Monday, October 31, 2011

Free market triumph

Happy All Saints Eve
How do you like your bank fees?  Hidden or clearly stated?

Congress passed a law to “protect consumers” by banning credit card companies and banks from charging merchants a fee for each transaction.

Banks complied, and merchants pocketed the difference, saving the consumer nothing.

Next, Bank of America did the honest thing and announced a flat $5 per month fee for cardholders to make up for the revenue congress took from them.

Result: Consumer is $5 per month poorer and store owners are marginally richer. Thank you Dick Durban and Congress!

Now comes Chase, Citigroup and others saying they will not charge cardholders a fee, giving consumers a clear choice. Unlike government action, the free marketplace gives consumers more choices, as merchants compete for our dollars.

Thanks to the free market, a customer can now choose to do business with a bank that explicitly charges her the fee, or she can go with the bank that hides if from her.

Daily News Corner

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Civil Religion

Sharia Law in America...  

Some want to ban it, but that would be unconstitutional.  Churches, sports leagues, and all manner of civil organizations are entitled to their bylaws so long as they do not run afoul of our constitution or our laws.  Individual practices may be found illegal, but the government cannot place a wholesale ban on a religion.

The problem, of course, is that vast numbers of Mohammedans now enjoying the ease and comfort of living in the modern western world insist upon dragging with them abhorrent cultural practices that violate our societal norms and our laws.   That is what we should adamantly oppose.

A Threat to One Religion is a Threat to All Religions

Those who would outlaw Islam (as if that were possible) must realize that a threat to one religion is a threat to all.  So the duty of a constitutional conservative or libertarian is to stand for the right of Muslims to practice their faith so long as it is done within the bounds of our constitution.

A Civil Religion

Our founding fathers consciously chose to put no religion above another, but to instead foster a civil religion, perhaps in the spirit Jean Jaques Rousseau.  I doubt he played much of a role in the philosophical development of the founders, but he expresses the non-sectarian zeitgeist of the age.
"Tolerance should be given to all religions that tolerate others, so long as their dogmas contain nothing contrary to the duties of citizenship."  -- Jean Jaques Rousseau
In his chapter on Civil Religion, Rousseau put all religions into one of three categories:
  • "The true theism, what may be called natural divine right or law."  This is religion at its most elemental; man worshiping God without intervening pastors, altars and dogmas.  It is the God upon which our country was founded.
  • State Religions, including theocracies. Think the Pantheons of Rome, Greece, Iran, and the ancient Israelites.
  • Religions which conflict with the state. He placed Roman Catholicism in this category. He described such religions as one "which gives men two codes of legislation, two rulers, and two countries, renders them subject to contradictory duties, and makes it impossible for them to be faithful both to religion and to citizenship."
He praised the adherents of "Mahomet" for having crafted a religion in their own lands of the second category, where there is no contradiction between political and religious morality.  How things have changed since 1762!  Muslims have burst the bounds of their own homogeneous societies and have now displaced Catholics as the disturbing influence pitting the pious ululating hordes against the western states that invited them in. 

The philosopher also recognizes the salutary effects of personal morality on society: "it matters very much to the community that each citizen should have a religion."   And it's no business of the state "provided they are good citizens in this life."

The US Constitution:  A Civil Profession of Faith
There is therefore a purely civil profession of faith of which the Sovereign should fix the articles, not exactly as religious dogmas, but as social sentiments without which a man cannot be a good citizen or a faithful subject.
Theological Intolerance is Incompatible with a Free Society

By theological intolerance, he means being intolerant of those who do not share your religion.  This quote is best understood by imagining it coming from an intolerant religious bigot:
It is impossible to live at peace with those we regard as damned; to love them would be to hate God who punishes them: we positively must either reclaim or torment them.
Rousseau then explains why...
Wherever theological intolerance is admitted, it must inevitably have some civil effect; and as soon as it has such an effect, the Sovereign is no longer Sovereign even in the temporal sphere: thenceforce priests are the real masters, and kings only their ministers.  
This is the standard to which we must hold every American.  Muslim, Christian, Atheist.  It matters not what your faith is, so long as it's practice does not violate our civil religion. 

(Rousseau - Social Contract, Book IV, Chapter 8, Civil Religion)

Friday, October 28, 2011

College: It's Not Just For Smart People!

Philosophy Major
Red diaper rash ranters are marching on Wall Street and squalling for free stuff.  Among their list of demands is "free college education."

Graduates from prestigious universities with advanced degrees in Lesbian Dance and Ethnic Studies are shocked and outraged to find they are unemployable.  And they want you and I to pay off their substantial and ill-considered student loans.

They should be marching on the colleges and universities that screwed them.  They should be occupying the offices of the counselors who steered them away from math and science and instead put them on the path that leads to angry activism, unemployment lines and the crash of unwarranted self-esteem.

Higher education is ripping us off, according to the Mercury News:
Nationally, college is getting less affordable every year... Overall, tuition increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2006, while median family income increased 147 percent and the consumer price index 106 percent, the study found.
When is Congress going to drag college administrators before its pompous committees and demand Big Education stop gouging the consumer?

Finally, here's a link to a hilarious look at the 10 Most Worthless College Degrees.

The article counts them down from 10 to 1. Here are a few excerpts:
9. Philosophy:
Why It Won’t Help You Get a Job: This isn’t ancient Greece: No one is going to pay you money, or allow you to sodomize their attractive son, in exchange for your knowledge of existence. Never has there been an employer who’s said “Man, we’re having all kinds of problems, I wish we had someone on our team who could reference and draw conclusions from the story of Siddhartha that would pull up our fourth quarter numbers ...
4. English Lit:
Why It Won’t Help You Get a Job: If someone can spend a weekend with a box of Cliff’s Notes and have only a slightly less conversational knowledge of what you spent 4 years studying, you probably don’t have the most employer friendly degree. ...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Open Letter to Liberal Americans

I wrote this over a year ago and forgot about it.  I think it still applies today... 

I am a conservative with pernicious libertarian tendencies who believes we should examine our politicians and probe their logic, not worship them.  We should be skeptical, very skeptical, of everything that proceeds from their loquacious gobs.  I also don't want any of them feeling too comfortable up there in the District of Criminals.

Thomas Jefferson said it best:
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
--Thomas Jefferson
I think George Bush was no conservative, but I believe he is a sincere and honest man, as politicians go.  He is not Hitler, he was not in on any 9/11 conspiracy, and VP Cheney didn't shoot holes in the New Orleans levees with his Halliburton cannon.  If you back me into a corner, I will reluctantly admit that Bill Clinton was a pretty good president, private peccadilloes aside.

I have a grudging respect for Hillary Clinton, although I disagree with her politics.  She's a hard worker and she does her homework. 

Conservatives and Liberals will never agree on many subjects, but here are three things I hope we can all agree upon:  1) Make the politicians prove it; 2) Listen to one another; 3) Dial it back.

Make Them Prove It
I will start by pleading guilty to not paying attention as George Bush and the GOP went wilding with our money.  My days of not standing up and questioning those I voted for are now over.

We are living in the age of rampant, naive credulity, and it needs to stop.  Our default position should be to disbelieve anything a politician says until she can prove it.  While we're at it, let's make them defend their big ideas in light of the US Constitution.

