Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Chavez: Prepare For War, Here Come The Americans …

Apparently peace, love and the Obama magic have a 9 month shelf life. Hugo Chavez has determined that the US is up to its old tricks again – and besides, things aren’t going particularly well in the Bolivarian socialist paradise, so it is time to gin up the usual existential threat – the US:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the military and civil militias today to prepare for war as a deterrent to a U.S.-led attack after American troops gained access to military bases in neighboring Colombia.

Chavez said a recently signed agreement that gives American troops access to seven Colombian bases is a direct threat to his oil-exporting country. Colombia has handed over its sovereignty to the U.S. with the deal, he said.

“Generals of the armed forces, the best way to avoid a war is to prepare for one,” Chavez said in comments on state television during his weekly “Alo Presidente” program. “Colombia handed over their country and is now another state of the union. Don’t make the mistake of attacking: Venezuela is willing to do anything.”

Of course this is all a Bolivarian fantasy concocted to distract attention from internal problems, but it is a fantasy that one assumes is useful in some way to the collection of tin pot socialist dictators how holding forth in Central and South America. After all, Fidel Castro has made a career of it:

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro expressed concern similar to Chavez’s on Nov. 6, saying the U.S. might send Colombian troops to crush Venezuela’s government.

“The empire hopes to send them to fight against their Venezuelan and Ecuadorean brothers and other Bolivarian and Alba peoples to crush the Venezuelan revolution, just as they tried to do with the Cuban revolution in April 1961,” Castro wrote in a “reflection” published on the Cubadebate.cu Web site. The Alba bloc is a nine-member group of Latin American countries led by Chavez.

Wow – the US would do that? Send Columbian troops to “crush” Venezuela’s?

Hey, I thought this Obama guy was different and his ascendency and willingness to grip and grin with dictators would change all this?

The U.S. may try to help Colombia invade Venezuela, as the U.S. supported Iraq’s invasion of Iran in the 1980s, Chavez said.

A military attack on Venezuela would spread to other countries in the region because Venezuela has “friends” from Mexico to Argentina, Chavez said during the program.

“If the Yankee empire tries to use Colombia to attack Venezuela, the war of 100 years would begin,” he said.

Guess not.

~McQ

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BlogTalk Radio – Tonight at 8pm (EST)

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s): The House Health Care vote, Ft. Hood, the looming Afghanistan decision and unemployment at 10.2% Plus whatever else enters our mind – or doesn’t.  Oh yeah, and although it seems a century ago, the votes in VA, NJ and NY-23.  Only available on BTR this week since it will only be Bruce and Michael (fresh of his tour de force co-hosting duties at Say Anything Radio last night). Dale has been overcome by events this week – but he’ll be back fresh and ready to go next week.

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The House Health Care Vote

It’s over. And it has been over long enough so my gag reflex doesn’t automatically kick in when I think about it.  Democrats managed a close “victory” (I don’t consider it a victory for the American people at all, thus the scare quotes) which included one misguided Republican (what a surprise).

Before I talk about it further, there’s an “Irony Alert” in full swing for the irony-impaired leftists who took great joy in touting NY-23 as a Republican civil-war and party purge. They’re are now doing the same sort of thing concerning the 39 Democrats who voted “no” on Pelosi’s monstrosity (and those that voted for the Stupak amendment).

Back to the bill: I make no bones about it – it is a bureaucratic, bank-breaking monstrosity that still will leave millions uninsured and put those who don’t want to play Pelosi’s game in jail – literally.

Additionally, it will cost much more than the Pelosi smoke-and-mirror act is claiming. Sen. Judd Gregg says it will be about 3 trillion over 10 years. I’ve seen reports from other organizations saying 2 to 2.5 trillion. Donald Marron lays out his argument with a handy dandy chart for 1.3 trillion. Once caveat to his analysis – his chart shows the “doc fix” at “$0” dollars. That’s because they plan to pass the $250 billion dollar doctor buy off in a separate bill so it’s not included in the 894 billion faux cost they’re trying to sell. That brings his 1.3 up to 1.6 trillion. The point, of course, is no one is buying the Pelosi figure.

Bottom line – it won’t be anywhere near the supposed deficit reducing 894 billion they claim. And when the front-loaded 500 billion in new taxes begin to hit (well before the program takes effect) there’s going to be a whole lot of political hell to pay especially if it kills the recovery.

That said, the Senate still has to pass its version for this to go anywhere, and with a vote that close in the House, the preliminary betting is against passage in the Senate. And besides, Harry Reid couldn’t organize a one-man parade.

But I think Doug Mataconis, borrowing a line from Star Wars, summed up last night’s vote on the bill and then applause that followed the best – “So this is how freedom dies – to thunderous applause.”

~McQ

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East Germany’s Gone – Boo Hoo

You have to read this one to believe it.  Bruni de la Motte, a child of the GDR, tells us how hard life has been for her since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The irony is that while she tries to convince of all that was good and wonderful about her former homeland, she never mentions the fact that if she’d have written a whine like this while a citizen of the GDR we’d most likely not even know she ever existed.  Nothing like romanticizing a terror state.

