Saturday, May 23, 2009

People Are Starting To Wake Up

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Look Ma!

With the government's frantic auto rescue plan rapidly descending the commode, it was clear to me that somebody had to grab the shifter by the knob and do something actually useful to blow the cobwebs out of America's car manufacturing engine. So recently I called my confrere Drew "Suicide Axle" Didio and we came up with our own patriotic automotive stimulus program. CAFE? TARP? Nope. COW -- the Coupe of Wrath, my Deuce 5-window which will hopefully hit the road late this year without Congressional approval. Here's a sneak peak: 


Program financial highlights:

  • Federal bailout funds used: $0.00

  • Federal stimulus funds used: $0.00

  • Executive bonuses paid out: $0.00

  • Manufacturing jobs created: 2

  • Lawyers, politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats involved: 0

  • Dealerships closed: 0

  • Bondholders screwed: 0

New Castro District Trends

To Whom It May Concern:

In recent weeks I have stated that I was never briefed, nor had
any prior knowledge of, the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques"
on detainees by U.S. interrogators. Today, the Central Intelligence
Agency released documents indicating they had briefed me on the use of
these techniques in September 2002. Having no personal recollection of
this meeting, I directed my clerical staff to retrieve meeting notes
for the date in question.

After a thorough review of these notes, it appears I was unaware this
meeting was with the Central Intelligence Agency. Instead I was under
the impression that it was a coffee chat with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an important constituent group from my home district. In their description of waterboarding, fuzzy
caterpillars, etc., I simply assumed they were speaking of new
Castro District trends in sexual foreplay.


Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Narrative Business And The Intelligence Business

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The question of why the newspapers didn’t do it is best left to historians to ponder. Perhaps I was right to say, “one possible reason was that the media did not want to. Newspapers were not in the information business. They were in the narrative business; and in that profession an editor’s chief ambition is to retain the power to keep his tale in the service of whichever great ideology or personal lord he served.” Perhaps Curtis Melvin’s site will evolve into a network of colleagues, who like astronomers, will parcel out North Korea into sectors, according to spectrum and knowledge domain until they discover more about it than perhaps even the Dear Leader knows. Who can say where it will lead: will such efforts continue to flourish or will pressure be exerted to bring the flood of knowledge back within the old bounds? Are we living in the golden age of political discovery that will soon be past or simply waiting on verge of something even greater?

Mandated Breakthroughs

An analysis of fuel efficiency and automotive safety in USA Today by Jayne O'Donnell and James R. Healey raises big questions about laws and technological progress. Better gas mileage might lead people to drive more, at least partly negating efforts to reduce emissions. Manufacturers required to increase fuel efficiency might also promote smaller cars that some safety officials believe are inherently less safe than larger ones. There were over 1,600 comments on these issues at the site, so I doubt I'd have anything new to add on either point. But there's a more intriguing one that the article also broaches: technology forcing. Can governments make companies innovate when they insist they're doing the best they can? The idea has had mixed results. Direction by Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) helped Japanese chip makers threaten the American semiconductor industry -- but also made them vulnerable to resurgent American manufacturers led by Intel
I work in R&D. Good luck with that. And definitely good luck with that on a comparative shoestring budget.

Meet The New Boss...

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President Obama ’s proposal for a new legal system in which terrorism suspects could be held in "prolonged detention" inside the United States without trial would be a departure from the way this country sees itself, as a place where people in the grip of the government either face criminal charges or walk free.

There are, to be sure, already some legal tools that allow for the detention of those who pose danger: quarantine laws as well as court precedents permitting the confinement of sexual predators and the dangerous mentally ill. Every day in America, people are denied bail and locked up because they are found to be a hazard to their communities, though they have yet to be convicted of anything.

Still, the concept of preventive detention is at the very boundary of American law, and legal experts say any new plan for the imprisonment of terrorism suspects without trial would seem inevitably bound for the Supreme Court .

The Disparity

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The gap between the public sector and private business in wages and benefits continues to grow. Last month, USA Today reported federal figures showing that public employees earned benefits worth $13.38 per hour in December 2008, compared to $7.98 for private sector workers.

