Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

The Post-Modern Liberal Mind

David Warren, writing in the Ottawa Ciitzen, takes a look at some of the “Gorbachev/Obama” comparisons that some are doing and finds them wanting.  But, he does find one thing the two men seem to share in common.  Something he calls a characteristic of the post-modern liberal mind:

Yet they do have one major thing in common, and that is the belief that, regardless of what the ruler does, the polity he rules must necessarily continue. This is perhaps the most essential, if seldom acknowledged, insight of the post-modern “liberal” mind: that if you take the pillars away, the roof will continue to hover in the air.

Or a complete and utter disconnection from reality as it functions in this world. We tend to write that seeming disconnect off to arrogance or ignorance, or both.  But in fact, it is a belief based in the following:

Gorbachev seemed to assume, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and then beyond it, that his Communist Party would recover from any temporary setbacks, and that the long-term effects of his glasnost and perestroika could only be to make it bigger and stronger.

There is a corollary of this largely unspoken assumption: that no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally.

A variant of this is the frequently expressed denial of the law of unintended consequences: the belief that, if the effect you intend is good, the actual effect must be similarly happy.

Very small children, the mad, and certain extinct primitive tribes, have shared in this belief system, but only the fully college-educated liberal has the vocabulary to make it sound plausible.

Ok, I admit I laughed out loud at the final emphasized statement, especially given who we have here regularly trying to do exactly what Warren points out. The difference is it has never sounded as “plausible” as our commenter might think he’s made it sound.

But I think Warren is on to something here. When you confront those who believe as our current political leadership does,  the “economic laws of gravity” have no real relevance to them. You get a blank stare and then an assurance that all will be well, just wait and see.  In their ignorance, be it practiced or real, they actually believe that “no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally” and thus continue to provide the rest of what we enjoy today.

So you can run the economy off the cliff with cap-and-trade and we’ll somehow survive and be “bigger and stronger”. Or you can use a health care model that has or is failing all over the world and because their intention is good,  it will work differently here. The cosmic laws of economics that have only worked in a certain way since the world was formed will now work differently because their “intention” is good.  Human behavior will modify itself once the people understand how wonderful the world they envision will be.

Suddenly the presentation of their version of reality, when based on the premise Warren identifies, makes a sort of cock-eyed sense, even if it has no actual basis in reality. That’s why the uninformed are susceptible to sales pitch.  That “vocabulary” that only a “fully college-educated liberal” can bring to bear soothes them into believing that competent hands are at the wheel and all the nonsense they’ve heard about the laws of gravity and economics don’t apply anymore.  The Hope and Change express sold that and the unassuming masses ate it up. It sounds wonderful.  However they soon discovered (or will discover) the roof still falls in as the pillars are knocked away.

With an incredible rapidity, America’s status as the world’s pre-eminent superpower is now passing away. This is a function both of the nearly systematic abandonment of U.S. interests and allies overseas, with metastasizing debt and bureaucracy on the home front.

Given the dithering over Afghanistan and the naive game-playing with Iran and Russia, the 9 trillion in promised debt on top of the trillions already owed and the continuing and planned takeover of more and more of the economy by government, it is hard to wave off Mr. Warren’s point or insight.

The good news? Well Warren thinks we’re big enough and strong enough to shake the effects of our first post-modern president off, although what’s left won’t be at all like it is today:

And while I think the U.S. has the structural fortitude to survive the Obama presidency, it will be a much-diminished country that emerges from the “new physics” of hope and change.

“The ‘new physics’ of hope and change” – I love that phrase, but I’m not as optimistic as Warren. Unless we can stop the new physics of post-modernism in its tracks, I believe we will be less than a “much-diminished country” when this is all over with. We might be on our way to redefining “third world country” if we’re not careful.  If the Democrats were at all competent, I’d bet on it.

No cap-and-trade. No government run health care. No Democrat majorities in 2010. Otherwise, “Katie bar the door”.

~McQ

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UK’s NHS In Deep Financial Trouble (update)

The IMF has called out the UK’s NHS as “unsustainable”.

Gordon Brown was warned last night to raise the retirement age above 65 and introduce NHS charges to tackle the soaring state deficit.

In a devastating intervention, the International Monetary Fund called for radical changes to the pension system and spending cuts that go far beyond the plans outlined by the Prime Minister this week.

The global watchdog said root and branch changes to public sector spending would be necessary to ‘help keep a lid on the debt’ and restore financial stability.

