peoples memories are too short, and they confuse best available and unattainable perfection as goals. Free market policies are more successful, they are not perfect (humans are still involved). Recessions and potentially even depressions will happen, but there is nothing that can't be made worse (or less good) by the intervention of the government! As in the '30s, government can always make the pain deeper and longer lasting.

Just look at the current TX economy relative to CA or NY. The world had the best laboratory case that one could ever see with East and West Germany for 50 years + of the difference between more free and less free -- same people, different government, vastly inferior result on the more government side.

Greed is a deadly sin, but so is envy. Humans are very prone to both, but capitalism harnesses greed to grow the economic pie for all (imperfectly). Socialism harnesses envy to get supporters, but it only "produces" increasingly angry people fighting over an ever shrinking economic pie.

Friday, August 27, 2010

RealClearPolitics - No Compromise on Mosque

RealClearPolitics - No Compromise on Mosque

This is not a complicated matter. If you believe that an entire religion of upward of a billion followers attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, then it is understandable that locating a mosque near the fallen World Trade Center might be upsetting. But the facts are otherwise. Islam was not in on the attack -- just a sliver of believers. That being the case, those people with legitimate hurt feelings are mistaken. They need our understanding, not our indulgence.

See, it is simple. It has to be THE WHOLE religion before anyone MIGHT be "upset". Of course, the complete intolerance of Islam, a religion that demands the church and state be one, is not a consideration. Let's see, was it THE WHOLE "religious right" that "wanted to look in bedroom windows" just a little while ago?

The left wing of this country that can't stand even a Christian movie (remember "The Passion"?) is just brimming with "tolerance" for a religion in which wives can be beaten, gays are to be stoned, and ALL nations are to be united under Sharia law! How ought be "get along" on this?  The left has their typical answer; NO COMPROMISE! It is the "moral left" against the "bigots, demagogues and uninformed".

Appearing on ABC's "This Week with Christiane Amanpour," Daisy Khan, a founder of the mosque (and the wife of the imam), rejected any compromise. She was right to do so because to compromise is to accede, even a bit, to the arguments of bigots, demagogues or the merely uninformed. This is no longer her fight. The fight is now all of ours.

Reality Is

As economy slows and Fed voices conflict, markets look to Bernanke for guidance

The major power in the US Government is in the Congress. The Democrats took over in '06, we are now in our 4th year of Democrat rule and over 2 years into recession. Reality 1.

Wishful thinking is not a policy. Government is FAR more limited than what the left likes to believe relative to the economy. If it were not so, then the USSR would have been a huge success, and Japan and the European economies would have done vastly better than the US. They did not and are not -- but since we have made a hard turn toward emulating their approaches, we are seeing the same results -- only worse. We are much larger, so their bad policies are mega-bad when applied to the US.

The idea that "the economy always cycles and this is just a cycle" is based on way too short a sample set. BO and the Democrats talked the economy down as hard as they could in '08 in order to add to their election victories. The word "depression" was quite common leading up to the election. Their assumption --- and most people's assumption, was that the economy was going to bounce back quickly and that the stimulus was just a little extra insurance --- that is why they used most of the stimulus to transfer to states, largely to pay off government and teachers unions for supporting their election. They figured the economy would go up "like it always does" and they would claim credit.

Democrats yelled about deficits that were tiny relative to GDP -- and they always talked about those deficits "crowding out" loans to small business and consumers in the midst of a growing world wide economy. Now they are running multi-trillion dollar deficits in a global recession, and they have forgotten all about "crowding out". Democrats have no sense of perspective. I would have much rather seen smaller or non-existent deficits under Republican administrations, but those deficits were MUCH smaller, AND other than '82, they were in much better economic times. A few drinks are fine, not "perfect", but fine -- the Democrats are drinking a 5th of debt whiskey for breakfast, that is a problem!

At some point, people are going to have to start believing in THEMSELVES again! First, we have got to get a WHOLE bunch of government off our backs! 

Economy Stalled

GDP report - latimes.com

As we ought to have learned in the 30's, 60's, from Japan, from Europe, or from many other sources, capitalism is an imperfect system, but vastly better than the alternatives. Dem-O-nomics -- rob from the rich, the future and the productive, and give to the poor, the political cronies and the non-productive, DOESN'T WORK!!!!

That Old Ad Hominem Refuge

Charles Krauthammer - The last refuge of a liberal

If you can't figure out any way to beat your opponent on substance, call them names. The essence of liberal argument. Another great one by Charles.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reviving Us-Versus-Them Politics - Newsweek

Reviving Us-Versus-Them Politics - Newsweek

Remember that point after the 2K election when Democrats said "the court has spoken, let's all come together behind our new president as Americans"? Or after we were attacked on 9-11 and Democrats said "we are all American's, let's come together and support President Bush as he goes after the Axis of Evil"? Remember that?