A full-time government worker receives benefits worth an average of $28,830 per year. A private worker’s benefits are worth an average of $16,598. Yet in this time of recession/depression, the shrinking private sector foots the bill for massive bailouts of public employees. In the nongovernment world, jobs are being lost by the hundreds of thousands each month. Government workers are secure in theirs. As the ordinary American becomes more aware of the disparity and unfairness of the current system, anger builds.

Right now the Political Class is more interested in explaining that anger away than in doing anything about it. But I think a tipping point is in the offing.

Friday, May 22, 2009


If energy companies can overcome the current recession and start exploiting shale gas, the volume of these deposits has the potential to change energy policy, Engelder says. If gas companies can prove the reliability they claim—that a shale gas well can continue to pump gas steadily for 20 or 30 years—policy makers could count on a huge, consistent domestic supply of natural gas to replace carbon-dense oil or coal. The low carbon content of gas is a major enticement to companies, with talks in Congress of enacting a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, the latter garnering the support of President Obama. U.S. shale gas could have implications beyond our borders as well—with dwindling production and a growing reliance on Russian gas, Europeans are investing billions in exploring U.S. fields and purchasing drilling technology.
Apparently the environmentalists aren't succeeding in making us starve in the dark at the rate I feared. Well, quite yet anyway...

Hints Of Sanity Appear

Just 28% of all voters say, generally speaking, that increases in government spending help the economy, down seven points from February. Fifty-three percent (53%) now believe spending increases hurt the economy, and seven percent (7%) say they have no impact.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 61% of unaffiliated voters believe increased government spending hurts the economy. Democrats tend to hold the opposite view--49% of those in Barack Obama’s party think more government spending is good for the economy, while just 27% say it hurts.

As is frequently the case, the gap between Mainstream America and the Political Class on the question is wider than that between political parties. While 90% of Mainstream Americans see the bigger problem as a failure to cut government spending, the Political Class is evenly divided over whether voters or politicians are more to blame.

Whoops, forgot the best part:
In fact, 52% of voters now believe they pay more than their fair share of taxes. However, 54% of the Political Class disagree.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans had a favorable opinion of last month’s “tea parties,” while just 33% disapproved.
And the next interesting question would be a breakdown of these numbers by private employment versus government employment. Did you know that local, state and federal full and part-time employees total 22.2 million? Enough to impact an election ya think?

How many of the Democrat voters are also in the government worker pool? Notice the congruence of their opinions with our Overlord(s)?

And in a sane world wouldn't government workers be required to recuse themselves from voting on anything that could impact their paychecks?

But we don't live in a sane world now do we? That's been obvious for going on a century now...

COTD: The Five Minute Attention Span In Political Context

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I don't believe the pols are dummer than the average American. They are, however, very cagey and have well developed street smarts; as in a cornered sewer rat. They have been seduced by power and $$$ is the true currency of power. They rely on us to be stupid (which MANY of us are) and that we will forget a particular issue because a new issue comes up so often. It is the public who are really at fault if this behaviour continues to occur; everybody curses and grouses but, still, the same-ol-same-ol goes on. We need a concentrated fiscal/political revolution (are you getting this Napolotano???) with dedicated, passionate leaders to turn-around the current fiasco; otherwise, same-ol-same-ol.


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The Phenomenon

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Much nonsense is sometimes written about the alleged fallacy
of "guilt by association." True, if Chomsky happened
to be associated with Faurisson and Thion in a tennis club, that
particular association would not make him a neo-Nazi. But in fact
we saw that Chomsky justified Faurisson's Holocaust-denial, we
found Chomsky publishing his own books with neo-Nazi publishers,
we saw him writing for a neo-Nazi journal, we saw that the neo-Nazis
promote Chomsky's books and tapes together with the works of Joseph
Goebbels. It is this complex of anti-Semitic activities and neo-Nazi
associations, not his professed ideas alone, that constitutes
the Chomsky phenomenon.

But Don't Call It A Tax

"Under my plan of a cap and trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Businesses would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that cost onto consumers."