And yet despite that example and the fact that our “pension” and government run health care system (Medicaid/Medicare) together have some 57 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities and are riddled with waste, fraud and abuse, we’re considering allowing government to intervene in more of the market?

Brilliant. Just freakin’ brilliant.

UPDATE: I didn’t mean to step on Michael’s post, I just flat missed the fact that he’d posted on this.  I’m not sure how I missed it but I did.  He and I have done this before. Be sure to read his take as well.  Obviously we both came to the conclusion that this story was important.

~McQ

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Laugh of the Day

We’ve had the “Quote of the Day” and the “Headline of the Day“, now its time for the “Laugh of the Day”.

It starts with McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt saying that it would be a catastrophe in 2012 if the GOP picked Sarah Palin as their candidate.

My question is compared to what?

John McCain?

Which segues perfectly into the laugh of the day – John McCain has decided he’s going to remake the GOP:

Fresh from a humbling loss in last year’s presidential election, Sen. John McCain is working behind-the-scenes to reshape the Republican Party in his own center-right image.

Good lord … that’s like Jimmy Carter wanting to reshape the Democratic party.  McCain stands for everything that is wrong with the GOP today.  If ever there was someone who found the wrong message for presenting the GOP to the voters, it was John McCain. And the economic problems the country has gone thorough since his defeat have only made his message less acceptable. Schmidt can bellyache all he wants about Sarah Palin, but without her McCain’s election night returns would have been much more dismal than they were.

Smaller and less intrusive government, fewer taxes and much less spending is what the GOP must put forward as its platform. John McCain, despite his claims to the contrary, does not represent that platform. And he’s not much of a friend of the First Amendment either. He is a big government Republican.

John McCain was rejected because he was seen as a light version of the Democratic candidate. Why compromise when you can have the real thing? Well now we’ve seen the real thing and voters aren’t going to want anything to do with the toned down “moderate” Republican model. And the base certainly won’t be enthusiastic about him. This is not the time for the GOP to even consider someone like John McCain or a surrogate if the GOP is at all serious about 2012. It’s time for a principled stand to reduce the size and intrusiveness of government and to let the citizens of the US retain more of what they earn and more control over their lives than they now do. Find a candidate to articulate that and lay out the freedom and liberty platform and the GOP has a decent shot in 2012 if what I think is going to happen happens.

John McCain is certainly not the candidate for that platform. Thank goodness, his day has passed. Where and even if Sarah Palin plays into this for Republicans remains to be seen. To many, she’s yet to prove she’s ready for the job. But it certainly isn’t too early now for the GOP to say ‘no’ to John McCain.  It’s time for the GOP to take a chance and stand up as the party to return us to our small government roots.  Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like the timing is right.

~McQ

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IMF to UK: Universal Health Care Unsustainable

While Pres. Obama and Congress go merrily about their way cramming some sort of government funded and controlled health care down the throats of an American public who doesn’t want it, the IMF is sending drastic warnings to Britain about its system:

Gordon Brown was warned last night to raise the retirement age above 65 and introduce NHS charges to tackle the soaring state deficit.

In a devastating intervention, the International Monetary Fund called for radical changes to the pension system and spending cuts that go far beyond the plans outlined by the Prime Minister this week.

The global watchdog said root and branch changes to public sector spending would be necessary to ‘help keep a lid on the debt’ and restore financial stability.

The IMF’s broadside is highly unusual ahead of an election and reflects grave concern at the debt mountain built up by the Brown government.

[…]

Oliver Blanchard, the IMF’s top economist, told a press conference at a joint annual meeting with the World Bank that the next British government will ‘have to take measures that improve the medium-term debt outlook’.

He added: ‘That means reforms of the retirement system, that means reform of the healthcare system.’

[…]

Mr Blanchard said reform was vital, adding that it would be ‘a joke’ if the Government settled instead for new fiscal rules that might be torn up at times of crisis.

The IMF estimated that by next year Britain’s debt will represent 81.7 per cent of output.

Even with planned cuts and tax increases, it predicted a figure of 98.3 per cent by 2014.

