Saturday, June 14, 2008

The New Kind Of (Corrupt) O'Politics

This makes no sense. If it is unfair for someone making $100,000 to pay Social Security taxes on all of his income while "billionaires" likewise pay only on their first $100,000 of income, then why isn't unfair for the $100,000 guy to pay taxes on his whole income, while the $200,000 earner pays Social Security taxes only on the first half?

The answer, of course, lies in politics rather than logic. There are relatively few voters who earn more than $250,000, while there are a great many earning between $102,000 and $250,000. In fact, this income demographic corresponds with remarkable precision to Obama's core supporters, the only Americans to be singled out for a tax preference under Obama's plan. A "new kind of politics," indeed.

Are private accounts a good idea? Of course they are. Obama is planning for his own retirement through his 401(k) plan
But it is incoherent and dishonest, even by Obama's standards, to denounce private accounts in one breath and propose them in the next.

The Legal Black Hole?

Of course, as Paul noted last night, what the Court's majority overturned was not a decree by the Bush administration, it was a statute that was passed by large majorities in both the House and the Senate in 2006. The Military Commissions Act passed the Senate on a 65-34 vote, with Democratic Senators Carper, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Menendez, Nelson (Neb.), Nelson (Fla.), Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar and Stabenow voting with the Republicans. Likewise, in the House 34 Democrats joined with 219 Republicans to pass the statute. In Obama's view, were all of these Democrats part of an attempt to "create a legal black hole at Guantanamo?" Evidently so.

This incident should remind us why Obama is regarded as the most liberal member of the Senate, a back-bencher who, unlike many of his colleagues, virtually never reaches across the aisle to cooperate with Republicans on any issue, large or small.

Williams On The REAL Back Of The Bus

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The odds are higher that a child without a dad will have more contact with the drug culture, the police and jail. Even in kindergarten, children living with single parents are more likely to trail children with two parents when it comes to health, cognitive skills and their emotional maturity. They are in the back of the bus before the bus – their life – even gets going.

A study of black families 10 years ago, when the out-of-wedlock birthrate was not as high as today, found that single moms reported only 20% of the "baby's daddy" spent time with the child or took a "lot" of interest in the baby. That is quite a contrast to the married black mothers who told researchers that 88% of married black men, or men living with the mother, regularly spent time with the child and took responsibility for the child's well-being.

"I didn't know it at the time," says Mr. Myers of his stepfather, "but just having him around meant I was picking up his discipline, his pride, his work ethic. . ."

No Corruption Here. Move Along Now...

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Remember when Democrats promised to reform Congress and reduce pork? Well, neither Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi remember it, according to a study done by Taxpayers for Common Sense. Members of both parties have apparently gotten over their shyness in grabbing earmarks, and the election season has focused budgeting on the nation’s highest priority — incumbency protection:

More than a year after Congress pledged to curb pork barrel funding known as earmarks, lawmakers are gearing up for another spending binge, directing billions toward organizations and companies in their home districts.

Democrats have the most pork in both chambers for the Armed Services Committees members. They have over $1.3 billion in pork in the Senate, and almost $1.1 billion in the House. Republicans gave it the ol’ college try, with $1.1 billion and $877 million, respectively. That probably reflects the disparity in the membership on the committees due to the Democratic control of Congress

On Eurabian Voting "Rights"

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IRISH VOTERS GETTING SUPPORT ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE: "Political leaders across Europe were shaking their heads in frustration this weekend at the Irish voters' veto of the latest European Union treaty. But many of their citizens weren't. Ordinary Spaniards, Dutch, French and Britons, who wish they could get the same chance, might also say 'no' to the cold, distant heart of Europe." Which is why they won't be given the same chance . . . . "Many Europeans say this is exactly the problem with democracy Brussels-style, where European Commission members are not directly elected but wield continental powers. 'We're told we can vote no, that the system requires unanimity. But when (a `no' vote) actually happens, every time, the EU tells us: You really only have a right to vote yes,' said Dublin travel agent Paul Brady, who voted against the treaty."
A lot like Canadian "free speech" rights...

Er, We WOULD Bring One If We Hadn't Banned Them First...

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Barack Obama appeared at a fundraiser in Philadelphia last night where he delivered the following remark:

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

A couple thoughts from McCain HQ on this. First, Barack Obama has a long track record as a proponent of stringent gun-control regulations--to the point that a questionnaire filled out by his staff, and with the candidate's handwriting on it, stated that that Obama favored a ban on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of handguns. Can we assume that Senator Obama now opposes efforts to ban the possession of handguns?

