Archive for the 'Leftism' Category
Posted by David Foster on 7th June 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
The government of Sweden didn’t do a very good job of protecting its citizens and their property from the rampant rioting that took place in late May.
Government agents did, however, fulfill their duty of issuing parking tickets…to burned-out cars.
Link with picture
I’m reminded of an old SF story, “Dumb Waiter,” written by Walter Miller, who is best known for his novel A Canticle for Leibowitz. This story, which dates from 1952, lacks the philosophical depth of Canticle, but seems quite relevant to the events in Sweden.
In the story, cities have become fully automated—municipal services are provided by robots linked to a central computer system. But when war erupted–featuring radiological attacks–some of the population was killed, and the others evacuated the cities. In the city that is the focus of the story, there are no people left, but “Central” and its subunits are working fine, doing what they were programmed to do many years earlier.
The radiation levels have died down now, and the city is now habitable, from a radiological standpoint–but the behavior of the automated systems, although designed with benign intent, now makes entry to the city very dangerous.
Mitch, the protagonist, resolves to go into the city, somehow get control of Central, and reprogram it so that it will be an asset rather than a hazard for future human occupants of the city. The first thing he sees is a robot cop, giving a ticket to a robot car with no human occupants. Shortly thereafter, he himself is stopped for jaywalking by another robot cop, and given a summons to appear in traffic court. He also observes a municipal robot mailing out batches of delinquent utility-bill notices to customers who no longer exist.
Eventually Mitch establishes contact with Central and warns it that a group of men are planning to blow it up in order to have unhindered access to the city for looting…that the war is over, and Central needs to revise its behavior to compensate for the changed situation. The response is that he himself is taken away for interrogation. He hears a woman crying in an adjacent cell—she has been arrested by a robot cop for some reason or other, and her baby was separated from her and is being held in the city nursery.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Big Government, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Management, Political Philosophy, Tech | 20 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th June 2013 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
(Just for fun, from out of my NCOBrief archives, an essay from July, 2010.)
You know, out of all of the things that I was afraid might happen, after the presidential coronation of Obama, the Fresh Prince of Chicago . . . I never considered that race relations might be one of those things which would worsen. Hey – lots of fairly thoughtful and well-intentioned people of pallor voted for him, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, or at least in some expectation of him being a fairly well adjusted and centrist politician, or at least a fast learner. Wasn’t that what all the top pundits, and the mainstream media were insisting, all during the 2008 campaign . . . well, once they got up from their knees and wiped the drool off their chins.
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Posted in Americas, Big Government, Blogging, Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Leftism, Obama, Politics, Predictions, USA | 3 Comments »
Posted by Carl from Chicago on 2nd June 2013 (All posts by Carl from Chicago)
The NY Times had a solid article called “China’s Expanding Economic Empire” in today’s paper. It describes how China is using its’ state owned companies to expand globally, particularly in Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Asia.
Ultimately, thanks to the deposits of over a billion Chinese savers, China Inc. has been able to acquire strategic assets worldwide.
In addition to using their savings and financial discipline to acquire companies, China has infrastructure capabilities honed from building out their country and is able to bring staff locally to complete projects such as pipelines, railroads, mines and factories, thereby re-cycling their financial investments back into their own service companies.
The article discusses Greenland, where China has proposed to come in and develop their vast resources in return for access to commodities only if the local government by-passes wage laws and other restrictions to allow the Chinese to being in their own labor. Since no one else is offering to develop Greenland and their native workforce is ill-equipped to meet the challenge of modern infrastructure development and operations, it will be China’s by default.
However, the article does not mention anywhere the key variable that keeps Western countries non-competitive in these regions – our own laws against corruption and bribery which are likely the only way to win bids throughout most of the developing world (the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act). China has no compunction about working with anyone and doing whatever it takes to win these bids.
In addition, China doesn’t care about its reputation with the local workforce, unless things get really bad (i.e. people start getting shot). China brings its own value chain end to end, from the initial financing, to awarding bids to Chinese companies, to China pushing their surplus (skilled) labor and their own infrastructure even to support their staff (i.e. bringing in their own food). Western companies try to bring in the local work force and are sensitive to local suppliers on a relative basis.
While the article is generally full of relevant facts and analysis (except for the critical omission of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which basically gave the world to China on a platter), it ends on a completely false two paragraphs.
As China becomes a global player and a fierce competitor… its political system and state capitalist ideology pose a threat. It is therefore essential that Western governments stick to what has been the core of Western prosperity: the rule of law, political freedom, and fair competition… giving up on our commitment to human rights, or being compliant in the face of rapacious state capitalism, will hurt Western countries in the long term. It is China that needs to adapt to the world, not the other way around.
I am frankly astonished that the editor let them add these paragraphs to let the article end on such a false note. There is no evidence that our methods of not complying with local practices is working; in fact the entire article proves that our Western methods are failing.