Supporters of ObamaCare will try to differentiate the crumbling NHS system, and the IMF’s prescription for it, by pointing out that the bills proposed here would require premium payments for health insurance. But that ignores the (highly front-loaded) $900 Billion price tag vaunted by the president himself which, when added to the costs of the already bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid programs, will balloon far beyond anything being promised. Combined with the also bankrupt Social Security system that is about to see a lot more beneficiaries come of age, the “Stimulus”, bailout funds, and whatever other pet projects the government finds to waste our tax dollars on, it’s difficult to see how we can avoid a similar diagnosis to that of the UK.

[HT: WTH]

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It Is Not Chicago! (updated)

Wow.

The city didn’t even make it into the final round of voting to host the 2016 summer Olympics.  Tokyo went down in the second round of voting – another surprise as that city was deemed to have the worst chance of getting the games.

There was speculation that this was a done deal or President Obama wouldn’t have put his presidential prestige on the line as he has.  However, to be fair, heads of state have been part of the winning delegation for a number of the past Olympic games and it has almost become expected they attend if they’re in the final 4 cities.

I think, however, the biggest surprise is Chicago didn’t even make it through the first round of voting.

I’d like to see Rio get it, but my money is on Madrid (because of Spain’s Juan Antonio Samaranch, former head of he IOC – or as we in Atlanta derisively called him “Juan Antonio Hamsandwich” (what a putz) – a reward from the IOC for service – just watch).

UPDATE: It’s Rio!  Good (same time zone – no delayed broadcasts).

UPDATE II: It’s the “conservatives” fault.  Well hey, they have to blame someone, and since Bush is no longer available, “conservatives” will do.  You can’t help but appreciate the irony of Think Progress lecturing anyone about “root[ing] against America” though.

~McQ

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Waxman-Markey. Boxer-Kerry. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off (update)

That is if we’re committed to using science as the basis for our determination of whether or not the House or Senate versions of cap-and-trade are needed. And, as we’ve been pointing out for the last couple of weeks, the science of AGW is shaky at best and continuing to come apart at the seams.

But that hasn’t stopped ye olde sausage factory in the Senate from grinding out another version of CO2 emissions control. The Boxer-Kerry (BK) cap-and-trade bill has emerged with even more stringent caps on CO2 than the Waxman-Markey (WM) bill. BK calls for a 20% overall reduction of 2005 levels by 2020 (17% in WM) and 83% by 2050.

You can get an idea of how BK plans on administering the carbon offset market here. But, like WM, it targets those industries which fuel and power the nation (although unlike WM, it does give a nod to nuclear power and “clean” coal).  However there is evidence that the administration is trying to hide the real impact of such legislation from the American people:

Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today accused the Treasury Department of continuing to hide information on the cost of climate legislation. In a news release, CEI said it had notified the Treasury Department of its intent to sue over the administration’s “inadequate disclosure of documents” recently requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Documents released by the Treasury Department two weeks ago show the administration believed climate legislation could cost as much as $300 billion per year, which was much higher than the government’s public estimates, and could result in companies moving overseas. Studies have shown that the Waxman-Markey bill could eliminate 2 million American jobs a year.

2 million jobs a year? See the post below. Add the cost of 300 billion a year and then try to imagine a manufacturer that is a heavy user of energy trying to justify staying here instead of going somewhere else where not only energy, but labor, are cheaper than here.

Thus far BK has about 45 Senators who’ve signed on. Kerry is giddy (this would most likely be his first substantial accomplishment during his Senatorial tenure and naturally it would do more harm than good) saying he thinks the bill has a good shot of passing. But a senior Republican says he knows of no Republicans who would support the bill as written.

Senator Lamar Alexander seems to represent the prevailing thinking of the Senate’s Republicans:

“The Kerry-Boxer bill has fancy, complicated words that add up to high energy costs that will drive U.S. jobs overseas looking for cheap energy,” said Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

But John Kerry see’s it differently:

Kerry said the event was the “beginning of one of the most important battles we will ever face as legislators and citizens.”

For once, Kerry is right about something, but not for the reason he believes. It is the beginning of one of the most important battle we well ever face and the importance lies in the fact that if passed, this legislation will kill jobs, push companies out of the US and drive our economy off the cliff. That makes it very important in my book. And with Copenhagen’s climate talks coming up in December, Democrats are going to try to push this turkey through so President Obama doesn’t show up empty handed.

The short term goal should be to ensure he does show up empty handed and the long term goal should be to defeat this outright. It’s based on shaky science, it is an economy killer and it will cost us far more than it will ever accomplish in terms of the environment. A much more sensible course would be a comprehensive energy policy which begins to use nuclear power and natural gas as the basis of a transition to clean energy with viable renewable brought on line as they become available while continuing to use and exploit the resources we have available.