Senator Barack Obama
Speaking on Cap and Trade
San Francisco Chronicle
January 17, 2008
Barack Obama admitted last year that cap and trade legislation would cause electricity prices to skyrocket.
Cap and trade will likely cost $700 to $1,400 dollars per US family per year
Democratic Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) summed up cap and trade at a Congressional hearing on April 24th-- "It's a Great Big Tax!"
House Democrats used political muscle and party loyalty on Thursday to ram through an anti-global warming bill that opponents caution could cost a family of four $2,937.38 a year.
The Democratic bill contains language – a matter initially denied by its authors – that directs federal authorities to regulate hot tubs.

More Idle Threats

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LONDON (Reuters) - Embarrassing disclosures about the vast expenses claims of MPs amount to a "McCarthy-style witch-hunt" that risks driving politicians to suicide, an MP warned on Friday.

Nadine Dorries wrote on her blog that the two-week scandal, in which the Daily Telegraph has drip-fed details of how MPs have abused their generous expense allowances, was forcing politicians to the brink.

The scandal has triggered outrage across recession-hit Britain and opposition calls for an early general election.

European and local elections to be held on June 4 are expected to reflect the level of popular disgust, with lower voter turnout and a move towards fringe parties predicted.

"The atmosphere in Westminster is unbearable," Conservative MP Dorries wrote on the blog ( ). "People are constantly checking to see if others are OK. Everyone fears a suicide. If someone isn't seen, offices are called and checked."

And our pols are SO different. That's clear isn't it? Isn't it?

The Gap

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RASMUSSEN: Voters strongly oppose federal bailout for California: “Twenty-four percent (24%) of voters nationwide favor federal bailout funds for states like California that are encountering ’serious financial problems.’ The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 59% are opposed to such bailouts.”

So better than 2-1 against. But wait, there’s more: “Voters from outside the Golden State oppose federal loan guarantees by a 69% to 20% margin.” But there’s also this: “Voters have consistently opposed federal bailout funds for the auto industry, the banking industry and insurance companies. Looking back on the bailouts that were provided, most continue to believe they were a bad idea.”

So why did we get them anyway? An answer: “As on many issues, the difference in opinion between the Political Class and the rest of the nation is larger than the gap between the political parties.”

Not If But When

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MICKEY KAUS ON THE BAILOUT: “I don’t want to sound like Veronique de Rugy here, but who will pay the price if when this half-baked ‘restructuring’ fails? In normal ‘capitalism at work,’ those who would pay the price will be those who made the deal and put up their money–the capitalists. (Query: Would Scott Sperling invest his firm’s money in this dubious proposition?) If When Obama’s plan fails, the monetary loss will fall not on Obama, but on the taxpayers. It will likely be made up somehow by the taxpayers (via higher tax assessments or inflation). That’s not ‘capitalism at work.’ It’s something else at work. But I’d be all for it, if I thought it really would work. It won’t, and it will be Obama’s fault.”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Excuse Me?

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Nearly Correct -- Except They ARE The Crooks

A commenter notes: (emphasis added)
I do not know what the future holds where Obama is concerned.

I see very little correlation at this point between words and deeds. ... It seems he's all about the power and the money in that order.
Greenwald added an update, mentioning that Lanny Davis just wrote an article favoring prosecution of former Vice President Cheney. What he DOESN'T note is Davis's stated reason for supporting this: that Cheney was speaking out against the Obama Administration.

Greenwald is out in the cold. At this point, Democrats are supporting anything and everything that results in a political and/or monetary payoff for themselves and their supporters. Davis would waterboard Greenwald if he thought he needed to.

The "ideological" left got bamboozled by the crooks in their midst, and still doesn't realize it.

Image And Reality

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In both cases, though, we have learned something about Mr. Obama. What animated him during the campaign is what historian Forrest McDonald once called "the projection of appealing images."

Mr. Obama's appealing campaign images turned out to have been fleeting. He ran hard to the left on national security to win the nomination, only to discover the campaign commitments he made were shallow and at odds with America's security interests.