Taking this hyper-skeptical approach will keep them from tragically wasting our blood and our treasure.  There is a selfish partisan interest here as well.  By holding our own politicians and candidates' feet to the fire, and spitting them out when they're found to be full of crap, we preserve the reputation of our respective parties. 

No more letting them lie to us with a wink and a nod just to get elected.  The incinerator at the bottom of the memory hole has been extinguished.  With the internet, America's digital memory is now infinite.   Lying and political shape-shifting doesn't work in an age when I can sit in my underwear and research everything a politician has said since he was in grade school. 

I share no ideology with Dennis Kucinich or Bernie Sanders, but they are probably two of the most honest politicians in DC, and I can at least admire them for that.

Listen to One Another
Left and right are poles apart, by definition.  No one should have to listen to hysterical ideologues screaming insults, but we should lend an ear to reasoned voices on the other side.  You don't have to compromise your principles to do it, and you may learn something. 

Wanna know one area where the right has jumped on the lefty bandwagon?  Opposition to crony capitalism.  Conservative mistrust most likely springs from a different motive, but we've seen the light!  We agree with you that government should not be in bed with corporations and bankers.  No special favors!

Another area where the right has seen the light?  The primacy of the US Constitution.  A few years ago, only libertarians and liberal social activists referred to that venerable document.  Granted, the left narrowly focused in on the bill of rights, usually the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments, but they could nonetheless claim to be bigger constitutionalists than their ideological adversaries on the right.

No more.  Our disillusion with traditional Country Club Republicanism stacked upon our distaste for postmodern liberalism has left us nowhere else to go.  So let's rally 'round the constitution and argue over what those words mean.  It is so much more productive than the tired bread and circuses of Republican team versus the Democratic team and "my politician is better than your politician."

Dial It Back
I have excoriated President Obama.  I got so mad once that I put red Mickey Mouse ears on him.  He's the president, so I should have more respect, as I thought the left should have shown President Bush.

I remember thinking at the time that George Bush did not make the case for invading Iraq.  But everybody this side of Russ Feingold was too scared to call him on it, so off we went.

I cut him too much slack because I liked him (I still do).  I blindly trusted him on everything from the Patriot Act to No Child Left Behind.  Some of that stuff needed to be done, but no one on the right seriously questioned him.  We did not have a critical debate.

You know what would have made it easier for me to part ways with Bush on some of these issues?  If foaming-at-the-mouth leftists had not been jumping all over him like a mob of diseased orangutans, vomiting insults and hysterical rage at him.  Had much of that legitimate criticism been well-stated and not couched in ad hominem, I would have found it much easier to jump on board.  I was in the military at the time, and it seriously seemed like it was President Bush and us against the world.

We're All Americans
We will never agree on abortion, gay marriage, or health care, but we should all agree that no politician gets a free pass.  We the People can also all agree on a few founding principles like a wall of separation between business and state, and a kick in the bum for crony capitalists and the corrupt political hogs who wallow with them.  Maybe we can even be friendly to those on the other side who are not spewing hatred our way.

Am I dreaming?  Probably, but I feel compelled to say this in the name of ideological ecumenism.

I'm Kurt Silverfiddle, and I approve of this message.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ron Paul is Right for America

OK, I hate the way Dr Paul talks about foreign policy, although I largely agree with him, and it disturbs me that he attracts so many neo-nazis and 9/11 troofers.  It's true that the scariest thing about Ron Paul are his followers.

What continues to attract me is his domestic policy.  He has the most comprehensive and fact-based plan of all the candidates.  Romney's may be more detailed, and Gingrich may have bigger ideas with more facets than a rare gem, but Ron Paul focuses in on big government and its big spending ways.  It is a personal freedom and economic liberty agenda.

Cut Spending...

$ Cut $1 trillion in spending during the first year
$ Eliminate five cabinet departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education)
$ End airport rape and grope operations by abolishing Thousands Standing Around
$ Abolish corporate subsidies
$ Abolish foreign aid
$ End foreign wars
$ Return most other spending to 2006 levels


* Repeal ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and Sarbanes-Oxley
* Thorough congressional review and authorization before implementing any new regulations issued by bureaucrats
* President Paul will also cancel all onerous regulations previously issued by Executive Order.

Oh, and Ron Paul was right about the Federal Reserve...

No, it's not an evil Zionist cabal, but the GAO audit did uncover a fetid nest of crony crapitalism.  The GAO report is dry and stuffed with diplomatic language like "...opportunities exist to strengthen its conflict policies."  

No kidding. The place is a virtual revolving door of special interests, and it hands its friends the newly printed cash, so they can use it to maximum leverage before it pollutes the larger marketplace, diluting its value. The Washington Examiner reports...
The most troublesome revelation in the GAO audit is the extent to which insiders benefited from their positions and access during the crisis. The GAO found 18 instances in which current and former members of the Fed affiliated with banks and other companies received emergency loans from the board, including General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and JP Morgan Chase. In the case of General Electric, its CEO Jeffrey Immelt served on the New York Fed, which loaned his corporation $16 billion in emergency funding during the crisis.

One of Goldman Sachs' directors, Stephen Friedman, was chairman of the board of the New York Fed. Friedman also owned substantial stock in Goldman Sachs during the same period in 2008 when the New York Fed voted to allow Goldman to operate as a commercial bank as well as an investment bank. That approval meant Goldman got access to loans from the Fed at highly favorable rates. Fed ethics guidelines prohibit a Fed governor from owning stock in a firm being considered for commercial status, but Friedman received a waiver and continued buying Goldman stock.
As for JP Morgan Chase, its chief executive officer, Jamie Dimon, was on the New York Fed board when the company got $29 billion in emergency loans. In addition, Dimon was able to secure approval from the New York Fed for an 18-month exemption...   (Washington Examiner)
President Obama is chummy with these crony crapitalists and he's OK with them using taxpayer money as their personal stash.  President Paul would put a stop to it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happiness is Iraq in the Rear View Mirror

President Obama has announced our troops will be out of Iraq by Christmas, and we should all rejoice. Now, if we could get him to make the same command decision about Afghanistan...

Heritage laments this development, worrying that it "might jeopardize the progress that has been made in Iraq." I worry about that too, but Iraq is a sovereign country and they've asked us to leave.  We have tired of one another, as the quiet collapse of talks to keep troops there has testified.  They want to take the training wheels off, and we have no choice but to comply.

CATO has the better take...
This costly and counterproductive war—launched under false pretenses, sold to the American people as a cakewalk and an operation that would be paid for by Iraqi oil revenues—may finally, mercifully, be coming to an end. I certainly hope that is the case.
Our troops performed heroically, and they have ushered a people out of dictatorship.  We've given the Iraqis a republic, if they can keep it.

DoD's Army Moves Out, State Department's Army Moves In

I read in Wired that the State Department will fill the vacuum with a private army of 5,500 security contractors at a cost of over $3 billion! I ask, it it worth it?

It's a sign of trouble that the State Department needs its own private army.  How can you build goodwill traveling around in armored convoys?  With all that firepower, international incidents will happen, innocent Iraqis will be killed, and the populace will be screaming for blood. No diplomatic immunity for the security contractors, so we will simply allow the accused to sneak out of the country, adding more fuel to the fire.