Anyway:

On 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down I realised German unification would soon follow, which it did a year later. This meant the end of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the country in which I was born, grew up, gave birth to my two children, gained my doctorate and enjoyed a fulfilling job as a lecturer in English literature at Potsdam University. Of course, unification brought with it the freedom to travel the world and, for some, more material wealth, but it also brought social breakdown, widespread unemployment, blacklisting, a crass materialism and an “elbow society” as well as a demonisation of the country I lived in and helped shape. Despite the advantages, for many it was more a disaster than a celebratory event.

The demonization of the country? It had demonized itself for decades. It had to build a freaking wall to keep people in. Not only in Berlin but around the entire country. But of course the political elite suffered far fewer depredations than did the rank and file citizenry. They could complain about the West’s “crass materialism” because, for the most part, they could get most of what they wanted. For the rest of the citizenry, not so much. However, there was no “blacklisting” in the GDR – she’s right about that. Instead, people just disappeared. And I’m sure she was very pleased with the order brought by the Stasi and the fact that spying and reporting on your neighbor was a national pass time.

Ah the good old days.

She rambles on for a number of paragraphs ending with this:

Since the demise of the GDR, many have come to recognise and regret that the genuine “social achievements” they enjoyed were dismantled: social and gender equality, full employment and lack of existential fears, as well as subsidised rents, public transport, culture and sports facilities. Unfortunately, the collapse of the GDR and “state socialism” came shortly before the collapse of the “free market” system in the west.

Of course there was no social equality – Ms. de la Motte belonged to a powerful elite. Gender equality still exists but you’re graded on your merit, something she appears not to appreciate at all. And full employment was a farce to say the very least. If they lacked “existential fears” then they must have been members of the Stasi because the rest of the country had an abiding existential fear of the state secret police. And of course, not understanding that the “free market” hasn’t “collapsed”, one can’t expect her to understand that her “subsidized rents” etc, are precisely what led to the collapse of “state socialism”.

Yes, the late and unlamented (except for the elite who benefited from its existence) GDR is dead.

Cry me a river.

~McQ

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Say Anything Radio Tonight

For anyone who might be interested, Rob Port of Say Anything Blog has graciously invited me to co-host his radio show tonight. It will be airing from 7-9 PM Central time, and can be heard on Ustream and can be seen right here (allegedly):

Tonight’s topics will include the Pelosi health care bill, the elections this week, the Fort Hood tragedy, and my post on Corporatism v. Capitalism. If you desire, you can call into the show toll free at 888-598-8464. Hope to hear from some of you all.

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Separation Of Church And State – Except When It Suits Us Otherwise

Tell me how else I should interpret this?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops delivered a critical endorsement to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday by signing off on late-night agreement to grant a vote on an amendment barring insurance companies that participate in the exchange from covering abortions

For other than political reasons, why even involve the USCCB? I mean I’m sure they were more than happy to comply given abortion is anathema to them, but God help them if they try putting a nativity scene on the US Capital grounds. It’s not that I blame them for taking the opportunity to influence legislation to conform with their religious belief. My question is why isn’t the secular “keep the church out of politics or we’ll have a theocracy” left screaming its bloody head off?

It’s because they’re a bunch of unprincipled hypocrites whose only real desire is the accumulation of power by any means. By Christmas, they’ll be back to their old “ban that stuff” selves (and more than likely hinting, if not outright saying, that every Catholic priest is a pedophile), just watch.  But for right now, it’s just peachy keen to have those Catholic bishops weighing in on secular legislation.  Yessiree Bob.

~McQ

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How Can Anyone Be This Clueless?

I‘m not sure, but Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs manages it very well:

“I will continue to say what I’ve said before. You hear in this debate, you hear analogies, you hear references to, you see pictures about and depictions of individuals that are truly stunning, and you hear it all the time. People — imagine five years ago somebody comparing health care reform to 9/11. Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler.

Hopefully we can get back to a discussion about the issues that are important in this country that we can do so without being personally disagreeable and set up comparisons to things that were so insidious in our history that anybody in any profession or walk of life would be well advised to compare nothing to those atrocities.”

I’ll again point you to the pictorial compendium at Zomblog which covers protest signs from the past 8 years (yes Mr. Gibbs that includes 5 years ago) in which “somebody walked around with images of Hitler”. I have no idea where Gibbs was then, but he is truly representative of the “history began January 20, 2009” crowd. Thin skinned and clueless will make for a tough 4 years.

Mary Kathrine Ham has more here to include a reminder of a recent invoking of the Holocaust by Democratic Representative Alan Grayson when talking about the GOP’s health care plan.

~McQ

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Ft Hood: I Think This Is About Right

Steven Taylor says it:

It strikes me at this stage that trying to generalize from this event about a particular class of persons is no different than taking the Oklahoma City Bombing and assuming that because a right-wing white male was the perpetrator that there ought to be some blanket assumptions that could automatically be made. Or, perhaps a better analogy, those who have tried to blame things like abortion clinic bombings or anti-gay violence on conservative Christianity. In the absence of an actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence, the responsibility for an event like this falls squarely on the shoulders of the person who engaged in the violence, and blaming others (based on religion, ethnicity or anything else) is blatantly unfair.