Mr. Obama ran hard to the center on economic issues to win the general election. He has since discovered his campaign commitments were obstacles to ramming through the most ideologically liberal economic agenda since the Great Society.

Mr. Obama either had very little grasp of what governing would involve or, if he did, he used words meant to mislead the public. Neither option is particularly encouraging. America now has a president quite different from the person who advertised himself for the job last year.

But Don't Worry...

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After the eight turbines were installed in the notoriously windy Penghu archipelago in the Taiwan Strait, a neighbouring farmer reported that his goats had started dying, Council of Agriculture inspection official Lu Ming-tseng said.

"If noise at night can keep people awake, then it could also keep the goats awake, and when the wind kicks up it makes a louder noise," Lu said.

... there'll be no problem if we carpet the Midwest with wind turbines -- which is what we'd have to do to have any prayer of them making a significant contribution to our energy needs.

Parked Tanks

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May 21 (Bloomberg) -- The odds on the dollar, Treasury
bonds and the U.S. government’s AAA grade all heading for the
dumpster are shortening.

While currency forecasting is a mug’s game and bond yields
can’t quite decide whether to dive toward deflation or surge in
anticipation of inflation, every time I think about that credit
rating, I hear what Agent Smith in the “Matrix” movies called
“the sound of inevitability.”

“When the government parks its tanks on capitalism’s
lawns, that spells trouble for those who invest, add value and
create jobs,” says Tim Price, director of investments at PFP
Wealth Management in London. “Trillion-dollar bailouts do not
only leave massive public-sector deficits in their wake, they
also leave the presence of the heavy hand of government all over
industry and markets, so the outlook for government bonds is
less promising than the economic textbooks on deflation would
have us believe.”

Not Likely

One of Barack Obama's first big "community organizer" jobs involved ACORN in 1992. Obama also trained ACORN employees. He represented ACORN in court. Obama worked with and protested with ACORN. His campaign donated $800,000 to ACORN this year for voter registration efforts.And, ACORN even canvassed for Obama in 2008.

Now there's this--
Andrew Berman saw this today on the streets of New York City:
Not likely.


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Remember how President Obama blamed Chrysler’s bankruptcy filing last month on “a small group of speculators” who turned down Treasury’s $2 billion final offer for their $6.9 billion in debt? Well, it turns out that hedge funds and other short sellers weren’t the only secured creditors who got a raw deal from Uncle Sam.

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock revealed this week that his state’s police and teacher pension funds have lost millions of dollars in the Chrysler “restructuring.” Indiana’s State Police Fund and Major Moves Construction Fund, which finances roads and bridges, together lost more than $1 million. And the Teacher’s Retirement Fund “suffered, at a minimum, a loss of $4.6 million due to the action of the Federal government,” reports Mr. Mourdock.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Even The French

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So yes, it is possible to see why this disparate group came together yesterday. The UAW may soon be the government's partner in ownership of GM and Chrysler, and it has a strong incentive not to bite the hand feeding it a huge equity stake in the car makers. Ford and the other foreign-owned auto makers, which will have to raise private capital to make changes that U.S. taxpayers will fund at Chrysler and GM, no doubt want to maintain their political viability by not standing athwart this regulatory steamroller.

We wish these folks luck "working together" with the Obama auto-design team. One thing seems certain by 2016: Taxpayers will be paying Detroit to make the cars Americans don't want, and then they will pay again either through (trust us) a gas tax or with a purchase subsidy. Even the French must think we're nuts.

Hope And No Change Left

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NEW YORK ( -- The Federal Reserve's latest forecasts for the U.S. economy are gloomier than the ones released three months earlier, with an expectation for higher unemployment and a steeper drop in economic activity.

The Fed's forecasts, released as part of the minutes from its April meeting, show that its staff now expects the unemployment rate to rise to between 9.2% and 9.6% this year. The central bank had forecast in January that the jobless rate would be in a range of 8.5% to 8.8%, but the unemployment rate topped that in April, hitting 8.9%.