If a country is led by a strongman you need to deal with a strongman or you won’t be in business; this is obvious, the Chinese know it, and we don’t have a chance in h*ll of competing with it. As a result, we are handing the Chinese the world on a platter. We will ultimately adapt to China, not the other way around.
Cross posted at LITGM
Posted in China, Leftism, Media | 11 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th May 2013 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
And so it begins; at first a trickle of rocks falling down a steep mountainside; then more and bigger rocks, and then half the mountainside comes away and falls away in a mighty roar, the earth trembles, and White House spokes-minion Jay Carney is probably looking around desperately trying to figure out what hit him. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Leftism, Obama, Taxes, Tea Party, The Press, USA | 21 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 13th May 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
J.V. DeLong in a comment at The Right Coast:
Maybe it was a bad week for the Obama administration — and maybe it was a fine week.
If the Obama-ists weather these scandals with no damage except squawking from the conservatives, then they will know that they are invulnerable, and are free to use the IRS, the regulatory agencies, and the legal system to harass all enemies without limit.
The real test is of the Democratic Party. Does it stand with the Republic, or has it turned into a Leninist party that controls the government according to the will of the Leader? Based on the performance of the Dems at the Benghazi hearing, the latter seems the case.
Posted in Big Government, Current Events, Leftism, Obama, Politics, Quotations | 12 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 24th April 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
The Tsarnaev’s were showered with a huge amount of things. And did they like it? No they hated it. Hated the whole idea of the dirty, degenerate, corrupt West. They hated the idea and took the goodies without a thought. Despite this the mainstream culture is set to respond to their attack with more things. More drones, detectors, armored vehicles, barriers, restrictions, weapons, armor …. more items the list of which goes on and on. But omitted from the catalog of responses will be any campaign to mentally engage radical Islam — to debate against it, denounce it or render it uncool — because that would be bigoted.
It is often forgotten that Freedom of Speech means debate. It means patches on software, not paint on the equipment box. It means fixing the insubstantial. It means mental action. This is important because in the case of radical Islam Freedom of Speech has been redefined as the obligation to remain silent. That obligation has even been given a special term: it is called Tolerance. And no one seems to have noticed that Tolerance is essentially the opposite of Freedom of Speech. It means don’t program. Don’t unhack the hack. Do nothing. Pretend it’s all a joke. Watch the whole system melt down. Tolerance is a rejection of the manifest truth that information matters because it can cure or it can kill.
George W. Bush’s biggest mistake was to avoid making a serious effort to confront radical Islam intellectually. He had the right general idea, which was that radical Islam is an existential threat that we must defeat, and that defeating it would require many years and the use of force to punish and destroy the Islamist regimes that attack the West through terrorist proxies and eventually WMD. He got about one-half of the use-of-force part right, which isn’t a bad outcome in the scheme of things. However, he failed almost completely in making a public rhetorical and intellectual case against radical Islam and for his geopolitical strategy. As a result of this failure, ten years later most Americans are ignorant about or misunderstand his strategy and have elected feckless leaders who are reversing his gains, while radical Islam is advancing against only weak intellectual opposition in its areas of operation.
Posted in Islam, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Terrorism | 21 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th April 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Update #2: I have great deal of respect for Richard Fernandez and his opinions.
The second part of the response is that an outsourced, privatized jihad will probably be increasingly met by privatized security regime based on reputation. With the government unwilling to profile in a increasingly vulnerable public space some entrepreneurs may create members-only events where attendance is limited to pre-cleared individuals who pay to have themselves vetted.
I think this has merit.
UPDATE: There have been three more arrests of young people with heavy Russian accents near U Mass. They had a car, a BMW, with the license plate “terrorista #1. Photos at the link.
One jihadist is dead and the other is in custody. The younger bomber’s wounds have not been described so it is impossible to say if he will survive. The emergency is over and now it is time to think about why this happened. It now appears that both young men were long time residents of this country and, at least the younger was a citizen. Both had registered to vote, according to Nexis. The older brother was married with a child. His wife had converted to Islam and, according to reports yesterday, was wearing a full chador when she was taken from their home protesting about a male FBI agent handling a Muslim woman. She was lucky, as one commenter observed, that she was not strip searched as Chechen women have been prominent in terrorism cases in Russia, sometimes as suicide bombers wearing bomb belts.
The majority [of suicide bombers] are male, but a huge fraction — over 40 percent — are women. Although foreign suicide attackers are not unheard of in Chechnya, of the 42 for whom we can determine place of birth, 38 were from the Caucasus. Something is driving Chechen suicide bombers, but it is hardly global jihad.
I doubt the Times’ insistence on the absence of Islamist motives although Chechens have been at war with Russians for centuries. The suicide bomb is a common weapon for jihadists. The Palestinian “Mother of Martyrs” comes to mind.
