Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: August 2010


Pelosi wants an investigation into mosque foes

It was as inevitable as the sun rising in the east – some politician at a national level was going to call for an investigation into one side or the other of the Ground Zero Mosque debacle.

Unsurprisingly, it was Nancy Pelosi and equally unsurprising, she wants the opposition investigated:

"There is no question there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some. And I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded," she said. "How is this being ginned up that here we are talking about Treasure Island, something we’ve been working on for decades, something of great interest to our community as we go forward to an election about the future of our country and two of the first three questions are about a zoning issue in New York City."

That’s right, Ms. Pelosi – it’s a local problem and the sum of your answer should have been, “that’s a local problem for the citizens of New York to sort out”.  Period.  End of statement.

But she couldn’t leave it there.  Oh, no – she has to “join” others calling for an investigation “into how this opposition to the mosque is being funded.”

Really?  Have they broken any laws?  Have they done anything other than voice their displeasure about the proposed project?  Aren’t they attempting, by mostly social pressure, to change the minds of those who want to build the mosque near what they consider hallowed ground?  If this were a union protesting, would you be eager to look into their funding?

Who and how they are funded isn’t any of your business, Madam Speaker.  And throwing that sort of rhetoric around is simply an act of attempted political intimidation.  While I may disagree with some who protest, I back their right to do so to the hilt.  It is as much “political speech” as most of the pap the Speaker of the House spews forth on a daily basis.

Why these national politicians feel the need to weigh in on this (on both sides) only reflects the apparent common assumption among all politicians that everything is a freakin’ national political issue. There are very real, important and weighty issues that deserve the time and the debate much more than this stupidity.

And, just as I agree that those who want to build the mosque have every right to do so where they choose if they own the property, I also agree that those who find it inappropriate and an “in your face” move by members of the Islamic faith have every right, within the law, to protest that decision and attempt to persuade the builders to abandon the project.

As long as the protesters fulfill their legal obligations as they protest, Madam Speaker, the issue is none of your or any other national politician’s business.  And threatening them with “investigations” only goes to point out how casually thugish our national government has become.

~McQ

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Why aren’t Democrats running on their record?

Seriously? If, as the President touted in LA the other day, they’ve passed the most progressive agenda in decades, why in the world aren’t they trumpeting it to the hills?

Instead, as a headline notes in the POLITICO, “White House searches for villain”.  Apparently they’ve finally figured out that they’ve worn the “blame Bush” card out. However, instead of a strategy to remind the public what Congressional Democrats have done in this session of Congress, they’re looking for a bad guy on the other side to vilify instead.

You could write it off to their usual penchant for the politics of personal destruction and blame-shifting.  But it’s hard to blame Republicans for “obstruction” when you had majorities in both houses of Congress that nullified the GOP’s ability to do that.

So what’s up with them ignoring their own record?

Perhaps, as Thomas Sowell points out, it is how they accomplished that record and what that means that they’d rather play down instead of play up:

‘We the people" are the central concern of the Constitution, as well as its opening words, since it is a Constitution for a self-governing nation. But "we the people" are treated as an obstacle to circumvent by the current administration.

One way of circumventing the people is to rush legislation through Congress so fast that no one knows what is buried in it. Did you know that the so-called health care reform bill contained a provision creating a tax on people who buy and sell gold coins?

You might debate whether that tax is a good or a bad idea. But the whole point of burying it in legislation about medical insurance is to make sure "we the people" don’t even know about it, much less have a chance to debate it, before it becomes law.

The health care bill is the most prevalent example of what Sowell is talking about.  So intent were they on passing what liberal Democrats considered one of their most cherished ideological dreams they pulled out all the stops, invented procedures on the fly and essentially rammed this legislation through without even them knowing what all was in it. 

Debate?  There was none.  None. They wouldn’t allow it. And certainly none about what was in the bill and would become law of the land.  So we continue to find little nuggets of crap in the law as we wade through it.  Gold taxes for instance.

But his larger point is the important one here.  It is  what has spawned the Tea Parties and the anger throughout the nation that is now boiling over.  “We the People” – that would be anyone outside of DC – are simply tired of being ignored and having things imposed upon us by out of touch politicians.  And we’re certainly tired of seeing legislation passed as this Congress has done.