Instead we’re being threatened with legislation that’s real purpose is to create a multi-billion dollar revenue stream out of thin air which will cost us jobs, income and our standard of living.

UPDATE: Speaking of Copenhagen and the desire to show up at the climate conference with something positive, it appears that the Obama administration has decided it will act unilaterally instead of wait on Congress.

Unwilling to wait for Congress to act, the Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it was moving forward on new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of power plants and large industrial facilities.

[…]

But he has authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to begin moving toward regulation, which could goad lawmakers into reaching an agreement. It could also provide evidence of the United States’ seriousness as negotiators prepare for United Nations talks in Copenhagen in December intended to produce an international agreement to combat global warming.

“We are not going to continue with business as usual,” Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. “We have the tools and the technology to move forward today, and we are using them.”

The proposed rules, which could take effect as early as 2011, would place the greatest burden on 400 power plants, new ones and those undergoing substantial renovation, by requiring them to prove that they have applied the best available technology to reduce emissions or face penalties.

Phaaa, Congress … who need’s them?

~McQ

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Unemployment Reaches 9.8%

While unemployment continue to climb at numbers higher than experts expected, and signaling the so-called “stimulus” isn’t working despite claims to the contrary, it seems the only program the president can come up with to boost employment is shilling for the Chicago Olympics.

Meanwhile here in the real world:

U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 263,000 jobs in September, lifting the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent, according to a government report on Friday that fueled fears the weak labor market could undermine economic recovery.

Ya think? And, of course, as Dale has pointed out, if we calculated unemployment as we did in the past, the true number would be somewhere in the 16-17% area. Even the one area that was showing growth – government employment – is shedding jobs. 53,000 in this last reporting period.

This has even Paul Krugman upset:

[T]he administration’s own economic projection — a projection that takes into account the extra jobs the administration says its policies will create — is that the unemployment rate, which was below 5 percent just two years ago, will average 9.8 percent in 2010, 8.6 percent in 2011, and 7.7 percent in 2012.

This should not be considered an acceptable outlook. For one thing, it implies an enormous amount of suffering over the next few years. Moreover, unemployment that remains that high, that long, will cast long shadows over America’s future.

Krugman’s solution is as predictable as Iran stalling the P5+1 until it has a nuclear weapon – more spending. Specifically a 2nd stimulus. But weren’t we all assured that the first stimulus would stem the tide of unemployment and keep it under 8%? So Krugman’s plan has us repeat what hasn’t worked to this point. No talk of cutting corporate income taxes to spur hiring, in fact no talk of any other method which might actually spur the market instead of providing temporary spending for temporary jobs.

Or, more succinctly, they haven’t a clue and while Rome burns, Nero is in Copenhagen fiddling away.

~McQ

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Headline of the Day

The headline in the Washington Times this morning: “Exclusive: Obama Agrees To Keep Israel’s Nuke Secret”:

President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said.

The officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, said Mr. Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May.

With that headline you have to ask “what secret?” Admittedly it is probably one of the world’s worst kept secrets. But it is interesting given our present stance on Iran that we’re exempting Israel from the same sort of international inspection regime – if, of course, the “secret” is true. And if true, and I’m sure Iran believes it is, why would Iran give up their pursuit of a nuclear weapon. They would most likely believe their acquisition of one would restore the regional balance. So why wouldn’t they agree to allow inspectors into a facility they had just voluntarily revealed to the IAEA. Why else reveal it? It certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t more hidden away in the mountains of Iran.

And why wouldn’t they agree to talks? It gives them the room, without sanctions, to continue what they’ve been doing for decades with no further penalty. String along the US and EU with “talks” while pursing the bomb.

I’d guess right now, Iran’s pretty happy with the way things are going.

~McQ

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Quote of the Day

Jonah Goldberg reminded me of this beauty by Harvey Weinstein concerning Hollywood’s defense of rapist Roman Polanski:

In an opinion piece in London’s the Independent, Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein, who is circulating the pro-Polanski petition, wrote: “Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time. A deal was made with the judge, and the deal is not being honored. . . . This is the government of the United States not giving its word and recanting on a deal, and it is the government acting irresponsibly and criminally.”