Mariam Farhat, who said she wished she had 100 sons to die while attacking Israelis, died in a Gaza city hospital of health complications including lung ailments and kidney failure, health official Ashraf Al-Kidra said. She was 64.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anti-Americanism, Britain, Civil Society, Immigration, Islam, Leftism, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Religion, Russia, Terrorism | 5 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 17th April 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
UPDATE #5 Patterico has another story. The man who lost both legs and was shown in a graphic photo linked at Patterico, saw the bomber drop the backpack and look him in the eyes. A few minutes later, the bomb went of and blew off both legs of the witness.
UPDATE #4 Here is another photo of the white hat suspect taken by a runner who had finished the marathon and who heard the blast of the bombs. The photo was taken AFTER the bombs went off. Does this fellow have a backpack ? I can’t see it.
The NY Times has enlargements but has blocked uploads of them. He is walking by the corner of the building to the left of the photo. The man who took it has turned it over to the FBI.
Here is an enlargement I made and I don’t see the backpack. This is the suspect the FBI says dropped his backpack by the Forum Restaurant, the site of bomb #2.
UPDATE #3: Here are the FBI website photos of suspects. These photos are not the same as shown on the NY Post’s front page or on other sites.
Here is one I’ll call “black hat.” The other, called “white hat” is behind him.
And the other, “white hat” , is shown in close up. He fits a description of a guy with a hat on backwards and I have not seen his photo elsewhere. Neither is more than “a person of interest.”
Note that the other sites linked to below have deleted photos or changed to the above photos which now seem to be official.
UPDATE #2: A suspect is now being sought based on the video which shows him dropping off a backpack at the site of the second bomb. He was then seen leaving the area.
UPDATE: Aside from all the confusion by the media, there does seem to be video footage of suspects. In stills linked by Grurray below, two appear possibly middle eastern but it is way too early to say anything more.
The Boston Marathon bombs have focused attention on a subject not popular with this administration. It would really be inconvenient if it was an act of an Islamic extremist, even a homegrown one. The bombs appear now to be based on black powder placed in metal pressure cookers which were also filled with shrapnel-like objects such as nails and ball bearings.
This photo shows the remains of a blasted pressure cooker found at the scene.
These are not like the bombs used in the 2005 London bombings, which used organic peroxides, described by an alleged “terrorism expert” on CNN as “hydrogen peroxide.”
The London bombings were also suicide bombings and were followed by public claims of responsibility including video taped statements by the bombers made before the event. The Boston bombing did have some similarities in that backpacks were used and the bombs were placed to inflict maximum civilian casualties.
Pressure cookers were used as the containers and are well known for this use.
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Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Islam, Leftism, Middle East, Terrorism | 33 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 18th March 2013 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
It is apparently not news to anyone that the office of the President of the US involves a degree of security – to include an official food-taster, as medieval as that sounds. Been going on for years, apparently, so having a designated expert to cover food safety with regards to the President isn’t something to have a conniption fit over. So someone has to eat a couple of bites – a whole helping? from a dish prepared for the White House table, and if that person doesn’t fall over, gasping and foaming at the mouth, then it is OK for POTUS consumption. Got it. And yes, I do understand very well that security ought to be tight when it comes to food supplies and preparation for any President … but the recent story about President Obama sitting by at a private luncheon with GOP senators and not being able to eat a bite because his food taster hadn’t vetted the food first strikes me as a matter a little deeper and much more insulting than it has been played.
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Posted in Big Government, Human Behavior, Leftism, National Security, Obama, Politics, USA | 17 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 9th March 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
In his campaign, president Obama famously promised to “close Guantanamo Bay prison ” early in his administration. It didn’t happen. Then Eric Holder determined that he would try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in federal court in New York City. That didn’t happen.
The death blow was struck by New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who had previously pledged his support to Holder. On January 27th, Bloomberg distanced himself from the Justice Department, saying that a trial in New York would be too expensive. For months, companies with downtown real-estate interests had been lobbying to stop the trial. Raymond Kelly, the commissioner of the New York Police Department, had fortified their arguments by providing upwardly spiralling estimates of the costs, which the federal government had promised to cover. In a matter of weeks, in what an Obama Administration official called a “classic City Hall jam job,” the police department’s projection of the trial costs went from a few hundred million dollars to a billion dollars.
Eventually, the conservative movement relaxed and concluded that the idea of granting terrorists American style civil rights had lost. Not so fast.
In another of those Obama fast moves, the concept of civilian trials just won the contest. As Mark Twain said, the lie is half way around the world, while the truth is still getting its boots on.
In the blink of an eye, the second Obama term has turned the clock back to the pre-9/11 days, when al-Qaeda was a law-enforcement problem, not a national-security challenge.
Of course, it was a Friday afternoon. That’s when Obama does his best work.