Well, Elanor must, because this idea of "us vs them" is a new idea that Republicans are just reviving now!
During the 2008 presidential primaries, 7 percent of those polled in Texas, Florida, and Ohio thought Obama was a Muslim and 40 percent didn’t know what his religion was, “a near majority guilty of gross ignorance.”
uh, so what does he mean by "Obama's religion"? I think everyone knew Kennedy's religion -- Catholic. I'm thinking that W was a Methodist, but I'd be completely unsurprised to find that 40% (or more) didn't know that that (or that I might be wrong). AFAIK, BO attends no church at all at this point -- so what is the right answer? Unchurched?

7%??? I believe that you could get a poll that had 7% believing anything ... including that both they and BO were space aliens. What does THAT have to do with anything??

Monday, August 23, 2010

Understanding Analogy

Charles Krauthammer - Moral myopia at Ground Zero

Charles scores a 2nd good column on the Mosque issue, but I think the discussion of the different views of analogy and symbolism are the important part.

I'd proffer two items that based on many books and articles I believe to be as close as we currently get to scientific understanding of human thought:

1). We ONLY learn via analogy -- there is no "built in human brain instruction set", or "engrams", "collective unconscious", or other techie or murky spirituo-psycho building blocks of thought. It is all neurons, and the only "there, there" is the sucking and startle reflexes. It is a vast web of neural relationship.

2). Every analogy is imperfect -- as is every model of the universe. There are many that map quite precisely, but then one gets to the quantum level and finds even those are less precise then we had hoped. We are often confused because our MODELS (maps) can be VERY precise ... but alas, they are not the territory.

So for me, the operative paragraph is this:
Where the president flagged, however, the liberal intelligentsia stepped in with gusto, penning dozens of pro-mosque articles characterized by a frenzied unanimity, little resort to argument and a singular difficulty dealing with analogies.
Since we understand by analogy, when there is a conflict on an issue, it is almost always a conflict of analogies. For some reason, that comes out especially clearly on the Mosque issue.

My belief is that is because liberals see Islam as essentially the replacement for communism in their "enemy of my enemy is my friend" model. The USSR used to be the most potent anti-American power, so liberals were USSR apologists. Now, Islam is the most potent attacker, so they have moved their apologetics to that front.

We know they are not huge "religious supporters" -- see constant battles on any sort of visibility of Christianity; 10 commandments, prayer anywhere public, Christmas trees and manger scenes, etc. 

We also know they are not "minority religion supporters"  in any general way ... see treatment of Mormon sects -- which BTW have many of the same problems as Muslims relative to multiple / very young "wives". 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson

By Jann Wenner and Corley Seymour.

This book is largely made up of anecdotes by a broad set of people that were in Hunter's circle to varying degrees over his life. Lots of reading and lots of detail not really required to draw what seem like the very clear conclusions -- the book lets to draw your own in general, which I appreciated. A summary:

  • Hunter was a lifetime alcoholic and drug addict. Pot, coke, LSD, uppers, downers ... basically everything. Typical breakfast was a bunch of normal food, plus 6 Heineken and the better part of a 5th of gin. During the day it was constant beer and Chivas with a lot of alcohol diversity mixed in with an equal opportunity smorgasbord of drugs. 
  • He was at some level, a "genius" in that "Hells Angles", "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as books and a number of other columns from Rolling Stone are considered required reading, at least in the American left-wing canon. 
  • He was wired heavily into the American media left -- Rolling Stone, Saturday Night Live stars (Akroyd, Belushi, Murray), Don Johnson, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Jimmy Buffett, Sean Penn,  and many more.
  • The American media left and the political left are one in the same. The book contains comments on Hunter by McGovern, Carter, Gary Hart, John Kerry, James Carvelle (major Clinton operative), Pat Caddell (Democrat Pollster), Jack Germond (used to be on PBS panel show), Ed Bradley (CBS, 60min) and a number of others.
My major reactions to the book are really twofold. If one removes religion and the concept of an afterlife with some sort of judgement and "significantly bigger picture" from life, then Hunter's lifestyle of being drunk and stoned with a parade of early 20's women in his life is probably "the male optimum". As James Carville put it:
"And Hunter did something that none of us had the guts to do --- he led the kind of life that secretly all of us would like to have and had the guts to lead. To hell with the whole thing, just stay drunk and high and smoke and hang out and write outrageous things. He's never lived his life on anybody else's terms."
There is a nice picture in the book of the Rolling Stone political "Brain Trust", including Hunter, sitting around a table with Carville and Bill Clinton. We know that Bill Clinton lived as much of that life as he could get away with, as did Obama (he is VERY clear about that in his first book, in case you think I'm being unfair). 