Why do we need such a large State Department presence there? Iraq has no special value to us, there are no warm cultural affinities.  Why the fortress in Baghdad?  Why all the consulates polkadotting a hostile land providing targets for violent hatred?

We should put a small embassy among the others in Baghdad, and put a consulate up in Kurdistan and hire the Pesh Merga to guard it, which is what we do in many other countries.

Bloomberg - Will Troops Leave Iraq Better Off?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mr Obama, You're No Reagan!

Deroy Murdoch, a most astute man, does us a favor by assembling a concise catalog of Obama's economic blunders...
"Under Obama, federal spending has risen from 20.7 percent of gross domestic product to 25.3 percent, Washington’s largest slice of apple pie since 1945."

"Obama’s spend-o-rama includes federally funded green jobs that Boskin dismisses as “the leprechaun economy.” The apotheosis of this blarney was last month’s $1.2 billion Energy Department loan guarantee to SunPower Corporation of Richmond, California. Its solar-equipment project promises 15 permanent positions. Cost per job-created: a staggering $80 million." (NRO-Deroy Murdock)
Reagan's Recovery vs. Obama's Sagging Non-Recovery
Boskin compared snapshots of Obama’s and Pres. Ronald Reagan’s post-recession recoveries, 27 months after each downturn hit bottom.

In September 2011, on Obama’s watch, non-farm payrolls had grown 0.6 percent, yielding 841,000 jobs since June 2009.

Under the tax-cutting, business-boosting Reagan, non-agricultural employment swelled 8.7 percent, generating 7.7 million new jobs. (NRO-Deroy Murdock)
How Mr. Volker Would Fix It

Reading that comparison reminded me how Obama, to much fanfare, brought the venerable Paul Volker on-board as a convenient counter-weight to his socialist advisers who were discomfiting those serious people not in a hopium-induced daze those first heady days of the Obama Presidency.

It calmed people down, and then Obama proceeded to completely ignore the former Fed Chair who tamed Carter's dreaded stagflation and ushered in the historically-unprecedented Reagan economic boom. Volker has offered his advice on how to fix this mess. It's too wonky to go into here, but it involved breaking up anyone too big to fail, no more government underwriting Wall Street gamblers, putting the different financial functions into their own boxes and jailing those who stray, among other things. You can read the whole thing here: Volker's Advice.

Free Market Ideas for Increasing Employment

For the libertarians among us, taking advice from a former Fed Chairman just won't do, so Reason Magazine has an article entitled Get a Job! that is chock full of free-market remedies sure to get people back to work.

The ideas are too simple-minded and timeless for the progressive eggheads powering Obama's economic failure: Less regulations, less government intervention in the marketplace, no more government bureaucrats picking winners and losers...

Free marketeers know that government cannot power the recovery.  The path to economic success begins with economic freedom. Bill Frezza explains:
Do you sometimes wonder why economists are accorded such respect and influence given the fact that they claim knowledge over the unknowable, promote theories that are untestable, and make forecasts for which they are never held accountable? Isn’t that the definition of a witch doctor?

If engineers were held to the same standards, bridges would collapse as often as banks, planes would fall from the sky (if they ever got off the ground), and cyclical blackouts would be a permanent feature of our electrical grid. But at least they would get to visit the White House.
This gets to the heart of why we should take all macro economic advice with a grain of salt.  It is a soft science, useful for gaining insight, but incapable of predicting market behavior.  Government-planned economies fail, free markets succeed. 
Have you ever watched engineers from different schools argue on Sunday morning talk shows about the validity of Bernoulli’s Principle or Ohm’s Law? No? Yet economists, like rival witch doctors, get red in the face promoting diametrically opposed economic remedies, sometimes sharing Nobel Prizes in the same year for theories that directly contradict each other. Take $2 trillion and call me in the morning. (Bill Frezza - Fundamental Fallacies of Macro Economics)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls...


Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee. -- John Donne

Z had a thought provoking post on Muammar Khadaffi's bloody exit from this world. The comment thread was full of thoughtful comments as well. I'm glad I'm not the only one grasping for a way to sort this out. Few of us kick up our heels and celebrate at these events, and that's a good thing. He met a well-earned end, but violent actions devoid of law or justice are an offense to humanity.

On the face of it, the cries from the international justice types is pretty funny, demanding a full accounting of Khadaffi's death.  The man brutalized a population for 40 years, and they don't expect a little retribution, some catharsis? 

The jostled videos of the dictator being beaten, dragged by his hair and ultimately laid out dead was a glimpse into the dark reality of human nature.  The monkeys escaped and turned on the zookeepers, cracking their heads open with rocks and tearing them to pieces.

Wars, executions...It is all a debasement of humanity, and as such, a debasement of each one of us.  This is why justice properly ordered and properly carried out is so important, and why wars without end, even when conducted via pilotless aircraft from 50,000 feet, will eventually corrupt a people and blacken their souls.

We all know injustice when we see it, and it most often it flows from an abuse of power. 

Shakespearean Power Failure

In Shakespeare's play, Measure for Measure, Claudio is condemned to die for knocking up his betrothed before the nuptials.  In act II, Isabella, Claudio's holy and virginal sister, pleads for mercy to Angelo the magistrate. 

Angelo rightly reminds her that True Justice lies not in some sappy sentimentality or misguided empathy.  True Justice, God's Justice, Nature's Justice, is blind to emotional appeals and always balances the scales.

Counterpoised against a righteous exercise of justice is abuse of power.  Isabella laments how men harshly wield the power lent to them by God:
O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength;
but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant.
Abuse of power is timeless...
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder.
Nothing but thunder!
She reminds us that God loans power and authority to man so that we many model our societies upon His justice.  But "proud man..."
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he 's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep...
Abuse of power is human nature.  We forget we are "dust and to dust we will return."  Flush with pride and earthly arrogance, we forget we are fit for infinity, and we end up as angry apes who make the angels weep.

WH - Power is the Most Abused Drug

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sic Semper Tyrannis

President Obama went on Safari, killing a defanged, declawed, compliant old lion, already hobbled into docility.  All that's missing is a picture of the "brave" hunter standing astride his prey, brandishing the blunderbuss, oversize pith helmet propped  up only by his cartoonishly large ears...

Khadaffi was once a dangerous beast, killing American GIs in Germany and bringing down an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, among many other bloody predations. His eccentric behavior and outlandishly gaudy costumes brought to mind perhaps a darkly dangerous Michael Jackson of North Africa.  And the busty female bodyguards...

What happened to them?  Given the track record of Islamic fanatics, they're lucky they're not pretty young men...


President Reagan defanged him. President Bush got him to cooperate with us on the war on terror. Peace Prize Nobel Laureate Barack Obama killed him, despite Khadaffi calling him friend.  This sends a clear message to dictators everywhere: Do not cooperate with the United States. Dig in. Murder, maim, threaten and brandish chemical and nuclear weapons. Anything but crack the door open. Especially after Obama turned on US amigo Hosni Mubarack.

Does anyone think Basher Assad will go out any other way than Tony Montana at the end of the movie Scarface? Does anyone think that there are any horrors he will not author to avoid Khadaffi's fate?

Obama Should Run on His Foreign Policy Record

We Americans love us a mess a Ferner Killin'! And the progressive life-haters especially cherish the opportunity to publicly wallow in a death when it is cloaked in the odor of humanitarian sanctity.