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Posted in Crime and Punishment, Law, Leftism, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Politics, Terrorism | 13 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 6th March 2013 (All posts by Zenpundit)
Sixty years ago one of the greatest monsters in history, a mass-murderer of tens of millions many times over, the yellow-eyed, “Kremlin mountaineer” breathed his last.
We live, deaf to the land beneath us,
Ten steps away no one hears our speeches,
All we hear is the Kremlin mountaineer,
The murderer and peasant-slayer.
His fingers are fat as grubs
And the words, final as lead weights, fall from his lips,
His cockroach whiskers leer
And his boot tops gleam.
Around him a rabble of thin-necked leaders -
fawning half-men for him to play with.
They whinny, purr or whine
As he prates and points a finger,
One by one forging his laws, to be flung
Like horseshoes at the head, to the eye or the groin.
And every killing is a treat
For the broad-chested Ossete.
- Osip Mandelstam
So great was the terror he had inflicted that many of his victims, dazed and bloodied by decades of fear, savage oppression and war, openly wept. The greatest fear of the late dictator’s closest henchmen and accomplices, who had more than likely escaped the conveyor belt of torture, gulag and execution only by their master’s death, was that the people would think that they had murdered their dear vozhd and would storm the Kremlin and tear them to pieces.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Biography, Europe, History, Leftism, Russia, War and Peace | 27 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 2nd March 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
UPDATE: Here is one solution.
This week Europe blew up. The media haven’t caught up yet, because they are what they are. But the markets are catching up fast.
This is a huge event for the United States, because our political elite is bound and determined to turn us into Europe. Hasn’t the EU found the answer to war and peace and prosperity forever?
Our Democrats believe it. Europe is their model. Every batty new idea they have is copied from the glorious European Union. Twenty years ago they still celebrated the Soviet Union, until that house of cards crumbled. Now they have shifted their fantasy paradise to Europe.
Over there, fifty years of increasingly centralized control have made it impossible for voters to be heard. The political parties are stuck in GroupThink. Only the fascist “protest” parties agitate for reform. The ruling class doesn’t listen. They don’t have to — they don’t have to run for election.
So European voters fled to the fascists to express their rage and despair. Imagine one out of four US voters going for Lincoln Rockwell, and you get the idea.
Read the rest, as they say.
Belmont Club has an unusually good post for yesterday. I could say that more than once a week, if truth be known. This one is quite to the point on Sequester Day.
The NHS, which its creators boasted would be the ‘envy of the world’, has been found to have been responsible for up to 40,000 preventable deaths under the helm of Sir David Nicholson, a former member of the Communist Party of Britain. “He was no ordinary revolutionary. He was on the hardline, so-called ‘Tankie’ wing of the party which backed the Kremlin using military action to crush dissident uprisings” — before he acquired a taste for young wives, first class travel and honors.
The NHS is dealing with the shortage of funds by pruning its tree of life, so to speak. He also does not tolerate anyone telling the truth about it.
it emerged he spent 15 million pounds in taxpayer money to gag and prosecute whistleblowers — often doctors and administrators who could not stomach his policies.
The public money spent on stopping NHS staff from speaking out is almost equivalent to the salaries of around 750 nurses.
It has recently been noted that NHS staff no longer recommend their own hospital for family members. Also one quarter report being harassed or bullied at work.
The other half of the equation involves the youth.
The European Youth will remain outside the Death Pathways for some time yet. But they will spend the time waiting for their turn at affordable, caring and passionate medicine in poverty and hopelessness. With the exception of Germany youth unemployment in Europe is over 20%. “A full 62% of young Greeks are out of work, 55% of young Spaniards don’t have jobs, and 38.7% of young Italians aren’t employed.”
Unemployment exceeds even our own Obama economy for failure. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Big Government, Britain, Civil Society, Coolidge, Economics & Finance, Elections, Europe, Health Care, Leftism, Libertarianism, Obama, Political Philosophy, Public Finance, Tea Party | 11 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 22nd February 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
As we count down to March 1, we are hearing more and more about the dreaded sequester. The left is confused about its history.
How did this become Obama’s fault? It started with Mitt Romney, a once-influential Republican Party politician and its 2012 nominee for president. In the third debate with President Obama, Romney fretted that “a trillion dollars in cuts through sequestration and budget cuts to the military” would weaken America’s defenses. The president literally dismissed this with a wave of his hand. “The sequester is not something that I proposed,” he said. “It’s something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.”
How did this get to be the story ?
The accidental Bible of Sequestration is The Price of Politics, Bob Woodward’s history of the debt-limit wars, and one of the least flattering portrayals of the president this side of Breitbart.com. In it, Woodward recounts a July 27, 2011, afternoon meeting between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House negotiators. Reid wanted a “trigger” as part of a debt deal, some way to force more cuts in the future without defaulting on the debt that summer. Chief of Staff Jack Lew and adviser Rob Nabors proposed sequestration, as a threat that could be averted if/when Congress passed a better deal.