Hunter essentially lived "the Democrat American Dream" -- drunk, stoned, a string of young women, complete irresponsibility and absolute and complete disdain for "anything Republican" ... Nixon, Reagan, Bush, religion, sobriety, responsibility, laws, values, etc.

The other major observation is how open the connections with the Democrats and media outlets that supposedly cover them as "journalists" really are. 

The idea that "Fox is biased" drives the left nuts. Meanwhile, the whole Hollywood, MSM, Democrat establishment have this completely incestuous, yet actually "open" if somebody just reads a few books or reads a few articles in their own mouthpieces. The general Democrat-Media nexus is sort of this totally open "wink-wink, nod-nod" collective. We know that Clinton LOVED to go to Hollywood and hang out with his pals, that lists and meetings of "how to get people on board with what Democrat X is doing" are common place. This book covers a couple such conclaves where the Rolling Stone was only one of the players -- NYT, NBC, CBS were also involved -- "getting the message across" was simply "the right thing to do".

In the Democrat mind, their "care for the little guy" is more than the equivalent of Christ dying on the cross for a Christian. Their moral superiority is so pervasive that it completely justifies virtually any act in their minds. The Democrats feel that "their care for the disadvantaged" and through their willingness to get "somebody else to pay" for the cost of that "caring" has completely absolved them from all past and future "sin". Christianity assumes "spiritual fruit" -- it assumes that redemption creates a response, a change that isn't grudging, but genuine. Democrat faith is faith that creates certainty (and supposedly happiness), while relying on the actions of others ("the rich") as it's agents, with it's "benefits" bestowed on others (the "poor").

While snorting enough coke, smoking enough pot, and drinking enough expensive booze to lift at least 100s if not thousands from poverty, Hunter always "cared for the little guy" -- and Hunter could tell that Nixon and Reagan didn't, so that made them 100% evil, and Hunter 100% good. A moral universe devoid of gray.

The fact that he lived 67 years, never drying out or going straight is a testimony to superhuman organ strength. I suppose I'll get to reading Hells Angles and "Vegas" at some point -- if only to improve my understanding of the liberal mind by another meager notch.

Very hard to recommend the book ... skim for names that you find to be interesting would be my recommendation if so inclined.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Victory in Iraq - WSJ.com

Victory in Iraq - WSJ.com

"Success as a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan" (JFK)

What ever happened to the wisdom of that phrase? In Iraq, the US MSM and Democrats declared "Failure" loudly and often -- because they were certain they could stick Bush with fatherhood.

Now that Victory is the result, the response is very muted. (silent?)

Some will say, "oh, but the cost was too high". It was too high in WWI, WWII, Korea and every other war ever fought as well. Cost is what it is. The difficult, the worthy, the risky -- they never come cheap. The easy, the meaningless, the "gimme" -- they often seem cheap for a season, but their expense turns out to be even greater than a difficult, worthy risk that ends in loss. Some things are worth dying for, some things aren't worth spit.

We live in the statist house of mirrors where even victory can have no father, since the very concepts of "success" or "victory", except as expressions of raw political power, have been repealed. To be successful is to be suspect -- failure is the positive coin of the realm. It draws the support of the state.

Thank you George W Bush, and thank you to all the troops that fought the good fight! There are still those of us who celebrate victory, and we will taste it again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How Low Can He Go?

The stunning decline of Barack Obama: 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in meltdown – Telegraph Blogs

One has to go overseas to hear the details of BO's negative poll numbers. Time was when every teeny slide down for W was front page news in every US MSM outlet. My how times have changed. Remember when the world was CERTAIN to just LOVE the scent of BO?

My title for this is just trying to help the MSM find the kind of headline that they would have been using had these numbers been for W vs BO!!
Against this backdrop, the president’s approval ratings have been sliding dramatically all summer, with the latest Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll of US voters dropping to minus 22 points, the lowest point so far for Barack Obama since taking office. While just 24 per cent of American voters strongly approve of the president’s job performance, almost twice that number, 46 per cent, strongly disapprove. According to Rasmussen, 65 per cent of voters believe the United States is going down the wrong track, including 70 per cent of independents.

Being President Is Hard, Who Knew?

Washington, We Have a Problem | Politics | Vanity Fair

Oh the horror of the difficulty of being President. It was SO EASY just 10 years ago that even the village idiot, Bush, could do it. Now? The Federal Government has gotten so big an unwieldy, and those NASTY Republicans in the minority -- they just aren't docile and concerned about "the bigger issues" like the Democrats were back when Bush was elected. There is the internet, lobbyists, disasters, fund raising -- it is enough to make your head spin. WAY different from what it was for Bush, and so so much more difficult! If only poor BO had known!