O Duce's Preening

With a stroke of the pen, Barack Obama has imposed higher fuel-economy standards on the American auto industry. Those standards can only be met by making the average car smaller and lighter than consumers prefer. The inevitable result is that thousands of innocent Americans, possibly tens of thousands, will die painful and sometimes fiery deaths, while many thousands more will be seriously injured. This prospect apparently gave Obama no pause whatsoever. He has never so much as hinted that he sees a moral dimension in the trade-off between human life and reduced carbon emissions.

On the other hand, Obama sees the brief and physically harmless discomfort of three terrorists as posing a moral crisis of almost unparalleled dimension, necessitating endless apology and hand-wringing. The contrast in Obama's priorities is striking, to say the least. I would submit that this is what happens when you substitute preening for intelligent policy-making.

Drop Dead

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UPDATE: A warning? “Politicians be forewarned: the public’s tolerance for tax hikes even in an overwhelmingly liberal state is non-existent. The president and Congress shouldn’t bank on running up the tab and handing the bill to the taxpayers. The taxpayers might just vote ‘no’ on all of them.”


n administration running auto companies for the benefit of the UAW and its political viability in the Rust Belt undoubtedly considers the Golden State “too big to fail.” After all, the New York Daily News headline would write itself: “Obama to California: Drop Dead.”

However, bailouts are unpopular. Many Americans will chafe just as much at the prospect of paying to bail out California’s decades of inept govenment as they do at paying to bail out GM’s decades of inept management. Obama would bail out California to hold onto those electoral votes, but he will have to worry about how many he loses in the process.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What They Wanted

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Roosevelt's total subordination of his country's welfare to his personal ambition began
before he took office in March, 1933. The outgoing president, Herbert Hoover, confronted a
dilemma. Faced with numerous bank failures throughout the country, Hoover wished to
announce a plan to help promote bank solvency. He knew, however, that a statement from him
would be worse than useless. He had utterly lost the confidence of Congress and the people.

He accordingly proposed to Roosevelt that he announce a plan to save the banks.
Roosevelt refused to do so, since continued bank failures until he took office were to his political
advantage. It would hardly do, would it, to have the banks recover under Hoover? Perish the
thought! "On February 28 [1933], Hoover received a message that [Roosevelt adviser] Rexford
Tugwell had said that the banks would collapse in a couple of days and that is what they wanted"

Roosevelt himself favored such action: the point was not to
allow Hoover credit for it.

They Thought They Were Liberals

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In every single case before the rise of totalitarian governments there had been a period dominated by economic planners. Each of these nations had an era under starry-eyed men who believed that they could plan and force the economic life of the people. They believed that was the way to correct abuse or to meet emergencies in systems of free enterprise. They exalted the state as the solver of all economic problems.

These men thought they were liberals. But they also thought they could have economic dictatorship by bureaucracy and at the same time preserve free speech, orderly justice, and free government.

These men are not Communists or Fascists. But they mixed these ideas into free systems. It is true that Communists and Fascists were round about. They formed popular fronts and gave the applause. These men shifted the relation of government to free enterprise from that of umpire to controller.

The Competent Subsidizing The Careless

Historically, it's been a truism that banks don't make money on credit card customers who pay off their bills every month.

All of that is about to change, as Congress has just enacted new credit card regulations intended to limit banks' ability to collect money from distressed or incompetent customers. The New York Times explains the consequences:

"It will be a different business," said Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, which has been lobbying Congress for more lenient legislation on behalf of the nation's biggest banks. "Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems."

The competent subsidizing the careless--that's classic Democratic Party policy.

So it inserted these words amid the legalese: "If you call (612) xxx-xxxx, we will give you $50." As I recall, they sent out tens of thousands of notices and got five or ten phone calls.

The Real (Jimmah II On Steroids) OLegacy

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HOPE AND CHANGE: Brazil and China eye plan to axe dollar. “Brazil and China will work towards using their own currencies in trade transactions rather than the US dollar, according to Brazil’s central bank and aides to Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president. The move follows recent Chinese challenges to the status of the dollar as the world’s leading international currency.” Quite an accomplishment — Obama has been president for just four months, and his legacy already seems secure. . . .