And yet, people are making wild assertions about the event, as if we really can know much of anything less than 24 hours after the event.

I’m not saying that there isn’t an “actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence” (I don’t know), but until and unless that can be proven, it seems to me that the same broad brush we all condemn when, as Taylor points out, people try to make the same sort of unfounded assumptions about “right-wing” groups, etc is being used by some in this case.

Sometimes a nut is just a nut. And I think we all agree this guy is an absolute scumbag.  But, in reality, given what happened today in Orlando and what we know about Hasan, you could argue that we have seen two disgruntled employees who happened to be mentally unstable try to settle their scores with lethal violence. Unfortunately we have a long and rich history of such events.  We call it “going postal” from all the incidents of disgruntled postal employees shooting up their places of work.

Bottom line? Let’s not make more of this than it is until we have more proof. And no that’s not being politically correct – it is being factually correct.  If he’s a radical Islamist jihadi directed by an al Qaeda master (or some like scenario), then I’ll be the first to point that out and condemn it.

But at the moment, he seems more like a nutjob who went over the edge and acted out violently. Until I learn more about him and what caused him to do what he did, I’ll continue with that tentative conclusion. Because that’s the only conclusion supported by the evidence right now.

That said, my heart and prayers are with the victims of his rampage. And a special word of thanks to Sgt. Kimberly Munley who heroically stepped into harm’s way and an insane situation and ended it with a few well places shots. She was wounded in both legs and her hand. I wish her a speedy and complete recovery so she can be up and about to testify when they try this scumbag and send him to his just reward.

HT: Below The Beltway

~McQ

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About That AMA Endorsement

Yesterday President Obama took time out of what one would presume was a busy day to tout the fact that the AMA and the AARP had endorsed the latest House version of health care reform.

But it appears that some of the rank and file are none too happy with the endorsement. In fact many are quite upset that the endorsement was made prior to their meeting in Houston this weekend. There are moves afoot to introduce resolutions at the meeting to rescind the endorsement.

Former AMA president Stormy Johnson is preparing a resolution to rescind the endorsement, sources said. And the surgeons are introducing a resolution that would call on the AMA to actively oppose any legislation that includes a public option or a temporary doc fix or that doesn’t include medical malpractice reform.

A number of state associations are also upset with the AMA’s endorsement.

And, of course, not mentioned by President Obama were two doctor’s associations who came out opposing the legislation:

In fact, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons announced their opposition to the House bill today.

“Sadly, in the ongoing health care reform debate, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We could not support H.R. 3200, the ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,’ which was introduced in the House last July and unfortunately, we must now oppose this new House bill too. It contains no significant changes or improvements when it comes to the issues we believe are vital for true health care reform in this country,” said AANS president Troy Tippett.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the AMA’s meeting, but it appears, given the turmoil this endorsement has stirred, that the significance of the AMA’s endorsement should be taken with a grain of salt.

[HT: Abigail R.]

~McQ

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White House v. FOX News 2.0

Apparently, instead of backing off of its ill-advised attack on FOX News (there was word of a truce), the White House seems to have decided to kick it up a notch – by using intimidation tactics:

At least one Democratic political strategist has gotten a blunt warning from the White House to never appear on Fox News Channel, an outlet that presidential aides have depicted as not so much a news-gathering operation as a political opponent bent on damaging the Obama administration.

Political consultants are a staple of cable television talk shows, analyzing current events based on their own experiences working on campaigns or in government.

One Democratic strategist said that shortly after an appearance on Fox he got a phone call from a White House official telling him not to be a guest on the show again. The call had an intimidating tone, he said.

The message was, “We better not see you on again,” said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to run afoul of the White House. An implicit suggestion, he said, was that “clients might stop using you if you continue.”

In urging Democratic consultants to spurn Fox, White House officials might be trying to isolate the network and make it appear more partisan.

I’m not sure how anyone can be surprised by such tactics. No one is surprised when a jackal acts like a jackal are they? Then why should anyone be surprised when an Alinsky trained Chicago politician acts like an Alinsky trained Chicago politician?

The White House, quite naturally, denies that any of this is happening.  But one Democrat is confirming it:

But Patrick Caddell, a Fox News contributor and a former pollster for Democratic President Jimmy Carter, said he has spoken to Democratic consultants who have been told by the White House to avoid appearances on Fox. He declined to give their names.

Caddell said he had not gotten that message himself from the White House. “They know better than to tell me anything like that,” he said.

Caddell added: “I have heard that they’ve done that to others in not too subtle ways. I find it appalling. When the White House gets in the business of suppressing dissent and comment, particularly from its own party, it hurts itself.”

Suppressing dissent and comment? Say it ain’t so!

This “hope and change” is good stuff – let freedom ring!

~McQ

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