Obama has set a record for killing more people than any other Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

That's some change! And it's quite a feat. Terrorist pederast Yassir Arafat was the previous record holder.

The world is now a safer place.  Unless you are a dark-skinned Chadian trying to get the hell out of Libya...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quieter Wars

Our Libyan adventure not yet complete, Obama turns his gaze southward and sends 100 military advisers to Uganda. If done properly, it could be a good thing.

Stalwart conservative Jonah Goldberg points out that this action is authorized by congress, and furthers our goals of assisting South Sudan and Uganda.  It is not a matter of vital national security, but rather a case of us providing military assistance to friendly nations who have requested our help.  We already have USAID and Peace Corps people on the ground providing medical, humanitarian and economic assistance.

For a less rosy view, see Gene Healy's Reason article, Obama's Latest Military Adventure.

I don't criticize Obama's "Leading from Behind" baloney...

I think he stumbled upon it after dithering and flailing about, and I don't like the formulation, but the US and the rest of the world could use more of it. Regardless of where you come down on the Libya questions, it was refreshing to see other countries take a leading role in the Kadhaffi beatdown.

I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the wisdom of the Libyan operation, but just saying that if the situation arises, I'd like to see more like that and less like Afghanistan. Libya worked where Afghanistan has not for a host of complex reasons, but one simple fact is that the Libyans wanted it and they took matters into their own hands. John Barry writes about all this in his Daily Beast article, America’s Secret Libya War.

National Security First

Ron Paul famously stated that he would not have pulled the trigger on Bin Laden, and he stands on a firm, non-interventionist principle when he says it. But the fact that it makes lefties stand up and cheer gives me pause.  You should never tell your enemies exactly what you will or won’t do. Keep ‘em guessing. As for principles, it’s a very unprincipled world out there.  The constitutional principle of national defense comes first.  Take your stand on any other and you could end up making it upon a pile of rubble.

Military Assistance:  Helping those who help themselves

While I'm against any further large-scale land invasions, I am for small-scale military assistance operations, if legally authorized and diligently overseen. We've conducted thousands since the end of World War 2, but only a few ended up in larger conflagrations.

Military assistance builds goodwill with other nations, allows us to collect intelligence, and provides an opportunity for our soldiers to build professional relationships with fellow warriors in other countries.

Central America benefited from this in the 1980's, resulting in defeated Marxist rebels throwing down their arms and forming political parties. Our pre-9/11 forays into the Stans laid the groundwork for the blitzkreig toppling of the Taliban by the Norther Alliance partnered with our Special Forces.  The Philippines have almost rolled up Abu Sayyaf thanks to their hard soldiering backed up by our non-combatant assistance.

Meanwhile, we continue to kill terrorists in Yemen and Pakistan from the air, although it is unclear whether this is furthering US national security goals.

We cannot completely retreat from the world, since its problems now routinely wash up on our shores.  Helping friendly countries help themselves may not be vital to our national security, but done properly, it can further our national interests.

See Also:
Kevin Drum - Should US Troops be in Uganda?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

America's Last Stand

The 2012 elections are the last stand.  For progressives as well as small government conservatives and libertarians.  It is America's Last Stand
The economy will not improve
The situation of ordinary citizens will become even more parlous, and government will be forced to "DO SOMETHING!"

That something depends upon which party is in power.  Liberals see the mess we're in and blame free market capitalism, ignoring the fact that we haven't seen that rare bird in a hundred years.

Yeah, we had some variants and hybrid strains, but it's not been a free market, but rather a very locked-down and expensive one.  Just ask entrepreneurial outsiders trying to pole vault in over the regulatory walls governments have erected at the behest of the insiders.  Progressive "solutions" will only make it worse.

Welcome to The Crisis

We are in a crisis, and the progressives see it has their last, best hope.  Hence the desperate cry, "The revolution is here!"   No, it's not, but progressives will keep asserting it, telling the big lie long enough until it becomes the truth.  The Obama campaign, flush with Wall Street Cash and it's own fat cat bankers and plutocrats (Daley, Immelt, etc), will demagogue the Occupy Wall Street protests to its own political advantage

This sums up the Occupy Wall Street agenda pretty well:
But the dominant feature is a fierce hatred of anything capitalistic-individualistic profit seeking, large scale enterprise, banks, joint-stock companies, department stores, "international finance and loan capital," the system of "interest slavery" in general; the abolition of these is described as the "basis of the programme, around which everything else turns."

[...] it is not a proletarian but middle class socialism, and that it is, in consequence, inclined to favour the small artisan and shop keeper and to set the limit up to which it recognizes private property somewhat higher than does communism.

[...] In the case of the wealthier capitalists, state control and restriction of income will leave little more than the name of property, even while the intention of correcting the undue accumulation of wealth in the hands of individuals has not yet been carried out.
That was written by Friedrich Hayek in 1933, and he wrote it about Hitler's socialist party.

They aim for modern-day Germany, but their agenda is from National Socialist Germany

It's scary enough that they aim for present-day Germany as their model, where government takes over half of what you make and spreads it around, and puts a lot more rules on you like no gun ownership and mandatory recycling.  Imagine paying $6 for a gallon of gas and living in half the space you live in now.

Only our government is not efficient like Germany's, so we will end up performing a sclerotic slide reminiscent of post WWII Great Britain, only without the sharp musical mockery of a Pink Floyd or the cultural parody of Monty Python...

... And we'll continue sliding all the way back to 1933...

Public-private partnerships, with governmental panels drawing up business plans and picking winners and losers will be the norm.  Free-market capitalists, libertarians, Christians and other free thinkers will not be marched off to gas chambers; we will instead be either broken to the will of the state or branded enemies of the Brave New Society, unable to find work or participate in the government-controlled marketplace.

Laugh if you want to, but that is where collectivism always leads, without exception.  Again, Hayek explains:
The inherent logic of collectivism makes it impossible to confine it to a limited sphere. 
Beyond certain limits, collective action in the interest of all can only be made possible if all can be coerced into accepting as their common interest what those in power take it to be.
At that point, coercion must extend to the individuals' ultimate aims and ideas, and must attempt to bring everyone's Weltanschauung into line with the ideas of the rulers.  (Hayek - Nazism is Socialism)
* - Hat tip to Fuzzy Slippers for sparking this post.  I am a Hayek fan but had forgotten his short essay on why Nazism is socialism.  Please go read her blog post on this subject here:  Fuzzy Slippers - Everything Old is New Again

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Obama's "Jobs" Program: Government Money is Stupid Money

Money taken out of the economy via taxation is a net negative.  Beyond infrastructure and the enumerated constitutional duties, government does not and cannot spend your money more efficiently that you can yourself.  

Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat trying to unseat Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, delivered a tart message with dictatorial undertones to the nation's greedy rich:
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. . . . -- Elizabeth Warren
Despite such lectures by Ivy League professors who enjoy burning strawmen, conservatives are not anti-government nor anti-tax. It's all about proportion. Famed economist Henry Hazlitt says it best:
A certain amount of taxes is of course indispensable to carry on essential government functions. Reasonable taxes for this purpose need not hurt production much. The kind of government services then supplied in return, which among other things safeguard production itself, more than compensate for this. (Henry Hazlitt)
If government would limit itself to just funding that infrastructure liberals continually blather on about, we would not be having these arguments, and we would not be mired in this economic morass.