Another way we have our freedoms and liberties imposed upon is also been used by this and other Congresses:

Yet another ploy is to pass laws worded in vague generalities, leaving it up to the federal bureaucracies to issue specific regulations based on those laws. "We the people" can’t vote on bureaucrats. And, since it takes time for all the bureaucratic rules to be formulated and then put into practice, we won’t know what either the rules or their effects are prior to this fall’s elections when we vote for (or against) those who passed these clever laws.

Consider the EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gasses by fiat.  If Congress can’t pass a law to regulate them because of popular opposition, well they’ll just reinterpret existing law to their benefit and try to do it anyway.

If you wonder why people think government is out of control, those are two good examples. 

Is it any wonder people see politics today as agenda driven for the benefit of the parties instead of the people?  Is it any wonder that people are feeling more and more like serfs and less like equal citizens?

Not since the Norman conquerors of England published their laws in French, for an English-speaking nation, centuries ago, has there been such contempt for the people’s right to know what laws were being imposed on them.

Until this government is drastically pared back to some basic functions, this is going to continue and get worse.  It is in many areas in which it has no business and it is consuming more and more of our GDP doing things it has no business doing.  If we’re not already bankrupt, runaway government is doing its level best to do so.

There’s a reason the Democrats are searching for a bad guy instead of running on their record.  They can sense something’s wrong, but they really can’t – for whatever reason – put their finger on it. Well, my guess is they can cloak the next villain in Nazi SS regalia and call him the worst thing since Adolph Hitler and it won’t matter a whit in November.

This has got to stop and “the people” have figured it out.  In November, methinks, they’re going to help the politicians figure it out as well.

~McQ

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Irony and the law of unintended consequences visit the UAW

You could also entitle it "meet the new boss, same as the old boss". What I’m talking about is a recent meeting between UAW bosses and GM workers. To say it didn’t go well would be a vast understatement)(via Sweetness and Light):

Workers at a General Motors stamping plant in Indianapolis, Indiana chased United Auto Workers executives out of a union meeting Sunday, after the UAW demanded workers accept a contract that would cut their wages in half.

As soon as three UAW International representatives took the podium, they were met with boos and shouts of opposition from many of the 631 workers currently employed at the plant. The officials, attempting to speak at the only informational meeting on the proposed contract changes, were forced out within minutes of taking the floor.

The incident once again exposes the immense class divide between workers and union officials, who are working actively with the auto companies to drive down wages and eliminate benefits.

Actively working with the auto companies? They are part owners now of the auto companies – they’re "management" for heaven sake.

Interesting how it suddenly looks when you’re on the "other side", huh?  And in the face of vociferous opposition, the UAW officials abandoned the podium.

All of this was written up at the World Socialist website.  There’s also a video which gives real credence to the story. In the beginning someone from the local is speaking. He or she (I really couldn’t tell which) then introduces the UAW international drones at about 2:48. As you watch it, it will remind you of some of the townhall meetings of last summer:

The article goes on to say:

Workers at Local 23 voted 384-22 in May to reject reopening a previous contract, which had guaranteed that wages would remain intact in the event of a sale. GM first announced its intention to sell the plant in 2007, threatening to close it if it did not find a buyer.

Despite overwhelming opposition by the rank-and-file, UAW executives secretly continued negotiations with JD Norman, which they outlined in a document sent to workers last week.

Pretty bad when your union which is now management sells you out, isn’t it?  To paraphrase one worker, “they’ll still have their jobs while they sell ours out”.  Wow – wasn’t that the argument against the hated “management?”  Heh …

Irony – it’s really something to be appreciated sometimes, isn’t it?  The UAW always wanted control of the auto companies didn’t it?  Now it has it – sweet, huh?  And private sector unions wonder why their membership is dropping like a rock.

~McQ

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Obama doesn’t "get" America, but neither does the media

Peter Kirsanow thinks that Barack Obama somehow doesn’t "get" America and that his flip-flopping on the mosque at Ground Zero is emblematic of that.

He launches into a litany of examples of things and situations which support this claim.  Notice who he holds complicit in all of this.