OK. The White House staff suggested it. Why ? Because they assumed that Republicans would cave in rather than accept cuts in the defense budget.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, History, Leftism, Obama, Politics, Taxes | 9 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 19th February 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
The grotesque spectacle of the State of the Union address, with its lengthy receiving line of adoring sycophants, demonstrates why the President is operating under the delusion that he is more than just our President. Like him, many people seem to fundamentally misunderstand his role. He’s not our “leader,” or our “ruler,” or our national “daddy,” no matter what his adoring fan, comic Chris Rock, thinks.
Let’s clarify things for those folks with the unseemly desire to offer up their personal sovereignty to some government hack. Unlike Hollywood geniuses better known for exposing their breasts than exposing their brains, I’ll never pledge to be a servant of any politician.
I’m an American citizen. As such, no mortal man may presume to lead or rule me.
Read the whole thing.
Posted in Big Government, Leftism, Obama, Political Philosophy | 10 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th February 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Very little attention is being paid to the holiday today, except as a traffic annoyance. When I was a child, we still celebrated Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) and Washington’s birthday (February 22). Since the holidays were combined and made into a long weekend, like most other American holidays, interest has declined in the subject. It has been for many years the weekend of the Midwinter yacht races in southern California, so I enjoyed it as much as anyone.
Amity Schlaes’ new biography of Coolidge, which has been delayed for nearly a year from the original date promised, is now out and I have begun reading it. It has also attracted a hostile review in the New York Times by Jacob Heilbrunn author of such profound works as God Bless Bernie Sanders, an encomium on the Socialist Senator from the “people’s republic of Vermont”, as it is known in New Hampshire, and another tiresome attack on Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife.
Mr Heilbrunn does not seem to be an economist and I am not certain of his qualifications to criticize President Coolidge, other than the obvious invitation by the New York Times.
James Ceaser, a political scientist at the University of Virginia and a regular contributor to The Weekly Standard, said it was important to revive the “moral stigma” of debt, and added, “I want to go back to Coolidge and even McKinley.” The Claremont fellow Charles Kesler, author of “I Am the Change,” a recent book denouncing President Obama and liberalism, agreed: “We’re in for a Coolidge revival.”
Indeed we are. Coolidge was a figure of sport in his own era. H. L. Mencken mocked his daily naps — “Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored” — and Dorothy Parker reportedly asked, “How could they tell?” when his death was announced. But such quips have only heightened the determination of a growing contingent of Coolidge buffs to resurrect him. They abhor the progressive tradition among Democrats (Woodrow Wilson) and Republicans (Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover) as hostile to big business and prosperity. Instead, their aim is to spread the austere doctrine of what might be called Republican Calvinism.
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Posted in Big Government, Biography, Blogging, Book Notes, Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Coolidge, Economics & Finance, History, Holidays, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 9 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 25th January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
“It is so cold in here,” said Gretchen. “The fire is almost out.”
“I will go to our woodpile and bring more wood,” said Hans.
“There is none left, Hans,” replied Gretchen sadly. “We have used all our wood that we saved for the winter.”
“I will go into the great forest,” responded Hans, “and bring more.”
“Hans!” said Gretchen with alarm. “The forest wardens will take you! I have heard that there are more of them, and they are fiercer than ever toward wood thieves!”
“Nonetheless, I must try, dear Gretchen,” replied Hans firmly, “for you and for the little ones.” He put on his thin overcoat, opened the door, and stepped outside into the icy, howling blast.
A folk tale from the Middle Ages?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Big Government, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Europe, Germany, Leftism | 20 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 16th January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Two stories of personal opinion change, from:
Posted in Conservatism, Human Behavior, Leftism, Politics, USA | 3 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th January 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
We now have a re-elected president Obama who no longer has to face another election. He has “more flexibility”" as he assured Russian president Medvedev. His cabinet appointments so far give us a good view of what the next four years, at least, will bring. David Ingatius gives us the leftist view of the future in a Washington Post story.
Thinking about Eisenhower’s presidency helps clarify the challenges and dilemmas of Barack Obama’s second term. Like Ike, Obama wants to pull the nation back from the overextension of global wars of the previous decade. Like Ike, he wants to trim defense spending and reduce the national debt.
I would hardly call Obama an example of Eisenhower-like determination in national defense. Ignatius seems to believe that Israel is an ally best abandoned.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Anti-Americanism, Elections, History, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Leftism, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism | 17 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st January 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I wish I were more enthusiastic but I still wish everyone a good year. The “fiscal cliff” talks have ended about as I expected. The Republicans have pretty much rolled over. The House has yet to vote and I wonder how that will go. If they all grew a spine (or some other anatomical parts) they would vote “present” and let the Democrats pass the bill by themselves. Drudge has a link to the Breitbart story.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the last-minute fiscal cliff deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion—a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.
When Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush increased taxes in return for spending cuts—cuts that never ultimately came—they did so at ratios of 1:3 and 1:2.
“In 1982, President Reagan was promised $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes,” Americans for Tax Reform says of those two incidents. “The tax hikes went through, but the spending cuts did not materialize. President Reagan later said that signing onto this deal was the biggest mistake of his presidency.
“In 1990, President George H.W. Bush agreed to $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The tax hikes went through, and we are still paying them today. Not a single penny of the promised spending cuts actually happened.”
This will be another such fake compromise. However, The Gods of the Copybook Headings are coming.
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four –
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
It’s too long to post all of it and, for those who are unsure of the source of the title, copybooks were supplied for all school children in England, when it was still England. The copy books had traditional aphorisms on each page that children were expected to learn.
Another expression that relates to the books was someone “blotted his copybook.” This meant making an error that was difficult to correct.
The “copybook headings” to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, extolling virtues such as honesty or fair dealing that were printed at the top of the pages of 19th-century British students’ special notebook pages, called copybooks. The school-children had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page.
The work has been described as “beautifully captur[ing] the thinking of Schumpeter and Keynes.” David Gilmour says that while topics of the work are the “usual subjects”, the commentary “sound better in verse” while Alice Ramos says that they are “far removed from Horace’s elegant succinctness” but do “make the same point with some force.”
I don’t think I would agree that Keynes is an example of the copybook headings’ wisdom although his recommendations have been wildly distorted by politicians.
We are coming to a period when math will be far more determinant than wishful thinking in terms of our lives.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man –
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began –
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire –
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Hopefully, not this year. Happy New Year.
Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Poetry, Public Finance | 5 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 27th December 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
Cynic that I am, I am deriving a great deal of amusement from some of the media-political-general public storms whipped up in the wake of the horribly tragic Newtown shootings, and the deaths of two firefighters in an ambush set by an ex-convict in upstate New York. As if the shootings weren’t horrible and tragic enough in themselves, now we get to enjoy the reflexive Kabuki dance of ‘we must ban those horrid gun-things!’ being played out – especially since some of the very loudest voices in this chorus are politicians and celebrities who live with a very high degree of security at their workplaces and homes, and whose children attend rather well-protected schools. Such choruses appear to be completely oblivious to the fact that for many of the ordinary rest of us, poor and middle-class alike, the forces of law and order are not johnny-on-the-spot in the event of an attempted robbery, rape, break-in or home invasion. To rely on the oft-used cliché, when moments count, the police are minutes away. In the case of rural areas in the thinly-populated flyover states law enforcement aid and assistance might be closer to being hours away.
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Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Just Unbelievable, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Media, RKBA, Urban Issues, USA | 60 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd December 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I’ve tried to think about anything but the coming economic calamity but this column from the Daily Telegraph is too perceptive to ignore. Of course, the liars include most of the US media, press and TV. We have to get our news from the British media about American politics. The US media has become an arm of the Democratic party.
Must we assume now that no party that speaks the truth about the economic future has a chance of winning power in a national election? With the results of presidential contests in the United States and France as evidence, this would seem to be the only possible conclusion. Any political leader prepared to deceive the electorate into believing that government spending, and the vast system of services that it provides, can go on as before – or that they will be able to resume as soon as this momentary emergency is over – was propelled into office virtually by acclamation.
So universal has this rule turned out to be that parties and leaders who know better – whose economic literacy is beyond question – are now afraid even to hint at the fact which must eventually be faced. The promises that governments are making to their electorates are not just misleading: they are unforgivably dishonest.
I have not believed that Romney’s problem was one of poor communication or salesmanship. Certainly, the turnout numbers show that Obama’s organization made the most of a very intrusive data mining system. The possibility that the system of the campaign will become part of the political party’s permanent infrastructure is worrisome. I don’t want to be an alarmist but one feature of totalitarian governments, after the French Revolution, was the intrusion into daily life.
Of course, once in power all governments must deal with reality – even if they have been elected on a systematic lie. As one ex-minister famously put it when he was released from the burden of office: “There’s no money left.” So that challenge must be met. How do you propose to go on providing the entitlements that you have sworn never to end, without any money? The victorious political parties of the Left have a ready answer to that one. They will raise taxes on the “rich”. In France and the United States, this is the formula that is being presented not only as an economic solution but also as a just social settlement, since the “rich” are inherently wicked and must have acquired their wealth by confiscating it from the poor.
I see no sign of any recognition of reality yet by Obama or his government. The “fiscal cliff” negotiations, if they can be called that, have been a farce. The Republicans have allowed themselves to be maneuvered into secret negotiations which have been demagogued and which have set them up for blame for what is coming. They would have been far better advised to insist on open negotiations, on C-SPAN if necessary.