Dems Aren't Power-Mad Lying Morons Like The Pubs At All... Absolutely Not

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CHANGE: Democrats Won’t Fund Guantanamo Closing. And yet Guantanamo made voting them in a matter of fierce moral urgency.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Missing Outcry

At worst, the burgeoning debt could trigger a future financial crisis. The danger is that "we won't be able to sell it (Treasury debt) at reasonable interest rates," says economist Rudy Penner, head of the CBO from 1983 to 1987. In today's anxious climate, this hasn't happened. American and foreign investors have favored "safe" U.S. Treasuries. But a glut of bonds, fears of inflation -- or something else -- might one day shatter confidence. Bond prices might fall sharply; interest rates would rise. The consequences could be worldwide because foreigners own half of U.S. Treasury debt.
The wonder is that these issues have been so ignored. Imagine hypothetically that a President McCain had submitted a budget plan identical to Obama's. There would almost certainly have been a loud outcry: "McCain's Mortgaging Our Future." Obama should be held to no less exacting a standard.

Stay Tuned To China

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And there is one more point: The state banks do not have to actually trigger a crisis to cause great damage to China's economy. Beijing will undoubtedly try to repair bank balance sheets by dropping both deposit and lending rates to abnormally low levels. This will create imbalances in the economy and, as Peking University's Michael Pettis argues, undermine efforts to stimulate consumption. Stimulating consumption is job one for Premier Wen, especially if the country cannot export its way out of the global downturn because the crisis is deeper and longer than expected.

Beijing's technocrats, by engineering one of the greatest lending surges in history, are creating the condition for China's next banking crisis. So stay tuned.

Talking Points

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In fact, the beauty of MoDo’s snafu is that not only does it show a major player in the media being led around by nutroots talking points, it involves her lifting stuff from a blog that’s actually called “Talking Points.” Glorious.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

COTD: Feet Of Clay

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I would suggest that this cycle - obama worship, Obama’s grab for power over every facet of American life, extreme liberalism and socialism must go to its’ extreme before it swings back. I would suggest that Obama will attempt to become our dictator soon enough, certainly within the next four years. It will be during a crisis that he attempts this. (remember Roman History, please!) He loves power, loves it more than life, I would suggest. Whether he succeeds I do not know. But I think that he really wants it and believes it is his fate. He is not a man to see his limits, to see his failings as failings. He does not respect us or our Constitution. As this article says, there is a competence gap the size of a small planet in this administration and certainly in Obama, but I doubt Obama is capable of humility even in his sleep.
He is a man with feet of clay.

Could something save the republic? yes, world events heating up to over boiling. Things becoming utterly uncontrollable …

COTD: Horrified

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My elderly friend who was born in post-Bolshevik Russia in 1929, and escaped with her family through China at age 5, is completely horrified at the speed and destructiveness of the central planning/collectivist/destruction of individualism that we are seeing.

I’ve been talking with family about the fallacy that many entertain about Russia, that somehow Russia was just “destined to be a communisted-dominated economic train wreck” rather than realizing that Russia was the victim of power-hungry men who used destructive policies to control people.

Russia was not genetically condemned to such destruction any more than we are. And we are are not safe from such destruction any more than Russia was.

It is my sense that if we do not succeed in blowing the situation wide open in the time period between now and November 2010, we will have lost the opportunity.

At least 75% of those in office now have got to go, from both sides of the aisle.

COTD Yet Again

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His incompetence is the only thing protecting us from the consequences of his malevolence.

Pithy indeed.

COTD Update: Incapable Of Abstract Thought

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The intelligence of a man who thinks Iraq should have been conceded to Al Qaeda and Iran is obviously overrated. As Mark Steyn said prior to the war to liberate Iraq, the choice was between bad and worse.

As difficult as Iraq was, it was better than leaving in power a terrorist supporting and terrorist harboring, mass murdering, genocidal Stalinist dictator who was in daily defiance of UN Ceasefire Resolutions for 12 years. If he had not been removed from power he would today be pursuing nuclear weapons and there would be no valid argument to deny Iran the same right and vice versa.

A hallmark of the liberal mind is to criticize something without considering the alternatives. Gitmo is a perfect example.