Remember how the the whole media cheered for Bush to succeed after the drawn out election of '00? Neither do I ... but apparently Vanity Fair just discovered that it is a really tough job when some of media is against you. They must mean Fox, because clearly they will carry water for BO no matter how clear it becomes that failing at being a Community Organizer was a pretty darned good indicator how he would fail as President!

Perhaps BO and company ought to just bag it and go on vacation? Oh, they already did? Never mind.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Aftershock, Wiedemer/Spitzer

"Protect Yourself and profit in the next global financial meltdown".

You may read the sub-head and say "I hope that is a long time", but these guys would tell you that we have not yet begun. They called the housing bubble correctly in their first book "America's Bubble Economy" that came out in '06--something they are NOT going to let you forget during the book, and remind the reader CONSTANTLY.

The thesis of this book is that we have a series of bubbles, and they are all going to "pop" -- once it started happening, there is no stopping it:

  1. Real Estate
  2. Stock
  3. Private Debt
  4. Discretionary Spending
  5. Dollar
  6. Government Debt
While I think a number of their conclusions are essentially correct, I really question some of their overly confident what I would call "pseudo science" methodologies that supposedly go into their predictions. A big one is "Science, Technology, Economics, Politics" ... "STEP".  Page 189 "If our current economy is part of a long evolution of society, life, and the universe---starting from the Big Bang--then there are certain predictable forces that drive economic evolution."

Really? Let's get this straight, the Big Bang was a random purposeless event that randomly kicked off a random process on the third rock from a ho hum sun called "evolution", eventually resulting in organisms that formed cultures and eventually economies -- all without any direction of course, completely on a random basis. But that begets? "predictable forces that drive economic evolution"?  Can anyone say "leap of faith"?

While some of their thinking may border on New Age, and they are clearly liberal in orientation:

p 188, "candidates will step forward who are willing to support real and responsible reforms, politicians more like Franklin Roosevelt than Herbert Hoover".  Sadly, it is hard to be much more historically unaware than that -- both FDR and Hoover were huge "progressives", Hoover was ALL OVER the model of heavy government interference and was taking steps just like FDR even before the election, and certainly during the lame duck period until FDRs inauguration. Another huge parallel to now -- with Bush heavily "progressive", just less so than BO.

p221, box, "The only silver lining to this dreadful situation may be that after a while, people will become unhappy enough with the high levels of violence that they consider ways of reducing it that were previously unthinkable in the United States, such as gun control."

See the very clear crystal ball that these guys have says that unemployment is going to be over 60%, inflation is going to be in the 100's of percentage points, the government will no longer be able to borrow money and this will go on for "a decade", but there will be no real general move to any sort of a massive government re-structure. No, the "gun nuts" will just stick to shooting their own family, friends, and co-workers, so hopefully, that can get us the basic good of "gun control" -- all a matter of what is important to you.

Even with all their slightly odd views, we now have liberal gold bugs! We must have crossed some sort of metaphysical tipping point. P138, "Gold is a rising bubble on it's way to becoming one of the biggest asset bubbles of all time. Second only to the fall of the dollar bubble, the bursting of the gold bubble will be quite impressive as well."

But that won't be for a long time in financial terms -- they of course have huge faith in the system, so recommend having your gold held in some certificates, but since I'm not as liberal as they are, I'm betting BO and company are going to be looking to CONFISCATE any gold that is listed in that kind of account, and giving you a "really good deal" on some "inflation protected" government debt rather than that gold.

It isn't that super of a book ... but as I say, it does break some new ground to see relative lefties pretty convinced it is all coming down around our ears.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Location Matters

Charles Krauthammer - Sacrilege at Ground Zero:

Good coverage by Charles. One has to be VERY out of touch to support this Mosque--no surprise that many liberals do.

Ten Commandments in a public place? Christmas tree in the public square? Silent prayer in a locker room? Break out the "wall of separation".
Mosque at Ground Zero? Hey, what in the world would the problem be?

Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history -- perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Never Enough, William Voegeli

"America's Limitless Welfare State", by William Voegeli.

SUPER, SUPER important, extremely well written and readable book. I reviewed it on Amazon (which I don't usually do), so I'll start with that as "the short version".