Elizabeth Warren's factory owners benefit not at all from the cawing aviary of special interest rent-seekers now roosting in thousands of government agencies and gobbling billions of dollars in taxpayer contributions.    Also, Warren's factory owner, along with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and even famous tax dodger Warren Buffet, paid far more for those roads than did the other 99% of America.

Taxes Kill Economic Activity
we took a look at British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne's still new (2011) program of increased taxes directed at oil and gas companies operating in the North Sea. Amazingly, the chancellor's tax hike took a 52% year-over-year chunk out of the area's second-quarter drilling activity. (The Fastest Way – David Lee Smith)
According to the author, Global consultant Woods Mackenzie estimates Obama’s proposed tax and regulation on the gas and oil industry “would lop off about 700,000 barrels a day of oil-equivalent production at a cost of some 170,000 industry jobs.”

Let's Go All The Way

Obama wants to claw back the special exemptions, loopholes and tax breaks gas and oil lobbyists have cajoled and bribed out of congress.  Fine. But don't stop there. Do it across the board. Make GM, their union partners in crime, and Wall Street welfare queens give us back the tens and hundreds of billions in taxpayer money they've absconded with.

No loopholes, no special deals for any group. If the Obamacrats are not willing to do this, then they are not serious, but are instead demagoguing the issue for naked partisan gain.

It's a simple calculus:
When a corporation loses a hundred cents of every dollar it loses, and is permitted to keep only 60 cents of every dollar it gains, [...] its policies are affected. It does not expand its operations, or it expands only those attended with a minimum of risk. (Henry Hazlitt – Economics in One Lesson)
A better approach is to categorically and unapologetically remove all government loans, subsidies, tax breaks, loopholes and special exceptions. Period. Again, Henry Hazlitt explains:
Each private lender risks his own funds. [...] When people risk their own funds they are usually careful in their investigations to determine the adequacy of the assets pledged and the business acumen and honesty of the borrower.
But the government almost invariably operates by different standards. The whole argument for its entering the lending business, in fact, is that it will make loans to people who could not get them from private lenders.
This is only another way of saying that the government lenders will take risks with other people's money (the taxpayers') that private lenders will not take with their own money. (Henry Hazlitt – Economics in One Lesson)
And that is the crux of the problem, and that is why private sector spending is inherently more efficient than government spending.

Obama blew a trillion dollars and we've got nothing to show for it but more economic misery.  We would be stupid to give him one more dime, let alone another $500 billion.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Wracked and I Ran

I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I make exceptions for the Middle East and the Muslim world, which gave us this definition of byzantine:
byzantine (from
a. Of, relating to, or characterized by intrigue; scheming or devious; b. Highly complicated; intricate and involved

That could also apply to our government, but they are not as smart as the Middle Eastern schemers, and we are broke...
Great powers gradually being shunted off the world stage have increasing difficulties getting their way: Itsy-bitsy colonial policing operations in dusty ramshackle outposts drag on for years and putter out to no obvious conclusion.  (Mark Steyn)
We've blown more that half a trillion dollars in South Asia trying to spackle over a 7th century crack in the modern-day global time-space continuum, with nothing to show for it.  We've shed our blood for people who hate us.  Liberals are outraged; conservatives should be.

The last thing we need is one more bloody foray into the bazaar

The Islamic world spawns lies wrapped in conspiracies that are encased in enigmas. And when they want to drag the west into it, they wrap it in photos of doe-eyed starving children and tie it up with sympathetic bows of womens rights and ribbons of religious tolerance and human rights. A horror-filled package wrapped in shiny paper and dime store baubles to appeal to naive western sentiments.  And happily peddled by American warmongers who have never been to war.

Put more bluntly, Ahmad Chalabi suckered us into Iraq, and this latest "Iranian plot" is more of the same.  For what purpose, I don't know.  All I do know is the whole thing stinks, and right now we'd be foolish to believe anything coming out about this.

If Frank Gaffney and Bill Kristol and other chicken-hawk dime store heroes want to attack Iran over this, they can raise their own damned army and go do it themselves.

The Zeta angle is more troubling

We have a far more serious situation brewing to our south, and we keep it going by participating in the criminal gangs' fundraisers, buying all they can send us and snorting it up our noses.  We jail gang members, where they make important business connections and alliances, and then spring them so they can head south to spread the latest American criminal techniques across Central America.

Which border is more important?  The one between Afghanistan and Pakistan?  Or our own Mexican border.  Which region is more important?  South Asia, or North America?

See also:
Andrew Napolitano - Government-generated Plots
Punching Holes in the Iran Plot

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Breakfast News Burrito

You can have that with spicy red socialist sauce, green environmental chiles, and a side of blue conservative pancakes.  Oh and don't forget a big centrist cup of joe!*

Here are some news links I collected this past week but didn't blog about...

What are those inscrutable communists up to?

The Colorado State Patrol finally did the right thing and cleared out the urine-soaked pot smokers who were infesting the grounds of our golden-domed capitol.  Zuccotti Park in New York remains a socialist sewer, much to the consternation of  frustrated business owners who used to make money there before the creeps and freeloaders moved in and scared all the business away.

Matt Labash, an observant writer at Weekly Standard, infiltrated the Occupy Wall Street Proletariapalooza and survived to tell us about it.  His report from the communist encampment at Zuccotti Park, Eyewitness to History,  is an entertaining must-read.

On that same subject, I agree with George Will's latest column:  Here's to a Long Life for Occupy Wall Street.  Conservatives have the tea parties, who tend to vote Republican.  The left has the stinking freeloaders protesting having to pay for stuff, and the Democrats have already thrown in with them.  We should look forward to that contest going national.

And in other fun News…

... The Vice President threatened to rape and murder more people if congress failed to pass Obama’s jobs bill...

... Obama Fights The Lord's Army, with Sarah Palin tweeting, "I told ya so!"

Saudis say Iran must 'pay the price...'

... and offer to hold Uncle Sam's coat while we do the oily dictator-kingdom's dirty work.  Again.

Finally, some humor, because we need it...

- If people from Poland are called Poles, why aren't people from Holland called Holes?

- If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

- If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

- When someone asks you, A penny for your thoughts, and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny? Or do you get change?

- Why is the man (or woman) who invests all your money called a broker?

- Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It's just stale bread to begin with.

- Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist but a person drives a race car not called a racist?

- Why are a wise man and a wise guy opposites?

- Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?

- If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

Have a good week!

* - Thanks to Finntann for the idea for the title and into

Friday, October 14, 2011

There They Go Again…

Desperate democrats have hijacked the legacy of Ronald Reagan in a vain attempt to save their skins

First they ridiculed him. Then he beat Carter and they reviled him. Now they are revising him beyond all historic fact in order to advance their sinking, discredited agenda. At long last, they have no sense of shame.

Any time you see conservatives do something to great effect, you can expect the libs will follow with their own twisted imitation...

Obama talked about “Cleaning up” after Bush because the Bushies talked loudly of fumigating the White House after Clinton’s many misadventures.  The Tea Parties begat the left’s Communist Kook Coffee Klatches (or whatever the failed project was called) and now the Occupy Wall Street human bowel movement is touted as the left’s tea party movement and Arab Spring all rolled into one.