As Dorothy Rabinowitz has noted, Obama’s alienation from the citizenry is just beginning to be more broadly revealed, but has been on display since the 2008 campaign. The media either failed to report it or chastised anyone who dared notice. When some remarked about Obama’s refusal to do something as simple as wear a flag lapel pin, they were pronounced unsophisticated and jingoistic. Obama’s casual stance during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” was declared a triviality. When Reverend Wright was caught shouting ” G–damn America!” those who wondered whether Obama’s 20 years in Wright’s pews might suggest ideological concurrence were dismissed as alarmist. When some expressed concern that Obama might agree with his wife that America is a “downright mean country” and that perhaps he, too,  for the first time in his adult life, was proud of his country, they were told to grow up.

Then Obama’s association with Bill Ayers emerged and the mainstream media closed ranks and refused, as long as they could, to even report it. And when Obama expressed unalloyed contempt for Midwesterners who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment,” a phalanx formed to assure the public of his pure intentions.

There were other instances throughout the campaign and first months in office suggesting that for Obama, multiculturalism trumps national unity and moral relativism supersedes cultural confidence. His serial apologies for America, embrace of  America-hating Hugo Chávez, and supplication to foreign thugs are consistent with a “blame America first” mentality that may be unremarkable for a political science professor but is toxic for the leader of the greatest nation in history.

By the way, you have to love the last line – proof of which we here at QandO are treated too almost daily in the comment section.

But to the point – the media was absolutely complicit in hiding, not covering or spinning the stories noted.  If Obama had an agenda – and he did – so did the media. Totally unqualified for the job, Obama still got their support because he looked good, he sounded great, he was the dream “diversity” pick and wasn’t a Republican.  And sticking with what they believed to be their arrogant right as journalists to decide what was or wasn’t news, they refused to do what was necessary to qualify the candidate.

In fact, they did nothing, really, to vet the man.  As Kirsanow notes, they actually did all they could to hide these facts and their implications and to chastise those who thought they were important (and they were important).

Someone once said that in a political campaign having the media on your side is worth 5 to 10 points on election day.  Never before, in my lifetime, have I seen that more true than in 2008.  Hopefully, that day is coming to an end with this past election used as an example of what you are likely to get when the media doesn’t do their job.  And for the media, this is a perfect example of why your profession now ranks down there with used car salesmen and Congressmen – and frankly, I’d trust a used car salesman well before I’d trust most in the journalism profession.

That said, I agree with Kirsanow’s thesis.  I don’t think Barack Obama gets America, understands its exceptionalism or is particularly proud of his country.  In fact, Obama, as indicated in his Berlin speech, claims he’s a “citizen of the world”.  While that’s fine, again, in the faculty lounge at any cow college in the land, it’s not exactly something that indicates an understanding of one’s country’s place or role in the world or the job of president.

We elect a president to represent us, not the world.  We want someone who understands the country, it’s founding principles and its exceptional role.  We want someone who is proud to be an American, because that means they have an appreciation and a love of country that should guide them in their governance.  Obama displays none of these traits.  In fact, as noted, he seems almost apologetic about the country and his job when on the world stage.

When 2013 rolls around, it will be time to unload this “mistake” elected through media hype and false promises.  And I only hope that America will have learned a valuable but incredibly expensive lesson in the time being.  Politics isn’t theater and treating it like a beauty contest gets you presidents like this one.  And – believe only half of what you see from journalists and none of what you read.  They pitched any shred of credibility they had in the dust bin in 2008, and there’s no reason to believe they’ve taken it out, dusted it off and are now wearing it again – if ever they were before.

~McQ

 

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Dale’s Observations For 2010-08-16

Moto Forza in Escondido has a brand new Ducati Multistrada 1200 S waiting for me to take out for a test ride. More will definitely follow… #

RT @dmataconis: Strip clubs…as close to Ground Zero as that proposed Mosque.| Now, that's what I call "Twin Towers"! #

Justice Department: Tom Delay will walk. http://bit.ly/cvHTnk #

This may be the most trite, inane, and pointless op/ed piece I've ever read. http://bit.ly/bw2eEU #

Treasurys Rise On Economic Angst; 10-Year Yield Touches 2.579%. http://bit.ly/chG9s1 #

Obama's Friday statement on the Ground 0 mosque made it a national issue. That's what you call an unforced error. http://bit.ly/dsdA8l #

The two major political philosophies of this country are fundamentally incompatible. Hence talk of secession. http://bit.ly/9RSiy6 #


Krugman in Bizarro land

Paul Krugman has written some bizarre columns in his day but none more bizarre than his column on Social Security today.