In an interview, Weinstein said that people generally misunderstand what happened to Polanski at sentencing. He’s not convinced public opinion is running against the filmmaker and dismisses the categorization of Hollywood as amoral. “Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion,” Weinstein said. “We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe.”

If Hollywood is the best moral compass, then there is no such thing as moral magnetic north.

While doing fundraising is appreciated, it shows much less of the needed compassion in those situations than a small rural church in Georgia which pools the resources of its parishioners, drives to coastal Mississippi, buys supplies from Home Depot and rebuilds houses for those made homeless by the hurricane.

Nope – the moral compass of this country resides where it always has, and those who possess it are calling BS on the Polanski charade.

~McQ

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Thomas Friedman’s Selective History And Left-Wing Paranoia

I don’t know how else to describe this from Thomas Friedman:

I was in Israel interviewing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just before he was assassinated in 1995. We had a beer in his office. He needed one. I remember the ugly mood in Israel then — a mood in which extreme right-wing settlers and politicians were doing all they could to delegitimize Rabin, who was committed to trading land for peace as part of the Oslo accords. They questioned his authority. They accused him of treason. They created pictures depicting him as a Nazi SS officer, and they shouted death threats at rallies. His political opponents winked at it all.

And in so doing they created a poisonous political environment that was interpreted by one right-wing Jewish nationalist as a license to kill Rabin — he must have heard, “God will be on your side” — and so he did.

Others have already remarked on this analogy, but I want to add my voice because the parallels to Israel then and America today turn my stomach: I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination.

Really? Is your stomach turning Mr. Friedman? Because if so, it must be a very recent problem.

Change the name Rabin to Bush, remove the particular situation and add “during his presidency” and you describe the last 8 years and the behavior of the left to a tee. And yet I don’t remember a single column by Friedman or any other liberal lamenting the “poisonous political environment” that existed during that entire time.

Suddenly though, because the opposition is instead focused on Democrats and Obama, dissent is a serious thing that shouldn’t be “winked at” as it was lo those many years when the other side suffered it.

That leads to selective remembrances by ideologues such as this guy speaking about opposition to Obama:

Some of his opposition is politically predictable, since President Bill Clinton was under political attack from the day of his election and presidential candidate John Kerry was slandered in a way that turned voters away from him. Those who present no good ideas of their own can only resort to dubious, rumor driven attacks to generate fear and damage their opponents.

Notably missing is the “selected not elected” tenure of Bush who had eggs thrown during his inauguration parade, was booed by the opposition during a state of the union address and called “incompetent” by the most competent Speaker of the House we’ve ever had.  And signs depicting Bush as Hitler were ubiquitous.  All, apparently, right down the memory hole.

The Friedman’s of the world feigned no concern whatsoever about the atmosphere of hate engendered then possibly leading to violence when their ideological foe sat in the White House. They seemed to see nothing wrong with the demonization of Bush. The cries of “traitor, “war criminal”, “liar” and “loser” apparently didn’t coarsen the dialog or create a “poisonous political environment” like they do now.  And the Southern Poverty Law Center had nothing to say about the virulent hate that was evident then. This demand for respect for the President of the United States we hear today wasn’t at all evident in the left’s gleeful celebration of shoes thrown at the President of the United States during a press conference, was it?

No, according to the left, it is now worse than it has ever been. And that’s because the right is engaged in spirited opposition. The left can deal this sort of thing out, but they simply cannot take it when it is returned in kind. So the entire dialog changes and what was recently the “highest form of patriotism” and “speaking truth to power” is now “dangerous and hate filled rhetoric” and a threat to all that’s decent and good. You have to wonder if the left suffers from a chronic case of political Alzheimer’s disease, because their short-term memory is completely gone.

The conventional wisdom, sold by the left over the years, is that the right is the violent side of the ideological spectrum. And again, those ignorant of history seem to buy into the meme. Never mind that the last two politicians who suffered assassination were killed by a communist and a Palestinian nationalist and the last assassination attempts made on presidents were made on Republican presidents.

It is a sight to behold the left, after an 8 year tantrum, suddenly projecting their behavior and history on the right and calling it dangerous, disrespectful and poisonous.  In comparison to their behavior, what is happening now is both mild and warranted.  But don’t expect this orgy of leftist whining to end anytime soon.  Like a goose does every day, they seem to have awakened in a new world and have absolutely no memory of their own recent behavior or of the recent history of violence toward politicians here.  Instead, they prefer to invent their own version as they go.

~McQ

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