Second, would Obama be carrying a concealed weapon to this fight? Will he have a permit?

And finally, we're having second thoughts about our proposed series of town halls.

Friday, June 13, 2008

New And Old

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In the Old America, love of country was natural. You breathed it in. You either loved it or knew you should.

In the New America, love of country is a decision. It's one you make after weighing the pros and cons. What you breathe in is skepticism and a heightened appreciation of the global view.

Old America: We have to have a government, but that doesn't mean I have to love it. New America: We have to have a government and I am desperate to love it. Old America: Politics is a duty. New America: Politics is life.

Old America: Five years in a cage—that's a sacrifice!

In the Old America, high value was put on education, but character trumped it. That's how Lincoln got elected: Honest Abe had no formal schooling. In Mr. McCain's world, a Harvard Ph.D. is a very good thing, but it won't help you endure five years in Vietnam. It may be a comfort or an inspiration, but it won't see you through. Only character, and faith, can do that. And they are very Old America.

The Ignorance This Time

ndividual district court judges around the country are going to get to decide that some member of al Qaeda, who today is safely imprisoned on Guantanamo Bay, can be released. It’s just a stunning, stunning decision by five justices of the Supreme Court.  

HH: There is one line in the opinion, Joel Kaplan, that jumped out at me. It’s at the end, Justice Kennedy writes, “unlike the President and some designated members of Congress, neither the members of Court nor most federal judges begin the day with briefings that may describe new and serious threats to our nation and its people.” Actually, they do describe every single day, not only serious threats but imminent threats. And it seems to me that Justice Kennedy was admitting here at the end, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to the war.  

The National Daley

If Obama wins in the fall, all the old rules about Democratic hierarchy in the Capitol will be out the window:

The move to Obama’s headquarters puts the Windy City squarely at the center of American politics for the first time since it was the scene of a Democratic Party meltdown at the 1968 convention. Then and now, it’s a city whose central political feature – top-down machine control – is one legacy Obama has taken from his allies in the reigning Daley family. His campaign has been a model of leak-free discipline and clear lines of authority from the candidate and his guru, Chicago-based David Axelrod, through his campaign manager David Plouffe and a tight-knit staff.

Suddenly all of the decades-old networks of interest groups in D.C. are threatened by the appearance of a wholly new group of elites, the Chicago guys.  

Mental Illness South Korean Style

June 12,
2008:  Opposition political parties in South
Korea are seeking to force the newly elected conservative government out of
power via massive street demonstrations. The leftist opposition parties are
using popular opposition to free trade (which actually favors South Korea more
than it hurts), especially the importation of cheaper U.S. beef (said to
contain mad-cow disease, although no South Korean has ever suffered from this
via American meat products.) The leftists have controlled the educational
system for decades, and have created a mythical new history for post-World War
II history, in which North Korea is an innocent victim of U.S. imperialism (and
it gets worse…) North Korea encourages this myth, just as East Germany worked
with leftist political parties in West Germany during the Cold War to do the
same thing. When the two Germanys were united in the early 1990s, the truth
came out.

Did I Forget To Mention Why The Left Really Loves Mao?

The pen is reputed to be mightier than the sword -- and probably is, over the longer stretches of history. Over the shorter stretches, the sword is definitive; or, as that great Leftist sage, Mao Tse-Tung, expressed it: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” With its monopoly on power, the State is equipped to suppress the truth. And yet the truth will not die, no matter how many people are punished for expressing it. They may die -- or be imprisoned, fined, compelled to publicly recant, or otherwise silenced and humiliated -- but the truth will survive.

Wrong Of Me

The organization will be called Formerly Democratic Republicans. FDR for short.
Right now I’m feeling stupid and foolish and angry. Angered that the better part
of my intellectual lifetime has slipped by, malnourished by the
social/moral/political pablum force-fed by brain laundries like Harvard and
mainstream media. Foolish and stupid because I really didn’t have to be
force-fed –- I lapped it up eagerly and found it tasty and self-satisfying.

Anxious to make up for the lost time that can never be regained, I’m skipping
directly to Steps 8 and 9 [in AA's 12 steps].

Step 8: While I don’t think I’ve harmed you, I’ve got to confess that until
now I’ve always been chagrined that the wittiest, most intelligent and
empathetic friend of my youth apparently had gone bonkers after college and
“become one of them.” That was wrong of me.