Reagan and Kennedy:  Two Conservative Presidents

The conservative comparison that really burned the liberals' asses was that of Reagan and Kennedy’s tax and economic policies, complete with audio recordings of JFK touting free market principles that are anathema to the modern day democrat party.  Indeed, Kennedy sounds like a small government conservative tea partier.  And the left is struck dumb at the realization that their martyred hero is a Reagan doppelganger.

Finally, they’ve struck back.  They shamelessly ignore recorded history and turn Reagan into a compromising “fair share” taxaholic who enjoyed an era of unprecedented political goodwill.

Steven Hayward has written a comprehensive article debunking this Democrat party myth-making surrounding President Reagan.  They hated him worse than they did Bush, and Hayward puts the tax raising issue in its proper context, reminding us that the net tax cuts under Reagan were gargantuan, he doubled GDP and he saved Social Security for the next generation.

Go here to read the excellent article, The Liberal Misappropriation of a Conservative President.

See also: 
Reagan vs. Obama
Obama Compares Himself to Reagan...  Again

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Obama’s Brain Trust is Brain Dead

Modern-Day Keynesians defame Keynes, ignore his teachings

The White House “economics” team and the Gargoyles on the Parapets of Liberalism like Paul Krugman have been beating the Keynesian drums for over two years now, screaming themselves red-faced for more stimulus every time the last one doesn't work. 

A fundamental tenet of Keynesianism is that government should not raise taxes in an economic downturn.  The illogical and intellectually incoherent left has now closed the circle of self-contradiction, demanding new taxes.

Does anyone really believes that removing $1.5 trillion from the economy will lower unemployment? Maynard Keynes certainly did not!

The Problem with Keynesianism is the Keynesians

Keynesians are wrong on just about everything, notes Daniel J. Mitchell, but Sir Maynard was not, and he was no communist demon.  He was a brilliant man who answered the great economic questions of his time.  He was not an advocate of an ever-expanding government, and he believed permanent debt was bad.  Indeed, his government stimulus theory is predicated upon governments running up surpluses in the good times so they can then use it much like states use their rainy day funds in the bad times:
Keynes, for instance, was an early proponent of the Laffer Curve, writing that, “Nor should the argument seem strange that taxation may be so high as to defeat its object, and that, given sufficient time to gather the fruits, a reduction of taxation will run a better chance than an increase of balancing the budget.”

Keynes also seemed to understand the importance of limiting the size of government. He wrote that, “25 percent taxation is about the limit of what is easily borne.” It’s not clear whether he was referring to marginal tax rates or the tax burden as a share of economic output, but in either case it obviously implies an upper limit to the size of government (especially since he did not believe in permanent deficits). (Mitchell)
Keynes on Hayek

Nicholas Wapshott writes that Keynes read Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" while sailing across the Atlantic on the way to the Bretton Woods conference.  Here is what he had to say to Hayek...
“The voyage has given me the chance to read your book properly,” he wrote. “In my opinion it is a grand book. We all have the greatest reason to be grateful to you for saying so well what needs so much to be said. You will not expect me to accept quite all the economic dicta in it. But morally and philosophically I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it; and not only in agreement with it, but in a deeply moved agreement.”(Keynes and Hayek:  The Great Debate)
Hayek agreed with some of Keynes' prescriptions in some narrow circumstances as well, hence his less than stellar reputation with Rothbardians and some Misesians.

So while we should continue to combat the tired and dangerous ideas of the neo-Keynesians, we should refrain from heaping obloquy upon their ideological father.  It's not Keynes' fault that his disciples have defamed his reputation.

* - For the rare cogent and non-stupid liberal article discussing how Keynes would solve today's problems, please see What Would Keynes Do?  It really is an excellent article.  H/T to our liberal interlocutor Ducky.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Infantile Leftists

We want free stuff!

Socialism is as natural as crapping on a police car...

Many of us on the right are shocked and saddened at the resurgence of bald-faced socialism, which we believed had been eternally banished from our shores. It shouldn't be such a shock, really.

 Something for Nothing Gimmee-ism and a Desire for The Strong Man forever lurk within the human heart. Especially among those who eschew fundamental concepts like human nature, natural law, free markets,and personal liberties.

The thing that strikes me about the Occupy Wall Street crowd and their demands is how timeless they are.
We lazily think of socialism as something that came up with the Industrial Revolution. In fact, as Eric Voegelin, Igor Shafarevich, and many others have explained, it is a universal human tendency. (John Derbyshire – Everybody will have everything)
That Derbyshire quote reminded me of Michael Medved’s commentary on liberalism that was spurred by a Helen Thomas quote. You know Helen Thomas, the incredibly old and incredibly liberal White House reporter. Well, she was asked in an interview to explain her liberalism, and she replied that, "well, we're all born liberal."

Michael Medved had a wonderful riposte. I'm paraphrasing from memory, and probably embellishing, so my apologies to Mr. Medved:
Of course we’re all born liberal! As babies we expect someone to pick us up and suckle us when we cry. Eating, like every other pleasure, comes with no effort. Babies don't have to earn anything, they pay for nothing, but they deserve everything. Babies pee, poop, drool and spill wherever they want because someone else cleans up the mess.

Puke down the front of your shirt, pee your pants, poop on the carpet; no responsibility, just gimme, gimme, gimme! It's a fantasy world of padded guard rails, warm swaddling, and adults sacrificing mightily for your comfort and safety. A liberal paradise.
Yes, liberals and babies have a lot in common, and all the adults can do is clean up the mess and help the squalling brats grow into responsible men and women.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Christian Jihad

Christians are being burned out of their homes and churches in Egypt, and Christians here in America rightly condemn the murderous Muslim bigotry

We’re so much better here in America. Pure Christians do not do violence against deviant heretics like Mormons and Catholics, but they do strive mightily to keep them on the margins.  And be warned, my Israel-loving friends, wherever anti-Mormonism has a home, anti-Semitism lurks just below the surface.

The “Values Voters,” Tony Perkins and religious bigots like Perry-supporter Pastor Robert Jeffress have every right to espouse their narrow views and host their exclusionary forums.  I just wish GOP candidates would drop the knee-jerk urge to pander to them.  When you take your nomination contest to a circus tent, don’t be surprised when the clowns come out.

Rick Perry’s Very Own Reverend Wright
At a gathering of Christian conservative voters in Washington on Friday, evangelical megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, chosen to introduce Texas Gov. Rick Perry, attacked Romney by telling reporters the Mormon Church is “a cult” and “Mormonism is not Christianity.” (WaPo – Religious Bigotry)
Of course, Perry distanced himself from the remarks, ducking the larger issue of how he could be so politically stupid as to allow an anti-Mormon bigot to introduce him.

I was hoping that with winking dogmatist Mike Huckabee bowing out this go around, the 2012 campaign would be blessedly free of Holy Christian Jihad, but then I really don’t understand politics.

Folks, this bs has no place in presidential politics.  It converts no one to the firebreather's side, and it just turns off secular people who otherwise might make common cause with republicans if not for the unhinged religious nutlogs using their 20 seconds of fame to flame their religious rivals.

Such unseemly displays and unresolvable theological debates have no place in political discourse. I don’t care how you worship. I do care about your morals, your actions, and how your faith (or lack thereof) manifests itself in the public arena and in your view of public policy.