No review is going to do this book justice, just buy it and read it. While it is a very serious work on the very serious issue of the ever more unaffordable and expanding US welfare state, it is ALSO highly readable and witty. It successfully covers the difficulties of the competing liberal and conservative world views, philosophical strengths an weaknesses in each, and what Voegeli sees as the political realities that affect the debate. The conclusion is that the best hope for heading off the impending (or already occurring) collapse brought on by the lack of limit in the liberal view, conservatives must cease trying to turn the clock back and focus on a discussion about "how much" rather than "we have already gone to far". It may well be true that we have already gone too far, but a discussion of what is an appropriate limit will engage the liberals in a discussion that rests on the weakest part of there position rather than the strongest, and be the best hope for finally getting to some level we have at least a prayer to afford and sustain.

I stand by that, but I like to leave some key memories for myself out here.

p86 is a good discussion of FDRs "2nd bill of rights", which the left in this country has continued to try to pass.

p99, "Liberalism is even more of an attitude than it is a program. Liberals are critical of injustice, suspicious of vested interests, friendly to change, hopeful of peaceful improvement and convinced that reasoned argument ultimately overcomes selfish opposition."

One wonders if reasoned argument can also overcome vacuous platitudes, straw-man arguments and wishful thinking?  It reminds me so much of a liberal survey person that once asked me "are you in favor of clean water" -- to which I responded "compared to what?". They simply could not conceive of a heart so foul that there would be "strings". I think I proffered something like "at what cost? My eternal soul? the life of my first born child? a buck ??? ... it makes a difference." Needless to say, not to the "survey taker". "critical of injustice" is sophistry plain and simple ... the opposition is NOT "critical of injustice"???? Oh, I'm sure they are, they are in fact likely critical of the very injustice (in their eyes) that the "liberal" is about to foist upon them.

"The danger liberalism poses to the American experiment comes from it's disposition to deplete rather than replenish the capital required for self-government. The operation of entitlement programs leaves the country financially overextended, while the rhetoric and rationale for those programs leave it politically overextended. They proffer new "rights", goad people to demand and expand those rights aggressively, and disdain truth-in-advertising about the nature and scope of the new debts and obligations those rights will engender.  The moral and social capital required by the experiment in self-government is the cultivation, against the grain of a democratic age, of the virtues of forbearance, resolve, sacrifice, and restraint."

"The refusal to answer or engage the question of what would be enough--specifying the point at which the welfare state has done all we can expect and can no longer be expanded--leaves liberalism inviting, if not demanding, that dissipation ...permanently. Conservatives will have discharged a significant portion of their duty to protect our experiment in self-government if they can induce liberals to fulfill their duty by treating this question seriously--or make them pay a political price for refusing to."
The book is full of that kind of writing. It's major specific policy proposal is that means testing of all the benefits of the welfare system is our best hope. Conservatives need to admit that such a system is going to exist, but ask the question "should someone that makes over xxx $ be getting FICA"???  The only way that the welfare system can do the most good for the needy is to focus the benefits on the needy. The fiction that everyone in the US can be a net importer (eventually, if you live long enough) of the dollars of the welfare state, vs a net exporter has to stop!

4 Principles of Liberal Mind

American Thinker: Manufacturing Liberals

This article does a nice summary of how one can end up a liberal:

  1. Education via indoctrination -- Unionized teachers, far left university professors, never being exposed to dialogue, different views, conservative thought as anything but a bad example.
  2. Possibility more important than probability -- I MIGHT win the lottery, or we MIGHT be able to pay for this great program ... don't tell me it is against the odds.
  3. Sympathy vs Empathy -- I may never have been poor, but somebody told me how to think about being poor. I don't know any "x" (illegal aliens, drug addicts, etc), but somebody told me the right (sympathetic) way to think about them. Empathy would call you to action -- not try to force someone else to take care of it.
  4. Control vs Freedom -- Better have some "system" make things work out the way the liberal wants. Seems too hard to allow free people to operate. Better use force (control).

When we put these four principles together, we begin to see a familiar pattern. The mindset of ordinary liberals begins with indoctrination. The world is primarily viewed through the imagination. Liberals favor sympathy over empathy and embrace possibility rather than probability. Liberals long for a utopia, or perfect world, and believe that some greater power (the government) can solve problems outside of their personal control.

Notice how similar the liberal mindset is to the belief systems of the pious -- with a crucial difference: Members of the various religions accept the fact that many of their theological principles are based upon belief. Knowledgeable practitioners of most religious sects willingly admit that the acceptance of a particular dogma is, in the final analysis, a matter of faith. This is why the catechism and the various professions of many denominations feature the words "We [or "I"] believe ..."