Step 9: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I so care-less-ly let our friendship slip
away. I’m sorry that I so readily dismissed your mind.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Constant Copperheads

Decision in the West. It described Sherman’s campaign to capture Atlanta throughout the summer and fall of 1864. What I found interesting was that the campaign was originally conceived to complement what was intended to be the “decision” (decisive operations) in the East by Grant’s forces then operating against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. As the year wore on with little progress in Virginia, horrific casualties, and an election looming against emboldened, conciliatory Copperhead Democrats, the Union Cause was in great jeopardy. Grant, bogged down around Petersburg, wrote Sherman that "the decision would have to come in the West." After frenetic maneuvering and a few relatively small-scale but decisive battles, Sherman was at last able to capture Atlanta. Union morale was restored and the war was over approximately six months later. No one expected at the beginning of the Atlanta campaign that it would be the year's decisive operation and the death knell of the Confederacy.
And it ends thus:

I think this is illustrative of what has taken place in Iraq against Al Qaeda. For years now we have been expecting that the decision against Al Qaeda would occur in the East, in Afghanistan. OIF was expected to complement world-wide efforts against state-sponsored terrorism, but not to defeat Al Qaeda per se. As it has transpired, however, it turns out that the decision against Al Qaeda has occurred in the West – in Iraq, both physically and morally, with global ramifications that we will be assessing and (hopefully) exploiting for the next few years. Anyone who cannot comprehend or refuses to acknowledge this is betraying a great inflexibility of mind or duplicitious nature.

History runs in cycles. Or remains constant when you're talking about Copperheads I guess...

Hitch Again

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And yet, lest one think Hitchens was an supporter of Barack Obama, he had some choice critiques for the Illinois Democrat as well. On the Senator’s highly praised speech on race that he gave in Philadelphia during the crest of the Jeremiah Wright scandal, the Vanity Fair writer challenged members of the audience to recited a single line.

“You can’t,” he proclaimed, a bit excited that his prophecy had turned true. “It was one of the most boring speeches ever made.”

Hitchens also poked fun at Obama’s recent address in Minneapolis in which it was officially announced that he was the presumptive Democratic nominee. Pronouncing Obama a “megalomaniac” who had the self-delusion to suggest that his primary victory would be looked back upon as the day water levels started to recede, Hitchens mockingly declared: “Just by gathering the delegate count he has arrested the climate crisis.”

Breathtaking Bureaucracy

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That Iraqification of the network is what perhaps enabled al Qaeda to foresee its demise years before the Americans did.

Documents from 2005 and 2006 show that top-ranking leaders feared the imposition of strict religious law and brutal tactics were turning their popular support base against them.

One memorandum from three years ago warned executions of traitors and sinners condemned by religious courts "were being carried out in the wrong way, in a semi-public way, so a lot of families are threatening revenge, and this is now a dangerous intelligence situation."

That awareness led al Qaeda to start killing tribesmen and nationalist insurgents wherever they began to rally against it, long before America ever realized that it had potential allies to turn to.

Yet those same practices that accelerated al Qaeda in Iraq's undoing were breathtakingly documented.

Another Question

Any writer can be as free as Mark Steyn or Salman Rushdie. Our civilization only offers the possibility of being free; and to choose right instead of wrong. No bureaucracy can guarantee it for us. Lewis understood that if one were looking for legitimate reasons to become an atheist, a release from the burden of choice was not one of them. Good and evil, right and wrong were not things you could wholly avoid on the path of life. He wrote:

I know someone will ask me, 'Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil-hoofs and horns and all?' Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is 'Yes, I do.' I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, 'Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.'

When The Best Men Live In Jail

The chains of history always rust away.

This is a point worth recalling, as we head into a period in Canada when, owing to malice from an ideological camp, to cowardice on the part of our elected representatives, and to indifference on the part of the people, free speech and freedom of the press will disappear in Canada. Those who deviate from the officially-sanctioned lies of “political correctness” will emigrate, perhaps mostly to USA, or experience that peculiar form of internal exile -- of enforced silence -- that good men have shared in many times and places.

My own political education was provided in part by several impressive Czech exiles from Communism, with whom I fell in as a young man. What I learned from them is that under an ideological regime, the best men live in jail, or are assigned to work in tanneries and collieries, where other good men may be found. The worst men live in luxury and power.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Petraeus For Prez

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America is very close to succeeding in Iraq. The "near-strategic defeat" of al Qaeda in Iraq described by CIA Director Michael Hayden last month in the Washington Post has been followed by the victory of the Iraqi government's security forces over illegal Shiite militias, including Iranian-backed Special Groups. The enemies of Iraq and America now cling desperately to their last bastions, while the political process builds momentum.
Compared with the seemingly insurmountable obstacles already overcome, the remaining challenges in Iraq are eminently solvable – if we continue to pursue a determined strategy that builds on success rather than throwing our accomplishments away. No one in December 2006 could have imagined how far we would have come in 18 months. Having come this far, we must see this critical effort through to the end.