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Posted in Big Government, Britain, Economics & Finance, Elections, Europe, France, Leftism, Obama, Politics, Public Finance | 30 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 4th December 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
When Anna Funder visited the former East Germany in 1994–five years after the Wall came down–she found it to be a very strange place, “a place lost in time. It wouldn’t have surprised me if things had tasted different here–apples like pears, say, or wine like blood.” The German Democratic Republic, as it called itself, had been a suffocating surveillance state, dedicated to the monitoring and control of every aspect of its citizens’ lives–enforced by a huge organization known as the Ministry for State Security, Staatssicherheit, abbreviated Stasi.
Funder, an Australian, came to Germany in the 1980s after studying the language in school, and often wondered what went on behind the Wall. She became convinced that the stories of the people who had lived in East Germany…both those who had suffered under the regime and the perpetrators of the suffering…needed to be told. In 1996, she moved to the former GDR city of Leipzig and gathered the stories that resulted in this book.
Her first interviewee was a woman named Miriam. In 1968, protest demonstrations arose in Leipzig–the proximate cause being the government’s demolition of an old church–and were quickly crushed. Miriam and her friend Ursula were appalled at the regime’s brutality. “At sixteen you have an idea of justice, and we just thought it was wrong.” Miriam and Ursula were not anti-regime at this point, just anti-beating-people-up-for-protesting. They bought a child’s stamp set and used it for a makeshift printing facility, making posters and putting them up around town. Quickly, they were caught and both were held in solitary confinement for a month and repeatedly interrogated. Eventually, they confessed and was released to await their trials.
Miriam had no intention of going back to prison, and decided to go over the Wall instead.
She came very close to making it, but ultimately failed. (Telling the story to Funder many years later, she expressed concern about the fate of the police dog which had fallen down on the job, allowing her to almost get away.) Again she faced interrogation, this time for 10 hours a night, and was sentenced to a year and a half in prison. Following her release, she met her husband-to-be, Charlie, who was a phys ed teacher. He also wound up in trouble with the regime: swimming out too far into the Baltic Sea led to his arrest on suspicion of wanting to leave the country. Although he was released, he fell under further suspicion after assisting Miriam’s sister and her husband in their unsuccessful escape attempt. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1980 as part of a roundup of potential troublemakers on the eve of West German Chancellor Schmidt’s planned visit, and soon thereafter Miriam was told to come pick up his things–that he had hanged himself in prison. Miriam suspected, apparently with good reason, that he had in fact not committed suicide but had rather been beaten and killed by Stasi.
In 1989, Miriam was expelled from East Germany, on less than one day’s notice. A few months later, the regime fell and the Wall came down. When Funder talked with her, she had been unable–despite her stringent efforts–to find out what really happened to Charlie.
She chose to live in an apartment building without elevators…they were too reminiscent of prison cells. Brave and strong and broken all at once is the way Funder describes Miriam’s psychological state. Sometimes, Miriam liked to drive up to the former Stasi building and park right outside. “‘I just sit there in the car and feel…triumph!’ Miriam makes a gesture which starts as a wave, and becomes a guillotine. ‘You lot are gone.’”
There are other stories–for example, that of Sigrid Paul, whose son was born in 1961 with severe health problems. His life was saved by West Berlin doctors, and when the Wall went up he was separated from his parents. Stasi attempted to enlist Mrs Paul in a plot whereby she would be allowed to be with her son IF she would assist them by meeting with a certain person–a border-crossing activist named Michael Hinze–in the West. Remembering the case of Wilhelm Fricke, who had been kidnapped from West Berlin by the Stasi, she was sure they had the same fate in mind for Michael Hinze–and she refused their deal. But the psychological price was high.
“Me–bait in a trap for Michael! And of course that was an absolute no. I couldn’t.” Her back is straight, and her hands are clenched into fists on her thighs. “Karl Wilhelm Fricke,” she says, “was my guardian angel!” She starts to crumble and break. At this moment, she does not look like a woman who was saved from anything. “I had to decide against my son, but I couldn’t let myself be used in this way.’ Her back slumps and she is crying again.
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Posted in Book Notes, Germany, History, Leftism | 10 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 19th November 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Unfunded and seriously underfunded pensions are wrecking company after company (and local government after local government.) The Hostess Company, the company who made the iconic Twinkie and other baked treats, was brought down by unfunded pension obligations [h/t Instapundit] forced on the company by years of strikes and labor negotiations going back to before the 1950s. As matters stand now, everybody, both the venture capitalist who tried to save the company and the unionized workers, will lose their shirts. At best the union members will get to see a fraction of their pensions because the rest of us will have to pony up through the Federal government that “insures” the pensions.
All this raises the question of why the unions ever believed it a good idea to put all their pension eggs in one company basket. It seems stupid on its face not to significantly diversify. Everybody else does so, even the super wealthy. Why didn’t the unions think they needed to diversify?