As I've often said ... liberalism is a religion, it just doesn't admit that all of it's tenets are just as much a matter of faith than any other religion.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Political Payola on Parade

Stimulus Pushers - WSJ.com

Were the Republicans executing a direct political payoff for a major voting block with deficit funds in an an election year with all sorts of seedy attempts to contramand state budgets to the benefits of their special interest, the MSM would be screaming holy hell. Doing it during a recess, in August and rushing it through with no chance for media discussion? Sauce for the goose ... and again, not problem at all for the MSM. Remember when "the swamp" needed to be drained?

"Transparency"? HA! And some fools think that the Queen of Slither, Nancy, is going be doing any draining? Why don't we have Charlie Manson run a home for wayward girls? Those kiddies are no doubt distracted by her little forked tongue flicking in and out while she signs away more of our present and their future.

My god, have they no mercy at all? Those innocent kids in such close proximity to Nancy? What if her tail swings around and whacks one of them? Does the term "political grandstanding" just completely fall out of the MSMs brains when Democrats are in office? A spectacle that gives shamelessness a bad name.

Kickbacks and lining their own campaign coffers in one fell swoop ... with innocent litte kiddies looking on. Political child porn.

Keep in mind that this teacher bailout also amounts to a huge contribution by Democrats to their own election campaigns. The National Right to Work Committee estimates that two of every three teachers belong to unions. The average union dues payment varies, but a reasonable estimate is that between 1% and 1.5% of teacher salaries goes to dues. The National Education Association and other unions will thus get as much as $100 million in additional dues from this bill, much of which will flow immediately to endangered Democratic candidates in competitive House and Senate races this year.


So in the name of still another "stimulus," Democrats are rewarding their own political funders, putting the most fiscally responsible states into even greater distress, and postponing the day of reckoning for spendthrift states. Oh, and Mr. Obama rushed to sign the bill Tuesday, violating his campaign pledge to give the public five days to read legislation online. As we say, the only way for voters to stop such fiscal abuse is to run this crowd out of town.

US Bankruptcy

U.S. Is Bankrupt and We Don't Even Know: Laurence Kotlikoff - Bloomberg

Actually, some of us DID know, but no matter.

But delve deeper, and you will find that the IMF has effectively pronounced the U.S. bankrupt. Section 6 of the July 2010 Selected Issues Paper says: “The U.S. fiscal gap associated with today’s federal fiscal policy is huge for plausible discount rates.” It adds that “closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of U.S. GDP.”

That just means that we would have to DOUBLE our current tax take, which isn't going to happen ...

The Embarrassment of BO

Fouad Ajami: The Obsolescence of Barack Obama - WSJ.com

I'm a long way from declaring the danger or the damage of BO as being somehow "over" ... this column may be correct in a lot of it's conclusions, but I think it is too early to be drawing them until January 20th 2013 with the embarrassment safely out the door and healing under way.

This paragraph captures a general mood of August 2010 for more and more people. I've been embarrassed since the summer of '08.

It is in the nature of charisma that it rises out of thin air, out of need and distress, and then dissipates when the magic fails. The country has had its fill with a scapegoating that knows no end from a president who had vowed to break with recriminations and partisanship. The magic of 2008 can't be recreated, and good riddance to it. Slowly, the nation has recovered its poise. There is a widespread sense of unstated embarrassment that a political majority, if only for a moment, fell for the promise of an untested redeemer—a belief alien to the temperament of this so practical and sober a nation.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Democrats Making Sense

RealClearPolitics - Real Democrats

Pretty good column. I hope BO fails to take her advice, because I'd love to see him be a one term president ... in fact, even with "compromise", I'm not sure our country can survive two BO terms. I'm absolutely sure that I don't want to try.

I think the real message here is how huge the difference is between the MSM treatment of Democrats and Republicans. I'm not sure that Bush vacationed much of anywhere other than his Texas Ranch -- and the MSM was all over him for taking any vacation at all with "troops in the field". (did they all come home recently?) My main MSM coverage comes from CNN and NPR -- they aren't very concerned about either Michelle's Spanish junket or the family planned outing to the Vineyard. In fact, were it not for some right wing media exposure, I'm not sure I'd know about either.

I think Susan is pessimistic here. The MSM is very powerful, and even more powerful among Democrats. While they constantly harped on W being "out of touch, arrogant, rich, not caring for normal Americans, stupid, not dedicated to his job, etc, etc", you can bet they will continue to do the opposite with BO ... even though I'd argue that actual evidence, even from a real Democrat like Susan, is actually pretty much that what they had wrong about W, they would have right about BO -- were they willing to say it.