It is stunning in its ignorance and simply appalling in its logic.  In it he tries so hard to prove his premise that Social Security proves government isn’t always the problem and is sometimes the solution that he’s left to use “facts” that have been refuted for, well, decades.

For instance:

Legally, Social Security has its own, dedicated funding, via the payroll tax (“FICA” on your pay statement). But it’s also part of the broader federal budget. This dual accounting means that there are two ways Social Security could face financial problems. First, that dedicated funding could prove inadequate, forcing the program either to cut benefits or to turn to Congress for aid. Second, Social Security costs could prove unsupportable for the federal budget as a whole.

But neither of these potential problems is a clear and present danger. Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century, banking those surpluses in a special account, the so-called trust fund.

There may “legally” be a “trust fund”, but there’s nothing in it but government IOUs.  The federal government has borrowed every dollar that was ever in the “surpluses”, put them in the general fund and spent them.  Now this isn’t even arguable.  This has been known for literally decades.

But Krugman insists that all the money that’s been taken from us for Social Security (FICA) is in a tidy heap in the “trust fund” which has run surpluses for decades. 

Lord, anyone with the IQ of a penguin knows that there isn’t a dime of real revenue sitting in that account – it is stuffed to the gills with treasury bonds.  To this point that hasn’t been a problem – because it has always taken in more than it paid out.  That’s no longer going to be the case – especially when the baby boomers retire.  So where will the money to pay their retirement come from? 

Debt.  Borrowing.

Oh, and this strawman:

Meanwhile, an aging population will eventually (over the course of the next 20 years) cause the cost of paying Social Security benefits to rise from its current 4.8 percent of G.D.P. to about 6 percent of G.D.P. To give you some perspective, that’s a significantly smaller increase than the rise in defense spending since 2001, which Washington certainly didn’t consider a crisis, or even a reason to rethink some of the Bush tax cuts.

Well yeah, we’ve been in two wars – or hadn’t he noticed?  Defense spending will go down.  Social Security spending won’t.  Add to that health care spending and other entitlements and you can imagine the chunk of GDP those will consume.

Instead, what you’re seeing here is the end of the life-cycle of a Ponzi scheme.  Bill Gross gives you an indication of what I’m talking about:

First of all, capitalistic innovation fostered productivity, and an increasing standard of living through technology and innovation. Debts could be paid back via profits and higher wages if only because of rising prosperity itself. Secondly, the 20th century, which fathered the debt supercycle, was a time of global population growth despite its interruption by tragic world wars and periodic pandemics. Prior debts could be spread over an ever-increasing number of people, lessening the burden and making it possible to assume even more debt in a seemingly endless cycle which brought consumption forward – anticipating that future generations could do the same.

But while technological innovation – much like Moore’s law – seems to have endless promise, population growth in numerous parts of the developed world is approaching a dead end. Not only will it become more difficult to transfer high existing debt burdens onto the smaller shoulders of future generations, but the overlevered, aging “global boomers” themselves will demand a disproportionate piece of stunted future goods and services – without, it seems, the ability to pay for it. Creditors, sensing the predicament, hold back as they recently have in Greece and other southern European peripherals, or in the U.S. itself, as lenders demand larger down payments on new home mortgages, and other debt extensions.

So there it is – when the population was expanding, the Ponzi scheme worked.  Now that it is stagnating and contracting, the bill has come due.  This isn’t rocket science, although to read Krugman you’d think he thinks it is.

It is absurd for any knowledgeable person to write that Social Security is just fine and dandy, but that’s precisely what Krugman does.  And the pretzel logic and pure and outright nonsense he strings together to justify that conclusion are astounding.  And it all has a point:

Conservatives hate Social Security for ideological reasons: its success undermines their claim that government is always the problem, never the solution.

Really – is that the reason Mr. Krugman? Or is it because the so-called trust fund doesn’t have two real dimes to rub against each other, the government spent it all and is broke, baby boomers are retiring and there aren’t enough workers left to support them and we’re in a deep recession?

Yeah, can’t be any of that – must be they hate it for ideological reasons.

Amazing.

~McQ

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