Morality is a proper political subject, but when it descends into denominational chauvinism, the GOP needs to grow a pair and give the sectarian jihadis the bum's rush.

Monday, October 10, 2011

NY Times Criticizes Social Welfare!

OK.  That headline was just a trick to draw you in.  The Toilet Paper of Record was really criticizing veterans:
“As Washington looks to squeeze savings from once-sacrosanct entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, another big social welfare system is growing as rapidly, but with far less scrutiny: the health and pension benefits of military retirees.”
Can the editors at the Toilet Paper of Record really be so stupid? Military retirement is social welfare? I think the tittering, bed-wetting liberals wrote that on purpose just to piss off veterans.

The New York Times spouting off about the US Military is like a kindergartner trying to discuss the Copernican Model. Such attempts by The Senile Old Lady are shot through with language that reveals their ignorance of military culture and the disdain they have for it.

Military Retirement is not about Fairness

The editors attempted to lay down some facts about the military retirement system and to discuss proposed changes to it.  They ably explained why those who get out before 20 years get nothing, and it all made too much non-controversial sense, so they reached for a liberal’s favorite tool, the “fairness” argument.
“Why should we ask somebody to sustain a system that’s unfair by any other measure in our society?”
Because, you moron, it was in the contract the US Government signed with each veteran, that’s why. Why do postal workers and teachers get a better deal than defense contractors or state department employees? Shall we continue throwing apples and oranges at each other?

Military Benefits are Earned, not "Deserved"

Even while trying to ingratiate themselves, they come off grating...
“And having volunteered to put their lives at risk, those people deserve higher-quality benefits, supporters argue.”
No. We don’t “deserve” those benefits. We earned them! As a service member, you go where they tell you to go and do what they tell you to do, for as long as they tell you to do it. No punching a clock or deciding you're too tired to go into work today or that you don't want to go to Korea for a year.  

The deal is, you work 20 or more years serving your country at a lower average salary than the private sector, and you get a lifetime half-pay pension in return. People who serve give their country the prime of their life. Upon retirement, you are a 40-something newcomer to the job market.

Washington, We have a Fiscal Problem...

I’m not trying to engender sympathy for veterans, we don’t want or need it.  We've got to drastically cut back the federal government, and nothing should be held sacrosanct, including the Department of Defense and its benefits program, much of which is still geared for an earlier era.

But as Socrates would say, let’s first define our terms. That’s something the smirking monkeys on the New York Times editorial board are incapable of honestly doing. We need an honest debate on the role of government, and the New York times has over and over again proven itself incapable.

To see the Defense Business Board's proposal for overhauling military veterans benefits, go here:  DBB – Modernizing Military Retirement

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Over the Rainbow

Rick Perry smeared us all by averring that anyone who doesn't favor in-state tuition for illegal immigrants "has no heart..."

The serial screw-ups that define the Obama presidency leave people wondering if he has a brain...

Obama's bouquet of apologies and appeasement has our enemies confident we have lost our nerve...

The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies. It's a beautiful classic with wonderful characters and great musical numbers.  I snuggle up with my kiddos at least twice a year to enjoy this uniquely American masterpiece.

The Frank L Baum classic is an allegory written for his era, but it could easily apply to our own times as well, writes Steven Lindman.  I'd read much of this before in different places, but he ties it up all in one convenient source.

Dorothy and her companions are ordinary workaday Americans beset by powerful, greedy forces bent on their destruction.  Little do they know that they have the power within them to thwart the designs of the evil malefactors.  Sound familiar?

Here a a few excerpts from Lindman's piece:
Today, international bankers are looting world economies with the aim of turning them into Guatemala - subjugated, unempowered, enslaved, and impoverished like in Orwell's classic dystopian novel - "Nineteen Eighty-Four." He warned that: "Big Brother is watching you (and) If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
In "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Baum struck a different theme even though he claimed to have written it "solely to pleasure the children." Some scholars, however, see another purpose, allegorically portrayed in his characters:
-- Dorothy is the typical American girl; in her case, a rural Midwestern one;
-- the Scarecrow is the American farmer;
-- the Tin Woodman is the American factory worker;
-- the Cowardly Lion is silver advocate William Jennings Bryan, best remembered for his 1896 Democratic National Convention "Cross of Gold" speech in which he railed against banker-controlled gold-backed money;
-- the Munchkins are Eastern "little people" who didn't understand how banking wizards control money, the economy and government - much like how ignorant most people are today (Steven Lindman - Over the Rainbow)
If that's too fantastical for you, then try this on for size.  Jeffrey Snider explains how The Federal Government and The Federal Reserve brought us to the brink of total calamity.  It is a very interesting read.  Snider is no Alex Jones kook; he's a buttoned-down president of an investment advisory firm.
It is a well-known and well-worn trope that you don't fight the Fed, it will run you over no matter how right you think you may be.
This cliché is an extraction from Keynes and his observation that the markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. In our modern world, the Fed has become the irrational market, backed by the supposition of unlimited money printing. [...]
The economy needs to be returned to its foundation of capital allocation, free from constraining intervention. Stability is found there, under the cover of market discipline and real price discovery. There is no happiness at the end of the paper chase since sustainable enterprises never follow from it. (Jeffrey Snider - The Aura of The Fed is Gone: Good Riddance)
Somewhere...  Over the rainbow, I suppose...

Other Links:
How the DC-NY Axis of Evil Screws Ordinary Americans

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday Stew

If you're reading this in the morning, juevos rancheros or a big breakfast burrito smothered in green chile sauce probably sounds better than stew, but I couldn't figure out how to fit that in the title.

Anyhoo, here are some interesting and enlightening links I ran across this past week.

Monetarism, not Capitalism, is the Culprit
At some point in their history, the largest banks on Wall Street may have participated in a marginally capitalist system, but it has not been that way since at least the early 1990's (the transformation began in the 1960's). What the financial system has become today is one of monetarism, not capitalism. This is an entirely profound distinction that needs to be fully appreciated to unlock both long-term economic growth and a denouement for the now-monetized economy.
Go read the whole thing to understand how unhinged banking has wrecked the economy.

Elections are won in the middle
The "middle" is broadly defined as the moderate middle, independents, or whatever you want to call them.  That is where elections are won.  David Paul Kuhn Explains…
There are twice as many conservatives in America as liberals. Yet the emboldened conservative base can take Republicans only to roughly 40 percent of the electorate. And it’s the final 10 yards that counts in American politics.
Has China Peaked?  Can We bounce back?

Dismal democrats like Tom Friedman and Peter Orzag who sing commucrapitalist China's praises should be ignored. They sap our national will, and their wealth and over-education blind them to the fact that America’s unique strength lies in free people pursuing individual dreams in the free marketplace.

Joel Kotkin restores some sanity. He considers an ascendent China of the near future boldly asserting itself, but reassures Orzag, "Comfortably ensconced at bailed-out Citigroup," and “one-party autocracy” fanboy Friedman that this outcome is not inevitable.
Arguably our biggest advantage lies in the very thing our upper echelons increasingly disdain — our messy multicultural democracy and our addiction to the rule of law. “The secret of U.S. success is neither Wall Street or Silicon Valley but its long-surviving rule of law and the system behind it,”
Liu Yazhou, a Chinese two-star general, recently said. “The American system…is designed by genius and for the operation of the stupid.” (Kotkin - China's Fat Years)
A Rare burst of honesty from Government…

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) are sponsoring the Honest Budget Act.