NOBODY is more arrogant than BO, and that almost insures being out of touch. He is certainly "rich enough" now in his Tony Rezko aided Chicago home, and in the future, he will roll it in like Slick Willie to the tune of 100's of millions. BO has played plenty of golf all along and had his share of good times -- do I begrudge him that? No, only one ought to think a bit of the contrast with the quality of the work done by Bush, or for that matter Reagan, while the press harped and harped about any opportunity they took for R&R. Let's face it, over 50 days before hardly even noticing the oil spill would have been plastered all over the press forever -- see Katrina, or the Challenger disaster for that matter as past examples. When a Republican is in the WH and something bad happens, the MSM KNOWS who is at fault right away!

Stupid? Well, in Forest Gump terms, "stupid is as stupid does". IQ is pretty useless as a measure -- the Unibomber is a total genius, but I don't think that would make him a good President. Media pronouncements aside, "Presidential Intelligence" is pretty much "Emotional Intelligence", which means paying attention to the kinds of things that Susan discusses here. Very hard to rate it when the MSM goes completely overboard to try to make one guy look as good as they can, and to make the other brand look as bad as they can -- but I think the fact that we now have more and more Democrats seeing to the obvious concerns about BO that Susan does here, gives a bit of strong insight.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Cash Nexus, Niall Ferguson

"Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000".

I continue to marvel at Ferguson, "erudite" is a word that clearly applies. Hopefully I'll be able to get some blogs out on a series of books to provide myself with perspective of the current financial and political state of the US and the world, and this book is one of the cornerstones.

"This books conclusion is that money does not make the world go round any more than the characters in "Crime and Punishment" act according to logarithm tables. Rather it has been political events --above all wars--that have shaped the institutions of modern economic life: tax collecting, bureaucracies, central banks, bond markets, stock exchanges. Moreover, it has been domestic political conflicts--not only over expenditure, taxation and borrowing, but also over non-economic issues like religion and national identity-- that have driven the evolution of modern political institutions: above all, parliaments and parties."
Niall isn't the most reachable of authors, but he did deliver on that thesis in my opinion.
"In the modern democracy...policy may ultimately be controlled by, and in the interests of, the majority of an electorate consisting mainly of the poorer classes, while revenue is obtained mainly from a minority of wealthy persons."
"The lack of deficits before 1973 also casts doubt on the theory of the inherent "democratic deficit", which predicts that democracies will tend to run deficits because the electorate favors public spending but is averse to taxation". 
Ferguson is British, so Britain gets at least as much scope as the US, but he is trying to be general. Essentially, a lot of the issues come back to the old "gold question". Without a fixed peg, countries and financial systems tend to just float off into speculation, inflation, and finally crash.

"Set in this comparative perspective, the subsequent increase of the debt under Reagan--which at the time caused commentators so much angst--was modest ..."

His point, as is the point of the book, is PERSPECTIVE -- relative to GDP, relative to winning the cold war, relative to historical debt in the US and other countries. One of the main weapons the MSM and especially left politicians like to use is the supposed "primacy of the moment". What is happening TODAY is "special, unique, maybe a "crisis", maybe "the greatest (or worst) ever" ... depending on of course who is in power. For the MSM, deficits under Reagan and under Bush were horrific -- deficits 3-5x as large under Obama? No problem at all, with many talking heads indicating that they "ought to be larger", and "deficits aren't really a problem.
"All these countries are actively encouraging their citizens, by a variety of incentives, to provide for ill health or retirement by investing directly, or through mutual and pension funds, in the stock market. In combination, these forces are causing an unprecedented shift in the balance of financial forces, so that the market capitalization of the NYSE is now for times greater than the stock of US Treasuries."
Er, at least they WERE encouraging (Britain, Germany, US, etc) ... with the failure of trying to start some privatization of FICA and now the add of health care to the never ending list of "entitlements", it appears that the US has lost it's way from this happy approach.
"Since 1899 the price of a loaf of bread in Britain has risen by a factor of 32; the price of an ounce of gold by factor of 38. Indeed, an ounce of gold buys approximately the same amount of bread today as it bought in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, more than 2,500 years ago."
As I said, I'm reading a series of books on past and present economic and political crisis. The basic bottom line is "get at least 5% of your portfolio in gold -- maybe 10%".  Pay no attention to what looks like "record prices"  --  ratios like the above tell you what you need to know. When governments get stupid, private ownership of gold as a store of value is key, and the time to buy is NOW -- before they make it illegal to own gold, as they did in the past.
"Past experience therefore tends to suggest that asymmetric fiscal problems--often, but not necessarily generated by war--quickly cause monetary unions between politically independent states to dissolve. In the case of present day Europe, it seems quite possible that the strains caused by unaffordable social security and pension systems could have similar centrifugal effects ..."
What is obvious to a historian like Ferguson, and what ought now be obvious to even the most out of touch liberal at this juncture, is that most of the worlds social security, pension, and medical systems are unaffordable. When something can't go on forever, it doesn't.
"further democratization may retard growth because of the heightened concern with social programs and income redistribution"
"...concluded that political instability is more harmful to growth than the absence of democracy".
In other words, investors and business people know they have to deal with "real risk" -- competition, natural disaster, price fluctuations, etc. What  they can't deal with is "created risk" -- what new tax, fee, rule, directive, price control, etc will be randomly hurled down from the idiots in Washington (or London). They know that the "real risk climate" is pretty much a constant and beyond anyone's control, but once they have seen "reasonable government", they are unlikely to invest and create under "activist government".