Nazi Medals Dredged From The Memory Hole

Note the hammer and sickle, the two great Soviet symbols. There were many
affinities between Nazism and Communism. They were rivals for the support of
those in that era who wanted -- dare I say it -- Change. Radical change in
particular. The one thing they were not is Rightist, if by Rightist we mean some
sort of conservatism.

"Disaster On The Horizon"???

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The wealth effect fallacy helps explain how, on the same day the Fed reported
a second quarter of falling wealth, chain store retailers last Thursday reported
stronger-than-expected sales in May. Some credited federal rebate checks for
keeping spending growing, but the fact is that except for cars and gas,
month-on-month same-store chain retail sales have grown throughout 2008 as home
equity has fallen. Levkovich says that rising energy costs and poor job growth
play a much bigger role in determining spending than personal housing

Falling home prices will continue to be a political issue this year,
especially as Americans judge the respective proposals of John McCain and Barack
Obama to help homeowners stranded by mortgages they can no longer afford. But
those falling prices don't automatically mean we're in for economic
payback—however ominous the headlines. As Backus says, "It's a better story if
there's a disaster on the horizon."

Monday, June 09, 2008

If Only I Could Vote For Sowell

Now that Senator Barack Obama has become the Democrats' nominee for President of the United States, to the cheers of the media at home and abroad, he has written a letter to the Secretary of Defense, in a tone as if he is already President, addressing one of his subordinates.

Because of the widely publicized statistic that suicide rates among American troops have gone up, Senator Obama says he wants the Secretary of Defense to tell him, swiftly:

"What changes will you make to provide our soldiers in theater with real access to mental health care?"

All this sounds very plausible, as so many other things that Senator Obama says sound plausible. But, like so many of those other things, it will not stand up under scrutiny.

What has been widely publicized in the media is that suicides among American troops have gone up. What has not been widely publicized is that this higher suicide rate is still not as high as the suicide rate among demographically comparable civilians.

I may have to write him in...

Goldfish (Part 87355)

This chart shows that in 1972 it took over 2.5 dollars to buy one pound. The dollar then strengthened versus the pound and this process ended in 1985 when it took only $1.10 to buy a pound. Since 1985, the pound has generally strengthened versus the dollar. That is, for the past 23 years the dollar has generally fallen versus the pound. Yet, even at the recent peak of strength for the pound — October 2007 — the pound has still not made it back to the high point it reached versus the dollar back in 1972.

In short, major currencies fluctuate against each other daily, but the overall trends cover very long periods of time. If you look at the dollar/pound comparison over a shorter period, then you see the dollar is weakening. But, if you look over the longer period shown in the chart, then you see the pound on a long-term downward trend versus the dollar.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Smelting Humans

One of the hallmarks of the elite California mind-set has been to stop production, whether energy or agricultural, without any concern of the consequences on less fortunate others—and often to do so by judicial mandate or by legislative blockage.

Here's the latest from the New York Times on our current drought, sort of an environmental version of our recent gay marriage judicial ruling:

Even more significant, a judge in federal district court last year issued a curtailment in pumping from the California Delta — where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meet and provide water to roughly 25 million Californians — to protect a species of endangered smelt that were becoming trapped in the pumps. Those reductions, from December to June, cut back the state’s water reserves this winter by about one third, according to a consortium of state water boards.

Cash For Blood Update

June 8,
2008:  When the Mahdi Army began
attacking British troops more frequently two years ago, the British conducted
an intelligence effort to find out why. They discovered that Iran was paying
members of the Mahdi Army up to $300 a month to make these attacks (which
caused over a hundred British casualties). The Iranian connection was kept
secret by the British until recently, since the recent defeat of the Mahdi Army
is likely to bring the Iranian "cash for blood" campaign to light anyway.


are concerned with more mundane matters. The inflation and unemployment,
despite constantly rising oil prices (from $11 a barrel a decade ago, to 12
times that today), has turned popular opinion against the government.

Ledeen On Failure

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Finally, there is the nature of our political system. None of the democracies adequately prepared for war before it was unleashed on them in the 1940s. None was prepared for the terror assault of the 21st century. The nature of Western politics makes it very difficult for national leaders – even those rare men and women who see what is happening and want to act – to take timely, prudent measures before war is upon them. Leaders like Winston Churchill are relegated to the opposition until the battle is unavoidable.