Even if this does not pass, it is still refreshing to hear someone in government admit that the budget process is fundamentally dishonest.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Obamunist Manifesto

Don't be suckered in.  The leftist chimpanzees screaming and hooting at the Occupy Wall Street theater of the absurd have nothing in common with tea parties

Once I started noticing a convergence of issues among left and right, with we on the right finally waking up to the dangers of international banking and big corporations, as well as big government, I wondered why the left remained so enraged at us and refused to make common cause. Well, it's because they hate us. That's all I can conclude.

We come over to their side, and they puke vitriol on us. We express love for an African-American presidential candidate who happens to be conservative, and leftwing wackadoos accuse us of pulling off some kind of double-underhand reverse-racist ruse: We are so racist we are willing to elect a black man to prove it!

If that makes sense, you must be an MSNBC fan...

It also makes sense to an American leftist that the government-created quagmire we now find ourselves in can only be fixed by...  More government!

We may agree on many of the problems we confront, but we diverge sharply on the solutions. That is the critical difference. This Wall Street rabble would burn bankers out of their homes if they could.  They would cheer jackbooted brownshirts forcibly taking from those who have "too much" and then "spreading it around" to those too lazy and too stupid to shift for themselves.

We on the right would simply erect a wall of separation between DC and Wall Street, tell big biz and big banks to fend for themselves, and restore liberty to her proper place.

Here are a few of their redistributionist demands:

They want "free" education, too stupid to realize that nothing is free...

Guaranteed living wage, even for those too lazy to work...

No more fossil fuels...

A trillion in infrastructure spending and another trillion in "environmental restoration"...

Forgiveness of all debt, with bankers to be thrown into volcanoes and CEOs to be ridden like donkeys through the major cities of America for the amusement of the poor and their children...

Yes, this is a real hippie protester
The crowd is populated with the usual suspects...

It is the standard lefty odd-ball conglomeration of warmed-over 60’s hippie freaks trying to relive their dope-addled glory days, old socialists indoctrinating a new and ignorant generation into their failed ideologies, latte leftists who climb down from their trust fund towers to rub elbows with the proles, never stopping to realize that they will be the first to be slaughtered if the revolution happens.

Rounding out this cavalcade of kooks, you have the standard skittles bowl of victim groups, social agitators and union leeches.  And no socialist uprising would be complete without the soft-headed college students demanding free money, free college, free everything, astroturf sign in one hand, expensive iPod in the other.

So while I believe all freedom-loving Americans should be rallying against the corporate and banking hegemons, our march should be on DC, not Wall Street.  For there lies the root of this current evil we are suffering through.

While slavering socialists titillate themselves with fantasies of free stuff, bankers hanging from lamp posts and CEOs molotov cocktailed out of their mansions, we tea partiers know that an even better revenge would be to forever bounce them from the public dole. 

Don't be fooled my friends.  We have nothing in common with the caliginous collection of communist cockroaches crawling like a red rash over Wall Street. 

H/T: Fuzzy Slippers: Greed, Revolution and Stuff

Other Links
David Harsanyi - Occupy Wall Street: A Manifesto
Conservatives on Fire - Class Warfare President
Rational Nation – Understanding Occupy Wall Street
Gateway Pundit – List of Demands
Sentry Journal - The Useful Idiots

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Got Bank Card Fees? Thank the Durban Tax!

People's Direktor of Banking

They’re Doing it for the Money!

I love it when liberals level this ridiculous charge.  Of course “they” are doing it for the money.  How many friends do you have who are working just for the pure joy of it?  People invest their own money into a business in order to make more money.  Nothing wrong with that.  I go to work because I need money to support my family.  It’s a bonus that I love my work, but money is a motivator, no doubt. 

Congress also does it “for the money.”  Your money.  China's money.  Corporate money.  Old people's money.  Lock box money.  Damn the inevitable unintended consequences.

Dick Turban, Socialist Senator from the failed state of Illinois, championed a bill capping those nasty debit card transaction fees that banks charge businesses, and now comes the blowback, as bank of America announces a five dollar monthly fee for cardholders: 
“Bank of America is actually being quite straightforward about its rationale for instituting this new fee: it blames the government. Bank of America has said it expects the caps, which the industry lobbied against for months, to erase $2 billion in revenue annually.” (Atlantic) 
Issuing customers millions of free plastic cards and buying the telecommunications networks that allow you use them almost anywhere in the world has a cost, and banks pass those costs on to the consumer.  What did you think, that they ate them?  When you buy a car, you’re paying for all the parts and the labor that went into making it, with some extra tacked on.  Is GM gouging you because they made you pay for the side mirrors?  Carmakers must make a profit or they can’t stay in business.  A bank is no different. 

Still, people are outraged.  Outraged! At this “gouging.” 
…one angry Bank of America customer, saying that she feels the bank is "gouging" her. That's not quite right: she paid this fee before -- she just didn't know it. It was incorporated into the prices of the goods and services that she purchased with her debit card. The fee was then paid to banks by the retailer where she shopped.
Now Bank of America is just cutting out the middle man to collect a portion of the fees. This move isn't meant to create new revenue for the bank, but to replace the revenue that Congress forbid them to collect through their old fee policies.
It's actually the retailers that are gouging us...

The stores no longer have to pay the debit card fees to banks, but they are not lowering their prices as a result. They're pocketing that money that used to go to paying the transaction fees.

The author makes an even more important point. This is actually a good thing because it brings a hidden fee that was buried in the price of goods and services out into the open. If only peculating socialist diddlers like Durban would bring the same transparency to government.

Thank Walmart for Your Bank Card Fee
The Durbin Fee

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is Herman Cain a 21st Century Ronald Reagan?

Herman Cain is surging in the polls and gaining the attention of more Americans, perhaps even garnering vaunted "first tier candidate" status.

And why not?  He's a brilliant, articulate man with executive experience.  He knows how to lead and manage and he has the successful track record to back it up.

Fred Barnes has written a thumbnail sketch profile of Herman Cain based upon his review of Cain's autobio:  This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House.  Barnes' article, Raising Cain, is well worth five minutes of your time.  He compares and contrasts Cain's background with that of the current White House occupant.

Unlike Obama, Cain's upbringing was stereotypically American and one shared by millions of blacks in this country.  Both parents worked, his father had three jobs, they were discriminated against, and they went to Church on Sunday.  Despite the hardships, Herman's parents taught him to love his country, love his fellow man, and to work hard and believe in himself.

This particular paragraph in Barnes' article stopped me in my tracks...
His upbringing may explain his gift for delivering a conservative message with a friendly face, as Ronald Reagan did. “I also like to smile, laugh, and have fun with people,” he says.
Of all the candidates in the field, Cain is perhaps the most Reaganesque. Folksy and eternally sunny, he has a talent for delivering a serious message with a smile and good humor. You can just tell he has a love and respect for his fellow man, and that he enjoys the give and take of the campaign trail. He has a lifetime of experience and he has spent years writing and talking about the great issues facing America.

Herman Cain could once again put a friendly face on American conservatism.