Excellent work, bit of a tug, but worth the struggle. Not reachable enough for me to recommend to all, but if one is up for a bit of a worthwhile challenge, I have yet to see Niall disappoint.

Krugman's detour on 'Roadmap' to solvency - JSOnline

Krugman's detour on 'Roadmap' to solvency - JSOnline:

I think this past blog post on Krugman ought to have completely removed his credibility on deficits. To argue that smaller deficits are huge problem under W, then to turn around an argue that HUGE deficits are too small and no problem at all under BO is simply proof that he is either insane, or merely a pure partisan.

Ryan may be one of the best hopes for keeping this collapse to '70s levels vs 30's levels. His Roadmap ought to be the economic plank for returning the Republicans to control of congress. An excerpt:

"It reforms Medicare and Social Security so those in and near retirement (55 and older) will see no change in their benefits while preserving these programs for future generations of Americans. We do not have a choice on whether Medicare and Social Security will change from their current structure - the true debate is if and how these programs will be made solvent."

Friday, August 06, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

BO's Father Served in WWII

But for what country? Certainly not the US ... his biological father was Kenyan and too young. BO was known as Barry Souetto (BS ... maybe more apt) up to early adulthood. Maybe that Philipine stepfather served? or maybe he is just fabricating like he usually does.

In any case ... BO doesn't know if his father served in WWII, Dan Quayle can't spell potato ... one is a big news story at the time, the other is nada.

Our media is unbiased.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Imagine a Lunatic

Op-Ed Columnist - The Lunatic’s Manual - NYTimes.com

Reading this column made me thing of John Lennon's "Imagine" ... "nothing to fight or die for". I strongly suspect that Herbert can't "imagine" anything worth that kind of commitment, thus the column.

The strange idea that war at any level is a "shared commitment" that requires the "sacrifice" of tax increases, while massive entitlements apparently are not, is especially curious. Historically, the situation is exactly the reverse -- WWII, which Herbert holds up as an example was of course paid for via a massive level of government debt.

Virtually nobody sees national defense as anything but a national priority of the highest order. If a couple major cities are smoking nuclear wastelands, considerations as to "infrastructure" and the latest entitlement will drop extremely far on the priority list of the sane.

In the "Herbert Universe", both Bush and BO are "lunatics", and I guess "somewhere out there" exists the level of sanity confidently declared by Bob Herbert.

One quote:

It’s time to bring the curtain down for good on these tragic, farcical wars. The fantasy of democracy blossoming at the point of a gun in Iraq and spreading blithely throughout the Middle East has been obliterated. And it’s hard to believe that anyone buys the notion that the U.S. can install a successful society in the medieval madness of Afghanistan.

So BO just declared that HIS ADMINSTRATION had brought the troops home and was "declaring victory". So is what is happening in Iraq a "fantasy that as been obliterated"? Once we "put the lunatics manual" aside, what do we see? The world as seen by Herbert?

Two Ways To Live Life

Op-Ed Columnist - The Summoned Self - NYTimes.com

First, I want to applaud Brooks for even travelling this ground, most folks seem happy to not even think about what they are up to for their four score and ten. Now to get snarky.

There are two kinds of people, those that divide groups into two groups, and those who don't ;-)

or my favorite, there are 10 kinds of people, those that understand binary and those who don't!

It is interesting to me that Brooks assigns Christensen, "the well planned life" and the "other" as the "summoned life". Supposedly, the person in the "summoned life" is always asking "what are my circumstances asking me to do?". Christensen is a Christian, part of what he does is ask God what his life is about. I'd argue that if one is determined to come up with two basic categories, the categories are life based on Transcendence (God, something bigger, philosophy, etc), or "Situational Ethics" ... what does it seem is the right thing for me to do today based on knowledge, experience, the environment, etc. So were I to label Brook's categories, they would be "Summoned" -- the God (or other transcendent) directed life, or "Situational" ... I'll make it up as I go along.

I'm not really a "two class" person ... I think "avoidance, distraction, ignorance and procrastination" are all more common categories for "how to live my life" than the ones that Brooks happened to pick out, but it is worth low cost of the quick skim anyway.