Then, as now, the initiative lies with the enemies of the West. Even today, when we are engaged on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little apparent recognition that we are under attack by a familiar sort of enemy, and great reluctance to act accordingly. This time, ignorance cannot be claimed as an excuse. If we are defeated, it will be because of failure of will, not lack of understanding. As, indeed, was almost the case with our near-defeat in the 1940s.

Not The Mahmoud I Knew

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As for coming together "to remake this great nation," if it's so great, why do we have to remake it? A few months back, just after the New Hampshire primary, a Canadian reader of mine – John Gross of Quebec – sent me an all-purpose stump speech for the 2008 campaign:

"My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it."

I thought this was so cute

Yet last week his demand in his victory speech that we "come together to remake this great nation" came awful close.
Speaking personally, I don't want to remake America. I'm an immigrant, and one reason I came here is because most of the rest of the Western world remade itself along the lines Sen. Obama has in mind.
No doubt if it all goes belly-up, and Iran winds up nuking Tel Aviv, President Obama will put on his more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger face and announce solemnly that "this isn't the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad I knew."

Obamessiah's "Friend" Iran

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US soldiers in Baghdad captured an Iraqi arms dealer and "assassination squad" leader responsible for trafficking Shi'ite extremists in and out of neighboring Iran for training, the military said Sunday.
The arrest reinforced long-standing US allegations that Iran arms, trains and funds Shi'ite Muslim militiamen inside Iraq - charges that Teheran denies. It also coincided with a two-day visit to Iran by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his second such trip in a year.

An Appetizer Or A Dessert?

Committee Democrats claim, though, that the NIE on Iraqi WMD was published “mere days” before Congress was scheduled to vote on the war resolution. Again, the Dems are attempting to mislead. The NIE in question was published nearly two weeks before the vote. Moreover, its key assessments had been presented to members of the Intelligence and Armed Services committees a month before the vote. Nor were these judgments new – numerous intelligence assessments had reached identical or similar judgments months earlier.
The NIE that was produced in the fall of 2002 said with a "high level of confidence"--which is a defined term, expressing the greatest degree of confidence that the intelligence agencies ever express--that Iraq possessed chemical weapons; possessed biological weapons; and was pursuing nuclear weapons. It said, with a "moderate degree of confidence," that Iraq did not yet possess nuclear weapons.
This mental illness revolving around the belief that Saddam had somehow "gotten better" is frankly risible. Halabja anyone? Serial murderers get better?

It's of a piece with the liberal belief that we should release the "innocents" at Guantanamo -- without noting that there have already been incidents where we have released some and they have "re-offended". Shocka I know...

If things had continued on the pre-Iraq II vector, we would have had a re-run of the Iran-Iraq war only with nukes this time.

And Israel would have been footnoted as an appetizer or a dessert.

But then, basic abstract thought is a difficult thing to pursue in between multiple daily raves of Britney and Obama worship...

If That Were Their Purpose

The Democrats have href="">blocked
consideration of
the free trade agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, a
key ally in Latin America. This is perverse, since nearly all of Colombia's
goods already enter the U.S. tariff-free, while the agreement would open
Colombia's market to American companies. Perverse, but consistent with Barack
Obama's policy of coddling our enemies while shafting our friends.

Now, href="">Canada
has announced
that it has completed a trade agreement with Colombia. The
agreement will be a boon to Canada's economy:

Once implemented, the agreement will see Colombia eliminate tariffs
on most industrial products including paper, machinery and equipment, as well as
on a majority of Canadian agricultural exports.
With the Democrats' policies on taxes, trade and energy, it is not easy to see
how they could damage our economy more if that were their purpose.

The Famine

Watching young people compile and try to display knowledge in a college classroom is similar to watching an epistemological famine.  I can say this as an adjunct professor in college and university systems since 2002.

Their lack of knowledge is not a reflection on any one college or university but on the overall political and intellectual climate of late 20th and early 21st centuries. My students, and with few exceptions the students of my colleagues, are the fruits of a garden planted with the intention of producing only identical fruit. As a guarantee to that end, the plants in this garden have been pruned of their trust in innate knowledge, i.e., common sense. 

Since common sense was not something the 20th century Left could easily regulate or control in academia, they took the path their ideological heroes had always taken when they came upon a nonconforming person or idea: they sought to eliminate it altogether.