They didn’t think it necessary because of a theory of corporations advanced by most left leaning Americans in the mid-20th century but best personified by economist and political theorist John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith looked around at the business world of 1940s, 50s and 60s and concluded that corporations had so much “power” that they could effectively set prices and maintain themselves forever. In short, Galbraith argued that corporations were eternal and would never really go out of business. At worst they would merge or buy each other out. The concept of the eternal corporation not only fully justified big compulsory unions and a big invasive government to act as “countervailing forces” but it also meant that corporations could payout almost any level of wages, benefits and pensions and do so indefinitely. Galbraith gave the unions the pretext they needed to demand high future pensions while remaining calmly assured the companies would always be able to payout.
Sounds silly today, but Galbraith was writing in the 60s at the peak of American corporatism. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Economics & Finance, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 31 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 18th November 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
“The idea behind the estate tax is to prevent the very wealthy among us from accumulating vast fortunes that they can pass along to the next generation,” said Patrick Lester, director of Federal Fiscal Policy with the progressive think tank — OMB Watch. “The poster child for the estate tax is Paris Hilton — the celebrity and hotel heiress. That’s who this is targeted at, not ordinary Americans.”[emp added]
This is just one problem with that little story:
Conrad Nicholson Hilton (December 25, 1887 – January 3, 1979) was an American hotelier. He is well known for being the founder of the Hilton Hotels chain.
In 1979, Hilton died of natural causes at the age of 91. He is interred at Calvary Hill Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery in Dallas, Texas. He left $500,000 to each of his two surviving siblings and $10,000 to each of his nieces, nephews and to his daughter Francesca. The bulk of his estate was left to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which he established in 1944. His son, Barron Hilton, who spent much of his career helping build the Hilton Hotels Corporation, contested the will, despite being left the company as acting President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. A settlement was reached and, as a result, Barron Hilton received 4 million shares of the hotel enterprise, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation received 3.5 million shares, and the remaining 6 million shares were placed in the W. Barron Hilton Charitable Remainder Unitrust. Upon Barron Hilton’s death, Unitrust assets will be transferred to the Hilton Foundation, of which Barron sits on the Board of Directors as Chairman.
On December 25, 2007, Barron Hilton announced that he would leave about 97% of his fortune (estimated at $2.3 billion), to a charitable unitrust which would eventually be merged with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. By leaving his estate to the Foundation, Barron not only donated the fortune he had amassed on his own, but also returned to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation the Hilton family fortune amassed by his father, which otherwise would have been gone to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation 30 years previously had Barron not contested his father’s will.[emp added]
So, not only has Paris Hilton not inherited anything yet, because her grandfather is still alive, she won’t inherit anything major ever. It all goes to charity. Paris Hilton is a sleazoid, but she is a largely a self-made sleazoid. Her personal financial assets are almost entirely the result of her leveraging her, uh, other assets via secret sex tape into a bizarre celebrity career. She’s worth several hundred million now, none of it inherited.
Paris Hilton has been trotted out by Leftists for years as an example of the need for the death tax and yet apparently none of them bothered to actually check if she was actually an heiress. The elite Democrats who carefully construct the party’s talking points, don’t seem to even bother to check Wikipedia. (Or they do and just assume that the average Leftist voter won’t.)
The real point of interest here is not the inanity of the death tax, but rather the studied indifference of the Democrats and Leftists in general to actually studying the wealthy and telling the truth about them.
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Posted in Leftism, Taxes | 42 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 7th November 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
The Democrats rebranded socialized medicine as “single-payer” medicine so as to confuse people without the time to track all leftwing code words. They did the same thing for their own name in the ’80s, changing from “liberals” which was associated with the raft of failed leftwing policies of the 1970s, to “progressives.”
It’s a good example of their contempt and disdain for the American people. They think, “People are so stupid that if we call something by a different name, one without negative connotations, they will support something they otherwise would have opposed.” (Remember, leftists rationalize that you are their inferior and that they must always manipulate you for your own good.)
It doesn’t work long term, of course, because words acquire the connotation of the phenomena they label and not the other way around, e.g., idiot, moron and retarded were all originally words invented by doctors and scientist trying to create kinder, gentler and more scientific terms to describe people with subnormal mental processes. But the condition of being subnormal is viewed as negative so any word used to describe that condition becomes negative and eventually a playground pejorative.
Deceitful words are highly dangerous in politics. No less a luminary than Confucius himself wrote that the first act of good governance is to name things honestly. This is more true in a democracy where people have to know what they are voting for.
“Single payer” is a deceitful phrase not only because it attempts to rename something in order to confuse the people but also because under socialized medicine, everyone pays. It’s just that what you pay and what you get are unrelated. It’s only “single payer” from the perspective of the health care providers because they are the only ones who ever get paid.
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Posted in Health Care, Leftism | 31 Comments »